Great Championship Wrestling crowned a new Columbus City Champion last night in David Young, and narrowly escaped having a weaselly non-wrestler as their new heavyweight champion.
GCW drew a crowd of 95 (paying approximately $1300) to the Gr8 Sk8 Plex in Phenix City, Alabama for what was a highly entertaining build up for the Fred Ward Memorial. It’s a promotion that deserves far better fan support given the impressive lineup of talent, and the overall quality of the wrestling, both of which are as good as they’ve ever been. These shows have to be the best kept indie wrestling secret in the Southeast.
The Gr8 Sk8 Plex is a fine venue with two major shortcomings. I used to think the low ceiling was the main problem, but the wrestlers have learned to work around it by modifying their top rope moves. It’s the heat-killing acoustics that are proving to be more troublesome. The combination of the carpet used to cover the skating rink and the acoustic tile ceiling make for a very dead room.
(1) Randall Johnson pinned Frankie Valentine in 8:40. A surprisingly good cruiserweight opener. They worked a hard pace with good intensity, and the execution was solid all the way through. Valentine is kin to Doug Summers. Valentine did an up and over into a reverse roll up. But Johnson took over with a double flying knee to the back. The body of the match saw Johnson stay on Valentine’s back with a camel clutch. One of the middle turnbuckles came completely apart along the way, but they didn’t miss a beat. Johnson used a Cena-like modified fisherman suplex for a near fall. Valentine hit an electric chair drop and it was both men down. Valentine ducked a punch and caught Johnson with a drop toehold. Nice. Valentine’s offense looked good on the comeback. He smoked Johnson with a blockbuster and flashed an electric clipper to the crowd. Johnson surprised Valentine with a roll up to score the pin. Referee Steve Miller failed to see Valentine’s foot in the ropes. According to the ringside regulars, the hair cut deal came out of nowhere. It struck me as odd to have the babyface introduce the gimmick and get beat because of it.
Johnny Swinger was accompanied to the ring by Quentin Michaels and his tag team partner for the evening, GCW Senior Official Scrappy McGowan. Seeing Scrappy as a swaggering heel was worth the price of admission. Before insulting him and kicking him out of the ring as per usual, Michaels mentioned that ring announcer Billy Roper became a grandfather on 9/6. Michaels said GCW Heavyweight Champion Scotty Beach was a whiner and Bull Buchanan was “an ungrateful bald moron.” The self-proclaimed “Boston Brawler” said he and McGowan were going to give Beach such a wicked beatdown that he would be easing picking for the winner of the Battle Royal, and that would be Swinger. Swinger pointed out that the restraining order Michaels Inc. took out on Buchanan extended to the battle royal, so Buchanan couldn’t lay a hand on Swinger’s gorgeous, beautiful body. “You’re looking at the next champion.”
(2) The Naturals (Chase Stevens & Andy Douglas) beat John Bogie & A. J. Steele to retain the GCW Tag Team Titles in 16:47. The Naturals were unadvertised. I don’t get GCW’s concept of promoting shows to the ticket buying public. Bogie started for the babyface side. This was a lot slower paced than the first match. Chase stalled. He chickened out of facing Steele. Douglas was less than thrilled about taking the tag. Naturals sold big for Steele’s power. Chase landed a low dropkick to Steele’s knee. Naturals were relentless on the knee. Figure four by Douglas. Single leg crab by Chase. Chase missed with a moonsault to set up the hot tag. Fans popped for Bogie’s “80’s guy” Miami Vice entrance more than they did for his offense. There’s a reason for that. Bogie hit a swinging neckbreaker on Douglas and Stevens saved. Naturals pinned Bogie after the Natural Disaster.
Naturals were confronted by Bad Company (David Young & Chris Stevens). Stevens said there was no way on God’s green earth that Naturals could beat them two out of three falls at the Ward Memorial show.
(3) Deathrow (with Thug Rowe) decimated Tex Monroe in 2:12. Monroe is doing a throwback cowboy gimmick. Thug was getting Michael Vick dogfight heat. Dude looks the part. Death’s stuff was quite convincing. He used a double underhook suplex and wouldn’t allow the pin. Death then hit a press slam into a Samoan drop. Death’s has a sweet finisher, something like a side slam version of a tiger bomb.
(4) David Young pinned Shaun Banks (with Cru Jones) to win the Columbus Heavyweight Title in 15:18. While the intros were in process, Death chased after the Intern, who was in a full sprint. Banks tried a sneak attack, but Young knocked that glistening, gold grill right out of his mouth. Banks is a great bumper and all-around grade A heel . Young said he heard gays kept in good shape and asked how long Jones and Banks had been a couple. Fans questioned the legality of Jones’ physique. He said he could pass all the tests. Young’s dominance culminated in a gorilla press slam. Banks got the advantage and hit a Rude Awakening. He followed up with a double jump slingshot legdrop for a near fall. Banks cranked on Young’s neck. He got an assist from part of the ceiling on a top rope leg drop. Young kicked out. Banks pregnant doged about it and got rolled up for near fall. After sustaining more damage to the neck, Young came back with a super duper spinning enzuigiri. Banks bumped like crazy for Young’s comeback. Jones jumped up on the apron and grabbed Young. But Banks hit you know who, and Young planted him with his patented spinebuster for the clean win. Good match.
