Rev Pro World of Pro Wrestling
October 19, 2018
Watch: Freesports TV
I hate perpetual nostalgia. People meander through life, determined to argue that things were better when they were young. TV, music and wrestling were far superior in the golden days of a long-forgotten past. It was more real, more vibrant and more exciting.
These people don’t realize that, much like heroin, most things in life are on first experience. The first taste is always the sweetest and it’s a constant battle to regain than initial buzz.
When I was watching the RevPro TV show, or ‘World of Pro Wrestling’, I couldn’t help but think of my own first hit of professional wrestling. It reminded me of a pestered and beleaguered mother taking me around Middleton market because I had heard there was a tape trader there. It reminded me of a boy urgently finding me in primary school to tell me that Brian Pillman had died. I had to pretend I was shocked because I had no real knowledge of who Brian Pillman was. It reminded me of sitting at a state-of-the-art Windows 95 PC in Moston library, typing in every pay per view title I could remember into the search function, hoping one of Manchester’s libraries had a wrestling VHS I could rent for a pound a week.
I hate nostalgia. But this show resurrected that nine-year-old boy that thought wrestling was the coolest thing in the whole world.
I couldn’t help but think of the uninitiated youngster, flicking through channels whilst desperately searching for something to feed their brain. I hope that at least one of them found this wrestling show and experienced the first hit of a wonderful art form that, although much maligned, is theatre at its purest.
Wrestling is live art for everyone. It’s not an unobtainable elitist diamond, trapped behind an insurmountable pay wall, nor is it a technicolour embarrassment bandied on stock markets by people too ashamed to even say its name.
I love professional wrestling and I loved this TV show.
The shows races from the starting blocks with a purpose that has been missing in wrestling TV for many years. There’s a visceral montage of action and a gurning Andy Simmonz, promising that this might be the wrestling show that every British fan has been waiting for.
My first cheer, an involuntary and guttural yell, doesn’t come from a star entering York Hall. It comes from a set of rules displayed on my TV. It specifies how to tap out, how matches end and how long wrestlers will have for a rope break. I understand that this will inform the novice fan how these matches will work, but that’s not why I loved it. I loved it because it legitimized what I was watching. It respected the glorious unspoken contract of kayfabe; everyone involved in this performance, actors and audience, will treat this like it is real from the minute they enter the building to the second they leave.
A beautiful blue wash embellishes York Hall, but the lovely presentation cannot overshadow the fantastic crowd. I could give an inordinate list of all the cheers and boos, but their passion blasted all that into insignificance. Larger stars like to wax lyrical about the passion of their universes, but nothing beats the dedication and appetite of the hardcore fan. The fans in the building made this show so excellent. There were no beach balls or chants for long gone wrestlers, but an overflowing of love.
Jushin Thunder Liger def. Chris Brookes
The crowd heralded this match with a deafening chant. They invited the new fan to join the movement and learn what makes these unusual people so engaging.
Jushin Thunder Liger is the perfect wrestler to open the series with. He is infinite and otherworldly. His ability to emote through movement and violence makes him the perfect professional wrestler.
This match started with the awful handshake spot that is a bubonic plague on BritWres. It wasn’t funny the first time.
We are treated to Liger’s standard traveling opener; the greatest hits of surfboards and apron dives. This amplifies the main differentiator of this show. The crowd know these spots and react accordingly. They are not the newbies and children that populate the World of Sport screenings. They elevate everything they see.
Chris Brookes brought me back down to Earth with a bang. I find his disinterested style flat at the best of times, but watching him work the stereotypical heel, rest holds and mask ripping included, had me wishing he was still designing posters for superior talent.
Brookes, for all his faults, is competent. He couldn’t diminish a Jushin Thunder Liger; a man who will always get five stars from my heart and another five from my soul. The ridiculous, cliched heel antics aside, this match felt like an entrée. It was interesting and left me ready for more.
ELP ran in to stop Brookes disrespecting Liger in an angle that was barely mentioned after. ***1/4
Great-O-Kharn def. Harrison Thompson
Lord Gideon Grey is perfectly hateable. His gurning, inbred face screams privilege and class. The way he rolls his Rs magnifies and complements the expensive-yet-frumpy clothing he has ordered from an advert in the back of the Reader’s Digest. He’s a prick and I love him.
He introduces the Great-O-Kharn, who stumbles to the ring like a teenager pretending to be drunk on a cider lolly. He then, inexplicably, has the best match he’s had in the company. He absolutely destroys the quaking Hunter Thompson. He gets booked like the ‘dominator’ the commentary team tells us he is.
Hunter Thompson deserves a lot of credit here. He emanated fear, legitimizing his ridiculous, napkin faced opponent. **3/4
Dan Magee loiters around ringside, delivering a generic and utterly forgettable promo. To make matters worse, he is interrupted by Sha Samuels, a man whose mouth moves faster than his brain. This was the worst segment of the show, but it was shorter than a channel flick.
Then, we get a candid interview with Colt Cabana and I get annoyed that no olden institutions have offered him an honorary doctorate. He loves British wrestling and so do I.
Zack Sabre Jr def. KUSHIDA
Zack Sabre Jr is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. He has a unique, psychological game that elevates him above many of his contemporaries, and it’s all down to his size.
He’s lanky and streamlined. His body is made of sinew rather than muscle. His movements are careful and considered. In many ways, he is the antithesis of the modern professional wrestler. To counteract all of this, he fights with his brain. He looks like someone that would run from even a hint of violence. Instead, he meets violence with brutal, intelligent holds that his opponent couldn’t escape – not because they aren’t strong enough, but because they aren’t smart enough.
This match was a treat. The pace of it was lucid and persuasive. It was a wave of violent fluidity that increased its intensity as it barrelled on. It was what a proper main event should be, with alternating control periods building to a crescendo of violence.
KUSHIDA heralded the third act with a huge DDT, and the audience were treated to kamikaze offense from both competitors. The closing stretch was littered with innovative treats like moonsaults into arm bars that would bamboozle an audience accustomed to thirty-minute promos and even longer rest holds.
This match was intelligent – there were constant references to the brutality of the hoverboard lock – but most of all, it was exciting. There was an urgency that created a tsunami of excitement and I got carried away with it.
ZSJ wins for British wrestling. ****1/4
RevPro have annoyed me lately. There has been some sloppy storytelling and some underwhelming events. This show, however, was superb. It reminded me why I love wrestling and I hope that at least one person watching this discovered that love too. If this is British wrestling, then I am proud to call myself a British wrestling fan.