Blood, Sweat and Light Tubes: How Game Changer Wrestling Lives Up to its Name

As the ring fills up with garbage, and the boos and jeers from the crowd reach deafening levels, Rickey Shane Page and his 44OH stable stand tall over the broken and bloodied body of Nick Gage. The ring and surrounding area look like a warzone. Piles of shattered glass litter the Showboat in Atlantic City, mementos of the near half hour long spectacle of carnage and chaos RSP and Gage have just delivered.

It was a wrestling match that had everything the fans in attendance could have wanted – an ample amount of the blood and guts these two have made a career out of spilling. Gage showing his heart and will, fighting to survive against unbeatable odds. RSP playing the part of a desperate champion to perfection, hitting Gage with everything in his arsenal and getting by with more than a little help from his friends. A main event that took so many twists and turns that you could feel the crowd getting more and more restless as it went on, once so sure that their hero would leave victorious and slowly realizing things may not go the way that they planned.

Eventually the audience had their worst fears realized and now we’re here. RSP and the rest of 44OH (Gregory Irons, Atticus Cogar, Eddy Only and Eric Ryan) being pelted by empty bottles and bits of trash as the commentary team contemplates whether or not a riot could break out and the vibe becomes more and more hostile. Real anger and hatred is hard to get, and these men and this story have found a way to make these fans forget everything they know about professional wrestling and turned them into an enraged mob. This is real and it’s 100% raw emotion and energy. This is Game Changer Wrestling, the hottest independent wrestling company in North America.

Current champion Rickey Shane Page taunts the crowd at GCW: I Can’t Feel My Face. Credit: GCW

With nothing but a little bit of YouTube fame, GCW walked into WrestleMania weekend in 2017 with all sorts of swagger and delivered what many considered to be the most fun and enjoyable show of a three day stretch that was packed with wrestling, Joey Janela’s Spring Break. Between bringing in beloved former stars like Dan Severn and Glacier and their off the wall concepts like the Clusterf*** Battle Royal, Spring Break was unlike any other show that weekend. Their willingness to go from the intensity of death matches to the over the top silliness of The Invisible Man at the drop of a hat gave the show that rare sense that anything could happen, and that’s a key ingredient to the GCW formula.

In the three years that I’ve been watching GCW, I’ve seen some of the most ridiculously fun and entertaining moments and matches in wrestling. I’ve seen The Rock N Roll Express shock everyone in attendance and put on an instant classic with Santana and Ortiz while in their 60’s. I watched David Arquette fill in on short notice and get his head cut open by Nick Gage and his patented pizza cutter. Last 4th of July I ignored the fireworks and instead watched Marko and Logan Stunt beat each other senseless during Backyard Wrestling to the point that Janela had to “ground” them post match.

Every show has at least a handful of moments that leave me screaming expletives and my jaw on the floor, because there’s no roster more willing to put it all on the line than the motley crew GCW has put together. Despite everyone on the roster being at least a little out of their mind, GCW is far from the blood and gore promotion it’s sometimes mistaken for. You’re just as likely to see a technical grappling match or a high flying spectacle as you are to see a death match, and oddly enough it’s GCW’s ability to make people enjoy wrestling at its most ridiculous that has endeared them to fans.

Referee Bryce Remsburg officiates Invisible Stan vs Invisible Man
Credit: GCW

The best example of this is the incredible match between The Invisible Man and his brother Invisible Stan at Spring Break 3. It was a wonderful and bizarre experience, getting to see a crowd going absolutely nuts for a contest that saw referee Bryce Remsberg officiate a match between two invisible wrestlers. The fans played to his reactions, and somehow Remsburg (in a star making performance) pulled the crowd all the way in, to the point that the match between no one was the talk of the biggest weekend of the year.

Then there’s the match that sold me on what a wonderful enigma GCW could be, The Clusterf***, which has become a Spring Break staple. The Clusterf*** is a Royal Rumble type matchup with the wrestlers entering the match at random intervals, only with a lineup so diverse it could feature everyone from death match legend The Necro Butcher to Irish party girl Session Moth Martina to the lead singer of the band Wheatus to Mantaur. The thrill of having absolutely no idea who (or what in the case of Mataur) could be walking through the curtain next is exhilarating and the match has quickly become one of the most anticipated of WrestleMania week.

Joey Janela prepares to take on Jinsei Shinzaki, AKA Hakushi, at Joey Janela’s Lost in New York in 2018. Credit: GCW

Spring Break was so successful it became an annual event, and it also allowed for GCW to create Joey Janela branded spin-offs for other major shows. It was the first Janela show in New York that showed off the next way GCW would impact the wrestling world: an uncanny ability to find incredible talent that are virtually unknown and turn them into household names on the indie scene overnight.

When KTB came stomping to the ring and demanded a fight at Lost in New York, the crowd was amused and seemed a little unsettled at first when a 5 foot tall, 100lb kid was pulled out of the front row and squared up against the massive former GCW champion. Of course, everyone would soon realize that this wasn’t just a skinny teenager, this was Marko freaking Stunt, who showed up and wowed the audience with the athleticism and heart that he now shows off on Wednesday nights.

Just three months later, GCW shook up the scene again, this time exposing Marko’s Jurassic Express teammate Jungle Boy to the masses, and last summer saw highflyers Alex Zayne and Blake Christian have breakout performances for the company. GCW have found a way to showcase young talent on essentially every show with the addition of scramble matches to their cards, and before the independent wrestling world shut down earlier this year, GCW was slowly making stars out of up and comers like AJ Gray, Allie Kat and Cole Radrick.

Whether it’s strapping a rocket to an unknown talent or trying something crazy and outlandish like the Clusterf*** or The Invisible Man, GCW has proven they aren’t afraid to march to the beat of their own drum and that’s been evident by how they’ve led the charge for independent wrestling during the current pandemic.

The GCW roster gathers at the 2020 Acid Cup, one of the first and only independent shows to run without fans during the pandemic. Credit: GCW

GCW was the only major independent company to put on shows without fans, running the two night Acid Cup event about a week after the virus hit and giving wrestling fans a much needed distraction (watching Nick Gage rip the head off of a Pitbull cardboard cutout and the GCW faithful getting #RIP Pitbull trending on Twitter is one of the best wrestling moments of 2020 so far).

Now with the wrestling world slowly working towards getting back to normal, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that GCW is going to be one of the first promotions back in action. GCW has no problem being a pioneer in the COVID world, and it’s tough to think of a better company to lead the charge.

Very few companies have a more devoted fan base than the GCW supporters, and there’s a trust between the promotion and the audience that makes them perfect for this task. Just like they’ve done for the last 5 years, GCW is proving they aren’t afraid to be innovative and take risks, and they could easily be the spark that gets the independent scene to catch fire again. With their track record, I certainly wouldn’t doubt them and I’m extremely excited to start screaming in shock at my television again this weekend.

*GCW presents: The World On GCW 2 this Saturday from Indianapolis, Indiana. The show will take place in the Celebration Plaza Amphitheater at White River State Park, an outdoor venue where fans will be spread out and seating will be limited to 50% capacity. Masks will be provided at the door for fans in need and there will be at least a dozen hand sanitizer stations on site.