Barely a month after Global Wars at Brixton, Rev Pro returned to York Hall as David Starr’s challenge led to him potentially becoming a dual champion.
After a video package to run through the card, we’re inside York Hall with Andy Quildan and Andy Simmonz on commentary. It’s rather more populated than you’d have seen on the Rev Pro TV show that was going out the same night, even if it weren’t sold out….
Taichi vs. Chris Brookes
Cue the groans when we opened with Taichi – and the cheers when Chris Brookes came out. I guess the TV universe barely applies here…
We had a LOT of stalling to start us off, as Taichi instantly powdered to the outside and killed as much time as possible around the ring. Sure, it got Taichi boos, but it threatened to kill what little interest people had in seeing him wrestle. When we did get contact, Brookes poked Taichi in the eye… who then slid to the outside. Yep, more of the same.
They brawl into the crowd after Taichi tried to run away, which was a good treat for the tethered cameramen, who barely caught Taichi using a chair in the crowd. Zoe Lucas got better footage from holding her phone up at the merch stand! We’re eventually back into the crowd as Taichi (and referee Joel Allen) needed a chair to hop over the guard rails, before returning to the ring as he began to rake away at Brookes’ eyes.
A back senton from Brookes off the top rope gets him a breather, as he begins to chop through Taichi… and followed up with a brainbuster for a near-fall. Taichi has something in his locker too, clocking Brookes with a kick before a swing and a miss almost led to a roll-up. More kicks allow Taichi to rip off his trousers – throwing them nicely so they landed on the turnbuckle irons as he got a rare pop from the crowd. Of course, it’s not on the VOD! Brookes kicks back as Taichi was basking in that fluke, but we’re back outside as Brookes traps Taichi’s head in the apron ahead of a stomp. A slingshot cutter follows back inside for a near-fall, but Taichi’s back to the dirty tricks ahead of a roundhouse kick to Brookes’ head for a near-fall. He threatens to use the mic stand next, but Brookes ducks the shot and pulls Taichi into an Octopus stretch as El Desperado runs out and distracts the referee as Taichi tapped.
Brookes celebrates for some reason… Taichi grabs his mic stand again, but out comes Will Ospreay to make the save. He takes the stand, then swings and accidentally hit Brookes with it, before Taichi superkicks him to the outside, as a low blow and a Gedo clutch gets Taichi the win. I guess in storyline it makes sense a little, loosely tying in the Taichi/Ospreay stuff that never played out because of injury, but this was an unpopular result for an unpopular wrestler. **
Post-match, Ospreay tries to make it up to Brookes, but Chris shoved him in the injured ribs then in the balls as Brookes cemented his heel turn in front of a wider crowd. Hey, there’s a punt in the ribs too as some uncharitable sods compared Ospreay to someone who looked like “he’d had a bad curry before the show”.
They air promo pieces throughout the show of people giving their thoughts on the main event. This was a nice touch, and made what on paper was a “junior’s going to lose to a heavyweight” match feel a lot more important. More of this stuff in wrestling please – have your big matches feel big!
Ahead of the next match, Lord Gideon Grey ran out and interrupted proceedings. He’s here to introduce the Great O-Kharn in his trademark vein-popping manner (and I do worry for Gideon’s general wellbeing when he does these promos). He apparently vowed to have every match tonight end in DQ if O-Kharn didn’t get a match… but we can do the maths. No DQ in the opener, so O-Kharn has an unadvertised match!
Great O-Kharn vs. Shane Taylor
Having come up short to David Starr at the Cockpit last week, this was Taylor’s chance of redemption… although the lack of fanfare he received perhaps led to a muted response.
We started with Taylor clubbering away at O-Kharn, before a rake to the eyes put a stop to proceedings. O-Kharn’s quickly in with Mongolian chops, but Taylor gets free and knocks him down with a shoulder tackle as O-Kharn was sent to the outside… where he low-bridges Taylor to the floor as we get some walk-and-brawl around ringside. O-Kharn somehow knocks Taylor back inside with an uppercut, then followed up with a claw-assisted chinlock on the “Pretty Boy Killer”
A headbutt from Taylor stops O-Kharn in his tracks, as a chokeslam and a body splash off the ropes nearly gets the upset win. O-Kharn’s back, with all things, a Skull Crushing Finale, as followed up with a splash of his own on Taylor for another near-fall, only to get met with a barrage of knees as a choke bomb from Taylor got him ever closer to victory. Gideon Grey gets into the ring as O-Kharn has the referee distracted – but his shot to Taylor has no effect. Instead, it allows O-Kharn to catch a distracted Taylor with a punch and a claw chokeslam for the win. Pretty much by-the-numbers stuff from O-Kharn, whom you’d have to hope will be able to find an extra gear – if not in terms of his character, but his storyline. **½
Mike Bailey offers his two cents on the main event. Sadly this was taped at the Cockpit so everything’s as quiet as a mouse.
