June 14 was a pretty big day in the wrestling landscape. WWE held Money in the Bank, AAA held Verano De Escandalo and numerous other big shows from companies including DDT, Dragon Gate, Stardom and PROGRESS all took place. The show I was most looking forward to was Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Summer Sizzler. Every single one of RevPro’s York Hall shows are special and a highlight of any British wrestling fan’s calendars, but the Summer Sizzler this year was a show so stacked from top-to-bottom that it ever stood out in that elite company.
The lineup of guest talent was a relative embarrassment of riches, featuring the current IWGP Champion A.J. Styles, 2014 WON Wrestler of the Year Shinsuke Nakamura, the UK debut of the Stone Pitbull Tomohiro Ishii, a man on fire experiencing a career rejuvenation in Roderick Strong, a guy who’s having a really under the radar but fantastic year in Matt Sydal and the ever prominent Colt Cabana. How could a show be anything but spectacular with that line-up, especially when you’re mixing it in with the elite native workers of the UK for example Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll, both of whom just days after this have been announced to be taking part in this year’s Battle of Los Angeles.
This is also the first York Hall show to benefit from the build of RPW’s YouTube show RevPro TV. For me it’s really helped in my anticipation for the show, as the promotion now has a consistent weekly build rather than just an isolated supercard. The pre-show match from the show, a fantastic contest pitting Tommy End against Josh Bodom, was aired on this week’s RevPro TV of which my review can be found here. I fully recommend you go and watch that match as a lead into this show.
Revolution Pro Wrestling
Summer Sizzler 2015
June 14, 2015
Bethnal Green, Greater London – York Hall
The York Hall is a complete sell out with 1200 loud fans packed in and turning fans away at the door. For a UK show without any TV that’s a tremendous number, hats off to RevPro.
Undisputed British Tag Team Championship Match
Joel Redman & M̶a̶r̶k̶ ̶H̶a̶s̶k̶i̶n̶s̶ Jake McCluskey vs. The Revolutionists (Samuels & Castle)
For the second York Hall show in a row Joel Redman walked into the show as the tag team champion but without his partner. At High Stakes earlier this year, his England’s Calling partner Martin Stone opted to work a TNA show over the RPW show, so Redman reformed his team from year’s past with Mark Haskins known as the Thrillers and defeated the UK Hooligans to win the vacant tag straps. This time Mark Haskins has had to no show for “personal reasons” leaving the tag titles vacated yet again, with Redman needing to find a new partner to compete in the scheduled match to decide who the new champions would be.
Redman found his partner in the form of the “Moonsault King” Jake McCluskey, somebody who has been feuding with the Revolutionists, and in particular James Castle, on the smaller shows shown on RevPro TV for a while now. James Castle came out newly bedecked in a black and blonde mohawk.
The bulk of this match was enjoyable enough. While it wasn’t the most dynamic of matches it was well worked and all four men got their chance to shine. Redman was the guy who stood out here, showcasing an impressive array of suplexes. Then we got to a signature Revolutionists’ terrible finish. For whatever reason the ref’s attention was on Redman and Samuels out on the floor, instead of on the two legal men in the ring, so Castle kicked McCluskey low and rolled him up to win the titles. A deflating finish to a solid match, hopefully that’s got all the bad finishes out of the way before the really important matches.
Big Damo vs. Tomohiro Ishii
For those of you unfamiliar Tomohiro Ishii’s challenger in his first journey over to the UK is a 300lbs+ monster of a man from Northern Ireland who goes by the name of Big Damo. It’s easily the biggest match of Damo’s career, and promises to be an exciting hoss fight. Ishii got an absolute eruption when he came out.
This was a match of two halves. The first portion really didn’t click; it appeared these two guys didn’t have very good chemistry and that the match was going to be a huge let-down. The pace was plodding, the strikes were connecting awkwardly and although the crowd had started off super-hot because they were getting to see Ishii they were beginning to die down. I’m not sure what happened mid-way through the match though, but all of a sudden it appeared as if they stopped holding back and things got hard hitting from both parties, giving the match the stiffness that you expect and enjoy in Ishii matches.
