Debuts and returns were the order of the day as PAC made the trip to the south coast for Rev Pro’s latest outing in Southampton.
We’re at the 1865 in Southampton… the two Andys are on commentary… Shay Purser is back as referee, and hey, we’ve got Generic Number Three (Dan Barnsdall) back as ring announcer after he missed the US show.
Kenneth Halfpenny vs. Shaun Jackson
Billed rather harshly as some as the “ticket taker match”, this marked the Contenders debuts of two Rev Pro trainees who’d been utilised elsewhere.
Jackson apparently debuted in 2016, and has been a regular on the non-taped shows Rev Pro do… and he started off with a double-leg takedown as he had Halfpenny scurrying into the ropes early on. An overhead wristlock takes Halfpenny down as Andy Quildan scolded Simmons for bringing up their past, all while Halfpenny continued to trade holds. A series of pinning attempts brought some applause, as did Jackson’s SANADA-esque double leapfrog dropkick before he went all Hulk Hogan, brother, with a legdrop. Halfpenny nearly nicks it with a small package, before a Cobra Twist gets countered with a hiptoss as Jackson runs in with a clothesline for another near-fall.
Halfpenny fought back with a spinebuster-like throw into the corner and a Bunker Buster… and I’m seeing a heavy New Japan influence in these guys here, even if they’re straying a little from the “Young Lion” model of having a basic moveset. Forearm exchanges don’t seem to land with the crowd, as Jackson had to elbow away Halfpenny, only to get caught with a neat pumphandle roll-up as Halfpenny took the win. Some decent stuff here, but there’s a long way to go if they’re to be regulars on these shows. **½
Dan Magee & Kurtis Chapman vs. Brendan White & Gabriel Kidd
Billed as Contenders vs. Graduates, this marked the third UK-show in a row that White was on. He’s getting a run, even if he’s yet to get a win… Kurtis Chapman was able to get his gear back, while Gabriel Kidd unfortunately still only has one D on his entrance graphics.
Kidd looked to work Magee on the mat, but the “graduate” Magee was a step ahead as he kept catching Kidd in full nelsons before he got dropkicked away. In comes White and Chapman for a real “opposite end of the spectrum” duel, which boiled down to Chapman using his speed to evade the Welshman.
White overpowers him, thanks to some assistance from Kidd, but things turn around when Magee gets in – which they probably should when you consider their experience levels here. Sssh, let’s not mention everyone’s work outside of Rev Pro! Magee lands a legdrop heel-first for a near-fall on Kidd, before White came back and slung Magee and Chapman with a stacked up German suplex… sending Kurtis flipping across the ring. NICE! Chapman breaks up a crossface by White with an axe kick, before Magee’s scoop slam/drop gets a near-fall. Apart from “inverted pedigree” I have no way to describe that, but it barely wins matches, so eh… Kidd comes closer with a lariat that Chapman barely broke up with a flying stomp, as the Graduates continue to fly, before Magee’s pumphandle Go To Sleep and Chapman’s flying lungblower got the win. A nice, competitive match, although I can already see how some of the newer Contenders are already threatening to overshadow the previous generation. ***
Chris Brookes vs. MK McKinnan vs. El Phantasmo
This was originally meant to have been El Phantasmo vs. Kid Lykos, but an injury to Lykos (which led to his retirement being announced days later) was the cue to ELP being added to an impromptu rematch from Bristol…
Cue an ELP promo to address this, putting Southampton over Bristol, while Brookes gets on the crowd’s bad side by heeling on Southampton. MK decides to split the difference and accept the three-way… and we’re off to the races with another falls count anywhere outing. I spy Beano and Danny Jones by the merch tables as the match was proving to be rather tricky for commentary to call. Phantasmo gets thrown into a gear box, before MK just whacked Brookes with a full bin… and I’m getting flashbacks to the WWF Hardcore title matches of old. All we need is Rev Pro in a ball pool and we’re sold, and we probably might have commentary that can keep up beyond Andy Q calling a kick-out “because he sees a dustbin flying”.
They head outside as MK and Brookes fight on the streets as I now get flashbacks to Lucha Forever. Commentary hilariously tries to pad for time, calling what they can’t see as we see Brookes sneaking in through a side door, with the match eventually getting back to the ringside area. ELP breaks into his usual stride against MK, only to get cut-off by Brookes as the usual three-way break-up of pins became de rigeur. Brookes turns MK into a makeshift Lykos with an elevated lungblower to Phantasmo for a near-fall, before MK turned into a step-stool as ELP went in for a step-up ‘rana to Brookes off the top. Phantasmo shows he watched some of the Janela show with a nice rope-walk with Brookes on his back, going flying with a death valley driver before putting Brookes away with a moonsault. A hell of a finish for ELP, who’s back to building up momentum after losing to PAC last time out. ***½
Josh Bodom & Sha Samuels vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
Considering Aussie Open have a tag title match in a little under a month, you’d have to think this is something of a tune-up… but I’d also not count against an upset here.
