2018’s iteration of Global Wars UK saw Rev Pro head to a new venue as they made their Brixton debut with a show that was largely okay before it peaked at the main event.

The Brixton Rec Centre – a leisure centre, for those who judge these things – was the venue for this show, with Andy Simmonz and Andy Quildan on commentary. Just a hat tip – if you’re going to have a massive video screen as your entrance way, perhaps don’t zoom in so closely for entrances. Watching these back on any kind of internet connection leads to some problematic moments, shall we say… (I’m not sure what effect it has on DVD releases, but let’s be honest, most people are probably watching online). Watching this on-demand after Rev Pro’s acclaimed FreeSports debut was very… jarring. For a technical explanation (if you care), take a look at this

KUSHIDA vs. Kurtis Chapman
David Starr was slotted to defend his Rev Pro British Cruiserweight title here, but flight issues meant that Starr wasn’t able to make it to the country. Instead, we got “a suitable replacement” in Kurtis Chapman – which makes sense for those who’ve followed Rev Pro storylines and recent shows, but drew groans from those who haven’t.

So, picking up where injury forced them to leave off in Portsmouth, with the pair rather tentatively looking for a hold on the mat. Chapman gets an early near-fall from the Dreamcaster, before a game of cat and mouse saw Kurtis get caught in the path of a handstand kick on the apron. Back inside, Chapman’s worked on as KUSHIDA targets the arm with kicks, before he catches him with a trip-up into a lungblower of sorts. A double stomp flattened KUSHIDA for a near-fall, as did a flying stomp as KUSHIDA was doubled-over over the ropes, as Chapman then looked for the Caps Lock armbar.

KUSHIDA nearly rolls out, but instead gets to the ropes as Chapman again looked to work the arm. Chops followed as KUSHIDA fought back, but he’s caught in the Sega Mega Driver that led to a rather spiked landing that looked to jar his shoulder. Someone yelled “hurry up” to Chapman, as he misses a frog splash on KUSHIDA, who replied with a Downward Spiral into the turnbuckles ahead of an attempt at Back to the Future. Chapman countered that into a roll-up for a near-fall, before clipping him with an enziguiri… but another crack at the Dreamcaster’s avoided as KUSHIDA hits back, quickly going for Back to the Future as the IWGP Junior champion got the win – with a bit more of a struggle than he perhaps expected. ***½

RINGKAMPF (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
Brixton was a “t-shirt town” for WALTER, who left his big, heavy ring jacket at home as the LIJ pair of EVIL and SANADA brought all their gear… even the laser fingers. During the LIJ entrance, Andy Simmonz mentioned that they were looking for a shot at the Rev Pro tag titles. I’ve got a little something to say about all that at the end of this…

SANADA and Thatcher start us off, with Thatcher quickly taking it to the mat as an armbar’s rolled out of as neither man was able to find an advantage. They keep it on the mat, but there’s still clear leader as both men tagged out as it’s time for the big(ger) lads to throw fists. WALTER and EVIL come in and trade shoulder charges, before a leapfrog and a big boot from WALTER found its mark. Thatcher tags back in as RINGKAMPF double-team EVIL while exchanging tags. There’s a chop from EVIL, but a quick retaliation from WALTER as SANADA was helplessly left watching from the apron as his partner was being decimated by chops.

EVIL manages to get in with a slam, but Thatcher tries to stop him from making a tag… and failed as SANADA comes in for his double leapfrog/dropkick to WALTER. Thatcher’s still around, but he takes a low dropkick before he was helplessly tied up in a Paradise Lock. After freeing Thatcher, SANADA’s caught in almost a Lion Tamer-like Boston crab, before Thatcher returned to try and hit the uppercut powerbomb combo, as LIJ snuffed that out during a period of change.

A double-team stalling suplex from LIJ drops Thatcher, who tried to catch EVIL with an armbar, before duelling Gojira clutches ended with RINGKAMPF being shoved into each other. SANADA follows up with a brief Skull End, before EVIL dumped WALTER with Everything is EVIL. Thatcher’s still legal though, and he quickly takes a Magic Killer for the win – a brisk match, but one that seemed to rush through to an end a little too quickly? ***½

Lord Gideon Grey emerged for our next match, as he offered some rather derisory words to Rishi Ghosh ahead of his battle with his new charge, the Great O-Kharn, who got the customary eye-bugging-out entrance.