The match was more than just a stiff-fest though, it told a simple but effective story. In the world of wrestling, Ishii matches up horribly to a guy like Damo, who for reference is a similar size and build as Bad Luck Fale. Ishii is a guy who isn’t technically proficient, he’s not that fast and he’s certainly not flashy. He’s a guy who out-toughs you, runs at you, hits you hard, throws you around and drops you on your head. Oftentimes repeatedly. He doesn’t really have a Plan B either. When he runs into somebody so large he can’t pick up and drop them on their head, somebody who if he runs at will just knock him down, he runs into a problem. That problem’s name was Big Damo.
That was the story of this match; Ishii just couldn’t find a way to get Damo up for the Brainbuster. The amount of power and control he’d need to be able to do so was just beyond him while Damo could offer up any resistance. Ishii went about trying to wear down in any way he could. As Damo got more and more worn down, Ishii was able to hit more and more power moves on him. First a regular vertical suplex, then a German suplex and finally a superplex, each move was fought over, and he kept going back to attempt the Brainbuster but to no avail.
In the end, Ishii just didn’t have enough. To a huge reaction of shock, Ishii finally fell after Damo hit an Electric Chair Driver, followed by a Coast-to-Coast dropkick and finally punctuated by a running Back Senton. The way they presented the match it didn’t make Ishii look weak at all, he just came up against a guy who he didn’t match up well against and still pushed him right to the end. Damo was presented as superior to Ishii, even with the win, just as who was perfectly suited to taking a guy the style of Ishii down. Don’t get me wrong though, Damo gained a huge amount from this win.
When Damo was first announced for this match, I was a little apprehensive. While he had impressed me in tag action, I was yet to see him hold together a compelling singles match. After the first half of this match I thought my fears had been well placed, but the second half really delivered in a huge way and showed Damo deserved this spot. ***1/2
Between these two matches the first contest for the next York Hall show, Uprising, was announced. It’ll see the CHAOS team of Okada & Gedo take on Liger & Tanahashi. Interestingly enough Uprising is being billed as a joint NJPW-RPW show in a similar fashion to the NJPW-ROH shows, as opposed to previous shows which have been billed as RPW shows with New Japan guest stars. Combine that with the fact that we just had a major New Japan guy lose to an RPW guy for the first time (not counting Ospreay beating Romero) and it looks like the ties between NJPW and RPW are strengthening. I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing one or two RPW guys brought in as guests over in NJPW over the next twelve months or so.
Roderick Strong vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is a rematch from May’s NJPW-ROH crossover shows. It was originally scheduled to be Ricochet vs. Nakamura, but Ricochet had to pull out last minute (again) with VISA issues but fortunately a tremendous last-minute replacement in the form of Mr. ROH Roderick Strong. When Roddy started getting “Shitty Little Boots” chants right out of the gate, he immediately started wrestling as his heel PWG/WWN persona rather than his face ROH version of himself, which was 100% the right decision in front of an extremely pro-Nakamura crowd.
I always find it strange how Roddy can have such a lack of charisma when cutting a promo but be a world-beater charisma wise when interacting with crowds in matches, and this was a prime example of that. You could see Nakamura clearly loved getting to work with the guy. He plays the jock heel who lets the fans get to him to perfection.
After watching this match, it dawned on me that these two guys have very similar styles. They don’t have a lot of moves that overlap, but the way they build their matches and where they place their strikes, throws and slams in said matches are very similar. They really work well together too, as this was a beautifully flowing encounter which the crowd was amped for throughout.
The commentary did a really good job of getting over how because this was a rematch we’re seeing a lot of counters to the signature spots of both guys. I confess I haven’t yet gotten around to seeing their first encounter, but in many ways it didn’t matter because of the way the commentary team brought that psychological point of the match forward and the way these two guys put together their match.
