Prepare To Be Assimilated: GCW’s Collective Will Overthrow WrestleMania Week

The Collective

Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) has been a growing force to be reckoned with in the US indie circuit since changing over from Jersey Championship Wrestling (JCW) in 2015. But every since last year’s Joey Janela’s Spring Break in Orlando, GCW has been on a path of destruction, presenting the most honest American representation of indie wrestling today, combining American hardcore with the best of what indie stars have to have to offer, from Japan, Mexico, Canada and around the world, from technical to high flyer, from revered legend to risk taking unknowns. Going into next year’s WrestleMania week, GCW has upped the ante, creating The Collective, a three day series of events put on by a union of some of the indies best promotions, from long running promotions from the indie revival’s early days, to some of the most exciting new promotions of the last year or so. The Collective is shaping to be the most intriguing story out of WrestleMania 35 week, and there hasn’t even been a match announcement yet. Here’s a quick look at who’s in The Collective and their scheduled events that week.

THURSDAY APRIL 4, 2018 presents FAMILY REUNION: Jersey City, 12pm

Photo: GCW is one of the industry leaders as a platform for streaming events from many of the top indie promotions around the world, including Beyond Wrestling, Black Label Pro, SUP Graps, Canada’s C4 and Alpha-1, and Australia’s PWA. They’re kicking off The Collective’s assimilation party at noon on Thursday with Family Reunion: Jersey City. While no further details have been released yet, it could either be a SuperShow, similar to what WWN does with EVOLVE, Shine and PROGRESS stars, featuring wrestlers from the other Collective promotions, or it could be a showcase featuring stars from OTHER promotions on the platform. Either way, it’ll be a fun card to kick off the weekend.


Photo: GCW

This past year, GCW started it’s second “series” event (after the Janela series), entitled Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport. A cool concept, it was a submission showcase featuring some of the toughest men in the sport, including NJPW’s Minoru Suzuki, WALTER, Nick Gage, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, Eddie Kingston, Dan “The Beast” Severn, and Riddle himself. With Matt Riddle now signed to NXT, next year’s event will instead be hosted by UFC fighter and pro wrestler Josh Barnett. Expect another hard hitting affair that much like Joey Janela’s Spring Breaks will be a bigger attended event this year after the experience of the first one.


Photo: GCW

Inter Species Wrestling sounds ridiculous and it is. But sometimes in pro wrestling, that can be a good thing. And with ISW, it is. In many ways, ISW is Canada’s answer to CHIKARA, Kaiju Big Battel, or Japan’s Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) Pro. The storylines are somewhere between Monty Python and Dr. Suess and there’s cosplay animals fighting humans. But they also feature some pretty talented wrestlers. The Montreal promotion has been around since 2005 (CHIKARA’s Mike Quackenbush, Hallowicked, UltraMantis Black and Jigsaw all wrestled on ISW’s first card) and has featured many top indie stars with their own colorful cast of characters. It will be the perfect pallet cleanse from the previous Bloodsport.


Photo: GCW

Taking the coveted midnight show (well, 11:59pm to be precise) is Ohio’s premier indie promotion and one of the pioneers of the Midwest indie scene. Cleveland’s Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW) has been in business since 2005 as well, and has been a launching pad for indie wrestlers like Ruby Riott, Johnny Gargano, Shayna Baszler, EC3, Matt Cross, Raymond Rowe (of War Raiders/Machine), Allysin Kay (Sienna), and more. AIW, much like GCW, isn’t afraid to get a little rowdy with their cards and at midnight, AIW will be looking to do just that.



Photo: GCW

A bold and unique vision for a wrestling company, Philadelphia’s CHIKARA was at the forefront of the indie revolution that is sweeping the globe, opening shop in 2002, alongside the first wave of US indies after the demise of WCW and ECW like Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) and Major League Wrestling (MLW). If Sid & Marty Croft owned a wrestling show, booked by Jim Henson, with wresters from Mexico and Japan, you’d have the wild and weird CHIKARA. If you’ve seen CHIKARA, you know what you’re getting (and are probably addicted). If you haven’t, it’s worth checking out. As ridiculous as some of the characters are (in a good way), the wrestling is world class level. CHIKARA shows are as Family as it gets – there’s no blood, no cursing (even the fans chant “Holy poop!”) and everything is appropriate for the youngest wrestling fan. Perfect start for the day on Friday.


Photo: GCW

Indiana’s Black Label Pro has been one of the Rookie of the Year candidates for 2018. They had their first event in September of 2017 and have emerged as one of the Midwest’s most exciting promotions, new or old, period. While PCO vs WALTER from Joey Janela’s Spring Break this spring is credited for PCO’s monstrous “Not Human” comeback, it was actually BLP who booked him back first in a big way, against “All Ego” Ethan Page in January. It took a few shows to find their “voice”, but they found it quickly and there last few events have been stellar. Definitely a promotion to keep an eye on.


Photo: GCW

The Crown Jewel of the GCW WrestleMania week, what started as a laugh in 2016 became the Must-See event of this past year’s WrestleMania week. Cross generational dream matches, fun match-ups, a party vibe atmosphere, and the Clusterf**k Battle Royal, the Janela series of events have only gotten better each one. Normally the midnight party, it’s moving to prime time next year, taking the 8pm start time.


Photo: BCW

A potential Rookie of the Year candidate for 2019, Blackcraft Wrestling is only one show into their (hopefully) long tenure in the industry, but it started off strong. Think if Lucha Underground was more like American Horror Story and you’ll get an idea on the thematics of the promotion. They feature very gothic or punk rock style characters, such as Jimmy Havoc, OvE (Dave & Jake Crist), Harlow O’Hara, Saraya Knight and Brody King, and their authority figure is a creepy Cult Leader portrayed by Doug Bradley, the actor who portrayed Pinhead in the Hellraiser horror film franchise. Blackcraft was literally born to have a midnight hour show.



Photo: GCW

Virginia’s NOVA Pro Wrestling is another of the new faces of the next wave of great indies emerging. Founded in 2015, NOVA Pro has become a favourite in the Mid Atlantic region, combining some of the indies biggest stars with some of the best emerging talent from the Mid Atlantic and Southeastern area.


Photo: GCW

Another of the veteran promotions, Montreal’s International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) has been going for nearly 20 years now, opening shop in 1999. Since then, it’s become one of Canada’s longest running indies and one of it’s best. Hard hitting and intense, IWS has been a huge influence on the world scene as well – early stars included Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and LuFisto. They continue to feature some of the best Canadian talent, including Super Smash Bros (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson), Tabernak de Team (Mathiew St. Jacques & Thomas Dubois), Mike “Speedball” Bailey and PCO.


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