#Preview: GCW Tournament of Survival 4

Tournament of Survival 4, as usual, will be nothing short of bloody disgusting and make stomachs squirm for GCW.  This graphical excitement and joy ride of savageness will showcase the toughest deathmatch competitors go at it once again to prove themselves as the best of the best in the most dangerous tournament in pro wrestling perhaps.  For as many die-hards spectating GCW’s tournament loud and proud, there are perhaps some who will indulge in its sickening conceptions alone in a guilty pleasure. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of the ultraviolence here and there?

This year’s tournament will take place at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and will stream on FITE.TV live at 7:30 pm eastern time.  In the past, Combat Zone Wrestling and other leagues such as IWA Mid-South represented the ideals of deathmatch tournaments. But GCW has indeed changed the game and presented its Tournament of Survival as a worthy competitor that has staked itself out to be at least as death-defying and violent as the others, including CZW’s.  A lot of deathmatch enthusiasts are quick to argue that GCW’s tournament is the new standard and the king of them all. Though GCW’s tournament only has a track record consisting of a few years, it has certainly lived up to the hype in the meantime.

After all, GCW’s management, and some of its primary leaders, including Brett Lauderdale, came from CZW and some may go as far as arguing that GCW is the evolution that grew out from CZW.  If any leadership and promotion knows what it takes to raise the bar and continue to innovate the deathmatch scene from close involvement in managing the most high-risk deathmatch tournaments over a tenure of two decades, it’s these guys.  If there is one event to watch this year for spectating the best of deathmatch wrestling, one can not go wrong with the Tournament of Survival 4.  Few events, if any, can match it in the overall scale of violence and death-defying mayhem.

The Tournament of Survival 4 will be an eight-man elimination tournament with four first-round matches.  There are a lot of Japanese competitors in this year’s tournament, which may be relevant to GCW’s tours of Japan for the first time, which will transpire this Summer.  Clearly, GCW is trying to cater its brand to the Japanese market where deathmatch wrestling also has its own audiences of die-hards. Bringing in some of its most iconic, as well as fresh talent, to face off against North America’s up and coming deathmatch stars makes perfect sense in the current climate.

Photo / GCW

Jimmy Lloyd vs Great Sasuke
“The Prince of American Hardcore” Jimmy Lloyd will be taking on the Japanese legend himself, the Great Sasuke, in what may be the biggest standout of the first-round matches.  Though Sasuke is not well known for being a deathmatch wrestler, he has proven how versatile he can be when given the opportunity to compete in this paradigm.

For example, he has a history of competing in no rope exploding barbed wire deathmatches with Atsushi Onita.  Recently, he took on Joey Janela at GCW’s Spring Break 2 in a matchup which included an array of weaponry configurations and high-risk bumps utilizing tables.  His tolerance for pain and risk-taking is clearly not in question.

But Lloyd often takes matters to the next level, including his iconic use of scissors to tear open flesh, which he may use to completely bloody up the legend himself.  On the other hand, Lloyd is also versatile in his incorporation of Japanese spirit style elements in the ring. Lloyd also frequently displays an impressive ability to unleash beautifully executed martial arts kicks into his matchups to give himself an upper edge against competitors that are smaller, faster and more agile than a man of his meatier build.  

Lloyd may just take the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Sasuke by surprise at his own game.  It will be fascinating to see just how far both competitors will go in utilizing elements that are typically further outside the paradigm of which they are normally accustomed to.

Nick Gage vs G-Raver
In another high stakes matchup, Nick Gage and G-Raver will take each other on in the first round as well.  G-Raver defeated Shlak in a bloody contest at GCW Crime Wave in April to earn his spot in this tournament. Though this is a non-title match, given Gage’s track record of having bloodied countless opponents and defended his GCW Championship for well over 400 days, he is going into this match resonating a level of intimidation that could put G-Raver at a disadvantage in entering this matchup.  

