When Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) announced For The Culture in October of 2019 as one of the first shows for the 2020 edition of The Collective over WrestleMania Week, it created quite a buzz in the industry. Creatively controlled and run by former GCW World Champion AJ Gray, For The Culture was going to be an exclusive showcase of wrestlers of color that would unite not just many talents that people were already aware of within the POC communities, but overlooked veterans and rising stars. Sadly, by the time WrestleMania Week rolled around in the spring of 2020, the world was battling a Covid pandemic and the events were all postponed. For The Culture finally arrived when the entire Collective was shifted to Indiana last October, and, as expected, it was one of the weekend’s highlight attractions. By then, however, it had taken on far bigger implications.
Over the course of the summer, the world watched in disgust and horror as George Floyd was murdered by a Minnesota police officer, and Black Lives Matter erupted into its loudest voice since the movement began in 2013 (over the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman). For The Culture was no longer simply a showcase of wrestlers of color; it was a bold statement that wrestlers of color are an equally integral part of the global wrestling community and would no longer stay silent when it came to systemic racism within its own industry either. In January of 2021, at GCW Fight Forever, the historic 24-hour live wrestling event, For The Culture returned for another block to expand on its predecessor. It returns once again for its annual position as part of The Collective this year for WrestleMania Week, with the third installment starting at 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, April 8, and can be watched live on FITE.tv. This year’s For The Culture will be hosted by longtime rapper and producer Raheem “Mega Ran” Jarbo. Here’s a rundown of the full card so far announced.
PB Smooth vs. Jon Davis
This is a huge match featuring two hard-nosed hosses. PB Smooth is the younger of the two, having started out in 2016 with Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW). A student of NXT Superstars Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae, Smooth has gone from being “just another big man” to a versatile monster capable of anything. He truly blew up in early 2019, when he won the AIW Absolute Championship; since then, he’s been a player with the likes of Glory Pro, Ohio Wrestling Alliance (OWA), and more, and recently made his debut with Beyond Wrestling. This will be PB Smooth’s third appearance at a For The Culture event. His opponent is a near 20-year veteran of the U.S. indies and one of its toughest fighters, in 41-year old Jon Davis.
Davis was trained by former NWA World Champion Dory Funk Jr. in Florida and started out in the Southern indies. In 2006, he started with Full Impact Pro (FIP), where he’s remained a presence ever since. He had a two-year stint in Ring of Honor from 2009 to 2010 as part of the Dark City Fight Club alongside Kory Chavis, where they battled the likes of The Young Bucks, The Briscoes, The American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards), and The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Cesaro). The Dark City Fight Club became 2x NWA World Tag Team Champions, as well as tag champions in multiple indies. In 2011, he began competing for Dragon Gate USA and then EVOLVE Wrestling. However, it’s FIP where he’s remained a consistent threat in his 19-year career, where he’s the reigning 2x FIP World Heavyweight Champion and FIP Heritage Champion. Davis was originally slated for the original For The Culture last April, but now, he will finally make his debut for the event a year later.
Scramble: Mysterious Q vs. D-Rogue vs. Alpha Zo vs. Rob Martyr vs. Troy Hollywood vs. AC Mack
This 6-man scramble match will feature some new names to many viewers. The most recognizable, nationally, is arguably AC Mack, the man who until recently held the ACTION Championship for a stunning 798-days until Arik Royal defeated him this past February. AC Mack has all the tools to be an impact player and, hopefully, 2021 marks the year he can finally break out of the Southern indie circuit and became a national player – he had a great showing last month in the inaugural Cassandro Cup. The Mysterious Q is bound to make waves sooner than later, as the longtime veteran of the Texas indies, who is a 2x Reality of Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, 2x ROW Television Champion, and 2x ROW Texas Champion, and is currently 560+ days into his reign as New Texas Pro Champion. Q is a frightening mix of absolute power and extreme athleticism, and if the right eyes get on him, he has Superstar potential.
D-Rogue is a 5-year pro who has spent the bulk of his career on the West Coast, starting out with Stoner Brothers University in Oakland. He’s also a regular with Hoodslam, East Bay Pro Wrestling (where he’s a former EBPW Champion), and Supreme Pro Wrestling, and made his GCW debut this past January as part of Black Label Pro‘s block at GCW Fight Forever. “The King of Trill” Alpha Zo is another West Coast product and EBPW and Supreme Pro regular. He’s a former EBPW Tag Team Champion with D-Dre Fresh in The Worlds Freshest Tag Team. “Poisoned Youth” Robert Martyr is one of the rising stars of the past year, who has been making a name for himself with Paradigm Pro Wrestling. The 20-year old has also found his way into Major League Wrestling, appearing on several episodes of MLW FUSION late last year.
Trained by ROH legend Jay Lethal, Troy Hollywood has been making a name for himself in the Florida indies since his debut in 2015, competing for the likes of American Combat Wrestling (ACW), IGNITE Wrestling, Full Impact Pro, and Generation Championship Wrestling (GenCW). He’s been expanding his profile of late, competing for PPW and MLW as well. He’s a former ACW Cruiserweight Champion. This past January, he lost his IGNITE Championship after a 378-day run. Scrambles are great ways for every competitor to get their work in and with six exciting names looking to expand their national presence, expect more than a couple to emerge from this with much brighter futures.
