#Preview: GCW Presents “The Block is Hot”

GCW returns to Asbury Park, New Jersey for The Block is Hot, the first of two shows in a row, as GCW heads to Chicago the night after for The Last Ones Left.  Many of the same competitors will return to The Block is Hot from GCW Crime Wave a week prior, including Mance Warner, Homicide, Shlak, Colby Corino, Jimmy Lloyd, and Tony Deppen. Of course, Nick Gage and Joey Janela are on the card,  taking on each other in a hotly contested GCW Championship matchup.  Other competitors on the card include G-Raver, MJF, Orange Cassidy, Chris Dickinson, and Jonathan Gresham.

Expect this card to have a mix of action-heavy on technical grappling, high flying, some humor thrown in, and of course the bloody deathmatch mayhem GCW is iconic for, utilizing tables, doors, light-tubes and whatever else draws blood or invokes sheer amounts of pain.

Head over to GCW’s facebook page for more information on ordering tickets to attend the event or log on to Fite.TV to watch the stream live online.  You can also save money by purchasing the weekend streaming package on Fite.TV which includes both The Block is Hot and The Last Ones Left.

Photo / GCW

Joey Janela vs Nick Gage – GCW Championship

Nick Gage, a man who has paid his dues in the deathmatch scene and been the major face of GCW, will put his GCW Championship on the line against Joey Janela.  This is a high stakes matchup, as Gage will have held the title for over 500 days continuously, and Janela has also invested considerable time and energy into GCW’s success and growth as a major iconic figure and face for the company.

Janela may be eager, more than ever, to see that he carries GCW torch onward by becoming the GCW champion.  Certainly, more than ever, the time is ripe for the possibility of a title change. Predictions for this matchup are highly unpredictable and split, unlike most of the previous matches in which it was expected that Gage would retain the title.  Furthermore, last time these two competitors faced each other in Asbury Park in 2015, Janela consolidated the victory over Gage.  But at Beyond Wrestling, in their most recent singles bout from February 2018, in Ernfield, Connecticut, Nick Gage was victorious.

Gage will be equally determined to continue his championship reign and prove he is up for any challenge to his fanbase, who have enshrined him as somewhat of a messianic icon of GCW and the overall deathmatch scene.  In a way, many view him as the spiritual leader, so to speak, of a revolution -or at least evolution- in the growth of GCW’s deathmatch scene in overtaking CZW as the new standard and status quo.

If the title changes hands, there is no doubt that Janela would be a very respectable champion, iconic to GCW’s growth and its fanbase of die-hards.  However, it does not necessarily mean that Gage’s overall status with the company would take a drastic step back.  After all, in many ways, both Gage and Janela have co-existed together as two major iconic figures and faces of contemporary GCW and its growth.  And they will certainly be highly relevant to the future of GCW as the company spreads its reach and invades Japan this summer.

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Mance Warner vs Homicide

It has been Mance Warner’s breakout year perhaps, becoming one of MLW’s latest recruits, with his name growing in prominence overall.  After all, he is scheduled to take on Nick Gage the day after this show, presumably for the GCW championship if Nick Gage retains it against Janela at this show.  

Though Mance is a very well established deathmatch wrestler, he is also similar in potential to the likes of other contemporary hardcore icons such as Joey Janela, Jimmy Havoc and Sami Callihan, in being more than just a man who bleeds and plays a stuntman.  He is able to captivate his audience and gain their empathy, in addition to having very solid wrestling skills.

Specifically, some describe his style as a modern day Terry Funk, tough in the sense that he can not only overcome and endure a lot. His willpower and heart to carry on is sufficient enough to win matches and overcome the odds, while still enduring more overall damage than his opponent.

“The notorious Homicide” is the opposite type of tough guy.  The chemistry in this match will be particularly intriguing, and potentially violent, as Mance’s greatest strength is his defensive ability to endure the brunt of the punishment and overcome it, while the Homicide has built his reputation upon on offensively making his opponents suffer extreme amounts of violence.   While Homicide has already been a major force in wrestling for ages, it could perhaps be argued that a win for Mance would be far more beneficial in maintaining his steam in going into the future.

