Portsmouth were treated to a stacked card from Rev Pro over the August Bank Holiday, as the promotion headed back to its roots with an awe-inspiring main event.
With York Hall and the Cockpit shows taking precedence, these Portsmouth shows have had a tendency to be swept under the carpets. In February we had Pete Dunne take on Penta el Zero M in what was Dunne’s penultimate appearance for Rev Pro (to date!), whilst May’s show was headlined by Rishi Ghosh against Davey Boy Smith Jr. Compare that to August: where Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay is your main event, and you can probably see why we’re cherry-picking!
Andy Quildan and Andy Simmonz are your commentators at the Guildhall… and we start with Andy Q swearing, before a long period of technical issue-enforced commentary silence.
Contenders (Kurtis Chapman & Josh Wall) vs. All Day Swerve (Ryan Smile & Shane Strickland)
Kurtis has fans! Or I’m guessing family, judging by how he was mobbed at ringside… Chaman goes straight for Smile at the bell, hitting a suplex for a two-count before Josh Wall came in to use Kurtis as a human battering ram, as these Contenders are want to do.
Smile quickly comes back as the All Day Swerve pairing use their speed to outfox the trainees, with Strickland planting Chapman with a roll-up RKO. Wall takes a bunch of knees as he’s held down for a double stomp before Smile starts targeting Josh with body blues – cueing some jabs at Wall’s conditioning.
Strickland’s able to keep Wall at bay, as is Smile, who opts to throw a bunch of stomps in the corner before Wall fights out of the wrong corner, and finally gets the tag in to Chapman… who instantly gets dumped with a Flatliner for a near-fall. Some more strikes keep Chapman away, at least until he snaps back with some headscissors out of the corner that dropped Strickland on his head.
Tags out bring in Wall and Smile, with Josh landing a double stomp before they traded kicks. A forearm and superkick to the back of the head gets a near-fall for Wall, before Chapman spikes another one with a DDT, this time with Strickland making the save. Smile runs into another forearm as Chapman throws in a brainbuster ahead of a powerbomb from Wall as a double superkick almost gets the upset.
That’s followed up with a somersault plancha from Chapman, before Strickland followed him outside for a back suplex onto the apron, as Wall’s tornado DDT onto the flow looked to complete the set… except Smile decided to throw in some topes too! Smile’s trash talk angers Chapman into another fightback, but he’s caught by Strickland as All Day Swerve pepper him with kicks and knees. Wall tries to fly in, but he clumsily gets an RKO as Chapman eats a double-stomp-assisted powerbomb for the win. A fun opener as the Contenders take another loss, whilst Strickland and Smile get back on track after their loss to the Briscoes earlier in the month. ***½
Mike Bailey vs. Jeff Cobb
Well, if you’re like me and fed up with spamming kicks, a little bit of “being thrown around” ought to fix things! It’s rather nonchalant to begin with, as Cobb sweeps the leg (I see what you did there…) before making a beeline for a waistlock.
Bailey tries the same, but he barely gets Cobb off his feet. I fear lots of kicks after that crack at wrestling didn’t work. Yep, sure enough, after flipping out of a back suplex, Bailey kicks away, and takes Cobb to the outside with a pop-up dropkick, ahead of a baseball slide dropkick through the ropes.
Cobb takes some more kicks off the apron, only to catch a moonsault and throw up Bailey into a faceplant onto the apron. That turned things in Cobb’s way as he was able to lay into “Speedball” with clotheslines, before using his strength to hoist up Bailey for a stalling suplex… which somehow gets countered into a small package for a near-fall!
It’s back to the kicks next, then a running corkscrew press as Bailey turned the match in his favour, with kicks outlasting some forearms from Cobb, who gets staggered… but not put down! Bailey backdrops out of a powerbomb and follows with, yup, another series of kicks. The shooting star knees miss, as Cobb catches Bailey with the swinging Regalplex – or the Athletic-plex, for those who like the branding!
A bearhug sees Bailey reach for the ropes, but Cobb breaks it with an overhead belly-to-belly, before a People’s Moonsault is blocked by Bailey’s knees. Speedball can’t capitalise as he’s dropped with a flapjack, then a standing shooting star press for another near-fall, only for Bailey to flip out of a wheelbarrow and return with more kicks.
Cobb hits back straight away with a deadlift German, before teasing a Finlay roll off the middle rope… Bailey escapes with an enziguiri off the apron, before taking Cobb down with a springboard rana. Those shooting star knees miss yet again though, allowing Cobb to hit a headbutt, then the Tour of the Islands as Speedball ate the loss. An enjoyable outing, with Cobb doing his part well to absorb and thwart those kicks! ***¼
Dave Mastiff vs. Jack Swagger
Just like in WCPW, there was none of this “FKA” nonsense for Swagger, who had his old WWE song here. For some reason Swagger heads into the crowd, but the bad lighting means we barely see him as he sits amongst the people.
