Rev Pro Epic Encounter
May 11 2018
We’re in Bethnal Green, London at the historic York Hall proving that Charlie Morgan’s balcony dive didn’t get wrestling banned from there. If Shane Strickland comes off the balcony in the first match I’ll lose my fucking mind. Hosts are Andy Quildan and Andy Boy Simmonz.
Adam Brooks vs. Shane Strickland
We are blessed as Strickland comes out here to “Ain’t Nobody” and it makes tape. Brooks has enjoyed his best success against fast paced, innovative fliers so naturally this is a good fit. An attempt to recreate Brooks’ outstanding bouts with Will Ospreay.
Brooks has an undefeated streak in Rev Pro so that rather telegraphs the outcome and the crowd are surprisingly docile in the early going. It picks up, as do the crowd, despite Brooks working a very disinteresting style. He leans on the heel mannerisms and when he’s not doing that he’s just very generic. And against Strickland he’s inferior in every way. It’s not a bad match but it’s not one you’ll remember after the show. All the cool spots result from Shane attempting something amazing and Brooks just blocking it. Or vice versa. Strickland brings some fiery offence toward the finish based around the double stomps. The one on the apron is cool. The one off the rail is better. Brooks goes low, hits the Destroyer on the apron and finishes with the senton. As per usual Brooks sleepwalked through half the match before coming alive at the finish and leaving a memorable moment in people’s memories.
Final Rating: ***
Josh Bodom vs. Fred Yehi
Yehi has never wrestled in Europe before. It’s surprising but he doesn’t have a showreel style that leans itself to selling the Yehi Brand overseas. Yehi follows me on Twitter, for reasons I don’t understand.
Again the crowd is muted here, even Steve: the Josh Bodom Fan, is quiet. Both men’s technique is really good but there’s no reason to get invested in the match. The crowd goes all ECW on Bodom and give him shit for working soft. Imagine Josh Bodom in ECW? That crowd would have hated him. I feel bad for both these guys because they go out there and work hard but the crowd are still in Undercard Mode and it’s tough to break away from that. They do some lovely mat counters before launching into a killer stretch. Yehi survives all of Josh’s big moves before strapping on the Koji Clutch and Joel Allen stops it. Bodom is mad because he didn’t actually tap but Joel saved him a beating.
Final Rating: ***
Post Match: Josh Bodom attacks Fred Yehi. Dan Magee heads up the officials stopping the violence and Bodom attacks him too.
British Cruiserweight Championship
Kurtis Chapman (c) vs. David Starr
Heel Starr is the Best. I used to think he was a great babyface until I saw him work heel. He is a born heel. His pre-match promo, burying the ring announcer, Andy Q, Danny Burch and Chris Roberts is great. Starr has brought his own referee; Shay Purser.
Starr is so good at being a heel he gets cheered. If that makes sense. Unfortunately the crowd turn on the face, Chapman, as he’s less interesting than the horrible cheating challenger. Kurtis may have won this belt a little too soon in his career and the crowd will turn on you when that happens.
Kurtis is very lightweight and that’s always been an issue for him. He seems to struggle to gain weight and you’d think that would illicit strong babyface support but it’s 2018 and being small doesn’t guarantee you crowd love.
Starr gets a chinlock and the crowd start chanting “tap”. Poor Kurtis. Starr does have a knack of getting himself over so I get it but Chapman takes some nasty bumps and brings some crazy spots. Long term he need to work more like Zack Sabre Jr as he has that frame and the British style. “Some of these fans are being jerks” says Andy Q. As a domestic talent battling the odds of course Chapman gets booed in Rev Pro. That’s what this fucking audience does and they double down on it by refusing to support Chapman’s comeback. Gideon Grey has been right about you wankers for ever. Kurtis has a great comeback but gets cut off and Starr takes the belt. This would have been better with a different crowd. I guess they should just make the most of it. Starr will make a great jerk heel champ and hopefully they can find faces the crowd will actually cheer to wrestle him. Meanwhile Kurtis has an opportunity to turn this into an epic heel turn.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Aussie Open vs. The Chosen Bros
Another big opportunity for Aussie Open. This should be better than their big match against Tanahashi over Mania weekend as Riddle and Cobb are more receptive to doing daft stuff to get over.
Andy Boy actually pops me by calling Kyle Fletcher the “Aussie narrow”. Aussie Open are very good at getting duelling chants going, which makes them a bit divisive? Or they’re just always wrestling teams with strong fanbases. Aussie Open are developing a standard match, which is Kyle taking heat for the bulk before a hot tag. I wish they’d deviate from it in the bigger matches because it’s all very predictable. They’re both good in those roles but tag formula is tired. Dunkzilla gets an earlier hot tag here and murders Riddle and Cobb. It’s sensational from Davis, who’s getting a reputation of being able to hang with the very best. Aussie Open proceed to work heat on Cobb. An interesting switch around. Once it breaks down we get frantic action from four excitable young men. It’s great to see Matt Riddle showcasing his unique style in a throwaway midcard tag and going full bore in the process. It doesn’t matter where Riddle is on the card, he always kills it. Kyle Fletcher is also excellent here. His timing is marvellous and he flies into spots with reckless abandon, determined to stand out among three super workers. Big points to Joel Allen for knowing who the legal man is on the finish where Davis is beaten by Fletcher flies back in for the cheeky roll up. This was fucking great.
