Rev Pro Epic Encounter (5.10.19) review

Rev Pro Epic Encounter (5.10.19) review

Rev Pro Epic Encounter 2019

 

May 10 2019

 

We’re in York Hall, Bethnal Green. I thought about going to this show but I had Strong Style Flu thanks to three days in a room with a thousand wrestling fans the weekend before.

 

Gabriel Kidd vs. Brendan White

This is an attempt to reboot the “Contenders”. Kidd made a name for himself in WCPW whereas White came from the Dragon Pro school in Wales. Both of them have around three years under their belt (I wrote this and then checked on Kidd, not realizing he started with House of Pain in 2013. Yikes!) White is someone I’ve seen in Attack and GOOD. Kidd has mainly seen success in WCPW/Defiant but also with Southside, 3CW and World of Sport. It does not surprise me that Andy Q has shown an interest in him.

 

There is a distinct lack of interest from the crowd here but these two have the benefit of looking like fully developed men rather than the skinny Contenders boys of years gone by. Kidd benefits the most of the two by shedding gimmick but White’s basic heel routine being gone is also a bonus. The result is two lads in black trunks clubbing each other and exchanging holds.

RPW2White

Kidd sits out on a powerbomb for the win. This was rock solid. No issues here. Perhaps a lack of sizzle but plenty of steak and that’s what the Contenders are for.

Final Rating: ***

 

Chris Brookes vs. Artemis Spencer

Brookes has one of those Starr “Independent” shirts around his waist. They’re both preaching the same mentality. Kid Lykos corners Brookes. Arty is still over from SSS16. Pleased he didn’t get the Strong Style Flu. Spencer is a tidy pro-wrestler and this is his first outing into the world. I love Lykos but when Brookes throws Spencer out to him he dishes out some horrible looking stomps on the floor. Just kick him! You’re cheating already, why bother doing moves? The match has issues with heel/face alignment. Brookes is clearly leaning heel, thanks to Lykos, and yet the crowd are more inclined to cheer him over the unknown Spencer. It takes Lykos, and the standard terrible Tom Scarbs officiating, to get the crowd onside. It’s getting to the point where Scarborough is being deliberately bad. He’s the new Chris Roberts. Lykos pulls him out of the ring at one point!

RPW2Lykos

As you can see Brookes wins the match clean as a whistle. Nothing illegal about that. No shenanigans. Beautiful.

Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Dan Magee & Kurtis Chapman vs. Sha Samuels & Josh Bodom

I get the feeling this was not a reason why people came to the theatre of dreams but they clearly understand this and start hard and heavy. Bodom has dived off the stage and Kurtis off the top rope before we can even draw breath.

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It’s commendable how hard everyone works here but especially Samuels & Bodom whose careers are not going to be made or broken on this match. Sha is technically a face and Bodom definitely a heel but they’re both dicks so it works. Bodom is out there killing himself to get Chapman over. The bump he takes off the Codebreaker is ridiculous. Likewise the bump off the reverse Pedigree from Magee.

Sha is out there killing himself! Bodom takes a Canadian Destroyer right after this! It’s insane. Why are they out there killing themselves? Butcher’s Hook puts Kurtis away and what an effort from Sha & Bodom here. Fucking incredible stuff.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Post Match: Sha Samuels decides to do “Mug of the Week” in the ring and calls out Minoru Suzuki while Josh Bodom pops off double bicep poses on the buckles.

RPW2Sha

 

A-Kid vs. Matt Sydal

Big chance for A-Kid to showcase himself. Sydal made Ospreay in the very same circumstances. However that was a younger Sydal. This one seems less focused. He’s spinning armlock is…odd. A-Kid has far more flash than Sydal here. That’s probably deliberate but Sydal isn’t as capable as A-Kid on the mat. So what Sydal has left is high spots and he hits some of those and A-Kid has to no sell them because Sydal doesn’t follow up and can’t thread things together into a story. There’s a lack of chemistry and A-Kid is forced into attempting bumps that look painful for no reason.

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Sydal rolls through a pin for the win in one of the few sequences in the match that actually clicks. Sydal looked mediocre here and dragged the usually great A-Kid down. This is definitely not the same Sydal as the one who made Ospreay.

Final Rating: **3/4

 

TK Cooper vs. Rob Lias vs. Carlos Romo vs. Michael Oku vs. Shigehiro Irie

Lias attacks TK to take his spot. He’s also “attacked” Kip Sabian who’s also out of this match. With TK in the back it’s the battle of my faves!* (*And Rob Lias).

RPW2Romo

Oku gets the standard big response. He’s clearly connected with the crowd in ways that most of the “Contenders” can only dream of and is going to be a star for years to come. He’s not reliant on any in-ring ability and is fine with charisma and persona alone. He can get through a match with a half crab and “now we play”. He’s fine. There’s a lot of Rob Lias in this match. Which is not what I was hoping for and not what the crowd was hoping for either. The attempt to build the match around Lias’ heel persona rather than a balls to the wall frantic sprint is disappointing. It’s not what any of these dudes needed. Guys like Romo and Oku especially need that boost in front of a bigger crowd.

They do get into a series of high spots, which helps immensely. It is no coincidence that this coincides with a switch in focus from Lias to Irie. It’s a bigger mountain for OJMO to climb and their interactions are probably the best of the match. Teeks returns to stop Lias from stealing the match. Cooper gets to clean house and does so with mixed success. When TK is on form he’s a top tier guy but his confidence is damaged and it shows. Lias rolls TK up with a handful of tights. This was a mixed bag and only a partial success. Oku is going to be a star here. Rev Pro are clearly betting on Lias from a character stand point too. It’s a shame they can’t have Irie on every show.