Banks was in anguish about losing his title. Young led the crowd in a “Crybaby” chant. Banks cried them a river. Young said the world title was next on his agenda. Banks went off on Jones.
Roper directed the fans’ attention to the big screen for the airing of brief promos by each of the participants in the number one contender’s battle royal.
(5) Quentin Michaels & Scrappy McGowan defeated Scotty Beach in a no DQ match to win the GCW Heavyweight Title (or so it appeared) in 4:40 after a humongous assist from Swinger. Michaels said Beach never defended his title and he wanted it to be a title match. Beach said OK. Michaels then requested a no DQ stipulation. Beach OKed that as well, but he never got on the mic. Beach called McGowan an old-timer. McGowan retreated. Beach used a bionic elbow and gave McGowan the Beach Balls, which is a double legdrop onto the cash prizes. Beating up an old man isn’t what I would call a smooth babyface move. McGowan tagged out. Michaels busted out the Crane stance. That cracked Beach up. He wasn’t alone. No sooner did Beach get his hands around Michaels’ scrawny neck than Swinger cracked him across the back with a steel chair. Swinger destroyed Beach’s back with three more chair shots. Michaels then covered Beach for the three count. Beach is a weak heavyweight champion to begin with and booking like this sure doesn’t help his cause.
What happened next was one of those surreal moments that are uniquely GCW, where the bizarre twists of reality are more fascinating than any wrestling fiction. As Quentin Michaels attempted to hoist the title belt up in celebration, he managed to whack his forehead with it and bust himself open the hard way. Not a little knick either. This was a gusher. Michaels was transported to a local ER for treatment.
Commissioner Bo Oates (in a suit!) entered the ring and said Beach was still the champ because he didn’t authorize a title defense.
Oates ran down the card for the Fred Ward Memorial on 9/29 (see NOTES below). Oates finished by announcing a Weasel Suit match with a member of Michaels Inc. vs. Scotty Beach. With that, McGowan hit the ring and KOed Oates. Some smart ass fans said Bo got waxed. (A while back, Bo cut a promo in which he made reference to the fact that Jerry Oates, his father and the former owner/promoter of GCW, was buffing floors for a living.)
(6) Johnny Swinger won a 20 man Battle Royale to become the number one contender for the GCW Heavyweight Title in 20:25. This was an old style battle royal. With 20 guys milling around and no room to work, the first half was drudgery. Rumble style (otherwise known as the Bill Behrens special) is way better for minimizing the cluster effect and getting over undercard storylines. The Intern was in a full blown panic and did a disappearing act a few minutes into the match. Devin Cutter and Michael Vendetta were eliminated before the seven minute mark. Buchanan started tossing guys out left and right – Mason Cutter, Johnson, Banks and Jones (a cause for more dissension) Monroe, Orion Bishop, Valentine, Thug Rowe, Steele and Bogie – a string of 10 eliminations in a row. Bad Company and Naturals went out together at 14:45 and continued to fight. That got a pop. Deathrow traded with Buchanan. Death was looking pretty sloppy here. Buchanan eliminated Death, and it was down to Swinger and Buchanan. Swinger reminded Buchanan about the TRO. He said an arrest would put Buchanan in the big house for 30 days, and Swinger would be facing the likes of a Tex Monroe in the cage at the Fred Ward show. “You really think this would be my first night in jail? I ain’t exactly GQ material,” said Buchanan. Buchanan said he was going to hold off because nothing he could do tonight would compare to what he was going to do to Swinger in the cage. Buchanan promised somebody would bleed and take a trip to the hospital (somebody other than Michaels). Swinger saw to it that Buchanan stepped over the top rope to eliminate himself. The Intern crawled out from underneath the ring and hit Swinger from behind. Swinger teased going over the top but managed to hang on. Swinger then dumped the Intern for the win.
NOTES: GCW returns on 9/15 with Beach vs. Swinger for the GCW Title, Young vs. Banks in a rematch for the Columbus Championship, and Steele vs. Thug Rowe…Tickets are now on sale for the 9/29 Fred Ward Memorial. The lineup is as follows: Swinger vs. Buchanan in the six sides of steel, Bad Company vs. The Naturals for the tag team titles in a 2 out 3 falls match, Johnson faces Valentine in a hair vs. hair match, Beach vs. a member of Michaels Inc. in a Weasel Suit match, Death Row vs. A. J. Steele in a Electric Chair match (All I could think of was Abdullah the Butcher being “electrocuted” by Cactus Jack in that awful WCW Chamber of Horrors match)…Last night’s show was taped with a two camera shoot. GCW’s long-awaited return to local television will become a reality in the near future, station and time TBA.