Rev Pro’s biggest card of the summer saw the conclusion of David Starr’s quest for control of the company – but was overshadowed by events elsewhere on the show.
A sold-out York Hall played host to the warm-up for the following day’s New Japan Royal Quest show, complete with a contract signing for the Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada match on that show in the hurried-together pre-show. That doesn’t make tape here, nor does the LA Dojo vs. Rev Pro Not-Contenders trios match as we open with a hard camera shot that’s very well focused on the ring ropes… and not much else.
We’re not going to dissect “that” incident too much, nor pass judgement, since there’s been a tonne of podcasts covering it. That being said, this show took three weeks to hit VOD, thanks in part to the controversy, you’d imagine, along with the promotion having to re-do commentary, which comes from Kevin Kelly and Andy Boy Simmonz.
Shaun Jackson vs. Gabriel Kidd
It’s Jackson’s biggest test to date, as Kidd’s about to head off to the LA Dojo, whose shirt he sports here as you could perhaps read that he thinks he’s above this.
Kidd’s all over Jackson early, working the arm before he moved to a cravat to try and twist Jackson’s head off. Things get a little tetchy as palm strikes were exchanged ahead of Jackson taking down Kidd, but Gabe’s back with a wristlock, then a headlock as whatever that background discussion was becoming mightily distracting.
Kidd slaps Jackson silly before a shoulder charge gave Jackson his chance to do the double leapfrog/dropkick deal, as it was the “homegrown” Jackson who began to fight back. Stomps keep Kidd down ahead of a near-fall, before a chop battle broke out between the pair. More chops see Kidd push ahead, following up with a chinlock on the mat as Jackson looked to be almost out of it.
Another chop riles up Jackson, but his chops get blocked as Kidd remained aggressive, slamming him for a near-fall. Jackson lands a suplex after a struggle, but it’s nowhere near enough as he looked to catch Kidd with the roll-through into a Fisherman’s suplex that Jackson had been using as a finisher. Kidd kicks out and comes back with more shots, before a shoulder tackle led to a Boston crab for the submission. A pretty definitive win for Kidd, who’ll be heading to LA for the next step of his wrestling career… what he’ll be like on his return is scaring me to be honest. He’s got the tools already, and Kidd could be a big star. **¾
Rob Lias vs. TK Cooper
This storyline’s largely been playing out at the Cockpit, with Lias taking the last strike as he laid out TK with a brick in the weeks before this show.
The one “winner” of the audio issues is that the crowd pokes through more than usual. Like Arn Furious, as his hatred of Rob Lias was heard loud and clear. Lias cuts a promo beforehand, just to make sure you knew he was the one to boo. TK Cooper gets steam pyro as Rev Pro’s upped their production, with a different stage too, and we rush in with clubbing forearms at ringside as Lias met TK on his way out.
We get going as TK boots Lias in the corner repeatedly, before catching him with Kenny Omega’s Kotaro Krusher… but there’s no cover, as TK keeps going with a Samoan drop, sending Lias rolling to the outside. TK looks to give chase, but he’s caught with an uppercut and a stomp onto the apron, before Lias looked to choke TK with his wrist tape.
Lias heads under the ring for a chair, which led to the ref threatening a DQ… so Lias just puts the opened chair on the guard rail before breaking the count-out. TK responds with a headbutt before he threw Lias back inside for more running boots, but Lias takes out the leg and lands an elbow drop before he caught TK with a diving knee for another two-count.
A death valley driver into the corner spikes TK for a two-count, before TK came right back with a slingshot neckbreaker. Lias tries to grab the ropes for safety, but he just ends up in place for a corkscrew legdrop attempt… which he avoids, but TK’s neckbreaker’s good for a two-count. Lias avoids an axe kick by rolling outside, only to get dived on as TK finally lands the corkscrew legdrop, planting Lias onto the apron.
