Los Ingobernables de Japon were scattered throughout the card as Rev Pro headed to Manchester for a newsworthy event.
We’re coming from the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, as Rev Pro made their debut in the city following last year’s show in vaguely-nearby Altrincham with New Japan. The two Andys are on commentary, as Slick Lombardo high-tailed it from a boozy show in London the night before to return to ring announcing…
Gabriel Kidd, Kenneth Halfpenny & Shaun Jackson vs. Brendan White, Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks
We’ve a Contenders trios match to get us going, with a mixture of Rev Pro’s Contenders and New Japan’s US Young Lions.
Kidd and Connors start us off, but it’s the New Japan Young Lion who started to throw bombs first… only for Kidd to reply with chops of his own. Both teams cycle through tags as Fredericks and Halfpenny couldn’t find a way through, before Brendan White tagged in and tried to squeeze off Kenneth’s head. That led to Halfpenny being put into trouble as the mixed Contenders team wore him down… but neither side could really maintain much momentum. A knee of sorts to the midsection gets Halfpenny a near-fall on White, before the match broke down as the New Japan Young Lions indulged in some brawling on the outside.
Back inside, Jackson nearly put away White with a simple slam, before Kidd followed up in kind as Karl Fredericks had to come in to break up the cover – sparking another brawl. Fredericks eventually settled the match back down as he hurled Kidd across the ring with a Beele before an elbow drop drew a near-fall. In the end, Jackson tried to mount a comeback, dropkicking Fredericks out of the ring before he ran into White’s Bossman slam…
A springboard moonsault misses as Jackson’d rolled to the outside, allowing Kidd to return. He ends up taking a German suplex too, before a lariat decked White as a Boston crab forced the submission. I’ll be honest, I had no idea who was legal here, and that was all down to the officiating not giving a crap about it. The match itself was fine, but I fear that this Manchester crowd (⅔rds of whom were apparently first timers according to Rev Pro) won’t be up for much apart from the stars. **¾
Gabriel Kidd headed back to the ring and called for the mic after his partners headed to the back. He put over the crowd, before saying that he came to Rev Pro to “earn his way up the right way”… which included being a “stronger wrestler”. That led to Kidd asking Katsuyori Shibata out to the ring (complete with his peaking ring music). Shibata eventually appeared, then eschewed a faulty mic and invited Kidd to “come with me” to the LA Dojo. That’ll be a hell of a move for Gabriel, who’s really blossomed this year.
Hikuleo vs. Dan Magee
Hikuleo debuted on Rev Pro’s last Southampton show, running in to side with fellow Bullet Club member El Phantasmo. I’m telling you that because that Southampton show (three weeks ago) still hasn’t dropped on VOD.
Hikuleo’s lower third showed why Rev Pro need to find a new font for those graphics, with too many letters looking too similar to each other. Hihuleo? Kikuleo? Also, Jesus christ, how loud is that ring bell?! We’ve got Sean McLaughlin in as referee, watching on as Hikuleo was just paintbrushing Magee… who just responded by shoving him away ahead of a dropkick as Hikuleo didn’t leave his feet. A big boot knocked Magee down, as the pace of the match slowed down, with Hikuleo wearing down Magee.
A thrust kick rocks Magee, who replied by low bridging Hikuleo to the floor, following up with a cannonball off the apron that finally took the big man off his feet. Back inside, a crossbody’s good for a near-fall, before a Koji clutch from Magee quickly ended in the ropes. Magee absorbed some stiff elbows before he almost snuck the win with a small package… prompting Hikuleo to boot him again as a sit-out side slam nearly led to the win. A swinging neckbreaker from Hikuleo also gets a near-fall, but in the end Magee snatches the win with a wheelbarrow roll-up… only to get beaten down by Hikuleo after the bell. Well, it’s an auspicious start to life in Rev Pro for Hikuleo, who then spent ages looking for a chair before he brushes off Kurtis Chapman, powerbombing him onto his own man. **½
Gisele Shaw vs. Seleziya Sparx
Shaw’s back after beating Zoe Lucas in that as-yet-unreleased Southampton show… and we got going between the two Canadians, with the pair looking to take things to the mat in the bid for a pinning attempt as things eventually led to a standoff. A standoff that Sparx looked unimpressed with.