Rishi Ghosh vs. Great O-Kharn
Entirely built up at the Cockpit, this was a match that could well have fallen flat on its face, regardless of O-Kharn’s 16-0 winning streak ahead of this.

O-Kharn jumped Rishi before the bell, but there’s an instant fightback as the pair exchanged some ground and pound. A back body drop sends Rishi to the outside, as O-Kharn took over on the floor, before Rishi got free and started to go airborne, landing a tope and a flying chop off the top rope.

A bicycle kick into the corner barely gets a one-count for Rishi, while the Ghosh-buster neckbreaker lands a two-count. O-Kharn begins a fightback, taking Rishi into the corner for some clotheslines – but Ghosh wasn’t too far behind in the fight, at least until O-Kharn unleashed those Mongolian chops. Referee Tom Scarborough doesn’t have much luck in separating the two, especially when O-Kharn was sitting on Ghosh in the corner, as the pace began to slow down a little.

A claw-assisted chinlock keeps Rishi down, before he was hauled up into the Torture Device – the claw-assisted over-the-back stretch. Rishi counters back with a DDT, but he can’t capitalise on it immediately, eventually connecting with a high-angle German suplex for a near-fall. Rishi keeps up with a cutter and a spear, but none of it felt very definitive, and so O-Kharn’s up at two. O-Kharn uses the referee as a human shield, unsighting him before a low blow picked up a near-fall. A stunner off the top rope gets Rishi back on top… but Gideon Grey appears on the apron and suddenly has faith in his (former?) tag partner. He gives Rishi a cane to use as a weapon, but the referee disarms him, allowing Gideon to come in and hit Rishi with his own cane before a reverse suplex gets O-Kharn the win. Well, that’s Rishi well and truly done with the Legion of Lords faction, after a match that didn’t suffer as much from “Cockpit syndrome” as I initially feared… but the crowd seemed to be up for this a lot more live than they did on tape. ***¼

Chris Brookes vs. Tetsuya Naito
Happening before the Rev Pro TV debut, Brookes felt a little out of place here… not in terms of ability, but as a singles act in Rev Pro, he’s become rather rudderless since Travis Banks left the territory.

Of course, we have the Naito stalling, which the crowd ate up from the off as Brookes looked to stomp on Naito’s hand before faking out his own Tranqilo dive. Naito’s quickly back with a reverse DDT-style neckbreaker before a neckbreaker onto the apron left Brookes flat on the floor as Naito looked for a count-out. Brookes made it back to the ring, but was choked in the corner by Naito, then caught in a cravat that forces Brookes into the ropes, where he’s caught with a slingshot into the bottom strand. Brookes manages to mount a comeback, squashing Naito with a back senton off the top rope, before a brainbuster caught Naito for a near-fall.

Naito’s back with the Cabron combination – leading to the slingshot corner dropkick – before he ran into a leaping knee. An attempt at Death By Roll-up nearly surprises Brookes, who hit one of his own, rolling it through into an inverted cloverleaf, only for it to end in the ropes as the match once again spilled to the outside, where Brookes managed to trap Naito’s head in the ring apron ahead of a stomp. A top rope ‘rana followed back inside, but it was Naito on the offensive again… at least until he was caught with a Praying Mantis Bomb that nearly brought things to a sudden end. Brookes nearly comes a cropper as he went for the slingshot cutter, but Naito saves it and lands a German suplex, before a Destino’s countered into an Octopus hold. Naito again escapes, then lands Destino… getting a two count before following up with another Destino for the win. This was okay, but felt very much “just a match”. Hopefully Brookes’ change of attitude means that he’ll be in some fresher matches, as this very much seemed like a closure on his time as a good guy in Rev Pro. ***

Hirooki Goto vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
“This is going to be a match, isn’t it?”. Indeed it was Andy… a rematch from the last two G1s as this was becoming a bit of a frequently-booked singles match, relatively speaking.