The pair are back outside after that, but TK charges into Lias… and misses as he hits the chair on the guard rail, while Lias slides back in for the count-out. The crowd hated that – a flat ending to a feud that I guess must continue. This really could have done with a video package to show what’s been going on, because this was yet another victim of York Hall crowds not watching Cockpit feuds. **
A tag team match that saw Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham take on MK McKinnan and Dan Moloney was cut from this show – the match live was going fairly well before a step-up cannonball from MK to Gresham went awry, injuring Gresham as the match got thrown out as a no-contest.
Senza Volto vs. Hikuleo vs. Rocky Romero vs. Mike Bailey vs. Robbie Eagles vs. SANADA
Our mystery six-man scramble followed, with a few New Japan surprises to boot. Kevin Kelly sticks the boot in as post-produced Andy Boy told him to sit down for Rocky’s entrance… even though you could see he already was!
It’s bedlam from the off, with Rocky and Eagles going after Hikuleo early on, before the ring cleared as Senza Volto flew in on SANADA. Some rope-walking from the Frenchman saw him evade Eagles’ rope shaking to take down SANADA with an armdrag, before Bailey came in to kick the heck out of Volto.
Eagles comes in to keep the pace going, clearing out Bailey and Volto before Hikuleo charged through him with a clothesline. Eagles gets tossed into the turnbuckles, before a floatover was caught and turned into an Alabama slam for a near-fall. Rocky and Bailey get caught up top with a double superplex, as SANADA breaks up the cover… and promptly tried to tie up Hikuleo in a Paradise Lock. Man, SANADA’s over like hell here. That’s one of those “I just don’t get it” things, I guess.
A ‘rana from SANADA takes Hikuleo out as Bailey instead got caught in a Paradise Lock… as did Eagles, ahead of the eventual low dropkick. Romero tries to get payback on SANADA, but he’s forgotten how to do the hold, so he just ends up launching Forever clotheslines on everyone instead. Eagles breaks it off as the ring clears, with him and Rocky landing duelling topes before Senza and Speedball stared down each other… then went for duelling Golden Triangle moonsaults. The hell?!
The pair head back in as Speedball punts through Senza ahead of a moonsault double-knee drop and a corkscrew kick, following up with more moonsault knees to crush the Frenchman for a near-fall. Eagles returns to try his luck with Bailey, but gets caught with the cavalcade of kicks before spiking the Canadian with a Turbo Backpack for another two-count.
Eagles tries to finish off Bailey with a 450… but Bailey rolls away as Hikuleo returned to try and steal the win with a slam. Eagles’ springboard crossbody gets caught by Hikuleo, whose Samoan driver nearly won it, before he decked Rocky with a forearm. He calls Rocky to hit him… and gets poked in the eye, then stomped on the foot, before a Shiranui nearly led to victory as Senza broke up the pin.
A double handspring back elbow from Senza gets him ahead, before he 619’d Rocky off the top rope, ahead of a nice tornado DDT. SANADA breaks up the cover, finally returning to the match as he turned a handspring into a Skull End, before he ended up winning with a moonsault into a Skull End, swinging Senza around until he tapped. Well, SANADA didn’t do much, but the crowd liked it, along with the rest of this flippy-do match that finally got the crowd out of their slumber. ***½
Road to Royal Quest – Final: Josh Bodom & Sha Samuels vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
Oh boy. All the controversy here, so let’s see what happened on tape.
These two teams have been very ill-tempered throughout their feud, and it started like that here as Bodom’s sent outside after the early exchanges, while Sha took some double-team attacks. Bodom’s back to be pancaked and kicked too, before the match spilled outside as chops became the order of the day. Duelling topes from Aussie Open keep things on the outside, where Sha decides to get into it with some of the Contenders, slamming JJ Gale around for fun.
Bodom heads up top for a moonsault as things remain wild, with Sha getting the idea to hit a moonsault of his own. Both teams were pulling out all the stops… and the bell hadn’t even rung yet! Sha takes Kyle in to start the match and claim a very early two-count, while Bodom tagged in to keep chopping away at Kyle. A standing shooting star press gets Bodom a near-fall, as Fletcher ends up getting trapped in the corner for a spell.