Tre LaMar vs. Eli Knight
Ohio’s Tre LaMar was originally set to make his GCW debut last April at the inaugural For The Culture event, but the pandemic squashed that. However, 24-year-old and another student of Gargano and LeRae would ultimately make his debut at GCW The Wrld on GCW 2 in Indiana last June against the debuting Lee Moriarty. Since then, he’s become a regular star with GCW, after spending the bulk of his previous four years with AIW. In 2017, he became part of the AIW stable No Consequences, which featured AJ Gray, Josh Bishop, Malcolm Monroe III, and others, before starting a new squad with Gray and PB Smooth in 2019 called 40 Acres. He also joined up with Kobe Durst in his Blood Diamond stable, capturing the Black Label Pro Tag Team titles with Jake Lander.
LaMar had a breakout 2020; in March, he became the inaugural OWA Heavyweight Champion for one of Ohio’s fastest rising indie promotions, Ohio Wrestling Alliance. LaMar was so impressive in his GCW debut that for his follow-up match, he had a belter with indie veteran ACH the following GCW card. Tre LaMar has all the tools to be an impact player. Eli Knight is a young prospect out of the Florida indies who has been impressing of late with his work with Winter Park’s Pro Wrestling 2.0 since 2019. The 19-year-old is stepping up to the biggest match of his young career against another hungry young talent determined to continue his path to greatness. This one has all the potential to be the dark horse of the card, as both men will be looking to make a big impression to a national audience.
Thick N’ Juicy 2.0 (Willow Nightingale & Brooke Valentine) vs. Fire & Flava (Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz)
The original Thick N’ Juicy tandem consisted of Faye Jackson and Willow Nightingale, originally debuting together in 2017. In 2018, they captured the Queens of Combat (QOC) Tag Team Titles, holding them for 365 days, and were all set for this week’s For The Culture, where they would face IMPACT Knockouts Tag Team Champions Fire & Flava. However, due to a recent serious injury and her subsequent decision to retire from pro wrestling, Faye Jackson is no longer available for the show. With that, Willow Nightingale has announced that a new Thick N’ Juicy tandem will debut at the event, with rising star Brooke Valentine joining the team in Faye’s steed. “Thick N Juicy has always been a vehicle for woman empowerment,” Willow stated in a Tweet on Monday. “We celebrate kick ass Black women who just so happen to be both thick and juicy. It just felt very in the spirit of Faye being such a mom to the community to let that live on and pass it down.”
Willow is a 6-year veteran of the New York scene, including being a 3x New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC) Starlet Champion, who has not only won tag team gold with Faye but was the last Campeonatos de Parejas (Tag Team) Champions in CHIKARA with Solo Darling in The Bird & The Bee. “The Queen B” Brooke Valentine is another rising star coming out of the Midwest scene in Iowa, where she’s been a regular with Impact Pro Wrestling (IPW). She’s also the ZOWA Women’s Champion in Northern Illinois and had an incredible match against Ziggy Haim in her GCW debut at GCW Fight Forever. Their opponents are the current reigning IMPACT Knockouts Tag Team Champions, Fire & Flava, the explosive duo of Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz, who won the vacant titles at IMPACT Hard to Kill this past January. They’ve successfully fought off challenges from Jessicka Havok & Nevaeh and Jordynne Grace & Jazz and, while this is a non-title match, don’t expect Fire & Flava to slow down the tempo.
Myron Reed vs. Ken Broadway vs. Calvin Tankman vs. Andy Brown
Four very different styles of wrestlers will clash in an exciting four-way match. For years, despite being a former Glory Pro Crown of Glory Champion, “Hot Fire” Myron Reed was looked at as more of a tag team specialist, after winning countless tag team titles with the likes of Sugar Dunkerton (in IWA Mid-South), Trey Miguel (IWA Mid-South), Stephen Wolf (Glory Pro), and AR Fox (AAW Pro). However, the recent MLW Middleweight Champion and current Paradigm Pro Wrestling Champion is now fully embraced as a singles star of the future and the now. New York City’s Ken Broadway has been a star in the New York indie scene since 2013. A student of Amazing Red and House of Glory (HOG), he’s been a regular with HOG since his debut, where he’s a 2x HOG Crown Jewel Champion, with his second reign lasting 281 days. Over the years, he’s also competed for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), Beyond Wrestling, Wrestling Has A Tomorrow (WHAT), VxS, and even sporadic appearances with GCW since 2015 (he competed in the first Acid Cup in 2016).