Alex Colon vs Toshiyuki Sakuda
Next up, Alex Colon will have to get through Big Japan Pro Wrestling’s own Toshiyuki Sakuda.  This match pits two competitors against each other who are very similar to each other in their hybrid styles which include very strong grappling and technical wrestling, in addition to bloody deathmatches.  Both wrestlers stand on their own in the world of wrestling, even if one only bases their skills on “pure wrestling” abilities. After all, Colon is a former Rockstar Pro Wrestling Luchacore Champion, a title with a rich history of reigns by cruiserweights such as Rey Fenix and Impact’s Zachary Wentz.  

Though Sakuda has yet to consolidate any titles in his career thus far and is considered newer blood with less experience than Colon, he is among Big Japan’s up and coming fresh talent and has been building a name for himself over the last year.  He has competed in NOAH and made the transition into deathmatch wrestling only after proving himself in traditional wrestling during the first couple years of his career.

Sakuda also had the opportunity to compete in Big Japan’s tournament to crown their first ever Junior Heavyweight Champion, despite falling short.  Clearly, Sakuda is thirsty for a career breakout and even if he does not become the winner of GCW’s tournament, being invited to compete in GCW’s tournament, especially from overseas, is no small feat.  

Already, this invitation is a career highlight for Sakuda.  Win or loss, this opportunity may be the stepping stone Sakuda is looking for to elevate his career to the next level.  While he may be the least established name in this year’s tournament, he could prove to be the dark horse of this tournament.

Orin Veidt vs Isami Kodaka
Finally, Orin Veidt and Japan and Pro Wrestling Basara’s Isami Kodaka will slug it out in the first round.  Unlike much of GCW’s deathmatch talent which built themselves up in CZW or IWA Mid-South previously, Veidt is among a new wave of talent that comes from other less known deathmatch promotions, namely the midwest’s ICW.  

Veidt’s breakout match arguably occurred just a few weeks ago at GCW’s Last Ones Left when he defeated Eric Ryan in a, particularly bloody matchup, even for the standards of most light-tube deathmatches.  It was clearly the dark horse matchup of that card.

Isami Kodaka is clearly the more experienced and established wrestler in this matchup, debuting in 2002 and having won a number of impressive championship belts throughout his rich career.  He represents one of Japan’s hybrid stars who has built a name in both deathmatch and pure wrestling.

Kodaka wrestles in both Big Japan’s deathmatch scene and in All Japan, and most notably DDT.  He also helped found the new promotion Pro-Wrestling Basara. Most impressively, he is entering the Tournament of Survival as the current Big Japan Deathmatch Heavyweight Champion, fresh off this historic victory over Masaya Takahashi just a few weeks ago in a 200 light-tube deathmatch.  

It would be considered a huge upset if Veidt is able to defeat Kodaka in the first round.  Not only would it allow Veidt to continue onward in the tournament, but he would also be heading to Japan with a significant amount of extra steam from such a victory, as GCW tours overseas this Summer.  If Veidt does not win the Tournament of Survival, among the rest of the losing competitors, he may still be the one who walks away from this tournament with the highest gain if he can at least make it to the second round in defeating Kodaka.  

Photo / GCW

Special Appearance: KENTA (aka Hideo Itami) and Others
GCW also announced that KENTA will also be making a special appearance at the Tournament of Survival.  Some may better know KENTA as Hideo Itami during his time with WWE NXT. Before signing with NXT, KENTA wrestled for Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan.  Ironically, this deathmatch tournament will be KENTA’s first event since being granted his release from WWE in February. It is unclear at this point what role KENTA will comprise in the Tournament of Survival, and whether he will even wrestle at all.  

Other debuts and appearances include Joshua Bishop and Mathew Justice, but it is also unclear what their role will be at this point.  It can most likely be presumed they may be taking part in non-tournament matches. Expect other unannounced non-tournament matches to transpire on this card, as wrestlers such as Kikutaro are also confirmed to appear at Tournament of Survival 4 for GCW.  

Photo / GCW

Finally, there will also be an official after-party hosted by Shlak and Markus Crane, which will present two non-tournament matches consisting of no-ring deathmatches in the bar area to top off the night in what is already an impressively over-stacked card.  Tournament of Survival 4 for GCW will certainly be a game changer for all wrestling fans.

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.