Regardless of winning or losing, Homicide will still continue to be a feared and well established tough guy in contemporary wrestling.  Thus, it could perhaps be argued that Mance has more to gain from this matchup and has a stronger reason to be invested in it. This may also give Mance a mental edge over Homicide in going into this match, especially if Homicide underestimates him as being just another rookie trying to establish himself.

Furthermore, Mance probably has it in mind that a victory over Homicide would be very beneficial in demonstrating to Nick Gage just how tough he is, for some added intimidation and steam when he faces Gage a day after this show.

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Jonathan Gresham vs Tony Deppen

Coming off the heels of a jaw-dropping main event matchup against Janela one week prior -described by Janela as one of the most taxing matches in his career- Tony Deppen will be taking on grappling technician Jonathan Gresham.  Gresham, a former CZW Heavyweight Champion, is currently signed with Ring of Honor as a regular competitor since 2014 and is well. Both wrestlers are great technicians, but Gresham has built his reputation and career upon this in particular.  After all, he’s nicknamed “the octopus” for his technical grappling skills, because he is arguably one of the best in the business in that regard.

Deppen has a reputation for temper tantrums and generally being hot-headed, which is often his weakness.  It is also the reason why fans vehemently hate him, as his tempers more closely resemble a state of mental regression that mimics an immature child, lacking clear thinking and sometimes acting out irrationally or with disproportionate aggression to the overall situation.  

At the same time, Gresham’s calm composure and attitude, and ability to maintain a clear train of high functioning thought under stress, will allow him to utilize his complex grappling skills and capitalize upon Deppen.  This will likely be a fast-paced match with plenty of grappling and chain wrestling, with some high flying maneuvers and strong style, as both wrestlers are incredibly versatile. But expect Gresham to utilize his calmer composure and mental aptitude over Deppen, in which outsmarting him while he is in states or moments of regressive anger may be his game plan to capitalize upon.

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Marko Stunt vs MJF

More than the impressive physical endurance and athleticism MJF and Marko will surely demonstrate here, the most enticing part of this matchup may be in witnessing how these two personalities confront each other in terms of overall attitude.  This may very well determine the overall trajectory and pace of the match. Though their history is minimal, their backgrounds alone may be enough to foster a collision course of resentment between these two competitors who come from very different social backgrounds.

Maxwell Jacob Friedman, or just MJF, is despised by fans for good reason, infamously known for his extreme narcissism.  This attitude is greatly fostered by his wealthy financial background which he views as the defining factor in his self-perception of superiority over people who have less money and less class than him.  And he has no problem reminding the world of his hateful and condescending views every chance he gets.

MJF probably sees Marko as the extreme opposite of himself: an “average Joe” and a classless kid from an unprestigious and unremarkable background and an overall nobody.  After all, in a way, this overall perception of Marko’s background closely resembles the way in which he defined himself during his wrestling debut and captivated the world.  He was just the average kid from the audience who accepted KTB’s open challenge at GCW Spring Break 2.

On the outside, Marko looked quite unimpressive and unflattering, and out of place in the squared circle.  But his skills surprised and won over the audience and created much buzz on the internet. This match may turn out to resemble a class-war of sorts that draws some heated tension between the two.  MJF will likely confront Marko in the way that he perceives him: a punk from an inferior social class, similar to the audience members from which he came from, and which MJF constantly despises as “poor” and “ugly”, and inferior overall.  

Photo // GCW

Shlak vs G-Raver

Shlak and G-Raver have wrestled against each other many times in deathmatches, and have a lot of history, yet still hold a sense of honor and respect for each other in sharing this history of bloodshed.  After all, these two competitors come from similar worlds and backgrounds as tattoo artists in their off-time.

Similarly to their many previous bouts, expect this one to continue their history of bloodshed with some extremely violent deathmatch components and a lot of blood loss.  In terms of wrestling styles within the world of deathmatches, these two are very different. Shlak is an absolute beast and gigantic powerhouse, and obviously a weight lifter, with a physique partially similar to Brian Cage, but perhaps slightly meatier.  He is perhaps the strongest wrestler in the deathmatch scene today.