Final Rating: ***

 

British Tag Team Championship

Suzuki-gun (c) vs. Aussie Open

The only bad thing about his match is having to put up with Andy Quildan’s pronunciation of “Minoru”. They’ve done this match before and it was sort of disappointing.

RPW2Suzuki

The good news is that Aussie Open have gotten the butterflies out of the way and are no longer freaked out at sharing a ring with Minoru Suzuki, the fucking King. When the atmosphere picks up in York Hall it’s so good. There’s a definite improvement in mood as this starts. The crowd were clearly geared up for this. It’s a wild brawl from the bell. Minoru sticking a few strikes on anything that moves. I see Joao at ringside meaning from ear to ear.

RPW2Minoru

Poor Kyle gets the heat segment of his life here. He’s taken a lot of heat in his life but nothing like this. Minoru’s baiting of Mark Davis is incredible. At one point exposing his butt cheeks.

And whatever this is! They make sure Aussie Open get to wrestle their best match here. It’s heat on Kyle, hot tag to Davis and Dunky goes to town on Suzuki. Minoru has a laugh working a chop duel with Davis. His attitude towards perceived young boys is great. It makes their success mean more. If he shrugs the first chop like it means nothing then eventually losing a duel means so much more. Same with Davis selling Suzuki’s big forearms like death. It gives him a mountain to climb. Too many guys want parity from the start and it’s wrong. All the truly great matches have one guy far superior in one aspect of pro-wrestling. Build that mountain!

 

Fletcher gets all fired up and starting dominating Zack, living up to the heavyweight predictions of Tanahashi and Liger. Sabre’s technical skill and attitude is a highlight in a match that’s essentially Minoru Suzuki vs. Australia. We get the 20 minute time announcement and that flew by! I could watch Suzuki & Sabre work all fucking day. Suzuki’s slap rampage is special. Aussie Open need to work as a team to win. That’s the key. While Suzuki and Sabre are both great individuals they don’t work particularly effectively as a team. Although it does come down to Davis overpowering Zack and hitting Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck. This was utterly fantastic. The Suzuki-gun matches in Rev Pro are consistently great.

Final Rating: ****1/2

 

Ladder Match

British Cruiserweight Championship

David Starr (c) vs. El Phantasmo

ELP has been gunning for this belt for a year but keeps coming up short thanks to an assortment of cheating so here we are; belt hung above the ring. No cheating will do anything. You have to climb and pull the strap down.

RPW2ELP

Starr brings his own referee, as he has done for a while, in Shay Pursor. Starr has his intro tweaked to “Davey Death Match” instead of “Davey Wrestling”. Ladder matches are tough because you need to throw out a bunch of crazy high spots but then find a way to sell them that doesn’t involve hokey slow ladder climbing. They set this out nicely by doing dives and flips without even bringing the ladder in. So they do a lot of smart wear-down work with the rails and chairs and such. The selling is specifically there to allow them to set up spots. Making it clear that none of the spots are enough to put one man down for long enough.

 

They’re brutal looking spots too. Like a backdrop onto set up chairs and even a throw into a ladder looks savage. They clearly aim to base the match in selling and big impacts without going ridiculous too early in a long match up. I also like that the first big spot involves ELP taking a backdrop on a ladder, therefore breaking the ladder and stopping a climb. It also helps that this has been a long feud and both guys want to abuse the other rather than simply climb up for the win.

The atmosphere isn’t quite as it should be. The dynamic changes from slow build and setting up spots to get revenge for a year long feud to everything dragging a little bit. They set up a ridiculously overblown bit with a chair, a table and a ladder that ELP hits with a chair. The whole thing exists to block views of Starr blading.

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It’s a gusher too.

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Starr is beaten at this point and they quite deliberately show that ELP can win if he wants but he goes back down to inflict more punishment after Starr spits at him.

RPW2ELPStarr

When ELP looks like he’s going too far Shay Pursor jumps in there and kicks him in the dick. There’s a great moment where Starr realizes he’s about to be tipped into thumbtacks by Chris Roberts. A pay off for a year of feud. Roberts beating up Shay while the crowd goes wild is wrestling 101. Pay off that feud! ELP makes some of the hard spots at the end look very easy. The springboard onto the ladder is so hard and he effortlessly does it. He symbolically belt shots Starr off the ladder using “the old cruiserweight belt”, which is a bit confusing, and pulls the strap down. They did a good job of paying off a long feud here with blood, sweats and, um, refs.

Final Rating: ****1/4

 

Summary:

Well, holy shit, did this show ever over achieve! I wasn’t expecting much but it was consistently good from top to bottom, with the exception of Matt Sydal. The top two matches were excellent and played off long-term booking. Starr vs. ELP has been a legitimately year long feud that didn’t make any sense that the belt hadn’t switched until this moment. They were saving it for a York Hall main event. Plus the Aussie Open failure to win tag gold last year makes even more sense now given the additional build up. Andy Q knows what he’s doing! The undercard was a big plus and this was a way better show than the one from February that sold many more tickets. It seems Rev Pro had been written off based on one misfire. Great comeback here. Almost all on Quildan for the job he’s done in restructuring and rebuilding after NXT UK raided his talent pool.

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