I’m a fight fan. I’ve been watching pro wrestling since I was a kid, boxing since I was “yute” (Praise be to My Cousin Vinny) and MMA since middle school. All hail Blockbuster videos for that one. Every time as a kid that I watched something it was because of name brand value. My brothers were watching WCW because of Ric Flair and I was watching because they wouldn’t let me put in my VHS recording of The Centurions.
I watched UFC because I knew who Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn was from the old WWF days, and I watched boxing because everyone wouldn’t shut up about this guy named Mike Tyson. Fun fact; my first Tyson fight that I ever watched? The night he bit off a man’s ear.
Welcome to combat sports, kiddo!
So to say that I’m a fan of beating people up for sport would be an understatement. I love it. It’s so pure, so natural and so poetic. It’s the easiest sport to follow because there are no points or overly complicated rules. At least not compared to football.
Seriously, why are double teams only sometimes called on kickoffs in the NFL now? Who made that rule?
This takes me to this past April where Josh Barnett hosted his first Bloodsport event, the second one at the time overall. Names like Barnett, Minoru Suzuki, Frank Mir, Dan Severn, Killer Kross and Timothy Thatcher all competed in a night of glorious, kick-ass, combat action. Then a third even, Barnett’s second to host, was announced for September of 2019 and I was elated.
Then Jon Moxley, a street fighter and hardcore icon was added to the card in the main event against Barnett. All seemed right with the world. Then Moxley had to pull out due to the flesh eating disease that is MRSA. So while Moxley was battling a disease not seen since the Neurolytic Pathogen (look it up), Barnett and host company Game Changer Wrestling were left scrambling for a main event replacement.
Here in lies the issue; there was no one on the card that could even come close to replacing Moxley. Instead of having a more diverse roster of name brand talent, the folks at GCW and Barnett himself (or whomever was building the card) went with potential talent over respected name value.
The matches, as seen below, lack a lot of cross sport value;
* Josh Barnett vs. Chris Dickinson
* Tom Lawlor vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
* Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Timothy Thatcher
* Allysin Kay vs. Nicole Savoy
* Zachary Wentz vs. Anthony Henry
* Anthony Carelli vs. Simon Grimm
* JR Kratos vs. Erik Hammer
* Sumie Sakai vs. Lindsay Snow
* Matt Makowski vs. Rory Gulak
I believe Rory Gulak was a late addition, replacing Moxley, though I could be wrong on that minor detail.
Now let’s be fair, there’s some talent here. Lawlor and Davey Boy are two of the best in MLW, but neither have Frank Mir’s name value. IIkuhisa Minowa is a legend in MMA for all the wrong reasons and nowhere near the legend that Dan Severn was. While men like Zachary Wentz, Anthony Carelli, and Matt Makowski all offer something, none are up there with Suzuki.
I understand that Low Ki is probably not on GCW’s good side these days, but he, Ken Shamrock, Stephan Bonnar, and other duel pro wrestling/MMA competitors exist in the either and none of whom were contacted. Hell, Jake Hager – Bellator’s shiny new 38 year old prospect – would of been the perfect get if he was interested. Was he? Who knows.
And let’s be fair, maybe these guys were approached. I can’t imagine Shamrock would of turned down the bout, the man is notorious for chasing a pay day and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. He’s a businessman. So let’s be fair, maybe some of these guys were approached. Maybe they contacted 100 different fighters. Maybe they did everything they could.
I just don’t believe that to be the case. Much like Turning Point 2007, when Samoa Joe tabbed Eric Young to replace a no-show Scott Hall, maybe Barnett said “…let’s give Dickinson the ball”. Who knows? I don’t.
What I do know is that this card isn’t nearly as stacked as the previous two and no amount of Twitter-snitching will make me recant that statement. I love Barnett, I’m eagerly anticipating his debut in Bellator, bu that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to be critical of an event I was highly invested in earlier this year. I want this show to be good, and I want to be proven wrong. And let’s be honest, my favorite matches weren’t the ones with the biggest names (save for Barnett/Suzuki – MOTY and you can eat pickled egg if you disagree) , so I’m open to the idea that this card could be better than the past one in April.
But name value matters. I want a third Barnett lead event. I worry that due to a lack of big names that this show won’t draw nearly as well as the first, which was obviously such a success they planned a sequel just five months later. Will we get a third show? Will Moxley be able to make that show? The lack of name value does hurt the potential this show has to garner an audience and no amount of “..the writer is clearly unaware of the backgrounds of the fighters” will change that fact.
Frank Mir is about to be on another Bellator main event (…weather he should be is a different discussion), so besides Barnett, who else could main event a Paramount/DAZN card that’s competing at Bloodsport II (3)? No one. Exactly.
So yes, I’m worried. Yes, I’m excited. Yes, I’m disappointed. Yes, I’ll be watching. I expected better, and I may just yet be given that. Only time, and the event itself, can ultimately determine how this show lands for me.
For those interested in the event, you can watch live on September 14 from the Showboat Atlantic City in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The show will stream live on FITE for $19.99.