When we finally get going, Mastiff shoves Swagger into the corner, before we get some big lad shoulder tackles, then mounted punches from Swagger, who sent Mastiff to the mat for an early Swagger Bomb attempt… except Mastiff got up and just overwhelmed the former champion with a body attack.
Mastiff mocks Swagger, but he takes his time in following up as commentary tried to rewrite recent history. Big Dave takes Swagger into the corner for some body blows, before shrugging off an attempted fight back as Swagger’s firmly on the defensive. They exchange German suplex attempts, but instead Swagger gets a back body drop before unleashing with clotheslines to a cornered Mastiff.
A big powerslam finally gets Big Dave down, as does a running clothesline… before Swagger counters a counter as his Swagger Bomb attempt is switched into an ankle lock. Mastiff escapes and squashes him with a running crossbody for a near-fall. Mastiff then steal the ankle lock, only for Swagger to counter it into one of his own… except Mastiff grabs the apron to force the break.
With the referee distracted fixing the ring skirt, Mastiff pokes Swagger in the eyes, then hits a back senton to nearly win it. Swagger’s sent into the corner as Mastiff sets up for the cannonball… and actually connects… or did he? Swagger moved away and managed to grab the leg, forcing a quick submission with the ankle lock! This was fine, I guess; it was the result the crowd wanted to see, but this match felt a little slow and uncertain at parts. **¼
Revolution Pro Wrestling British Cruiserweight Championship: Bubblegum vs. David Starr vs. Josh Bodom (c)
Both these guys have had singles losses against Bodom earlier in the year, so why not have a triple threat? At least David Starr waited patiently to let Andy reel through his nicknames before climbing into the ring!
We start with all three teasing after each other, but rather than double-team it seemed everyone wants a piece of everyone else. Everyone switches away from waistlocks as a double German suplex was teased, before we switch into a load of roll-ups and headlock takedowns. Finally the challengers look to double-team Bodom, dropping him with a pair of forearms before Starr and Bubblegum have a fun exchange that ends with an Omega-like Finlay roll/moonsault combo from Starr.
Bodom comes in and levels Starr with kicks and forearms, before an inverted slam took Bodom onto the apron. I think Andy Simmonz confused his Americans here, or was pre-occupied with North Korea as he mentions Guam again, only for Starr to take a handspring back elbow as Bubblegum tried to capitalise.
Eventually Bodom outwits the challengers, knocking Bubblegum off the top rope with an enziguiri, allowing Bodom to get back into the match with a series of chops and kicks, this time targeting Starr, landing a running corkscrew press for a two-count. Bubblegum returns with some knees, but Bodom sends a dropkick from Starr his way to keep the match one-on-one. The Bodom Breaker/Lumbar Check gets the champ a near-fall, which prompts a Starr comeback with some wild chops ahead of the Violence Party!
Bodom quickly switches around, and avoids a DDT on the apron just in time for Bubblegum to return and send Bodom flying with a back body drop to the outside. That leads to a dive as Bubblegum crashes into Bodom, before Starr’s tope wipes out Bubblegum, just in time for Bodom to head up with a moonsault off the top!
Back inside, Bubblegum flips out of a Bodom Breaker and hits a facebuster for a near-fall as Starr broke up the cover – and that leads to fisticuffs between the two challengers, with a Product Recall from Starr almost winning him the title, only for Bodom’s running shooting star press to break it up. We’re back to Bodom and Starr, at least until a forearm knocked the American to the outside, allowing Bubblegum a chance to capitalise once more.
Starr recovers and dumps Bodom and Bubblegum with apron DDTs, but they retaliate with a pair of superkicks before Bubblegum ate a reverse ‘rana. Bubblegum tries to come back off the top rope, but Starr catches him and nails a Blackheart Buster… only for Bodom to roll him up with a handful of tights as Starr went for the cover… and Bodom successfully retains. Well, that was all kinds of fun! Parts of it were tricky to keep track of, but this was entertaining – and laid the seeds for the David Starr attitude changes that’d follow. ****
Rob Lias vs. Sha Samuels
I don’t think Lias is quite at the level to be used as a “if you want to be half as good as…” kind of advert for the Rev Pro school! This wasn’t the no-DQ outing that Sha originally issued the challenge for back at the Cockpit…
Sha starts by dragging Lias into the ring, instantly throwing him into the corners for fun. Commentary tries to explain the history between Samuels and Lias, and can’t figure out why the crowd backed Sha in all of this. Lias tries to run away, but Samuels catches him on the stage, dragging him towards commentary and then throwing him back down the mini stairway.
