Three weeks after the first one, Rev Pro’s back for a second instalment of their Epic Encounters, this time featuring the unification of their cruiserweight championships.
The main event for this one felt a little out of the blue given that last time around, Ricky Knight Jr. had seemingly had his eyes set on Will Ospreay. But no, RKJ’s reward for pinning the Rev Pro heavyweight champion is a chance to trade in his Southside Speed King title – a title he won back in May 2019 – or whether his 498-day reign will both be a) annoyingly short of a round number and b) end up with nothing to show for it apart from an entry in a record book? Of course, the elephant in the room still remains. Rev Pro are still yet to publicly release any documents surrounding codes of conduct, safeguarding or other policies. Of course, some may argue that those policies don’t need to be public until fans start going back to shows – but the issue still stands; Rev Pro promised to share those, and haven’t, which is another stick being used to beat them with. Especially when the two Epic Encounter shows thus far have prominently featured names in and around the Speaking Out movement.
While the backlash has been measurably less, the disappointment remains. A since-banished member of the roster once campaigned to “release the promos.” I think by now it’s time to release the codes and at least quell some of the dissenters.
Mark Haskins submitted JJ Gale in 13:45 (***¼)
Brendan White submitted Kenneth Halfpenny in 5:24 (**¾)
Dan Moloney pinned Joel Redman in 7:24 (***¼)
Will Ospreay pinned Callum Newman in 9:35 (***½)
Bea Priestley & Jamie Hayter pinned Gisele Shaw & Aleah James in 9:00 (***½)
Michael Oku pinned Ricky Knight Jr. in 16:20 to unify the Rev Pro British Cruiserweight and Southside Speed King Championships (***½)
We start with the Cockpit effect as EXTRA LOUD MUSIC signals the start of the show. Andy Quildan and Rob Lias are on commentary from the Portsmouth School of Wrestling, and we open with the pre-show preview of the card…
JJ Gale vs. Mark Haskins
Commentary is still “pretend-live”, as Stephanie Chase is waiting by at ringside. Gale is part of Rev Pro’s Contender’s division, while Mark Haskins is accompanied to ringside by Lord Gideon Grey.
Haskins starts by taking Gale to the mat in an armbar, rolling him over for a quick two-count before Gale retaliated with a waistlock takedown. He can’t keep Haskins down though, as JJ’s forced to avoid a kid to the arm before Haskins went back in with a headlock takedown. Gale counters out with headscissors, but Haskins jack-knifes his way into a cover as the early going seemed a little terse. Going back to the arm, Haskins ends up in the ropes as the pair needed to be separated by the referee. Haskins fakes out a kick before he took out JJ’s legs, following up with some chops in the corner before he wrenched away on Gale’s leg in the corner. Somehow Gale comes back, leapfrogging over Haskins and into a dropkick for a one-count, before Haskins tripped him down and worked over the leg some more, throwing it against the side of the ring.
Haskins kick Gale’s leg out of his leg, forcing the Contender to land awkwardly on the floor, before he dumped Gale knees-first onto the edge of the ring. Back inside, Haskins punts Gale in the back before a diving knee gets a near-fall. Gale tries to fight back, but he’s met with a knee to the midsection, before an Indian deathlock looked to force a submission. A roll-up from Gale almost gets the upset – but does break the hold – only for Haskins to wrench him down with a Dragon screw before a Stretch Muffler turned into a STF. Haskins keeps evolving the holds until Gale dragged himself to the ropes. Haskins punts him in the back again, but that fires up Gale into another comeback attempt… only for him to get flipped inside out as he was clotheslined to the outside.
Haskins follows up with a PK off the apron, then meets Gale with a knee strike when he got back in. A running Falcon arrow’s next for a near-fall, before Gale counters Made in Japan into a roll-up. He keeps pushing on with a diving European uppercut to Haskins, then a forearm in the corner before a backpack knee to the face spun Haskins to the outside. Gale keeps going with a senton off the top to the outside… but Gideon Grey distracts Gale briefly, and it bought enough time. Back inside again, Gale heads up top and senton bombs into the knees of Haskins, who goes for a crucifix for a near-fall before he dragged Gale into the middle of the ring. He can’t get anything going, as Gale trips him into a seated surfboard a la Liger, then into a Japanese leg clutch for a near-fall. Gale goes for a springboard uppercut, but his legs get cut away as Haskins came right back with a roll-through death valley driver, only for Haskins to miss a stomp off the top.
