Game Changer Wrestling’s Jersey J-Cup HOT TAKE
Atlantic City, New Jersey has long been the storied home of prize fighters and major tournaments. Whether it's Mike Tyson landing that knockout blow or Randy Savage surviving four competitors to win the WWF Championship, the echoes of greatness emanated from Boardwalk Hall all the way up and down the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Those echoes aren't felt, however, in Jersey City.
Positioned 122 miles from America's Playground and shadowed by New York City across The Hudson River, Jersey City is the true, unvarnished New Jersey. It's where people get up to work and trudge through their day, seeking to eke out their existence.
Sure, parts of it are nice, but there's also the part of town you don't want to visit by choice. The darker, seedier side, where neon lights illuminate the broken and lost dreams that now sit in pawn shop windows, signifying all that was lost in the crush of humanity. The never-ending scales of life tip back and forth in Jersey City, from those seeking to live and succeed balanced by those who find themselves pulled under by the grimier currents that run through the city.
It's perhaps the perfect home for Game Changer Wrestling, when the promotion returns this weekend to the White Eagle Hall, a venue that seeks to shine as one of the city's redemptive destinations. It is in that redemptive spirit that sees competitors from around the world put their chips down to enter the resurrected Jersey J-Cup Tournament this Saturday, February 11th.
Originally launched back in 2000, the tournament has helped slingshot its victors into super stardom, including Low Ki, Jay Lethal, Super Dragon, Rhett Titus and GCW's beloved Grimm Reefer, among others. Now, for the first time ever, the Jersey J-Cup will broadcast live for FITE+ subscribers this Friday and Saturday evening.
The Jersey J-Cup has traditionally brought the best competitors in the world to the Garden State and this weekend's festivities are no different, as the first round of action on Saturday features the following incredible clashes and dream matches:
Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Jonathan Gresham:
An impactful dream match by any definition, the winner of this first round bout will not only tell the tale of which of these competitors are the better man, but may also predict the final victor for the entire tournament.
Mike Bailey has been on the career run of his life, coming off an X-Division Championship reign while also stealing the show worldwide on the biggest weekends of the last year for professional wrestling. If there is a list of the greatest in-ring matches for 2022, Bailey is likely the most repeated name. His hybrid aerial finesse and karate-infused offensive maneuvers have forged him into one of the most brilliantly perfected combat sports competitors today.
However, if there is one person who may be the yin to his yang, it is former Ring of Honor World Champion Jonathan Gresham, who radiates the greatness of Dean Malenko and Billy Robinson from the eras before him, a competitor who plays the master chess game of professional wrestling three to four moves ahead of everyone else in the world. Gresham comes into the Jersey J-Cup with a big chip on his shoulder, seeking to strike out and remind everyone why he's the most sublime in-ring artist in the world, able to throw together offensive sequences and unique submission attempts better than anyone in the game.
These two men have faced off in GCW before, with each attainFighing a victory, so this rubber match will define not only who advances but which man achieves greatness over the other. When two athletes who are each perfect in their craft, yet attack it from two different styles, are matched against each other, sparks will fly - and this is ONLY the first round for these mat warriors.
Komander vs. Arez:
Look up in the sky! The first round of the Jersey J-Cup will certainly have a lucha flair as two of the most impressive stars of Mexico seek to blaze a trail of greatness as they battle through the field of competition to become the first-ever international Jersey J-Cup winner - but first, they'll have to defeat the other.
Komander, hailing from Reynosa, has dazzled fans around the world with his corkscrew-infused shooting star press. Having emerged as a consistently amazing aerial assault artist in Game Changer Wrestling, Komander is coming off an incredible run in the 2023 Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Battle of Los Angeles, where he went all the way to the Semi-Finals, including strong victories over Latigo and former ROH World Champion Bandido. Now, Komander seeks his biggest GCW victory to date in the Jersey J-Cup, but to do so, he'll have to stun Arez long enough to advance past the first round
Fighting out of Mexico City, Arez has captured the imagination of fans across the globe with his exploits in Lucha Libre AAA, Impact Wrestling and MLW, among other prominent promotions. No stranger to winning major tournaments and competitions, Arez is the current holder of the La Leyenda Azul Blue Demon Championship. However, of late, Arez is coming off a series of losses in Game Changer Wrestling, so a major victory in the tournament, or even a strong showing into the finals could be the trajectory-changing moment he needs in the United States. Komander may want the victory over Arez, but Arez NEEDS this win in GCW.
