A month on from winning the British J Cup, Michael Oku returned to York Hall to slay another demon as he faced PAC in the main event.
It’s a… lower crowd than usual, with fewer seats than usual set out on the floor and a noticeable lack of standing on the balcony. That’s what happens when you run the big shows too often without killer storylines or big stars.
Pretty Deadly (Lewis Howley & Sam Stoker) vs. Moonlight Express (MAO & Mike Bailey)
We start with some roll ups as the lack of commentary early on doesn’t exactly hide the relatively cavern-like nature of the half-full York Hall.
Bailey and Howley come in next, using leapfrogs, roll-throughs and a dropkick to take Howley outside, but Stoker interrupts and takes a pair of dropkicks before dualling topes con giro wiped out Pretty Deadly. Back inside Stoker targets Bailey’s leg, while Howley slams and lands a legdrop for a near-fall. Stoker leans over the turnbuckles to stop Howley from running into it, as Pretty Deadly continued to push on. They try it again, but Bailey leaps in with a knee to Howley in the corner, before Stoker ran to pull MAO off the apron to prevent a tag. After a back body drop and moonsault knees, Bailey eventually tags out as MAO ran wild with body blows and a dropkick to Howley.
MAO outsmarts Pretty Deadly, avoiding a splash as Stoker leapt onto his partner, before landing a stomp to the pair of them. Howley reacts by tagging in Stoker for a short DDT before the Bad Apple – a double-team gutbuster – nearly won the match. All four men are in the ring as MAO worked up to a split-legged moonsault on Stoker for a near-fall. The ref’s still not enforcing tags and legal men as MAO ends up sandwiched with palm strikes, before Bailey caught Howley in the ropes to save from a Doomsday Uppercut. MAO responds with a Michinoku driver to Stoker for yet another two-count, before dualling head kicks and the Moonlight Express’ version of a Fidget Spinner almost put Stoker down.
Howley’s needed to break the count, and gets chopped for his efforts before all four men were left down. C’mon ref. Legal man and all that! Pretty Deadly pull ahead with their diving charges as they showed off a nice lungblower out of a Gory Stretch start, which nearly gets the win on MAO, before a snap ‘rana gets MAO a two-count on Stoker. Pretty Deadly catch a Quebrada from MAO and lawndart him into a superkick, before a tope to Bailey left MAO alone as the Doomsday Uppercut gets the win. I’m digging Pretty Deadly here as they’re being given a chance to show their tag team arsenal without any extra baggage (cough), but I do wish they’d been able to find a way to do it without it turning into a tornado in the middle. Pet peeves and all that. ***¼
Hikuleo vs. Shota Umino
Shockingly a first time singles match, Hikuleo’s won every prior meeting thanks to it being in Bullet Club vs. Young Lion tags. By the way, that Shota Umino entrance video is horribly generic – and not exactly subtle…
Umino jump starts the match, hitting Hikuleo with a dropkick, then with a DDT as he outfoxed Hikuleo. There’s a Busaiku knee as Shota’s probably not going 20 minutes here, but he teases the Death Rider DDT early, and Hikuleo’s right back out with a nasty clothesline. That takes Shota outside, as he’s chopped around the front row, before forearms rained down on him back inside. Some crossface punches awaited Shota as they went back outside, then followed up with a legdrop back inside for a two-count. Shota tried to break free by sidestepping Hikuleo into the corner, but the big man just whips him back there before Umino found his way in with a neckbreaker. Forearms dizzy Hikuleo, but don’t knock him down, so Shota tries a slam again, and eventually gets it!
A missed dropkick from Umino puts him back to square one. He found a way in with a Fujiwara armbar, but a rope break is called before a bridging German suplex nearly earned the upset. Shota fires up and tries for a Death Rider, only to take a scoop slam off the rope before a Tongan Driver led to another near-fall, only for Hikuleo to fall to a crucifix in the ropes as Shota got the win. This picked up towards the end, but Umino so far doesn’t seem to be clicking on his excursion. Perhaps the “Shooter” gimmick isn’t really working without Jon Moxley in the equation? **¼
Post-match, Hikuleo lays out Shota with a Stun Gun, and I guess this feud must continue.
