Review: GCW Presents Backyard Wrestling 2


GCW Presents Backyard Wrestling 2
Live from an undisclosed location (Backyard, USA)
July 4, 2020
Available on FITE.tv

It’s been difficult to find a manner of expressing how this year has gone for wrestling fans and the continued waiting. Waiting for conditions to improve. Waiting to see how this year’s quarantine would affect the industry. Patience is a virtue but we live in an incredibly instant-gratification society...or at least we used to. Maybe the best way to describe it all is a cultural shift and not just a period of adjustment. The whole damn world changed. And within pro wrestling culture, people had to get creative. Promotions have the heavy burden of deciding when and if their shows would run again. Someone had to have the balls to take a step forward and see if a wrestling event could take place using best practices in the ‘new normal’. GCW did that last month with Wrld On GCW 2. Seeing the response to the show was an encouraging moment. Fans really were willing to follow every guideline if it meant having live shows back. 

That positive buzz from the show continued into the highly-anticipated Backyard Wrestling 2 event. People on social media accurately described it as the biggest party of the summer for independent wrestling. Last year’s original event reached cult classic status in a short amount of time, and so it made sense that the buildup of this year’s show would be surrounded with excitement. The big question started circulating the moment the event was announced: what kind of crazy shit would they do to top last year?

I was fortunate to find out first hand exactly what kind of magic would take place at this party. Yes indeed, I got the coveted invite to attend and you’d better believe I accepted it immediately. There was no way in fresh hell I’d miss this show, not after having gone back and watched last year’s inaugural Backyard Wrestling event. Every part of my mind lit up at the thought of seeing all of this fuckery and straight up fun happen in front of me, so I made plans to attend lovely Backyard USA for the 4th of July.

On occasion I like to think of myself as a journalist, so one of my goals in going to Backyard Wrestling 2 would be to provide a well-done recap of the show. My prime directive, however, was to party with my GCW family for the 4th. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, either - you all know how much I adore a damn good time. Over the past year my trips to GCW shows have quickly progressed to weekend-long celebrations that usually start with a road trip or plane ride on Friday, leading into crazy get-togethers that night and only pausing for a few hours before the actual show starts on Saturday. The whole weekend, structured around the show itself, advances to an afterparty or another dizzy night of hanging out that stretches well into Monday morning recovery. With that said, much of my weekend - much like Indianapolis, too - was spent in a remarkably pleasant haze of blunt smoke, beer, and White Claw. Of course you should bear in mind that I don’t necessarily advocate the use of alcohol or mind-altering substances at these events; I just know what works best for me.

I should say here that Backyard Wrestling 2 was the show that made me feel the most welcome as a lifelong wrestling fan. As initially accepted as I felt at W.O.M.B.A.T in Tullahoma (of all shows and of all places, that was where I felt accepted) and the next day at Long Live GCW in Nashville, I’ve never felt as ‘wow, this is truly a family’ than when I arrived with my friends at the undisclosed location, now better known as ‘somewhere in New Jersey’. Much of the appeal of the GCW community largely exists via social media, and the Backyard guest list was a catalog of names you’re sure to have come across if you’re active on independent wrestling Twitter or Instagram. Creative minds, active supporters, fellow wrestlers, family all in attendance. And the setting was, in a word, idyllic. This undisclosed location had the backyard I’d dreamed of having as a kid. Nice patio furniture, cute kid’s playset (we’ll get to that later), a lovely pool with a rock waterfall, smoke wafting off the grill. All while this picturesque suburban scenario played out as I paddled along on a plastic pink raft with a head full of Jonesy’s edibles there was a big wrestling ring set up just beyond the pool fence, rigged with scaffolding and situated underneath sturdy tree limbs perfect for shade and a few cool spots.

And everybody there knew each other, or at least they knew someone who knew someone who knew them. And that whole afternoon prior to the show I spent putting faces to social media handles and finally being a wholesome face to face with the friends I’d made throughout this year and last. That’s the beauty of the GCW family. You could start out at a show not knowing a soul and four hours later you’ve got 20 new Twitter followers and friends for life. Having prepared ourselves since the intense heat of the Indianapolis show, my crew and I were armed this time with plenty of shade and hydration in addition to hand sanitizer. Fortunately the weather in Backyard USA was in our favor. We ate our burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill, smoked our weed, drank our alcohol, lit our sparklers, and we started what would be an amazingly wild and memorable show.

