Global Wars 2018
October 14, 2018
Brixton Recreation Centre
Brixton, Greater London, England, UK

Watch: RPW On Demand 

One of RevPro’s marquee events, Global Wars 2018, sets up shop in the Brixton Recreation Centre and promises to blast away the awkward, lazy booking RevPro have been plagued with lately. Surely a card stacked with the best wrestlers in the world will deliver?

KUSHIDA def Kurtis Chapman

This match was a bad joke at a funeral. It was a dirge of awkward moments, punctuated by sloppy, poor work from Kurtis Chapman.

This started with an embarrassing grapple section which built to KUSHIDA looking at Chapman like an older brother who’d been forced to take his younger sibling to the arcade with his friends. Chapman’s offence, especially his mat work, looks genial and domesticated. He looks like he’s trying to placate his opponent rather than hurt him.

As the match continued, the lenient Kurtis maintained his bad joke. His selling of an armbar by leaping through the middle ropes was the weakest foundation for a babyface comeback, but he attempted it anyway. The crowd were laughing at worst and silent at best.

After Chapman took the fall and KUSHIDA left the ring, presumably cursing Primera Air for causing David Starr’s no-show, we are left with a sniffling Chapman waiting eternally for a babyface send-off that he didn’t deserve. *3/4

Los Ingobernables De Japon (EVIL & SANADA) def Ring Kampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER)

Thatcher and WALTER stride to the ring in perfect symbiosis. They share an ideal and a philosophy of professional wrestling that elevates both men. They hold professional wrestling in the highest esteem and this is amplified in the opening exchange between Thatcher and SANADA.

They flow back and forth, dancing from hold to hold as each man tries desperately to find an advantage over their opponent. The smirk on Thatcher’s face as he broke away told the story of a man who loves to be taken to his limits in the wrestling ring. It made wonder why ‘person who loves wrestling’ is such an underused gimmick in professional wrestling.

There was everything you would expect here – WALTER chops and stunted shoulder blocks – but nothing that stood out as being particularly memorable. WALTER and Thatcher wrestled like a well-oiled machine, but it felt like the travelling team saw this as another stop on a tour.

LIJ win a good but flabby match. ***1/4

Great -O- Kharn def Rishi Ghosh

Gideon Grey—the Rik Mayall of professional wrestling—votes Tory, drives a Lexus and refuses to recycle. He’s a fantastic wrestling character.

The education of Oka continues, and here he is learning how to tell a story. While the story isn’t the best, a rare mid card feud will always grab my attention. A circulating cast of characters, from an Eastern prince to a police officer who hates fun, have all played their part in getting us here. Rishi Ghosh has been betrayed and now must battle his replacement. He is berated by his former leader with an excellent, very British promo. When introducing his new protégé, the Great-O-Kharn, his eyes burst out of his privileged face as if his maniacal plans are desperate to escape his brain and find freedom and manifestation.

Great-O-Kharn stumbled to the ring like a teenager who drank half a litre of vodka before their school prom.

This was one of the better O-Kharn matches. The story, although cliched, added a sprinkle of interest but it was Rishi Ghosh that elevated it. He brought a kinaesthetic pace to the battle, leaping around the ring with all the wind of a mid-card push behind him.

While I might not be a fan of this story, this match is evidence that giving a wrestler something to sink their teeth into, no matter how small, pays dividends.

Kharn still manages to make this plod a little. He clearly has a very limited move set and adding a few wrinkles, like twisting a referee’s ear, is not going to hide that.

Grey smashes Ghosh over the head and Kharn takes the win. **3/4

Tetsuya Naito def Chris Brookes

Chris Brookes, the medium value meal of wrestling, is not afraid to leave his effort at home. Wrestling a man whose gimmick is that he doesn’t care very much about anything might not be the best recipe for a thrilling match.

Brookes flops around the ring like a lethargic marketing executive and Naito treats us to his greatest hits of dodged lock-ups and ‘tranquilo’ poses. I resign myself to the fact that this will be a great match for the live crowd but will be a disappointment on the VOD once Naito’s star power has diffused away.

