Rev Pro Live in Orlando
March 31 2017
We’re in Orlando, Florida in the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive, the home of Wrestlecon. Andy Q was smart about ‘Mania weekend and basically did it the Rev Pro way. Don’t annoy anyone, don’t step on any toes and co-operate like a motherfucker. The crowd is quite rowdy to start with, which is a good sign. Rev Pro don’t have the ‘cool factor’ of Progress or ICW or even OTT but they can still get people fired up.
Jay White vs. Sami Callihan
Two good wrestlers for the opener, especially Sami as he doesn’t give a shit about his own wellbeing. This is such a Rev Pro building. The floor has carpet, the ceiling has ornate decoration and even the chairs are nice.
They work a fast-paced, hard-hitting opener that serves an ideal purpose. The crowd pick up on the annoying British traits like “one fall” and counting ahead of the ref. It creates at atmosphere, at least, and I’m really pleased that the crowd actually seem to care. A contrast to some of the dead crowds EVOLVE drew. Sami’s spot over this weekend seems to be ‘guy who gets the crowd fired up’. Meanwhile Jay is accustomed to opening cards thanks being a NJPW Young Lion. Jay looks solid here, as always, although his personality still needs a little work. The actual in-ring was fine in Japan and never needed to develop. Which is a little worrying because the stuff he needed to work on hasn’t moved. That said ROH did nothing with EVIL either so New Japan repackaged him. Jay gets the win here with the Liontamer, which is good booking as Jay needs wins and Sami doesn’t work for Rev Pro usually.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Martin Stone vs. Jeff Cobb
Stone is aiming to get back into Rev Pro regularly. He lives in America so he’s a local now. Cobb has more upside, with his amateur past and freakish strength. Cobb throws Stone around for fun, like he’s nothing at all. Then he’s doing standing moonsaults for shits and giggles. If Cobb could get his personality across more, the same as White has issues, he’d be a superstar. It’s rather telling that despite his incredible move set and grasp on in-ring that WWE don’t want him. Cobb’s insane power moves get over nicely. Cobb tries to flip into the ring and gets ended by the London Bridge. Right guy went over again. Stone is the only one of these two with a personality. Cobb got over on moves but neither guy gets me particularly excited. Nice little match though.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Lord Gideon Grey vs. Hornswoggle
Gideon Grey is in Orlando. He’s not supposed to be here. He looks confused. I love that he fails to turn on his way to the ring and bounces off a guardrail. I don’t know where this gimmick is going but I’m hooked. Gideon says he’s in Orlando “midget hunting”. The crux of the character switch is that Gideon feels he was finally being taken seriously and Swoggle ruined it and therefore his mind is gone. Swoggle goes on a suplex rampage but Gideon ends him with the Fifty Shades of Grey. This wasn’t really a match and Gideon goes off screaming at people afterwards.
Final Rating: NR
Marty Scurll vs. Ricochet
Scurll gets a standing ovation, which shows you the event is heading into more serious territory.
Marty brings the comedy by being impressed with Ricochet doing a nip up. “That was sweet. I’m gonna try it”. Scurll isn’t going to match Ricochet like Ospreay but he can banter at an advanced level. Ricochet is happy to banter along by raking the eyes on a handshake to prevent Scurll cheating. Ricochet then rips off Tye Dillinger to react to the “Ten” chants. This is pure Indie sleaze comedy. I love it. They exchange banter with the crowd, cheat back and forth and have a load of fun. It’s huge contrast to the first two matches, which were good but dry. This is peak Sportz Entertainment. Marty’s People’s Stomps is great character work. When they then turn the dial up and hit flips and shit the crowd are suitably primed. How is Ricochet not in WWE? This is a legitimate question. I don’t understand how someone can have the attributes that he has and not be in the biggest promotion in the world. Ricochet avoids the Chickenwing and Superkick J/K spots, with that making sense as they’re easy to scout and Scurll goes to the well with them. The match has various different stages and they include comedy, recognition and flat out war. It’s supremely well structured by two independent artists.
They head towards epic when Ricochet powers out of the Chickenwing right into the Benadryller. For some reason Ricochet feels the need to do another flip and gets caught in a Chickenwing for the submission. This was all kinds of fun and one of the best matches from ‘Mania weekend.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Post Match: Scurll gets on the microphone to be excited about wrestling and accidentally calls Ricochet “Trevor” before putting over Kris Travis. “All this, this is for you”.
