#Preview: Game Changer Wrestling Presents Crime Wave

Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) returns to Philadelphia’s Voltage Lounge on Thursday, April 25th with Crime Wave.  Firstly, it will showcase the much-anticipated return of Dustin Thomas, who nearly stole the show at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3, demonstrating wrestling skills and maneuvers one would have never expected nor imagined for a man who has no legs. His debut into the wrestling scene was cemented when he accepted Tony Deppen’s open challenge to anyone in the audience, unleashing 450 splashes, Swanton bombs, springboard arm drags and other physics-defying maneuvers using his arms and body weight as leverage and momentum in unique ways.  

To much dismay, Tony Deppen still won the match-up expectedly, but with multiple near-wins and jaw-dropping maneuvers by the Thomas, initially known as just “No Legs.” Whether Thomas will be a regular on GCW or the larger indy circuit is unclear, but he’s certainly proven that his match-up with Tony Deppen was not a one-time gimmick matchup for shock and awe.  

Game Changer Wrestling Crime Wave will certainly be an interesting platform to test the waters and see if Thomas can keep the momentum going and what new tricks he may have in store, as it seems his limitations in having no legs merely provides ample room and opportunity for demonstrating new and unique in-ring creativity.  Whether his momentum continues or not, he has already proven beyond a doubt that the world of pro wrestling will continue to become more inclusive and creative in contemporary times.

Photo / GCW

Both Marco Stunt and Joey Janela will also return to GCW Crime Wave as regulars once again, after finally arriving back to the ring earlier this month at Spring Break 3, following injuries that kept them both out of action for 6 months.  Janela will be taking on Tony Deppen, a regular in GCW, CZW, and Chikara, who is also experienced in hardcore wrestling. If Janela and Deppen’s previous OPW Championship and CZW Wired title match from 2016 provide any indication of what is to come, expect this to be hard-hitting, fast-paced and with plenty of high spots outside the ring utilizing chairs and the surrounding environment outside the ring. 

When their original encounter first took place in OPW, Deppen was an up and coming newcomer on the horizon, still establishing himself and with much to prove.  To some degree, this was Deppen’s breakout match, or at least one of them, despite Janela scoring the win. Now that Deppen is much more established on the indy circuit, Janela’s path to victory may be much tougher this time around.  


Marko Stunt will be taking on Jimmy Lloyd in singles competition.  Jimmy Lloyd is known as a high-risk deathmatch wrestler with a fast pace and adaptive wrestling style and is also well versed in wrestling cruiserweight high flyers such as Marko.  The bigger question and concern is whether Lloyd will bring elements of deathmatch wrestling into the mix and whether Marko will be able to engage in or endure this high-risk style that’s mostly foreign to him, and from a completely different wrestling paradigm.  

It should also be noted that the last time Marko experimented in the realm of hardcore wrestling at GCW’s LA Confidential in a match against Eli Everfly, it was a high-risk Canadian destroyer off a ledge and through a table which injured him and put him out of action for 6 months.  There’s an ominous feeling in sticking Marko in a ring against a renowned deathmatch wrestler known for his high-risk matchups, almost immediately upon his return from injury. High risks are to be expected here, and certainly, for Marko, this will be an anxiety-inducing matchup given its peculiar timing, fresh from his recovery, with his previous injury still lingering.

Photo / GCW

Jonathan Gresham, a Ring of Honor star and regular, and arguably one of the most brilliant technical wrestlers in the business today, will go against the hard-hitting power-house brute that is KTB.  For all his size and power, KTB is known for unleashing high flying maneuvers at times, and demonstrating enough technical grappling skills to maintain pace and have great matches with anyone. KTB, once a much bigger name in the indy scene years ago, may be looking at this matchup as a possible source for reigniting his career again and elevating his status on the overall indy circuit, as well as differentiating himself from the rest of the established big-guy wrestlers.

Photo / GCW

Mance Warner will take on Shlak, possibly the strongest wrestler active and established in the deathmatch wrestling scene.  There is no unique “catch” regarding this match, except that these two well-established deathmatch wrestlers are facing each other in singles competition for the first time, and it is expected that it will be extremely violent and unpredictable.  Oddly enough, there is not much history between these two wrestlers, though their paths have lingered close by to each other in various leagues and deathmatch tournaments over the years; however, they have never quite crossed.