Sha’s back to keep roughing up Fletcher, stopping to grab the mic for a live “Mug of the Week” skit. Fletcher superkicks him to stop it, as Bodom tags in… and got in Mark Davis’ face. A Ligerbomb from Fletcher gives him an opening to tag in Davis, who batters Sha and Bodom with chops and clotheslines. Bodom shrugs off some chops, which just pisses off Davis some more as the pair’s exchange ends with a lariat.
From there, Bodom takes a Gold Coast Waterslide for a near-fall, before Sha ate a uranage backbreaker from Fletcher. The focus goes back to Bodom for a double-team Go 2 Sleep, before an Assisted Aussie Arrow… got the win? Eh? It’s telling that Rev Pro’s edit of this showed the camera that focused squarely on the cover, showing Bodom getting his shoulder off the match “just in time”, but the ref counts three and it’s all over. Confusing, but the worst was to come as things fell apart in a hurry. **½
My take on all this… well, anyone who’s watched Aussie Open for more than a couple of matches knows that their version of the 3D has never been their finish. Originally, folks claimed Bodom “forgot to kick out”, but the video showed that wasn’t the case. So, we’re left with a good, ol’ fashioned cock-up, which in no way excused what happens in the following seconds. Bodom getting excommunicated from Rev Pro was perhaps the best decision when you take past form into it.
As everyone was left confounded by what happened, the crowd popped on the announcement of the Aussie Open win, before Sha Samuels rushed the ring and slammed referee Aaren Wilde. The speed that was done in was so quick, there’s no way it could have been communicated or prepared for. As the ref was down, footage from the crowd showed Bodom pulling out the referee and putting a beating to him. On the VOD, you see the ringside camera panning towards it, before hurriedly refocusing on… the turnbuckle and Kyle Fletcher’s crotch as the Aussies celebrated, while commentary mentioned Bodom was “kicking the referee’s ass”.
They switch to the hard camera as Bodom’s stomping on Wilde, while the mobile cameras do their damndest to avoid the scene. Sha continues to buy time by taking the mic and complaining about a conspiracy in Rev Pro, but Kyle meets him in the aisle with a superkick while Davis tossed the trash, throwing Bodom into the crowd.
Anyway, Aussie Open get the mic and cut a promo as Wilde heads to the back. The Aussie Open promo gave way to the Guerrillas of Destiny coming out, as the two teams stared down each other – all while a white-hot crowd burst into duelling chants. It’s enough to give you goosebumps.
RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship: Michael Oku vs. El Phantasmo (c)
Oku earned this title shot by way of his upset win over Phantasmo at the Cockpit a few weeks earlier. Meanwhile, ELP’s out with spoilers in the form of the Super J-Cup winner’s jacket (for a tournament that hadn’t been released at time of this show).
Like he did at the Cockpit, ELP dicks about at the start, taking Oku into the corner to play with his hair ahead of a brief shoving match. More dicking about sees Phantasmo gesticulate at the crowd, as he slowed things down to his pace. Oku tries to turn it up, using a headscissors to take down ELP, ahead of a dropkick as Oku opted to do a spinaroonie as ELP powdered away.
Back in the ring, Oku quickly trips Phantasmo for a half crab, but it’s escaped as the pair reached a stalemate. An eye rake from ELP keeps the pace slow, before he took Oku into a Tree of Woe for a Gas Pedal. Things spill outside as Oku’s chopped around ringside, before Oku issued some receipts… then his eyes were raked again. It’s a slow, deliberate pace as we crossed the ten minute mark.
ELP mimics KUSHIDA as he hit a punch to Oku in the corner, but dropkicks from Oku help him build up some momentum, taking ELP outside ahead of a Fosbury flop dive that wiped out the champion. Rolling Phantasmo back in, Oku heads up for a moonsault, which connects for a near-fall, but Phantasmo’s straight back in with some kicks and a whirlibird neckbreaker. The CR2 looks to follow, but Oku counters into a ‘rana for a near-fall, before ELP rolled out and smashed him with a Styles Clash. Somehow Oku kicks out of that, before he ate a V-Trigger and a One Winged Angel as ELP clearly had been watching the Bullet Club tapes. Including those where Kenny Omega took reverse ‘ranas, as Oku came right back with a running knee for another near-fall.
