NJPW/Rev Pro Strong Style Evolved UK
July 1 2018
We’re in Manchester (technically Altrincham) at the Altrincham Ice Dome for night two of New Japan’s UK tour, done in conjunction with Rev Pro and at the same time as another tour in the USA. New Japan is getting pretty serious about its global expansion. When the cards were revealed it became apparent that night one in Milton Keynes was the set up show and the show to have tickets for was this one. Eight matches tonight including Ishii defending his Rev Pro British title against Minoru Suzuki.
Incidentally Andy Q got this up in two days. The first night was up the day after. A timely VOD is key in 2018. If you’re not timely, your relevance is disappearing. Hosts are Kevin Kelly and Andy Simmons. Normally I’m opposed to Yanks coming to commentate in the UK but Kelly is an experienced voice and he knows his New Japan.
Dan Duggan vs. ?
The mystery man, as revealed yesterday, is the Great O-Kharn formally Tomoyuki Oka.
He’s going to be in the UK for three months. His new persona includes a lot of gimmickry. It’s an old fashioned racial stereotype deal but he’s got a lot of different stuff in there. Duggan is a guest here after impressing at the dojo in LA (he’s from Canada). Oka’s new gimmick has seen a mixed response. People are happy NJPW are trying something different with him but Oka was such a high energy dude and this character is a slower guy. I hope he finds a balance and grows into it because this character, as is, is not going to cut it. Oka Mongolian chops, sorry “Dominates” his way to victory.
Final Rating: *
Shota Umino vs. Yuji Nagata
Nagata got thumped by WALTER yesterday so he’s back to teaching young lions how to put together a match. Umino gets minimal offence here and lets Nagata lead the way. They briefly tease that Nagata will fall to the Young Boy finish; the deadly Boston crab. There is a logic to it as Nagata comes in on the back of a match with WALTER, which can’t be great for his old dad bod. The slaps in this are fierce. They clearly want to see Umino trying to match Nagata. He doesn’t though and the Nagatalock finishes.
Final Rating: **1/2
Suzuki-gun (Takashi Iizuka, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. CHAOS (Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & Gedo)
If people wanted an authentic New Japan experience it doesn’t come more authentic than a pointless trios match between a bunch of guys who aren’t very good (and Despy). The crowd seem to get into it with Iizuka biting people and being trash and Gedo is over.
To call this uninspired booking would be an understatement but at the same time it is an authentic NJPW match. Yano doing Yano things is fine but Iizuka doing all his shit is just depressing. Suntory Mist puts Gedo away and we can all move on with our lives.
Final Rating: *1/4
WALTER vs. Yujiro Takahashi
Now *THIS* is inspired booking. Yujiro gets a pop for bringing two women with him.
Yujiro then fails to pose for the cam so all you get is this side shot. WALTER is all business here. Yujiro is just cannon fodder. The best part of it is WALTER chopping Yujiro right in front of the two girls he brought out here. Just so they can get a close-up look at violence. Yujiro spends a while working the leg but it’s just filler to prevent his massacre. Yujiro’s level of engagement is frighteningly low. I know he’s generally bad at wrestling but he’s barely here. Which makes all the filler feel worse. Lariat and powerbomb finishes.
Final Rating: **
Note to Andy Q: stop using the shit re-mix of the Ringkampf music. Dvorak’s New World Symphony has plenty of good free versions. Don’t lower yourself. Incidentally ever since Rev Pro debuted their new logo I’ve been waiting for them to debut the real new logo instead of the shite one they’ve currently got.
Taichi vs. Will Ospreay
A few Taichi fans in the house as the crowd are willing to cheer anyone from New Japan. Andy Q enjoys throwing together weird combinations of guys that you normally don’t see. But does anyone really want to see this? Especially as NJPW didn’t fly Miho Abe over. Taichi does a lot of stalling to frustrate young William. While this match up feels like a waste of Ospreay, it does give him a breather and cease his ridiculous run of horrendous looking neck bumps. Instead we get various shenanigans and Ospreay putting dives in there, including to an interfering Kanemaru. Taichi uses the mic stand and wins with a powerbomb. In England that’s a shocker but in New Japan less so with Taichi being an official heavyweight and Ospreay still a junior.