A rather tentative opening spell sees Sabre and Goto grapple without any initial advantage, before an early swing for a PK was narrowly avoided as Goto laid back to save his skin. A tie-up into the corner led to a cheapshot that Goto quickly returned, as the fight spilled to the outside, with Goto throwing some axehandle smashes and slaps on the floor. Sabre manages to stem the tide with a leglock on the floor, which led to Goto just about beating the count as he seemed to forget it’s a ten count in the UK. Nevertheless, he rolls back in as Sabre goes back to the leg, using an Indian deathlock to bend Goto’s leg before they eventually roll into the ropes. Zack has a tendency to do that…

Back on his feet, Goto traded shots with Sabre before he clocked him with a kick to the midsection, only for Zack to go back with an ankle lock, which Goto slipped out of and countered back with a German suplex. Some more back and forth takes Sabre back into control as he caught Goto with a Cobra twist, before a roll through saw Sabre take it back into what almost became Eddie Guerrero’s Lasso from El Paso. Goto again gets to the rope to force a break, from where he returns with a series of forearms as he put Sabre down on his knees. There’s a caught PK from Goto, who tries again for a German suplex, only to get caught in another Octopus hold, which Goto countered out of with an ushigoroshi for a near-fall. Zack’s straight back with a Pele kick to the arm, then a PK as Goto popped up at one… and hits straight back with a clothesline.

Sabre manages to avoid a GTR, instead slipping free as he mounts Goto for a Kimura… Goto lifts him up onto the ropes and absolutely plants him with a GYR, complete with a rude landing, but there’s no instant cover attempt, as Goto instead looked to go for the GTR, only for Zack to slip out and roll him up with the Euro clutch for the win. On paper, this was really good… but this just didn’t seem to connect with the Brixton crowd. Perhaps a case for clearly presented storylined over dream matches? ***¾

Satoshi Kojima vs. Mark Davis
Kojima’s first appearance in the UK in almost three years saw him beloved by Brixton, who’d come bearing bread for him. Perhaps a little too much, if the post-show photos are to be believed…

Up against Mark Davis, this was a battle of heavy hitters, but it was Kojima who was the early aggressor, taking Davis down to the mat, before he won out on a battle of shoulder tackles. Davis took over though, taking the match outside as we had some brawling around ringside, continuing to keep the upper hand back in the ring as he plastered Kojima with chops and clotheslines in the corner.

Kojima returns those favours though, lighting up Davis with Machine Gun Chops after a leap into the corner’d gone awry… and we know what’s next. Whip into the corner, leaping forearm and a top rope elbow drop that almost put away the Aussie. Davis tries to chop his way back in, but Kojima fires back in kind, only to get caught with a sit-down splash out of the corner, sending the tag team specialist to the outside, where he’s caught with a rare tope from Davis. Back inside, the sliding forearm into the corner gets Davis a near-fall, but Kojima’s right back in it, swatting away a clothesline before he dumped Davis with a brainbuster.

Davis somehow kicks out at two, and began another comeback, setting up for a powerbomb, scoring a sit-out version for a near-fall as he was having to dig deep against Kojima. The pull-up piledriver’s teased next, but Kojima kicks away as he found his own second wind, eventually clocking Davis with a Cozy lariat for the win. ***¼

Post-match, Kojima gets the mic and thanks the crowd, before “inducting” Davis into Bread Club.

El Phantasmo vs. Rocky Romero
Built from the fall-out of the British J Cup final, where Rocky was rather sour-faced to El Phantasmo’s tournament win, we’ve got this match that began with a rather Suzuki-gun-like jump start.

Phantasmo shrugs that off and catches Rocky with a tope, only to get dropkicked back to the outside as Romero hits a dive of his own as the front row saw a little more than they bargained for. A diving knee off the apron keeps the pace high, as Rocky takes the match into the ring… but Rocky can’t quite start with the Forever lariats as he’s instead met with a tiltawhirl backbreaker from ELP.

There’s a regular backbreaker next, as Phantasmo went for a slingshot senton… which he then turned into a handwalk-senton for a two-count. A chinlock keeps Rocky down, but he quickly turns it around, throwing Phantasmo into the buckles for a Bomaye knee as the pace was turned down, with the pair throwing some deliberate forearms. Rocky mocks ELP’s slingshotting senton as he slingshots in… for a boot wash to the face, before he put the boots to the rest of ELP, focusing on the legs in a bid to stop him from taking to the skies again. A springboard dropkick from Romero takes ELP off the ropes for another near-fall, before taking him into the corner for some chops… but Phantasmo uses those ropes to hit back with a springboard crossbody and a quebrada for a near-fall. More chops follow as the pair slugged it out some more, with a superkick from Phantasmo almost bringing things to a close.