Back in the ring, Lias takes a spinebuster before he cowers away from Sha’s beatdown in the corner. Samuels shoves the ref away, then takes down Lias again… another referee shove-off just shows Sha’s frustration, and that gave the rookie Rob a chance to throw him to the outside, through the ring post. Lias keeps raking the eyes, which doesn’t get punished by the ref, as Lias almost gets the win with a kneeling DDT. Somehow, I don’t think I’d be taking my finishing move from Yujiro Takahashi’s playbook!
Lias keeps up on Sha, throwing him outside repeatedly in search of a count-out, before an attempt at a running knee on the apron just gets Rob powerbombed back onto the edge of the ring. Sha responds with charges in the corner and a Michinoku driver for a near-fall, before using his braces to whip Lias’ back… which somehow isn’t a DQ.
The ref disarms Sha, which means he doesn’t see Lias kick Samuels low, as an implant DDT gets him the rather shady win. This was alright as a starting block in this feud, especially since Lias was chased to the back! You got the feeling that not much of the crowd knew of the feud, which perhaps shows how niche those Cockpit shows are? **½
Throughout the match, commentary seemed to be more keen on banter than the match itself… with Simmonz taking pot shots at other-Andy for not being verified on Twitter, of all things!
Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
We’ve a special non-title main event here – and their first meeting in 2017 after they spent what felt like all of 2016 being paired against each other. Will caught Andy nodding his head to Sabre’s music, and mocked him accordingly…
Sabre starts by taking Ospreay into the ropes, before going in search of an arm or a leg as the pair looked to pick a body part. With the greatest of ease, Sabre escapes a wristlock, then keeps the match by the ropes as Ospreay does the mock-clean break a la Okada. That doesn’t go down well with Sabre, who yanks down Ospreay’s leapfrog and goes straight into a bow-and-arrow lock, only for the pace to be cranked up as Sabre’s sent to the outside for a faux dive.
A dropkick to the head rocks Sabre, as does a back suplex, but Ospreay’s quickly cut-off as he tries to whip Sabre into the ropes, getting met with a low dropkick as he tried to counter a reversal with a handspring in the ropes. Sabre’s viciousness appears as he unloads with uppercuts, then torques away on Ospreay with armbars… including one as he caught a standing moonsault as Ospreay thought he’d broken free.
Sabre traps Ospreay’s arm between his legs and snaps away on it, before unloading with some uppercuts that seem to rile Ospreay… who fights back with some forearms as they go toe to toe, ending with a no-hands springboard overhead kick to take Sabre down! After a jawbreaker, Sabre’s sent into the corner as a Shibata-esque diving dropkick connects, following by a standing shooting star press as Ospreay gets a two-count.
Will springboards up for a flying forearm, as he then calls for a Rainham-maker… but Sabre counters into a mounted guillotine choke, before monkeying around Ospreay and into a double armbar! Somehow, Will escapes and turns it into a suplex, and starts another fightback with a series of kicks to Sabre’s chest.
Except Sabre just invites more of them, and hits back before pulling Ospreay down into position for a big PK. More strikes follow, ending with an enziguiri from Ospreay… before Sabre’s misdirection allows him to trap Will in an Octopus hold. Sabre wrenches away in the hold, trying to force Ospreay to sink to the ground, but instead we get a rope break.
Sabre tries to throw in a Dragon suplex, but instead he’s met with a lifting reverse DDT for a near-fall, before a Rainham-maker attempt is turned into a prawn hold for another two-count from the champion. A Cheeky Nando’s follows as Sabre tried to charge in the corner – but Ospreay can’t capitalise as he’s caught in a choke before clipping Zack with a Pele kick!
However, just like that, an OsCutter’s caught and turned into a cross armbreaker in the middle of the ring, before turning it into an omoplata with a series of elbows to nearly force the stoppage… but Ospreay fought into a triangle armbar, before Sabre escaped a powerbomb counter and applied an Octopus hold. Somehow, Ospreay escapes that and lands a Rainmaker – holding onto the wrist, a la Okada – before hitting the Rainham-Maker for another two-count! An OsCutter follows, and that’s plenty enough for Will to beat the reigning champion! That was a marvelous main event – these two always work well together, and this was no different! Will this lead anywhere? Well, given Rev Pro’s programming Ospreay against Zack Gibson, probably not quite yet… but it’s a good feather in the cap of the Aerial Assassin! ****½
Live in Portsmouth 9 is a show that’ll likely escape everyone’s radar – but the Cruiserweight three-way and the main event are matches that you need to go out of your way to see. The storylines may not be obvious, but these little pieces in the puzzle are part of the bigger picture – one that we’re all waiting to see completed!