On Commentary: Kevin Gill, Joey Janela (and company) 

This event is Joey Janela in his damn element, so naturally he’d be the best choice for commentary. I immediately watched the show’s replay when I got home because it gives the show a nice extra touch, hearing Joey, KG, and the rest of the GCW crew call the matches. Neither KG nor Janela may be to every single fan’s liking. However, as far as the best fit for the energy put forth in GCW’s matches I think we’re a lot better off with what these two bring to the commentary table rather than two ‘established’ commentators who wouldn’t have the heart and soul of the promotion behind their words.

Match 1: Alex Zayne vs. Rickey Crash

Last year’s showstopper started off this year’s show, and you can tell Alex Zayne has had an amazing year just from his appearance alone. He showed up to the backyard in fantastic shape; quarantine hasn’t slowed him down at all. Rickey showed up gimmicked out in his cute little motocross gear that prompted questions from the audience about where his scooter was. It was very entertaining to see both guys paying tribute to their backyard characters while clearly showing off the polished style of pros, and keeping in line with sick yard shit like Zayne’s mind-blowing flip over a parked car onto Crash(!!) and wild bumps including the one that had Zayne taking a nasty landing on his back mid-match. I wanted to see Zayne get the win here, but RSP has a way of getting the victory when you least expect it. Rickey Crash is no different; both guys went hard as hell but Crash got away with the win. Nothing taken away from Zayne, however, this was a follow-up backyard match to be proud of.

Match 2: Paco Loco vs. KC Kwik

Holy shit, Paco Loco is the movie killer we deserve. Seriously, Chris Dickinson gave off murderous vibes with his yard character. As intense as it likely was back in the day, dude is just plain scary as a legit fighter with the look of a maniac. Once he hit the ring there was no doubt if Paco Loco would win, it was then just a matter of when he’d win. It helped that there was an enormous amount of blood involved in this match, too - at certain points I really did feel like I’d end up looking at KC Kwik’s dead body. Also, say what you will about those strong-ass doors that were used in this match...I say this was the type of war that called for the hardest shit you could find. 

Match 3: DILFboi Daltano vs. Nasty Leroy (w/Joey Janela)

Next up was the one everyone was waiting to see! Prior to That Man’s entrance I held a roll of crepe paper in my hand and gathered around the ring (with some distance) to herald the arrival of the world’s newest hero with red, white, and blue streamers. I’m fairly certain that welcome looked pretty good on camera; it’s only the best for Leroy’s GCW debut. And how about that damn Leroy, anyway? This was probably the best first match anyone’s ever had in GCW. Not everybody gets to use heavy earth moving equipment, an above-ground pool, a child’s playhouse (RIP playhouse, it gave its all for this show), and a damn gun as a weapon in a match. Nasty Leroy does, though! Credit to DILFboi for having the balls to get in the ring with a loose baby-birding cannon like Leroy. The ending was satisfying as hell with Leroy getting his first win and everyone chanting in solid agreement that we want him to come back...and soon, too!

Match 4: Tony Deppen vs. Kombat Kid

In my preview write-up at Pro Wrestling Post I mentioned that this match could likely be one of the wildest we’d see on the card. In hindsight this match wasn’t as wild as Deppen’s classic with Alex Zayne last year, but I was not one bit disappointed in what we got to see here. If you’ve not yet made yourself familiar with Chase Burnett, I’m hoping this match will up your curiosity about him. Not only is he a great guy with good wrestling insight (it was very cool to meet him after following him on Twitter for so long), but he’s finally getting his wrestling career rebooted after a period of absence from the ring. I enjoyed this match knowing that Deppen was solid enough to knock any possible ring rust off of the Kombat Kid while scoring the victory. Keep your eye on Chase Burnett, though, I think he’s got some good matches ahead of him in this welcome back phase he’s entered.