Josh Bodom vs. Chris Ridgeway
Sparked at Global Wars when Bodom attacked Chris Ridgeway after his match, this outing had little build – with both men kept apart from each other at the Cockpit the prior week.
Commentary tried to play up a “suspected broken foot” that Ridgeway suffered… something which almost came into play as Ridgeway tried to put Bodom away early. Of course, there’s plenty of kicks as Bodom tried to be all macho and walk through the shots, before knocking Ridgeway down with a clothesline as the heavy hits were only just beginning. There’s more clotheslines as Bodom went for the throat and almost got the win, following up with a standing moonsault as Ridgeway fired back with a barrage of strikes. A Dragon screw pulls him down, before Bodom’s back in the ropes for more kicks, then a Capoeira-style up kick as Ridgeway almost took the win with a bridging German suplex.
We’re back to the clotheslines and forearms, but Ridgeway puts the brakes on as he leaps into a guillotine choke on Bodom, then monkeyed around into a rear naked choke, only for Bodom to throw him off. A quick roll-up nearly ends it, before Bodom swings and misses with a kick, allowing Ridgeway to counter with an ankle lock… which turns into a trapped-leg German suplex that nearly got Ridgeway the win.
Those earlier shots looked to have busted open Bodom’s nose – and more kicks to the head can’t help. He does manage a reply as Bodom counters a German suplex with a clothesline to the back of the head, sending Ridgeway outside for an Orihara moonsault to the floor… then rushing him back inside for a Bodom Breaker that got a near-fall. Ridgeway responds with another ankle lock after tripping Bodom… but again we’ve a rope break to keep the match going.
They end up on the apron as Ridgeway teases a piledriver, but Bodom fought out and hits back with an apron tombstone that left Bodom smiling and bloody as he watched his foe crumble onto the floor. That’s followed up with a Bliss Buster… and that’s the win for Josh Bodom. Huh. Out of the two, Bodom’s had more of a stuttering run in the last few months, going pretty much 50-50 with wins and losses – is this going to be the start of a new run, or the latest “big win that’ll not be followed up on”? Either way, this was a war, and a match I’d like to see again. ***½
Zoe Lucas chimes in with her thoughts on the main event. With the microphone barely in the same room.
El Phantasmo vs. El Desperado
It’s the battle of the El’s – but unlike Ligero, the loser doesn’t lose the first half of their name!
Desperado flips off Phantasmo at the bell, but he’s quickly made to pay as ELP looks to pull him into a bow-and-arrow hold – a hold he loses almost instantly as Desperado again flips out for a pinning attempt before he took down Phantasmo in a bid too keep the match on the mat. Shoulder tackles quickly give way to flipping evasions, pinning attempts and finally a handspring fakeout from ELP.
A dropkick from Phantasmo barely gets a one-count, so he grabs hold of Desperado for some chops and rope walking, which ends the hard way as Phantasmo overplays his springing between the top and middle strand… and gets yanked into the ropes. Ow. Desperado steals the turnbuckle iron and has Chris Roberts looking for it like a dog does a tennis ball, allowing Despy to hit Phantasmo with the foreign object.
Back in the ring, a suplex from Desperado gets a near-fall before he catches a ‘rana and turns it into a Boston crab. Phantasmo gets to the ropes for a break, before he uses the ropes for a springboard crossbody and a Quebrada… but he can’t go for a cover as he instead uses the combo to get a breather. Oh, and absorb the ELP chants that desperately weren’t “BLT” chants. Desperado goes outside as dives break the guard rails – a spot you could hear Andy Quildan’s voice get progressively more concerned in as it seemed that the barriers were barely connected to one another. An Arabian press completes the trio of dives that sent both men into the steel, but at least ELP had the foresight to pull the fan up he’d knocked down (hey Nic!)
ELP rolls Desperado back into the ring, where he pulls off a hand-walk senton back into the ring. Quite aptly, Desperado hits a desperate spear to get himself a breather, before the pair trade off on chops, lighting each other up in the process. Ow. Desperado catches a punch but instead gets pulled into a splits… he recovers with an Arn Anderson spinebuster then segues it into the Dos (stretch muffler) as Phantasmo had to pull his way free.
