RevPro were one of three British promotions to run their very first shows in the US as part of WrestleMania weekend, putting together another classic ‘Brits vs Super imports’ RevPro card for this show that ran as part of WrestleCon’s weekend schedule. Apart from Zack Sabre Jr., every British talent on this show was distinct from either PROGRESS or WCPW’s lineups, so this show definitely had its own feel.
Revolution Pro Wrestling
Live in Orlando
March 31, 2017
Wyndham Orlando Resort, Florida
Jay White def. Sami Callihan
White has had a few matches in RevPro in the past 9 months, while this is Callihan’s first appearance, perhaps giving away the match result before it had even occurred. Viewers’ tolerance for Callihan walking brawls on the outside only got tested for a couple of minutes before the rest of the match took place inside the ring and White’s Benny Hill-esque counter of Callian’s run around the ring was at least amusing.
Once they stayed in the ring, the pair actually built some really good visuals with the grimy Callihan beating down the plucky White and almost making him tap out to a stretch muffler. White reversed the hold by applying more pressure on himself, which was a cool touch – no pain no gain. After getting out of the stretch muffler, White applied the Young Lion Boston Crab for a quick tap out. RevPro are keeping him strong so expect a possible title match pretty soon for White. ***
Martin Stone def. Jeff Cobb
The size and skill permutations were established straight away by both men; Cobb proved that he was the better grappler and had the strength advantage as Stone failed to knock him down, but the now slimmed-down Stone caught Cobb out with his quickness when Cobb tried to get cutesy. These physical differences were maintained throughout the match, so everything felt logical and it was a satisfying match to invest in.
Of course, there were some crazy moves too, as Cobb hit a few of his awesome twisting suplexes and Stone got to show off some power too with a fallaway slam on Cobb. The end of the match played off of the beginning, with Stone catching Cobb jumping over the top rope, when he probably should have been keeping things grounded, then planting him with a London Bridge for the win. ***½
Lord Gideon Grey def. Swoggle
This was less of a match and more of a reminder that Gideon exists. He’s not been feeling himself as of late and is now hopeless obsessed with ‘aesthetics’, with his entrance video demonstrating that he’s ‘lost his smile’. That was funny, but the match was not; it was completely out of place on this wrestling-centric show. An easy skip, especially if you’re not into the Gideon Grey character. N/A
Marty Scurll def. Ricochet
Marty got a big reaction as soon as his music hit; he’s become a top-tier indie star since getting more exposure in Ring of Honor and has the ultra-charismatic presence to match. Combined with fellow charisma machine Ricochet, these two pretty much flew through this match on their character work and interactions alone. The in-ring work was strong but it never felt like either guy was really pushing himself. That’s okay though when you’re only halfway up the card and have the ability to make a match good without going crazy.
The first several minutes was banter-heavy, with Scurll projecting his character especially well, teasing big moves but instead just stomping on Ricochet. The sequences got crazier towards the end of the match as you would expect, but the intensity was never quite created to elevate the match above an ‘exhibition’ feel. For the majority of the live crowd who may never have seen Scurll and his signature offences before though, this must have been a real treat to see. He has the crowd in the palm of his hands pretty much anywhere he goes and this match was no exception, with huge reactions for every Chickenwing tease and the eventual lock-in for the win. Both guys were impressive here, but they’ve set the bar so high that it still didn’t quite match expectations. ***½
Josh Bodom def. David Starr
This was not a match for Bodom’s Interim Cruiserweight Championship because Bodom couldn’t be bothered to bring the belt to Orlando. I was critical of RevPro’s decision to create an Interim Championship while Ospreay was away in Japan, but they’ve actually told quite a fun story with Bodom as paper champion and his upcoming Unification match with Ospreay at Epic Encounter should have plenty of heat.
This one took a while to get going, but because it got a fair chunk of time and both guys worked very hard, it evolved into one of the better matches of the night. Bodom was the least famous non-comedy Brit on this card and Starr probably the least famous American, so this match could well have failed to get a reaction. However, it seemed like the American crowd took to booing Bodom and at the very least were into the match down the stretch, especially after Bodom hit a crazy cannonball dive to the outside. This match picked up the intensity that Scurll/Ricochet lacked, making it feel like a very different match. It also felt like it could go either way, which could not be said about many of the matches on this card. All that made for a very exciting ending, with Bodom eventually catching Starr with a Bliss Buster for the win.
