A hot and humid Walthamstow was the venue for Rev Pro’s first foray into a Junior cup – with their first annual British J Cup. Just don’t turn it into an acronym!

Walthamstow’s Assembly Hall was packed for the show, featuring multiple names from New Japan – including Tomohiro Ishii, whose warm up for the G1 saw him make the finals of the IWGP US title tournament, before coming to England for a match with Rampage Brown for WCPW… and a match on this card against Matt Riddle. Taking it easy is not in Ishii’s DNA!

British J Cup – First Round – Marty Scurll vs. Tiger Mask
It’s a bit of a constant problem in Rev Pro, with a lot of babyfacing heels… such as Marty Scurll, who the crowd kept adoring, much like how Eddie Guerrero was back in the day. Big credit to Rev Pro for finally scoring those New Japan entrance videos – a huge step up from the bland videos that YOSHI-HASHI and co had to put up with earlier in the year! Sadly, there’d be tech issues that’d blight this show…

Scurll refused to shake Tiger Mask’s hand at the start… and oh joy, one of the two mobile cameras is blurry. They start on each other’s wrists, and swapped takedowns and the like until they reached the usual face-off as the pair worked through the simple stuff whilst commentary warned us that Marty had a new finisher.

A poke to the eye sees Scurll take Tiger Mask to his knees, and there’s a bit of a jump cut (in my stream anyway) as Scurll blocks a sunset flip and teases a finger snap… but Tiger Mask just grabs the rope. Hey, that actually makes sense! Unfortunately, that made Marty turn into a cat as he rakes the back, before superkicking Tiger Mask… and for God’s sake, who fell for Marty’s “too sweet” gimmick?

Finally Chris Roberts learns how to start counting, which leads to Marty jumping outside to rake the back some more as he then did some more back rakes – a cute touch, nevertheless. Tiger Mask comes back with a cross body after he’d surprised the Villain with a drop toe-hold into the turnbuckles, before going for a Tiger Driver, and getting it at the second attempt.

The veteran keeps up and surprises Marty with a butterfly superplex, but the Villain bounces back with a Just Kidding superkick and a half-nelson over-the-knee brainbuster for another near-fall. Marty goes for the chicken wing, but instead snaps the fingers as Tiger Mask blocked it, before finally busting out the Mouse Trap – a half-nelson rolled up into a cover (like a La Magistral) for the win. A bit of a strange finish given that only commentary was hyping it up, but this was a solid, if not spectacular opener. ***

British J Cup – First Round – Josh Bodom vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Bodom’s British Cruiserweight title wasn’t on the line here, which is probably just as well… although Bodom leapt into Liger at the bell with a boot into the corner, and took an early two-count, his arrogance quickly came into play.

The crowd were decidedly pro-Liger, even more so when Bodom kept up the assault with a missile dropkick to the back of Liger. He went up top, only to get met in the turnbuckles by Liger who kept throwing punches before turning it into a superplex! A Shotei and a Ligerbomb then gets the veteran a near-fall, before Bodom fell to a brainbuster as the crowd celebrated the cocky git’s quick exit from the tournament! ***

After the match, Bodom went after Chris Roberts – leading to a confrontation between him and Andy Quildan. Unlike prior outbursts though, this did make the final edit, so start getting your conspiracy theories out there!

British J Cup – First Round – Kyle O’Reilly vs. KUSHIDA
Well… it wasn’t like this had much to live up to. Just the small matter of two excellent matches in the 2015 and 2016 Best of Super Juniors, and this was easily the pick of the first round matches going into the show.

We start out with KUSHIDA spinning on O’Reilly’s back and turning it into a roll-through for a near-fall early, before the pair jockeyed for position in search of any submission hold they could get. O’Reilly bridges KUSHIDA back then leapt onto him as he rolled into the mount, but KUSHIDA easily switches out into a crossface as the ground-based graps had the crowd engrossed.

KUSHIDA tries to score with a sunset flip, but Kyle goes all Rick Rude with a hip swivel… KUSHIDA does the same when it’s his turn to block it, as he then switched into a Hoverboard Lock, only to find O’Reilly too close to the ropes. The tables briefly turn when O’Reilly catches KUSHIDA in a knee bar, and the Canadian continues the pressure with a Dragon Screw before snapping away on that knee some more.