Gisele Shaw vs. Shanna
At least they avoided the meme of the second match… I thought Gisele had new music, but it seems to be Rev Pro not using the radio edit of Salute…
Commentary mentions how Zoe Lucas has been away from Rev Pro since she lost to Gisele Shaw during the summer… Shanna starts by working Shaw’s wrist, but ends up in a headlock before they broke up and went for a Test of Strength. Shaw’s forced to bridge back, but Shanna kicks out the bridge for a near-fall, before we reached a stand-off. Shaw hits the ropes but gets taken down with a ‘rana from Shanna, then hit one of her own before a springboard ‘rana just about finds its way. Shanna fights through with a knee before Gisele went wild with armdrags for a one-count. Some rope-walking for Shaw ends up going awry as Shanna pulls her down, going for a Dragon sleeper that Shaw knees her way out of.
Things go a little weird amid a strike exchange, as Shaw hits back with a Tiger suplex for a two-count. A whip into the corner gets a similar result, before Shanna hit back with uppercuts… and this feels like it’s lost the crowd. Gisele ran in with a Flatliner out of nowhere for a two-count, before they traded head kicks as a roundhouse enziguiri and a Ligerbomb kept Shaw ahead. Shanna snuck back with a version of Angel’s Wings for a near-fall, before Shaw rolled through on a massive crossbody and caught Shanna in the middle of the ring with the levering armbar for the submission. This was okay, but the crowd didn’t seem to latch on, particularly in the middle… another win for Shaw keeps her en route for that women’s title shot though. **
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
Well, this match being announced as a bit flat considering they teased Kurt Chapman’s demise at the hands of Minoru Suzuki last time out. Mind you, Minoru Suzuki in the Rev Pro mid card just feels… wrong? Much like the (improved, legible) lower thirds not capitalising EVIL and SANADA.
That one guy’s very loud in his hatred of ZSJ. Hi Liam! Sabre starts by taking SANADA down in a wristlock, before an endless sequence of counters wound up Sabre. EVIL and Suzuki tag in to trade chops, but Suzuki just laughs them off before they throttled each other and went into the corner. SANADA’s back in, but the match quickly spills outside as all four men brawled. Sabre wrenches EVIL’s arm around the ring barriers before SANADA took some double-teaming back inside. Suzuki works over SANADA’s wrist some more, then invited Sabre in to clear the apron as SANADA was just stood on. A chinbar from Suzuki keeps SANADA on the deck, as the story continued to be Suzuki-gun taking their turns at wearing down Sabre’s next challenger.
SANADA eventually gets free with a low dropkick and brought in EVIL, who did his best to clear the ring with a slam to ZSJ, then a thrust kick to Suzuki. A Bronco buster follows, but Suzuki turns it around again with a PK for a near-fall… as more intimidation of the ref followed. EVIL and Suzuki trade forearms again, before Minoru switched it up for those clonking elbows, before SANADA came in to help double-team on the way to a near-fall. The double-teams turn around as Sabre and Suzuki stretch EVIL, but that’s broken up by SANADA as Suzuki chokes out EVIL before the Gotch piledriver gets countered with a back body drop. EVIL’s comeback sees him hit a Fisherman buster, before SANADA springboarded into a Skull End… which Sabre countered with an Octopus hold. That’s somehow countered back out before an overhead kick took out SANADA’s arm, only for SANADA to land a Dragon screw in response.
Sabre rolls outside, but can’t avoid a Pescado from SANADA. Back inside, the pair dance around a Cobra twist, which SANADA hiptosses away before we got the Paradise Lock… which Sabre countered into a cross armbar as EVIL and Suzuki fought on the outside. A Zack Driver’s escaped as SANADA goes for a Euro clutch that Suzuki breaks up. The pair trade uppercuts until a backslide from SANADA was rolled out into a PK, before we counter, counter and counter as a Japanese leg clutch got SANADA the win. That’s a noteable result, but this match felt like little more than an exhibition that was at half speed – which is a disappointment, and exactly what people feared when this match was announced. ***¼
Post-match, Sabre dumps SANADA with a Sabre driver before he taunted SANADA with the title. Echoey mics mean I can barely make out the promo. Then Minoru Suzuki signed off with the usual… then returned to the ring to deal with some unfinished business. With an idiot with a death wish: with the “young boy”.
Andy Boy Simmonz filmed it on his iPhone, while Andy Quildan looked forlorn as he risked losing his Super Contender. Dan Magee tries to talk him out of it… to no avail. Chapman dabs in front of Suzuki… then went to punch him. It’s laughed off, even more so when Chapman throws some chops… and the inevitable didn’t take too long as Mad Kurt took a slap, a Gotch piledriver, and a visual pin. Thanks for coming!