Gale’s back with a front suplex and a superkick, but he doesn’t go for the cover. Instead, he heads up for a moonsault stomp, but he misses as Haskins capitalises with a Sharpshooter, dragging Gale away from the ropes for the quick submission. So quick, in fact, they don’t ring the bell. Very one-sided, with Gale getting a brief flurry of offence – but Haskins is another guy they’re looking to add to the British Heavyweight title picture. ***¼
Vignette time as Kenneth Halfpenny put down his loss to Brendan White to not being able to train during lockdown. I mean… it’s not the first loss, Ken! He called that match a warm-up, and so we’re getting this rematch.
Kenneth Halfpenny vs. Brendan White
Halfpenny’s never beaten White in singles matches, going 0-3. So much for Ken’s “99 times out of 100, I’ll beat you…” and he’s so hyped up, they nearly forgot to do the intros.
Halfpenny charges in to take White into the corner at the bell, but White charges back out with a double leg takedown as he proceeded to stomp a mudhole in Halfpenny by the ropes. An overhead belly-to-belly flings Halfpenny across the ring for a two-count, but Ken trips White and… runs into a clothesline. Oh dear Kenneth. Halfpenny has more luck with a flapjack, before he went in with some ground and pound. A cross armbar follows, with Halfpenny scissoring the arm… but White gets free as he went to the corner. He’s met with clothesline and uppercuts, before he responded with a Samoa Joe-ish uranage out of the corner for a near-fall.
A Black Hole Slam from White’s countered into a T-Bone suplex by Halfpenny as he tried to push on, following up a near-fall by snapping back on White’s arm. Hammerlocks and knees to the back wear down the Welshman, who then had to defend against a headscissor/armbar combob before some trash talking just riled up White. Halfpenny rolls White out of the corner, but sees his Blockbuster countered into a suplex before a Black Hole Slam almost led to a ref bump. A low blow’s caught as White pulls him down into a crossface, and there’s the quick submission. Oh dear. That’s 0-4 for Ken, as Brendan White proved to be a cut above again. **¾
After the match, Halfpenny admitted he was trying to cheat White, and this time asked for another rematch claiming he was “in consultation with the referee” while apologising for his cheating. Oh dear, there’s your sore loser. White asks for a handshake, but he rolls away as Halfpenny continued to whinge.
The pre-match promos have Dan Moloney upset at having to face Joel Redman, noting Joel’s lack of status in recent day Rev Pro.
Dan Moloney vs. Joel Redman
Redman’s not been in Rev Pro for over three and a half years – his last outing was in March 2017 as he and Charlie Sterling lost the tag team titles to CCK. Four months before that, he was facing EVIL & BUSHI on a Rev Pro super show… so it’s a big welcome back from the cold. He even gets to keep his old music – the remake of Blur’s Song Two. An early day Mikey Rukus original…
Of course, Dan Moloney’s another one in the crowded Rev Pro title picture. A tentative start ends with Redman working over Moloney’s arm, but they reach a stand-off before Joel tripped Moloney into a side headlock… they counter into headscissors, but Redman scoots his way free. Another lock-up sees the pair struggle into the corner, switching around before things broke down into back-and-forth chops and elbows. A floatover suplex gets Redman a two-count, before see-saw shoulder tackles ended with Redman running into a dropkick for a near-fall. Redman returns with a suplex for a two-count, despite piling onto Moloney’s shoulder, before a crossface ended with Dan backing into the ropes.
A neckbreaker’s next out of Redman, but his strikes just annoy Moloney who flipped him off… and ended up getting dumped on his head with a spin-out butterfly suplex. Dan’s back in with a German suplex and a spear, but it’s not enough, as Moloney then looked for the Drilla, but Redman jack-knifes him for another near-fall. Moloney keeps going with a boot out of the corner, but ends up leaping into a spinebuster. Redman heads up but misses a Bomb Scare knee drop, before a Black Hole Slam and a Drilla put the former tag champ away. This was way more even than I expected, with Redman showing plenty in his return – hopefully this isn’t a one-and-done, as I wanna see more of Redman on these shows. Moloney’s Drilla is a one-hit kill, and that continued to be established with the finish here. ***¼
Callum Newman vs. Will Ospreay
This was the biggest match of Newman’s relatively young career, but of course it’s non-title. They’re not doing that in the midcard. It’s also good they’ve given up the pretence of this being live, because the elephant in the room would have been obvious. Both of them.
