Three months on from their last visit, Rev Pro came back to Southampton with the return of Mark Haskins after over two years away.
We’re from the 1865 in Southampton, with the audio slightly higher than usual. Andy Quildan and Andy Simmonz are on commentary for what’s perhaps a lighter crowd than expected on the South Coast.
Sha Samuels vs. Rishi Ghosh
There’s some comedy early on as Rishi tries to intimidate Sha, but he instead ends up being given Sha’s jacket to try on… and that’s a cover as Sha unsights Ghosh and attacks him before the bell.
Headbutts from Rishi get him some measure of revenge, but Sha’s right back with a shoulder tackle before a kip-up and an enziguiri gets Ghosh back on his feet. A headbutt takes Sha outside, and after a brief game of cat and mouse, Rishi ends up catching a scarf… then a clothesline as Sha found a foothold in the match. A grounded chinlock is fought out of, but Sha drops Ghosh with a back elbow for a near-fall. The match heads outside from there, as Rishi’s thrown into a table before he’s dragged up to the bar, where Sha’s ask for a pint was eventually fulfilled as Rishi made his way back to the ring.
Rishi tries to steal some of it, so Sha just downs the pint before he’s caught with a forearm that left both men on the mat. Ghosh keeps up as he throws Sha from corner-to-corner, following up with a diving clothesline, then a dropkick in the corner for a near-fall. A cutter from Rishi’s good for another near-fall, but he’s quickly caught with a spinebuster as Sha started to get going once again… and it’s not long before the match ends as a strike exchange ended with Sha using referee Chris Roberts as a human shield, before rolling up Rishi into the ropes for the win. A pretty straightforward opener, with a cheap finish. Back to square one for Rishi, eh? **½
Shane Taylor vs. Dan Magee
Taylor’s been quite busy in Rev Pro in November, having appeared at the Cockpit and York Hall… but coming away with losses in each outing.
Taylor starts by decking Magee with a forearm, then with a back elbow as the American was making the most of the size differential. Magee tries to charge at Taylor, but gets lifted onto the apron before he’s slingshotted into a stunner as Taylor wasn’t going down easily. Or at all early on, as he absorbs some right hands before landing a lariat. A bodyslam leaves Magee in the middle of the ring, where a big splash flattened him for another two-count, before Magee finally got into the game as he trips Taylor off the ropes. Magee tries to fight back with more forearms, then with an enziguiri before he leapt in with a crossbody out of the corner for a near-fall.
A Koji Clutch followed from Magee, who trapped Taylor in the middle of the ring, forcing him to squirm into the ropes for a break. Taylor responds with a kick and a package piledriver… but Magee kicks out at two before a Fire Thunder driver earned Taylor the win. Pretty much a glorified squash for Taylor, as it seems that Magee’s back to “just being a body” for the time being. **½
Rev Pro British Women’s Championship: Kimber Lee vs. Jamie Hayter (c)
This marked the Rev Pro debut of Kimber Lee – but the former Abbey Laith didn’t get too big of a reaction from the sparse crowd it seemed.
Andy Q stumbled a little on commentary as he tried to say that Jamie Hayter had made this a title match, having originally been offered the bout as a non-title affair. We start with a handshake, before some grappling on the mat with hammerlocks, escapes and takedowns between the pair. The pair check each other’s kicks, which affected Hayter more for a spell before she pulled Lee down into a splits… which she’s used to.
Kimber Lee comes back with a jaw breaker before she ended up getting sent into the ropes… from which she comes back with headscissors and armdrags en route to a version of the Euro clutch for a near-fall. Hayter looks to mount a comeback as she kicks Kimber into the corner, following up with a neckbreaker through the ropes and some knees from the apron, before throwing Kimber back into the ring to pick up a near-fall. Clubbing forearms follow as Kimber’s taken into the corner for shoulder charges, where she’s caught with a Tarantula-like stretch in the corner before a bulldog out of the corner drew the challenger a near-fall. Lee follows up with the Axel Dieter Special, but Hayter rolls back to try and make Kimber Lee pin herself, as the pace remained somewhat deliberate and slow.