Final Rating: *1/2
Rev Pro British Cruiserweight Championship
David Starr (c) vs. El Phantasmo vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. Tiger Mask IV
The ‘conspiracy’ against Starr continues with him having to defend against three challengers. Despite being a heel Starr gets a good response. It’s the charisma. Where’s Kurtis Chapman’s rematch? ELP gets in there due to beating Starr in Southampton in a non-title match. Starr looks like he’s auditioning for New Japan. He’s too small to be a heavyweight there so it’s interesting that he’s in Rev Pro as a junior, who are connected to NJPW. I can totally see Starr working BOSJ next year. This is also a low key audition for ELP too and he’s impressive in a different way to Starr. Less charisma but more innovation. The good news is this is the first worthwhile match on the show. The first to feel energised and that actually means something. Even Tiger Mask gets all fired up. ELP and Ishimori do crazy shit, with ELP the MVP. Phantasmo just needs to show a little more fire in getting frustrated with Starr. Starr pulls Tiger Mask’s mask off and while he’s covering his shame Starr rolls him up. Starr’s cheating at the conclusion of this was exquisite.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Kyle Fletcher vs. Jay White
This was supposed to be Chris Brookes vs. Jay White but Brookes got injured last night. That leaves Kyle going on third last on a NJPW show. Not bad!
Obviously these two aren’t going to get along. White disappointed at years of Australian shade and taking it out on Kyle. Jay has grown into the Switchblade persona, which could have ruined him. He needed to change though as a dojo babyface he was bland as fuck. The UK matches he had were evidence of this. The match is two exciting young talents having a back and forth contest. White shines a little brighter but considering Fletcher only found out about this match a few hours beforehand it’s a decent outing for him too. Kyle showing incredible fire taking chops until his chest bleeds. It’s savage stuff but it’s another sign of how Kyle has grown into an outstanding young wrestler. I’ve been talking about wrestlers auditioning for NJPW but the most impressive wrestler on this show so far, who’s not signed for NJPW already, is Kyle Fletcher. Blade Runner puts him away but Kyle looked terrific here. A prime example of always being ready for a shot at the prime time.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Kazuchika Okada
Sabre ran through the upper New Japan card to win the New Japan Cup but came up short when challenging Okada for the belt.
But Big Kaz has lost the strap and seems a little lost because of it. He comes out here without most of his gear but to a huge reaction. He’s got new red pants but no finery. No effects. This is technically excellent, as you’d expect. Sabre digging into his bag of tricks and Okada hanging in there. Sabre blocking a hip toss right into a hold is sensational.
There’s a feeling this is very different to their title match at Sakura Genesis due to it being Zack’s home country and Okada having lost the belt. He’s become a little fragile. More human. As a result the match is just a little clunky around the edges. Sometimes with Sabre’s selling and sometimes with Okada’s offence. When Zack is in control the match is beautifully fluid. His counter out of an Air Raid Crash right into a hold is tidy as fuck. That’s peak Sabre Jr. Dropkick right into the STF is another great little sequence. Cocky prick Sabre makes an appearance, which is most welcome. A prime example of clunky offence is the counter from armbar to Rainmaker in this. The bump is awful, the connection is poor and it goes nowhere. Okada goes for another Rainmaker but Sabre counters and pins him! ZSJ beat Okada! Another major loss for Okada and Sabre whittled away at Okada throughout the match. Constantly one step ahead. If they can tidy up Zack’s bumps on the big spots these two can have a legit five star banger at some point.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki
Anyone who wanted to see a genuine New Japan show is getting a belting main event. Two wrestlers competing for a big title with a little build in Japan itself. Plus they tattoo the shit out each other on the strikes from the opening exchange.
Ishii’s disrespectful soft kicks are a thing of beauty. As is Suzuki’s realisation he’s being treated like a twat. I’m a big fan of them wailing away with big strikes, devolving into slaps and then collapsing simultaneously. They struggle back to their feet and go again! I love the Ishii match. Suzuki starts to play a more tactical game after coming up short in head to head. His sleeper is downright sneaky but that’s not the only example. However when it comes to the big moment in the match, him completely no selling a lariat, the belief is suddenly there that Suzuki has Ishii’s number. I love Ishii trying to fight out of the Gotch Piledriver but Suzuki holds on and nails the piledriver to win the title. This was very much ‘my graps’.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Note: Minoru Suzuki becomes the 9th Undisputed British Champion and for a British title it’s perhaps a surprise that he’s the third Japanese champion. Although the New Japan association has no doubt allowed Japanese opportunity in the division. Ishii’s run of 86 days makes him the shortest reigning British Champion. Previously a record held by Katsuyori Shibata at 116 days.
WALTER turns up, boots Ishii in the face and poses on his corpse.
Then Sabre comes out to cut a promo on behalf of Suzuki-gun slating CHAOS for their constant failures during this show. “Disco pants. Done that” being a highlight.
A load of pap on the first half, followed by increasingly improved efforts in the second. This was a New Japan experience! The last matches are awesome and Kyle Fletcher really stepped up against Jay White. If you’re pushed for time you can skip the first hour and miss nothing of merit.