This point was really brought to the forefront to start the finishing stretch. Roddy was in a Sleeper and backed Nakamura into the corner to make him release, leaving Nakamura on the second rope. As Roddy staggered out of the corner Shinsuke dived off and hit him in the back of the head with a Boma Ye variant I’d never seen him pull out before, digging down deep into his repertoire after having getting many of his more used variants countered. A tremendous match made all the better by a red hot crowd. ****
After the match while Shinsuke was celebrating in the ring Big Damo’s music hit and he came out and challenged Shinsuke to a match for Uprising, which was accepted with a Yeaoh! Damo beating Ishii now makes all the more sense.
Two Out Of Three Falls – Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship Match
Will Ospreay (c) vs. Matt Sydal
This is the third match in what has been a great series so far between these two, with them currently tied at one fall a piece. Their first encounter was very enjoyable but perhaps slightly too spotty so that it didn’t quite flow, while the second was even better as a more ground based affair with high flying peppered. Will Ospreay is currently my favourite wrestler on the UK Indies, and I really think Matt Sydal is having a sneaky good year. However to counter that I’m not generally too much of a fan of the two out of three falls stipulation, so going in I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in.
My god this was special. In theory, I should like Two out of Three Falls matches, they offer a nice opportunity to build a story spanning across three falls with a system for call-backs inherently built into the match. But what generally happens is you get two quick falls tacked onto the beginning of a regular match. That was not what happened here, this was that stipulation done right. If call-backs are your thing, both to earlier matches in a series and to earlier falls, like they are mine then this match has you covered.
In most indy promotions across the globe when a big name special attraction is brought in to face a regular roster member the fans are going to cheer the special attraction, and in RPW it’s generally no different. Ospreay is the exception to that rule. It’s not something that has happened overnight, but with consistently amazing performances he’s got himself over above and beyond any other Brit as a face, especially in this building. Earlier in the year, he got roughly equal dual chants with A.J. Styles, and his stock has only risen from that match to the point where he was the clear favorite here against Sydal, a guy who is usually over huge as a face both in the UK and anywhere in the world.
Sydal took to this reaction perfectly, dating back to when Ospreay beat him in the second match of their series and the crowd reacted favourably. Ever since then, Sydal has been playing a subtle heel; in all his promos leading up to this he’s been giving the Cena-esque promos about how it’s great to see young talent coming up and that they’re the future, but also edging it with hinting that he doesn’t feel Ospreay is on his level and that him losing to Ospreay was a fluke. He carried that forward into this match in a similar vein to when Tanahashi took on Honma, somehow managing to be a vicious and ruthless high flyer. It was perfect for the environment this match was in.
This match had every bit as amazing spots and sequences as their first encounter, but what really set this encounter apart was how they managed to seamlessly link the entire twenty six minutes together into one flowing story. At no point did it drag. At no point did it even feel long.
There was limbwork, which unlike the first encounter didn’t get forgotten. The tide turns in the match were hard battled over; at no point did it ever just feel like trading moves. There were incredible comebacks and nail biting near-falls, and while it’s a really minor thing Ospreay has mastered the skill of the weak kickout, a skill that some fifteen year veterans have never learned (looking at you Cena and your strong kickouts).
I’m struggling to fully put into words how much I loved this match, but just know that I really do. At this point in both men’s careers, Ospreay and Sydal are the absolute perfect matches for each other, and I think this here was the best match either has ever had. This was just special.
Go out of your way to see this, because you 100% need to. To fully appreciate it you should have watched the previous two encounters between the two, but I’m confident it’ll still stand up as a masterpiece without having done so. I didn’t think Ospreay could top his Styles match from earlier in the year, but by God he did. This is my new Western match of the year. ****1/2
Legion of Lords (Grey & Ghosh) vs. Colt Cabana & Matt Classic
The placement of this match here is perfect, and I am somebody who cares very little for Cabana the wrestler (enjoy Cabana the podcaster for what it’s worth though). To have anything try to follow that previous match in a similar match could have been a death sentence, but throwing in a showcased comedy match in between that and the main event is a very good decision.