A flurry of chops from Hayter almost brought an enziguiri from Lee.. but the champion ducks and lands a Falcon arrow for a near-fall. Another barrage of strikes led to Kimber Lee hitting a roundhouse kick, then a German suplex… only for Hayter to respond with a German suplex to take Kimber into the corner. After getting back to their feet, the pair windmill at each other before duelling head kicks connect at the same time… Hayter stayed on her feet for long enough to land a front suplex, then a Shining Wizard for a near-fall.
Kimber Lee almost shocks Hayter with a sit-out powerbomb out of nowhere, then with a senton bomb… but Hayter rolls up Lee from the cover and gets a near-fall. Another head kick stuns Hayter, who has to fight out of another powerbomb before hitting a second Falcon Arrow onto the knees for the win. Technically this was fine, but the sparse crowd didn’t make much noise (at least, that which could be picked up on the VOD), which in turn dragged it down a little. **¾
HxC (Dan Head & James Castle) vs. Team Whitewolf (Carlos Romo & A-Kid)
Billed as the rubber match after the side’s prior matches earlier in the year, and we start with Head and A-Kid taking each other into the corner from a rather terse opening spell.
A headlock takedown has Head on the mat, but he’s back up and quickly back down with a dropkick as Castle tagged in… and found similar results until he pulled A-Kid back by the trunks and into a forearm to the lower back. Not to worry though, A-Kid manages to hit back, at least until he’s caught in some grounded headscissors that he manages to escape as Dan Head rushed in… and quickly got dispatched by Carlos Romo.
Romo and Kid take HxC outside for a pair of topes, but the Spaniards are on the back foot as HxC resumed double-teaming, with A-Kid again on the defensive, taking a snap suplex from Head for a near-fall. They swap frequent tags, but it all backfired as Kid scored a pop-up dropkick before tagging in Romo, who took down Castle with a ‘rana, only for Head to duck an enziguiri. Another flurry of offence from HxC leaves Romo on the mat, right as the bad guys started to utilise some old school stuff – namely enticing A-Kid into the ring so they could double-team Romo. A backbreaker/elbow drop combo gets a near-fall, before Head returned to ground Romo in a chinlock. He gets free and eventually pushes away Castle, before a Shining Wizard leaves both men on the mat ahead of a pair of tags.
A-Kid leaps in off the top into a cross body on Head, before dumping Castle with a German suplex. Castle heads outside and is met with a PK off the apron as A-Kid looked to turn the match around, doing so with a superkick and a Northern Lights suplex to Head that almost brought the match to an end. Double-teams from Whitewolf puts Head down after another German suplex and set of superkicks.
Just like that, HxC turn it around as they set up for the double-double stomp to Whitewolf, before an inverted Tongan Twist drew a near-fall on Romo. An attempted cutter from Romo’s blocked, but he’s back in with a neckbreaker before A-Kid tags back in… as does Castle, who instantly runs into a chop and a rolling armbar… but Castle fights out of it and stomps his way free. Castle charges into the ropes, knocking Romo off the apron as he ends up being caught briefly in a Rings of Saturn before a lariat put paid to any attempted fightback. All four men end up in the ring trading blows for a spell, but HxC looked to have gotten back in as a Spanish Fly and a moonsault seemed to have Castle down, only for Head to break up the cover.
Head tries to get the win, holding up Kid in a sidewalk slam that Castle assisted with using a double stomp for a near-fall, before a burning hammer from Castle connects… Head’s attempt at a swandive headbut to Kid’s countered with a cutter from Romo, and once Kid composes himself, he measures up and scores with a Golden Triangle moonsault to the outside. All that’s left is a high/low… but Castle kicks out, before another cross armbar from A-Kid got the submission. By the end the crowd were really into this, but a lot of this match felt like it was in a vacuum, with momentum swinging seemingly on the drop of a hat. ***½
Josh Bodom vs. TK Cooper
If there’s ever been a case of differing trajectories, this is it. Josh Bodom’s on a collision course with Satoshi Kojima it seems, while TK Cooper’s been fairly rudderless since his “undefeated streak” feud with Adam Brooks petered out.