On the other hand, G-Raver is a cruiserweight sized wrestler that incorporates high flying into the deathmatch mix, but not in the sense of being incredibly acrobatic or resembling one with a background in gymnastics. You may not see him pull off high-agility maneuvers such as spinal taps.  But he is well versed in Swanton bombs, sentons, springboard arm drags and the overall fundamentals of fast-paced cruiserweight wrestling, which he incorporates into deathmatches very impressively.

To a degree, his style resembles a modern-day Sabu.  These often have particularly painful looking landings resembling a man willing to sacrifice his body as a weapon to secure a win at any cost.  The various matches between G-Raver and Shlak are more than a mere deathmatch equivalent of another formulaic matchup pitting the small and agile David against the large and powerful Goliath. Both of these wrestlers are unique and bring their own thing to the table, and never fail to impress when their deathmatch styles violently clash.

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Jimmy Lloyd vs Colby Corino

Similarly to the matchup between Marko Stunt and Jimmy Lloyd a few days ago at GCW Crime Wave, this is another match that pits an ultraviolent deathmatch wrestler against an outsider with a more conventional wrestling background.  This always entices curiosity among spectators in regards to whether Lloyd will bring his deathmatch components into the matchup and how Corino will handle or endure the situation.

However, make no mistake about Jimmy Lloyd.  Despite being a deathmatch wrestler, Lloyd is also one who knows how to navigate the complexities of an overall matchup that includes grappling and technical styles.  He is also particularly fast-paced in his ability to keep up with smaller cruiserweights, though one may not expect this upon looking at him. Additionally, he can deploy some impressive martial arts kicks and chain wrestling into his arsenal.

On the other hand, if Lloyd turns this into a hardcore deathmatch, one should not immediately underestimate the toughness and versatility of Corino.  After last week’s stiff matchup against Homicide, despite losing, he has proven he can endure a lot of pain and suffering and maintain his willpower to keep going.   Furthermore, Colby grew up watching his father, Steve Corino, bleed regularly and wrestle in no-rope barbed wire matches. It is no secret that Colby draws a lot of inspiration from his father.  Perhaps we may see an untapped ultraviolent side of Colby come to light in this matchup.

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Orange Cassidy vs Lucky 13

Finally, Orange Cassidy’s match, as usual, stands as the most enigmatic and unpredictable on this lineup perhaps.  Especially given his mysterious demeanor to show little enthusiasm for the fight at hand, while taking on on Lucky 13, a blazing fast competitor of the complete opposite contrast.  Lucky 13 is a CZW veteran and high flyer with incredible aerial abilities and lightning speed pace. He can even incorporate deathmatch components into his matchups on occasions. He certainly is not afraid to bleed.  Lucky 13’s high energy and constant desire to blow away his spectators will certainly be in conflict with Cassidy’s nonchalant demeanor, sluggish pace, and minimal effort.

Yet, anything could still happen in this matchup as far as the winner and loser is concerned, as Cassidy can be highly unpredictable and suddenly decide to actually wrestle, especially if a golden moment presents itself to him.  If there is confusion after reading this segment, it is to be expected. Cassidy’s entire gimmick and strategy is to be unpredictable and make zero sense. He is a particularly controversial wrestler to some fans, as he completely disrupts the art of the wrestling paradigm within itself. To try and understand this, the best advice is to simply head over to Youtube and watch any of his matches, notably his upset victory over David Starr in Beyond Wrestling.

Unsettled Business?

Other matches, unannounced for the card thus far, are still very likely.  Teddy Hart is confirmed to return as well, though his role has not been specified yet.  Chris Dickinson is also confirmed to be on the card. Furthermore, Colby Corino and Homicide are on the same card again, despite being booked in separate matches.  They may have unfinished business to settle from their heated confrontation at Crime Wave the week prior.

Their match ended in controversy when Steve Corino’s granddaughter came to the ring to force the referee to end the match and attempted to try and make Homicide break his relentless submission hold on Colby.  Colby was crawling to the backstage when Homicide finally decides to finish with him. It may have been a one time conflict, but it also may prove to be a new long-term feud. Interference in the each other’s matchups is always a possibility for this show, as well as confrontations outside of the ring too.  

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.