The hold-for-hold exchanges are glorious to watch, as the technical war of attrition started to get the crowd into it, especially as KUSHIDA’s left knee continued to take punishment by way of Dragon screws and knee breakers. Finally, KUSHIDA manages to get back into it by dropping Kyle’s arm over the rope, but a forearm from the Canadian knocked KUSHIDA to the floor as he went in search of a chair… by grabbing one from Matt Riddle’s gimmick table!

O’Reilly knocks KUSHIDA into a chair and sets him up for a running dropkick… but KUSHIDA gets out and sent him into the chair with a dropkick before grabbing a second one. This time, the ROH TV champ runs up and launches off the new chair into a dropkick, knocking Kyle out of the seat before colliding with the lighting rig that left a nice bruise by the champion’s ribs. Back in the ring, KUSHIDA went to kick away at O’Reilly’s arm to soften him up for a Hoverboard lock, before moonsaulting into an arm triangle as O’Reilly capitalised wherever possible.

That’s transitioned into an armbar, then into an ankle lock as Kyle swiftly switched between locks until KUSHIDA managed to creep his way towards the bottom rope. Both men started to target the limbs they’d worn down, but O’Reilly snaps in with knee strikes to knock KUSHIDA down… but he’s unable to capitalise quickly enough and so he opts for a brainbuster. KUSHIDA knees his way free before dropping Kyle into the turnbuckles with a Flatliner, as he then teased the Back To The Future.

Kyle counters that into a guillotine choke, but KUSHIDA countered it into a Hoverboard lock, only for it to be turned back into a standing head-and-arm choke as the pair countered with submission attempts. That’s then turned into a capture suplex by O’Reilly, who then started a strike exchange… until KUSHIDA threw a right hand that dazed O’Reilly momentarily.

Out of nowhere, KUSHIDA hits a Shiranui for a near-fall, as the crowd became distracted by “Andrew’s MacBook” (God bless lock screens, eh?), before KUSHIDA went back to the Hoverboard Lock, which he kept on after throwing Kyle off the top rope… he rolls through to keep the hold on to avoid a rope break, but O’Reilly kneed his way free… only for one of those to get caught and turned into the Back To The Future as KUSHIDA won an epic match. Such glorious stuff here, and perhaps hampered by a crowd that was already sapped by the hot weather… but this was even better on tape. These two never fail to impress, and continue to make magic when they’re inside the squared circle together. ****½

British J Cup – First Round – Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Will Ospreay
After such a technical masterpiece, you need something different… so Will Ospreay provided it with comedy! Yeah, this wasn’t a replay of their 2016 Best of Super Junior finals, but it’s always nice to have variety.

They started out slowly-paced as Taguchi and Ospreay worked over headlocks and headscissors, before Ospreay avoided a Funky Weapon hip attack. When he dumps Taguchi with an atomic drop, the crowd actually booed Will, who told them how fed up he was of “having a year of his arse”… there’s a way that can be twisted there, but we won’t judge!

The boos intensify when Ospreay does some hip attacks of his own, straight out of the Toni Storm school, before a Taguchi dropkick turned things around as Will went too far with the mocking. Here comes the Funky Weapon! Ospreay keeps up the comedy as he cheers Taguchi in a long rope running spot, but Ryusuke eventually collapses to the mat… so Ospreay goes to the outside and grabs a can of Red Bull, which re-energises him!

Of course, Taguchi does the same as he misses a load of clotheslines, before eventually crumpling to the mat at the short-term energy buzz fizzled out. Things went from bad to worse when Ospreay tried to block a sunset flip… but pulled down Taguchi’s tights, exposing the Funky Weapon for all to see! Some bare-arsed hip attacks follow as Taguchi mooned the crowd as things settled down once more, with Taguchi plainly sitting on Ospreay in the corner.

Ospreay manages to bounce back into it with a handspring overhead kick, before connecting with the Shibata-esque corner dropkick, but Taguchi comes back out of nowhere with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall. Taguchi goes back to the Funky Weapons, scoring with a springboard hip attack for a two-count, before missing another one as Ospreay just about scored an enziguiri. A standing Spanish Fly nearly does the job, as Ospreay hits again with a Revolution kick before Taguchi took an awkward OsCutter as Will booked his place in the finals. Another fun outing – all four of these first round matches have been refreshing and different – without a dud in sight! ***½

Kurtis Chapman & Josh Wall vs. Tempura Boyz (Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu)
This was apparently added as a late bonus match, at least going by how confused Andy Simmonz was on commentary. At the Cockpit, Wall and Chapman had a long outing against CCK in a losing effort for the Rev Pro tag titles, and this time their opponents were New Japan’s on-excursion Tempura Boyz of Sho and Yo.

