Rev Pro returned to Stevenage for this year’s British J Cup, as the one night tournament saw debuts and returns across the board.
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Leon Slater pinned Will Kaven in 14:09 (***¼)
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Wild Boar pinned Alex Zayne in 12:56 (**½)
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Harrison Bennett pinned Senza Volto in 16:04 (***¼)
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Mascara Dorada pinned Robbie X in 9:17 (***¼)
Alex Windsor submitted Kanji to retain the Rev Pro Undisputed British Women’s Championship in 17:57 (***½)
Luke Jacobs pinned Ricky Knight Jr. in 17:37 (****¼)
Michael Oku pinned Gabe Kidd to retain the Rev Pro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship in 18:21 (***¾)
Leon Slater won the British J Cup 2023 Final in 20:31 (***¾)
— To watch this show, head over to RevProOnDemand.com
We’re back at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage for the sixth annual British J Cup (save for that year where nothing was happening…). Andy Quildan and Gio Nolastname are on commentary,
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Will Kaven vs. Leon Slater
Kaven was a finalist last year, eliminating Leon in the finals… will lightning strike twice?
We open with a lot of the yay/boo stuff, ending with Kaven attacking Slater in the corner… Leon manages to get a foothold into the match with a leg sweep and a slingshot splash for just a one-count before he took Kaven into the corners. A missed charge into the corner allows Kaven to take Slater into the corner for a neckbreaker across the turnbuckles, before snap suplexes back inside kept Kaven ahead. After the crowd noticed the Roman numerals on Kaven’s new gear, Slater began to fire back, inviting chops before he hit back, only for Kaven to cut him off with a clothesline and a cravat. Slater tries to escape, but an eye rake and a neckbreaker keeps Kaven ahead, as did some hammer elbows to the neck.
Slater finally got back into it with a misdirection cutter, following up with a dropkick into the corner before a running boot decked Kaven for a near-fall. A leg lariat’s next from Slater, but Kaven’s able to recover and pull Slater off the top rope and into the turnbuckles. Kaven stays on the neck with a hanging guillotine in the ropes… the snap Dragon suplex and a diving knee follow for a near-fall, but Slater’s able to cut off Kaven with a Blue Thunder Bomb.
From there, another dropkick catches Kaven in the ropes… a dropkick through the ropes follows to the outside. A Swanton 450’s aborted, but Slater’s able to change it up with a spinning torture rack bomb, and that’s enough to put away the ghost of 2022 as Leon booked his spot in the final. ***¼
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Wild Boar vs. Alex Zayne
It’s a Rev Pro debut for Zayne, whose 2023 has been surprisingly sparse…
Boar tried his best to get the crown to go against him as we started with the pair going into the corner for breaks. Zayne tries to get under Boar’s skin, eventually surprising him on a dropdown with a springboard double knee drop, before landing a standing version of the Cinnamon Twist corkscrew senton. Zayne misses a flipping kick as Boar got himself back into it, scoring with a wrist-clutch suplex out of the corner for a two-count. Some biting in the corner keeps Zayne on the back foot, as did some back sentons as Boar looked to have Zayne’s number.
An elbow to the nose keeps Zayne down, as Boar stayed on Zayne with shots to the back and front with forearms. A running Blockbuster from Zayne finally created an opening, with that flipping axe kick landing… only for a top rope ‘rana to be stopped by Boar… with Zayne instead coming back with an avalanche Dragonrana for a near-fall. Boar avoids a Baja Blast as a Blue Thunder Bomb instead countered back for a near-fall… the pair trade chops, before Boar found his way back in with a rebound German suplex, then a cannon-boar into the corner, leading to a pop-up powerbomb. Zayne manages to hit a diving kick after he’d avoided a Trapper Keeper, before the Baja Blast looked to have Zayne on course for victory.
Zayne tried for a Taco Driver, but Boar took things to the corner so he could mule kick Zayne behind the ref’s back, leading to the Trapper Keeper for the win. This was fine, but a lot of the crowd really didn’t seem to know Zayne, which meant that this was pretty rough going as far as getting reactions at times. **½
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Harrison Bennett vs. Senza Volto
This was Senza’s first outing for Rev Pro in over three and a half years… and first time in Stevenage since Southside’s farewell show four years ago.