After missing most of 2020, Broadway has turned 2021 into his year, returning to GCW at GCW 56 Nights on January 1, 2021 to defeat ACH, and has had big matches with the likes of Lee Moriarty, Saieve Al Sabah, Jimmy Lloyd, Treehouse Lee, and most recently, 2 Cold Scorpio, as Broadway looks to make 2021 his biggest money year to date. Indiana native and a former IWA Mid South Heavyweight Champion Calvin Tankman exploded in 2020 with the likes of GCW, PPW, Black Label Pro, and Violence x Suffering (VxS). His meteoric rise last year also lead to him signing with Major League Wrestling (MLW), where he debuted this past November. His impact in MLW has been meteoric, challenging Jacob Fatu for the MLW World Heavyweight title in only his sixth MLW match. For almost a decade, “Uptown” Andy Brown has been a veteran of the West Coast scene, a long-time regular with Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF) and frequent competitor with the likes of Championship Wrestling From Hollywood and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). The former 2x EWF Heavyweight Champion and CWFH Heritage Champion is now based out of Florida, looking to take his game to the next level.
Bryan Keith vs. Darius Lockhart
“The Bounty Hunter” Bryan Keith has exploded into 2021 after a strong run in New Texas Pro. Now, the eight-year veteran from Reality of Wrestling (and student of Booker T) will be looking to make his GCW debut and showcase to a national audience what the Texas indie circuit has know for years now – that The Bounty Hunter is ready for the limelight. A former ROW Heavyweight Champion and ROW Television Champion, Keith has all the tools to be a national superstar. At For The Culture, he faces one of the U.S. indies most underrated talents in “The Revolutionary” Darius Lockhart. The Charlotte, North Carolina native is a staple with Premiere Wrestling Xperience (PWX), where he’s a 2x PWX Innovative Champion, and since 2018 has also been working in the UK indie scene with the likes of Revolution Pro (RevPro), IPW, Southside Wrestling Entertainment (SWE) and Tidal Championship Wrestling (TCW). Two long-overlooked underdogs will be chomping at the bit, at For The Culture, to declare themselves one of the new faces of 2021 in the U.S. independents.
AJ Gray vs. JTG
AJ Gray remains one of the hardest hitters in the US indies right now, and since adding deathmatch wrestling to his repertoire in the past year or so, he’s only become more dangerous. The former GCW World Champion will not want to lose his match on his own showcase, but he’s facing a man that has become more dangerous in his own right. Former WWE Superstar JTG – the longtime tag team partner of the late Shad Gaspard in Cryme Tyme – has reinvented himself as one of the indies’ toughest fighters in the past few years with VxS and others, taking down such names as Rickey Shane Page, Mance Warner, Alex Hammerstone, Tony Deppen, and Trey Miguel. Fighting for the honor of his fallen brother, JTG has emerged as a vicious pitbull in the squared circle, which means that this match-up between himself and AJ Gray at For The Culture is sure to be as heavy-hitting as any match the entire week.
Lio Rush vs. Lee Moriarty
Lio Rush and Lee Moriarty both made their GCW debuts in 2020, but it’s not until now that two of the most innovative high flyers and technical threats will finally meet in the ring. Lio Rush has been on a torrid pace since departing WWE in 2020, producing Match of the Year candidates with the likes of Blake Christian, Laredo Kid, ACH, and more, splitting his time between the U.S. indies, MLW, and NJPW STRONG. The former Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) World Heavyweight Champion and NXT Cruiserweight Champion (and reigning MLW Middleweight Champion) has once again found his fire and is producing the best matches of his career.
Arguably no other U.S. indie wrestler made the most out of the pandemic year of 2020 than Pittsburgh’s Lee Moriarty. A standout in the Pennsylvania indies since his debut in 2015, by the end of 2019, his momentum was starting to gain national traction. In 2020, Moriarty exploded on the national stage, with huge matches against Alex Shelley, Nolan Edward, MV Young, and others. In June, at GCW The Wrld on GCW 2, he made his GCW debut against Tre Lamar, instantly becoming one of GCW’s new favorite stars. He would also break out into Black Label Pro, Beyond Wrestling, and others, collecting more Match of the Year candidates with the likes of Daniel Makabe, ACH, Alex Zayne, Chris Dickinson, and Blake Christian. This past October, he made his IMPACT Wrestling debut on IMPACT Xplosion, where he faced Suicide. He’s coming off a huge tournament victory at Enjoy Wrestling‘s Enjoy Cup, and in early March, ended WARHORSE‘s record-breaking 532-day reign as IWTV Independent Wrestling Champion. Moriarty has climbed the ladder quickly and now enters 2021 as one of the top stars in the U.S. indies period.
Rich Swann vs. 2 Cold Scorpio
On April 25, IMPACT World Heavyweight Champion Rich Swann will defend his title against AEW World Champion Kenny Omega at IMPACT Rebellion, but this week, Rich Swann heads to Tampa still the man with the gold in IMPACT Wrestling. He’s got several matches lined up, but his match at For The Culture is a generational dream match. One of the most innovative high flyers of the past decade, between his work in the US indies, through WWE (where he won the WWE Cruiserweight title), and now in IMPACT, Swann will be facing one of the architects of the modern indie style in the 35-year veteran 2 Cold Scorpio, who has had a career rennaisance in the past year that has shown that even at 55 years old is still at the top of his game.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can watch GCW ‘For The Culture’ at 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, April 8 live on FITE.tv or as part of the FITE Collective Bundle.