Rev Pro’s latest trip to Portsmouth’s Guildhall proved to be a rather eye-opening affair as the south coast was wowed by some lucha goodness!

Kevin Kelly and Andy Simmons are on commentary yet again, and we’ve got our first airing of the new Rev Pro music!

David Starr vs. Colt Cabana
A rematch of sorts from “Slamming for Shabbos”, where Colt beat Starr to become the first Jew North American Champion. I am NOT making that up. Starr claims he asked to be in the opener so he can get the hell out of Portsmouth as soon as he could – because Portsmouth “is no Southampton.” Ow.

Starr claims this isn’t going to be for the British Cruiserweight title, since Colt “ate a few too many hot dogs”. Not that that mattered to Colt, who had his proper music. Remember that Portsmouth show where Andy accidentally ripped his “heel” music from YouTube?

Colt started off with a hammerlock, forcing Starr to grab the ropes rather than play around to get free. Cabana keeps shaking referee Chris Roberts’ hand, which annoyed Starr, who always believed things weren’t exactly impartial. A slap as Colt was in the ropes just served to antagonise things more… but Colt retaliates to being some criss-crossing to an end.

Recognising the rather casual audience, Colt played to the crowd a lot here, outsmarting Starr’s attempt to slap him back before he threatened to stomp Starr low. Instead we get a wishbone leg splitter with some accidental help from Chris Roberts, which led to everyone just yelling at him. Deservedly. Starr trips Colt and threatens to get some retribution, but Colt just bounces back by clapping his hand before taking Starr outside with some headscissors. The rope’s used against Colt as Starr briefly took over… only for Colt to once against outsmart the Product. Again Starr uses the ropes as a weapon, kicking it into Colt as he climbed back into the ring, and this time Starr’s able to build on that, cartwheeling past Colt ahead of a back elbow and a sliding splash into the corner for a near-fall.

Colt manages to turn things around with some Dusty punches and a Bionic elbow, before he caught Starr in the corner with a Flying Arse and a double splash for a near-fall. An attempt at the Cherry Mint DDT ends with Colt backdropping free, only for Starr to respond with a Han Stansen lariat, before he attempted the Product Placement… but Colt fights free and into a forearm, before he shoved Starr out of the corner and caught him by surprise with a Superman body press for the win. A rather abrupt end to an entertaining match – and one that played excellently well to the crowd. ***

Matt Graceson vs. Great O-Kharn
Graceson is the first “new” Contender we’ve seen on these shows in forever…Here though, his role is rather obvious – as the latest bit of cannon fodder for Great O-Kharn, who was being scouted by Lord Gideon Grey.

Good God, Gideon’s all veiny and scary as he introduces O-Kharn.

O-Kharn shoved away Graceson early, before he attempted a cheapshot in the ropes… which Graceson slipped away from. Graceson tries to restrain O-Kharn with a wristlock, but a rake to the eyes gets O-Kharn free as he grabs a headlock, grounding the school teacher in the process.

Some ground and pound keeps Grayson down, as O-Kharn settled into his usual game, mocking the referee as he chopped the trainee in the head, before trapping Graceson in the turnbuckles by sitting on him. Mongolian chops follow, but Graceson offers some fightback, before he leaps into O-Kharn with a crossbody. There’s a stumble, but O-Kharn recovers and drops Graceson across the top rope for a near-fall, before he’s thrown outside.

O-Kharn continues the beatdown on Graceson around ringside, before the Contender’s thrown into the ring post. He recovers and shoves O-Kharn into the ring post as he was destined to be thrown there himself, but the comeback’s short-lived as O-Kharn caught another leap off the apron, then charged him into the apron. Back inside, O-Kharn uses a sleeperhold on Graceson, then turns it into a crossface as a rope break’s eventually called for. Graceson tries another fightback, catching O-Kharn with a dropkick, before a monkey flip’s caught as O-Kharn chops him some more on the top rope.

Graceson lands a dropkick, but O-Kharn only staggers into the corner and manages to get right back with a claw-assisted stretch, and then the claw-assisted chokeslam for the win. This was as one-sided as you’d expect, especially since O-Kharn’s already, ahem, dominated bigger names, which made this a little less dramatic than it could have been. **

Kurtis Chapman vs. KUSHIDA
The “first half main event” sees Kurtis Chapman’s stiffest test yet, against New Japan’s “junior ace” KUSHIDA.

The pair start by switching waistlocks on the mat, but it’s Chapman who takes KUSHIDA down with a wristlock, only for KUSHIDA to escape. A modified deathlock’s next as Chapman rolls KUSHIDA over, but there’s another escape as KUSHIDA worked into a front headlock as he began to take Chapman to school.

