The Floating Dream Factory of RevPro returned to Walthamstow for their latest big show, the inaugural British J Cup, which they plan to run yearly from now on. The four first round matches of the tournament were all New Japan vs Britain, with the exception of the final contest between KUSHIDA and Kyle O’Reilly. The winners of those four matches went on to an elimination four-way final. So not a fully-fleshed out tournament then, but with non-tournament matches like Matt Riddle vs Tomohiro Ishii being heavily featured too, RevPro can be forgiven for skipping over a semi-final round.
BritWres is the BestWres because people from all over the country, and beyond, can make it to just about every show, meaning the meetups with friends are often a bigger draw than the wrestling itself. The BJC was no exception, with plenty of fine people making their way to Walthamstow. However, the side effect of so many people crammed into a hall without air conditioning on one of the hottest days of the year so far meant that the show was a sweaty, sweaty affair. This didn’t make for the most pleasant of live experiences, but the wrestling itself more than made up for it.
Revolution Pro Wrestling
British J Cup
Saturday 8th July 2017
Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England
Marty Scurll def. Tiger Mask
Tiger Mask IV isn’t very good, but people were into him throughout because he’s a guy we’d never expect to have seen live and it was a unique experience to do so. Tiger Mask himself was into the match too, playing to the crowd and acting full of beans, though this had the adverse effect of ending any chance we had of seeing Grumpy Tiger Mask, his best persona. Scurll pretty much played this as a comedy match and it was probably better off for it. They got in some laughs, Tiger Mask hit a couple of cool moves but generally was just there, and this ended up being an inoffensively fun opener. Scurll won with a new cradle pin that would serve as his finisher for the evening come the final. **
Jushin Thunder Liger def. Josh Bodom
This went straight into the finishing sequence, with Bodom dominating Liger, ascending to the top rope, but getting caught with a superplex into a Shotei and Liger Bomb combo for a win in just over 2 minutes for Liger. This started the ‘dream run’ feel of Liger’s night, while as a practicality it was probably best for the 52 year old Liger to have a short match with another one still to go in the evening. **
KUSHIDA def. Kyle O’Reilly
Perhaps surprisingly this didn’t go on as the last match before intermission, since O’Reilly and KUSHIDA’s series of matches is probably the best modern Junior rivalry in the world, and has spanned three continents, so it was a big deal for RevPro to land the final match between the two and possibly O’Reilly’s last ever indie match.
Both guys are so smooth technically and work incredibly well together at a slower pace that it was easy to take the early portion of this match for granted. The grappling was strong but perhaps lacked the intensity that made their York Hall encounter so fascinating. That same lack of anger came into the big spots too; whereas at Korakuen Hall a sitting O’Reilly countered a KUSHIDA dive into an armbar in a brilliant spot, here KUSHIDA simply hit him with a diving dropkick. Still cool, but this match suffered slightly in comparison to the sheer quality of their previous bouts.
This still built very well and as the match came to its end, I and the others around me were as enthralled as we had been for every match they’ve had before. O’Reilly’s strikes are subtle in comparison to other strike masters like Aleister Black, but actually feel more vicious because they are so immediate and realistic. He doesn’t need an elaborate setup to make you feel the impact. KUSHIDA withstanding the blows and continually hooking in the Hoverboard Lock was great stuff. But it was the very end of the match that felt the most important to the story these two have told in rings around the world, as KUSHIDA hooked in his new Back to the Future finisher, planted O’Reilly and put him away, definitively, for good.
It’s been an excellent rivalry that is going to age very well. This match may end up being seen as the worst of their matches together, but it was still very good and will certainly have a place in the inevitable compilation. ****
Will Ospreay def. Ryusuke Taguchi
A much more light-hearted affair after the serious business of KUSHIDA/O’Reilly, even though this is also a BOSJ final rematch. Taguchi really brought his goofy A-game to the UK; since forming Taguchi Japan he’s really mastered mixing comedy into more traditional wrestling so that neither aspect hurts the other, which is something he struggled with a couple of years ago. This mastery was on display in everything Taguchi did here, with the highlight being an Apollo 55 dive to the outside with his arse hanging out of his tights (unwritten rule of wrestling: if your tights get pulled down, you’re not allowed to pull them up again until you’ve performed at least one major spot). Ospreay was second fiddle here but he matched the tone set by Taguchi throughout.
This was obviously not as good as their BOSJ final but was something completely different and really stood out on this card too. Ospreay advanced with the Oscutter after what was probably his best comedy match ever. ***½
Tempura Boyz def. Josh Wall and Kurtis Chapman
The RevPro Contender young boys meet the former New Japan young boys Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu. This was an unadvertised match but the Boyz were in the UK for WCPW’s World Cup so why not pop up here too? Wall and Chapman have been featured prominently on RevPro’s Cockpit shows but this is their first appearance on a major show.
