Rev Pro returned to York Hall as all of their titles were put on the line – with Shota Umino, Mike Bailey and the Knights going for gold.
Francesco Akira pinned Robbie X in 10:47 (***¼)
Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper pinned Alex Coughlin & Karl Fredericks in 16:27 (***½)
Alex Windsor submitted Debbie Keitel in 15:17 to retain the Rev Pro Undisputed British Women’s Championship (***½)
Michael Oku submitted Mike Bailey in 19:28 to retain the Rev Pro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship (****¼)
Gideon Grey pinned Yota Tsuji in 15:09 (***¼)
Ricky Knight Jr. & Roy Knight pinned Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis in a combined 16:41 to win the Rev Pro Undisputed British Tag Team Championship (***¼)
Will Ospreay pinned Shota Umino in 27:04 to retain the Rev Pro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship (***¾)
Barely two weeks after the British J-Cup in Stevenage, Rev Pro’s back for another big show at York Hall – and with Gideon Grey in action, we’ve got Rob Lias joining Andy Quildan on commentary for the night.
The show opened with the first induction into the Rev Pro Hall of Fame, with the late Ryan Smile being inducted. We get a video with tributes from Chris Brookes, Dan Moloney, Will Ospreay, Kenny Omega, Kyle Fletcher, Mark Davis, Pete Dunne (without the almost comedic zoom-in that they had live), Flash Morgan Webster, Kip Sabian, Kid Lykos, and Shane Strickland. Alice Smile (better known as Alex Windsor) gave a few memories as well, before the obligatory award was given, along with the original Rev Pro British Cruiserweight title belt.
The roster then came out for a ten-bell salute for Ryan Smile, which was shared with two fans: Ian Edmunds and Michael Pearce. Another tribute video, set to Uptown Funk, closed out the ceremony. A very touching tribute for all involved.
Robbie X vs. Francesco Akira
This one was a rematch from their meeting at the 229 in London last month, but with Akira having missed the British J-Cup a few weeks earlier due to injury, this was his first big show for Rev Pro – and unfortunately the old “folks don’t watch the smaller shows” vibe translated through.
A dropkick early from Akira looked to catch Robbie X’s nose, but that didn’t slow him down much as a handspring kick knocked Akira off the apron, before Francesco fought back with a Slingblade to buy him some time. A wheelbarrow stomp from Akira keeps him going, as did a Fisherman’s screw neckbreaker as the Italian turned up the pace, taking Robbie X outside for a dive… but it’s kicked away. Akira superkicks away an X-Claimation, then hit his version of Angel’s Wings for a near-fall, before a Meteora to the back of the head gets the win. Akira’s now 2-0 over Robbie X, and where that leaves Robbie remains to be seen. A good, even match, but it paled in comparison to the first one – not helped by the usual issues with stuff from the smaller shows not translating well to York Hall, as the crowd took their time to warm up. (***¼)
Post-match, Dan Moloney ran from the crowd to attack Robbie X, laying him out with a Drilla. Guess that’s what’s next, as commentary seemed to be hoping for an easy-to-promote Fireball vs. Speedball match down the line…
Alex Coughlin & Karl Fredericks vs. Sunshine Machine (Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper)
In Huntingdon the previous day, Coughlin and Fredericks got wins in singles matches, but Sunshine Machine have been starting to hit form…
Coughlin out-grappled Mambo on the mat early, forcing his way in with a STF as the crowd were largely watching silently. A double-leg from Coughlin seemed to wake up Mambo, who found his way in with an armdrag before he got POUNCE’d into the corner. Fredericks and Cooper try their luck with shoulder tackles, but it’s a leg lariat from TK that pulled him ahead, as they built to the Romero special/Flatliner combo with Fredericks getting bounced around here for fun. Fredericks’ back body drop gives him space to tag in Coughlin, who muscled Sunshine Machine around, chucking TK with overhead belly-to-belly before Mambo tried to take control against Fredericks. A boot knocks Coughlin off the apron before Mambo’s knees and dropkick cleared away the LA Dojo lads.