Another frantic sequence ends with a superkick, a knee lift and an enziguiri to Desperado, who gets clipped as he lands a clothesline on the Canadian. An attempt at Pinche Loco backfires as ELP backdrops into a cover, before a Desperado comes close again with a roll-up. There’s another punch before an Angle slam gets a near-fall… but he’s caught with a springboard enziguiri up top as ELP brings him down with a rolling superplex into a whirlibird neckbreaker for yet another two-count. More kicks from ELP get a near-fall, before a senton bomb and triple-jump moonsault ended up getting the clean win. No shenanigans too, which caught me off guard – and you’ve got to think that Rev Pro’s trying to put a rocket back onto ELP… but is it too soon to go back to Phantasmo/Starr? ***½
Will Ospreay’s in the diary room giving his thoughts on the main event. He’s backing Ishii.
WALTER vs. Satoshi Kojima
Having originally come into Rev Pro and become part of the world title scene… it’s a bit weird that WALTER’s last two outings have been “dream matches” but nowhere near the main event.
We’ve a tentative start as WALTER takes Kojima into the ropes – and teases a chop too – but after avoiding the pair launch into each other with shoulder tackles while we still waiting for our first connected chop. WALTER then takes Kojima into the corner for a chop as he tried to assert himself on proceedings, but Kojima fought back with chops of his own… only for WALTER to knock him off his feet with another of his own.
WALTER tosses Kojima to the outside from there, as the guard railings proved to be almost as good as a chocolate teapot… but the Austrian just throws him back inside courtesy of a back suplex on the apron. Crossface punches in the ropes follow, as WALTER keeps up with some chops as Kojima was winded in the corner. There’s more receipts back-and-forth as WALTER put his hands through Kojima’s chest (producing increasingly ugly-sounding cracks around York Hall) until the inevitable… machine gun chops from Kojima!
A whip into the corner and a leaping forearm’s next, but WALTER pulls him down off the top rope with a chop and a superplex. We’ve more chops until WALTER tries a powerbomb, only for Kojima to counter back with a DDT, before a cutter’s shoved out of and met with a big boot. Kojima back body drops out of a powerbomb before he’s met with a shotgun dropkick from WALTER, who gets his powerbomb off anyway for a near-fall. WALTER’s back as he tries to rough up Kojima with boots to the head, but a Koji cutter stops those before a Cozy Lariat’s stopped as WALTER grabs a Gojira clutch instead. The RINGKAMPF German’s next, which seemed to knock Kojima loopy as he could barely get back to his feet, with Kojima falling into the ropes – almost doing even more damage to himself.
WALTER looks to finish him with a suplex, but somehow Kojima reverses it… and he’s still on those jelly legs and WALTER throws some forearms to the head before he ran into a Cozy Lariat… and that’s enough for the win! A very anticlimactic finish, but with Kojima still knocked loopy from that German suplex they managed to get through to what (I assume) was the expected finish. That’s two wins against heavyweights in Rev Pro for Kojima… he’s getting a bit of a run isn’t he? **¾
Kojima gets the microphone and thanks the crowd, before acknowledging his winning run over “two big guys”… he’s interrupted by Josh Bodom, who somehow snuck a loaf of bread past York Hall security, and was so shocked by that he could barely speak. Bodom called Kojima the past of the heavyweight division, then announced himself as a heavyweight by… stomping on the loaf of Hovis. It got a reaction, but it’s up there with a fight over a shampoo ad. At least the bread was real!
Andy Simmonz is in the diary room next, with a hastily put-together lower third. He’s backing David Starr.
Mike Bailey vs. MK McKinnan
It’s a first-time meeting between Bailey and McKinnan, who had to wade through the remnants of Bodom’s battered bread to get to the ring. We start with a handshake and a feinted kick as Speedball made it clear what game he was looking to play.
There’s a kick into the corner pads from Bailey, before the pair trade off on chops… which quickly gave way to Roshambo kicks to the legs, and a kick to the chest as MK looked to end this early. Instead, he takes a kick to the chest as McKinnan’s left on the mat, which quickly was followed up with a double knee drop as Bailey began to chip away.
A boot knocks McKinnan off the apron and into the path of a Golden Triangle moonsault – that Bailey lands perfectly on the floor – before returning him to the ring as a running kick gets a near-fall. Elbow follow from both men as Bailey tried to keep the advantage, but McKinnan puts the blocks on and chains together a roundhouse kick, then a German suplex to put down the Canadian. Another kick leaves Bailey in the ropes for a running dropkick, then a flying senton as Speedball was doubled-over that middle strand.