Regardless of what side you are on or who the bookies believe will emerge victorious, FITE+ subscribers can be guaranteed an insane spectacle that bends the stratosphere to the will of these awe-inspiring lucha fighters, setting the stage for all who attempt to follow them in the Jersey J-Cup this weekend!
Blake Christian vs. Alec Price:
The Prize Alec Price comes from the streets and loves to fight. He's always ready to rumble and at the Jersey J-Cup this Saturday, he's looking to take some of the thunder out from Blake Christian, who has turned his back on GCW faithful and more than ever, is out for himself and no one else.
Christian has always been one of the most awe-inspiring, hard hitting flyers in GCW while Price loves to throw down, ground and pound style. While this will be their first-ever singles bout in Game Changer Wrestling, they have collided in the past in Three-Way and Scramble matches. Indeed, Price almost scored the win over Christian in last month's Do or Die Rumble that was captured by Masha Slamovich.
This Saturday, two distinct professional wrestling styles propelled forward by two ferocious personalities will collide in Jersey City, potentially setting the stage for the remainder of the Jersey J-Cup in the process, because the man who survives this encounter will be among the most feared by the remaining field of competition.
Scramble Match: Cole Radrick vs. Marcus Mathers vs. Yoya vs. Dante Leon vs. Dyln McCay vs. Jack Cartwheel.
It wouldn't be Game Changer Wrestling without some sort of insane multi-competitor spectacle to blow the roof off of White Eagle Hall and make everyone watching on FITE+ this weekend sit up and take notice, right? These seven competitors have effectively entered a Wild Card situation where, despite the fact they have to deal with all sorts of insanity as the terrain for their first round battle, with bodies flying everywhere and an incredible sprint that will commence for the duration of the bell to bell action, the winner may indeed become the favorite for the entire Jersey J-Cup tournament.
Why? They would have been the one competitor it would have been impossible to scout for, because they were one of seven competitors that everyone else in the tournament couldn't plan for, because of the Earthquake level shaking of the landscape within and beyond the Scramble match.
This bout is impossible to predict beyond seven fearsome fighters all seeking to prove themselves and advance to the next level, all or nothing, in Jersey City. It's the very definition of what makes GCW great - backs against the wall, everyone fighting for whatever they can earn, trying to scrap to the next level of greatness.
Charles Mason vs. Billie Starkz:
The latest chapter in a feud that has helped define the last year of GCW's sister promotion JCW, Mason and Starkz may enter the most heated of any matches set for the first round of the 2023 Jersey J-Cup on FITE+.
Mason, 29, has proudly proclaimed himself to be the "Root of All Evil" and given his accomplishments in GCW, House of Glory and other promotions, he's not lying. The devious Mason has long tormented Starkz dating back to 2021 after she defeated him at JCW After Hours in Atlantic City. Even when the two were randomly selected to team at Battle Bowl last year, Mason did everything in his power to make her life miserable.
This weekend provides Starkz, the 18 year old dynamo, a chance to truly gain redemption over one of the most unrelenting, disgusting hooligans in modern day professional wrestling, where even in the askew world that is Game Changer Wrestling, Mason is seen as unredeemable. Starkz, one of the most beloved and versatile competitors has gained attention with her bouts on AEW Dark and MLW programming, but she's a true GCW and JCW original and this weekend, she seeks to become the first-ever woman to hold the Jersey J-Cup.
To achieve that heavenly ambition, she'll have to face and defeat her own personal hellscape in Charles Mason.
