Tomohiro Ishii returned to London as champion, as Keith Lee provided a familiar opponent for the new champ’s first title defence.
Not Steve Lynskey is your ring announcer – a huge upgrade – as the two Andys are on commentary once more.
Adam Brooks vs. Shane Strickland
Since debuting at High Stakes in January, Adam Brooks has been undefeated in Rev Pro – and has seemingly had an eye on facing Will Ospreay down the line. Getting past Shane Strickland here would be a good scalp to claim, that’s for sure.
The problem is, Brooks has only appeared once and won once in York Hall, which is what a lot of this crowd watches… so the crowd’s pretty silent in the opening stages, not caring about Brooks’ recent feud with Jody Fleisch. It also doesn’t help that Brooks and Strickland keep the match on the ground – but when they turn up the pace, the crowd start to appreciate.
Strickland then goes back to the mat, working a double armbar that was turned into a roll-up. Brooks uses some underhanded tactics to get back into the match, twanging the middle rope into Strickland’s groin, before keeping it old school with an old fashioned rope burn to the eye! A back suplex followed as Brooks could only manage one counts, so he mocks Strickland a little… and gets kicked in the head for it.
Brooks’ dropkick turned it back around, as does a PK off the apron, but Brooks is right back in with a chinlock to keep it on the mat, before charging Strickland onto the apron… but the King of Swerve is back in with a German suplex that Brooks flipped out of and returned fire with a dropkick. Strickland sneaks straight back in with a double stomp though, following up with some chops as the pair went back-and-forth, leading to a 619 from Strickland and a roll-up back into the ring… only for the cutter to be shoved off as another knee weakened Brooks enough for a roll-up into a cutter to get a near-fall.
Brooks comes back with a Cheeky Na… poke to the eye, disorienting Strickland for long enough to be drilled with a rolling elbow and an ushigoroshi. Another 619 attempt from Strickland is met with a superkick, but Strickland stuffs an apron Destroyer and misses a stomp back inside as Brooks runs in with a corner dropkick. From there a Meteora to the back of the head spikes Strickland, but he’s back as the pair end up in the corner again, as Brooks gets caught with another kick – then hung up in the turnbuckles for a stomp onto the apron.
Another double stomp followed after Brooks was draped across the guard rail, then again back inside, but it’s not enough as Brooks had something left in the tank… and when he tried to block Strickland on the apron, Brooks grabbed the referee so he could mule kick Strickland… and one apron Destroyer later, sentons back into the ring for the win. A good opener once it got going, and that’s Brooks’ unbeaten run remaining intact… although I’m not sure how much the fans are connecting with him as a bad guy? ***¼
Josh Bodom vs. Fred Yehi
Back from an abbreviated tour with All Japan, Josh Bodom’s back at York Hall as a substitute for WWE-signee Martin Stone. I swear it’s not the first time Josh has been a replacement…
This was Yehi’s debut in Europe, and you could gauge how many either knew or were familiar with him, so this was a case of Josh Bodom against someone new to bully. Yehi was more of a match in the opening moments as he stuffed takedowns, before going through some of the typical big lads’ stuff with shoulder tackles and the like. Back elbows from Yehi keep Bodom down, as does the Bret Hart-like bump into the turnbuckles, and a release German suplex that had Bodom headbutting the canvas on the way down. Chops weaken Bodom further, either side of a a Fisherman’s suplex that earned Yehi a near-fall, as he started to go towards his usual game of stomping all over Bodom.
On the outside, Yehi keeps up with chops, but rolling Bodom back inside was a bad move as Bodom gets up and pulls Yehi shoulder-first into the rope before a dropkick sent him into the barriers. Back inside again, Bodom began to wear down Yehi with kicks to the back, then with a standing moonsault, before Yehi exploded back into life with, erm, an Exploder suplex. Forearms from Yehi follow as the pair exchange strikes, leading to a backfist and a double stomp that crumpled Bodom to the mat, before some knees from a cravat kept Bodom wobbly.
