There’s a very small list of wrestlers who I would instantly buy a ticket to go and see. One of those wrestlers is the Great Sasuke. Another is Atsushi Onita. If you need a third, it would be nice to see Survival Tobita once in my life. None of these men were booked for this past weekend’s Revolution Pro “Summer Sizzler” show, but Katsuyori Shibata was, and he’s awesome. For the second time this year (after seeing High Stakes in January) I toddled down to London to watch pro wrestling in a leisure centre, and it was a bloody good time.
1. RPW Tag Team Title Match: Charlie Garrett & Joel Redman (c) vs. Jody Fleisch & Jonny Storm vs. The British Young Bloods (Bruce Sterling & Jake McCluskey) vs. The Legion of Lords (Gideon Grey & Rishi Ghosh)
This was a good choice for an opener and pretty entertaining throughout. It was just an exciting four way tag with each team bringing something different, it got the crowd buzzing and set a nice tone for the rest of the evening. The Young Bloods were the cocky young lads who worked most of the match on the heel side, Garrett and Redman brought a bit of speed and power, Jody and Jonny did the stuff they’ve been doing since God was a boy, and the Legion of Lords didn’t fancy tagging in at all. I’d never seen the Young Bloods before (I know they’ve recently wrestled on some of the Cockpit shows) and they were entertaining enough, although their strong resemblance to a small Wade Barrett and a giant Rockstar Spud proved to be a bit distracting. They did a lot of hip swivels and moonsaults, then Barrettcito attempted a tope onto everyone and nearly killed himself. Not to be outdone in that particularly suicidal department, Jody did a big shooting star press to the floor onto the pile, smashing his right leg on the apron on the way down. After this the Young Bloods, Fleisch and Storm had seemingly had enough, fighting backstage to never be seen again. Legend has it they’re still fighting to this day. This left the Lords to try and steal their way to a win, and they actually got a few pretty good nearfalls, which was weird. Garrett and Redman did away with Ghosh and killed Gideon with a second rope tombstone followed by a corkscrew splash from Garrett to retain. ***
2. Josh Bodom vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Bodom’s a wrestler that RevPro clearly think very highly of but is yet to have that one career-defining breakout match. The Hero match last month was close and this was closer still, although it took a while for Ishii to catch on that the man forearming him in the face actually wanted a fight with him. When he did awaken from his slumber and decide to murder young Joshua this match was a lot of fun. Josh really did give his best in this one, perhaps realising that Ishii’s tolerance for getting hit is pretty high (and the higher you get to that tolerance the better the match usually is), to the point where I’m kinda sad he lost after being built up relatively well in recent months. Ishii was able to kick out of Bodom’s Bliss Buster, survived a rollup after an illegal low blow, and eventually scored the victory with a brainbuster. ***1/2
3. Sha Samuels vs. Moose
I’ll be honest, I found this more memorable because it was the match that turned Moose into a meme for at least the rest of the evening. The match itself was okay, lots of Sha being sneaky and choking Moose with international objects and people shouting “MOOSE”. The biggest spot was easily Moose connecting with his big dropkick on a top rope-bound Samuels, sending him flying straight down to the floor. The landing was almost certainly far more severe than they’d intended, but it looked wild as hell so that’s something at least. Sha ended up winning abruptly after Moose decided he had no time to hail anyone or anything, kicking out of a pedigree at one, only for Sha to roll him up and use the ropes to earn the win. I enjoyed this just because it was a nice excuse to yell Moose’s name and do Moose’s arm thing. I’m little more than a mere mark. **
4. British Cruiserweight Title Match: Pete Dunne (c) vs. Will Ospreay
Massive shocker: this match was fucking hot fire, good God almighty. Pete’s been the best kept secret in British wrestling for a while, alongside his Reseda-bound buddy Mark Haskins, and this was both his highest profile match in Revolution Pro yet and his best match in Revolution Pro full stop. He even broke out some magnificent maroon gear, the road to Wrestlemania has already started. Pete’s an awesome slimy heel and there might not be many better bases for high fliers than him, making a match with Will perfect from a stylistic point of view. Ospreay obviously did all of his crazy shit that you’ll have seen in overly long Twitter gifs by this point, and that was obviously awesome, but the truly great Ospreay matches are never one man shows. They need a strong opponent, be it Marty Scurll scumming it up or Ricochet simply trying to beat Will at his own game. Pete was a foil more of the Marty mould and some of his counters to Ospreay’s arsenal were absolutely fantastic, my particular favourite being a leaping forearm (“on yer ‘ead, son”) to block the OsCutter. Other highlights included a Space Flying Tiger Drop countered with a tombstone on the floor and Pete falling victim to a number of poison ranas, as he seems to in every single match.
