The name of Revolution Pro-Wrestling’s (RevPro) big summer show couldn’t have been more right this year with the Sun beating down and York Hall increasingly sweltering as the night went on.
While the show itself was packed with some of the biggest name wrestling talent in the world thanks to the company’s association with New Japan Pro-Wrestling who were running their own show in London the following night.
Young Lions (Alex Coughlin, Karl Fredericks & Clark Connors) vs Dan Magee, Carlos Romo & Kurtis Chapman
Things began with a pre-show match pitting three of NJPW’s LA Dojo Young Lion trainees against three of RevPro’s finest up and comers.
It was a spirited affair with all six men being welcomed by the crowd but the ‘locals’ played face for the most part.
As expected this was a fairly brief affair but everyone had their moment to shine and although it was the visitors who got the win with that classic ‘young boy’ staple the Boston Crab it warmed the crowd up nicely.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship contract signing
Things were taken to a somewhat higher level next as we were treated to a surprise contract signing for the following days match between Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
After comments from both they faced off in the middle of the ring and while they didn’t lay a hand on each other Suzuki was up to his usual tricks attacking the ‘young boys’ tasked with keeping the two men apart and it was clear the hype for the next day’s main event was very real.
Gabriel Kidd vs Shaun Jackson
The show proper started with a match between two members of RevPro’s Contenders division, their version of the Young Lions, but rather than the sporting wrestling match we expected Gabriel Kidd wasted no time trying to rough up his opponent Shaun Jackson.
Kidd really kept the advantage throughout, seemingly being on the cusp of qualifying from the division but Jackson put in a good showing too making for another good warm up match.
‘The Gob’ Rob Lias vs TK Cooper
With a feud that’s been bubbling away for a few months it was expected that Rob ‘The Gob’ Lias and TK Cooper would have a big blow off to that here.
Unfortunately, while it had its moments most of their match was solid if unspectacular fare.
A couple of exceptions came when Cooper took to the air in impressive fashion for his size, highlighted by his twisting cannonball rope-hung-leg-drop on the apron.
The end of the match came when Cooper was driven head first into a chair wedged in the ring side security barricades (in fact Cooper hit so hard the whole lighting gantry shifted) leading to a count out that left the match on a flat note with no real resolution.
CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham w/Kid Lykos) vs Dan Moloney & MK McKinnan
The first tag team match of the night came next and got going as a fun affair with CCK in particular adding the humour though Moloney and McKinnon were equally good at playing it up as straight men.
While Jonathan Gresham in particular got a chance to show off his skills it all got cut rather short as the man also known as The Octopus seemed to get injured and the ref called the match to finish.
While there were a couple of moments that didn’t seem to go as planned exactly how the injury occurred was unclear and of course I hope it’s not too serious, but the sudden end and Gresham getting helped out, added to the flat finish of the previous match, left the atmosphere in York Hall feeling a little down.
Six-Man Scramble Match
Hikuleo vs ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey vs Robbie Eagles vs Rocky Romero vs Senza Volto vs SANADA
A mystery scramble match is, generally speaking, all but guaranteed to boost the mood at a show and, as the competitors were announced, this one did that from the off, especially as NJPW crowd pleasers Robbie Eagles, Rocky Romero and SANADA were part of it.
With non-stop action throughout this was exactly what the night needed, particularly as most of the competitors are capable of spectacular high flying and we got plenty of that, including a real up close moment for me as Rocky Romero delivered a suicide dive sending him and his opponent crashing into the barricade inches from me.
The presence of young Tongan big man Hikuleo also meant there were some impressive feats of strength but most of the highlights came from the exceptional SANADA.
A double paradise lock was brilliantly done (as was Romero’s follow up failed attempt at the same hold to SANADA) but it was the closing sequence seeing SANADA hit a moonsault directly into his Skull End submission hold that probably won the day as the member of Los Ingobernables De Japon secured the win, upping the energy in the venue just in time for the interval.
Road To Royal Quest Tournament Final
British Tag Team Champions Sha Samuels & Josh Bodom vs Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
After the break it was time for the final of a tournament to decide who goes to Royal Quest to fight the Guerrillas of Destiny for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.
Things started strong with a brawl outside the ring with lots of intensity and Sha Samuels once again showing why he’s such a great heel and his partner Josh Bodom not being far behind in being hatable.
As they fought both teams looked great and Samuels particularly impressed hitting a moonsault from the top rope to the floor before things settled down in the ring and Kyle Fletcher was on the receiving end of an extended beat down.
Eventually escaping with a big powerbomb and tagging in Mark Davies the Aussies came back with a flurry including some of their trademark tandem offence and, after an assisted leaping cutter they got a very sudden win.
With both the heels and Fletcher looking shocked it seems something may have not gone to plan (in fact at one point it seemed like it might have been an actual ‘screwjob’ though eventually it seemed like a more innocent mistake with the match finishing earlier than intended though Bodom’s reaction certainly seemed very real).