More kicks from Bailey help him back into it, as an axe kick sets up for a standing corkscrew press for a near-fall, before a front suplex dumped MK for a delayed roundhouse kick. MK instantly responds with a brainbuster and another suplex of his own for a near-fall, but those Bailey kicks sent McKinnan back outside, where those god-awful guard rails came into their own once again. Bailey lifts MK up and takes him onto the runway… and eventually looks for the moonsault knees, but Speedball finds nothing but wood as MK took his chance, landing a tope con giro into… yep, the useless barriers! McKinnan looked to land badly on his head from there, but he gets back up as the pair trade kicks on the apron, which led to Bailey going tripping MK and going for the moonsault knees… and this time they hit!
Back in the ring, Bailey busts out a fallaway Fisherman’s superplex (I have no words) that nearly gets the win… but somehow MK gets a shoulder up. Bailey tries to follow up with a Flamengo driver, but MK goes for a sleeperhold, then rolls up Speedball for a superkick and a German suplex, as a Shining Wizard NEARLY gets the W. MK’s instant response is a fireman’s carry slam, but Bailey’s able to kick out and nail that Flamengo driver for another near-fall, before the shooting star knees get nothing but mat… allowing MK to kick his way back in and get the win by stoppage with the old Tazmission. A fantastic hard-hitting contest – but again, the same concerns remain. Is this the start of something big for MK, or are we staying 50/50? ***½
Rev Pro British Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki) (c)
So in Rev Pro canon, Aussie Open are in a title match here… and in a tournament on TV where they could well claim a second shot if they fall short here. Aussie Open haven’t done well against New Japan teams in the past, losing to EVIL & SANADA in January, then the pairing of Taiji Ishimori and Yujiro Takahashi in June. Can they break the streak?
Fletcher and Sabre start us off, with a lot of tentativeness out of Kyle, who did try to play Zack at his own game, going for his leg early, but that just seemed to rile up the New Japan Cup winner, who pulled down a leapfrog only to be unable to follow up. Fletcher looked for a waistlock, before a tiltawhirl backbreaker hits Sabre high… and then Kyle makes a grave mistake.
He attacked Suzuki… then ran out and let Mark Davis deal with the angry “King”. At least Davis tried to refocus Suzuki, throwing a chop his way. Which may have been a worse idea than what Kyle had. Suzuki gave an instant receipt, sparking some back-and-forth that brought Dunkzilla down to a knee. Things turn around somewhat when Sabre comes back in, as Davis and Fletcher double-teamed him to the mat, with chops keeping Zack in the wrong corner. It’s a little odd that Sabre’s the guy Aussie Open get the heat on, but you’re hardly going to get that from Suzuki!
A quebrada from Fletcher keeps Zack down, but Kyle wanders into a hanging armbar from Suzuki as anarchy broke out with all four men brawling around ringside. Davis gets thrown into those guard rails as Suzuki finally got his hands on Fletcher, stretching him as he’s want to do. There’s some afters for Davis too as Suzuki-gun stretched Fletcher two-on-one, with the bullying seeming to have no end as Kyle was left with little choice but to save himself, even if it was initially restricted to grabbing the ropes. A crossbody off the top finally gets him a breather, before a tag to Mark Davis sparks the customary Aussie Open chops/clothesline comeback.
Davis counters a guillotine from Sabre into a suplex, before an attempt to hoist Zack up for an Alphamare Waterslide took a diversion via a Sabre submission, only for Davis to land the move anyway for a near-fall. Suzuki comes in without a tag as some double-teaming led to a PK for a near-fall on Dunkzilla… whose attempt at the one-armed powerbomb backfires as Suzuki-gun just trap him in duelling armbars until Kyle Fletcher broke it up with superkicks.
That forced Kyle to go face-to-face with Suzuki, somehow catching him with a springboard facebuster… but he doesn’t go for a pin as Kyle instead calls on Davis for some double-teaming as the Aussies looked to surge ahead. Sabre eats an assisted cutter, before Suzuki kicked out of a Fidget Spinner. Suzuki fought back with palm strikes, only to get knocked down as Davis looks for a pull-up piledriver, which Sabre broke up with a triangle armbar. Suzuki nearly gets pinned via a Fletcher roll-up, but he’s back with strikes and a guillotine choke of his own, before the Gotch piledriver led to the end. A spirited fight, but Aussie Open fall short once again when they were up against New Japan stars… so, where next for them? ****
They air the David Starr promo from the Cockpit last week, as it’s now main event time…
Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship: David Starr vs. Tomohiro Ishii (c)
Coming out in a custom jacket, bearing the slogan “DAVID IS ISHII’S DADDY” is certainly a brave move, but Starr’s always believed in himself… and today he’d need a lot more than self-belief if he were to leave York Hall with two titles.