A folding powerbomb barely gets a two-count on Bodom, as did a roll-up, before Bodom escaped a Koji clutch attempt… and got pulled into the upkicks! Bodom’s roundhouse kick catches Yehi on top, ahead of the Lo-Bodom-y hiptoss knee and another kick, but Yehi had plenty left in the tank… something that was being worn down with kicks, until Bodom tripped one and pulls Bodom into another Koji Clutch.
Bodom rolls through and nearly rolled up Yehi for the win, before a German suplex and the Bodom Breaker led to a Bliss Buster, spiking Yehi for a two-count. Yep, there’s a rare kick-out for that move! After that, Bodom looked to hit the move again onto bare knees, but Yehi slips out and puts the Koji Clutch again… forcing the referee to stop the match. There was no tap – which went down well with the always reasonable Bodom afterwards! ***
The stoppage went down so well, in fact, that Bodom rejected the offer of a handshake from Yehi and beat him down after the match. Dan Magee came in to try and break it up as part of the ring crew, and of course it was Magee who got punched in the mouth as the latest attempt to rebuild Bodom as a Loose Cannon continued. Aside from his usual cheerleaders, I’m not sure it’ll catch on…
Rev Pro British Cruiserweight Championship: David Starr vs. Kurtis Chapman (c)
After months of perceived slights from Rev Pro, David Starr was getting one final title shot… but he had an ace up his sleeve. Not wanting Chris Roberts to officiate his matches, because of the fast count he got in Portsmouth a few months back, Starr hired an “independent official”…
Step forward, Shay Purser!
The crowd reactions here were a little on the weird side. Kurtis Chapman, the defacto “white meat babyface”, for want of a better term, was completely overshadowed by Starr’s charisma and arguments. So much so that the crowd instantly turned on Chapman, perhaps feeling that the underdog story had run its course, or that the crowd just didn’t buy him? Or maybe someone cottoned on that he was trying to do the Okada hand gesture in his promo picture?
As for the match… it started with Chapman going after Starr early on, taking him down for some ground and pound, amid a sea of boos, as referee Shay remained impartial. A low dropkick sent Starr tumbling to the outside, where Chapman followed, flipping off the crowd before he was dumped onto the apron with a side slam. Still, Chapman shrugged it off and caught Starr between the ropes for a double stomp… more boos! Chapman tried to counter Starr’s Pretty Pumped with a Sega Mega Driver, but the counter is countered as Starr stands on top of the champion, soaking in the crowd’s cheers… oh, and the one guy who thought the chant was “you are David Starr”. A back body drop dumps Chapman awkwardly into the turnbuckles, and things get a little more sadistic as Starr jumps on Chapman’s head… for a one count.
Chapman elbows out of a chinlock, then catches Starr with a gamengiri before a flip cannonball off the top finally drew him a momentary applause. A Code Red gets the same result, and a near-fall, but a flip plancha just draws more boos as Chapman brought the fire… and then ran into a Pretty Pumped. Second time was the charm as Chapman nails a satellite DDT, but referee Shay holds back Chapman from beating on a downed Starr…
…and that’s the cue for Starr to capitalise, rolling up Chapman and then following in with a bridging German suplex for near-falls. Another DDT just about gets Starr to the outside, and gave Chapman a chance to show some arrogance by pointing to “his belt”. Not following up on Starr cost him though as he gets hit with a Cherry Mint DDT for a near-fall, but Chapman again fires up with slaps and beard pulls… as Starr returned the shots in kind, and then some!
A slower version of a Violence Party gets boos for Chapman as the referee again separates the pair, but after an axe kick Starr eventually takes a lungblower before absolutely waffling Chapman with a Han Stansen lariat as he tried to spring out of the corner. Some superkicks keep Chapman down, but he zombies up into a series of lariats, before countering a Blackheart Buster with a small package for another near-fall. Another tornado DDT, this time out of the corner, is turned into another rude Blackheart Buster for a near-fall, before Starr gets the job done with a Han Stansen… and York Hall reacts like the second coming of Jesus had arrived. ***½
A really solid match, but given the crowd reaction here, you have to imagine that Chapman is going to have to change a little, now the audience have started to vehemently reject the “white meat” side of him.