But there was a volta. Half way through the match, the stakes suddenly seem very real. A series of roll ups into a submission convinces everyone that this isn’t just another touring match for Naito and a chance to sell t-shirts for Brookes.

Brookes reverses the Destino into a stunning underhook piledriver and for a split second, time stands still, and I think Brookes is pinning Tetsuya Naito. Naito compounds that shock with the most underrated move in professional wrestling: the 2.999 kickout.

Of course, Naito wins in the end, but managing to convince me he would lose speaks volumes about his work. ***1/4

Zack Sabre Jr  def Hirooki Goto

Zack Sabre Jr leaves his cocky swagger at home and blasts to the ring with a fire and passion that shows just how seriously he takes this match. He is not going to be embarrassed by a member of Chaos, even if it is the traditional gatekeeper of New Japan.

Both men are in similar positions in the NJPW hierarchy – both New Japan Cup winners, both get respectable scores in the G1 – but Goto has more to lose here. As well as being more established,  his pride is deeply ingrained in his character. ZSJ is on home turf and hungry to surpass the mid card stalwarts like Goto.

The excitement for this match is palpable. Goto has some of the most uniquely brutal offense in wrestling. He is a powerhouse of explosive violence. ZSJ is a technical genius; a thinking man’s wrestler. He can also sell more convincingly than almost anyone. It’s the perfect meeting of styles.

The two wrestlers put on a masterclass of subtlety and storytelling. Goto grabs headlocks so he can free his thoughts to find a way through ZSJ’s wizardry. Sabre tries to goad his opponent into making a mistake but is a step behind when the swatting forearm comes forth. He reverses a brutal kick into a leg bar by playing possum on the outside. It sounds so simple when written down, but in practice is was thoughtful, interesting wrestling.

ZSJ used his body as a resource. He would allow himself to be beaten and bruised while finding the perfect opportunity to counter his opponent. It almost backfires, but he sneaks a pin for the victory. Great stuff. ****

Satoshi Kojima def Mark Davis

Kojima is pro wrestling personified. He’s a larger than life character than emanates charisma and charm. He’s a litmus test of your love of this silly fake sport. If don’t smile when you hear his maniacal scream, then I don’t think wrestling is for you.

This match wasn’t anything particularly special from a work rate perspective. We saw all of Kojima’s greatest hits and the usual huge power moves from Dunkzilla. What made it special was the unmistakable stench of passion. Mark Davis clearly valued the chance to share the ring with a legend like Kojima and he expressed it by having a great match. There was no misty-eyed, wistful arselicking that has become so overplayed it diminishes what is on display. They wrestled with smiles on their faces.

Kojima wins the match, but Mark Davis was the real winner here. ***1/2

El Phantasmo def Rocky Romero

ELP gets a relevant booking against a man he faced the disastrous J-Cup, but Andy Quildan seems determined to tell half a story.

They started a great tale with ELP. He couldn’t quite beat David Starr, failing in his final title shot. He crawled his way back to win the J-Cup which surely meant that he could overcome that stipulation and challenge for the strap one last time.

At the last minute, Rev Pro decided not to tell that story. They decide to have KUSHIDA challenge Starr and have ELP prop up the mid card.

This is all fine, but with the Cruiserweight title being the only strap not in the Far East, it would have made a lot more sense to have a homegrown feud.

Laughably, Quildan says that ELP is alongside KUSHIDA as a number one contender without mentioning the stipulation from his previous shot.

Story quibbles aside, this match was exciting and dynamic. ELP has a boundless, infectious energy and it’s hard not to get swept away with his charisma. Rocky Romero certainly had his working boots on, and this was a fun match. ***1/2

Chris Ridgeway def Will Ospreay

Ridgeway oozes authenticity. It doesn’t come from his shoot style or his serious demeanour, but from littering his matches with interesting, but consistent, little nuggets that give the professional wrestling fan to sink their teeth into. It has made him one of the most compelling wrestlers on the Rev Pro roster. I waxed lyrical about his match with Zack Sabre Jr in the Cockpit earlier in the year and this match could be even better.