There’s a third fight – Suzuki vs. microphone. Which is quickly stomped on. There’s a new year’s resolution for 2020 – new mics to go with the new cameras!
Kenneth Halfpenny vs. Robbie X vs. Carlos Romo vs. Ricky Knight Jr. vs. Dan Moloney vs. Kyle Fletcher
Halfpenny was replacing an injured Senza Volto – which means he actually got a match ahead of Mad Kurt!
Commentary mentions that Ken was in the old 1PW academy way back when, in the same class as Robbie X. Carlos Romo lets Halfpenny take centre stage for aul’ Dave, before Moloney threw the two of them into each other as the ring cleared without much of the crowd registering it. Robbie X flies around Fletcher and Moloney, before he landed a hiptoss/low dropkick combo to Kyle.
Ricky Knight Jr. turns up the pace against Robbie, flipping him inside out with a dropkick before he blocked a chop from Moloney and hit one of his own. Dan hits back hard, before the globetrotter Romo came in to hit a leapfrog/dropkick. A trip from Halfpenny staggers Romo ahead of a Head Hunter blockbuster as the revolving door continues, ending with Fletcher suplexing both Romo and Halfpenny at the same time. Fletcher aims high with some chops for Halfpenny, before the ring cleared as aul’ Ken went for a dive… Dan catches him and F5’s him on the apron. Ah man. Ricky Knight Jr returns to clothesline Robbie outside then followed to the outside with a step-up flip senton to the pile as York Hall finally woke up. Back inside, Ricky superkicks Robbie amid a big Parade of Moves, including a nice stacked up Samoan drop that he was able to hold a la Ryback.
Halfpenny pulls Robbie out to save him from Knight’s corkscrew senton, before he finally got some offence on the way to a sliding lariat on Romo. Moloney returns to clothesline Robbie X ahead of a Ligerbomb for a nearfall, only for Kyle to return with a Michinoku driver as we began to hit everyone’s finishers, although Romo’s back in with a dive to the pile on the outside. Back inside a springboard moonsault from Carlos nearly gets the win on Ricky, before Cutter Without the E was shoved away. Ricky’s back with another dive, hitting an across-the-ringpost tope con giro, something that Robbie X picks up on as he went up top, only for Kyle to catch him and tease a superplex to the floor. Robbie gets free with a Pele kick, then went back up and damn near killed Kyle with a Destroyer off the top rope into the pile! Well, Robbie’s bringing the innovation to this glorious spotfest!
Returning to the ring again, Robbie focuses on Ricky, setting up for a corkscrew splash, aborting it so he could hit a belly-to-belly into the corner. A Spiral Tap’s next, but Halfpenny breaks up the pin before hitting almost an inverted Cross Rhodes for a near-fall. Cutter Without the E again gets blocked for Romo, but the Busaiku knee doesn’t miss as he took out the cameraman on the way to a dive on Fletcher and Knight on the floor… a running cutter awaits Halfpenny back inside for a near-fall.
Fletcher dumps Romo with a superplex, a running knee and a Ligerbomb… and it’s not enough as Ricky Knight Jr. stalks him from the top rope, hitting a push-down stomp off the top then his version of Tama Tonga’s Apeshit for another two-count. A Parade of Kicks wipes everyone out, before it turned into another spotty Parade of Moves. Romo finally hits Cutter Without the E, but he’s taken out with a German suplex and an X-Express from Robbie X!
Dan Moloney’s the last man standing, defiantly flipping off Robbie’s chops before a murderous Drilla piledriver was broken up by Romo. Carlos tries to fight on, but he takes a Black Hole Slam and a Drilla… and that’s a wonderful spotfest done. Perhaps a little on the long side, but this was exactly the kind of “popcorn” graps you needed to start the second half with. ***½
RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship: TJP vs. El Phantasmo (c)
This one was a bit of a head scratcher – TJP’s debut in Rev Pro gets him straight into a title shot. How?! Why?! ELP tries to rebrand the title the “World Cruiserweight Championship”, which Andy Q takes exception to as someone in the crowd yelled about Brexit.