Ospreay tries to charge at Newman at the bell, but instead we get a rather stop-start opening to the match, with Ospreay taking Newman into the ropes for the Okada-style break. Newman tries to swing for him, but Ospreay’s in with a side headlock as the pace suddenly jacked up with leapfrogs, attempted PKs and elbows before a tijeras from Newman took Ospreay down. Newman doesn’t follow up, instead taking Ospreay into the corner for a punch to the gut before he’s taken outside as Ospreay threw him into the side of the ring. A chop wrecks Newman by the side of the ring, before Newman’s thrown back inside as Ospreay began to pick his shots. Elbows from Newman earn him stiff chops, but he swings back in with a roundhouse enziguiri that left Ospreay wobbly.
Running knees keep Ospreay in the corner before a 619 to the arse and a diving uppercut that gets Newman a near-fall. Newman takes his time to decide his next move, as he ends up in another battle of elbows… with Ospreay cracking him ahead of a lifting reverse DDT for another near-fall. Ospreay follows up with a hook kick, then a Hidden Blade… but Newman ducks, only to get caught with a punch to the gut. A rebound off the ropes has Newman back with a roundhouse kick before a Ki Krusher gets a near-fall. Newman takes his time again, but his OsCutter’s blocked… he manages to evade a Storm Breaker before he lands an OsCutter for a near-fall. Yet again though, Newman takes his time to follow up… when he does, he went for a half-and-half suplex, only for Ospreay to block and return with a standing Spanish Fly.
That gets a near-fall, before Ospreay went for a discus forearm to the back of the head. The Hidden Blade is next, before a Storm Breaker gets the win. Newman had his shots, but the story of his inexperience saw him hesitate too often and for too long – which led to him getting caught at the end by Ospreay’s 1-2 punches. ***½
After the match, Ospreay challenged Kyle Fletcher to a match “next time I’m in a Rev Pro ring,” trash talking the Aussie because his “safety blanket in Mark Davis” has been taken away from him. There was more to it, but they mixed Ospreay’s music over this and it kinda jarred…
Oedo Tai (Bea Priestley & Jamie Hayter) vs. Aleah James & Gisele Shaw
It’s a first time teaming in Rev Pro for the former Goddesses of Stardom champions, who put that over as an advantage in the pre-match promos. Zoe Lucas comes out during the introductions with a chair. I’m sure it’ll only be used for sitting on.
Hayter and Shaw start off, just like last month, but it’s the women’s champion who’s on top early with an uppercut in the corner and a PK for a one-count in the opening thirty-seconds. Aleah James is in with a low dropkick, before a back senton gets her a one-count. Hayter’s knees get her free before she threw James onto the apron, only for Aleah to return with a springboard headscissors takedown. A crossbody off the middle rope is caught as James is dumped with a fallaway slam for a two-count. A snap suplex from Hayter dumps Aleah awkwardly, before Bea Priestley tagged in to stomp away on her. Hayter twists James’ knee in the ropes from the outside as the pair wore down the rookie Aleah, who managed to come back with a shotgun dropkick… but Bea fell into her own corner, talking in Hayter, who ends up having her chokeslam countered into a roll-up.
Hayter kicks out and went for a suplex, but James countered into a snap DDT, as tags bring in Shaw and Bea. Elbows from Shaw led to her taking a superkick, but an enziguiri and a release Dragon suplex dumped Priestley for a near-fall. Clotheslines in the corner follow, before a lariat folds Bea in half for a near-fall. Bea’s back with a German suplex, then a leaping knee as Shaw was suddenly on the defensive, having to kick out from a spear as James came in to help… but it backfires as Oedo Tai fired back. A uranage dumps James onto the back of Shaw, before a Twist and Shout neckbreaker from Priestley almost got the win. Bea looks for a Kamigoye, but it’s caught… she slaps Shaw, who hit back before a spinebuster dropped her for an eventual two-count. Some ground and pound follows, before Bea countered out of Eat Defeat, hitting a Regalplex for a near-fall as James broke up the cover with a stomp.
