Arnold Furious: February 5, 2017. We’re in London at the Cockpit. Rev Pro have a new ring announcer and a new commentary team. The lack of Quildan is weird. After five minutes of it I miss both Quildan and even Simmonz. Hosts are Luke Bond and Danny Darnell. Both sound bored. The latter is an absolute grind and some of his analysis was akin to listening to paint dry. Sorry lads.
Dan Magee vs. Zack Gibson
Rather predictably Zack gets heavily booed for doing his “Liverpool’s number one” promo. It’s not as heated as it is in Progress, sadly. Rev Pro fans hate loud noises. I love that Magee is being given the chance to work his way up the card. He’s looked solid in the ‘Contenders’ matches. This match is rock solid although it has a weird spot where Rob Lias puts Magee’s foot on the ropes after the Ticket to Ride lands. Clearly they’re working a slow burning feud with Magee and Lias, similar to the Sabre-Scurll one. Gibson takes advantage of this to roll Magee up into the Shankly Gates. Obviously this was very storyline heavy. Magee and Lias actually having a story is encouraging though.
Final Rating: **3/4
Post-match: Magee tells Lias he doesn’t need him so Rob bashes him in the jaw. That ungrateful swine Magee deserved it.
Lord Gideon Grey vs. Timothy Thatcher
Thatcher comes out wearing his Ringkampf gear. I like how wXw’s angles are bleeding into BritWres. Thatcher is widely disliked for his deliberate wrestling style. I’m fine with it but I can understand why people don’t care for it. Gideon actually decides to go one on one with the technical grappling. It’s quite fun. Thatcher runs through an assortment of torturous holds and Gideon responds with a healthy mixture of cheating and technical prowess. I’m shocked at how much I enjoy the match. Has Gideon turned into a technician? Thatcher blocks a low blow and goes right into the Fujiwara armbar for the submission. This was one of the best singles matches I’ve ever seen from Gideon. Has he switches gears somewhat? The new look and especially his new gear would suggest a change of tack.
Final Rating: ***
The London Riots vs. Josh Wall & Kurtis Chapman
This is a big challenge for the young lads from the Contender’s division. They’re both heavily out of their depth, in terms of experience and size. Chapman tries but the Riots just murder this poor kid. It’s a torturous outing for the Contender’s. Recently WALTER destroyed Travis Banks & TK Cooper at a Progress show. This is a bit like that, only more pronounced. Kurtis takes a thrashing here. The match is exceptionally lopsided with Davis pulling Kurtis up from a pin at one point. They finish when it suits them and the Riots get the easy win. The Contender’s took a shellacking. It was enjoyable. Total squash though.
Final Rating: **1/2
Post-match: James Castle, upset that the Contender’s pinned him last time, runs in to beat them down and get his heat back.
Marty Scurll vs. Luke Phoenix
I honestly thought Phoenix retired. I last saw him a decade ago in 1PW. He’s announced as making his return after eight years away from the ring. That’s how you know a scene is buzzing, you get long-retired guys reappearing. RJ Singh had this spot recently, against Sabre. Now it’s Phoenix returning. Phoenix looks in reasonable condition, especially on the mat, and he’s not as rusty as expected. Rev Pro are clearly happy to have him back as they’ve put him in this marquee match up. Considering he’s been gone for a decade, it’s quite the surprise to see him look this effective. Unfortunately he’s not familiar with his surroundings and takes a back bump on the steps. It takes a while for the crowd to buy into Phoenix but when he gets all fired up the match is pretty good. Phoenix doesn’t operate on Marty’s level but then Scurll is a world-beater at the moment. Phoenix looks off Marty’s pace and can’t nail enough effective moves to convince me he can compete. It leaves Scurll looking dumb at times for lying in position for something before it happens. There’s the ring rust. I don’t know if it’s intentional but Phoenix does throw in the same hold that Axel Dieter Jr. used to beat Scurll in wXw. If that was intentional that’s solid psychology. Marty ends up killing Phoenix with piledrivers to soften up the neck and the Chickenwing finishes. This got really good as it progressed. Phoenix has a degree of rust but they put together a good story of Marty getting frustrated and having to pull out all the stops to beat a guy he thought he could steamroller.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Travis Banks vs. Ryan Smile
The crowd is irritatingly quiet for what should be a banger of a contest. Travis is extremely underrated when it comes to selling and comedy. His comedy selling in this match is grand. For the most part Travis dictates the pace, being the heel, and he puts a prolonged beating on Smile. Ryan, naturally, responds with a wacky dive. Travis kicks him in the face repeatedly in response. It’s a really solid match with snug work and Ryan hitting a few big spots down the stretch, including lifting the Oscutter. Frog Splash finishes and Smile picks up the big win. Before he has time to celebrate in comes Chris Brookes. The beatdown is really entertaining. I want to see CCK vs. Uptown Funkers at some point. Make it happen Rev Pro.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis
This is a healthy slice of Big Lads wrestling. Eddie gives as good as he gets and lots of heavy lumber is brought to the party. Big Dave throwing his weight around is pretty terrifying. Especially his double stomp. Dave wrestling as a generic heel around the UK is odd to me, considering how over he’s gotten as a face in Progress with the banter. There’s no banter here, just lumber. I had the chance to listen to Eddie do a few podcasts recently and his personality is excellent. He has that larger than life vibe. I wish there was a way for both men to get their personalities across more here. Instead the match is more of a grind. Eddie does impress every time he lifts Big Dave off the mat. The silent crowd is perhaps a telling measure as to how well the match works. It has peaks where something crazy happens but it’s not a consistently good contest. Dave hooks the “Bostin” crab and gets the submission. This was sporadically impressive but hurt by a quiet crowd. An issue for the majority of the night. Ed, who was in attendance, blames “Rumble flu” for it.