TJP tries to babyface himself with talk about fish and chips, and we get underway with ELP getting sent outside. Back inside, ELP grounds TJP with a side headlock, but TJP just scoots free as Phantasmo again bails, then came back in to get taken down with some twisting headscissors as TJP was mocking the champion. Phantasmo’s back with a bow-and-arrow hold, but TJP flips free as the champion rolled into the ropes as we’re staying with the staccato pace. Boot chokes in the corner follow from Phantasmo, before he began to fly around, only to get suckered into a Sharpshooter from TJP. That’s turned into a Muta lock, before Phantasmo countered back with headscissors that TJP had to flip out of, only for ELP to keep hold of an arm as he threw in some joint manipulation for the hell of it.
The Gas Pedal follows, which prompted the ref to argue with Phantasmo, complete with some shoving, before it was time for the ELP rope walk. Complete with some Monty Python-esque Ministry of Silly Walks stuff, before TJP pulled him down into a nasty Saito suplex. A slingshot dropkick to the outside and a flash Pescado follows, then a tope as the camera crew were getting caught on the hop, before a High Fly Flow from TJP nearly ended things. TJP traps ELP with the TJP Clutch, then with a Fujiwara armbar, before a rope break allowed Phantasmo to come back with a Styles Clash, then a whirlibird neckbreaker before TJP caught Phantasmo on the top rope and went for a superplex… only for a nipple twister to stop him in his tracks. Regardless, TJP pops up for a superplex, then rolls through into an Octopus hold, before another TJP Clutch looked to force a stoppage.
A STF follows, but ELP got to the rope with his finger, a la Kevin Owens, before ELP grabbed hold of the ref to avoid a Detonator kick. With no ref, a low blow stops TJP, ahead of the CR2… and that’s all folks. This was aggressively fine – but nobody gave TJP any realistic shot of winning this strap, nor, I suspect, did many want him to. **½
We get a video package ahead of the tag team titles match, introducing any newbies to the Kings of the North and how they arrived on the scene last month.
RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Championship: Kings Of The North (Bonesaw & Damien Corvin) vs. The Legion (Rampage Brown & Great O-Kharn) (c)
Gideon Grey’s here for his usual, coronary-teasing introduction… although they toned it down a lot. Health and Safety, eh?
All four men brawl before the bell, as O-Kharn’s still in his wacky robe. When he gets it off, Bonesaw avoids a double-team before the Kings squashed him with a big boot and a back senton… but they didn’t go for a pin. Corvin baseball slides to the outside as the brawl moved out there, while Gideon tried to cheapshot Corvin with the cane. He quickly scurries behind ring announcer Gio… and now the bell rings!
Corvin’s early dropkick caught out Rampage, who responded with the pop-up slam as the Legion began to double-team him with a wishbone leg splitter. O-Kharn took over by just sitting on him in the corner, then a facebuster for a quick two-count as York Hall didn’t seem all that interested. Rampage returns to stomp over Corvin, who the Legion isolated… and just as I say that, Corvin got free to Bonesaw, who came in with chops, clotheslines and cannonballs.
Gideon tries to intervene again, but the distraction ultimately works as O-Kharn uncorks some Mongolian chops. Bonesaw tries to fight back, but those Mongolian chops have him down for a near-fall, allowing Rampage to return with a back suplex. The pace for this one feels like it’s died a lot since the initial brawl, but the crowd eventually got back into it as they tried to get behind Bonesaw, who eventually went for some Big Strong Lucha with a ‘rana.
Problem was, Gideon’s back to pull Corvin off the apron, so Bonesaw had to hit a flying DDT before Corvin returned with a missile dropkick and a Sky High powerbomb. Rampage breaks it up, and earns himself an uranage/slingshot senton combo as Corvin pushed on, looking for the It’s a Kind of Magic Killer, but instead he went out for a dive, hitting a tope con giro to the Legion on the floor.
The referee inexplicably follows Corvin outside, and misses Gideon trying to attack Bonesaw. It goes as well as you’d expect, and Gideon eats the It’s a Kind of Magic Killer. Guerrilla Warfare right there. O-Kharn tries to fight back, but has to rely on Rampage pulling out Corvin as the fireman’s carry/cutter combo – tagged as Deep Wounds – got the win. This was, again, okay, but lacked the spark that a lot of the Kings matches seemed to have. I guess building up a feud and paying off in three weeks doesn’t work in Britwres at the moment… Hopefully this isn’t the end of the Kings here, as I feel they have a fair amount to offer Rev Pro if used to their strengths. **¼
We’ve another video package, summarising Michael Oku’s run in the British J Cup… then a much better package, going through Oku’s 2019 in Rev Pro. Complete with LOTS OF TWEETS. These are the kind of packages we need in Britwres, especially building up those key main events…
Michael Oku vs. PAC
It’s the rematch of perhaps the best Rev Pro match of 2019, with Michael Oku hoping to close out his 2019 in York Hall with a win.