We’ll forget that they wrestled the prior night for WCPW’s Pro Wrestling World Cup, as Andy had this down as their first match outside Japan and America. Close enough!

The inherent problem with “bonus matches” is that crowds have a habit of treating them as an extended intermission. Especially when there’s already long queues for the bar… and as such, these four had an uphill battle. The Tempura Boyz established themselves as villains early when Tanaka raked Wall in the eyes, but Wall made a comeback with a flying back elbow before making the mistake of tagging in Chapman.

Did he not learn anything from the Cockpit?!

Eventually, Komatsu tripped Chapman as the Boyz took over, with a Sho dropkick knocking the rake-like Chapman to the floor. Tanaka keeps up the pressure by pulling back Chapman so Yohei could come in and kick him, before Sho throws some kicks to the back that evoked memories of that extended squash at the Cockpit.

Chapman tried in vain to reach for a tag, but it felt half-hearted as the Tempura Boyz kept up the beatdown, double-teaming Kurtis with chokes before Chapman outsmarts them with the back-to-back chop spot, swivelling out of the way as Sho chopped his partner three times. Finally he gets a dropkick in as he almost tagged out to Wall… except Tanaka got there first and pulled Josh down.

At the second go, Wall’s tagged in as he cleared the ring, taking down Yohei with that double stomp that almost raked the face before pelting Sho with a PK off the apron. A Finlay roll and springboard moonsault gets Wall a near-fall as Sho comes back in to club away at Josh, who manages to sneak a blind tag into Chapman, who flew in with a flip senton before an assisted moonsault onto Komatsu earned Kurtis a near-fall.

The Tempura Boyz dominate Chapman once again, but a buckle bomb is escaped, only for them to connect with a 3D for a two-count thanks to Josh Wall’s break-up. Wall’s offence ends with a pumphandle Michinoku driver from Komatsu, and the end is in sight as Chapman eats a Dominator/neckbreaker combo for yet another two-count… before the Shock Arrow (arms-crossed package piledriver) makes Chapman a few inches shorter and gets the visiting team the win! Another enjoyable outing, but the beating the contenders took made their showing against CCK all the more questionable. Can we stop kidding ourselves about Chapman here? Billing him as a “great technical wrestler” is a bit of a lie, when all he’s doing is taking a beating… like a Spike Dudley but with a little less believability in his offence. **¾

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks)
The biggest pop of the night… went to a stuffed cat. Yes, Daryl was here! Even if Andy Simmonz thought it was a dead cat… there’s someone who wasn’t allowed teddy bears as a kid!

CCK’s tag titles weren’t on the line here, and the technical issues seemed to pick up again as we had some sustained feedback from the sound system. “Tin-nit-us” seemed to rival those chants of CCK and LIJ in the opening minutes, after Brookes orchestrated chants of “turn the mic off”. BUSHI attacks Brookes from behind early, but CCK’s able to overcome it as Brookes and Banks went to work on Takahashi with nice tandem moves, including a hiptoss and double stomp for an early near-fall.

BUSHI comes back in as the Ingobernables went to work over Brookes, with BUSHI using his t-shirt to choke away at Brookes before he and Takahashi scored a double-team hiptoss/facebuster combo for a near-fall. A crossface follows from BUSHI, but Brookes escaped and brought in Banks… who quickly took some double-teaming as yet again Chris Roberts forgot the rules of tag team wrestling.

Nevermind, Banks kicks away at BUSHI and Takahashi, before dumping the masked BUSHI with a German suplex. Hiromu tries to interfere, but he gets tripped into the corner, where he crashes into BUSHI ahead of a cannonball, as the champs followed up with a pair of Coast to Coast dropkicks for a two-count.

Banks tried to end things with a Slice of Heaven, but BUSHI hits a dropkick instead to avoid it. The pace picks up a little as Brookes comes in to hit a knee strike to Hiromu, before the slingshot cutter dropped Hiromu for a two-count, but BUSHI returns as the tide turns, with Brookes eating a pair of diving dropkicks for another near-fall.

