Revolution Pro Wrestling
November 9, 2018
York Hall
Bethnal Green, Greater London, England, UK

Watch: RPW On Demand

Rev Pro, bolstered by an excellent TV show and a solid Cockpit build, return to their spiritual home with an excellent card. Recent criticisms of their booking have asked some difficult questions. How will they answer?

Taichi def Chris Brookes

I don’t believe in fate, but it’s hard to imagine that the stars haven’t conspired against me with this, my personal Match From Hell, falling into my reviewing remit. On a recent Flagship, my review of a Taichi match was questioned, completely ignoring the fact I am certified as an accurate star rater. So, you can trust me when I say Taichi is awful and Chris Brookes is, as a singles wrestler, fine at best. I had the shovel ready before the match even started.

Chris Brookes is the Marks and Spencer’s of BritWres. For international readers, Marks and Spencer’s is a department store that caters to middle-aged people who have decided that excitement has no place in their already hectic schedule. There’s nothing wrong with the clothes, they’re functional and practical, but Marks and Spencer’s will never surprise you. They have a certain solid level that they always hit but never surpass. Everything they do is beyond any real criticism because it’s so bland. Chris Brookes wrestles like Marks and Spencer’s.
With metaphorical shovel in hand, I sat forward on my couch, slobbering on my Lion Mark t-shirt, mentally sparring with ever-increasingly bizarre metaphors that would make me sound articulate and solidify my status as an accurate star rater.

They started the match with the indie equivalent of praising a local sports team. They got the crowd to vocally build something minor, like the removal of clothing. I stood up off my couch, placing my notebook full of accurate star ratings to one side, and began to pace. I had them. I was ready to verbally nail these two wrestlers, the walking fringe and forgotten baddy from Final Fantasy Online, to the wall.

When the third powder occurred, I ripped my shirt off and flexed like Kojima after a particularly seedy slice of bread. If I didn’t have them before, I had them now. They had their pants down and I had the handcuffs.

Imagine my excitement when they continued through the playbook of bad match tropes! There was a fake handshake spot! There was a clandestine brawl into the crowd, visible by a select few! There was another powder! I was slobbering, clanking my burying shovel on the floor like an insane, shirtless madman.

Then, the match came alive.

Chris Brookes showed that he doesn’t have the self-imposed restrictions that I thought he did. He was dynamic, bouncing around the ring with snap and purpose. The powerbomb reversed into the apron stomp he does forced me to drop the shovel. The quick octopus stretch from nowhere dragged me out of my self-imposed red mist and suddenly, I wasn’t an angry accurate star rater anymore. I was a shirtless, fat nerd, slightly chilly in a Salfordian autumn.

The angle at the end was good. Ospreay stormed in to attack his NEVER rival but accidentally hit Brookes and gave Taichi to win.

They didn’t do enough to counter the awful opening, but they certainly put me in my place. **

Great-O-Kharn def Shane Taylor

Great-O-Kharn, stumbling to the ring like a teenager sneaking home after an illicit night out, has had a mixed run in RevPro. His work is very good, but he has the same match every time. He’s obsessed with a relentless march of early near falls and tells the same story almost on a loop.

I was initially critical of his alignment with the Legion of Lords, but it’s made him interesting. It’s allowed Gideon Grey to don his cheap suit and sneer his way around the country with the best promo in wrestling on bigger and bigger stages. Most importantly, his match with Rishi Ghosh was really good.

Shane Taylor is an incredibly interesting import and his authentic swagger to the ring makes this match seem fresh for the traveling young boy.

Battling heavyweights clearly comes much more naturally to Great-O-Kharn and they put together a battle between two boulders. Thunderous strikes kept the violence simmering and it was dotted with some thrilling spots, such as a devastating headbutt to the sternum from Taylor.

A distraction from Gideon Grey led to the finale of a very solid, entertaining match. ***

Josh Bodom def Chris Ridgeway

This is a completely homegrown clash between two pushed wrestlers and it feels huge. Ridgeway has his detractors, but he’s one of the most exciting wrestlers in the UK. His matches in the Cockpit are superb; he’s an emotional, flawed striker who loses because he has too much heart and pride.

Ridgeway has learned his lesson. Here, he is swift and calculated. He almost claims the early win with a calculated and proficient brainbuster. He pursues the despicable Bodom around the ring with the calculated edge he has been missing.