A monstrous frog splash off the top nearly gets Oku the win, so he rolls ELP into a single leg crab as Phantasmo almost tapped… but he rolls and kicks his way free as the crowd booed. Oku tries to throw forearms, but there’s not much in them as Oku’s looking like he’s running on fumes. Pump kicks from ELP led to him running into another half crab, but he’s quickly out and to the outside again as he caught a leap from Oku with a superkick.
Oku’s tossed into the crowd as ELP looked to snatch a count-out. Oku beats the count, but gets met with a big splash, a senton and a moonsault for a near-fall, which almost led to the stoppage as Oku was left on the mat. Commentary mentions the earlier injury stoppage to Jonathan Gresham (so that one got cut after they re-did commentary), before Oku popped up and nearly shocked Phantasmo with a roll-up.
A diving knee and an O’Connor roll keeps Oku on course, before an attempted Spanish Fly ended with ELP catching him with an avalanche whirlibird neckbreaker, following it up with the CR2, and as Max Power said, that’s the end of that chapter. A good outing for ELP, but again the hot crowd that saw Oku at the Cockpit didn’t follow the story here, as this was largely one-way traffic. ***½
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada
A warm-up for the top two matches at Royal Quest, this was the first time Okada and Tanahashi had been in York Hall in almost four years. More like four months for Suzuki and Sabre…
Suzuki and Okada start off, and it’s not long before Suzuki put a beating to the IWGP champion with forearms and knees, as a rear naked choke quickly came into play… but Okada back body drops out of a Gotch piledriver before making a quick comeback with a low dropkick.
Tanahashi’s in to try his luck with Suzuki, but Sabre’s quickly in to go back to the previously-injured elbow as Suzuki-gun were mostly having it their own way. Sabre flings Tanahashi into the guard rails outside while the referee missed Suzuki cracking Okada with his own belt. Commentary takes a few digs as we get back to the ring, where Sabre and Suzuki begin to go after the arm, wearing down the Ace of New Japan.
An armbar in the ropes from Suzuki keeps the pressure on, as does some more double-teaming as the former Rev Pro tag champs switch between holds for fun. Tanahashi fires back with forearms only to get elbowed down again by Suzuki, before he eventually pulled off something big with a Dragon screw.
In comes Okada to try and clear house, landing a sliding back elbow to Suzuki before a DDT drew a near-fall. A slam led to Okada going up top… but Suzuki scuttles across into the corner to stop him from landing the elbow as a snapmare and a PK awaited Okada for a near-fall. Suzuki continues to dominate Okada as they broke out into those cracking elbow strikes, before Suzuki ducked a clothesline and slipped into a rear naked choke… ending with Okada getting free for a dropkick.
A second dropkick misses as Suzuki lands a PK, before tagging in Sabre, who mounts Okada with an octopus hold, only for it to get countered into a neckbreaker slam. Tanahashi comes back in to launch into strikes on Sabre, slapping him away before he ran into a Cobra twist attempt. Sabre locks his in, but Tanahashi reverses it, only for Suzuki to boot it apart.
Duelling PKs trap Tanahashi for a near-fall, before Sabre re-applies the Octopus hold. A Twist and Shout gets Tanahashi free, as does a Slingblade as a Parade of Moves breaks out… quickly ending when Tanahashi went for a second Slingblade, only for Sabre to counter out and win with the Euro clutch. A pretty good exhibition match, but in hindsight, this result perhaps was the only one possible. ***¾
Post-match, after Suzuki and Sabre had a pop at the ref, Sabre vowed to retain the Rev Pro title at Royal Quest. Oh well. Suzuki had a similar claim, and… yeah.
So, after an eventful show, we’ve got the main event. Will David Starr win control of Rev Pro and get hold of some camera men who actually shoot the action, rather than tilt the camera against the canvas repeatedly?! First, Andy Quildan came out for a speech to be the latest person to tell us Britwres isn’t dead. I mean, if he had something to plug, he’d change his tune…
Career Versus Control Of RevPro: David Starr vs. Will Ospreay
If Starr wins, he runs Rev Pro. If Ospreay wins, Starr’s gone.