Final Rating: ***
RPW Interim Cruiserweight Championship
Josh Bodom (c) vs. Oliver Carter
Carter is an Alex Wright trainee from Austria. He made his Rev Pro debut toward the end of last year defeating James Castle in Portsmouth. At least that means he’s unbeaten in RPW and therefore a reasonable challenger for this Interim title. Bodom is starting to gain support from the crowd and perhaps it’s his more exciting move set that has encouraged that. He hits another flip off the apron here, landing squarely on Carter’s head and jamming his neck up. Carter doesn’t help himself by hitting some reckless dives. You cannot beat a crazy outta control dive. At least one of his dives results in a horrible sounding thud noise. Carter wins me over effortlessly and Bodom steps up to his level. It’s another excellent showing from him in a streak of them. I’m not sure his heel persona is quite right for the style he’s wrestling but he’s proving himself worthy of the push he’s getting from Andy Q. The timing on the strikes is excellent and it’s technically solid too. I’m totally sold on Carter. Bodom shows moments of experience here that impress me. His ring positioning to get his foot on the rope after the springboard cutter is perfect. Bodom takes it, although Carter survives the Blissbuster first to add to his CV. Carter needs to be used everywhere immediately.
Final Rating: ****
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Mike Bailey
This is a game of chess. Well, it’s not, it’s a wrestling match but it’s a wrestling match that’s heavily reliant on tactics and in that respect it’s a bit like a game of chess. They feel each other out with Sabre looking for openings and Bailey looking to land a kick. This being Sabre it’s a technically sound match with a lot of very good mat work. You’d expect nothing less from Zack. Bailey’s response is the Karate Kid crane kick after his leg has been worked over. That’s just a desperation move in the midst of a sea of limb abuse though. In the sea there’s a shark and that shark is Zack Sabre Jr. He chomps away on that leg, switching holds and varying his attacks. Normally limb work can be a chore to sit through but Sabre has such a massive arsenal that he can keep things interesting. Bailey puts in an excellent turn wrestling defensively too. Mainly through kicks but also with grappling. There’s a slight issue where Bailey starts using his bad leg like nothing happened but it’s quickly forgotten because they start beating the shit out of each other. It is a bit weird to have so much leg focus throughout the match only to completely abandon it at the end but this is modern wrestling. Bailey’s offence, when he can’t be fucked to sell his leg, is mightily impressive. Sabre ties Bailey in knots and invents a new submission finisher to put him away. He does that a lot. This would have been far superior if they’d done the incredible stuff in the first half and then Sabre wore him down with leg holds to get the submission in the second half. That said both halves of the match were excellent but they didn’t click together.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Post-match: Sabre puts Ospreay or Shibata on notice and suggests he’ll go to Japan to get his belt back if he has to.
Summary: Rev Pro has started the year strongly but despite this show looking good on paper there were a lot of disappointing elements to it. Firstly the decision to switch commentary and ring announcer. None of the new guys did anything for me. I really missed the dulcet tones of Andy Quildan and the announce team sounded bored. This show also had a streak of matches where one guy was far superior to the other in one respect or another. Whether it be Scurll wrestling inactive Phoenix or the Riots squashing the Contender’s. The theme was present throughout the show. The only match that took a 50-50 approach was Smile vs. Banks and Ryan was strangely subdued in that contest. That said the standard of wrestling was high and the show was mostly enjoyable. Special praise for Bodom and Carter, putting on an excellent semi-main event. Probably the best singles match I’ve seen from Bodom and a great introduction to Eurograps star Carter for me. Another thumbs up show from Rev Pro but the concern lingers that the presentation was weaker here than on recent shows.