A surfboard stretch from Chapman sees them continue to go tit-for-tat, but KUSHIDA reverses it and switches the hold into a stretch, before he looked for a cross armbreaker as the pair rolled into the ropes. KUSHIDA keeps up with a shoulder charge, only to run into a pair of low dropkicks, as commentary looked to hype up Chapman’s “Caps Lock” finisher. A crossbody off the middle rope sees Chapman barely get a two-count, before he went back to the legs of KUSHIDA, using a toe hold… but an elbow to the leg is quickly caught and turned into a cross armbreaker as KUSHIDA showed Chapman he was nowhere near done. Forearms from Chapman follow, but KUSHIDA instantly retaliates with a hiptoss and a dropkick, taking Chapman to the outside for a plancha… and that’s where the match ends, as Chapman blew out his knee taking the plancha. KUSHIDA wins by stoppage, and that’s Chapman unfortunately on the shelf for a while. This was a match that I’d like to see again – obviously with a finish – as Chapman and KUSHIDA gelled really well in their brief time together.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
This wouldn’t look out of place on any Rev Pro show – and it’s a match that’s only happened once before, for Pro Wrestling NOAH almost five years ago.

We start with the pair circling each other, but it’s Liger who’s taken into the corner first as Sabre seemed agitated. Not like him. Liger manages to take advantage of that, pulling Sabre to the mat for an armbar, holding on despite Sabre getting to the ropes, before he followed that up with a seated surfboard, pulling Sabre all the way back into a chinlock… but Zack gets free and starts to torque away on Liger’s wrist instead.

Another crack at a surfboard stretch from Sabre ends up getting turned into a Romero special as Liger made this look effortless… but Sabre’s again out as he looked to go to his usual game, tying up Liger with a STF as the Portsmouth crowd looked to universally stand behind the veteran. A bow-and-arrow hold has Liger in trouble, but he flips over into a pinning attempt, before he rolled outside looking for some respite. Unfortunately, Sabre followed him out and just wrapped his leg around the guard railings instead…

Liger almost loses via count-out, but he just about beats Roberts’ ten count, only to remain grounded as he remained an easy prey for Sabre. A twist on the STF keeps Liger down, but there’s another rope break… allowing Sabre to measure up his next attack, but Liger gets his feet up and counters back in with a tiltawhirl backbreaker. The Shotei drives through Sabre in the corner, but a top rope ‘rana that followed up is countered into a sunset flip as the match remained incredibly even,

The pair exchange La Magistrals, with Liger stopping Sabre’s before he ate a PK as that sequence came to a juddering end. A Koppo kick from Liger stops Sabre in the ropes, before he just about got Zack up for a Liger Bomb… but Sabre’s able to kick out at two, and begin a comeback, stopping another Koppo kick and turning it into a knee bar, grapevining Liger’s legs for good measure. Another rope break saves Liger, who tries to strike his way back into the contest… but the injured knee gives Sabre an easy target, only for him to get caught out with another Shotei.

Liger tries to add a brainbuster after that, but Sabre slips out and rolls the veteran into Orienteering with Napalm Death… and Liger’s forced to tap. A wonderful technical contest, with this match playing well to both men’s strengths – and gave Sabre another scalp to his ever-increasing list of submissions. ***¾

Josh Bodom vs. Kip Sabian
A rematch from Rev Pro’s last trip to Southampton, these two have meshed pretty well in the past.

Sabian is ever-so-slightly leaning towards being a good guy, in the very least because he’s not shooing away the crowd’s chants for him. The pair keep it on the mat early, with Sabian getting a little ahead of himself when he celebrated getting a two-count on Bodom, who replied with a hearty kick to the chest, before Kip turned up the pace with headscissors and a dropkick.

Bodom keeps the tempo low… but he telegraphed a standing moonsault and almost gets rolled up, only to respond with some kicks as that moonsault finally came off for a near-fall. A missed charge in the corner lets Sabian back in, as a springboard missile dropkick sent Bodom across the ring ahead of another near-fall, before Bodom slipped out of a cross-legged suplex. Second time was the charm as Sabian almost took the win, but Bodom’s right back in as he took down Sabian with a roundhouse enziguiri, sending Kip to the outside… but his dive’s cut-off in the ropes with a gamengiri.

Another springboard back in from Sabian goes awry as Bodom sidesteps and catches him with a bridging German suplex, before Kip was forced to push away a Bliss Buster. Sabian rebounds with a tornado DDT for a near-fall, only for Bodom to come right back with an enziguiri then a Bliss Buister for the win. A little brief at under 15 minutes, but this felt like the perfect match – especially set against the latest round of “Bodom’s going heavyweight” talk. We’ll see if that ever happens… ***½

Bandido vs. Flamita
On paper, this is an utterly random match in an utterly random venue. Two luchadors, in a venue where Rev Pro usually host matches featuring former WWE wrestlers? Still, Bandido and Flamita got an amazing reaction considering how casual the crowd is here, and I’m expecting their style to wow Portsmouth.