Post-match, Starr taunted Andy Quildan on commentary… except the moving video in the background made it so hard to see, they may as well not have bothered.
Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Chozen Bros (Jeff Cobb & Matt Riddle)
Duelling chants got us going as the loudest Rev Pro crowd in recent memory were completely split between the Aussies and the Bros.
We started with Riddle easily taking down Kyle Fletcher as the pair stopped to soak in the crowd – something the VOD did next to no justice. It seemed to buoy Fletcher as he went on the offence early, taking down Riddle with a low dropkick before Jeff Cobb was tagged in… and thankfully, Kyle didn’t try to bite off too much soon, as we got a battle of the big lads! Shoulder tackles didn’t budge either of them, so Cobb and Davies show their agility, but when Fletcher comes back in the tide turns… against the Aussies.
Riddle makes light work of the Aussie Arrow with rolling gutwrench suplexes, as Fletcher was just left in there to absorb a tonne of punishment… finally escaping to tag in Mark Davis, who brought the fire with chops and lariats to the Bros. The Alphamare Waterslide spins Riddle to the mat, before Dunkzilla turned his attentions onto Cobb – picking him up for a slam, as Fletcher followed in with a splash for a near-fall as Riddle came in to break it up. Davis and Cobb exchange chops like they’re going out of fashion, while turnabout became fair play as the Aussies tried to isolate Cobb… but double-teaming went awry as Cobb caught them with duelling backdrop suplexes at the same time! In comes Riddle with the firey-hot tag, blasting into the Aussies with forearms in the corner, as Cobb quickly returned to help out with diving uppercuts as the Chozen Bros were all over the Aussies!
All the suplexes left the Aussies laying, but Dunkzilla’s able to kick out after a back senton… and when Fletcher’s step-up flip senton to the floor wipes everyone out, we’re back to square one as the Aussies hit their hand-off sit-out spinebuster for a near-fall. Riddle’s bicycle knee whacks Fletcher as he went for the assisted cutter on Cobb, before Riddle’s powerbomb and knee left Davis down for a Cobb moonsault… but it’s still not enough!
Fletcher’s back in with a super cutter to Riddle as the attention turned to Cobb, with Davis’ sliding forearm setting up for the double-team cutter, which looked awkward on impact, and only drew a two-count as Cobb barely got his shoulder up. The Chozen Bros return fire with a Doomsday Knee that almost dumped Fletcher on his head as we kept going. A double-team Go To Sleep would have ended the match had Davis not broken it up, and in the end a miscommunication from Riddle looked to be the end as he squashes Cobb with a back senton… meaning there was nobody there to save him when Davis’ pull-up piledriver wiped out Riddle.
Cobb was the legal man though, but an attempt to pin Davis was the miscue as Dunkzilla wasn’t legal… not to worry though, Cobb looks for a Tour of the Islands on Fletcher, but that’s countered with a neat small package, and the Aussies get the upset! Holy hell, that was good. All the fire and intensity got this crowd deeply invested in it – there was barely any arse-ing around here… four wrestlers bringing it all, and not letting up. A sneaky outside contender for those match of the year polls right here! ****½
El Phantasmo vs. Will Ospreay
Rev Pro have really put the rocket underneath El Phantasmo lately – and deservedly too, in my mind. A non-title win over Zack Sabre Jr. right at the end of ZSJ’s run as Rev Pro champion was perhaps the highlight, and that’s earned him this crack at what would be the biggest win in his career, full stop.