Shaw has more luck with headscissors, but Sparx kicked her away from some rope walking as some aggression managed to turn the tide. A stalling suplex from Sparx led to a solid two-count as the crowd tried to gee up Gisele, who had to fight out of a surfboard stretch before a series of missed kicks eventually led to them clocking each other simultaneously. The pair trade forearms before Shaw ducked a big boot and came back with a neck flip that scored her barely a two-count. A springboard stunner’s next for a near-fall, before Sparx countered a full nelson bomb with a backpack stunner as the tide continued to turn. Shaw’s back with a nice headscissors to Sparx on the top rope – but it’s countered into a nasty avalanche powerbomb that almost ended things, only for Shaw to get back up… then walk into an Air Raid Crash as Sparx picked up the win. A decent outing, even if the crowd took a while to warm to it – but that tends to be the case with Rev Pro’s women’s division. **¾
Michael Oku vs. Shingo Takagi
Poor Michael. Poor, poor Michael. Just four weeks after taking PAC to the limit, he’s got another monster of an opponent, in the form of a recently-slain dragon.
Chants of “Shingo’s gonna kill you” may not have been to wild a prediction, to be fair. From the off, Shingo just muscles Oku to the mat, then threw him outside and into the guard rails as Oku just bounced on the floor. Poor sod. The pair head onto the walkway, where a chop drops Oku, only for a piledriver to get countered with a back body drop. Rather stupidly, Oku looked to follow up with a ‘rana, but it’s just caught and turned into a death valley driver on the walkway.
Fighting through the crowd, Oku managed to get back to the ring, as he found a second wind, chopping his way through Shingo… only to run into an elbow and a clothesline. Thanks for coming! More elbows keep Oku on the mat, as Shingo was dominating Oku – not unlike PAC did earlier in the month. A double-handed chop just dumped Oku back to the mat, but Oku quickly responds with a series of dropkicks that took Shingo to the outside as Oku looked to follow in with a Fosbury flop. Oku keeps the pressure on as the crowd were still resolutely behind Shingo, who rolled to the rope to save himself from a half-crab.
Oku’s able to counter a counter out of a springboard moonsault into a tornado DDT, before he hurried back up top for a frog splash… but Takagi kicks out in the nick of time, and quickly put Oku away with the Noshigami… or so we thought! A wheelbarrow German just put Oku nastily into the corner, following back with a superplex before Oku finally got free and landed a superkick, coupling it with a springboard moonsault for another agonising near-fall. Shingo refused to go down as Oku walloped him with clotheslines, but some headscissors took Takagi into a half crab. Again, it ends in the ropes, as Shingo seemed to have been worn down more than we all thought by that single crab… but he rises up and headbutts Oku back to the mat as the mat was going back and forth, until Shingo finally put away Oku with a Pumping Bomber… but Oku kicked out, only to get put away with a stalling Made in Japan. Oku put up more of a resistance than many expected, but this was largely one-way traffic that led to a familiar result as Oku continues to look for his first W in Rev Pro. ***¾
RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Championship: Josh Bodom & Sha Samuels vs. Team WhiteWolf (A-Kid & Carlos Romo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & EVIL) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c)
On that Southampton show, we had another non-finish between Aussie Open and the Bodom/Samuels team… so their involvement in this four-way means that we shouldn’t have the match thrown out quite as easily.
There’s already tensions between those teams as LIJ and Whitewolf just watched on in bemusement. A-Kid and Mark Davis start us off, with the Spaniard’s chops wearing down Davis, who just flipped him back before a chop decked A-Kid (and his shiny new trunks). Tags followed to bring in Romo and Fletcher, with the latter catching a dropkick, then a crossbody as he looked to neutralise Romo early on.
We end up switching to EVIL and Samuels, with the pair trading shoulder tackles before Romo returned to try and get some revenge on Samuels and Bodom. Remember when they were trying to recruit him? Romo ends up leaping off the top rope and into a spinebuster as BUSHI blind-tags in, chopping Romo ahead of a missile dropkick and a Busharoonie. That left Romo outside for the EVIL chairshot as LIJ were playing the hits, but Bodom gets a blind tag back in as Romo continued to get worn down.
A running shooting star press from Bodom nearly puts Romo away, as did a Bodom Breaker, which finally forced Fletcher into the ring to break up the cover. Eventually Romo got free, but with A-Kid not around to tag he ended up tagging Aussie Open back in as the match’s big issue ignited again, centring back to Bodom vs. Davis as the pair wheeled away on each other once more. Bodom fired back with a sequence of kicks, before Fletcher returned to help with a double-team Go To Sleep. The Assisted Aussie Arrow led to a near-fall with Samuels breaking it up, only to get chopped to bits himself, before Bodom rescued things with a reverse ‘rana. Davis’ modified One Wing Angel keeps the moves going until he and Sha clotheslined each other.