Having not seen much of Tanaka and Komatsu since they went on excursion, this was an excellent chance to see how they’re progressing. Tanaka looked excellent here, he’s developed a proper mean streak and fully embraced his heel role here. He’s also been taking fashion tips from Masato Yoshino and taken up the useless singlet sleeves that may not even be able to reach his nipples, let alone his shoulders. Komatsu may well actually be the more technically skilled of the two but doesn’t have the same aura as Tanaka yet, and also doesn’t have the frame for a potential heavyweight run, so Tanaka’s the guy who’s showing the most upside.
This was a decent bonus match to throw onto the show. The Boyz essentially bullied the Contenders for a few minutes, Chapman responded with some spirited rallies, and got dropped in a vicious package piledriver by Tanaka for his troubles. Chapman sold it like death and Tanaka nonchalantly mimed that he had broken Chapman’s neck, which was excellent stuff. **½
CCK def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi) via DQ
The sound system started to fall apart here, with the microphone emitting white noise for about two minutes after the ring introductions. The technical issues would get worse for the rest of the show, with the main event entrance music eventually being barely audible. A rare live production misfire for RevPro.
The last time LIJ had a tag match in Walthamstow, it ended with BUSHI green mist and a disqualification. I sense a pattern here. The match was starting to get good when the DQ happened, and ultimately meant that the match was just an excuse for a couple of big moments involving two very popular animals. Hiromu’s cat Daryl was probably the most over act on the entire show, so he should probably start selling them on the merch tables now.
Then to save his CCK-mates from a post-match LIJ attack, Kid Lykos debuted in RevPro and sent BUSHI and Hiromu packing. It’s great to see Lykos join the regular RevPro roster and he’s already got a killer debut match in the Cockpit, teaming with Brookes against War Machine. It remains to be seen if CCK will Freebird the tag titles now or if Lykos moves into Cruiserweight Championship contendership. **
Tomohiro Ishii def. Matt Riddle
Absolutely off the charts intensity to start this match off, as Ishii and Riddle went straight into slapping each other, then exchanging German suplexes, and then right back to exchanging slaps again. The crowd was going mental for everything they did because nobody communicates pure violence better than these two. They’re probably the two wrestlers in the world most likely to have a great match every time out.
After the first couple of unforgettable minutes, this match did drop a little bit in quality, as some miscommunications slowed the action down, but the execution of brutal-looking moves never stopped and the crowd was completely invested throughout. Every strike exchange was so engrossing because, very simply, you wanted to see who would outlast the other. It’s such a basic setup but both Ishii and Riddle sprinkled their unique magic into those moments in the match and made them such a spectacle.
They may have struggled a bit through the middle of the match, but the ending was just as glorious and high-energy as the beginning, with Ishii landing a Brainbuster to win. Yet another great match in an excellent year for both men. ****½
British J Cup Final
Jushin Thunder Liger def. Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay and KUSHIDA
Elimination rules for the final, which was ultimately a good setup for a fantastic feel-good moment. Liger was knocked out of the ring early by a Scurll umbrella shot, which Scurll successfully passed off onto Ospreay, leading to an amusing segment where ultra-babyface KUSHIDA teamed with Scurll to beat up Ospreay, believing he was doing the right thing. After this, Liger would not re-enter the ring for the majority of the match; every time he was close to getting back in, he would be attacked again and knocked off the apron. This was played for laughs the first couple of times but then the crowd really started to rally behind him in his struggle to get back into the fray.
KUSHIDA was eliminated by Scurll using the same pin he beat Tiger Mask with, before Scurll and Ospreay went into some very elaborate sequences that got the crowd fired up. However, when Scurll and Ospreay went down, the crowd started chanting for Liger. Despite all the crazy stuff going on in the ring, it was Liger simply selling on the outside and getting kicked out of the match repeatedly that got the crowd going. Even without facial expressions, Liger is the master at drawing a reaction from a crowd by doing the simplest of things.
When Scurll pinned Ospreay with the same cradle pin again, the Liger dream run was on. He kicked out of the cradle, battled back against Scurll, and hit the Shotei, Liger Bomb and Brainbuster in quick succession to win the first British J Cup to a standing ovation. After being selfless and losing all but one match in his last BOSJ, it was great to see Liger get the chance to have one last big win and celebrate his career with one more trophy. He adds immediate prestige to the British J Cup name, which will return next year, and his ties to Britain during his excursion days combined with being given the trophy by World of Sport wrestler Marty Jones means that Liger’s win made all the artistic sense in the world. Josh Bodom attempted to crash the celebration but was run off by Jones and the other babyfaces on the show, leading to a lovely photo-op with Liger and many wrestlers who were likely inspired by him. ***½
This was a show that was greater than the sum of its parts, thanks to a Liger-focussed tournament story that paid off in a very feel-good way, along with bonus matches that complemented the tournament very well. Ishii/Riddle is must-see, KUSHIDA/O’Reilly added to their already-great rivalry, and Liger’s dream run was a lovely moment.