Revolution Pro Wrestling Epic Encounters 2017 (April 13, 2017)

Rev Pro’s second York Hall show of the year was truly an Epic Encounter – and that was just for the fans watching live with one eye on the clock!

This show’s trip around the Rev Pro Merry Go Round sees us land with Steve Lynskey as the ring announcer, whilst Andy Quildan and Andy Boy Simmonz were on commentary.

Revolution Pro Wrestling British Tag Team Championships: Sami Callihan & Martin Stone vs. CCK (Travis Banks & Chris Brookes) (c)
This was set up at the prior Sunday’s Cockpit show, where Martin Stone’s plea for a match with Sami Callihan somehow ended with the two becoming a tag team… and getting an impromptu title shot to boot! Oh, and a reference to a prior (current?) life at Full Sail as a “Crowe and a Burch”. I wonder if that line could get hacked out…

CCK are meant to be the defacto bad guys, but they still have the crowd on their side after their arrival freshened up what was a pretty stale tag team division. Heck, it was a division that was so stale that the former champions aren’t even on the radar, nor any of their previous challengers… After initially sending the champions to the outside, Callihan and Stone helped to wake up the crowd – a motif that stuck for the whole show, at least from where I was sitting. An early Octopus hold is broken up, and it’s right here where I realise that the commentary gone to crap as Andy Quildan had to disappear to handle something or other. That’s the problem when you’re the guy running the show and doing commentary too!

Andy returned just as Callihan, Brookes and Banks traded topes, before Martin Stone faked one out and somehow slid behind the champions to land some forearms. Callihan gets a chair from a fan in the crowd and does a lap of honour around ringside into a cannonball on Banks. That looked like fun, so Martin Stone gets whipped into a seated Chris Brookes, before the pair did another lap of honour… into a pair of superkicks from the champions!

Back inside, Callihan and Stone get stacked up in the corner, but Stone sits up for a spider German suplex to Brookes… but can’t defend himself from a Coast to Coast dropkick from Banks! Travis kicks away a charging Callihan, sending Sami into his own partner with a cannonball before throwing one in himself, before a Magic Killer gives them a near-fall.

Callihan mounts a comeback with a twisting Air Raid Crash, before Stone and Brookes go back and forth again, the former landing a pop-up powerbomb and a couple of headbutts for a near-fall. From the kick-out, Stone goes straight to a crossface for a moment, before Banks broke it up and took a headbutt. More headbutts follow until all four men get dropped by pump kicks from Callihan and Banks, and thank God it wasn’t more headbutts after the results of those in wrestling this year.

Nevermind… after grabbing the champion’s junk, Stone headbutts and RKO’s Banks, who then takes a sit-out powerbomb and a Stretch Muffler from Callihan… but Brookes turfs Stone into the barricades out side and tries to break up the muffler. Eventually some spits and superkicks break it up, before CCK drill Stone with the Codebreaker/Back senton combo for the win. My God, this was even better on tape that I remember live ****

After the match, CCK left via the crowd, before Martin Stone delivered an impassioned speech about the UK scene. It’s sort-of the same spiel we had at the Cockpit, but this time it led to a turn as Callihan superkicked and tore into Stone. Callihan has a problem with Stone putting himself in the same bucket as him, noting that Sami quit WWE whereas Stone was fired… so now we’ll build to the match they’d originally tried to do, before this became an impromptu tag.

Jay White vs. Angelico
Somehow, despite being somewhat of a regular at York Hall shows, Jay White didn’t get the reaction he’s had before. Perhaps it’s that he’s now regularly working ROH, a promotion whose regular penetration in the UK barely registers. Likewise Angelico, whose claim to fame is from Lucha Underground… another promotion which started out big and has fizzled, yet has no (legal) way of being seen in the UK.

Without being negative, this is one of those Rev Pro matches that was fine, but without either guy being true regulars or having a storyline, this ran the risk of being “just a match” unless either guy did anything spectacular. What was spectacular was Andy Quildan breaking kayfabe barely a minute into the match as he told a story about Angelico breaking into the match… giving his real name in the process. Whoops!

So, Angelico, a man renowned for his flying style, worked a series of holds on White, which was quite jarring to a crowd that was expecting a load of flippy dos. Flippy dos that were more than a headscissor takedown, that is…

To his credit, White worked the lack of dives into the match by working over Angelico’s legs – giving him a reason to not go for the high flying game – before keeping him grounded with chops in the corner. Angelico countered a dive with a knee lift, then landed an up-kick to the head for a near-fall, before trying for a crucifix buckle bomb… White escapes and hits a German suplex instead, sending the South African to the outside for a tope.

Back inside, Angelico stomps his way free of a sunset flip, before a bicycle knee strike sets up White for the crucifix buckle bomb! The Kiwi kicked out at two from that, then caught Angelico up top for a superplex, but instead Jay is forced to roll out of another crucifix buckle bomb as he eventually rolled into a Boston crab for the eventual submission. This was fine, but it was so not what I was expecting out of Angelico… nor was it what the live crowd was expecting, given the lack of reaction. **¾

After the match, Jay White made the universal belt sign, which I guess is code for “I’m getting a title shot in the summer”?

Zack Gibson vs. Hirooki Goto
Zack’s gimmick here is that he’s pretending to be undefeated, after losing his first match against Trent Seven… a man who’s largely been MIA as of late. Hirooki Goto came out with Will Ospreay, in the first time ever in the British scene that the line “…he is a member of CHAOS” was actually bloody relevant!

Zack does his usual promo, and he’s drowned out by the crowd as expected whilst Ospreay eggs on the crowd from the apron. Goto… just doesn’t know what to make of it all. We start off nice and simple with headlocks as Goto took an early advantage, chopping away on Gibson in the corners before the Scouser comes back with a single-arm DDT as Gibson started to work away on the NEVER Openweight champion’s arm in preparation for the Shankly Gates.

Thanks to his work elsewhere, Gibson was massively hated (except for the few moments after he gave us a shout-out on Twitter… thanks Zack!), and when he did the Stevie Gerrard slip into the corner, Goto managed to make a comeback, taking Zack down with a clothesline, before he’s trapped in the corner for a Ticket to Ride (Codebreaker).

Zack flies out with a tope as Goto’d rolled to the floor for cover, before another Ticket to Ride almost wins it. Another clothesline takes Goto down, as does a back suplex… but he powers back up and reciprocates, then demands that Zack give him his best shot. In return, we get a headbutt, which takes Gibson down for an ushigoroshi that almost gets Goto the win.

After charging into the corner to escape a sleeper, Zack fires back with a Ticket to Ride (the leaping version out of the corner), before wrapping in the Shankly Gates… but Goto makes the ropes! In response, Zack heads out under the ring for a car stereo?!

Yeah, in his York Hall debut, there’s his car stereo – just in case nobody figured out the Scouse gimmick! Ospreay grabs it and sparks a tug of war with Gibson, who gets it back… before a swing and a miss sees Zack caught in a sleeperhold en route to a GTR as Hirooki scored the win. Not too bad, but I’d have thought that they’d have been able to eliminate the car stereo schtick once they saw how over Gibson was. It wasn’t much of an out for that loss, but it was a pretty good outing. ***

Marty Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi
This was one of those matches that on paper is quite odd, but also makes a whole lot of sense, at least in terms of the characters. Hiromu likes to lick, and it’s not just restricted to his title belt, as Marty’s umbrella gets the same treatment… which is just plain weird. Marty’s response to that… was to just whack him in the face with it.

Once the bell rings, Takahashi turns up the temp immediately, taking Marty to the outside, but Scurll quickly comes back and superkicks Takahashi’s head off from the apron. Not literally, but you know the drill! Takahashi comes back with a shoulder charge to knock Scurll off the apron, following up with a dropkick to the floor as Hiromu took over… at least until he ran into a “Just Kidding” superkick! Hiromu replies with a superkick of his own as the match swung back and forth, with a Scurll brainbuster almost ending things.

Scurll tries to follow it up with a chicken wing, but he’s superkicked away and drilled with a bridging German suplex by the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champ, before a sunset bomb is avoided as Marty clung onto the top rope… and then poked away at Takahashi’s eyes like the villain he is. The pair head up onto the stage where Scurll tries for a suplex, with Marty winning out, before he exchanges superkicks with Takahashi back down the aisle towards the ring. All of a sudden, Chris Roberts decides to head back to the ring to start a count-out, which leads to some “Moose!” chants (WHY?!) as the pair narrowly beat the ten-counts.

Scurll pops up into a superkick to send Takahashi leaning back on himself like he was Nakamura, before a finger snap leaves Hiromu’s hand all wonky. From there, we get a chicken wing that’s quickly broken by the ropes, as Takahashi comes back with an overhead belly-to-belly into the turnbuckles. A Time Bomb gets Hiromu a near-fall, so he charges Scurll into the corner with a death valley driver, before a second Time Bomb gets him the win.

This was a fine mixture of Marty’s usual shtick and the weird and wonderful of Hiromu, which made for a grand outing. Well worth the watch! ****

Just a thought – numerous times in this match (and on the show so-far), the two Andys on commentary called out that they couldn’t see when the action spilled to the floor. Given their commentary position is literally a table on the floor by the stage, perhaps now is the time for a set redesign, and maybe put the commentary team on the stage like they do for the Portsmouth shows?

Revolution Pro Wrestling British Cruiserweight Championship Unification: Josh Bodom (interim) vs. Will Ospreay (champion)
So, after Josh Bodom beat Ryan Smile to become the interim champion at High Stakes, we’ve now got the unification match, which seems a little rushed since we only had the one York Hall show without the champion.

Ospreay came into this with a jacked up back after taking that nasty spill at the Cockpit four days earlier – as he had cupping marks and plenty of KT on his back… which Bodom attacks as he jumps him at the bell, slapping the back as Will was forced to start on the mat. They headed outside as Ospreay grabs Bodom and charges him knee-first into the ring post, before Ospreay hangs up Bodom on the guard rails and kicks his thighs.

Ospreay then goes up top for a dive, but it goes badly wrong as Bodom sweeps the leg and from standing on the top rope, Will crashes back-first onto the turnbuckle before rolling to the floor as an eerie hush fell over the crowd. That’s not a bump that’s wise to take when you’re 100%, let alone when you’re days removed from crashing and burning on the ring apron! Bodom decides to make things worse for Will with a senton dive to the floor, as he took down Ospreay before crashing chest first into the crowd barriers.

Bodom throws in some flips since Ospreay’s unable to, as a standing moonsault gets him a near-fall, before Will tries to make a comeback, but his missed springboard into the ring seems to stun him as his back continued to give him issues. Regardless, Ospreay switched things up, hitting a Cheeky Nando’s kick for a near-fall, before a Rainmaker’s kicked away. Of course, the camera didn’t zoom out for the Rainmaker pose…

From there, Ospreay hits a Shibata-like dropkick into the corner, then a Falcon arrow before going for his trapped-leg Boston crab. Bodom makes the ropes as he mounted a comeback, leaping backwards to avoid another Cheeky Nandos before landing an enziguiri to Will’s back. A standing shooting star press gets Bodom another two-count, but the match keeps going back and forth, as Ospreay lands a headbutt.

I’m guessing nobody heard about Shibata then!

An OsCutter’s blocked and turned into a release, high-angle German suplex, but Will hits a Stundog Millionaire out of a suplex, only for another OsCutter out of the corner to get caught and turned into a Bodom Breaker for another two-count. After removing that KT tape, Bodom keeps up on the back of Will, but somehow Ospreay flips out of another Bodom Breaker and goes back to that modified Boston crab… but for some reason Zack Gibson heads down to distract the referee from a tapping Josh Bodom.

Ospreay knocks down Gibson, before he’s forced to push away a Bliss Buster and fly back in with a springboard 450 Splash to almost get the three-count. The revolution kick rocks Bodom, but for some reason Ospreay stopped himself for during an OsCutter to stare at Gibson on the outside… that left the path clear for him to get crotched as a Bliss Buster secured Bodom the title. Well, it’s certainly something for Josh Bodom to have gone from being exiled from the promotion to their cruiserweight champion in six months, but this was a deserved victory and a fine performance from Bodom

No Disqualification: Sha Samuels vs. James Castle
Well, this wasn’t originally no-DQ, but Andy Quildan was bullied into this…

James’ hair is giving him an extra foot in height, and they start with windmilling punches on the outside as they make copious use of the stipulation. Sha belts Castle with his suspenders early on as you get the impression that Castle was meant to be the sympathetic babyface… but that’s now two crowds in a row that’s backing Sha!

A bicycle knee strike gets Castle back into it as he whips Sha with his own belt before hitting some chairshots and then grabbing… a toolbag to get out… some scissors, a screwdriver and A SAW?! One of the contenders at ringside takes the saw away, but that just gets him into place for Sha to go flying again as a moonsault takes everyone down. Bloody hell, Sha’s addicted to flips!

Referee Chris Roberts tries to stop Sha from using the chair again… which highlights a bigger problem with him, but we’ll get to that, and of course, Sha slaps him. Because why should a referee try and restrain a wrestler in a no DQ match, unless he’s trying to kill a man?! Roberts shoves Sha… and ends up taking a hard slam from Sha for his troubles. Just… why?! Apparently it was a throwback to a comedy match from ages ago, but as part of a bigger picture, this didn’t come across well.

With Castle back up, he hits a suplex and a double stomp off the top… of course Chris Roberts awakens and manages to make a two-count. Sha replies with a spinebuster before winding up for another chairshot, but Castle ducks and hits a running knee to the chair (and Sha) for the win. An unpopular result, and one that continues the theme of the supposed babyface getting booed in this story. **½

After the match, Sha whacks Castle with the chair again, before grabbing the scissors that Castle’d pulled out earlier… and cuts off his mohawk. Well, he’s got time to grow it back before he’s next due at York Hall!

So… Chris Roberts. Yet again here he’s portrayed as a buffoon after having been flat-out abused on the last York Hall show. It feels like it’s an easy crutch for guys to use in matches. Don’t want a clear finish? Have Chris Roberts be the unwelcome heater. Want a wrestler to get a cheap pop? Have him take out Roberts. It’s fun to take shots and yell at him for not doing his job, but it’s now at the point where it’s no longer subtle. Stop it!

Revolution Pro Wrestling British Heavyweight Championship: KUSHIDA vs. Zack Sabre Jr (c)
Live, this match killed me. Going on before the main event felt wrong at the time, with Sha/Castle being a better fit for a “buffer” match, and I stand by that after watching this back. This was a great match between two of the best in the world… but just in the wrong place on the show.

Zacky Three Belts has his black Suzuki-gun trunks to flag him up as a bad guy… as if the York Hall crowd would need that! It’s a Zack Sabre Jr special, with a lot of ground based grappling, which keeps KUSHIDA in his element as one of the lesser-flying members of New Japan’s juniors.

KUSHIDA goes for an early Hoverboard lock, but Sabre makes the ropes and comes back with some grounded headscissors, before KUSHIDA comes back with a wristlock as the pair exchange lightning-fast counters as we hear some low-level chatter, presumably from whomever was behind whichever camera’s microphone was providing the audio. A butcher’s hook headlock gets Sabre back into it, but KUSHIDA manages to hit the sit-out hiptoss into an armbar as he keeps finding his armbar attempts thwarted via the ropes.

Sabre comes back with a Liontamer-esque single-leg crab and a brutal STF as he moved into the wearing-down stage of the match, wrenching away on KUSHIDA’s wrist. Ankle and leg locks follow from Sabre, but KUSHIDA manages to reverse a knee-bar as the pair see-sawed back and forth, with KUSHIDA hitting a Hoverboard lock DDT off the middle rope. KUSHIDA keeps up the pressure with dropkicks to Sabre’s left arm, before he catches a diving uppercut and turns it into another cross armbreaker as Sabre yet again made the ropes.