After the match GoD headed to the ring and the duelling chants for the two teams who would be fighting the next day was one of the most impressive things I’ve heard setting the stage for what could be a show stealer at Royal Quest.
Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship
El Phantasmo (c) vs Michael Oku
The first scheduled match featuring an NJPW star was next as El Phantasmo defended his British Cruiserweight Championship against Michael Oku (with whom I’m more familiar as The OJMO).
From the off it was clear how popular Oku has become in recent months and also how good a job ELP has done at getting over his new bad guy persona since joining Bullet Club, and he played this up excellently during the opening section of this match where he stalled for time inciting the ire of both the crowd and his opponent.
As the match went on Oku took the role of underdog excellently, constantly fighting back against his more experienced opposition and, as things gradually escalated connecting with his signature frog splash (including an impressive example leaping a majority of the way across the ring) and locking in his half crab finishing submission but all to no avail.
The contest concluded with a spent Oku succumbing to a barrage of ELP’s signature offence but despite the loss he came across a legitimate and strong contender and all being well I suspect this could be the start of his run at the next level (something being mirrored elsewhere too).
Dream Tag Team Match
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion, Zack Sabre Jr) vs IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Billed as a dream tag team match the next contest was really the evening’s co-main event and certainly featured the talent to live up to its name as past British tag team champions, Minoru Suzuki and Zach Sabre Jr (aka Suzuki-Gun, also with Sabre being reigning British heavyweight champion) took on a team comprising their Royal Quest singles opponents IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and NJPW ‘ace’ Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Having seen Sabre wrestle in person in the past (at the 2018 Super Strong Style tournament) I was well aware of his skills but it was evident from the start how he has further elevated his game over the past year or so.
While new to the other three in person I’m well acquainted with their work but up close and in the flesh each appeared even better than on screen.
While Tanahashi is charisma incarnate and it’s clear why he’s been dubbed the Japanese John Cena (with better actual In ring skills), Okada was maybe the most surprising emitting far more emotion that I have ever felt from him on screen.
Suzuki meanwhile is maybe the best villain in the game today, despite being beloved of many in the crowd, and this combination of talent was palpable as they entered the ring and faced off.
From there the match delivered pretty much everything you could hope for from the tag trickery and outside brawling of Suzuki-Gun to the excitement of Tanahashi and the sheer skill of Okada (it’s clear why many say he’s the best in the world today).
While each man’s biggest ‘spots’ were teased but omitted (I guess if you want to see those you’ll have to watch Royal Quest) this was still a masterclass and showed why these men are so highly regarded.
With Sabre getting the pin on Tanahashi with his bridging clutch it laid plenty of groundwork for the following night while being a highly enjoyable match in its own right and it genuinely felt special to be so up close to these men and the action.
Company vs Career match
Will Ospreay vs David Starr
With the announced finish time of the event already passed, and York Hall now a sweltering sweat box, the atmosphere as Will Ospreay and David Starr made their way to the ring was huge with the Arial Assassin getting a hero’s welcome for his return to RevPro and the crowd reaction for Starr not far behind.
With a real feeling of emotion in the air the two men spent the best part of the next hour putting on an amazing show that perfectly combined Ospreay’s spectacular speed and feats of flight with Starr’s more ground based and technical game.
As well as telling a great story across the match they threw in some big and, at times, nasty spots culminating in Ospreay being sent crashing from the top rope into a metal guardrail he had set up bridging the ring and the remaining railings.
The referee taking an Oscutter signalled the start of shenanigans and there were plenty to come with ‘special’ referees and even RevPro owner Andy Quildan tackling Starr after he threatened to stamp on Ospreay’s IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship belt.
Though it looked like Starr had won in the end it wasn’t to be and Ospreay secured victory for RevPro with his trio of high impact offence, the Oscutter, Hidden Blade elbow strike and finally The Stormbreaker to apparently send Starr packing from the company (though as this is pro-wrestling who knows what comes next) while the match itself was undeniably a fantastic contest and showed that both these men are certainly world class in their own ways.
While the show may have overrun by nearly an hour in a very uncomfortably hot venue, and there were points where it felt more like a warm up to Royal Quest than RevPro’s own big summer blowout, it was still, in the end, a great event.
The first half may have fallen a little flat aside from the scramble and the ending of the tag tournament felt odd but regardless the atmosphere was great and there were at least four stand out matches topped, as they should be by the main event and I will certainly be trying to keep a closer eye on RevPro going forward.
Live at the Cockpit 45 – The Cockpit, Marylebone – 01/09/19
Coming hot on the heels of Summer Sizzler (and Royal Quest) was RevPro’s regular monthly event, Live At The Cockpit.
