Hey readers, or Listeners of Wrestling (?). I’ve recently had the privilege of join absorbed into the warm fuzz of the Voices of Wrestling family (hey, I’m new, got to get my sucking up in), and the time has come for me to make good on my title as a contributor and actually start contributing.
But “Oh”, I hear you say, “What possibly is there left in the world of wrestling that the great guys at Voices of Wrestling that isn’t already being covered Rob? They already cover the best events of both the USA and Japan, why are you even here Rob?”. Well, I answer, firstly that was a bit rude, and secondly dear readers, there is more to wrestling than just the American and the Puro, there is the great continent of Europe and its vibrant wrestling styles, and this mighty site is severely lacking in the regard of coverage of this. But have no fear, for that is exactly why I’m here, and I’ll start your European wrestling education with coverage of my personal favourite British wrestling promotion.
What is that I hear the voice in my head that I hope is you ask: Revolution Pro Wrestling.
The UK wrestling has experiencing somewhat of a revival in the last few years. The debut of “British Wrestling Roundup” on Challenge (a UK TV channel) last year marked the return to national TV of wrestling based on the British side of the pond after nearly a thirty year hiatus, when “World of Sport” closed its doors in 1985. Honestly, it couldn’t have happened at a better time, as it has come at a time where the UK indy scene is finally looking like it’s catching up with its American counterpart from a quality perspective.
While the days of the star of your local promotion being headlined by your local butcher or greengrocer aren’t completely gone, and that’s not an exclusively British thing either, but if you know where to look there’s some real quality to be seen by going to a show in Britain nowadays, and RPW is really leading the way as not only one of, if not the, best promotion in both the UK and the world.
Revolution Pro is a promotion that can trace its lineage all the way back to September 2004, where it started life off as International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom, or IPW:UK for short, a promotion that actually still exists. IPW:UK immediately established itself as one of the top promotions in the UK, bringing in a long list of some of the top guys from the US like Super Dragon, El Generico, Kevin Steen, Colt Cabana, Samoa Joe, Takeshi Morishima, Davey Richards, Matt Sydal, ect., but also helped launch the careers of many of the top UK talent that have since gone onto bigger things: Nigel McGuinness (Desmond Wolfe), PAC (Adrian Neville), Prince Devitt, Doug Williams and Rockstar Spud being the most notable of the bunch. It became known as the “ROH of the UK” by many fans, putting on fantastic show after fantastic show.
In August 2012, IPW:UK underwent a rebranding, and became known as Revolution Pro Wrestling, but no matter what name it went under it was still providing the UK fans with shows right up there with the much vaunted and well known American indy shows put out by companies like ROH, DG:USA and EVOLVE.
However, due to internal differences, RPW underwent a split later that year, with IPW:UK and RPW becoming two completely separate companies. IPW:UK retreated back to its home territory of Kent, while RPW is now based around the capital London and Sittingbourne.
Since the split, there’s definitely been a visible difference in booking philosophies. While IPW:UK has continued to run frequent shows and focusing on home grown talent, RPW has been having more sparse schedule, but making the shows they do run huge events by mixing the very best talent from across the UK with the top stars of the US indy scene, Japan and across the rest of the world. While IPW:UK continues to put on great shows for their rabid fans, RPW has become my personal poison of choice. If IPW:UK is the ROH of the UK, RPW is definitely the PWG.
Now as I’ve said, the UK indy scene is hotter than ever, so you’ve got some very stiff competition for the best UK promotion. PROGRESS, Southside, PCW, IPW:UK, FCP, TCW all put up strong arguments, but for me Revolution Pro is where it’s at in terms of UK wrestling right now.
However, despite the amazing quality of their shows, RPW really isn’t anywhere nearly as well-known as it should be internationally, compared the notoriety of promotions like PWG and ROH has over here in the UK. My aim is to change that with these columns and reviews, at least very slightly, and bring some more eyes onto this fantastic product that you’re quite frankly missing out on. Hopefully I’ll be able to convince you to check it out.
So to try to tempt you into expanding your wrestling experience, I’ll be posting up my reviews of their shows, but to help you get up to speed, I’ll run through their roster now. For each of the British guys, I’ll include a US counterpart that has a similar style, but I’ll be drawing from WWE, TNA, ROH and the rest of the American indy scene, so if you’re not familiar with all of those, then it likely won’t have too much use to you.
Now RPW uses a very varied roster, but I’ll cover a good handful that seems to be being used most frequently at the moment. RPW’s poster boy is probably Prince Devitt, best known for his work in NJPW, and all reports lead us to believe that he’s mere days away from signing with the WWE as I write this. He’s a terrific wrestler, with a fantastic mind for the business, and I really believe he’ll flourish in the major league. He main evented the most recent RPW show against then ROH World Champion Adam Cole in a great match and a great send off for a brilliant career in RPW.