Brookes escapes a Time Bomb, before Banks dropped Hiromu with a Slice of Heaven, with a Magic Killer getting a near-fall thanks to BUSHI coming back in… but it was horrible officiating that ended things, as Hiromu blocked an elevated Codebreaker by punting Banks low, before BUSHI mists Brookes, and there’s your DQ. Well, that felt like a waste – thankfully it’s not often this happens here, but why book such a match if you can’t have a clean finish? It’s not like this DQ’s going to lead to a rematch at the Cockpit… or at Summer Sizzler? **¾

The beatdown from LIJ continued, but out comes Kid Lykos to make the save! Andy Simmonz again shows how unprepared he was here as he didn’t have a clue who Lykos was, and yes, Rev Pro is pairing up Brookes, Banks and Lykos together. Lykos’ debut was scheduled for next month, with he and Banks pairing up to take on War Machine at the next Cockpit show.

Poor wolf.

Matt Riddle vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Yeah, the feedback returned here too… and we started with a chop battle between the two behemoths, with neither man backing down! Eventually Riddle slips out and hits a German… but Ishii pops up and delivers one of his own, and one day someone will learn!

More chops, all the chops! A knee strike surprises Ishii, as Riddle switches things up with forearms and a gutwrench suplex, before a back senton got our first near-fall of the match. Ishii fights out of another gutwrench before shocking Riddle with a powerslam as it’s his turn to throw out a series of chops.

Riddle tries to chop from the ground up as he began a fightback, but Ishii quickly cuts that off and delivers some headbutts before Riddle’s overhead kick left him reeling. A Bro to Sleep out of nowhere follows, but he instead looks to follow up with a deadlift German suplex for a near-fall. Some kicks from Riddle just seem to fire up Ishii, who catches one and replies with a forearm instead as the Stone Pitbull took over again.

A back suplex sees Riddle get dumped on his back, but Riddle recovered to punch away a superplex attempt… only for Ishii to rise up with a leaping headbutt to leave Riddle out on his feet. Ishii followed that up with a stalling superplex, but that’s only good for another two-count as Riddle then blocked some headbutts, before catching a clothesline and turning it into a T-bone suplex!

They go back to the strikes, with Ishii throwing headbutts before a clothesline dumped Riddle on his head. There’s even more bombs as Ishii suddenly stopped reacting to chops, and instead chopped Riddle in the throat, before Riddle caught a kick and turned it into a tombstone slam for a near-fall! A PK follows, as does a Fisherman’s buster for a near-fall, but Ishii comes straight back with a brainbuster, and that’s surprisingly enough for the win! At a shade under 12 minutes, this was a brutal sprint, hard-hitting and playing to the strengths of both Ishii and Riddle. I was surprised Riddle took the loss, but this was a match where nobody really lost out. ****¼

Ahead of the main event, Andy Quildan introduced Marty Jones – sadly, the tech issues appeared for the live crowd as he could barely be heard. That led to a chunk of the crowd’s talking drowning him out – but what we could hear beyond the quiet mic and the feedback was Marty recounting his career and appearances in this venue.

British J Cup – Final – Marty Scurll vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay
This was under elimination rules – so there’ll be none of that “breaking up pins” malarkey! Unfortunately the introductions here was where the tech issues came to a head for the live crowd, although curiously those were largely hidden… as was Andy Quildan when Will Ospreay came out, with the live crowd having seen him leave the ring to presumably help fix those issues…

Simmonz on commentary acknowledges an earlier incident with a fan being thrown out (albeit briefly) as the crowd sang for everyone but Marty Scurll… so Marty shoves everyone and gets dumped to the outside by a boot from Ospreay. A tope took Marty into the second row, and we start with Liger taking down KUSHIDA, working over his legs in a pretzel-like submission hold. KUSHIDA gets free, but they quickly go to a trio of dropkicks as Marty tried to get involved… by pulling out Ospreay as the New Japan juniors kept up their action. A tiltawhirl backbreaker takes out KUSHIDA, as Ospreay comes back in and gets a two-count from an O’Connor roll, with Liger kicking out and sending Will into Chris Roberts.

That early ref bump gives Scurll a chance to grab his umbrella and whack Liger in the chest with it… before throwing it to Ospreay as if he were Eddie Guerrero. Yeah, KUSHIDA thought it was Ospreay’s doing, so he punched him out and started stomping away as Marty told KUSHIDA that Will “disrespected the legend”. Such comedy!