Refusing a handshake, Bennett took Senza into the corner as the crowd were rather unflattering to the Welshman. Senza’s taken to the ropes for a patronising pat on the head, which the Frenchman returned the favour on as he faked out a kick to the back. Bennett finds himself taken down with an armdrag as Senza looked to work the wrist and arm… only for Bennett to kick him in the head to break free. Senza hits the ropes for a shoulder tackle, before a chop set up some stuff in the ropes… with Bennett cheekily getting a foot to the rope to force a break as he tried to get the ref to shake the ropes to force the separation. Instead, Senza springboards in for an armdrag, before a ‘rana took Bennett outside… as Senza faked out a dive.
A plancha to the outside ended with Bennett elbowing Senza in mid air, before the pair headed onto the apron… with switcharoos leading to Senza getting shoved into the ring post. Back inside, Bennett wore out Senza with right hands in the corner ahead of a double underhook suplex that saw Bennett roll through for a two-count. Another trip outside kept Bennett ahead, but Senza’s able to hit back with a suplex to buy himself some time. Clotheslines follow from Senza, ahead of a handspring back elbow before a handspring kick knocked Bennett outside ahead of a tope into the crowd. Back inside, a low dropkick tripped Senza into the corner as Bennett added a running boot… only for Senza to hit back with a Code Red for a near-fall.
Bennett’s caught up top as Senza pushed on… but a diving gamengiri caught Senza in the ropes ahead of a spinebuster for a near-fall. Back-and-forth chops led to Senza slapping away a discus lariat, before the back-and-forth led to an enziguiri from Bennett, then a standing Spanish fly from Senza, before a springboard moonsault almost booked him a spot in the final. Senza looks to land an Eiffel Tower, but Bennett goes for the eyes before hanging up Senza in the ropes… a discus lariat’s next, and that’s enough to put Bennett in the finals as Senza’s Rev Pro return ended in defeat. ***¼
British J Cup 2023 Semi-Final: Robbie X vs. Mascara Dorada
Akin to a footballing group of death, last year’s winner Robbie X took on CMLL’s hot prospect Mascara Dorada (not the one that’s now Metalik) in the last of our semis.
Dorada’s offer of a handshake gets things going as the pair burst into action, with Dorada wowing the crowd with flips early on. Dorada’s kick to the ropes looked to set up for a rebound something or other, but Dorada had more luck with a tijeras, taking Robbie X outside for a shooting star press off the apron. Robbie’s thrown into a ring post from there before a suplex back inside drew a two-count for Dorada. A tijeras from Robbie X, then a handspring kick knocked Dorada outside for an Orihara moonsault, while a delayed senton atomico back into the ring got Robbie a two-count.
Robbie keeps pushing with a standing moonsault for a two-count, before Dorada cut him off with a stalling twisting suplex for a near-fall. Dorada’s standing shooting star press misses as Robbie X built up to a Beyblade kick and a standing shooting star press of his own for a two-count. Pulling himself up to the top rope, Robbie ends up aborting a 450 splash before Dorada ended up hitting a crucifix into a facebuster for a near-fall. A Molly Go Round keeps the pendulum swinging as Robbie almost took the win, ahead of a satellite DDT after Dorada had prevented an X-Claimation attempt.
A second X-Claimation’s dropkicked away by Dorada in mid-air… eventually followed up with a shooting star press off the top rope as last year’s winner crashed out at the semi-finals. This was an enjoyable sprint, with some flashes from Dorada throughout. ***¼
Rev Pro Undisputed British Women’s Championship: Kanji vs. Alex Windsor (c)
Kanji’s connection to Stevenage was strong, given she’d won the Southside women’s title in the same building back in 2019…
This was only Kanji’s second match back in Rev Pro after injury, but Windsor was looking to frustrate her early on by repeatedly going for the hair. Kanji got her own back, noticing the ref wasn’t exactly hot on issuing warnings, before a drop down tripped up the champion. A splash to the back pancaked Windsor for a one-count, before Windsor upped up and punched her way back into the match. Windsor tries for a Sharpshooter, but Kanji cradles for a pin attempt, following up with a triangle armbar that very quickly ended in the ropes.
Windsor rolls outside, ducking a Tiger Feint kick from Kanji… before popping her up onto the edge of the ring from an Electric Chair. Back inside, Windsor wore down Kanji in the corner before she found a way in with a Sharpshooter… but it’s by the ropes as Windsor was forced to break the hold. Kanji finds a way in by snapping Windsor’s arm a la ZSJ, before a kick to the head kept Windsor down… at least until the champion hit back with a Blue Thunder bomb for a near-fall. Windsor caught a head kick as Kanji looked to stay in it, before a headbutt took Kanji into the ropes… from where she returned with a triangle armbar.