Match 5: Logan Stunt vs. Kyle Smiley

This one was one of my favorite matches of the entire show. I just love the hell out of Kyle Smiley and want more details on the full origin story that leads us to Kyle the Beast. I’ll also say that this match was even more of a boost for Logan Stunt’s career than his match with his brother Marko at last year’s Backyard event. If you’re watching intently you can see where Logan has seriously upped his game since last year. Smiley got the win after some really fun and some incredibly frightening spots, the latter more involving the younger Stunt brother. Gotta admit, there were some places here where I was genuinely concerned for Logan’s safety, even to the point of yelling “PLEASE DON’T DIE!” at him while he was standing atop the scaffold later in the match. Wouldn’t it be very, very cool, though, if this Backyard show was the platform that launches Logan higher into his wrestling career? 

Match 6: Vampyro vs. Dexter White

When you say ‘backyard wrestling show’ this is the match that will come to everyone’s mind from now on. Both Facade and Atticus Cogar showed the hell out here and we loved to see it. Of course, the clips from this one will make the rounds the most because of that, but who cares? Here was a match that had a strangely charming old-school bloody violence vibe to it. If you were to copy this match to a VHS tape it’d fit perfectly among the underground videos that used to circulate back in the day. Let the cop callers see the clips of this one and flip their shit; that’s the exact reaction we like to see from Backyard matches anyway. Respect to Facade (Vampyro) and Cogar (Dexter) for going nucking futs here and stealing the show.

Match 7: New School Yarders vs. Yarder Legends 

Can I just say that it’s Cole Radrick’s time to shine? Out of all of the wild shit that happened in this match one of the main sentiments after the end was that Radrick especially stood out in standing up to Nick Gage. There’s no doubt in my mind that Wildheart can hang with the King in a one-on-one match. Also, Jordan Oliver came back from quarantine as a grown ass man. I’m all right with his new look; the extra weight gives him a more imposing look on an already tall frame. Blake Christian’s spent the time off wisely too and looks as great in this match as he did in Indianapolis last month. Matt Demorest impressed me with his backyard style; as someone who got into his wrestling matches through other indy promotions like CHIKARA this was a fresh look at a pro who has a solid history in multiple manners of wrestling. At first I thought this match would have been a fine main event to close out the show, but after I saw what happened in the main event I reminded myself that GCW always finds a way to top the fuckery.

Match 8: JJ Escobar vs. El SHLAKO

This main event was for the outlaws only, damn it. It was exactly what we wanted to see on the 4th of July. We’re tired of old television marathons and hot dog eating contests. What we really want to see is a guy getting his dick and balls blown off by a mortar firework, and that’s where GCW delivers. I enjoy the hell out of seeing fireworks set off in an enclosed car. I also have a damn good time watching someone get run down by that same vehicle. I honestly don’t give a shit about anyone’s personal feelings towards SHLAK or how they feel about JJ Escobar glorifying violent yard shit or what have you. All I want is some over the top mindless violence on my holiday, especially when at that point in the show I’m wandering around stoned out of my mind and watching this fever dream play out in front of my eyes. I wouldn’t have had this show end any other way. It was, in a phrase, the perfect 4th of July backyard wrestling match.

Post-Show Thoughts

I’ve seen it said that GCW was built on the forgotten. The ones who have been told they’re not good enough or the ones who were never given a fair shot, these are the people who established the backbone of the promotion. Now that the outlaws have had a number of years under their belt they’re becoming more recognized. Taking bold steps in this brave new world is a good look for the promotion. Now there are two shows within a two month period that have received positive buzz from fans (in both quality of safety and quality of matches). Several wrestlers made their GCW debut this summer and are already making themselves known, gif by gif and clip by clip. The forgotten are becoming the unforgettable.

I’m enjoying the hell out of this ride. I’m thankful to GCW for fully embracing me in the same way as I’ve embraced them as a family. It’s exciting to know that there’s a lot more ahead for the outlaws in spite of a rough start to the year. I want to continue being a part of this movement, because it really does feel like we’re moving in the right direction. 

See you in Atlantic City for Homecoming!

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