GCW Bloodsport made it’s return last month with two shows airing in consecutive weeks. The popular events present matches in a mixed martial arts format, inside a squared circle without ropes or turnbuckles. Winners are decided by either knockout or tap out.
Bloodsport promoter Josh Barnett joined Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on a recent edition of the Wrestling Inc. Daily to discuss getting the show up and running again after a pause due to the pandemic.
“It’s been really great to continue on what we’re doing here with this event,” Barnett said. “But also to even use a different format with what we did with [Bloodsport] 4 and 5, being a differently styled and produced product, although the same product essentially. Just a slight variance on it. To see the success with that and to go through that process, and to go right back to the standard live show as people are fairly used to with professional wrestling. It’s just nothing but moving forward, which is great. As long as you’re moving forward whether it be one step or ten feet man, you got to keep going.”
Bloodsport 5 was headlined by Jon Moxley vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr., but also saw Jeff Cobb take on Tom Lawlor. Barnett revealed Cobb’s inclusion in Bloodsport has been in the works for a while, as far back as Barnett’s first Bloodsport event.
“I felt like Jeff Cobb was an absolute perfect fit for Bloodsport,” Barnett said. “But then again, I think Cobb gave a few interviews around the time of the event and he put it out there that he was supposed to be in my first Bloodsport show. There was just a conflict in terms of events. It just wasn’t possible for him to do that show, but he was able to be there. He made mention that he wasn’t very happy that he was watching instead of wrestling. I’ve worked with Cobb in the past. I’ve gotten to face him in the ring. I just knew that this would be a place where he would shine, and sure enough he did.
“What he may lack in one area of wrestling, you know, his submission game is coming along. His submission offense, while lacking, was not so much an issue because his submission defense seemed to be highly adept. He’s been doing a lot of work I could tell to become even a greater wrestler than when I first met him, let alone when I was able to get in the ring with him. He showed against Lawlor, as he was able to work his way through any predicaments and was eventually able to get the submission himself. That’s the thing, if you’re not submitting Jeff Cobb, you’re going to have to knock him out. That doesn’t seem to be all that easy to do either.”
While the matches are presented in a shoot-MMA format, Barnett emphasized it is still the same professional wrestling fans are used to.
“It is pro wrestling,” Barnett said. “That’s why guys with these pedigrees are in the ring, because it is pro wrestling. To me, professional wrestling is made up of that: Olympians, world-class power-lifters, fighters, boxers, and you name it. That is apart of what pro wrestling is. That’s why for me anyways, the way I go about putting these things together, I go back to that old way of doing things. That old pallet. That very discerning eye, that little spark that you’re looking for as a booker or promoter.”
Barnett says he enjoys incorporating athletes from all different backgrounds, but noted that not every fighter will excel inside a Bloodsport ring.
“Even still, if you’re an Olympian, it doesn’t mean that you will fit in in this place,” Barnett said. “I’ve seen some folks with Olympic backgrounds go into combat sports and it just not being for them. You know, doing Judo or something else you might excel, but as soon as a punches are flying, they’re out. There’s no guarantees for Bloodsport, and when it comes to figuring out how to construct the whole thing, that’s a secret. We have our ways. We figure it out in a myriad of fashions. At the end of the day, I always try to make sure that whatever it is that we do, there’s a reason and it makes sense, and in a sense, everybody wins. If being in Bloodsport in and of itself isn’t an elevating thing, then we’re making a mistake.”
As for where they draw the line between those shoot strikes and working stiff, Barnett put it bluntly: “We don’t.”
Josh Barnett headlines Bloodsports 6 against AEW’s Jon Moxley as part of GCW’s The Collective on Thursday April 8th. For tickets and more info please click HERE. You can find the full audio and video from Josh’s interview below: