Rev Pro returned to FITE for their third edition of Epic Encounters, with Kyle Fletcher stepping up to take on Will Ospreay for the British Heavyweight Championship.
Robbie X pinned JJ Gale in 7:32 (***)
Mad Kurt submitted Gideon Grey in 11:02 (**½)
Bobbi Tyler pinned Jamie Hayter in 4:52 (**)
Kenneth Halfpenny submitted Brendan White in 6:58 (**½)
Aleah James pinned Zoe Lucas in 0:21 (NR)
Ricky Knight Jr. pinned Connor Mills in 8:45 (***½)
Will Ospreay pinned Kyle Fletcher in 22:26 to retain the Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship (***½)
We open with Michael Oku getting interviewed by Stephanie Chase… Oku seems very unsure of Connor Mills crowing about Oku becoming the undisputed British Cruiserweight champion. Oku is happy to grant a rematch to Ricky Knight Jr., although Mills is a little upset at that because RKJ’s gotta go through him first. We’re inside the non-descript Portsmouth School of Wrestling once more, with Andy Quildan at ringside alongside Rob Lias. They do the usual thing of running down the card, with Lias saying that Ospreay hasn’t been at his best thus far. I mean, at least they’re not pretending it’s live, after we’ve had two weeks of Ospreay in Japan for the G1…
JJ Gale vs. Robbie X
Gale was accompanied to ringside by Brendan White and Kenneth Halfpenny. Uh-oh. Holy crap, that Robbie X music is ear-piercingly bad… and loud, too.
Gale starts with a front facelock as he took down Robbie X, moving up into a full nelson and a side headlock as he looked to control the tempo. You can barely hear the commentary over the action in the ring, by the way, such is the mixing. Even the referee overwhelms the commentary track. C’mon lads. Robbie X rolls over Gale, then has to kip up after a shoulder tackle before Gale cartwheeled into an electric chair position. He’s taken down for a hiptoss and a low dropkick, before Robbie X began to chop through him. Gale kicks out from a standing moonsault and comes back with a chop, but a back elbow has Gale down for a two-count, before Robbie began to work the arm.
A chop has Gale down again, with a knee drop getting a two-count. Robbie X keeps going with a senton atomico for a near-fall, before he aimed high with a chop to Gale, who manages to float over him in the corner before dropping Robbie X on his shoulder with a back suplex. Gale continues his comeback with some running forearms and a front suplex, before a springboard moonsault out of the corner gets a two-count. Robbie X armdrags out of a Gory special, then knocked the Contender off the apron with a handspring… they go back inside as Robbie X kicks Gale in the leg ahead of a standing shooting star press for a near-fall. Robbie X heads up top for a moonsault, but lands on his feet as Gale came back with the Gory special knee and a superkick.
A Falcon Arrow from Gale does the deal, but Robbie gets up at two before he blocked a springboard cutter. Robbie blocks a second one, then backflipped in for a powerbomb on Gale, which gets a near-fall, before the X-Clamation handspring cutter gets the win. A pretty pacey opener, with Robbie X dispatching of Gale in pretty quick fashion. ***
Robbie X cut a promo afterwards, but you could barely hear him because the mic was so far away. I mean, just re-tape it afterwards lads?
We get a pre-match promo for the next match which consists of Mad Kurt saying “I’m Mad Kurt” and Gideon Grey telling us there’s only so far being a funny man can take you. Gideon’s got plans, but he needs to know if someone’s an asset or a liability – is this a proving ground for Mad Kurt?
Gideon Grey vs. Mad Kurt
Gideon’s wearing his “title” from Riptide, and they at least keep the Mad Kurt music. He’s doing “Slack Sabre Junior”, as Rob Lias coins it… and we get going.
We start with a lock-up, but Kurt kicks it away ala ZSJ. Wash, rinse, repeat. He dabs, so Gideon grabs him, only to get thrown into the ropes as he charged down Kurt with a shoulder tackle. Mad Kurt flops on the mat as he tries to kip up, then gets caught in a toe hold as Gideon pulled him into a bow-and-arrow hold. Mad Kurt floats over as he tries for a pin, but a neat neck bridge gets Gideon up as Kurt returned… and dabbed his way into an arm whip. He keeps a wristlock on as Kurt tries to free himself with monkey flips, before Kurt just slapped the arm away and poked Gideon in the eye.
A drop toe hold comes to nought, so he just yanks Gideon down for a near-fall, before he rolled Gideon in for a Trailer Hitch… but it’s right by the ropes as we get an instant break. In the ropes, Gideon elbows Mad Kurt in the head to break a waistlock, as he then came back in with a cravat. It’s held on as Kurt tried to break free… Mad Kurt had more luck when he was in a Japanese stranglehold, but Gideon just swings him around before a floatover suplex nearly put him away. Mad Kurt dabs his way out of a PK, then trips Gideon… but he’s kicked away as he’s sent sailing to the outside. A Canadian Backbreaker followed back inside, but Mad Kurt armdrags his way free, only to get caught with a tiltawhirl backbreaker. Mad Kurt looked to wind up for a baseball punch, but he just dabs… as Gideon pulls him down into a grounded Octopus, stretching the do’s out of Kurt… who manages to scramble a foot towards the rope.
Gideon trash talks Mad Kurt, calling him by his old name… that wakes him up, but Gideon boots his head off. A series of standing switches lead to Mad Kurt working into a Code Red for a near-fall, before Gideon came back with a clothesline. Mad Kurt goes for a Codebreaker, but transitions into a tornado DDT, before a Codebreaker off the top almost won him the match… Gideon’s right back with a rolling elbow to the back of the head though, before he ragdolled Mad Kurt for a German suplex. It’s elbowed away, with Mad Kurt kicking Gideon to the apron, before a big boot’s caught and turned into a knee bar for the submission. This was pretty much one-way before Mad Kurt caught Gideon with a flash submission – I’m not too sure where they’re going with this, but it was odd seeing Mad Kurt getting a beating for as long as he did. **½
Post-match, Mad Kurt grabbed the mic and berated Andy Quildan for not giving him matches he wanted. He wants someone “on the bottom of the ladder,” just so Andy can say yes… and he asks for Dan Moloney. Andy gives him the match, as Gideon then put him over for “being able to wrestle.”
Jamie Hayter vs. Bobbi Tyler
They painted this as Oedo Tai vs. Tokyo Cyber Squad… although STARDOM results lately have meant that one of those units is no more.
Tyler attacks Hayter from behind before the bell, whipping her into the corner… but Hayter’s right back with a shoulder tackle before she was caught with a rebound Flatliner in the ropes for a near-fall. Some stomps from Tyler aim for Hayter’s leg, which then gets wrapped around the rope… before Tyler tripped Hayter into the turnbuckles. A snapmare gets Bobbi a two-count, as she pulled Hayter by the hair away from the ropes ahead of some knee stomps. Hayter fights back with some right hands, but Tyler slips out for a big boot. Hayter’s in with a rolling lariat and a back senton for some two-counts, as she proceeded to club away on Tyler’s back… but a follow-up larit is blocked as Tyler pulled her into a Stretch Muffler.
Hayter forces a break, getting her free leg to the rope, before she smashed back in with a forearm and a brainbuster in the middle of the ring. Tyler’s up at two from that, before Zoe Lucas grabbed Hayter in the ropes… Bobbi Tyler’s gone outside the ring for something, and eventually finds the golf club that she hits Hayter with, before a rear spin kick got the pin. That’s gotta go down as an upset, both in terms of the result and the speed of it, but this was tough to watch thanks to Rev Pro’s production going back to their worst. **
Post-match, Tyler took the mic and bragged about beating Jamie Hayter so quickly, then criticised the Rev Pro women’s division as “bland, black and white.”
Brendan White vs. Kenneth Halfpenny
This is now a Best-of-Five series, but White’s already 2-0 up… Halfpenny was literally shaking in his pre-match promo. He’s gotten to (to to to, to to to).
Halfpenny looked to win with a hammerlock’d roll-up at the bell, getting a two-count as he found out that flash pins weren’t going to do it early. They charge into each other, with Halfpenny sent sailing outside and into the cameraman as he looked to compose himself outside the ring. That led to a brief chase, with Halfpenny winning out as he stomped White back inside, but an overhead belly-to-belly has Halfpenny flying again. He blocks a second one, but couldn’t quite trip White as the Welshman stomped on his hand instead, before he finally tripped White to the mat. A snapmare and a legdrop to the arm gets a one-count, before Halfpenny went to an old-school Corning hold as he looked for a submission.
Halfpenny switches to an overhead wristlock, but White just slams his way free, before he missed a charge and went into the middle buckle. Sandwiching White’s hand into the turnbuckle, Halfpenny stomps on the hand, then hammerlock’d it on the mat as he worked in the left hand some more. More wrenching on the arm follows in the ropes, as Halfpenny refused to break cleanly, but White manages to catch him with some boots before a Sick Kick spun Halfpenny to the mat. White recovers with forearms and kicks, before a lariat drops Halfpenny in the middle of the ring.
White tries to go for a German suplex, but he can’t get the grip… he lands it as a rebound German suplex, before a backbreaker dumped Halfpenny for a two-count. Halfpenny blocks an Irish whip, throwing White into the corner, before a Kamigoye to the bad arm led to a cross armbreaker, which has White tapping furiously. Well, Halfpenny got a win back, showing a meaner side to boot – and I guess if you weren’t sure who to boo at home, well, you know now. **½
Post-match, Halfpenny claimed this was just payback for what happened in match two… and since this is a best of five series, we’ll go again on Epic Encounters Four, I guess.
Zoe Lucas vs. Aleah James
In the pre-match promos, Zoe Lucas freaked out over Aleah James being in the same promotion as her… and having a win over her too. Dan Moloney is cornering Aleah for reasons, while Bobbi Tyler was back out with Zoe Lucas, as expected. Zoe runs in with a leg lariat to Aleah at the bell, but takes too long on a reverse DDT and gets rolled up for the win. Zoe had never even taken her mask off!
Post-match, Zoe freaks out again, which drowns out Aleah’s promo before she chases her to the back.
Connor Mills vs. Ricky Knight Jr.
RKJ’s lower third still has him listed as the Speed King champion. C’mon guys…
RKJ launches into Mills with a shotgun dropkick at the bell as he wore down Mills with punches ahead of a death valley bomb for an early two-count. Knight’s all over Mills here, punching him out before he chopped him to the mat… and I’m kinda digging this intensity. It’s really making this match leap off the page in the opening minute. An Angle slam gets RKJ a two-count, before Mills is dumped into the corner with a death valley driver. A second dropkick waffles Mills, then a third, as Knight trips him for a face-washing dropkick. It’s almost assault, this.
Knight heads up top and cracks into Mills with a European uppercut, sending Connor outside for a charge into the post, and a slam on the floor. He chokes Mills with his own hair braids, before RKJ got distracted by Oku on the outside. Connor capitalises by kicking Knight on the way back in, and that seemed to coincide with Mills finding a second wind, landing an uppercut of his own before bouncing Knight off the turnbuckles for a near-fall. Crossface punches keep RKJ down as both men threw kicks. Mills keeps going with a back elbow off the ropes for a near-fall, before a springboard diving uppercut almost put the former Speed King champion away. Mills tries to follow up with a 450 splash… he rolls out of it as RKJ returned with a lariat.
RKJ continues his uppercut with forearms, before Mills hit a rear spin kick, then the Millshot for a near-fall. A Dragon suplex from Knight gets him right back in it, before he hit a Fire Thunder Driver… but he doesn’t go for the pin. Instead, Knight goes up top as Mills distracted the ref. Michael Oku goes towards the corner as they teased interference… Knight kicks the hand away, then leaps over the referee into a double stomp that squished Mills for the win. The intensity on show here made this leaps and bounds ahead of pretty much everything else on the card so far, but still a little short. ***½
Post-match, RKJ fights with the volume of his music as he tells Andy Q that having the Speed King title taken away from him made him improve his game… and called out Will Ospreay. He mocks Ospreay for “playing wrestler in mummy and daddy’s back garden” while he was actually wrestling… It sure does look like they’re skipping the rematch, as RKJ punches his head a la Mankind, working himself up for the as-yet-unannounced title match.
Ospreay bigs up the Rev Pro title because it’s the only British title that’s been defended in Madison Square Garden and the Tokyo Dome. I mean, he’s got a point, but man, that “Ospreay versus the UK” tour would have been a real bad look now if it’d had gone ahead.
Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship: Kyle Fletcher vs. Will Ospreay (c)
So this is a first ever singles title match for Fletcher in Rev Pro, and both men are raring to go, charging into each other at the bell with see-saw shoulder tackles until Fletcher bulled down Ospreay.
A back elbow out of the corner led to Ospreay going for a springboard cutter early, as they swung for their finishers until Fletcher chopped Ospreay down to the mat. Ospreay lifts Fletcher to the top rope, then chops him down to the outside, ahead of a plancha that found its mark.
Back in the ring, Ospreay aims for Fletcher’s knee with kicks, before he teed off on Fletcher with elbows… surprising Kyle with a kick to the cut before the Australian hit a suplex. Kyle chops Ospreay into the corner, following up with a slam and some kicks as he left Ospreay on the mat. Ospreay threw back with a chop, but he’s kicked in the stomach again… before he stung Fletcher with another chop. A kick to the chest knocks Ospreay down for a two-count, before Kyle stood on Ospreay’s back in the ropes. Elbows wear down Ospreay in the corner, but Will pulls himself up to his feet before returning those elbow strikes. Chops mix it up, as Kyle ran into some boots as Ospreay then had to escape a suplex with a handspring enziguiri taking down the Aussie.
Both men get back to their feet, with Ospreay taking to the air for a springboard forearm that gets a two-count. A standing shooting star press comes to nought as Ospreay’s thrown onto the apron, then dropkicked to the floor as Kyle then went up top for an Orihara moonsault that took Ospreay down. They’re right back inside for a diving boot in the corner, before Fletcher hit a brainbuster that almost won the match. Fletcher hits the ropes, but both men clobber each other with clotheslines before they launched back in with elbow strikes. A right hand to the knee stops Fletcher as Ospreay suddenly went for the legs, hitting a knee breaker and a Dragon screw, before a Figure Four looked to keep Kyle in the middle of the ring.
Fletcher manages to make it to the ropes, but Ospreay clotheslines him back to the floor. He fights back to the apron, but has to avoid a tombstone there from Ospreay, as the pair go in with back-and-forth elbows before Ospreay teased a Storm Breaker to the floor. Fletcher slips out, but takes a superkick before an OsCutter on the apron left both men on the floor. Back inside, Ospreay hits another springboard forearm for a near-fall, before Fletcher ducked a Hidden Blade and dumped Ospreay into the buckles with an Aussie Arrow. They head up top with Fletcher looking for a superplex, but he’s knocked down as Ospreay went for a Cheeky Nando’s… but Kyle leaps out and hits a spinning Tombstone that almost won him the title.
Fletcher keeps going, trapping Ospreay in the ropes with a series of stomps, before he pulled him up for the Grimstone… but Ospreay elbows away and hits a short-arm clothesline. He keeps the wrist as he’s borrowing from Okada, but instead he nails a hook kick before he flipped into a powerbomb. Everyone reverses everything as Ospreay lands a Spanish Fly, before an OsCutter plants Fletcher in the middle of the ring for a near-fall.
The Hidden Blade looked to follow, but Fletcher stands up as we’re back to the elbow shots. Rapid-fire knees drop Fletcher, as do some Kawada kicks, before a discus forearm dropped Kyle to his knees. A Hidden Blade to the face, then a Storm Breaker followed, and that’s your lot. Maybe it’s the elephant in the room, or perhaps its Ospreay parading with the title in Japan (and Kyle Fletcher advertised for shows in Australia) but this did little for me. If there’s one thing the empty arena era’s shown us, short intense matches work best – and the longer you go, the more likely it is to disconnect with the audiences. ***½
Post-match, Andy Quildan interviews Ospreay… Will takes the microphone and mocked Andy for “seeing him as a little boy who can do all the tricks.” Ospreay tells us he’s done with being a boy, which is certainly a choice of wording, as he unleashed some expletives while asking Andy to set up a “British G1” to set up a future challenger. I mean, there’s already a long list of people wanting that next shot… maybe they do something like that to kill time with Ospreay away? Epic Encounters Four is in three weeks, with Gisele Shaw defending the Rev Pro British Women’s Championship against Bea Priestley… and I think that might be seen as another foregone conclusion given Bea’s in Japan?
One of the most frequent knocks on the Rev Pro VOD product is their production values – or at times, the perceived lack of them. Unfortunately, a lot of those were evident here, with wandering cameras, wrong camera cuts or cuts coming too late. Add that to the audio being all over the place, and a series of matches that didn’t quite hit the spot, and this is a show that is very hard to recommend on VOD.