We started with Starr taking Ishii into the corner for a pat on the head… before the challenger powdered as Ishii tried to stare him down. Returning to the ring, Starr grabs a headlock, but on the mat Ishii counters with an armbar as the pair scrapped for whatever they could get. A knuckle lock’s powered out of as Ishii begins to trap Starr in the ropes with chops before shoulder tackles from Starr proved to be ineffective. There’s a trip from the challenger that works, with Starr working the wrist and digits of Ishii… before landing a Thesz press for a near-fall as he again played around with Ishii, slapping him on the back of the head.
Ishii’s sent outside… but Starr just flips him off rather than go for a dive. That proved to be a bad move as Ishii’s back with a scoop slam as he began to settle into the match, headbutting Starr into the corner before chopping him down to the mat. Starr looks to fight back with chops of his own, but Ishii’s had much worse… so he’s right back in with a shoulder tackle as Starr found that his offence wasn’t as effective as he believed it was. Chops from Starr ring around York Hall, as he succeeds in sending Ishii outside for a tope. Yeah. The papier mache guard rails didn’t do their job. Back inside, the Macho Man elbow drop’s good for a two-count, but Starr’s still pushing for the win as he tries a Product Placement, only for Ishii to overpower the grip.
Ishii lifts Starr onto the apron as he looked for a brainbuster, but instead the champion goes for shoulder tackles that get caught and turned into a Cherry Mint DDT, ahead of a Shining Wizard for a near-fall as Starr began to get frustrated that it may not be “his time”. Clubbering clotheslines barely rock Ishii, but a rebound Han Stansen does as Ishii’s forced to kick out at two.
After getting back up, Ishii tried to find a groove, but he had to trade German suplexes with Starr… then elbows before a big lariat knocked his challenger down hard. A massive POUNCE takes Starr into the corner as Ishii seemingly had weathered the storm, following up as he took Starr up top for a deadlift superplex that somehow only drew a two-count. Ishii keeps up the pressure with a folding powerbomb for another two-count, but Starr avoids a sliding lariat before nearly nicking the win with a crucifix, then a backslide as the desperation grew.
There’s a superkick from Starr, who tries to steal the win with his feet on the ropes, but Ishii kicks out and lands an enziguiri anyway to stem that tide. Another lariat spins Starr to the mat for a near-fall… but a snap Blackheart Buster almost gets the upset… as did a Han Stansen… but Ishii’s up at ONE from that! The crowd sensed the upset wasn’t on after that, buoyed on by a headbutt by Ishii, who quickly put the Product away with a sliding lariat and a sheer-drop brainbuster for the win. A competitive match, with this result elevating Starr to the wider fanbase (read: not the Cockpit crowd) about as much as he could have been without winning. A banner performance as David Starr’s 2018 in Rev Pro seemed to end with him not leaving with the gold. ****¼
After the match, we had company as Minoru Suzuki, Taichi (and eventually, El Desperado) hit the ringside area to stare down Ishii. Thing is, it wasn’t Minoru who was entering the fray – it was Zack Sabre Jr, who came through the crowd and attacked Ishii from behind, with the rest of his Suzuki-gun brethren joining in. This led to Sabre reminding us, and Andy Quildan, that he’d not had his rematch after losing the Rev Pro title to Ishii back in April… and if he’s not getting his shot, he’s taking it.
On January 4. At the Tokyo Dome. At WrestleKingdom 13.
It’s the biggest platform that Rev Pro’s gotten so far, and you would perhaps hope that it’s the start of the “next chapter” in the Rev Pro/New Japan relationship. Two years ago, the ROH title was defended at WrestleKingdom – and with that particular relationship perhaps been passed over in favour of eyeballs on the UK scene, some will perhaps hope that this will mark a new chapter; one where the “proving” stage of the relationship has been completed, and that the promotion’s main titles actually become more than a trinket we’ll see occasionally at York Hall and on NJPW World.
As for this show – well, after a rough start, Uprising really came into its own. The matches you expected to deliver… did, while the undercard was hit and miss where you expected. There’s seeds been sewn for directions in 2019, especially with Bodom and Kojima, but as to whether things follow through to a conclusion that’s good for Rev Pro’s business away from the bigger venues remains to be seen.