Tags brought us back to A-Kid and BUSHI, as Whitewolf and the LIJ pair had a fun exchange… but Romo saves his partner from the EVIL STO before he got hurled into the turnbuckles by Fletcher. An assisted Blackout to Romo looked to take him into a Fidget Spinner, but A-Kid took the bullet himself, only for Sha Samuels to get involved, taking Dvis out into the ringpost before Bodom’s Bliss Buster left Davis on the outside. Bodom keeps flying, landing an Orihara moonsault to a pile on the floor… which gave Sha an idea. Problem was, that left us with Whitewolf vs. LIJ… and when BUSHI misted A-Kid, it looked to be elementary, only for Bodom to snatch a blind-tag and steal the pin from BUSHI’s MX. This was all action, but this match lost me because of it – there were large chunks of the match where I was left wondering who the hell was legal, and it took me out of the finishing run. Something tells me we’re far from finished with the Aussie Open/Samuels & Bodom feud, but it’d have been nice for the Aussies to keep the belts for a little longer! ***¼
MK McKinnan vs. Tetsuya Naito
This was MK’s return to Rev Pro after he’d cut back his schedule markedly after becoming a father.
Fortunately, Naito was out in full gear, rather than “T-shirt Naito” as we’ve seen on prior UK appearances. Those early exchanges were fairly seamless, as armdrags and headscissors were exchanged before they reached something of an awkward standoff. MK looked to fight back, but Naito just caught him with a delayed Combination Cabron as McKinnan looked to be a step below Naito, who just rained blows down on him. Back-and-forth forearms from McKinnan led to him getting spat on, before he launched back with a thrust kick that took Naito into the ropes for a dropkick and a flip senton. That’s followed up with a tope con giro for a delayed near-fall.
More back-and-forth strikes follow, with an enziguiri staggering McKinnan, along with a Koppo kick and a tornado DDT. Naito followed that up with Gloria for a near-fall, before MK had to elbow away a Destino attempt. Kicks keep MK ahead, as does a running knee, but Naito’s not on the defensive for long, as he traded reverse ‘ranas with MK en route to a Destino for the win. I don’t think anyone in Manchester gave MK a shot here, and that reflected in the responses. Tough luck, but on a debut show for the city, this was always a risk. ***
Post-match, MK seemed to go for Naito’s handshake, but ended up getting punted between the proverbial uprights.
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
Days after defending the Rev Pro title against YOSHI-HASHI, Zack Sabre Jr’s got a tougher test here, against the main he’d face a week later on the opening day of the G1 Climax.
Sabre tried to restrain SANADA early on, but the LIJ member was more than even to him, matching Sabre move for move before they went back-and-forth on a full nelson. After collecting his thoughts on the outside, Sabre began a battle of uppercuts before he took down SANADA with some headscissors, trying to slow down the match to his preferred pace. Eventually SANADA got free with some dropkicks, taking Sabre outside as he had to fake out a dive, since Zack decided to slow things down even further. We’ve passed ten minutes with not much happening… so SANADA trips Sabre back inside in the search for a Paradise Lock, only for Zack to counter out into a cross armbar as he again began to wear down SANADA.
Sabre began to target SANADA’s arm, stomping on it repeatedly while switching in and out of holds. Some chops from SANADA finally got him free, as he followed up with a nice dropkick to take Sabre outside, this time quickly following up with a pescado that the camera crew missed. The match is taken quickly back inside, as Sabre went back to SANADA’s arm, wrenching away on the limbs before SANADA managed to get to the ropes to force a break. A Dragon Screw takes Sabre back to the mat, which led him into a Skull End… only for Sabre to reverse it and turn it into a Dragon Sleeper, locking his hands behind his back to try and squeeze the life out of SANADA. An attempt to escape just gets SANADA into a guillotine, which he had to break up with a TKO for a near-fall.
SANADA tries a moonsault, but just bounces off of Sabre’s knees as a PK followed in for a quick two-count. Another Skull End’s quickly escaped, then reapplied after SANADA sprung in with a moonsault. Sabre tries to reverse it, but gets caught in an O’Connor roll, which he kicked out of and turned into a rear naked choke as SANADA went from attack to defence in a split-second, eventually finding himself in a Euro Clutch as ZSJ took the win. This was fine, but nowhere near what these two are capable of against each other – I wouldn’t describe it, like others have, as a “house show” effort, but I also don’t think anyone bought SANADA as a viable contender… which hurt the reactions throughout the match. ***½
After the match, Sabre took the mic and buried YOSHI-HASHI. He then said that he’d win the “G1 bloody Climax” – but instead of cashing in his shot at the Tokyo Dome, he’d go for the IWGP title in the main event of Royal Quest in London in August. That last bit may come to fruition, I feel…
For a debut in Manchester, this was a solid if not overly spectacular Rev Pro show that played off of existing storylines – but with two-thirds of the audience new to the promotion (per Rev Pro’s own statistics), it also led to some weird reactions as the crowd didn’t appear to be on board with ongoing storylines. To be fair, the promotion’s recent tardiness when it comes to VOD releases for their non-marquee events doesn’t help, especially if they were planning on following up on stories told on those shows.