The first night of Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Global Wars tour with New Japan took place at Bethnal Green’s York Hall, with some interesting results.
I’ll get the negatives out of the way first: after August’s Uprising event started late due to enhanced security checks at York Hall. Unfortunately, things repeated themselves on Thursday; meaning that a late door opening and these heightened checks led to another delayed start to the show. From my perspective, I joined the queue an hour before the advertised bell time, and I’d barely gotten into the building by the 7.30pm start time. It ended up being nearer 8pm when the show did start, but there were plenty of disgruntled fans queuing, unhappy at the lack of communication.
Perhaps if you’re sending people outside to flog event programmes, they can also carry a message to put people’s minds at ease that they’re perhaps not at as much risk of missing the start of the show as they think?
Anyway, with that out of the way, the show finally got going with a surprise choice of opener: Marty Scurll vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger. If you’ve seen much Liger in recent times, you’d not have been shocked – a fairly easy match, with both guys hitting their usual moves. Liger popped the crowd with his own “Just Kidding” superkick, but in the end he was forced to tap when Scurll kicked out of a roll-up and caught the veteran in a chicken wing.
The second match saw Tomoaki Honma overcome Sha Samuels in a decent match. Out of the entire card, this one seemed to be hurt by Honma’s relative standing in New Japan, and Samuels being somewhat lukewarm in this group. There’ll be more on that in the end… Honma did his usual routine of trying for – and missing – some Kokeshi headbutts, before overcoming interference from James Castle to take the win with a Kokeshi off the top rope. It was fine for what it was, but on a show where the New Japan crew were the main attraction, the interference from a faction that’s largely been part of the background in this group felt needless.
Third up was a match I was looking forward to a lot: Pete Dunne against Yuji Nagata – subbing for the injured Michael Elgin. Nagata did look a little off the pace at times, but apart from that this was a great outing for both guys. This was starting to feel a little long, but it was satisfying throughout, even with the surprise finish of Nagata beating Dunne with the Backdrop Hold.
Our first-half main event was a stormer: Chris Hero going over Tomohiro Ishii. This was everything you’d expect, and a lot more. Hard hitting? Check. Eye-watering strikes? Check. Ishii popping straight up from piledrivers? Check. After being unable to get the job done with several piledrivers, Hero took the W with the Gotch-style piledriver – thankfully not off the middle rope this time. When this appears on-demand, this is a match you need to swarm to and watch for yourself!
Thanks to the late opening, the interval was curtailed… but that just meant that we didn’t have to wait as long for the first match of the second half: BUSHI vs. Will Ospreay. This was their first singles match together, and perhaps we should have seen BUSHI’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight title loss coming last week when all mention of titles was dropped from this match? They worked a match that wouldn’t look out of place in New Japan, with plenty of high flying, but at a level that didn’t overshadow the rest of the card. BUSHI sprayed Ospreay with the mist, but despite referee Chris Roberts seeing Will’s blackened face, he didn’t call for a DQ… instead, Ospreay got the job done with an OsCutter.
Our semi-final came in the form of a six-man tag, as Moustache Mountain gained an extra member in the form of David Starr (subbing for Mark Haskins). What’s that, you say, Starr doesn’t have a moustache? That’s not a problem that a marker pen can’t fix! Their opponents were the trio of EVIL, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito – who were just Los Ingobernables for some reason. Not quite sure how “de Japon” can be such a problem once you can say “Ingobernables”, but there you go…
This went fairly long, with the usual New Japan multi-man tag spots, with everyone working with each other, plus Naito doing his usual tease-and-avoiding-the-lock-up stuff. Trent Seven took a lot of punishment, and sold his shoulder really convincingly, but in the end it was the Ingobernables trio who took the win, courtesy of EVIL’s STO on David Starr.
Finally, the main event saw Zack Sabre Jr. – receiving an extraordinarily mixed reaction, partially influenced by those who really wanted to see Katsuyori Shibata more, and those who perhaps had gotten tired of Sabre being Rev Pro’s “Superman” in recent months. Having seen their match in July, this was a shade below the levels that match reached, but the result was much more satisfying. After looking to have worked his usual match and kicked his way to victory, Sabre found that his New Japan foe was a step above on this night.
Having outlasted Sabre’s kicks, and kicking out of the bridging prawn hold that saw Sabre win back in July, Shibata took the win – and Sabre’s British heavyweight championship – after a sleeper suplex, then a rear naked choke and finally the PK. The result stunned the crowd, who really were not expecting a title change…
At the end of the show, Marty Scurll came out to whisk away Zack Sabre Jr – but instead of building up anything relating to Scurll finally cashing in his title shot, we ended up with a tease for Friday night’s show, which now features a title match as Shibata will defend against… Chris Hero. All of a sudden, that’s now gone from “much watch” to “you really need to see it” status.
Save for that main event, this entire show was really self-contained – which seems to be the major detriment to Rev Pro right now. Without much in the way of storylines, at least if you only watch the York Hall shows, the only thing that’s attracting crowds is the brand name and the matches on display. Whilst the matches they’re putting together are working in terms of drawing crowds, there’s only so long that can last before you either run out of imports or home grown guys to put against them (especially if WWE’s having frequent try-outs and scooping up the best of Britain!)
Still, as a show, it was enjoyable enough, and it’ll be worth the rewatch if only for the Hero/Ishii and Sabre/Shibata matches. Rev Pro have said it’ll drop on their on-demand service on or around November 14, so check it out!