I’d like to see Bodom establish either the Bliss Buster or the Bodom Breaker as his killer finisher, because he seems to flick back and forth between them. Having one definitive killer move would definitely help him to create a truly great match soon. ***½
Will Ospreay def. Rey Fenix
As you would probably expect, there was a lot of flippy stuff on display here. Some of it was awesome, some of it less so. Ospreay had his most famous flippy match with Ricochet, a man he was very familiar with already, while the same is true for Fenix with Pentagon. For this kind of match to truly stand out, a familiar dance partner is necessary, so while Ospreay/Fenix was on paper a dream matchup, they may need to become a little more acquainted in the ring for the combination to truly pop, because there were some messy moments here. For instance, Fenix blew a reverse rana spot, so both men clumsily righted themselves into the original double rana spot, but by then it had lost all impact due to the long-winded setup.
Indeed, there were so many reverse ranas and Canadian Destroyers not only in this match, but on the entire show and the entire weekend, that the moves did nothing for me by the time I watched them here. These are supposed to be the blow-away, ‘break glass in case of emergency’ moves, but now everyone does them in every indie match. Just like Milhouse, they’ve said Jiminy Jillickers so much, the words have lost all meaning.
This match probably didn’t come out as both men were hoping. They were a bit too ambitious for their rapport level in their attempt to live up to the match’s billing. I think if they ever cross paths again, they’ll be better acquainted and be able to build something truly memorable. ***
Ryan Smile & Shane Strickland def. Unbreakable F’N Machines (Michael Elgin & Brian Cage)
This match tried to be too many things at once. An epic, a spotfest, a ‘David and Goliath’ comeback match – if they had stuck with one of these themes, they probably would have gotten across a clearer match, but they went for all of them and the key moments of the match didn’t land as well as they should have. There were some crazy moments here for sure, with Elgin and Cage’s double team moves and Strickland’s dive off of Elgin onto Cage all looking really impressive. Those double team moves may have looked too good actually, because Smile’s defiant kickout after a sustained segment of one huge move after another actually got boos and ‘bullshit’ chants from the crowd. Simply put, it was unbelievable that Smile would kick out of that offence after he and Strickland were so badly destroyed. That can often be a problem in matches where one team is way bigger than the other, but the smaller team are winning in the end. You have to build the match in a believable way and Smile and Strickland didn’t manage to do that here.
Smile seemed legitimately annoyed at the ‘bullshit’ chants because after winning the match he stormed straight to the back. It was also weird seeing Elgin take the pin, since RevPro is adjacent to New Japan booking and he’s a well-protected guy in NJPW. This was just a strange match, with awesome moves but a poorly laid out story linking them together. **½
British Heavyweight Championship
Zack Sabre Jr. (c) def. Penta El 0M
A huge clash of personalities that popped off the screen and had the best crowd reactions of the night, this was exactly what I wanted to see from this match. The match itself wasn’t too complicated and there’s not a load of moves to describe, but there was plenty of middle fingers, disrespect and infectious animosity displayed between ZSJ and Penta. Punk rock Sabre flicking V signs is the best Sabre and him joining Suzuki-gun means we get to see a lot more of that from now on. ZSJ stretched Penta all over and the match at times felt like an extended squash, yet Penta still felt like a badass by being able to take the pain and keep gesturing and trash talking at Sabre. He hung in long enough to turn the tide briefly by hitting a crazy-looking piledriver on the apron, but for the majority of this match, this was the Zack show. He eventually dismantled Penta with his ‘human torture device’ hold for the submission victory, but not before a final middle finger from Penta. This was tremendous fun; a great blend of character work and in-ring intrigue. Sabre Jr. has been so good everywhere he’s been this year, but he’s doing some of his best work in RevPro. ****
A strong show that measured up to just about any other show on WrestleMania weekend, although certain matches didn’t deliver as much as was hoped. ZSJ/Penta in the main event was everything it should have been though and is among the must-watch matches for the weekend. The announcement of Ospreay/Bodom for the Undisputed Cruiserweight Championship spices up Epic Encounter, now we just need to know who are facing The Elite…