Oku charges out of the gates as he ran at PAC with a forearm at the bell, sending the Geordie running. He chases him back inside for dropkicks, then followed him back outside, throwing PAC into the guard rails, which still very much broke away on impact. Returning inside again, PAC is cracked into with a missile dropkick for just a one-count… and yet again PAC rolls to the floor. Oku takes PAC onto the walkway, and throws his head into the raised ramp, before they returned to the ring yet again. Another missile dropkick’s stopped as PAC caught Oku up top for a superplex, before he whipped Oku into a Tree of Woe. Impressive.
A running boot traps Oku in the corner as PAC didn’t seem to be breaking a sweat. Already Oku seems to be running on fumes, not helped with a brutal clothesline as PAC took him onto the ramp for a tombstone as he looked to be making this match a lot more decisive than their Cockpit encounter earlier in the year. Oku manages to beat the count-out, but PAC seemed to focus on playing with his foe instead, and it backfires when Oku caught and hit a superkick of his own.
Oku misses a Quebrada but found his target with a running knee. That springboard moonsault hits second later for a near-fall as Oku began to slowly build momentum, only to wildly telegraph a half crab, which PAC pushes away. PAC tries to go up top, but he too is caught as a top rope ‘rana connected, before a frog splash lands for a near-fall. On the outside, Oku hit a brainbuster, then rolled PAC back in for a frog splash that whiffs badly… and PAC’s right in there with a Brutaliser, which Oku countered with a roll-up for a near-fall.
The half crab’s reapplied again, but PAC’s quickly in the ropes, and blocks a satellite DDT before he decked Oku with a superkick. A Black Arrow whiffs as Oku rolled away, allowing Oku back in with a spiking satellite DDT, then a diving knee for another near-fall. Straight from the kick-out, a drained Oku grabs the leg for a half crab, but PAC defiantly goes to the ropes as he teased giving up. After getting back up, PAC throws Oku directly into the ring post, before he tore off Oku’s shoulder strap and repeated the trick. A sitout powerbomb crunches Oku, as a Brutaliser followed… this time Oku couldn’t counter into a pin as he had to push with all his might to roll the pair into the ropes. PAC’s back to his feet first, going for a Black Arrow again, but Oku rolls to the outside. He’s thrown back in so PAC could go on the attack, but he springboards into a cutter from Oku, before responding with another vicious clothesline… which still wasn’t enough to get the win.
PAC pulls Oku to the top as he looked for an avalanche tombstone piledriver, and nails it before the Black Arrow landed in Oku’s knees… giving Oku a chance to go for a quick roll-up and snatch the win! Michael Oku not only survived, but won as York Hall came unglued – with PAC furious at himself for not finishing things sooner. Perhaps not on the same level as the original match at the Cockpit, with the general feeling that Oku was going to win… even if he didn’t look like he had at the end. ***¾
I’ll be honest, Uprising felt very much underwhelming at points. Coming back to York Hall less than a month after the British J Cup was always going to be a tough ask, especially with only one “key” match. They’re at least giving it two months before their return, with High Stakes coming in February with Michael Oku getting another rematch: this time against El Phantasmo for the Cruiserweight title.
Problem is, Rev Pro don’t have that many shows between now and then, so it’ll be a hard ask to build up another one or two stories going into the show that’ll make the show really unmissable – especially on its new Friday night date. The story of Rev Pro’s 2019, aside from talent losses, has been how they’ve seemingly been able to maintain storylines against the background of two of their key championships being “lost to Japan”, while Zoe Lucas being away from the company for the second half of 2019 meant that really Rev Pro only had their tag titles this year. Hopefully 2020 is much kinder to Rev Pro – but they’d be wise to avoid running York Hall too often, as Uprising’s crowd numbers have shown that perhaps the familiar New Japan faces are no longer ticket sellers these days…