Windsor powerbombs her way free, but was met with a superkick seconds later before the pair got back to their feet and began to tee off on each other with palm strikes. It’s Kanji who manages to pull ahead, targeting the arm with stomps as the triangle armbar again followed… Windsor again pulls herself free and kicked the hold apart, as she looked to make another opening, this time going after Kanji’s previously-injured arm. Heading into the corner, Windsor looked to powerbomb Kanji… but a leaping headbutt cracks Kanji on the top rope. Kanji goes back to the arm for a hanging triangle armbar a la Suzuki… breaking before five as a Northern Lights suplex left Windsor in the middle of the ring.
Out of nowhere, Windsor avoids a stomp and reapplied the Sharpshooter… but she can’t keep the grip and ended up having to release the hold. Shaking it off, Windsor hits a trio of dropkicks as Kanji was in the ropes, but it’s not enough as Kanji again tried to go back to the triangle… but Windsor beat her to the punch as the Sharpshooter ended up forcing Kanji to tap. This was a hell of an outing – with Kanji giving Windsor a hell of a scare. Give her a few more matches, and who knows… which was the theme of Kanji’s post-match promo. ***½
Luke Jacobs vs. Ricky Knight Jr.
RKJ beat Luke at York Hall in January 2022 – and Luke’s looking to avenge past defeats so he can get his name in contention for a title shot…
Opening with both men heading into the ropes with clean breaks, things quickly break down into shoulder tackles, before the leapfrogs and duck downs led to a dropkick from RKJ that looked to have winded Luke. RKJ takes Jacobs outside briefly, then brought him back for a stalling suplex, following up with a dropkick into the corner and a draping DDT for a two-count. Jacobs was clearly struggling to find a foothold, not helped by getting punched out by RKJ… but he fires back up with chops and forearms in the corner a la Tomohiro Ishiiahead of a slam and a back senton for a two-count. RKJ lifts Jacobs to the outside for a tope, and it’s all RKJ from there as the former champion wasn’t letting Jacobs get anything going again.
Chops and an eye rake left Jacobs in the corner before Luke found a way back in with a superplex. Knight’s able to stem the tide with a superkick, but a big boot turned it back around, as did a release German suplex and a brainbuster as Jacobs nearly turned the lights out on RKJ and the video feed in one go! RKJ’s snap powerslam swung the match back in his favour… before he landed on his feet as Jacobs’ attempted an avalanche German suplex. Jacobs manages to block a powerbomb, before he shrugged off a Destroyer and hit a short-range Torpedo headbutt to leave the pair laying.
Back to their feet, the pair exchange right hands, then chops, and finally headbutts before RKJ decked Jacobs with a lariat. Luke’s back up to hit a pop-up death valley driver, then a lariat of his own for a near-fall before a piledriver drove Jacobs into the mat for another two-count. A Razor’s Edge from RKJ dumps Jacobs for another near-fall… RKJ goes back to the WWE playbook with a Ryback-like Shellshock, but it still wasn’t enough. Jacobs manages to wriggle out of a Fire Thunder driver, headbutting RKJ as he went before an O’Connor roll was blocked. A rebound German suplex from RKJ looked to help him on his way, but a powerbomb from Jacobs instead sets up for the wicked lariat, before one the Kobashi-esque Diamond Head powerbomb finally put RKJ away. Considering how this could have been derailed early, these two pulled it out of the bag as Luke’s slow burn to the top continues. ****¼
Speaking of slow burns, post-match, Jacobs talked about having one more wrong to put right… and called out Tomohiro Ishii for Uprising in December at Crystal Palace.
Rev Pro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Gabe Kidd vs. Michael Oku (c)
Back in Birmingham in February, these two went to a double count-out… this time, they’re going at it for the title.
Kidd spat at Amira after the introductions, then sprinted into the crowd as the cameras were having a hard time aiming. We get going with Oku dumping Kidd with a superkick, before a tijeras took Kidd down for a missile dropkick, while a clothesline took Kidd outside. There’s no diving yet, as Oku and Kidd fought in and around the crowd… Oku’s thrown into the ring, but he’s quickly back out with a dive as the pair fought into the bleachers, then back to ringside as Oku got wiped out with chops. Kidd takes things back inside, albeit briefly, before Kidd continued to wear down Oku with clubbing blows.
Oku fought back with rights of his own, only to get lifted up to the top rope and shoved down to the floor as Kidd seemingly looked content with getting a count-out… but Oku rolls back in to keep the match going. A Pele kick created an opening for Oku, as he and Kidd went back-and-forth… with a dropkick cutting off Kidd’s Bull lariat. Kidd’s caught with a misdirection knee as Oku proceeded to add a springboard moonsault for a near-fall. Oku tries to shoot for a takedown, but Kidd blocked it as Oku telegraphed a half crab… ending up with Kidd applying one of his own. Eventually Oku’s able to roll out and cradle Kidd, but it’s kicked away as the pair then fought for a suplex, and once again spilled over over the top rope to the floor.