There’s huge duelling chants before the match as this crowd, whom you’d have thought would have been on the side of “Rev Pro” were more like 50-50. Starr spat on, then wipes his feet on the Rev Pro logo, which didn’t get boos…
Starr starts by trapping Ospreay on the mat in a Liger-like seated surfboard, before spinning Ospreay around for a two-count. Ospreay takes Starr into the ropes, for the eventual mockingly-clean break, which just sees Starr shove him off as the pair broke into a quick flurry of moves, most of which were blocked as Starr got rolled down for a near-fall as they reached a stand-off.
Starr conducts the crowd, only for Ospreay to kick him in the arse ahead of a ‘rana after Starr had been shot into the ropes. A handspring comes to nothing bar sarcastic applause from Starr, who then got propelled into the air with a monkey flip. Ospreay followed him outside with a pescado, before he chopped Starr around the front row… breaking the count so he could dismantle some of the crowd barrier and drape it from the apron.
Ospreay springs off the guard rail but can’t land a forearm as Starr tries to powerbomb him onto it, but Will just ends up kicking the barricade into Starr’s ribs before landing a cannonball off the apron into him. A uranage from Ospreay drops Starr across the edge of the barrier and into the crowd, as they teased a count-out finish. Beating the count, Starr came back in with a Thesz press for a near-fall, before he countered Ospreay’s comeback by blocking the springboard forearm as he bounced Ospreay off the bridged crowd barrier.
Starr bridges back on Ospreay’s right leg as he continued to try and keep him grounded, but Ospreay’s able to block a Blackheart Buster and somehow respond with a brainbuster. A running forearm from Ospreay builds up momentum for him, working up into a handspring enziguiri as he pushed ahead. Starr ragdolls Ospreay into a neckbreaker to stem the flow, following up with forearms to the back before a Han Stansen lariat was ducked and turned into a backslide before Starr just propelled Ospreay backwards for a Shining Wizard, and leapt onto him with a side chinlock that ends in the ropes as the pair remained incredibly even. Back-and-forth forearms ensue, as Starr nails some rolling forearms before a step-up enziguiri from Ospreay made sure it was kept tight.
A pair of Han Stansens dump Ospreay on his head, but a Blackheart Buster’s turned into a Stundog Millionaire as he still couldn’t keep a lead. Ospreay bumps onto his back to break up Starr’s rear naked choke, as a black screen greets us upon him reapplying the hold. Wash, rinse… and head up top as Ospreay goes up for an avalanche piggy back bump to get himself free!
The pair get back to their feet to exchange another barrage of palm strikes, but a hook kick from Ospreay got him ahead as Starr had to fight free of another Storm Breaker… kicking Ospreay in the leg before he got caught with a nice Code Red. Tip of the cap, there. Starr’s taken into the corner for a Cheeky Nando’s next, before he’s again elevated to the top rope for an avalanche Iconoclasm… but Starr flips free and clotheslines Ospreay into a Tree of Woe.
Ospreay gets back up, but it’s Starr who turns the tables with a nasty gutbuster off the top before he plants him with a Kaepernick for a near-fall. An attempted Sasuke special from Ospreay’s stopped with a Cherry Mint DDT as the mobile camera’s again left on the mat. There’s no count as the pair trade chops on the apron, leading to Starr attempting the Trapped Arm Bob Fossil piledriver on the apron… but Ospreay got hung in the ropes as he got free, before dumping Starr on the apron with an OsCutter!
Starr narrowly beats the count-out, but can’t avoid a Coast to Coast as Ospreay forces the issue, heading up top and landing a shooting star press for another near-fall. A Robinson special follows, but Starr pulls the referee into the path of the OsCutter… and now the shenanigans begin!
