Revolution Pro Wrestling
Summer Sizzler 2018
August 17, 2018
York Hall

Watch: RPW On Demand

For the hardcore Rev Pro fans, this show has a couple of payoffs to some feuds built in The Cockpit. For the hardcore sadists, we’ve got Ishii vs. WALTER.

Josh Bodom def. Dan Magee

The show opens with a match that Andy Quildan has been salivating over throughout the build to this show. Bodom has been a key commodity in Rev Pro for a while now and Magee is clearly Quildan’s latest project, raving about him in shoot interviews and almost lionizing him in kayfabe at the commentary table. The opening match on a big show would have been the perfect time for him to plant his flag.

As a culmination of a feud, this match left a lot to be desired. It had all the cool moves and spots a big show opener needs but it was like the two men forgot what story they were trying to tell. I was desperate for Bodom to emote, for him to add that cocky smirk to his ‘biggest prick in the room’ walk. Instead, I saw intense concentration which gave the impression he was he was struggling to remember which move was next.

Magee, on the other hand, seemed more interested in showing off how many side slam and pumphandle variations he knows rather than beating his hated rival.

There were several good spots here. Magee’s strange tombstone position to a big drop and twisting senton to the outside were memorable as moves, but unfortunately everything lacked the storyline glue that the build-up promised.

Bodom hits the Bliss Buster for a two count and then smashes Magee in the mouth with a kick to finish.

Rock solid wrestling, but where was the story? **3/4

Great-O-Kharn def. Shane Strickland

Oka’s excursion to the UK was great news for us Rev Pro fans; it’s always exciting to see how these Young Lions find their character and for someone to do it in my territory only increases that.

For those of us who follow NJPW closely, Oka is certainly a name that carries a lot of weight. We remember hushed whispers of Kidani’s amazement and of Nagata’s excitement. They soon went away when we met Kawada and Kitamura but those endorsements leave lasting impressions.

It’s amazing how refined Great-O-Kharn is. He clearly knows exactly what he’s doing with his body and he knows which moves work where. The Young Lion training system has afforded him the space to develop as a storyteller and as a character. He doesn’t have to worry about his work. Is the napkin face raging a bit over the top? For me, yes. What he showed here was fundamental wrestling storytelling. He took a powder at the perfect time. He rolled out of the way of the big Strickland top rope move to illicit boos from the crowd. He gets it.

There was a ref bump and low blow spot that came and went so quickly it made me wonder why it was in there at all. O-Kharn finished with a move that, as far as I know, has no name so we’ll call it ‘like a chokeslam but with the face’ and then a big reverse suplex.

If you follow the Young Lions, seek this match out. ***1/2

KUSHIDA def. Adam Brooks

Adam Brooks, part of the Antipodean explosion that’s taking over Brit Wres, takes on a man who could not have a bad match if he wanted to.

Brooks strikes me as an incredibly innovative wrestler in a subtle and imaginative ways. He goads KUSHIDA in a test of strength by flexing and mocking him, but then outwrestles him and stands on his hands. He hints at a Cheeky Nandos kick but then rakes the eyes to mock a wrestler who he wants to wrestle. He wants everyone to believe that KUSHIDA is just a stepping stone to Ospreay.

However, arrogant showboating only got him so far. They told an excellent story of Brooks being terrified of KUSHIDA’s many painful submissions. He runs and sells like a petulant child and eventually succumbs to a Hoverboard Lock into a Back To The Future.

A badly botched drop kick and missing fifth gear means this won’t make any match of the month lists, but a good match is a good match and that is exactly what this was. ***1/4

Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis) def. CCK (Chris Brookes and Jonathan Gresham)

This would have been Aussie Open vs KES but was changed due to the passing of Jim Neidhart. The addition of Jonathan Gresham is a massive upgrade over the injured Kid Lykos. He’s the American Tomohiro Ishii; he still manages to be underrated despite the fact everyone recognises how awesome he is

Now, I hold a deeply controversial opinion that seems at odds with a huge number of British wrestling fans. I don’t think Chris Brookes is that good.

It was Bret Hart who said that a wrestler’s worth is measured by three variables: quality of work, how they look and their charisma. You need to be strong in two out of the three to be a great wrestler.

Chris Brookes is a solid worker. He is all marketing and cool merch whereas I want ring work and charisma.

I understand that this isn’t a body business anymore, but wrestling against Kyle Fletcher, with his similar frame, exposed his shortcomings. Chris Brookes is fine. He does his moves well. Fletcher, on the other hand flew around the ring with determination and pain etched on his face, perfectly complementing his partner with unique manoeuvres.

I have a few nit-picks with this one – it had a slow opening and a couple of spots felt too similar – but they are just nit-picks. A late control sequence by Aussie Open is one of the most impressive things in Brit Wres at the moment and if someone does a better piledriver than Dunkzilla I want to see it. The closing stretch of this was magnetic stuff, as Gresham was dominated by the more powerful man.

Gresham was the star of the show here. He arrived to cheers but quickly changed gears with some superb heel tactics. He smelt a weakness in Fletcher’s knee and went after it with submissions and drop kicks. This wasn’t a Triple H ‘work the leg’ snooze fest; it was a targeted, violent mugging.

As expected, Gresham takes the fall whilst adding another amazing performance to his collection. Match of the night so far. ****1/4

Titan def. Soberano Jr

Next, we get a visit from another member of the New Japan family with two members of the CMLL roster.