Instead of the pair crashing down, they landed on their feet as Oku managed to get ahead, setting up for a Fosbury flop, before a frog splash landed on Kidd’s knees. From there, a Saito suplex from Kidd almost put Oku away, as did a brainbuster, before Oku nearly found the win with a flash jack-knife pin. We’re back with a half crab, but Kidd escaped, ten used the ref as a human shield. Kidd again goes after Amira, then “accidentally” headbutted the ref… meaning the ref missed a slap from Amira, before Oku’s superkick and crucifix pin snuck out the win. Oku barely escaped with the win here as Kidd was dominating huge swathes – but the Oku win proved massively popular with the Stevenage crowd. ***¾
British J Cup 2023 Final: Leon Slater vs. Wild Boar vs. Harrison Bennett vs. Mascara Dorada
We’re running under elimination rules here, which meant the opening stretches were tricky to follow live – let alone on stream as all four men fought around the venue.
Dorada’s able to head up top early for a tornillo off the ring post that… nobody caught. Britwres! Dorada and Wild Boar fought around ringside while Bennett and Slater fought by the merch tables… with Leon tripping up on a fan as he went. Boar and Dorada are on in the bleachers, joined by Bennett… they head back to ringside as Slater took the opportunity to slide into the ring and hit an over-the-post tope con giro into the trio on the floor. Back inside, the pace stays high as Boar wiped out Slater with a crossbody and a DDT, before Dorada went at Boar with a twisting tijeras. Bloody hell.
Bennett’s back… but misses a low dropkick at Dorada… a leaping Flatliner has more luck as Bennett almost caused the first elimination. Dorada returns with a tornillo into an armdrag, before Leon Slater tripped up Wild Boar as he prepared to pounce. Instead, we got Slater and Dorada… squaring off until Bennett attacked Leon from behind. Bennett’s butterfly suplex nearly put Slater away as Boar and Bennett formed an alliance of sorts, as my understanding of time fell apart. How can you win in the opener yet have the least time to recover before the main event? Anyway, the double-teaming led to Slater getting dumped over the top rope to the outside… right as Dorada got back in with a flying double DDT to the Welsh lads.
An assisted tijeras took care of Boar, before Dorada scored a sit-out powerbomb on Bennett… leading to a shooting star press for our first elimination at the 11-minute mark. Boar’s right back in as he spun Dorada down with a clothesline for a two-count, before he took Dorada up top in a bid to loosen the luchador’s mask. Dorada ducks a clothesline as Boar almost took out the ref… the ref’s still cowering as Boar rips off Dorada’s mask, then rolled him up for a pin as we’re down to our final two. In Rev Pro, ripping off a mask isn’t a DQ, so the decision stood. Slater and Boar trade strikes when we got going again, before a running big boot off the ropes from Slater almost ended things. A trip up top from Slater sees him leap over Boar ahead of a running cutter… only for Boar to hit right back with a pop-up powerbomb for a near-fall. Boar’s back to his feet first as he stood over Slater, clubbing away at the 19-year old as Slater ended up slumping into the corner.
Slater struck back out of nowhere with a Blue Thunder bomb, before he headed up top.. A swanton 450’s aborted in mid air before referee Oscar Harding had to vault over Boar’s spear into the corner. Let’s not turn that into a meme, eh? Slater capitalises with a spinning rack bomb for a near-fall, before Will Kaven ran out with a wet floor sign to stop a swanton 450. With the ref paying attention to Kaven, Boar punts Slater low as a Trapper Keeper almost got the win… before the ref disarmed Boar as he tried to use that wet floor sign. Slater’s leg lariat wipes out Boar from there, leading to the swanton 450 as Leon Slater ended up winning the final – and getting the confetti and pyro alongside the 2023 British J Cup. The final stretch got a little silly with Kaven coming out, but I’m sure it’ll lead to something down the road as Leon Slater looks to be on course for Connor Mills’ cruiserweight title. ***¾
This year’s British J Cup felt like a show of two halves – I used to joke pre-pandemic that Rev Pro ran a variety of shows, back when they used to run the holiday camps and Academy shows more regularly… this felt like a “foam finger” show for the casuals in the first half, then morphed into a York Hall-like outing when we got into the business end of the show.