Ridgeway hunts his victim with a technical skill rarely seen. He flips around submissions, traps legs in suplexes and screams to the audience that he is ready to take that next step up the card. He pounces on Bodom’s arrogance. Their characters clash in a wonderful way; Ridgeway is eager to prove that he is ready whereas Bodom feels he passed all his tests a long time ago. Bodom is the arrogant prick and I was desperate to see the hardworking grappler take the victory.

But, Bodom is just too good. Arrogance is a horrible trait at the best of times, but confirmed arrogance is sickening. This match is Bodom’s confirmation that he is just as good as he thinks he is. He finds another gear and swiftly snuffs out the hope of the expectant babyface with brutal power moves.

I’ve loved Ridgeway’s matches this year, and I just hope they use this decisive defeat to really elevate Bodom. That seems to be the case because Bodom strutted out of York Hall like a star. ***3/4

El Phantasmo def El Desperado

ELP’s glass ceiling is keeping him battling guys like El Desperado instead of battling for championships. It’s a shame that the depressing J-Cup has almost been forgotten because it felt like the upswing of a story that has since stalled to a halt.

The two men transcend the restrictions of exhibition storytelling, falling back onto a safe-but-reliable heel/blue-eye dynamic. ELP is fast and innovative; his masked opponent cheats and pokes his way to advantage. But, as I’ve said before, wrestling stories are the twelve-bar-blues. Wrestlers have structures to work with, but with some soul and heart, they can tell an infinite number of unique stories.

ELP bounds around the ring with a horrendous and reckless abandon. He destroys the barricades by launching his body through the ropes with unreserved aggression. He leaps from one side of the ring to the other in the blink of an eye, searching for that elusive victory on the respected import.
A kinetic ending with a flurry of superkicks and lariats drags the audience along in a whirlwind of superfluous energy. Every pinfall feels believable, and every kickout from ELP pushes more and more energy around the room.

ELP leaps from corner to corner and sacrifices his health and well being to take a big victory.

This was an excellent match. Imagine it was the J Cup final? ****1/4

WALTER vs Satoshi Kojima

I’ve talked before about the ridiculous matches that New Japan’s relationship with Rev Pro can create and this is a prime example. The magical Kojima, the personification of professional wrestling, battling the brick wall of WALTER

A grapple around the ring leads to an arrogant, lazy threat of a chop from WALTER and the audience anxiously anticipate that stunning heart attack. Walter’s sneer as he mocks the veteran’s ineffective shoulder blocks is magnificent and he swiftly becomes a whirlwind of tree trunks arms and legs.

Then, that chop comes and it is electric.

Kojima, breathless, stares at the ceiling in a haze of glassy-eyed wonder. The shock on his face is palpable and was a glorious example of subtle, brilliant selling.

The second chop floors the puro legend. WALTER is making a statement which is intensified by a thrilling backdrop onto the apron. He continues the cavalcade, not because he needs them to win, but because he wants to embarrass the visiting legend. Kojima attempts a reply, but the difference is stunning. He can’t compete with WALTER’s pure strength.

But, Kojima has cascading multitudes of heart, and that beats strength every time. He valiantly fights back after every chop. Superplexes don’t work and thunderous, earth-shattering powerbombs bend his spirit but can’t break it.

WALTER makes a huge error. It wasn’t a move that didn’t land properly or a misjudged top rope dive. He insulted a man of honor. Kojima fought back with wonderful passion that the crowd couldn’t help but feel. Boots repeatedly bounced off his tired, bruised face as he screamed for more.

Very odd. A weak Cozy Lariat earned him the fall and WALTER appeared to be shouting something to the ref as the three-count hit the mat. A call of ‘Botchamania’ from the crowd, while disrespectful, might have been accurate.

Afterward, Bodom challenges Kojima by stamping on a loaf of bread. I’ll let you form your own opinions on that. ****

MK McKinnon def ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey

Mike Bailey, the bootless wonder, is a very unique wrestler. His offense, the wild legs and knees mixed with martial arts, always has a sprinkling of danger. He isn’t polished, and those rough edges make him a captivating figure.

MK is a very solid wrestler. He brings the gravitas of an experienced journeyman whose limbs can strike from nothing.

The two men dance around the ring with speedy flashes of martial arts and an MMA influenced style. Big strikes and superb suplexes from MK grab the attention, but far too many strike exchanges felt choreographed rather than fluid and real.