This was a really great match. It was clear, simple story telling with lots of exciting and interesting work. The dynamics were clear from the start,  with Titan going through the heel playbook. He betrayed a handshake, tried to remove Soberano’s mask, viciously kicked Soberano Jr in the head, tried to leave when the action got too hot and so on.

They took the classic match formula and built on it with memorable, modern work. It was the best of both worlds.

Matches like this that make Rev Pro such an exciting company to follow. While many criticise Quildan for importing so much talent, how many other companies are putting on excellent lucha exhibition matches in the UK? It was clear from the start of this match that the majority of the crowd were not familiar with either worker, but the effort they put in and the crisp, smooth action meant that more than a few will be googling them on the way home.

When you watch this, make note of some of the faces on the front row. The amazement and excitement in their faces is palpable and it’s impossible not to get a little bit of extra vicarious enjoyment from them.

Titan wins the match and plenty of new fans with a bizarre pinning combination. ***3/4

Lance Archer def. Jurn Simmons

There are certain wrestlers you have to see live to truly appreciate. You can’t fully comprehend how amazing ZSJ’s submission wizardry is until he ties a man into a ball ten feet from your face. You’ll never capture the feeling Ricochet’s esoteric high flying gives you on camera. Maybe a Lance Archer vs Jurn Simmons match should be added to that ‘must see live’ rule because I had no idea what the crowd were chanting for here. Maybe it was the ‘two big guys doing shoulder blocks’ cliché. Maybe it was the generic walk ‘n brawl around the ring. Maybe they just love Jurn. Until time travel is invented, I’ll never know.

Lance wins a paint by numbers match. **

Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship – David Starr (c) def. El Phantasmo

David Starr is an insecure man. The British Cruiserweight Championship is his validation. In his eyes, it should grant him respect and adulation wherever he goes. The problem is, no respect and adulation will ever be enough. He doesn’t hear people chanting his name if they also chant someone else’s.  He’ll never be satisfied because, deep down, he knows that he’s hanging on to the belt by a thread. He knows he has to take the easy way out and it drives him mad. He also knows ELP can beat him, so he proclaims that if ELP doesn’t win this one he’s never having another shot. It’s all or nothing for ELP.

El Phantasmo is a star. He is literally encased in lights when he heads to the ring. He takes ridiculous risks so people adore him. He’s boosted by a recent pinfall against the champion and nothing about his entrance here indicates he has any doubts that he’s leaving with the belt. This is his night.

Except it wasn’t. It looked good early on. Starr tried to escape with the belt and he was thwarted by the referee refusing to count him out. ELP all but had the belt around his waist. But, El Phantasmo is a star. He doesn’t just want to win. He wants to win with York Hall stomping wildly and cheering his name. So, he underestimated Starr. He didn’t expect his legs to be beaten so viciously. He didn’t consider how much that belt means to Starr; it means so much that he’ll go to any lengths to keep it. ELP kicked out after low blows and ref bumps, but ultimately Starr was too much for El Phantasmo.

Starr knows what it feels like to lose that belt and he’s not going to lose it again.

Excellent story telling. The work was a bit sloppy from time to time, but sometimes my favourite matches aren’t technically the best ones. ****1/4

Winner is Number 1 Contender for Undisputed British Championship – Tomohiro Ishii def. WALTER

Those of us in Manchester for the Strong Style Evolved show saw WALTER flatten Ishii with a huge boot and declare his intentions to challenge Suzuki for the Undisputed British Championship. It was what a great wrestling philosopher would describe as an ‘irresistible force meeting an immovable object.’

The air stinks of violence as the video plays and the competitors enter the ring. Both men thrive on intimidation and toughness. Your best shots mean nothing to either of these gladiators. Ishii has just beaten the IWGP Heavyweight champion and WALTER has dominated every promotion he’s wrestled for. This is truly a dream match.

WALTER dominates Ishii early on with chops and stomps. Huge rocks plummet against his head and chest. It takes every morsel of ridiculous, boneheaded masculinity in Ishii’s cells to resist. The problem with Ishii, a problem WALTER is very aware of, is that a single mishit is all he is waiting for. WALTER wasn’t controlling this match, he was just holding back the Stone Pitbull. Ishii patiently waits for a single mistake, and then you’re dead.

Ishii’s selling is sublime here. Contrary to popular belief, Ishii doesn’t no sell a single move. He plays games with his opponent. He emasculates them. He makes it clear that no matter how hard you hit him, your best is not good enough.

WALTER, the playground bully, ignores this. His repeated use of the rear naked choke is a clear reference to his ultimate opponent: the champion, Minoru Suzuki. Ishii will not be humiliated, however. He’s waiting for that mistake. WALTER’s arrogance leads to one too many chop attempts and Ishii pounced with sitting lariats and a brainbuster. Ishii takes the victory and is the number one contender.

This was an absolute whirlwind of aggression and I loved it. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

I have no reservations about heralding Rev Pro as the best promotion in the UK and I’m happy to use this show as my evidence. The two closing matches were on another level and, apart from Simmons/Archer, everything was at least good. The casuals got their dream matches and the Cockpit faithful got two storylines tied up.

Rev Pro have just announced a TV deal on a channel on Freeview, meaning everyone in the country will be able to get it. If they can put shows like this on there, it’s the best chance Brit Wres has of breaking into the mainstream.