Mambo’s Reefbreak nearly wins it, as TK returned for the Gutterball (Gory bomb cutter), only for a Fredericks spinebuster to stop the momentum in a hurry. Coughlin’s back with a stacked up fallaway slam/Samoan drop just to show off, before a step-up stomp from Fredericks nearly ended things. Sunshine Machine pile on the pressure with a Reef Break and a 450 splash to Coughlin, before the Burning Gutbuster on Coughlin finally got the win as Sunshine Machine excelled in the tag team setting. Based on this form, it’s easy to see why some are preferring Coughlin over Fredericks out of the pair – it certainly seemed here that the match was built to showcase the moustachioed Coughlin more here. ***½
Rev Pro Undisputed British Women’s Championship: Debbie Keitel vs. Alex Windsor (c)
On the night that Ryan Smile was inducted into Rev Pro’s Hall of Fame, Alex Windsor came out to his old theme song here – Kevin Rudolf’s “In The City.” That got a lot of people right in the feels, as they say…
Keitel mugged off to the crowd early and got caught by Windsor, whose initial flurry threatened to make this a short night, but Keitel overcame it and began to wear down Windsor’s arm. A Northern Lights suplex gets Keitel a two-count, before WIndsor booted her way free and scored with a fallaway slam. Heading outside, Windsor eventually kicked Keitel from the apron, then chopped her around the rails. A reversed Irish whip sent Windsor into the rails, as they headed up onto the ramp as Windsor blocked a sit-out Pedigree… only to take a suplex onto it. Keitel then went for the sit-out Pedigree, but Windsor headbutts her away, then dove off the ramp onto Keitel at ringside.
Keitel gets up and looked for a German suplex on the apron, eventually scoring it, but Keitel opted to go to the ring and look for a count-out, rather than roll Windsor back in for a pin. Windsor made it back inside and begins a comeback, going for a Sharpshooter that Keitel rolled out of as she looked to move in with a Cattle Mutilation. Windsor gets free, then countered the sit-out Pedigree into an Air Raid Crash for a near-fall, before a sitout Alabama Slam nearly won it for Keitel. She followed up with a Stroke, but Windsor kicked out at two, so Keitel rolled outside and grabbed her coffee… which gets superkicked away.
Windsor takes it back inside for a Coast to Coast dropkick attempt, but instead she’s caught as a superplex brings the champion back in. One more crack at the sit-out Pedigree’s stopped though, as Windsor pushes away and pulled Keitel into a Sharpshooter for the quick stoppage. A good, aggressive match as Windsor continues a good run of form since her comeback – and who knows what the future’ll hold for her here. ***½
Rev Pro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship: Mike Bailey vs. Michael Oku (c)
Bailey won the British J-Cup earlier in the month to get this shot. Oku had Connor Mills with him at ringside, and a LOT of people were second-guessing things as a result of that.
Bailey planted Oku with a brainbuster in the opening seconds of the match, which had Oku on the back foot from the off. Oku’s able to pull himself back in, but he’s sent outside for a triangle moonsault, before a trip up to the ramp led to a running PK on the champion… only for Bailey to miss the moonsault double knees as the battle of the man who hates his knees versus the man who seemingly hates his neck really began. Oku capitalises with a half crab on the ramp, since the ref had given up the count-out, before the pair made it back inside where Bailey kicked away another half crab before a missed dropkick sees Oku land on his neck and shoulders. See?
Bailey blocked a ‘rana of the top to hit a Project Ciampa, which almost hurt Bailey as much as Oku, which allowed the champion to hit back, eventually snapping Bailey with a DDT for a near-fall. Bailey’s latest return sees him hit an Asai moonsault to Oku on the outside as this one remained finely poised, only to miss more moonsault double knees, this time onto the apron, as Oku retaliated with a Fosbury flop. More knee pain followed as Bailey gets them up to block a frog splash, before a simple chop nearly put Oku through the ropes. A faked-out chop earns Bailey some kicks, but he returns with a corkscrew roundhouse before a Flamingo driver’s blocked… as Bailey then ate a misdirection leaping knee strike. A springboard moonsault nearly gets Oku the win, before Bailey hit the Flamingo driver at the second attempt, which almost got the win.
Another trip up top sees Bailey thrown down for an awkward landing, as Oku joined him with an Ace’s High froggy crossbody and a Millshot for a near-fall. The half crab followed, but Bailey’s right into the ropes as he’s sent outside for a tope. Oku keeps pushing on with a corner dropkick and a frog splash, before another half crab in the middle of the ring again ends with Bailey clawing his way to the ropes. Bailey cradles Oku as he kept spamming the half crab, as that moonsault/fallaway slam nearly wins it… then upped the ante with a WILD moonsault Fisherman’s superplex for a near-fall, before a missed shot at the Ultima Weapon was rolled through, with Oku going back to the half crab for the submission. Absolutely fantastic stuff this between the bells – they’re slowly inching towards the Mills/Oku turn (again) – even though Mills played no physical role here, Oku “borrowing” his tag partner’s moves looks like something that’ll play into the wider story – and at least Mills’ sheer presence is making sure fans can’t predict a finish. ****¼
Gideon Grey vs. Yota Tsuji
After weeks of Gideon harassing Tsuji to join his Legion, there was a very simple stipulation here. If Gideon won, Tsuji had to join… but if Tsuji won, the Legion dissolves.