With Prince Devitt gone though, RPW needs a new star to step up and take over the “face” of the company. Luckily, Rev Pro has two already made and more than ready to step up into the role as the top stars in the country, in the form of both members of the now separated tag team, Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr: the Leaders of the New School. Together they were pretty much unanimously accepted as the top tag team in the UK, and now both pursuing singles routes, they’re headed on a path to become “the guy” on the UK scene. The comparison to Future Shock is really easy, but also incredibly accurate.
Marty Scurll is the current Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion, the top championship in RPW, winning the belt from Colt Cabana in March. He was a part of TNA Tough Enough knockoff British Bootcamp, and has wrestled on their UK tours multiple times, but don’t let that put you off of him. (Oh TNA jokes, they write themselves) He plays a brilliant dickish heel, who manages to get great heat from any crowd while still putting on great matches, a skill that few ever manage to master. He’s incredibly charismatic, a natural talker on the mic, and one of his greatest strengths is his interaction with the crowds he performs in front of.
Marty is currently at the head of the big heel stable in RPW, the Revolutionaries, along with Josh Bodom and former tag team champions The Kartel (Shamuels & Frazier). For a US comparison, Adam Cole is the guy I’d pick. They play similarly dickish characters, who have recently broken out as major stars after exploding out of a fantastic young tag team, which by of course I am referring to Future Shock for Cole, and the LDRS for Scurll.
Zack Sabre Jr is the other half of the aforementioned LDRS of the New School (and yes, they referred to themselves by all three of the mentioned names, because they were that cool). Zack reminds me a lot of Kyle O’Reilly, and I’m a huge fan of both men, all be it a slightly more high flying version. Both men kick damn hard, and while neither is weak on the stick, they both really shine at their brightest when inside the ring and doing their thing.
Zack, alongside tearing it up across the UK, has been regularly wrestling over in Japan for Pro Wrestling NOAH since 2011, having the opportunity to wrestle world renown stars the likes of KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Taiji Ishimori, Tatsumi Fujinami, Tiger Mask, Jushin Liger, Super Crazy, TMDK, Eddie Edwards, Ricky Marvin, Paul London and many more. This has really helped him become incredibly well rounded, and he has the ability to have tremendous matches with opponents of almost any style. In my opinion, taking Devitt out of the equation, Zack is the top in ring wrestler in the UK, and that’s some pretty damn high praise right now. He’s recently been booked for PWG for this year’s BOLA, and I’m sure he’ll win over a hell of a lot of fans when he’s there.
When the LDRS broke up, it left the “most sought after tag team on the UK scene” spot up for grabs. Then along came Will Ospreay and Paul Robinson, collectively known as the Swords of Essex, and blew everybody away. The Swords of Essex are quite simply one of the most exciting tag teams I have ever seen. Two of the best high flyers from Britain in their own right, and combined they manage to still be more than the sum of their parts, weaving together some of the greatest tag team combinations you’ll ever see. On a recent show I saw Ospreay hit a 450 splash from the top of his partner standing who himself was standing on the top rope. It was simply amazing to see live.
Comparing a team to the Motor City Machine Guns is just about as high a praise as you can give to high flying tag team, or any tag team for that matter, but that’s exactly who the Swords of Essex remind me of. They’re two guys you likely haven’t heard of, but they’re better than at least 90% of the guys who you have.
Speaking of amazing, exciting, high flying tag teams, we really need to mention 2 Unlimited. Two goofy Irish dudes, whose fashion sense makes you wince, but ring talent makes leaves you amazed. They’re both relatively new members of the RPW roster, but after a showstealing match against the Swords at the most recent show, they’re now booked for the next reel of shows. Few teams can keep up with the high flying of the Swords, this team did, and then some more, with their chemistry really pushing both teams to their very best.
Stylistically, they remind me of a mixture of The Usos and the Inner City Machine Guns (Ricochet & Swann). They go by the moniker of Irelands number one tag team, and while I’m not 100% familiar with the Irish wrestling scene, if they can boast a better team than these two I’ll be amazed.
As we’re reeling through the tag teams, we may as well move onto the current tag team champions, Joel Redman and ‘The Guvnor’ Martin Stone: England’s Calling. They’re perhaps better known for their recent stint in WWE’s developmental territory NXT, under the names Oliver Grey and Danny Burch respectively, with Grey being one half of the inaugural NXT tag team champions alongside another former RPW star Adrian Neville. Neither man really got a fair shake of the stick there, with Stone never being featured in any role other than a jobber, and Redman’s push being halted due to injury.