Bodom’s the early aggressor as he kicks TK into the corner, lighting him up with chops before a leg lariat got Cooper a two-count against the run of play. He followed up with some kicks of his own before a Jerry Lawler-like fist drop just got a one-count on the newly-minted heavyweight as this bout seemingly bored Andy Boy silly. A clothesline from Bodom gets an arrogant one-count for him, before he started to toy with TK, chopping him to the mat before a standing moonsault found its mark once Josh had… mocked Chuck Mambo for some reason. TK hits back with a headbutt that put Bodom down and gave him a chance to get back into things, with some punches and boots keeping Bodom on the defensive.
TK nails a running Meteora and an axe kick for a near-fall, before a springboard moonsault a la ELP just lands in the knees of Bodom. Cooper’s sent to the outside as he tried to recover from that, as he was then forced to counter out of a Bliss Buster, before he switched places and draped Bodom across the rope for a springboard corkscrew legdrop. A Dazzler kick from Bodom takes TK outside again, where he followed him with an Orihara moonsault. Back inside, a rebound German led to a powerbomb, then a springboard roundhouse for a near-fall… but Bodom takes too long to follow-up off the top rope, as he gets caught with a Spanish Fly. Smartly, Bodom rolls to the outside, where TK hits him with a low-pe, but Cooper gets blindsided on his way back into the ring as a Bliss Buster lands for the win. This started out pretty slow, but quickly developed into a nice little contest, with Bodom’s resurgeance as a heavyweight looking to get some steam. ***¼
Ahead of the next match, Michael Oku – better known to some as the OJMO – came out and said that he wanted to be a regular in Rev Pro… but he needs to prove himself capable of being a Contender. The soliloquy ended with Oku issuing a challenge to the man who beat him on World of Pro Wrestling… someone who just so happened to be undefeated.
Michael Oku vs. Great O-Kharn
There was no Gideon Grey with O-Kharn tonight, and it seemed the lack of guidance was going to pay early on as Oku took O-Kharn into the corner before landing a dropkick.
Oku took his time to follow up, and he just gets blasted through with a shoulder tackle as the former Young Lion settled in trading right hands. It’s a rather slow-paced, methodical contest, which next saw Oku try to kick his way back into the match, scoring with a missile dropkick. A low dropkick has O-Kharn on his back, which went rather unheralded, before a single leg crab is quickly broken via the ropes.
Oku tries for the single leg crab again, but O-Kharn shoves him away and scores with a flapjack… then another low dropkick as a body splash nearly put Oku away. O-Kharn begins to choke Oku with his wrist tape before the match was taken to the outside, where Oku’s posted as the pair ended up trading shows in the crowd. Using the ear, O-Kharn takes Oku back into the ring for some Mongolian chops that almost end the match.
A hot shot gets a similar two-count for O-Kharn, who looked to kick Oku in the chest… which just fires up the new contender as clotheslines came from the youngster, eventually decking O-Kharn with a leaping knee. Remember when he couldn’t be taken off his feet? Another attempt at the single leg crab follows, but O-Kharn escaped and put on a full Boston crab as Oku was forced to reach for the bottom rope for freedom.
From there, O-Kharn looks for a claw-chokeslam, but Oku rolls him up for a near-fall, then goes back to the single leg crab… only for O-Kharn to shove him away before landing a clothesline. Things get a little rough from there, as an Irish whip takes Oku chest-first into the corner, before a claw chokeslam gets the win. A fairly flat match that did a fair bit for Oku in terms of establishing himself as resilient… but this match did no favours for O-Kharn’s “dominator” routine outside of the result. **
MK McKinnan vs. Mark Haskins
Making his return to Rev Pro after two-plus years away, Mark Haskins was facing a man whose career was picking up some steam. And hey, who doesn’t love the Crobot theme?