Interim British Cruiserweight Championship
Josh Bodom (c) vs. David Starr
Starr has impressed during his European shots, mainly thanks to wXw. It wouldn’t be a shock if he beat Bodom here. Bodom doesn’t get the same kind of reaction as the other RPW imports so he grabs the microphone to piss off the Yanks. Josh hasn’t got the belt, which allows the Americans to chant “where’s your title?” In ROH probably. Starr forces the pace although it’s notable how out of the action the crowd is. Having to follow Ricochet and Marty Scurll is hard. Bodom figures he needs to do something nuts and hits a 450 Press to the floor. He very nearly kills himself on the guardrail in the process. I appreciate Josh being able to maintain a heel persona when you’re hitting nutty dives. Having a lack of previous matches means they need to focus on hitting the spots, which takes away from the chemistry and flow of the match somewhat. However they find that chemistry around the middle of the match and it only gets better from there. The mat counters are strong and the strikes are even better. They work in a ref bump that I’m not keen on and it doesn’t go anywhere either. They go back into the action right afterwards and the standard is very high. Starr gets caught in the ropes and the Blissbuster finishes. This was really good but it took a while for the crowd to realise.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Will Ospreay vs. Rey Fenix
Ospreay doesn’t have a lot of matches ‘Mania weekend, thanks to the ROH contract. A huge contrast to last year where Will showed up on all the crazy EVOLVE spotfest shows. They have an early miscommunication where Will goes for a dropkick and Fenix is doing the Indie flip pose. That’s not how you want to start a flipfest. You need to establish trust. This is apparent when Will basically stiffs Fenix with a dropkick moments later. Luckily they find their feet and head into the pre-planned flip spots. It’s always worrying when one guy gets lost early doors in a spotty match but they overcome that.
Not entirely though. In particular an attempted reverse rana goes wrong and they have to re-do the spot to get back into sync. It’s true that the difficulty level is very high so mistakes are almost inevitable but we’ve become so accustomed to Ospreay not making mistakes. Who’s to blame? It’s hard to say. Who knows what the plan was on the spots that go wrong? Only the two men in the ring and one of them is wrong. From the death stare Ospreay gives the masked luchadore, it’s likely to be Rey. Another Canadian Destroyer crops up. That move is so overdone at the moment. In a match with a pair of no-sold poison ranas to boot. Oscutter gets the job done for Will. Some of the spots were crazy in this but the two times they got lost put a dent in the rating and I’m sure Ospreay isn’t best pleased about it.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The Unbreakable FN Machines (Michael Elgin & Brian Cage) vs. Shane Strickland & Ryan Smile
Nice to see Ryan Smile mixing it up with the American Indie stars here. This is a level he can work at. The only reason he’s not been here before is he has issues with his mouth, and the number of times he opens it without thinking first.
It’s coming to something when WWE don’t hire guys like Cage, who looks like Wolverine on steroids and wrestles like a luchadore. It shows how the business has changed. Cage doesn’t have the attributes WWE are looking for right now. Bizarre huh? Cage tries to keep up with Smile, in terms of style but makes a mess of a nip up and Shane Strickland rolls into the ring to take the piss out of him. Elgin promptly does the Worm and wins at wrestling. Shane Strickland literally leaves the arena. When he comes back he does a moonsault off Elgin’s chest, springboard style, to the floor. This is a match that could be best described as ‘four guys do cool shit’. It’s not a structured match or anything. In a way that makes it easier to watch because it’s just a cavalcade of fun shit. Like one of those highlight music videos.
Ryan Smile refusing to lose is interesting although the crowd chant bullshit at him kicking out of Cage’s F-5, which shows he’s not that over in the USA. Lots of high spots follow and Ryan pins Elgin with a frogsplash, which is entirely the right booking decision for the regulars to win but the crowd boo the hell out of Smile because they don’t perceive him existing on the same level as the Unbreakable FN Machines.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship
Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Penta El Zero M
Penta pulls the whole “Zero Miedo” business so Zack starts armbarring him like he voted for Brexit.
Sabre has a touch of attitude here and he certainly worked heel in winning this belt from Shibata in New Japan. These two both do armbars so they work off that and Sabre’s whole ‘fuck you’ mentality is spectacular. Of course that’s already the mentality of Penta. It becomes a battle of two guys who don’t give a shit, which extends to the strikes and such. Whether it’s Penta doing overhand chops and posing afterwards or Sabre twisting Penta’s arm into the rail and kicking it. These two had a BOLA match a few years back and it was really good but it wasn’t character driven. This match is. It’s driven by Zack being a prick and trying to break Penta’s arm. Penta’s response is a Fear Factor, his Package Piledriver, on the apron. Break my arm will ya? I’ll break your fucking neck! Sabre’s response is the ever popular Canadian Destroyer. Zack just kills Penta with an armbar to win, stamping on the challengers head in the process. This was a surly old ruck. I enjoyed it a great deal.
Final Rating: ****
This was a very good card from Rev Pro, replacing their usual lower card guys with top tier American dudes and then jobbing all the Yanks out in their own backyard. Enhancing their own product with the WrestleMania experience. I keep saying Andy Q is one of the smartest promoters in wrestling and he showed that again here. His neutrality, but general favourable relationship with everyone, has turned Rev Pro into a veritable hot bed for wrestling. It might not be the coolest promotion going but the standard of their in-ring is never in question.