It’s the perfect clash of styles. Obviously, there’s the collision of strikes from Ridgeway and the high flying of Ospreay, but it goes deeper than that. Ridgeway has shown time and time again that he gets too emotional. He craves the big wins and further opportunities, but every time he gets close he fumbles. He tried to fight his way out of ZSJ submission rather than go for a rope break in their Cockpit match. He couldn’t quite lock in his submissions properly against the veteran KUSHIDA. He talent elevates him to big matches, but his inexperience means he can’t win them.

In many ways, Ospreay is on the same road. It’s not his skill that holds him back – he has one of the most innovative move sets in the world – but his stupidity. The three-count means nothing to Ospreay if it isn’t punctuated with an overly elaborate embellishment of flips and spins.

The winner of this match will be the man who can keep a level head and make the fewest mistakes.

Ospreay messes up almost immediately. He arrogantly bounds towards Ridgeway, challenging him to a strike exchange. A smirk dances across Ridgeway’s face. Ospreay may have made the mistake, but Ridgeway is letting his emotions take over.

They dance back and forth in a great example of that subtle and compelling storytelling that Ridgeway does best. At one point, a fan screams something drunken and unintelligible and Ridgeway looks around. His inexperience shows, and Ospreay pounces, smashing Ridgeway in the face with a forearm.

If the speed increased, Ospreay took control. If the work was on the mat, it was all Ridgeway. This was a great match that amplified and utilised the strengths of both men.

The crowning glory of this match was a superb Spanish Fly into a powerbomb from Ospreay that was followed up by a glorious kick out at one and glassy eyed kick from Ridgeway.

Ridgeway gets the win and the match of the night so far. ****1/4

Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship
Tomohiro Ishii def Minoru Suzuki (c)

Ishii is beyond human. He has an ethereal air of violence sweeping around him wherever he goes. He doesn’t wrestle to entertain or to obtain glory. He wrestles because his is compelled to. He wrestles because his body is his passport to the adrenaline and turmoil of combat. He strides to the ring with purpose, finds his corner, and locks his eyes on the entrance like the hungry pitbull he is.

Suzuki is his perfect opponent. His is brutality sprinkled with a nauseating cruelty. Suzuki, like his opponent, doesn’t fight to entertain. He fights to hurt people, to steal months and years from their career.

Nobody ever really controls Tomohiro Ishii. Even flat on his back, staring at the lights, he’s waiting. At any moment he can spring back to life in a flurry of brutality and end the match in a heartbeat. Suzuki throws everything at him. Sickening chest thumps that echo around London followed by wrenching submissions on every limb he can find. After a chair battle, he begs not to be disqualified because he is enjoying the dissection too much.

But, nobody really controls Ishii. He can be held back and placated, but it will take everything you have go to do just that. This was a battle of endurance, and nobody can outlast Tomohiro Ishii.

Both men delivered strikes with threat and menace and stumbled around the ring desperate to deliver receipts. The crowd were silenced multiple times as they craved the unholy sounds of the next brutal strike exchange.

The crowd gave Ishii a standing ovation, clearly heralding it as the best match of the night. While watching Ishii stumble around the ring before launching a forearm at his opponent is as captivating as anything else in wrestling, I felt that this was far inferior to the Manchester match. At times, there was that horrendous stink of ‘going through the motions’ that international talent often brings.

It seems to have been decided that big main events must be over twenty-five minutes. Unnecessary meandering made parts feel flabby. The first rule of telling a story is that anything unnecessary must go, and this is as true in wrestling as any other art form. If the rubber match happens, I want a fifteen-minute assault on my senses. ****

Final Thoughts

It will come as no surprise that this was a good show. It would be impossible to have this much talent on a card and not deliver. Finally, we are starting to see some of the Cockpit angles make their way onto the bigger shows and hopefully that will invite more eyes to see what happens outside of the cards littered with NJPW talent.

Don’t forget to check out the Rev Pro TV show – it’s excellent.