Apparently after the New York show, Aussie Open were attacked by Suzuki-gun – except if you watched the PPV live like us, you missed it because they cut away too soon. Whoops! Aussie Open dominated this one early, but the match degenerated into a more even affair with ebbs and flows between the two teams. We’ve got the usual stuff with Fletcher being in peril, bullied by Sha and Bodom for stretches of the match before Kyle was able to dump Bodom with a Michinoku driver.
The tide turned a little when Davis gets in, despite Bodom’s attempt to exchange fire with the Aussie as the former cruiserweight champion ends up taking a double-team powerbomb for a near-fall. A Bodom Breaker looked to cause an upset, before a dropkick-assisted death valley driver ended up getting turned into a small package that nearly out Sha away. The Aussies continue to rebound with a double-team Go To Sleep on the outside to Bodom… then another to Sha on the inside as an assisted Aussie Arrow nearly led to the win. Sha’s back with a spinebuster before he went up top for a moonsault to the floor… good God, I’ll never not be stunned by that.
The aftermath of that left Fletcher open for a Bliss Buster and a kick-assisted Widowmaker – tagged as the Winning Combination here – but it didn’t get the W… and once Bodom accidentally laid out Sha with a roundhouse kick, it’s pretty elementary as the Aussies pushed ahead and beat Sha with a Fidget Spinner. A heck of a contest, but can the Aussies manage to unseat the tag team champions at York Hall? They’re certainly building momentum… ***½
After the match, Kyle pushes their tag title shot next month… while Mark Davis promised to take the titles from the “cowards”.
Bobbi Tyler vs. Emi Sakura
This was Sakura’s Rev Pro debut, and she brought her love of Queen with her…
The research was… not strong with this one, as commentary called her DDT Ironman Heavymetal championship a possible “record breaker” (just the 209 reigns short of the actual record!), but Sakura let her in ring do the talking here. Literally, because commentary went silent for a spell here! Tyler shows off some neck bridges as she’s taken down by Sakura… who applauds, then kicks the bridge away. There’s plenty of playfulness as Bobbi got back into it with a cross armbreaker, before Emi burst into some Queen…
A butterfly backbreaker has Tyler in trouble ahead of some Bohemian Rhapsody, which this crowd didn’t cotton onto. A Romero special gives the Andys a chance to plug their podcast, before a Vader Bomb Elbow from Sakura missed. Emi finally lands it, after a Vader Bomb Stomp for a near-fall, before she cracked Tyler with a double-handed chop. Sakura looks to keep up the hard hits, but she’s met with a superkick for a near-fall, before Emi came back with a moonsault for the win. That surprises me, considering how rarely she’s over here, but this was one of the best women’s matches in Rev Pro’s recent history – helped a lot by Sakura’s experience. ***
Paul Robinson vs. PAC
This was Robinson’s first match in Rev Pro in over five years, because of… reasons. It’ll be interesting to see if, or indeed, how he tones down his usual nasty bastard against against another bastard.
Commentary’s continuing to build up a PAC/Ospreay rematch as the Geordie laughed off Robinson’s aggression. Robinson tried to make a dent early, but he just gets popped up into a flapjack by PAC, who again looked to rile up the crowd… thankfully not targeting kids this time. Robinson’s dropkick and a tope helps him take PAC outside, following up with a spear back inside for a near-fall… but arguing with the ref just allows PAC back into it. There’s some back and forth between PAC and someone in the crowd, which doesn’t come across on audio. It did nearly open it up for PAC to lose to a roll-up as he continued to antagonise the crowd.
A reverse ‘rana from Robinson dropped PAC awkwardly, leading to a very-delayed near-fall. He keeps the upper hand though, until he slipped going for a Quebrada as PAC gets his knees up on the second attempt… then drilled him with a Ligerbomb before the Rings of Saturn led to an eventual rope break. Robinson manages to avoid a superplex and respond with a Cheeky Nandos, following that up with a Spanish Fly for a near-fall, before a Robinson special misses, with PAC coming right back in with a superkick.
From there, it’s elementary as PAC lands a 450 splash to the back before the Rings of Saturn forced the submission. A fun main event, even if you probably saw the finish coming from a mile off. ***¾
This was perhaps Rev Pro’s best outing in Southampton yet, at least in terms of the bell-to-bell, but somehow this felt like a flat show. Much like the rest of Rev Pro’s non-London shows, the matches linking into wider storylines were more happenstance than anything else, and with the promotion heading to Bristol in a few weeks, it looks like we’re in for more matches to build momentum for York Hall rather than anything that’ll keep the locals going back.