There’s some (hopefully) tongue in cheek chants of “boring” as Bandido and Flamita started off trading hammerlocks and basic holds, but those give way to chants for Bandido as the pair exchanged armdrags as they slowly eased into their usual style. They play to the crowd with a little bit of Flossing, for the kids who play Fortnite, and now we’re into the fast-paced stuff as a series ends with dualling handsprings into a stand-off.

Bandido finally edges ahead with a big boot for a near-fall on Flamita, before he flapjacked his sometimes-tag partner with a kick on the way down. They brawl on the outside, with Flamita going into the flimsy guard rails, before a one-handed press slam from Bandido back inside turned into a Falcon arrow for a near-fall. Impressive!

Flamita replies with a springboard ‘rana back in from the apron, before a superkick takes Bandido outside for an Orihara moonsault to the floor. Bandido’s thrown back into the ring, but he responds immediately with an over-the-post tope con giro, eventually getting back up to take the match back inside, with Bandido trolling the crowd trolling referee Chris Roberts. Problem was, that just had someone shout “Moose”. Never shout Moose unless it’s in his match.

Back inside again, Bandido rolled up Flamita for a near-fall, before he ran into a wheelbarrow roll-up as the pair exchanged some indyriffic near-falls. A satellite Destroyer ends that as Bandido came within a hair’s breadth of nicking the win, before he took too long setting up a moonsault, eventually landing into Flamita’s boots. Flamita’s got his own big guns to unload – the Muscle Buster Gutbuster (or el Retador, which I had to look up on YouTube thanks to Wikipedia’s recent changes!) gets a near-fall, before a 450 splash had to be aborted. Bandido’s right back in with a satellite DDT, then a Ligerbomb, but it’s still not enough… and when Flamita handstands out of another satellite DDT, he’s able to rebound with the Flam Fly standing Spanish fly for a near-fall. Far from mocking it as they sounded originally, Portsmouth are now super behind this match, especially when the pair trade superkicks, before another 619 in the corner from Flamita connects, allowing him to hit that 450 splash for the win. Excellent stuff – and this was an excellent study in seeing a casual crowd getting won over to a new style. More lucha like this please, Andy! ****¼

Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) & El Phantasmo vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO, YOH & Rocky Romero)
If you’ve taken Aussie Open’s recent bookings here as a “tryout” for New Japan… could ELP be in line for something similar too?

Fletcher and YOH start us off, keeping stuff on the mat as we cycled through tags as if this were a New Japan undercard match. Phantasmo and SHO are next, with the pair exchanging shoulder tackles before ELP cartwheels out of some headscissors, as neither side was able to make a dent in front of a rather easy crowd.

Poor Rocky Romero has to face Mark Davis, and let’s just say there’s a height difference. Oh, and a strength difference too. Rocky tries to trade strikes, but it ends badly… for Dunkzilla, who gets poked in the eye. A chop was a bad idea though for Rocky, who ends up taking a high five before begging to be tagged out to YOH… who perhaps shouldn’t have tagged as firmly as he did.

After slapping his way through all three members of Roppongi 3K, Davis comes out as ELP comes in to drop an axehandle onto SHO’s arm. Kyle Fletcher goes airborne too, stomping thru the arm, as SHO’s left arm became quite the target. Eventually it backfires as Davis leapt off the top into Phantasmo, and that sets the stage a little as Roppongi 3K started to come back into it. ELP’s trapped in the wrong corner as Rocky’s boys use some underhanded tactics, helped on by some accidental distractions from Aussie Open.

SHO and YOH stop Rocky’s Forever lariats… and when Romero tries it again, he’s just flattened by a clothesline from ELP, who needed a little longer to get free and bring in Mark Davis. Yup. Chops and clotheslines come for SHO and YOH, who had no answer for a fired-up Dunkzilla… neither did Rocky, who tried to go all Taguchi after having a shot at the Aussies, who took over control as SHO ends up in the whirlibird neckbreaker for a near-fall from ELP. Fletcher ends up being used as a human weapon as he’s thrown outside… leaving ELP on his own against SHO and YOHs’s flurry of tandem offence, ending with a deadlift German for a near-fall. Kyle comes back but takes a pair of leaping knees, before Davis saved ELP from the 3K. Dunkzilla takes a trio of leaping knees to the head though, as they resumed the focus on ELP, nailing a double-team Dominator for a near-fall – despite the pig-pile pin!

All six men are in the ring now for back-and-forth shots, but a trio of brainbusters put 3K down. There’s a Parade of Strikes that culminates with ELP diving onto SHO and YOH on the outside… which leaves Rocky Romero in there against the Aussies, before the pig pile returns as the Fidget Spinner puts away the director. A fun main event, which ended with the “home” talent winning – solid, but not spectacular stuff, but plenty to send the crowd home happy. ***¼

Rev Pro’s latest outing at Portsmouth was another easy to watch show – with the hidden gem of Bandido against Flamita in the middle. As perhaps the biggest regular show in their week so far (the British J Cup took place after this), it was a show that lived up to expectations – but perhaps won’t be one for everyone to rush and watch.