It’s pretty fair to say that the 2017 WrestleMania Weekend in Orlando was the biggest it’s ever been. Every wrestling company you could possibly think of (including some promotions from the UK) held events in the greater Orlando area in the days leading up to WWE’s biggest show of the year. All of these various events were buzzworthy in their own unique ways, but there was one in particular that stood out from the rest of the pack, just because (on paper) it looked so….surreal. Game Changer Wrestling (a promotion out of New Jersey that, from what I understand, is very similar to CZW) allowed Joey Janela, one of the hottest rising stars on the independent scene over the last year or two, to put together a special event in Orlando. Now, if you know anything about Joey Janela, you’re aware that he’s a very….unique personality, to say the least. So he decided that this show would have a “Spring Break” theme, with all of the matches booked by himself. Throw in the fact that the show was scheduled to start around midnight on Thursday/Friday, and you had a recipe for something truly remarkable.
GCW Presents: Joey Janela’s Spring Break
Orlando, Florida 3/31/17
1.) Sami Callihan vs. Kyle The Beast: ***1/2
The first match of the night featured Sami Callihan going one-on-one with some guy named Kyle The Beast (apparently he’s a regular for GCW). I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this bout, especially since I had never seen or heard of Kyle The Beast before, but when the dust settled, these two put on a pretty good opener. It clocked in at just under ten minutes, which (I believe) worked in the favor of both participants. Callihan is someone who seems to do very well in sprints like this, where a faster, more hard-hitting style is more suitable. As for Kyle The Beast, this was the perfect kind of match to showcase him in, especially for those of us (myself included) who are seeing him for the first time. Callihan would ultimately get the win with the Stretch Muffler, but there’s no question that Kyle The Beast looked solid in defeat.
After the match, Callihan cut a promo where he put over Kyle The Beast, noting that this was the biggest opportunity of his career. The two then shook hands.
2.) Mixed Tag Team Match - Andy Williams & Penelope Ford vs. Braxton Sutter & Allie: **1/2
Andy Williams is apparently the lead singer from a rock band called “Every Time I Die”. To the best of my knowledge, he’s wrestled a couple of times before, so this isn’t his first time in a wrestling ring. Here, he’s teaming with Joey Janela’s girlfriend Penelope Ford to take on the real life couple of Braxton Sutter (Pepper Parks) & Allie (Cherry Bomb) from TNA/IMPACT Wrestling. Before the match began, Allie cut off the introduction of Williams so she could introduce herself & Braxton Sutter. The crowd soon started chanting “Fuck That Owl” at her. She ran down Williams on the mic, calling him “gross”, and Williams responded by taking her out with a hard clothesline. The match officially got underway at that point, and for the most part, it was pretty decent. There was a fair amount of brawling, and weapons such as doors (yes, you read that right) coming into play. Everyone seemed to work hard, though it certainly wasn’t the smoothest match you’ll ever see. In the end, Andy Williams & Penelope Ford managed to pick up the victory. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, so that’s a plus.
3.) GCW Title - Anything Goes Match - Matt Tremont vs. Eddie Kingston: **1/4
Before the match even begins, Tremont takes the mic and declares that this won’t just be an Anything Goes Match. He proclaimed that will now be “Falls Count Anywhere in the fucking building!!”, which got a pop from the crowd. So this was basically a hardcore bloodbath with some plunder. Tremont got busted open about two minutes into the bout (what a shock that is), and bled like a stuffed pig for the rest of this match. It was actually pretty disgusting to see the camera zoom in on Tremont’s bloodied face. More doors got used, and they eventually brawled into the crowd. This part was pretty uneventful, as it was basically a boring “walk-n-brawl” type situation that’s really tough to actually see (a perfect example of why those sort of things are bad). Things picked up a bit when Kingston put Tremont through a table, but Tremont soon made a comeback, and pinned Kingston after hitting him with a Death Valley Driver through a door in the ring to retain his GCW Title. Aside from a few spots, this wasn’t that good. If you’re a fan of CZW or GCW, you might enjoy this, but for the most part, I didn’t enjoy this one that much.
4.) Spring Break ClusterFuck: ***
Just take a moment to soak in the name of this match. It’s pretty incredible, isn’t it? Anyway, this is essentially a Royal Rumble, except instead of being eliminated by going over-the-top-rope and to the floor, you can only be eliminated by pinfall, submission, or DEATH (yes, you read that correctly). Bryce Remsburg was the referee for this one, and he certainly dressed for the occasion. I’m not going to go over every single moment in this match, but I’ll do my best to list some of the highlights. Veda Scott was one of the early entrants, and a few minutes later, she legitimately got some of her teeth inadvertently kicked out (or at the very least, her teeth got chipped) by John Silver. A wrestler named THE INVISIBLE MAN showed up, and actually cleaned house on the rest of the participants who were in the match at the time. Dink The Clown (not Doink The Clown, but his “mini-me” from early 1990’s WWF) made a brief appearance, while GLACIER (yes, that Glacier, from WCW) came out to a large reaction. He would later have a Mortal Kombat-esque standoff with Ethan Page (complete with Mortal Kombat music). Eventually, it came down to Ethan Page vs. Jimmy Lloyd, and in the end, it was Lloyd (another GCW wrestler, to the best of my knowledge) got the win in a crazy match that also involved Arik Cannon, Bryan Idol, Crazy Boy, Facade, Flip Gordon, and Jervis Cottonbelly, plus some of the other names I previously mentioned. This match certainly lived up to the hype, when it came to being a clusterfuck. Obviously this wasn’t going to spectacular, in terms of actual wrestling. For what it was, it worked brilliant. To put it simply, this was an entertaining spectacle that has to be seen to be believed.