You know what we’ve not had in this match? Pinfall attempts!

Out of nowhere, a one-handed choke and a guillotine immobilises KUSHIDA before a half-and-half suplex takes down the challenger, who replies with another Hoverboard lock attempt, and then gets butterfly suplexed. A series of PK follows from Zack as he instead sits down and flips off the crowd rather than go for a cover, which seems to turn off some more of the crowd. Heck, it’s the only flip you’re going to get from Zack here.

KUSHIDA gets back to his feet to launch into some strikes, before he’s caught in a triangle choke that switches up into the Ode to Breaks, then into a Stretch Muffler just because he’s a sadistic sod. Somehow, the challenger manages to hit a Dragon suplex for a near-fall, but he moonsaults into another triangle armbar, only to cartwheel free and spin Zack into the Hoverboard lock!

Sabre nearly wins it with a prawn hold out of nowhere as we go back to strikes from Sabre, before a handspring elbow’s caught into another armbar by Zack, but KUSHIDA rolls back into a bridge… that’s reversed, and Zack manages to bridge back to score the win via pinfall. A really good match, but at 28 minutes long, it felt way too long for the slot, especially considering the main event was what everyone had come to see. I don’t get what it is, but it’s starting to feel like Zack Sabre Jr in York Hall is quickly becoming what Timothy Thatcher was as EVOLVE champion – a good wrestler who portions of the crowd really don’t want to see at the top. ****½

Lio Rush & All Day Swerve (Shane Strickland & Ryan Smile) vs. The Elite (Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) & Kenny Omega)
The Elite’s touring show rolled into London with another trios match – although their opponents here are absolutely not the trio I’d have put them up against. Lio Rush replaced the injured Ricochet, but it says something when the Rev Pro match with the Elite could quite easily have been done in, say, PWG or anywhere else. Yes, the pairing of Strickland and Smile have had several matches together, but I’d have liked to have seen some other, home-grown names in this role. A missed opportunity, methinks…

The crowd of course came unglued for the mere mention of the Elite, and it was the same for the whole match. Yep, the Elite are a big deal, although I’d wonder if the Jay White rule would apply to them (i.e. if they were ROH exclusive, would they still be this hot in 12 months?) I digress, they’re red hot here, and it doesn’t seem to impress the “hometown team”. There’s a cheap dig at Discovery Wrestling by Andy Simmonz, who notes that this is the Elite’s first “proper show” of their UK tournament (after having wrestled for Discovery in Scotland the prior night). I’m sure they’d throw some shade back at him, but it’s already dark down there…

If you’ve seen the Elite’s match for OTT, you’ll be familiar with a lot of this routine, but they start off with Matt Jackson and Lio Rush doing a lot of swinging and missing before Rush lands a springboard ‘rana to force Omega to tag in. Lio’s getting some offence in the early going to establish himself – and force the Elite to threaten a walk-out on us all after Nick Jackson pratfalled his way into the ring. Of course they returned and we got a match that saw the Elite do very little… but that was because the crowd were eating everything up out of the palms of their hands. Like animals at a petting zoo. Although I doubt the food in a petting zoo would be a load of intentionally missed spots and “suck it!” taunts…

Our first dive came from Strickland… but he aborted it in mid-air and ended up running into a pair of superkicks! Smile and Rush take a pair of apron powerbombs before Nick Jackson lands a senton as the pair were draped off the apron by Matt and Kenny. Cue Andy Boy Simmonz marking out like a little boy, which would have been fine had he not been behind the commentary table… or seemingly still playing heel commentator whilst the Elite were anything but bad guys.

We get the four-boots spot in the corner, but of course it’s Kenny who tastes the Bucks’ boots, before a trio of topes from Rush take the Elite out as the “home team” work together to batter Omega in the corner. Smile misses a stomp off the top rope and quickly takes a Kotaro Krusher and some superkicks as the Bucks quickened the pace, ending with the Terminator dive series.