James tries to follow up, but she’s tripped in the ropes by Zoe Lucas… then clotheslined to the outside by Hayter as Gisele was left on her own. A running knee/sliding lariat sandwiches Shaw as Lucas threw James to the back… and that makes the result elementary as a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex lands on Shaw for the win. I guess that puts Priestley at the top of the list for a title shot – this was a pretty fun sprint of a match, and it sets up for multiple matches down the line too, so win-win. ***½
There’s the usual post-match promo, but the sound mixing makes it inaudible. They bully Andy Quildan into making the title match, but Gisele accepts.
RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship x Southside Speed King Championship: Michael Oku (Rev Pro) vs. Ricky Knight Jr. (Southside)
After tonight, the Southside version of this title disappears, ending an eight and a half year run that started with, err, Marty Scurll. Let’s just say the champion’s roll for that belt hasn’t aged well! Oku should be seen as the favourite given the calibre of names he’s beaten, but last time out, RKJ did score the pin over Will Ospreay…
RKJ starts out with a tie-up into the corner, but the pace quickens quickly as he ran the ropes, eventually clinging on to avoid a leapfrog before a half crab was avoided. Knight goes for superkicks, but Oku doesn’t catch the kick as they reached a stare-off. From the restart, RKJ cracks Oku with a rear spin kick for a two-count, before a diving clothesline folded Oku in half for another two-count. Things settle down after that unusually fraught start, with RKJ hitting a chop and a pendulum backbreaker for a two-count, before an early Fire Thunder Driver was escaped as Oku came back with a satellite DDT. An elbow drop off the top follows for another two-count, before a short clothesline off the ropes kept the Rev Pro champion on top. At least until RKJ dumped Oku into the corner with a death valley driver.
A corner dropkick from RKJ cracks into Oku ahead of a face-washing dropkick through the ropes that damn near knocked Oku’s face off. A flying back elbow’s next for a near-fall, as is an Angle Slam, as Oku looked to be on Dream Street here. Chops from Knight follow, but Oku’s able to hit a desperation dropkick after he avoided the Fire Thunder driver again. Knees and thrust kicks eventually take down RKJ ahead of a springboard moonsault for a near-fall… but RKJ’s back with a dropkick as Oku was on the top rope, leading to a superplex as both men came crashing down.
On their knees, both men trade elbows, upgrading to clubbering forearms to the back, then chops as RKJ pushed on… then ran into a superkick. A bicycle kick traps Oku as they go back and forth, until a leaping knee swatted away Knight’s springboard attempt for another near-fall. RKJ catches a Quebrada, but his Fire Thunder Driver’s turned into a poison ‘rana… taking him outside as Oku followed with a Fosbury flop. Oku takes an age to follow-up as Knight sweeps the leg, dumping him on the apron, before meeting him there as he again attempted the sit-out tombstone. Yet again, Oku escapes, this time shoving Knight into the ring post, before a Destroyer on the edge of the ring left both men on the outside.
Oku’s up first as he tries to pull Knight back into the ring, following up with a big frog splash for a near-fall. A half crab looks to follow, but Knight rolls through and finally manages to drop Oku with the Fire Thunder driver! For some reason the referee doesn’t let RKJ go for the pin, so he heads up top… only for Connor Mills to push him down. The ref missed it, and Oku capitalises with a second frog splash… and that’s it! A crowd really would have boosted this match, as some of the exchanges felt a little off… but a hot crowd would have more than made up for that. ***½
Commentary pretending they didn’t see it (save for the bad-guy-defending Rob Lias) was a bit weird – but given that they brushed aside Connors Mills’ issues with Oku, you’ve got to think this is setting up for something.
Oku’s post-match stuff is inaudible because you could hear a protesting RKJ louder than Oku (who was closer to the mic)… RKJ called out Mills (who was the only second on hand all night) for his cheating, and that led to some afters as Knight was justifiably upset. Andy Q plays the “we’re outta time!” card as he promised to review tape – and I guess we’re gonna get a rematch. They repeatedly show the push in the post-match replays – including a multi-angle shot – before we get a highlights package of the show.
So they did have time left after all! In among the highlights, they drop in that White/Halfpenny 3 will happen at Epic Encounters 3, along with Ospreay vs. Fletcher, before we fade to black.
At under two hours, this was a breeze of a show to watch – but its brevity was also its weakness, especially when you consider that one or two quid more gets you longer match cards. If you can look past that, Epic Encounters 2 was a fun show, with some matches that shone well without cracking through into the proverbial notebooks – but when you consider that Rev Pro’s VOD still does the free trial gimmick (for those who don’t want to pay for the show), you might want to wait and just catch it over there.