Rev Pro make their first stop of the year at York Hall this Friday – here’s a look at the line-up as we have five title matches on tap.
Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
After a ref stoppage ended his chances of beating ZSJ at the New Beginning in Sapporo at the start of the month, Ospreay was able to get his own back by beating Sabre in an elimination match at Korakuen Hall two days later… and then issued a challenge for a title shot at High Stakes.
It says a lot that the main event couldn’t be announced until ten days before the show because of how much Rev Pro’s title has been intertwined in New Japan stories. A win for Ospreay won’t change too much of that – although Ospreay has hinted at doing more dates in the UK… but in the eyes of some, as long as the title remains “in New Japan”, not much will change.
Rev Pro British Cruiserweight Championship: Michael Oku vs. El Phantasmo (c)
Having won 2019’s British J Cup, Michael Oku’s earned himself a shot at the cruiserweight championship – and while Oku lost to ELP the last they faced off one-on-one at York Hall, Oku did beat ELP to win the British J Cup…
Now, while the heavyweight strap is guaranteed to stay “within New Japan”, the cruiserweight strap could well be finding its way back to the venues like the Cockpit on the regular. Of course, it’s not like the ROH TV title – a strap that’s been on New Japan TV but not recently defended, as ELP last defended on a New Japan show at Showdown in San Jose last November, against SHO… but I could just as easily see this belt disappear from New Japan for a bit than not. Of course, there’s also the wild speculation that Michael Oku could end up heading to Japan as part of the Best of the Super Junior tour… but either way, given the cynicism that surrounds Rev Pro titles, if there’s no title change here, the detractors will be out in force. My money’s on Oku though.
Rev Pro British Tag Team Championship: David Starr & Damian Dunne vs. The Legion (Rampage Brown & Great O-Kharn) (c)
With David Starr only returning to Rev Pro a month ago, as part of the unmasking of the Legionnaire that went a little awry (as far as the Legion were concerned), this does feel a little rushed. Starr claimed the title shot after beating Rampage at the Cockpit at the start of the month, so technically speaking the challengers get their shot in their first match.
As always seems to be the way, the storylines in Rev Pro are a little muddy as the Legion have lost a member (going by their own entrance video). Could this be the moment that Great O-Kharn finally tastes defeat, or will the Legion find a way to quickly get their own back? Based on entirely nothing, I wouldn’t be too shocked if there’s a new man added to one of these sides to keep the feud going through to the summer.
Rev Pro British Women’s Championship: Gisele Shaw vs. Zoe Lucas (c)
A quick rematch for Gisele Shaw then, after coming up short to Zoe at New Year Resolution a month ago. Zoe’s run with the title has been a bit mixed – with a 14 month run including six months last year where it wasn’t defended…
That being said, when Zoe has been in the country (and Rev Pro’s felt like it), there has been a laundry list of credible challengers who’ve fallen by the wayside: Yuu, Charli Evans, Bea Priestley, Jamie Hayter, Seleziya Sparx, Maddison Miles, Millie McKenzie and of course, Gisele Shaw. A litany of former and current champions around the world there. The question is, given that Rev Pro are starting to put more focus on their women’s division following the Southside merger, is now the time to change the title… or will Zoe’s reign continue on? I wouldn’t be too shocked if a new champion left York Hall, but then again, would that mean title changes?
Southside Speed King Championship: Robbie X vs. Ricky Knight Jr. (c)
RKJ’s perhaps been the most consistently-pushed name from the Southside acquisition, having impressed at the Cockpit and he’s pushed on since then. RKJ’s first run with the title started last March, but held it for a month before dropping to Kip Sabian… whose month-long reign ended with it going back to RKJ. That reign stretched across ownerships, with a win over Senza Volto ensuring Knight kept the belt into the new era – but will he drop the belt to a man who first won the title in 2012? Given that this title is eventually going to roll up into the Rev Pro Cruiserweight title, it perhaps doesn’t matter who holds it, but if it’s Michael Oku who leaves with the Rev Pro strap from here, I’d imagine the youth versus experience angle would work well for any unifier down the road.
LA Park vs. Eddie Kingston
Under no-DQ rules this will be a war. Originally slated as Park vs. Sha Samuels, Sha’s injury and circumstances meant that Rev Pro needed a replacement. I honestly thought they’d slot in a Dan Magee here, given the “find yourself” speech that Eddie Kingston gave him at the February Cockpit show (which was very reminiscent of a similar angle he did in Beyond last year). But thankfully, we’ve got an absolute belter of a match – and one that will have everyone in the firing line!
Jeff Cobb vs. Dan Moloney
This one’s perhaps slid under the radar – Dan Moloney’s in the midst of a feud with Hikuleo, having scrapped to a double DQ before picking up a DQ win in the space of 2-3 weeks… but against Jeff Cobb, we’re looking at a two big lads who are deceptively agile. I’d expect Moloney to leave with the win here, but don’t be too surprised if we get some Tongan interference…
Hikuleo vs. Carlos Romo vs. Mark Haskins vs. Kyle Fletcher vs. Kurtis Chapman vs. Chris Brookes
This’ll be Brookes’ farewell to Rev Pro, as he’s off to Japan for a year in DDT after this! Rev Pro have been making a habit of adding scrambles to their York Hall shows, and while they’ll never have the place in my heart that scrambos may, they’re often a good way of keeping names and faces in the audience’s eye when you’ve got nothing else to do with them. Expect a lot of comedy here, a bit of a beating for Mad Kurt, but in the end the winner of these is always a bit of a crap shoot.
At time of writing, tickets are fast running out for this one – so if you’re able to make your excuses and get to York Hall this Friday, do it! Doors are 5.30pm, bell time 6.45pm… and given Rev Pro’s track record, you shouldn’t be too worried about the last train if you’re just using the Underground.