To be fair on the guys here, and again this is coming from a grumpy person who doesn’t generally enjoy a lot of comedy in wrestling, this feud has somewhat won me over. Ghosh and Grey are very good in their roles, and Cabana has been fine as a foil.
Before watching this match, check out these two promos leading up to it. The Legion of Lords in particular knock it out of the park.
Obviously the intrigue here was how they were going to have Cabana and Classic team up. Well, the answer was to simply have Grado under the Matt Classic mask. It didn’t fool anybody, the crowd started chanting “Grado” and “It’s Yerself” immediately. This match was entirely played for laughs, as it should have been, and it was fine. Comedy wrestling is even more subjective than wrestling in general, so I won’t try to tell you if it was good or now. The Legion of Lords essentially got squashed, and that means Colt Cabana is reinstated as a member of the RPW roster.
Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship Match
A.J. Styles vs. Marty Scurll (c)
At the last York Hall show Styles defeated Will Ospreay in a classic, while Scurll got the upper hand on Ricochet. A.J. Styles is the current IWGP Champion, while Scurll is currently on a year plus reign with the British Championship which is on the line tonight.
Right off the bat, the Revolutionists were banned from ringside, which is definitely a good thing as many a match during their run has been brought down by interference. It started off pretty quickly, with both guys going for their finishers right out of the gates, before slowing down to a more methodical pace.
Styles was clearly presented as the far superior wrestler here, with Scurll only able to stay in touch by being sneaky and using his environment to his advantage, for example kicking the barricade into Styles as Styles was looking to dive over it. It wasn’t enough though, as after countering out of the Crossface Chickenwing multiple times Styles hit the Bloody Sunday followed Clash and won the title. It was a flat finish, and I think most people in the building thought there was going to be a kickout. The match felt like it was just starting to kick up to the next gear.
This was a big match, with a big match feel, but for me it just didn’t live up to that billing. In a lot of ways it just felt like another standard Marty Scurll formula title defense, just with a different outcome. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a good match, but for the culmination of an over year long reign against an opponent the calibre of Styles, who has proven earlier in the year brings his working boots to the York Hall shows, I was just expecting a lot more. ***1/2
After the match, we got your standard new champion promo from Styles, putting over both the crowd, the company and Scurll. He went for a respectful handshake, which Scurll feigned accepting only to attack Styles. Ospreay then ran out to chase off the former champion, which set up a triple threat main event for Uprising. Sounds like a fun match, and also sounds like a way to get the title off of somebody who can’t take a pin.
Final Thoughts: This was a tremendous show. There was a great variety of tremendous matches all in front of a great crowd. The show was paced really well, nothing really dragged at all. Andy Quildan on commentary was a pleasant surprise because he was amazing. Generally when you see him fill in it’s for Simmonz so he’ll be doing colour, but here filling in for Bennett he took over the play-by-play role and really shined. He’s one of the best play-by-play guys at bringing forward the overarching story of a match I’ve ever heard. He really added to the show, and while I know it’s very unlikely I’d love to see him take over the role full time. Oliver Bennett is fine, but Andy Quildan here was tremendous.
It should be noted I’m a really grumpy fan in terms of the starz, I gave Owens-Cena I ***3/4 and Banks-Lynch ****. I’m just giving you those two for perspective so that when you see me throwing ****1/2 at Sydal-Ospreay you know it’s me giving them the highest of high praise. That match alone being on the show would make this a guaranteed recommendation, but couple that with a fantastic Strong-Nakamura and two very good matches in Ishii-Damo and Scurll-Styles and you’ve got yourself a no brainer.
Head on over to http://www.revolutionprowrestling.com/on-demand and pick one of the best shows of the year up for just $12.99/£8.00.