Jordan Oliver vs. Alex Shelley:
This generational battle may be one of the true shining diamonds of the Jersey J-Cup. Jordan Oliver has been one of the true blue chip competitors in Game Changer Wrestling, fighting his way from his grizzled hometown of Newburgh, New York into the hearts of the GCW faithful, growing and evolving each month as he fought and wrestled his heart out. As he's matured as a person, Oliver has put on strength to match his speed and technical prowess and if there's one fighter who's a safe bet for future stardom, it is Jordan Oliver. This weekend at the Jersey J-Cup, Oliver enters the first round for the biggest test of his wrestling intellect to date, facing the supremely accomplished Alex Shelley, who has defeated Oliver once before.
For Alex Shelley, facing off with Oliver may as well be tantamount to observing his past self in action. Indeed, back in 2003, it was a young and upcoming Shelley who fought all the way to the Quarter-Finals of the Jersey J-Cup before succumbing to Homicide. Shelley was just a younger star coming out of the Midwest seeking his career break. It didn't happen that evening, but the hard lessons that came out of that night helped forge Shelley's career path as he rose in prominence in Impact Wrestling and beyond to become one of the most influential in-ring competitors of his generation. You can't tell the history of professional wrestling without Shelley's exploits in the X-Division and as part of the Motor City Machine Guns helping to tell the tale.
Now in GCW, Shelley has been the one dishing the lessons to Jordan Oliver and the rest of the GCW generation. Now, the wizened in-ring wizard, seeks to claim yet another accolade, The Jersey J-Cup, but to do so, he'll have to defeat someone who is where Shelley was 20 years ago, hungry and seeking redemption. Jordan Oliver is seeking to achieve stardom - and looking to avenge his past loss to Shelley - through any means necessary.
Lio Rush vs. Tony Deppen:
In a battle of two distinct professional wrestling styles clashing before FITE+'s global audience, Tony Deppen and Lio Rush will add another chapter for each of their incredible GCW runs. Lio Rush, coming off an incredible performance at New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom last month, now seeks to conquer the Jersey J-Cup in his return to GCW. To do so, he's going to have to outlast one of the grittiest ground and pound fighters in GCW history, Tony Deppen.
Shamokin, Pennsylvania's resident badass, Deppen has shown that he's willing to out-wrestle and out-fight everyone in his path no matter the environment, From Scrambles to Death Matches, Deppen has battled through hell and back to showcase his ferocity. Lio Rush is equally passionate about fighting his way to victory, having fought through trauma and adversity to showcase himself internationally while putting his heart and soul on the line to leave everything physically behind in pursuit of the ultimate victory.
While Rush's exploits have led him to the New Japan and WWE stage, Deppen has remained a lifer in GCW, silent but deadly, snarling his way to victory. Rush seeks to add yet another accolade and some additional prestige to his mantle, but for Deppen, Rush is just the first of many targets to take down in order to prove, yet again, why he's the man. For the first time in GCW history, Rush vs. Deppen live on FITE+!
Joey Janela vs. Starboy Charlie
Joey Janela may be among the most successful members of the Game Changer Wrestling roster, having helped evolve GCW's annual Wrestlemania week excursions into destination events with Janela's Spring Break. Janela's GCW success has led to global tours, a run with All Elite Wrestling and a die-hard fan base that lives vicariously through Janela's insane exploits. Janela is, for many, the living, walking embodiment of Game Changer Wrestling's grit, sleaze and pro wrestling excellence.
If Janela was one of the forefathers of GCW, 19-year old Starboy Charlie is representative of today's Game Changer Wrestling locker room. Charlie is who Janela was in the earliest era of his career, a young talent fighting everywhere and against everyone he can in order to make his name. Charlie has fought Janela and teamed with him in the past, but has yet to capture an official victory over the Bad Boy. That could all change this weekend.
Anyone who believes this will be a one-sided encounter because of Janela's veteran status would be surely mistaken as Charlie holds victories over former GCW World Champion Matt Cardona and has taken the fight to others, including Lio Rush, Jordan Oliver and Jonathan Gresham, among others. He's been poised for a major moment and this very well could be it - or it could be another moment for Joey Janela to smirk in victory as he heads into the next round…
Game Changer Wrestling's Jersey J-Cup will emanate live on FITE+ from Jersey City, New Jersey this Saturday at 2 PM Eastern with first round action and the finals taking place the same day at 7 PM Eastern, exclusively on FITE!
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.