Once the competitors leave the conventional safety of the ring, interest picks up. MK’s brutal, suicidal dive emphasizes how important a high profile match like this is for him. Speedball’s stupidity and recklessness when it comes to his own safety leads to horrendous knee drops and a wince-inducing top rope suplex.

The desperation in the closing stretch was palpable, with both competitors scratching and clawing for that final big move. Believable near falls provided chances to exhale before they increased the brutality again.

The desperation is emphasized by MK choking his opponent into unconsciousness. MK McKinnon is back and in superb form. Great match. ****

RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Title Match
Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Jr & Minoru Suzuki) (c) def Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)

The mysterious, enigmatic tag team belts finally return to the RevPro ring. Any booking grievances are quickly dissipated by this stunning matchup.

As ZSJ and Fletcher dance around the ring and a dueling chant echoes around York Hall, the atmosphere is transformed. The tone is serious, and the stakes are real.

ZSJ dominates on the mat, aware that increasing the pace of the match will hand the advantage to Kyle Fletcher.

Kyle Fletcher, however, is very young. Young men are prone to make mistakes. Slapping Suzuki while he stands on the mat certainly qualifies as a mistake. Fletcher runs from the ring and we see evidence of the wonderful relationship between the two Australians. Davis plants himself firmly between his young charge and the maniacal danger of Suzuki. It’s simple storytelling and it sings.

In a thrilling wrinkle, Fletcher returns to slap Suzuki later in the match, but Suzuki is now wise to the young fool’s ignorance. He ties him in a knot around the ropes and the visual of Dunkzilla running across the ring to attempt a save was heart-warming and wonderful.

Like all young fools, they need to be taught a lesson and Suzuki brings corporal punishment back to the UK with violent submissions and breath-taking strikes.

There are few moments more exciting than a Dunkzilla barrage and he delivers here with kicks and chops, launching his opponents around the ring with velocity and fire. A thrilling exchange between ZSJ and Davis sees the Brit’s brains fail against the sheer power of the Australian powerhouse.

The end of this match was a vortex of flying bodies, submissions and power. It was a violent blur and had me captivated throughout. Suzuki-Gun retain in a superb match. ****1/2

RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Title Match
Tomohiro Ishii © def. David Starr

A reminder of David Starr’s promo after Cockpit 34 also serves as a reminder that he is a stunning talker. The insecure character has evolved into a confident, brash champion. He proclaims that he is representing RevPro, validating cruiserweight wrestling and rallying against the blood-money funded mainstream.

Then, there’s Tomohiro Ishii. He sneers during the introductions, completely disinterested in the superfluous parade of nicknames. Violence is his goal. He doesn’t want championships for money or glory, he wants them because it guarantees at least one more legitimized mugging.

Starr is cautious once the bell rings, moving like a man who bragged too much to his friends about starting a fight. His mouth got him here, but it’s his body that needs to do the fighting. His looks to the crowd suggest that he has started to wonder if he is out of his depth. His arrogance is bolstered by a few early chain victories, but even the most passive spectator would squirm at his arrogant powder and subsequent strut around the ring.

Unfortunately, Ishii didn’t really seem interested in telling this sort of story. For two men who have been reliably superb for a long time, this was the wrestling equivalent of a forgotten cup of tea. Functionally the same, but a bit cold.

The heat certainly returns as the match goes down the home stretch, signified by a stunning top rope brainbuster into a 2.99 kickout from Starr.

Ishii’s trademark bombs rain down onto Starr, but the new improved Starr has the power of a hungry crowd behind him. Kickout after kickout energizes a group desperate to see the British championship back in their promotion with our adopted figurehead.

Ishii is just too good. He exists on a different plane and his powers are too great. Starr’s dreams are destroyed by a Brainbuster.

The cold, flabby middle lingers in the mind, but a thrilling ending certainly elevates this match.

By far the best part of this match was the ZSJ challenge. The announcement that the belt will be defended at the Tokyo Dome on January 4th brought an unfamiliar feeling to this critic – national pride. ****

Final Thoughts

This show has started to answer the criticisms of Quildan’s long-term booking. For the first time in a long time, it felt like the stars of RevPro took center stage. Using New Japan talent is fine if your own regulars can stand toe-to-toe with them and, despite how some of the results may look, it felt like they did. An excellent show from top to bottom that is well worth three hours of anyone’s time.