The match opened up with Grey being caught off-guard, as he’d not had a chance to issue one last peace offering. He’d written a special, very unique song for Tsuji, which had no connection at all to the chant that Tsuji had had sang at him based on Baccara’s Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.
Tsuji responded to the operatic version by rolling up Grey for a two-count, before a teased Vertebreaker saw Gideon hit an armdrag to get free. Tsuji rips off Gideon’s Legion shirt and threw it to the crowd… and it got thrown right back as Grey’s worn down. After getting to the ropes, things are taken outside as Grey hit a running knee off the apron, following up with some chops around ringside. Back inside, a tijeras from Tsuji left Grey down for the running flip senton, then the Mount Tsuji splash, and finally a standing moonsault for an early two-count. A Boston crab forced Grey into the ropes, before they teased some ref bumps… ending with Chris Hatch taking a forearm in the corner.
Tsuji keeps going with a DDT for a visual ten count, but there’s no ref… so in comes Lucien Phillips, who’d “promised not to get involved,” but powerbombed Tsuji anyway, dropping Grey onto him for a two-count. A superkick knocked Grey down, as Tsuji pulled Grey into a Gory special… but Phillips pulled out the ref to make sure he can’t see the tap. Phillips gets ejected from ringside, but not before Tsuji had dived onto him, while Tsuji returned to Grey with a Stinger splash, before he was lifted onto the apron. A cutter through the ropes has Tsuji in trouble, as did a death valley bomb, before Tsuji looked to hit back with a shooting star press… but Grey caught him with a belly-to-belly superplex instead. A head kick and a spear has Grey down, but Tsuji pulls up Grey at two?
Another spear gets another two-count as Tsuji broke his own count, laughing as he went, before he shot down chants for a shooting star… while a third spear was countered into a crucifix as the crowd fell silent. Gideon Grey snatched his first ever win at York Hall (on his birthday, no less), and managed to get his dream present. On paper, some were expecting this to be a blow-out for Tsuji, but this is a pretty simple story to tell – you have Tsuji in a unit against his will, he eventually wins his freedom, and we move on. Not every story has to be told in a four week cycle. Ahem… ***¼
Rev Pro Undisputed British Tag Team Championship: Ricky Knight Jr. & Roy Knight vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c)
A match of two halves, was this. The stipulation going in was that if Ricky Knight Jr. didn’t win, he couldn’t ever challenge Will Ospreay for the British Heavyweight Championship (undisputed or otherwise). His tag team partner here? Roy Knight – formerly the Zebra Kid – who last appeared in York Hall back in 2015.
Davis and Roy start us off with a fair amount of aggression between the two, while Fletcher and RKJ hit the ring for RKJ’s high-speed exchange, ending with a dropkick. Roy Knight decides to hit a torpedo dive, landing shoulder-first into the Aussies, only for a turnaround to see Aussie Open squish the Knight backs inside. Thing spill outside again as Davis charges Roy into the side of the ring, kneeling on him for a two-count back inside as the champions nearly closes this one down quickly. Roy manages to take down Fletcher with a clothesline, then tagged out to RKJ, who hit the corner death valley driver and a dropkick before he stacked up both of the Aussies for a Samoan drop.
Out of nowhere, Fletcher comes in with the title belt and hits RKJ with it behind the ref’s back. Roy gets in on the act, punting Kyle low before cracking Davis with the same belt for the DQ after 6:17. The crowd’s not too keen on that, especially since Chris Hatch came out to “correct” the ref and reverse the DQ, which would have kept RKJ alive as a title challenger… only for them to restart things as a no-DQ match. The Knights drag Aussie Open from the back as the video screens briefly became the Andy Q-Tron showing live footage of the Aussies getting suplexed onto the stage… and now we get the toys. Out comes a chair against the back of Fletcher, before a running diving elbow off the ramp knocked Fletcher out of a chair. That same chair which, seconds later, RKJ used to drag Davis around ringside with…
Fletcher’s staying down after that elbow drop, as the Knights instead focused on Davis… which backfires as Davis throws a chair at Roy on the top rope, before he began to go after RKJ with chairshots. There’s even one to the head of Roy for good measure… Kyle’s back with chairshots, as the Aussies then stacked up the chairs to create an ugly landing for the Coriolis… but Roy breaks it up, and earned himself another chairshot to the head which ruled him out for the rest of the match with what looked like a dislocated shoulder. Out comes a table, along with a reusable coffee cup full of drawing pins. The cup’s thrown into the crowd… and again, it’s thrown right back, so Fletcher just pings it back into the crowd. More chairshots from RKJ lead to a death valley driver on Davis into the pins, before he set up a table and eventually hit a Destroyer to Fletcher off the top rope through it. Luckily, despite this being British wrestling, the table breaks, as RKJ finishes off Fletcher with a ‘Kishi driver into the tacks to win the titles in 10:24.
