About Last Weekend: Game Changer Wrestling Presents Tournament of Survival 7 and Cage of Survival


About Last Weekend: Game Changer Wrestling Presents Tournament of Survival 7 and Cage of Survival

Live from the Carousel Room at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ

June 4th and 5th, 2022

Available on FITE.tv 

by Tiffany R. Merryhill

The carousel stops for no one.

I found my seat on the ride as usual, in the spot you can always find me in. I was in the condition you usually find me in, too.

For those who haven’t experienced a GCW weekend in Atlantic City, there’s nothing I can tell you that could describe what can happen within the 24 to 48 hour time period you’re there. When you’re in the Showboat, that short amount of time seems to bend and flip and do all kinds of lucha shit until it’s Monday morning and you’re crashed out in someone’s room and you’ve got an hour to get to the Philly airport.

So many shows over the past two and a half years. Chasing the outlaws from coast to coast. Tournament of Survival weekend is different, though. In the crazy world of deathmatch wrestling, that weekend means a cruel, cruel summer has officially started. This year’s TOS weekend stood out from the others I’ve attended, though. Maybe it’s because the world’s starting to look like the way it did three years ago. 

It was almost surreal to see so many people on the boardwalk and on the beach last weekend, just out and about enjoying a beautiful summer Saturday and Sunday while inside the Carousel Room there was a whopping amount of bloodthirsty fans losing their minds at every busted light tube over a brave soul’s dome and every door demolished by a warrior’s body being hurled into it. When we were in school they used to tell us how the people of ancient Rome would spend beautiful summer days like that at the Colosseum watching gladiators beat the fuck out of each other for sheer entertainment. We ain’t so far removed from the Romans, are we?

There was more than the usual fare to look forward to in the Carousel Room last weekend. The lineup for TOS 7 was solid enough as it was, but the promise of over-the-top fuckery one night later at Cage of Survival couldn’t keep me and many other like-minded fans away. We all had to be there to witness this wildness. Deathmatches have to be seen live to really be believed. It’s not the same as a quick three-second gif. One must be there to see the buildup of the moments, the execution of the act, and then experience the exhilarating feeling of ‘holy shit, did that really just happen?’ with everyone around you, complete stranger or not. This was the feeling that bled (pun intended) from Saturday’s show right on to Sunday evening.

You really had to be there in Atlantic City that weekend among the large crowd on Saturday night, many of them there to support newly crowned deathmatch royalty. Cole Radrick made a lasting impression at the Showboat back in February at GCW’s Don’t Tell Me What To Do, and ever since then it’s been Radrick or Riot among the Carousel Room faithful. To walk among the crowd that Saturday night was a visual affirmation via t-shirts that not only was Cole Radrick a favorite to win the tournament, but that he’s truly one of the most beloved independent wrestlers on the scene. As we now know it was Drew Parker who walked away with the prestigious win, but damn does it mean something to see a movement of wrestling fans united in their support of someone so worthy of respect as Radrick.

I felt pretty spoiled as a wrestling fan with this year’s TOS lineup. Some of my personal deathmatch favorites were all making their appearances - Hoodfoot, Radrick, Matt Tremont - along with names that stood out in an already violent lineup like Rina Yamashita and Toru Sugiura. We even had Shane Mercer show the hell out this year because we absolutely love, need, and want strong style deathmatches. To sit back in the back of the ride and watch all of this unfold in the ring is pure joy for me. Time slows to an enjoyable “whatever” when there’s blood spilled in that room. The mutual gasps or shouts of excitement and outrage at each moment of insanity (of which there are many) build and add up until the newcomer to the show feels like they’re one with the madness. One big merry-go-round of broken glass, busted plywood, tangled bobwire, blood, sound, and fury. 

Would it be terribly remiss to say that TOS weekend is a long, heartfelt love letter to deathmatch wrestling? Considering every year I’ve attended there’s something added to make the event more special (the Deathmatch Hall of Fame and Cage of Survival being examples), I wouldn’t think it’s going too far to say GCW has rightfully put in the blood and sweat and carved out this particular part of the year as one of their statement shows, the weekend where they say “hell yes we still do deathmatches, and here’s how they’re done.”

When you’re there at the Showboat and you’re on this ride you stay on it all weekend, from Saturday into Sunday, gallivanting well past midnight, past two in the morning, 3 am and sauntering down the lobby from Bourbon tower to Orleans tower, up the elevator after a few unsuccessful tries (maybe it’s the alcohol, maybe it’s the room key, who knows). Depending on who you know, the show may have stopped after everyone left the Carousel Room but the parties continue way into the night, way way up high in the Showboat party suites, the Shotcaller suites where you never know who you’ll run into before you wander off back onto the boardwalk, maybe over to the Hard Rock for food or to the Ocean to gamble what’s left of your merch money. No matter what, the ride does not slow down. Not once. Not even when you’ve passed by Jimmy Lloyd for the third time already that weekend, middle of the night in the lobby or on the boardwalk, and it’s not yet 4 am. 

“Hey Jimmy, what’s good?” A mutual nod, both parties involved headed eastways or westways towards some other debauchery before sun-up. 

And the ride goes on all summer long.

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