Mance has been on fire in this past year and has taken the indy scene by storm, being among MLW’s newest recruits and recently having defeated Rickey Shane Page for the CZW championship.  While Shlak is well established in the deathmatch scene and has a particularly unique physique not often seen in the world of ultraviolent wrestlers, he has not received the same rise in overall career prominence as Mance and may be looking at this match as an opportunity to cement fresh buzz and momentum for himself.

Photo / GCW

Colby Corino’s match against Homicide has certainly ignited much intrigue among fans and observers, given the years of bloody feuding and history between Homicide and Colby’s father, Steve Corino.  The long history between those two resulted in some of Ring of Honor’s most violent matches, as well as turbulent history which saw fans riot during the aftermath of their first bout in 2003. Steve Corino also lost his hearing in one ear due to a slap by Homicide which ruptured his eardrum. Colby may try to use this matchup as a means to defend the honor of his father and get back at his historical nemesis, but Homicide could also utilize this opportunity to unleash mental agony on Steve Corino by turning his son into a bloody pulp. This could be an added epilogue for an old feud, or possibly the beginning of a new chapter too.

Gringo Loco will wrestle Ophidian for the first time ever in singles competition.  Gringo Loco is outspoken in his pride for sticking with the Lucha Libre style of wrestling throughout his career, despite coming from a different background, while Ophidian is a well-established trainer at Chikara’s Wrestle Factory.  Both wrestlers are lucha libre veterans with many years of experience. Loco has spent the last few years in AAA wrestling regularly in Mexico. History will be made as these veterans finally cross paths in singles competition in what will most certainly be a highly impressive showcase of some of the best that lucha libre wrestling has to offer.

The final match for Game Changer Wrestling Crime Wave involves Nick Gage, the long-running GCW champion. He will put his title on the line against Conor Claxton, another well-established deathmatch wrestler from CZW.  This is the first time these two will meet in singles competition. Not only is it expected that this match will be extremely violent and graphic, but it will also be historically intriguing, given the background of these two.  Nick Gage is a deathmatch veteran and one of the original icons of CZW, starring in its main events regularly since its original founding in 1999, while Claxton is one of their newer deathmatch regulars, debuting in CZW in 2014.

In the later years, Nick Gage turned his back on CZW, placing his allegiance with GCW during a time in which the ownership and management within both leagues began to develop into being bitter foes.  Recently, GCW has been establishing itself as the superior and more popular deathmatch league these days among fans and observers, especially in the last year. It will be fascinating to watch wrestlers such as Claxton enter GCW and foster new history in the deathmatch scene as GCW’s pace in growth continues to give rise.  While most fans would bet their money that Nick Gage will retain his GCW title, this could still shape up to be a very serious proving ground for Claxton. As the roster rotation from CZW to GCW appears to be picking up pace as of late, this match presents a new opportunity for Claxton to solidify himself in GCW’s growing deathmatch scene and transition himself as a regular.

While there still be other unannounced matches still to come, Game Changer Wrestling Crime Wave is clearly shaping up to be a particularly unique card.  While it has not seen the hype of some of its other annually established shows such as Spring Break or Bloodsport, it certainly has the potential to be among one of the year’s best offerings, or potentially among the most violent.  

Micah Shapiro, a native of Seattle, a father, and a husband, holds a Master of Science degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University, and is a war and history junkie with a fascination for the dramatization and narration of human conflicts (obviously, pro wrestling fits that spectrum very well). He avidly watches independent pro wrestling as an escape from the daily anxieties of life in general, and his logistics day job. Though a typical hermit, sometimes he'll actually leave his house to go to DEFY's shows. Besides pro wrestling and global conflicts, he enjoys BBQ'ing (his specialty is Turkish Aleppo-pepper chicken kabobs), playing adventure and RPG video games, board games, painting war game miniatures, and reading science fiction, horror and fantasy novels.