Will ran through most of his trademark spots and did quite a bit of his “cutesy” stuff, particularly the segment that’s making the rounds that begins with a nip up and ends with a second rope phoenix splash with a hell of a lot of somersaulting in between. I can appreciate why people watching on tape don’t like this but it’s always amazing and absurd to see him do all that in person. My one problem with this match is linked to my problems with a lot of RevPro booking in general: the result. Will ended up winning the match, and the title, with the OsCutter. I realise that Ospreay is in the main event next month but he’s not the type of wrestler who only get people hyped if he’s winning. It’s his performances that matter, and this was top notch in that regard. If Dunne wins, people aren’t saying “Oh Will Ospreay is now bad”, it’s “Pete Dunne’s the fucking man.” And I suspect he will be again very soon (an Ospreay/Dunne/Sydal three way would seem to make a lot of sense), and he has a match against Ricochet coming up that you’d hope he’d win too. He’s the man that they should be building up as the next great man of British wrestling and this loss didn’t really help. More than anything, this result just makes me resent that Vader match even more than I already do. ****1/2
5. Marty Scurll vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey
This match was also fucking awesome, maybe my favourite or second favourite match of the night, but I’m an abashed Scurll fanatic and I love Speedball. I’d love Speedball if he was really shitty and just used “Brass Monkey” as his theme. Fortunately he’s as good at wrestling as he is at choosing entrance music. I hadn’t really been able to work out from his previous RevPro appearances whether the fans had taken to him but I think this and the Ospreay match from Sabre vs. Angle will have helped him to become a firm fan favourite. In contrast to that, Marty Scurll is easily the best heel in British wrestling today, and one of the better heels in all of wrestling in my opinion. Some of his stuff can be a bit campy (particularly in PWG where the atmosphere’s very laid back), but that totally worked here, as he initially mocked Bailey by doing crane kick poses and generally horsing around. I always enjoy watching Scurll go from being almost curious about the individual quirks of his opponents, mocking them and joking around, before suddenly doing a 180 and becoming murderous.
Scurll’s an incredibly creative heel to watch and he did a lot of fun (well, sick) stuff to torture young Michael here, mostly because Speedball doesn’t wear boots and this meant there were ten more digits for Marty to try and break. He attempted this early on by jamming Speedball’s toes in the turnbuckle and trying to tighten the ropes, but that didn’t succeed. What did succeed was a toe snap later on in the match, helped by Speedball kicking the ring post moments earlier. Marty also bent Speedball’s fingers nearly all the way back (I hope to God that he’s double-jointed). Oh and he snapped them too. Marty eventually won after avoiding a second attempt at the moonsault double knees, using the chickenwing, then finishing the job with the aforementioned finger snap followed by an Orange Crush chickenwing (two great flavours that taste great together), earning himself the submission. ****1/4
6. Big Damo vs. Matt Sydal
Not such a big fan of this, I kinda zoned out during a lot of it. A lot of Damo’s matches in RevPro don’t really click for me, I don’t know why. They’re fundamentally fine but I didn’t really get the impression this match had many consequences, and it wasn’t wrestled with maybe the level of intensity that I expected. I wanted to see Damo bullying Sydal around but it was a pretty even match between two men that everyone liked. Nobody likes friendly matches in football and this may as well have been the wrestling equivalent. Damo bumped around for a lot of Sydal’s offence, including the second rope huracanrana and a Meteora, fighting back with a running crossbody and the Ulster Plantation, which Sydal kicked out of for some reason before hitting the shooting star press for the win. It was a pleasure to see one of the prestigious NEVER openweight six man tag team titles in person though. Sha Samuels attacked Damo after the match when Damo seemed to be delivering a farewell speech, setting up what you’d presume would be Damo’s final RevPro match. **3/4
7. British Heavyweight Title Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Katsuyori Shibata
The main event of this show was the big attraction for me, and while I really did enjoy it a hell of a lot I wasn’t able to shake the feeling that it was just building to something else, particularly after the finish in which Zack simply caught Shibata in one of his folding press pins after a series of rollups and missed finisher attempts. The match began with quite a subdued pace but Zack’s decision to start aping Shibata’s moves, including the forearms in the corner and the leaping dropkick, awoke the beast and lead to an absolutely brutal second half in which Shibata beat Zack like he regularly beats New Japan’s fathers, only for Zack to survive, occasionally beat him at his own game and ultimately outwrestle him. Nobody brings seething rage to the wrestling ring quite like an incensed Katsuyori Shibata and when he kicked out at one after Zack hit him with the penalty kick everyone realised that mistakes had been made and white hot death was about to occur. The conclusion to this was strangely abrupt, although this made a bit more sense when Shibata proposed a second match between them, presumably when Shibata returns to the UK at a later date yet to be confirmed. A really entertaining main event but there’s surely a more conclusive fight to come. ***3/4
Overall this show was a lot of fun, especially the main event, Ospreay/Dunne and Scurll/Speedball. You should all seek those matches out and I suspect you’ll have a good time. I have some misgivings about Revolution Pro’s booking at times, as noted in a couple of the matches, and I’m not sure they necessarily make all the best moves to build for the future (if, say, a lot of their talent moves over to big international companies), but you can never knock them for quality professional wrestling. This was just a continuation of that wonderful trend. As an overall experience though, this was an absolutely brilliant weekend that I want to expand on in greater detail at a later date, because the reason I enjoy live British wrestling so much nowadays goes beyond any star ratings and might not be easy to appreciate if you haven’t been able to go to shows yourself. I suspect that I would have had a really good time at this show even if it underwhelmed me. Fortunately the wrestling was great, so it’s a big thumbs up from me!