We’ve a measured start as the pair took it to the mat, with headlock takedowns and escapes, as neither man looked to be able to chain anything together. MK tries to shock Haskins with a roll-up, but that only gets a near-fall before he followed up with a grounded armbar. That hold’s escaped as Haskins takes it into the corner, before he caught MK with a Stretch Muffler… switching it into a STF as MK ended up close enough to the ropes to force a break.
They’re back in the corner as Haskins tries to cheapshot MK at the break, but instead he’s caught as the pair mirrored their strikes en route to a staredown… and a high five that quickly turned nasty as Haskins pulled down MK into a kick to the arm. McKinnan got free of a knuckle lock and sent Haskins outside, where he followed up with a leaping knee off the apron and some kicks as they fought around ringside.
Chops come next too, before Haskins returned to the ring and scored with his misdirection dive as he caught MK by the stage. We’re back into the crowd as Haskins took someone’s seat so he could chop MK some more, following up with some more around ringside before clearing a path so he could score a running dropkick towards the apron. Back in the ring, Haskins keeps up the offence, snapmaring MK to the mat for a series of kicks, following up with some arm work as MK had it dropped across the top rope, sending him crashing to the floor. Haskins keeps the focus on the arn for a while longer, sending MK into the ropes for a knee to the gut that gets a near-fall, before Haskins kept up on the left arm, dropping knees onto the limb.
MK finally hits back, chopping Haskins with his good arm into the corner, before rolling the former PROGRESS champion through on the mat. He ducks a neckbreaker, but gets caught with a boot to the outside as McKinnan followed in with a tope, only for Haskins to head back inside and counter back with a PK on the apron. MK responds sort-of in kind with a tope con giro, following up back in the ring with a missile dropkick for a near-fall. Another attempt at a PK gets countered with a roll-up by Haskins as the pair looked to throw everything they had at each other. Haskins tries a roll-through death valley driver, but MK slips out and into a Tazmission-like choke. A knee from MK just propels Haskins into the ropes for the roll-through death valley driver, but he can’t follow-up with even a pinning attempt.
Haskins pops back up as a standing ten count almost had them both KO’d, with the pair fighting back to their fight with forearms. A feinted punch clocks MK, who then gets rolled through for a Sharpshooter… but McKinnan’s able to make it to the ropes for a clean break. That’s followed up with a flying stomp off the top rope, before Haskins bridges into an armbar on the same limb he’d targeted throughout the match… releasing the hold so he could dump MK with a pumphandle driver for yet another near-fall.
A series of knees from Haskins takes MK back into the corner, before he’s pulled out for another pumphandle driver… but MK rolls through for a near-fall, before Haskins looked to reapply the Sharpshooter. Instead, MK sweeps the leg and drags Haskins to the mat for another Tazmission, but Haskins can get free by targeting the arm again, before a single-arm DDT looked to lead into another armbar attempt, only for MK to crucifix Haskins out of nowhere for the win! A solid match, with McKinnan getting a little more credibility (in the Rev Pro sphere) by beating someone of Haskins’s stature – but again, the crowd reactions throughout dampened this. ***¾
Overall, Rev Pro’s latest trip to Southampton was a solid affair… but one that flattered to deceive. Much has been said of how this show drew a low crowd (with some pegging the number at around 80 paid), which in turn led to a muted series of reactions: one that made the show seem less special than it could have been. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation – do you put on big shows to attract crowds, or do you build up the crowds before you put on the big shows? As it stands, the most this show will have produced are footnotes in ongoing storylines – with no storyline development in sight.
For purists, this’ll have been an enjoyable card… but if you’re looking for more than just decent matches, this may be one to pass over.