There’s no style clashes here, as both Ospreay and Phantasmo are known for their propensity to leave the mat, but we had a rather measured start as ELP took Ospreay into the ropes, with a clean break. Ospreay didn’t return the favour, as he seemed a little put out by Phantasmo’s mere presence.., but Phantasmo’s more than able to hold his own as he took Ospreay to the outside with tiltawhirl headscissors.
ELP doing the Ospreay pose drew the expected reaction, as Will comes back with headscissors before showing the Canadian how it was done… a game of one-upmanship, eh? Back inside, Ospreay slapped Phantasmo to the mat as a flurry of strikes seemed to have Will ahead, so he takes ELP down to the mat with a double armbar as Andy Simmonz on commentary seemed to have a brainfart when Joey Janela’s name came up. Can we have his Dutch cousin Jurn on commentary instead, next time?
The pace quickened a little when Ospreay returned to the ring, but it was the IWGP Junior champion who was dictating things, sinking Phantasmo to the mat in a chinlock before ELP escaped and suddenly connected with Ospreay with a springboard crossbody, then a Quebrada for a near-fall. Chops and whips come next, as ELP nails a tornado DDT, but his follow-up brainbuster’s turned into a Stundog Millionaire, and we’re back to square one!
A Rainmaker attempt is easily countered as Phantasmo heads up top for some rope-walking and a jumping ‘rana to take Will back outside… but his leap to the floor’s stopped as Ospreay pulls him down instead. Phantasmo stops a whip into the guard rail, before managing an Orihara moonsault as Ospreay had lifted him into the ring in an Electric Chair. Back inside again, a springboard splash gets a near-fall, but Ospreay manages to get back into the match with some kicks to the chest… kicks that ELP openly invited.
Phantasmo flipping the bird just riled up Ospreay, who follows up with slaps that got the crowd going, before blocking a boot… and getting punched out by Phantasmo’s right hand! That’s enough for a near-fall, but Ospreay’s able to rebound with a lifting reverse DDT before going up top… where a gamengiri catches him, as does a springboard enziguiri… but ELP doesn’t take him down to the mat, and when he does try, the top rope ‘rana is countered as Ospreay flipped onto his feet.
Back-and-forth kicks left the other rocked, as we’re countering all over the place now, with an OsCutter countered into a whirlibird neckbreaker. From the kick-out, ELP went for the top rope senton, which hits, but a series of Cheeky Nando’s cut off the follow-up frog splash, leaving Phantasmo on the mat for an imploding 450 splash! Somehow that’s only enough for a near-fall, so Will brings in another clothesline as he prepared for the decapitation forearm.
Phantasmo limped to the mat from that, as Ospreay looks for the Storm Breaker… but ELP wriggled free and goes into the corner for a Destroyer off the middle rope! An OsCutter connects on Ospreay, but he kicks out, as you sensed Phantasmo’s last shot had perhaps been taken… especially when he looked for a torture rack neckbreaker off the top that got elbowed out of. Instead, Ospreay manages an OsCutter off the top rope, because why not? He doesn’t go for the pin though, as the Storm Breaker followed it, and that’s all folks! A game showing from Phantasmo – while outclassed, it wasn’t a squash, and he had just enough of the match to be seen to “hang” with Ospreay, rather than be carried. Another huge performance, albeit in defeat for ELP, who seems to be Rev Pro’s go-to these days for these sort of matches. ****¼
Rev Pro British Tag Team Championship: CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks) vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki) (c)
Altogether now: kaze ni nare!
Dickhead Sabre was in full effect here, flipping off the fans who shouted “sucks” in response to his name… and we get a Suzuki-gun-like jump start from CCK, as Banks and Brookes paired off with Sabre and Suzuki. That’s almost like Chris drew the short straw here, eh? The challengers actually had the early advantage, double-teaming Sabre in the opening moments… before Minoru Suzuki got the tag in, to the cheers of York Hall.