Final Rating: ****1/4
El Phantasmo vs. Will Ospreay
Phantasmo has been over in the UK since June 2017. It’s taken him some time to get noticed, despite grinding it out on the scene, but he has improved and he’s taken on board the scene. Now he’s being rewarded with the peak of British Wrestling in 2018; a big match with Will Ospreay. Big Willy has been nothing short of outstanding this year, despite nearly breaking his neck the week before WrestleMania.
Rev Pro have a habit of booking Ospreay in matches where he’ll be bullied but here he can bully Phantasmo. Which leads to incredible sequence to establish parity and ELP lifting the backflip pose, which gives us this sacred image of Will being Gotten To.
Phantasmo is a very gifted flier and his rope walk is a demonstration of his uncanny cat-like balance. He also has the attitude to make him stand out. So he’s here calling Will a bitch and spitting in his face. It gives the standard flippy match an edge. Ospreay does insanely hard stuff in this match and makes it look easy. Like flipping out of a super rana and landing on his feet or running up Phantasmo’s body. He doesn’t obey the rules! He’s making this up as he goes along. I like how Phantasmo collapses to prevent the Oscutter and then steals the move himself. ELP gets enough that he looks on Will’s level before being flattened by the Stormbreaker. Ospreay is having a sensational year. It doesn’t seem to matter who he’s wrestling.
Final Rating: ****
British Tag Team Championship
Suzuki-gun (c) vs. CCK
After Suzuki-gun vs. Moustache Mountain in January my expectations for this are suitably high. Sabre and Suzuki both do ‘disrespectful prick’ at an exceptional level. Suzuki has been bringing it this year, as if he knows he only has so much time left as a top guy. His mocking stance when Travis Banks chops him is all kinds of great. As is Travis responding and standing up to MiSu.
Brookes is less interested in taking that route and instead apologises profusely after chopping Suzuki.
Speaking of chops, Suzuki’s tease that he might chop Chris Roberts is epic. It’s weird how Brookes is the weak link in his team, taking heat, normally the job of Kid Lykos. Instead it’s Terminator Trav that gets the hot tag. The interactions between Sabre and Banks are solid, making me wonder if that’s the route Progress are going for Wembley. This match comes across like a less good version of the Moustache Mountain match with Trav having less fire than Tyler Bate and Brookes, although funny, not bringing the same level of comedy that Trent Seven produced. That said; the Moustache Mountain match was excellent. It’s a tough bar to get over. Gotch Piledriver puts Brookes away and Suzuki-gun retain. May this tag title run last for a very, very long time. If Suzuki is willing to keep turning up on this level why not?
Final Rating: ***3/4
British Heavyweight Championship
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Keith Lee
These two clashed last year and had a near perfect war in York Hall. Now the odds have switched as Ishii comes in having won the strap in NOLA.
These are two of my outright favourite wrestlers in the world right now. Ishii comes in cocky but Keith chops him down to size. The camera work here is all kinds of great. They get in close to the action, making it feel like they’re battling it out in your living room. This is not the kind of match I want long shots for. I want to feel every strike. Both guys go a little easy to start with, perhaps aware they don’t need to kill each other this time. As I type that Keith does the double chops in the corner. What a wonderful spot that is. Keith makes a point of taking to the air and being totally unpredictable. It results in a domineering performance. Ishii once again hits the brainbuster, again making the crowd rise to their feet in the process but he can’t get the pin. Ishii’s selling is terrific here. All wobbly legged and staggered. It should be ridiculous but it’s not.
They have a suitably epic encounter. I prefer the first match because it was the first and I was there live. On tape you can see little issues here and there. Strikes that barely connect, little timing issues. Stuff you barely notice live. Luckily the stretch is amazing. It’s all giant bombs, superplexes and running power moves. When Ishii pops up and completely no sells a superplex the crowd lose their minds. Then Keith starts kicking out at one. So Ishii kicks out at one. It’s a war! Ishii kicking out of Ground Zero at one and then staggering across the ring while Keith looks at him incredulous is beautiful stuff. Ishii gets one more brainbuster and that puts Keith down for three. As I said earlier; I preferred the first match but this got suitably ridiculous down the stretch. The last five minutes is madness.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Absolute banger of a show from Rev Pro. Everything was at least good and three matches cracked ****. Great show. It maybe even eclipsed the incredible EVE show at York Hall just the week before. The wrestling is good!