This was a wild tag match, but several knocks throughout the match looked to punctuate the flow of things. The no-DQ restart certainly made the match feel chaotic, but if Aussie Open are done (for now), then Rev Pro’s established tag division suddenly feels like it’s needing work done to it, having been in a good spot. ***¼
Rev Pro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Shota Umino vs. Will Ospreay (c)
Ospreay also put his “real” IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the line for this one, after refusing a selfie with a fan at ringside who’d had one with Umino moments earlier.
They start gingerly at first, but the tempo quickly ratchets up as both men tease finishers early, as the crowd were way more into Ospreay than you’d expect. So much so, that the “ole ole ole ole” chants ended up sounding like they ended with “Sho-spray”… Umino pushes on early with a back senton, but dropkicks take him to the outside as Ospreay measured up Umino for a back suplex onto the rails. Back inside, Umino’s pinged around with chops before he rolled up Ospreay into an uppercut. A back body drop followed, then a back elbow out of the corner for a near-fall, before another Death Rider attempt was fought out of.
A springboard forearm gets Ospreay a nonchalant two-count, before Umino jarred his knee leaping out of the corner… then got met with an instant chop block. Ospreay pounced on the knee from there, wrapping it around the ring post. Another Death Rider’s countered with a Dragon screw as Ospreay traps Umino in a Figure Four, which almost led to some pinning predicaments. Umino rolls the hold, but Ospreay rolls it again into the ropes for a break, before he hung Umino in the ropes… only to get caught as Umino brought him down with a superplex. Forearms and elbows looked to keep Umino on top, but Ospreay finds a new gear and dumps Umino with a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. A DDT, then a lifting reverse DDT puts Umino back in it, while a pumphandle powerslam attempt was escaped, with Ospreay coming right back with a hook kick. More forearms follow as Ospreay’s standing Spanish fly gets him close to the win, as did a Ryan Smile-ish frog splash.
The Chelsea Grin drops Umino as a set-up to the Hidden Blade, but Umino avoids it and hits a neckbreaker instead… and grabbed Ospreay’s wrist on the mat. Stomps to Ospreay lead to the pumphandle powerslam for a near-fall, before a Death Rider’s countered eventually into a sitout powerbomb for another two-count. Another trip up top for Ospreay is stopped as the crowd’s chants grew more even, while Umino brings Ospreay down with an avalanche slam for a near-fall.
Finally Shota nails a Death Rider, then a second, but it’s not enough to put Ospreay away… and you sensed that was the end of the run there. A third Death Rider’s countered out of into a Rainmaker… and just for the fun of it, Ospreay pulls up Umino for a Last of the Dragon, before a Hidden Blade swatted Umino for the win. Maybe I’m being harsh, but as soon as Ospreay put the “real IWGP title” on the line, any shot of Umino winning went out the window, given that’s faintly tying in to New Japan’s storylines. That aside, this was pretty good match with Umino holding his own, but as soon as the multiple Death Riders couldn’t get it done, you felt that his chance was over. ***¾
There’s been detractors of Shota Umino since the Rev Pro restart, and unfortunately comparing Yota Tsuji’s excursion to Umino’s is making Umino not look good. Sure, the comparisons are apples to oranges, but based on recent form, as Tsuji’s definitely been the more attention-grabbing run, while Umino has been holding steady… a far cry from the initial Hiroshi Tanahashi comparisons that his flashy gear drew at the start of the excursion.
After the match, Ospreay kicks Umino out of the ring and began what’s now become a traditional end-of-show promo as he showered Shota with faint praise, then took shots at the dissenters in the crowd. Ospreay called out Jon Moxley (via Umino), before further attempts to get the crowd to boo him didn’t exactly go to plan. So Ospreay said he’d go off to Japan to come back with all of the IWGP titles… then got interrupted on his way to the back by Michael Oku.
Yep, we’re not done. Via a ceremonial grabbing of the belt, Oku called for a shot at the Undisputed British Heavyweight championship – with the claim being that Ospreay never actually defeated in when they met in Southampton (Oku did lose, but it was via a referee stoppage). Given that Oku actually stopped those Ospreay cheers, this should make for a cauldron-like atmosphere wherever they meet for the title.
Being there live, this show was a real rollercoaster of emotions – from the early fears of a poor crowd (with the venue really filling up minutes before bell time), through the tributes, and through to the wrestling itself… there were concerns that Rev Pro were going to need to rethink things. At least for now, Rev Pro seem to be able to get a decent crowd at York Hall without blowing the bank (and risking logistical headaches) on big name fly-ins, and with a big match already lined up for the next York Hall (you’d assume), that we’re a while away from going back to the days of those import-heavy cards. Considering the British scene needs to replenish itself first, that can only be a good thing.