Travis Banks threw the first chop, but it wasn’t laughed off as much as met in kind with a similarly loud chop, with the gunshot-like sound ringing around the room as they went back and forth on each other’s chests, leathering each other until finally something gave way. In this case, it was Suzuki’s shin, as Banks kicked them out, as CCK tried to double-team the Suzuki-gun leader. Except Brookes throws a chop, which everyone laughed at… and those apologies counted for little as Suzuki demanded a second chop, which even had Travis Banks wincing. He knew what was next… adjusting the shoulder pad first, then… CHOP!
Brookes suckered Suzuki in, but gets caught himself with a hanging armbar as the champions switched things around, and we’re back to the original pairings for a spell, before Sabre choked out Brookes behind the ref’s back. Speaking of the ref, Suzuki chases Chris Roberts across the ring… and keeps going as the zebra was in grave danger for a spell, before Suzuki went back to Brookes with some heavy kicks to the back. The champions use Travis Banks against himself, as they goaded him into the ring so they could double-team Brookes behind the referee’s back… and that becomes a bit of a motif… as did the threats towards Chris Roberts, who was more than glad he was wearing dark trousers as Suzuki set him up, then faked out chopping him.
The champions kept up on Brookes, almost booting him out of the ring as we’re back to double-teaming while Travis Banks inadvertently tied up the ref… and my God, those armbars look brutal. Finally, Banks gets through and launches a series of kicks to Sabre while somehow Suzuki managed to grab an armbar on Roberts on the floor! Back inside, Suzuki keeps up on Brookes’ arm, before countering a brainbuster with a simple front facelock… it ends up only delaying it though, as both men tag out, with Banks unloading on Sabre as he worked up to an eventual cannonball in the corner. Some kicks to Sabre leave the former British heavyweight champion on the mat, before he catches one, issues a Dragon screw and returns the favour. Banks tries to do the same, but ends up sweeping the leg ahead of a springboard stomp for a near-fall, before the Slice of Heaven misses, with Sabre countering with a triangle armbar.
From there, Sabre moves to an omoplata as Banks was forced into a rope break, but the assault on the arm continued before Suzuki tagged back in. Duelling boots and forearms keep it even, as Brookes returns with chops… only to get taken down with a single Suzuki chop. An Octopus hold from Brookes looked to have a title change looming, especially because Banks had Sabre tied up in a Lion’s clutch, but Suzuki’s able to stagger into the ropes for a break. CCK go CCK with the elevated lungblower/back senton to Suzuki… then with a slingshot cutter, but Minoru kicked out, then avoids a Praying Mantis Bomb as the champions double-team Brookes.
A pair of PKs get a near-fall for Suzuki-gun, as Minoru followed it up with a knee bar, but he couldn’t trap the arm for long enough as Brookes grabbed the rope. From there, Suzuki tries a rear naked choke, but Death By Roll-up almost countered it for the win, before Suzuki laughed off chops from Travis Banks. Another Slice of Heaven from Banks is intercepted by an armbar from Sabre, as Suzuki quickly finished off Brookes with a rear naked choke, then the Gotch piledriver as the champions retained! ***¾
As a match, this was perfectly fine – it gave the crowd everything they wanted, perhaps the result… although that raises another issue. Despite their efforts, very few people seemed to believe that Suzuki-gun would lose the match, let alone the titles. Far be it from me to say it’s a political thing, but when you’ve got big New Japan names holding your top two titles, it becomes a bit of a challenge to perceive anyone as being a viable threat, especially since they’re usually coming in at a disadvantage of not having the name value or the background that’d put them at a same level. With CCK having technically come into this on a winning run, the question now is… how do you take the titles off of Suzuki-gun? Granted, we had Zack Sabre Jr. repeatedly throwing down the belt and leaving it behind after the match, which opens up the theory of them vacating the titles and a potential tournament ahead – which isn’t the “Rev Pro way”.
Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship: Keith Lee vs. Tomohiro Ishii (c)
Talk about the weight of expectation – a quick return to November’s shockingly-great match, and York Hall was expecting at least the same sort of match. Don’t worry, you weren’t let down here, on what many surmised was the last chance we’d get to bask in some glory.