Given the other big events of the weekend this had no pre-released card and had something of the feel of a more lighthearted and fun affair for fans and wrestlers alike to relax a little more – that said it still had it’s fair share of ‘moments’ and good wrestling.
It was certainly notable for featuring the RevPro Contenders division rather prominently.
The opening match saw a trio of them (Brendan White, Kenneth Halfpenny & Shaun Jackson) take on Carlos Romo, Kurtis Chapman and Dan McGee in a spirited affair that saw Romo capture the win for his team.
Later in the show Gabriel Kidd (in an NJPW LA Dojo t-shirt) clashed with Hikuleo and the youngest son of Haku took the opportunity to teach the ‘young boy’ a lesson about New Japan training.
Despite the barrage from the huge Tongan, Kidd got his share of licks in but ultimately succumbed to Hikuleo’s size and power.
Meanwhile Rob Lias took the opportunity to pick a fight with Contender JJ Gale, after running his mouth about his ‘dominant’ victory against TK Cooper at Summer Sizzler.
Once again, the Contender got to show off some growing skills but Lias picked up the victory though I suspect his issues with Cooper are far from over and this was just a respite.
In more serious business tag team champions Sha Samuels and Josh Bodom both looked to take out their frustrations from Summer Sizzler in singles bouts.
Samuels challenged Romo after the opening match starting off by beating down the young Spaniard but he fought back and came out looking good against the RevPro veteran elevating his position while laying some ground work for things to come.
Later in the night Bodom faced off with ‘Drilla’ Dan Moloney in a good, solid and stiff looking contest that further helped establish Moloney in RevPro.
This one concluded when Samuels interfered and he and Bodom assaulted Moloney before Romo made the save furthering the events of earlier in the show.
Following his loss to El Phantasmo on Friday night Michael Oku headed to the ring and delivered a truly emotional speech about his disappointment in himself and how he’d let down the RevPro fans, we however were (mostly) on his side encouraging him to come back and try again.
Of course ELP interrupted mocking his defeated challenger before issuing a new open challenge that was answered by surprise entrant in Friday’s scramble Senza Volto.
While the following match was a little on the short side Volto packed in a lot of high flying, coming close to winning on several occasions while Phantasmo continued his top notch heel work culminating in distracting the ref so he could low blow Volto to retain his belt that he said he was now taking to Japan.
Later in the night rivalry between Oku and ELP reared its head again as, after defeating Gabriel Kidd, Hikuleo and Phantasmo assaulted him for not accepting a Bullet Club handshake only for Oku to attempt to make the save but fall foul of the double team.
This seemed to not only continue the rivalry between ELP and Oku but add a new dimension to it with allies added to the war on both sides.
On top of all of that the show featured arguably two main events.
The first closed out the first half of the show and was a tag team match between CCK and Aussie Open.
With both being members of the Schadenfreude faction elsewhere and both being arguable fan favourites there were some slightly awkward chants at the start which all five men did a great job of playing up to to get past.
It was stood to see Gresham back in the ring after his injury at Summer Sizzler but it seemed the same might have happened again as early on in the contest to called to the referee, however this time he was merely being dastardly as he took the opportunity of the Aussie’s concern to gain the advantage on them and the match went on from there.
All four men in the ring, and Lykos on the floor, put on a great contest that mixed fun with innovative team work very well, particularly CCK’s trademark ‘sick fucking tag moves’.
As things went on Lykos got more involved distracting the referee while providing weapons for his team mates to use including a baking sheet and a staple gun (despite the referee confiscating two from Gresham before the match even began).
As the end of the match neared there were lots of close calls for both teams but it was a brutal looking version of Davis’ Close Your Eyes And Count To Fuck’ piledriver that incapacitated Brookes allowing Aussie Open to hit the ‘Fidget Spinner’ double spinning powerbomb on Gresham for a morale boosting win after their loss to GoD at Royal Quest.
The second half of the show was closed out with the night’s big guest star as NJPW wrestler, SANADA of Los Ingobernables De Japon, took on regular RevPro visitor ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey.
Like the first half closer this balanced a sense of fun with some great wrestling and began with a battle of crowd chants that eventually went to SANADA (for what what’s worth, and the ref was certainly the loser).
Bailey looked to be going out of his way to impress but with both being clearly very technically gifted the whole thing was a slick and smooth affair with Bailey escaping Skull End on a few occasions and, in the match’s most painful looking moment, missed a moonsault double knee drop on the ring edge.
This was ultimately what caused his downfall as an injured knee meant he couldn’t capitalise in later offence and he finally succumbed to SANADA’s dragon sleeper style submission but after the match the Japanese wrestler showed respect to Bailey for his efforts which can only bode well for his future.
While the show as a whole was less serious than the others of the weekend it still had its share of solid In ring action while also highlighting some of the new talent coming up through the ranks in RevPro and developing a few stories.
Largely though it was a feelgood post script to the pair of bigger events highlighted by a pair of great main event level matches.