5.) Keith Lee vs. Lio Rush: ***3/4
In the buildup to this show, Joey Janela presented this particular contest as the one guaranteed “work rate” bout on his card. It was certainly a mismatch in terms of size (in case you didn’t know, Keith Lee is SIGNIFICANTLY bigger than Lio Rush), but it ended up being really good. There was an unnecessary ref bump in this one, but other than that, this was a very strong match from start to finish. They did a fine job working with the massive size difference, and there was some pretty good back and forth action. Honestly, there’s not much else to say about this one. On a show that was filled with all kinds of wackiness, it was one of the few bout that was presented as the kind of match you would see from any normal independent wrestling show. At the time, there were a lot of complaints that Keith Lee lost to Lio Rush. While the result was close to being what I would consider to be legitimately unbelievable (based on the size difference), I don’t think it totally crossed that line. Lio Rush was more of a regular in GCW than Keith Lee. Plus, this show wasn’t even part of the EVOLVE/WWN canon. With those two things in mind, the result was definitely believable.
6.) Joey Janela vs. Marty Jannetty: DUD
For some reason, Joey Janela had this weird obsession with wrestling Marty Jannetty. Well, on this special night, he finally got his wish. Much like the Spring Break Clusterfuck we saw earlier, this was pretty much one giant spectacle. They went back and forth for a few minutes (while commentary made a bunch of jokes) until they decided to take out a bunch of referees. One of the big keys to the entire show was that Earl Hebner (yes, that Earl Hebner) was advertised for a run-in. Every time a referee got taken out, the crowd hoped Hebner would come out, but instead, a regular referee would come out. Eventually, when Hebner finally came out, the crowd popped big. Hebner teased calling for the bell when Janela had Jannetty in the sharpshooter, but Hebner shoves Janela down. Hebner is taken out shortly thereafter by Janela. Then, a masked man appears, and it turns out to be Virgil!! Janela attacked Virgil, but then got hit with a Canadian Destroyer from Jannetty! Some chairs were brought into the match towards the end, and Jannetty used them to inflict damage on Janela, but that wasn’t enough to keep Janela. He soon made a comeback and pinned Marty Jannetty to get the win. This was an incredibly wacky match filled with all sorts of….strange things. Again, much like the Spring Break ClusterFuck, this was meant to be one big spectacle as opposed to a normal match. If you were there live, it was probably a ton of fun, but I would recommend you get drunk before watching this one.
After the match ended, Joey Janela took the mic and cut a promo thanking the fans. Marty Jannetty then took the mic and put over Janela.
7.) Matt Riddle vs. Dan “The Beast” Severn: ***1/2
The main event was a dream match of sorts, as Matt Riddle took on the legendary Dan “The Beast” Severn in a battle of former UFC fighters. This was on the shorter side (going about eight or nine minutes), but for what it was, it was pretty good. I’d say it was the second best match of the night behind Keith Lee vs. Lio Rush. The bout went about the way you would’ve expected it to go. There was a ton of grappling mixed in with some strike exchanges, and eventually, Riddle got Severn to submit to the Bromission. These two basically just grappled and beat the crap out of each other for eight or nine minutes. There really isn’t much to say beyond that. If you’re big into MMA (particularly UFC), then you probably would’ve enjoyed this match a lot. For what it was, it worked very well. Riddle was great (as he always is), and he was the perfect opponent to go up against Dan Severn. Even though he’s older, Severn proved here that he could still have good matches if you put him against the right opponents in the right situation. As I just mentioned, having Matt Riddle go up against Dan Severn was a great decision (as it’s something unique that you might not see again), and it ended up being a very fun main event from start to finish.
Well, if you’re looking for a great wrestling card, then this show isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a show that’s wacky and entertaining, then you’ll definitely enjoy Joey Janela’s Spring Break. There are still a number of legitimately good matches on this card (Keith Lee vs. Lio Rush, Matt Riddle vs. Dan Severn, & Sami Callihan vs. Kyle The Beast), but this event will mainly be remembered for some of the outlandish things we saw. It was certainly the most unique show in Orlando during ‘Mania Weekend, and I think a lot of credit has to go for Joey Janela. The marketing he did online in the weeks prior was great, to the point where this show was one of the most anticipated of the entire weekend. It certainly delivered in terms of craziness, and it made Janela into a much bigger star. I would suggest only watching this show late at night while you’re (somewhat) under the influence, but for what it was, it certainly delivered.