Romero clings onto the ropes to prevent a top rope ‘rana, before he flew in with one off the top rope, following in with some Forever clotheslines as ELP was trapped in the corner. A rewind enziguiri looked to keep Rocky ahead, as did a big lariat and a running Sliced Bread… but ELP’s able to kick out at two, even if Andy Quildan seemed despondent by it! Phantasmo struck back with a superplex, rolling through into the whirlibird neckbreaker for a near-fall, before the senton bomb and moonsault connected as Phantasmo picked up the decisive win. Hey, the storyline may have been flimsy, but this match absolutely was not. A sort of come from behind win, but Phantasmo continues to build his momentum until… I don’t know. Another cruiserweight title shot? ***¾

Chris Ridgeway vs. Will Ospreay
Originally scheduled for September in Leamington Spa, Chris Ridgeway finally got his hands on a healthy Will Ospreay… and with Ridgeway having missed last week’s match at the Cockpit with injury, it was perhaps fate that we’d have a scare in this match too.

We start with some feinted kicks, but it’s Ridgeway who’s the early aggressor tripping Ospreay for an early leg grapevine as the match was taken to the mat. Back to their feet, Ridgeway stings Ospreay with some leg kicks as he looked to soften up Will’s legs – and stop him from flying as well. Duelling shoulder charges follow, but Ospreay grabs hold of a side headlock, only for Ridgeway to escape and almost get Sabu’d as a monkey flip nearly saw him land head first on the mat. Ospreay fakes out a dive… which opened up Ridgeway to attack him again, sending Ospreay scurrying with a series of feinted head kicks as Will was forced to collect himself. It didn’t work as Ospreay’s caught in a STF back inside, with Ridgeway really torquing on the neck of Ospreay before we got a rope break.

Chops follow as Ospreay began to fight back, following in with a handspring overhead kick before an over the top rope 619 and a Slingblade-like neckbreaker led to a near-fall. A springboard forearm keeps Ospreay ahead, before another springboard enziguiri was caught and turned into an ankle lock by Ridgeway. The head’s quickly targeted with a German suplex and an axe kick to the head, getting a near-fall… but Ospreay fought back with more chops, only to get caught out with a Dragon screw.

Ridgeway keeps up with kicks as Ospreay was caught in the ropes, before returning with an enziguiri for a near-fall… but Ridgeway is quickly back in as he looked for a Rainmaker, before Ospreay countered with a Ligerbomb. Somehow, Ridgeway’s back up with a PK as both men were left laying. Staggering back to their feet, Ridgeway’s throwing fists and feet to keep Ospreay staggered, but Will catches a triangle armbar as Ridgeway looked for a spectacular KO. It’s almost like Ospreay’s borrowing Hiromu’s D…

Ridgeway lifts him and stands on Ospreay’s head before Will pops up for a Rainmaker… clinging onto the arm for good measure. Another hook kick from Ridgeway catches Ospreay unawares, before Ridgeway countered a suplex into a rear naked choke on the mat. Ospreay backflips free, then tries a Euro clutch… only for Ridgeway to grab the hold again. Again, Ospreay fights out, standing up and taking Ridgeway onto the top rope… where things go south.

Ospreay got a break, then tries for a backflip kick… but he was too far out and landed on his head, injuring himself in the midsection on the landing. He manages to go back up for a superplex, but the roll through into something else gets countered with a rear naked choke as Ospreay quickly taps and heads to the back for medical attention. A real upset victory, and a hell of a showing for Ridgeway in a match that unfortunately was almost overshadowed by the injury. ****

Post-match, a shirtless Josh Bodom hit the ring and laid out Ridgeway, knocking him down with a Bliss Buster as he stole the spotlight.

RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki (c)
Our main event was a rematch from the Strong Style Evolved UK show in Altrincham, where Suzuki unseated Tomohiro Ishii. Via a victory against WALTER and some build on the Destruction tour, Ishii’s got his rematch, and a nice video package to set this up.

If you saw their match in Altrincham, you’ll very much know what to expect. Apart from the reverting back to Suzuki’s old music… We start out with back-and-forth elbows as a starter, before Suzuki connected with a big boot, only for a PK to miss as he sent himself sailing to the outside. There’s some mind games as Suzuki took his time getting back into the ring, which led to him suckering Ishii with a hanging armbar in the ropes… and then it’s time for some brawling around the Brixton Rec Centre. The curse of wired cameras – you can’t follow the action!