KUSHIDA and Scurll work over Ospreay as Liger was on the outside, which led to KUSHIDA doing the Marty Scurll chicken taunt, before Will took a pair of wristlocks despite protesting that he’d done nothing! They didn’t quite believe him… so Ospreay took them both out with a handspring double overhead kick before a ‘rana got Scurll out of the ring.

Scurll flips off Ospreay but ends up taking a cartwheel kick by KUSHIDA, who then counters an OsCutter attempt by turning it into a cross armbreaker, with Ospreay making it worse by rolling into an arm triangle, before a double-pin almost got rid of Ospreay and Scurll at the same time! Ospreay comes in to finish off a Tower of Doom with a sunset flip to KUSHIDA, who then ate a Revolution kick and an OsCutter… only for Scurll to throw Will to the outside and use the Mouse Trap clutch to pin KUSHIDA for our first elimination.

Scurll superkicks Liger on the outside to keep the veteran down, but Ospreay followed him to the outside with a Space Flying Tiger drop… and then had to brace himself before flying back into the ring with a springboard forearm. A shotgun dropkick follows in the corner, but Scurll comes back by playing “gotchya nose” with Ospreay, keeping him on the top rope… but Will sneaks out for a Cheeky Nando’s that gets him a near-fall.

Marty busts out the Eye of the Hurricane – the elbow-drop-assisted reverse DDT – for a near-fall, before knocking Liger down again as the veteran was getting laid out on the floor perhaps once too many… back inside again, Scurll counters another Cheeky Nando’s, but runs into a big boot before a Just Kidding is flipped out of. Scurll and Ospreay counter and counter before Will hits the Stundog Millionaire to leave both men laying and everyone on their feet!

Once again Liger’s taken down with a superkick off the apron, leading to a comedic stagger as we resumed Scurll/Ospreay in the form of chops. Ospreay counters a finger snap by just kicking Marty in the head, as it’s time for a Rainmaker… but it’s ducked and met with a Cross Rhodes before Scurll hit Ospreay with his own Essex Destroyer and Oscutters for another two-count. Insults, eh?

Liger again rises, but Marty kicks the rope as he entered the ring, which is probably where things telegraphed themselves too clearly. Ospreay recovers to kick away a chicken wing and land a Rainmaker, before a blocked Oscutter leads to a ref bump as Ospreay’s shoved into Roberts. From there, Marty goes to the umbrella… but he misses as Ospreay gets away, and then pondered using the umbrella himself… but Scurll ducks as the brolly goes flying into the crowd – and not for the first time either! Liger gets hit with the remnants of the umbrella, as Scurll shocks Ospreay with a Mouse Trap… and we’re down to the Legend vs. the Villain!

Liger’s left flat on the outside because of that (partial) umbrella shot, which looked to be giving Marty a clear path to the win… but instead of going for the cover, he instead looked to add further insult, teasing a Romero special on Liger before instead taking him to the corner for some chops… but Liger comes out with a Shotei! Another Shotei follows, as does a top rope ‘rana an a superplex, but Marty managed to get up just in time.

Somehow, Big Match Liger found the strength to keep going, but another Shotei’s blocked and met with a finger snap before Scurll went for another Mouse Trap… but Liger kicked out at two! A quick superkick took him down again though, but Scurll didn’t go for a cover, instead going for a chicken wing and then a brainbuster… but Liger popped up at ONE! Another fightback ensues, with a Shotei flipping Scurll inside out ahead of a Ligerbomb and a brainbuster… and ohmygod Jushin “Thunder” Liger won it! The crowd erupts for the win, after a marathon of a main event that gave us a lot of everything… and then some!

A sublime main event, befitting what (hopefully) will be an annual tradition… and who better to pick up the first cup than a legend such as Liger? ****

Marty Jones was presenting the British J Cup to Liger when Josh Bodom hit the ring and beat down Liger… Marty Jones looked to square up to him, but Bodom kicked him in the gut as the locker room empties to chase away Bodom… and that sets up a title match at Rev Pro’s Summer Sizzler in August: Josh Bodom vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger!

As the inaugural event, a lot was expected from the British J Cup, and save for the two tag team matches, this really delivered. The “bonus” match fell flat simply because of it’s place in the card, whilst suspected politics meant that the CCK/LIJ match was always going to feel flat. Nevertheless, the tournament itself was a massive home run, with O’Reilly/KUSHIDA delivering exactly as advertised, before a main event that perhaps tipped off a result a little too much, but was still value for money.

One British J Cup down, here’s to many more years of it!