We start with the usual big lads’ stuff – headlocks, shoot-offs and shoulder barges, as both men were established as proverbial immovable objects. Chops followed, with Lee shrugging off Ishii’s high shots before dropping Ishii with one of his own, as we’re back to those shoulder blocks, leading to Ishii stunning Ishii with a ‘rana. Big Keith can move!
Lee keeps on throwing forearms as he kept Ishii on the mat briefly, as those goddamned chops ring around York Hall once more, as Lee grounds Ishii with some bodyscissors – not exactly a tactic we’re used to seeing out of him. The challenger keeps up with chops and slams – basically anything to keep Ishii off his feet – as an elbow drop gets a near-fall to keep the match simmering along.
Finally Ishii gets back to his feet and throws chops, but an elbow cuts that off… except Lee then throws Ishii’s head into the turnbuckle, awakening some sorta-Samoan heritage as that just reinvigorates Ishii! Until he’s decked with another elbow, that is… Ishii is able to avoid a suplex, but he gets backed into a corner before sidestepping a charge as he teases a German suplex, eventually settling for a DDT. Ishii keeps trying for the backdrop suplex, eventually landing it as Lee went for more elbows.
Ishii can’t follow it up as Lee slingshots in off the apron with a crossbody for a near-fall, and that puts the challenger back in front as he warmed up with those double-handed chops and Beel throws. Somehow, Ishii’s able to get back in with stomps and headbutts, before Keith Lee decides to go “sod it” and connects with a leapfrog and a dropkick that belied a guy of his size. This time though, Ishii starts throwing the heavy shots en route to dumping Lee with a brainbuster, only to get met with a powerslam as the pair started to turn up the heat on each other.
Lee tries to go up top, but Ishii knocks him onto the turnbuckles for an eventual, ring-smashing superplex, which still was only enough for a two-count! Ishii’s sliding lariat’s caught as Lee went for a chokeslam, but instead they go back to their feet for more shots and a double-handed chop… but Ishii shrugs it off before running into a chokeslam as the match remained precarious. Ishii escapes a powerbomb, but can’t avoid a Spirit Bomb, absorbing all the impact as he was forced to kick out at the last possible moment to avoid losing his title.
Lee tried again to scale the ropes, but he’s cut-off once more, this time with a powerbomb from Ishii, before again cutting off the champ… with a POUNCE! Period!
From there, Lee issues a receipt with a superplex… but Ishii gets back to his feet and nails a German suplex… only for Lee to pop up too as they went at it with clotheslines. Lee’s up at one and hits a standing overhead belly-to-belly for a one-count as the pace is off the charts now… headbutts sent both men crashing to the mat, but they’re both back up with more shots as a fireman’s carry into an elbow leaves Ishii dazed. Even more elbows rock Ishii, and irritate Lee, who quickly gets knocked down with a lariat for a near-fall, before Ground Zero barely gets a one-count.
Yep, that’s all folks! Ishii’s up for more elbows, before an enziguiri dumped Lee, as a sliding lariat adds to his pile of near-falls, with the sheer drop brainbuster finally securing the W. Bloody hell. That was a good as the first match, starting methodically before tearing into a near gear for the final run… and that’s a finishing straight that’s going to live a while in the memory banks. ****½
From top to bottom, this was a typically good York Hall show for Rev Pro – with all of the matches delivering, and in some cases, exceeding expectations. The only negative, if there is one, is that at the top of the card, there seemed to be no “next step” – there was no clear challenger established here for Ishii, and we’ve already talked about the limbo the tag titles are currently in.
That being said, Rev Pro’s summer is a little disjointed – the New Japan shows in late June/early July seem to be pushing back whatever would have been planned in place of the British J Cup this year, with a handful of smaller shows seemingly being held instead as the promotion expands to and establishes themselves in towns.