We eventually get a visual of Suzuki and Ishii in the crowd, with the pair of them duelling with chairshots that got Suzuki edging ahead there. Suzuki’s like a naughty boy as he grabs another chair from the crowd, but this time he’s disarmed as Chris Roberts took a spill in the process. Back in the ring, Suzuki wrenches away on Ishii’s fingers, before he grabbed hold of a chinlock as he tried to wear down his challenger. Suzuki rolls through a half crab and into an ankle lock as the leg was worked over. One rope break and a spot of fan intimidation later, Suzuki’s back on the leg, before Ishii tried to mount a comeback… except his chops were dwarved by Suzuki’s. Ow.

Suzuki’s back, stomping on the knee of Ishii, who manages to sneak in with a brainbuster as the bombs continued to be thrown. Chops sent Suzuki staggering backwards into the corner, but eventually he laughs it off with that maniacal laugh and connected with a THUD of a chop. He mocks the receipt before the Brixton Rec Centre heard chop after chop after chop after chop ring around its walls. It looked like Suzuki’s chops won out, as he trapped Ishii in the corner for even more of those buggers, before a snapmare, a PK and a grounded Kimura looked to have the former champion in even more trouble. Another kick to the back looked to set up Suzuki for a rear naked choke, but he let go a little too soon and switched up for a Gotch piledriver… but Ishii’s got plenty left in him and blocks the move.

Suzuki plays with Ishii, booting him in the head, which just prompts an exchange of elbows to the head. Yes, we’re back to those clonking strikes, before Ishii spat at Suzuki (who ate it up… literally). More elbows follow, before they upgrade to headbutts as they continue to hit and move… with that moving being both men nearly falling out of the ring! Another rear naked choke took Ishii back down to the mat, but yet again he’s able to escape a Gotch piledriver, this time slipping out and headbutting Suzuki down to the mat.

There’s another headbutt from Ishii, but he runs into a barrage of palm strikes before Suzuki yet again goes for the rear naked choke/Gotch piledriver combo… but yet again Ishii escapes, this time with a back body drop before he hit back with a German suplex and a running lariat for a near-fall. A sliding lariat follows, but Suzuki’s up again, before an enziguiri rocks Suzuki… who takes one more lariat before he’s picked up for a sheer-drop brainbuster… which proved to be enough for Ishii to regain the title! A fantastic, hard-hitting main event – one for me that felt a little below their prior match in Altrincham, but a worthy main event nevertheless. ****¼

We’ve got a pretty instant rematch for the British Heavyweight title, as New Japan’s Power Struggle show on November 3 will feature Minoru Suzuki trying to regain his title from Tomohiro Ishii… who’ll be facing David Starr less than a week later at Uprising at York Hall.

Looking back on previous Global Wars UK shows, while there’s always been a New Japan dominance of those shows, this year’s felt rather more “New Japan wins, LOL” than the rest. Discounting contracted New Japan guys (i.e. I wouldn’t count Sabre a Rev Pro guy because of the contract), only El Phantasmo and Chris Ridgeway left Brixton with a win under their belt – and you’d have to argue that year on year of this doesn’t do any favours for the “core” Rev Pro roster, no matter what it looks like in 2018.

This circles everything back to an ongoing debate about the state of Rev Pro’s title picture at the moment. We’ve talked about it in passing previously, but with the promotion’s top two titles held by New Japan guys, who largely are only in for the “quarterly” big shows, you’ve got a lot of shows with no titles on the line… or even in contention. Perhaps it’s because I’ve just finished reading the NITRO book, but to me it feels like if there is a plan for the “and then what” after the New Japan involvement in any of the title pictures, it’s not been put into place yet – which is quickly becoming a bit of a detriment to the “smaller” shows. Of course, the tie-up with New Japan does have its benefits for Rev Pro (such as being featured on some prominent cards), but when it’s at the cost of the majority of shows being held effectively exhibitions with nothing to build towards, there’ll eventually be a point where things will begin to suffer.

Watching this back, compared to being there live, these matches really felt quiet… We noticed this with the last Cockpit show, but the master volume levels on this show were again low, which meant that a lot of the crowd audio got lost and brought the show down a level. It’s still worth a watch, but as long as the surrounding questions about the remainder of the Rev Pro roster remain up in the air, how long will these New Japan dream matches continue to be a draw knowing that they’ll remain a tier above the main roster?