With Aaren Wilde out because of the beating Suzuki gave him earlier (at least, per storyline), we’ve no back-up rev. Save for Shay Purser, who was last seen being wiped out in the El Phantasmo/David Starr ladder match earlier in the year. He’s glad to be back with David Starr, but Ospreay takes Shay into the corner. Purser’s damn near a cheerleader as he pulls Ospreay off of Starr in the corner. If he was a villainous ref, he’d DQ Ospreay or at least fast count him, but instead he ignores a low blow and makes two-counts from a roll-up… then from a Blackheart Buster after he kicked Ospreay’s leg off the rope.
More near-falls keep Ospreay in it, but he’s met with an OsCutter out of the corner as Purser keeps a standard count rather than fast-count Will, and we’re still going! The crowd’s chanting for Chris Roberts, not believing he’s gone from Rev Pro, before some faked-out shots led to Ospreay head-kicking Shay. Two refs down, who’s left?
Starr collapses to avoid a Hidden Blade, but was left a dribbling wreck after some more kicks from Ospreay as the crowd seemed to be fading too. Headbutts and Kawada kicks from Ospreay keep Starr down, only for an OsCutter to get turned into a German suplex as Will perhaps overshot. Starr grabs Will Ospreay’s IWGP Junior title belt, which prompts Andy Quildan to come out. He’s taken into the corner by Starr, who threatens to stomp on the title… realising that perhaps meant more to Andy Q than the company itself. Quildan shoves Starr aside, which draws boos, and then we get the iconic moment of Andy doing some swearing, putting his dukes up, and then… Benny Hill Chase!
“It’s a main event in York Hall, folks,” says Kevin Kelly on commentary as Ospreay slid back in and into the path of an OsCutter. Quildan hunts for the original ref, rolling him in… only for Shay Purser to pull him out to stop the pin. Shay slaps Andy… who responds with a forearm of his own as Ospreay pulled up Starr for another hook kick… then a Storm Breaker… but Starr slips out and lands a belt shot on Ospreay. Starr goes for the pin, but Ospreay kicks out of a slow count… so Starr looks for the Trapped Arm Bob Fossil again, and lands it!
Somehow, Ospreay turns a Han Stansen into a C4 as Andy Q looked something between conflicted and constipated at ringside. Cue another Hidden Blade, as Ospreay looks for the thumbs up… gets the thumbs down, as a Storm Breaker ends David Starr’s days in Rev Pro. Look, this was never going to be squeaky clean, and yes, I do think that a) the shenanigans were too much and b) over-reacted to. Until the shenanigans broke out, this was on the way to being a match that on any other night, would have been head and shoulders above the pack. Depending on your taste, the final 10 minutes or so will drag it down for you. ***¾
After the match, the house lights came on as David Starr stayed in the ring, stunned and beside himself as he left Rev Pro for the last time. For now. Come on, it’s wrestling…
Unfortunately, the 2019 Summer Sizzler is a show that’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The least “big” one first – York Hall was a furnace throughout the night, with the high temperatures taking it out on the crowd, leading to an unfortunately diminished set of reactions for the main event. The name shouldn’t be literal! Then came the issues with the main event: the show was already running long, and a 40+ minute main event, loaded with shenanigans was always going to upset those who had trains to run for. It seems to be an issue with Britwres, but if you’re running late shows… you gotta keep it tight!
Now, the elephant in the room. I’ll preface this with this: nothing excuses what happened in the incident with Aaren Wilde, regardless of whether your opinion is that the “screw up” fell on the side of him, or on Josh Bodom for waiting too late for the “dramatic kickout”. With this show taking three weeks to hit VOD, anyone keeping up with Britwres podcasts will have heard the incidents discussed to death. The release of the VOD adds another side to the story – and could well change some people’s perception. Along with another batch of podcasts and fans hyper-analysing the situation.
For a “big Rev Pro show”, this felt disconcertingly like a matinee event ahead of Royal Quest – even with the other issues taken into account. Strip away the New Japan tie-in, and Rev Pro feels as bare as ever… and when you look at the list of talent Rev Pro’s lost this year alone, along with those they’re expected to lose for weekenders and New Japan tours, the remainder of 2019 could bring some hard times.