Two months ago, RevPro announced that, due to a “once in a lifetime match”, they would be running a second York Hall show over the summer: that match transpired to be Zack Sabre Jr vs Kurt Angle. Although Zack Sabre Jr vs Kurt Angle is the match that will gain the most attention internationally, RevPro’s return to York Hall on 12th June presented a stacked card that produced quality wrestling and goosebump moments in equal measure.
Marty Scurll vs Noam Dar
Originally, this match was scheduled for Live at the Cockpit 8 but was replaced by Josh Bodom vs Noam Dar for the right to enter WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic, a match that Dar won to advance to the tournament. Sporting a pristine white fur coat, Scurll emerged to a raucous ovation but found himself on the back foot during the early stages of the match. Dar, enthused by a new confidence due to his place in the Cruiserweight Classic, out wrestled Scurll, looking to work the legs. Scurll, noticeably more aggressive, gained the advantage through chicanery before flipping off the crowd whilst working Dar’s arm in preparation for the chicken wing. Following a string of near falls and reversals, Scurll applied the chicken wing to submit Dar in a solid opener that achieved its purpose.
Martin Stone vs Pete Dunne
Making his return to RevPro following a two year absence, Martin Stone, former two time British Heavyweight Champion, has since established himself as a stalwart in the US Southern independents through years of impressive performances. In the sleeper match of the card, Pete Dunne was more than willing stand toe to toe and trade strikes with Stone. Dunne would cut off Stone’s momentum numerous times with his duplicitous antics, eventually securing the victory following the pump handle face buster. Pete Dunne continues to impress on every RevPro appearance and is sure to be a prominent member of RevPro for years to come.
Damo vs Big Daddy Walter
This match did exactly what it said on the tin. Damo and Walter, two of the best heavyweight wrestlers in Europe, battled in what was the archetypal big lads match. The opening strike trade off was punctuated by the two behemoths colliding into each other, with neither man moving. Underscored by chants of “Vader loves this”, Walter and Damo traded suplexes before Damo secured the victory by submission in rather abrupt fashion. Although this was a good match that exhibited something completely different to everything else on the card, this was far from the best match either man will have this year.
Will Ospreay vs Speedball Mike Bailey
Will Ospreay returned to York Hall the 2016 Best of Super Juniors winner. A deafening ovation gave way to melodious chants of “Ospreay”. With his hands on his head, Ospreay looked around York Hall to see not one person sitting down. York Hall had witnessed Ospreay’s ascension from the lower card to one of the most exciting talents in the world: each and every person in York Hall is invested in Will Ospreay’s success and this was a homecoming like no other.
After five minutes, the chants finally subsided and Ospreay/Speedball delivered a match befitting the occasion. Animated by the roaring support of the crowd, this far surpassed their previous match in BOLA. As expected, this match featured breath taking high flying and fast paced reversals that sent the crowd into a frenzy. From his little time in Japan, it is clear that the area Ospreay has improved the most is his strikes: a former criticism of his.
An incredible series of reversals that saw Bailey reverse an attempted suplex into a hurricanrana and Ospreay reverse a strike combination into a Spanish fly was punctuated by an imploding 450 for a near fall. Moments later, Ospreay scored the victory following the Oscutter. Although this didn’t reach the heights of Ospreay/Scurll in January, this was an outstanding match-the best of the night- that elicited a similar reaction from the crowd: people were on their feet, banging the guardrail with their hands glued to their heads in disbelief.
After the match, Ospreay addressed the “members of the IWC” that suggest he can not tell stories before further berating Vader’s style of thinking, telling him and others to “get with the times”. Ospreay proceeded to thank the fans, stating that although he won’t be doing as many dates next year due to a combination of injuries and commitments to Japan, he would always be back for York Hall shows.
Josh Bodom vs Chris Hero
I’ve said on numerous occasions that I don’t think there is a better wrestler in the world than Hero and seeing him in the flesh is a much more amplified, intense experience than watching him on tape: his strikes never fail to be wince inducing, his psychology is flawless and, most importantly, he always delivers. His opponent on this occasion was Josh Bodom, who is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most promising talents in Europe. An issue-well, it isn’t really an issue as Hero is the most convincing striker in the world-with Hero matches is that, due to the veneer of legitimacy that his strikes possess, his opponents strikes often look weak in comparison. Here, Bodom did an excellent job, particularly with his kicks, of keeping up with Hero.
Bodom repeatedly kicked Hero’s left arm in an attempt to negate the striking power of Hero. However, Hero would use his right arm, never once striking with the arm that was worked over: it is these little things that make Hero such a pleasure to watch. Bodom took advantage of the referee’s turned back to follow a low blow with a rolling elbow to secure the victory.
After the match, Bodom called out Tomohiro Ishii and a match was made for Summer Sizzler.
The Revolutionists (C) vs Joel Redman & Charlie Garrett
British Tag Team Championship Match
Over the past year, The Revolutionists have oscillated between comedic and nefarious villains, usually being a low point on otherwise outstanding cards as they have often retained the titles via DQ. In arguably their best match as champions, their near year long reign came to a conclusion as the incipient team of Charlie Garrett and Joel Redman were crowned the new tag team champions. Throughout the match, as demonstrated on the Cockpit shows, Redman and Garrett displayed excellent chemistry that manifested in some unique tag team moves.
The Revolutionists attempts to distract the referee were greeted by collective moans as history appeared to be repeating itself: Samuels laid out Redman with the title following a low blow but this time, Redman kicked out. Moments later, Garrett and Redman secured the victory following a tombstone/corkscrew swanton as a new era in the RevPro tag division was born.
Zack Sabre Jr vs Kurt Angle
When Kurt Angle bid farewell to TNA, his final UK tour didn’t feel fitting of an industry legend. At York Hall, this felt special. As soon as the first bar of his WWE music hit, York Hall erupted in a ear splitting ovation that gave way to affectionate chants of “you suck”, producing a wide smile on Angle’s face. This was very much a case of the occasion triumphing over the match itself but what an occasion.
In terms of the match, this was tantamount to Kurt Angle’s greatest hits. As expected, the match was worked predominantly on the mat early on before Angle Slams, rolling German suplexes and the ankle lock sent York Hall into delirium. Angle worked as the wily veteran that was always one step ahead of Sabre until Sabre would use his unorthodoxy to gain a momentary advantage. Angle, who was working with a knee injury, would gain the victory by submitting Sabre with the ankle lock.
After the match, Angle stated that Sabre is one of the best in the world before making some final remarks about the current abundance of talent at RevPro.
Final Word: In terms of wrestling, it is testament to the direction of RevPro to suggest they will probably have better shows than this later in the year. However, in terms of the visceral moments that this show produced, particularly the homecoming of Will Ospreay and Kurt Angle’s presence, I don’t think there is a York Hall show comparable to it. It is moments like these that will be remembered for years to come and these are the moments we all watch wrestling for.
Current Summer Sizzler Card:
Zack Sabre Jr vs Katsuyori Shibata
Tomohiro Ishii vs Josh Bodom
Pete Dunne (C) vs Will Ospreay for the British Cruiserweight Championship
Marty Scurll vs Speedball Mike Bailey