Josh Barnett Mocks WWE NXT Underground Match: 'Oh Look, Fake Bloodsport Is Back'

The assembled "WWE NXT" superstars at ringside reacted with "oohs" and "aahs" as Eddy Thorpe and Damon Kemp went to war in the first-ever "NXT" Underground match last night. However, Josh Barnett β€” the man who popularized the concept of a wrestling ring without ropes or turnbuckles β€” took offense to WWE's version of Bloodsport, calling out the company for putting out a cheap imitation.

"Oh look, fake Bloodsport is back," Barnett wrote on Twitter. "Thank you for showing the world that this kind of thing has legs (we knew that already) and that even with 10x the money and production there is still only one Josh Barnett's: Bloodsport. #NXTUnderground #Bloodsport #NXT."

In some ways, the tweet could be perceived as Barnett encouraging WWE to do more "worked shoot matches" in a style that mimics MMA and Catch Wrestling. However, he did declare that his version of the match reigns supreme in the pro wrestling world, even if it is produced with lesser theatrics and production values.Β 

Matt Riddle β€” another former MMA fighter β€” was the first to hold a Bloodsport event in 2018, wrestling NJPW legendΒ Minoru Suzuki in a match that resembled a conventional MMA fight. Subsequently, Barnett began running the Bloodsport shows until last year when Game Changer Wrestling started producing the events under its banner. At the most recent GCW Bloodsport event, held in March 2023, Barnett lost to Timothy Thatcher in the main event, via submission.

Despite Barnett's criticism, fans on social media seemed to enjoy the inaugural "NXT" Underground match between Thorpe and Kemp, and have urged WWE to bring back the gimmick match β€” especially to settle heated rivalries. Previously, Shane McMahon had introduced "Raw" Underground, with a similar set of rules, but theΒ wrestling-MMA hybrid lasted all of two months in late 2020.Β