In their first match back in their home territory after being released, the two men competed for and won the Undisputed British Tag Team Championships from The Kartel. Stone reminds me of Biff Busick, while Redman wrestles a similar style to Tony Nese, yet a little less high flying.
As we’ve mentioned them twice now already, next up is the Kartel, made up of Sha Samuels and Terry Frazier. Sha Samuels is a big, chunky, powerful badass who for some reason wears a scarf in the ring and yells at the crowd a lot. Frazier is the annoying pretty boy who you can’t wait to see get his face kicked in. Together they make up the most hated tag team in the UK. They’re a part of The Revolutionaries stable along with Marty Scurll, and until the last show they were the Undisputed British Tag Team Champions. Sha Samuels also holds the distinction of being the longest reigning British Heavyweight Champion.
There wasn’t an easy US comparison for these two, at least that I can think of. The closest I can think of is the RockNES Monsters, but that’s not necessarily an in ring style comparison, but more that they rile up the crowd in similar ways.
Time to knock off the last tag team on my list, although as I’ve said this isn’t an exclusive list. If the Swords of Essex have one other team that has a claim to their crown as the top tag team in the UK, it’s Martin Kirby and Kris Travis, known as a unit as Project Ego.
Kris Travis, the taller of the two, is a fantastic high flyer and very successful singles wrestler in his own right, and teams with the Martin Kirby, the more ground based member of the duo.
The two of them have a lot of similarities with the team of Monster Mafia (Josh Alexander and Ethan Page) from over in North America.
If you’ve read this far, then well done, you’ve made it through the tag teams, now onto the remaining singles wrestlers. It’s not too much longer, don’t worry, just four more guys.
El Ligero is one of the top and most recognisable singles stars in the UK. His blend of lucha libre and British technical wrestling is a beauty to behold. The obvious comparison for him is to El Generico, the former identity of current NXT star Sami Zayn, but again it really fits.
Just like his generic counterpart, he’s fantastic at getting a crowd behind him, and as such has become one of the most popular wrestlers to ever grace a British ring.
Mark Haskins is another major player as a part of the Revolution. One of the best high flyers in the UK, and a former member of the TNA X division, a fairly recent heel turn has lead to him changing his style to a more mat based offense, and has thus proved himself just as competent with a more technical style. Matt Taven is the talent with the most parallels to ‘skins.
Dave Mastiff’s moniker is “Big Bad”, and damn does it fit. As over 300lbs, Mastiff is a wrecking ball that runs through his opposition, and is the biggest name big man on the UK scene today. Surprisingly mobile for his huge size, he reminds me of another big man I’m a huge fan of, ROH’s Hanson.
When people think of the best young high flyers in the world, most people will think of an ACH or a Ricochet, but very few will think of Noam Dar. The thing is, they really should. Dar is absolutely amazing to watch, and the Scot is actually younger than both those guys, at the young age of 20, so has potential equal to very few wrestlers in existence.
Wrestling a similar style to ACH, but also with a distinctively British base, Noam is really destined for big things.
If you’ve read your way through all of that, then you should be familiar enough to dive right into an RPW show and have at least a passing familiarity with the majority of the natives on the card. However, with one of RPW’s major draws being the fact they mix the very best of the UK scene with the very best from outside of it, so I’d be remiss to not at least go into a little detail on them.
RPW is in the privileged position of having a working relationship with New Japan. After the next London show where the Rainmaker is set to join the Revolution, RPW will have had all of the members of NJPW’s big three wrestle for them recently, three wrestlers who are all in many fans and critics top five current wrestlers. Seeing the three of them, as well as the true legend Jushin Liger mix it up with Zack, Marty and Devitt in the past year has been a complete pleasure as a wrestling fan. They’ve also seen a strong Bullet Club influence, with Karl Anderson, Young Bucks and Bad Luck Fale joining their former leader over the last year.
But it’s not just the Japanese top talent; it’s the best from the US Indies as well. Just in the last year, fans have seen Ricochet, Jay Lethal, Young Bucks, Rich Swann, Colt Cabana, Samuray Del Sol, Davey Richards, Michael Elgin, Adam Cole, Uhaa Nation, Chuck Taylor, Forever Hooligans, Kevin Steen and Sonjay Dutt. Quite the list of must see talent, and Carlito, Magnus, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Too Cool and Rikishi have also added their star power to the Revolution in the last year.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that this fantastic promotion has a fantastic roster, and you should really give it a try. I’ll be posting up my reviews for their shows to further try to convince you to give these DVDs a try. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
So what are you waiting for? Join the Revolution.