More superkicks, of course, as Smile gets caught in the corner for a backcracker before the “home team” get caught in triplicate Sharpshooters. They break free, before Smile avoids a Meltzer Driver and eventually brings in Strickland to avoid some more superkicks. Instead, Shane boots both of the Bucks and plants Matt with an Ace crusher. In comes Omega to take a reverse ‘rana, before Strickland uses Matt Jackson as a platform to launch a moonsault press onto the other two on the floor.

Rush and Strickland hit a double Spanish Fly to Omega, before Kenny takes a pair of frog splashes and a double stomp, but Nick Jackson breaks up a dog-piled cover with a senton bomb! Smile’s repeatedly told to suck it, and the superkick party resumes before a V Trigger and a diving knee flattens Strickland. Shane avoids a One Winged Angel, but a reverse ‘rana is blocked with a couple of superkicks and a snap Dragon suplex as that party picks up again… with some goofy eye pokes and low blows amongst the Elite.

Yep, the crowd’s still eating this up! Three superkicks kill Strickland for a near-fall, before a Meltzer Driver’s blocked by Rush, who turned heel by doing so. Strickland knocks Matt Jackson down on the apron as Rush was held for the Meltzer Driver, but Matt immediately pops up when Omega catches Strickland’s Quebrada as we end with a double Meltzer Driver for the win. Well, if you love the Elite, they gave you their Greatest Hits and more here with their touring show. If you didn’t… you probably sat on your hands, I’m afraid! ****

After the match, those who hadn’t fled the building to catch the last trains home were treated to a lengthy promo as the Elite put over their defeated foes, before Kenny Omega namechecked AJ Styles as the guy who apparently pushed him to take the Rev Pro date. I call shenanigans…

As far as the live experience, I really believe that Rev Pro have plenty of changes to make. After four York Hall shows had delayed starts due to extreme security measures (featuring checks that included in-depth bag checks and almost having to explain why I had a work ID pass on me… having come straight from work!), only now are the promotion publicly considering changing start times. Yes, it’s a necessary evil, but having seen people leave this show before the main event due to how late things were running, you do have to wonder how many fans – perhaps first timers – that turned off. Then again, the same could be said for the other shows that the Elite drew bigger crowds for this past weekend (OTT and Fight Club Pro), where similar issues were also experienced.

On the other side of things, and the “at home” presentation, Rev Pro sorely needs to sort out what’s going on in terms of their “voices”. Their hallmark this year has been a constantly changing cast on commentary, with Andy Quildan, Andy Boy Simmonz, Gideon Grey, Luke Bond, Danny Garnell, Gilligan Gordon and Alex “don’t call me Cupid” Sherlock behind the mic, whilst we’ve had Quildan acting as MC alongside Steve Lynskey and Theo Fraser on their shows so far. We’ve already beaten this dead horse, but the rotating cast suggests that, like a new manager at a football club, Rev Pro’s first choice isn’t quite clear-cut these days now that Olly Hogben is moving more and more towards “real sports”, leading to a rather confusing presentation. One that perhaps doesn’t fully come across on TV, but is rather evident to the live crowd.

Watching this show live really drained me, although I’m pleased to say that this was solely down to where I was watching it from, as the on-demand captured a crowd that was awake for most of the show as opposed to just the main event! This was a fun show, with no bad wrestling, which is the least you can really ask for in your 2017 graps… and how spoiled does that make us all? Even a decade ago, British fans would be killing to see one show of this quality and now it feels like we’re getting these on at least a monthly basis. If you’re not a fan of the Elite, watch this and close the browser at the main event, but this is definitely a show that’s worth every second of your time.

Thumbs: Up

What Worked: Nothing fell flat – CCK’s York Hall in-ring debut was sound, Zack Sabre Jr’s match – despite the crowd rejecting parts of it – continued to tell a low-key story that perhaps isn’t being appreciated as well as it should, and of course, the Elite (the the Elite).

What Didn’t: Live grumble alert: 1120pm finishing time? Not ideal on any night, let alone a “school night” (which it was for the purposes of public transport!)… I think after a couple of Cockpit shows and now this, where James Castle as a babyface was rejected, plans may need to change in how the formerly-mohawked punker is handled…

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