For the second year in a row, RevPro joined forces with NJPW for a double header of shows. Although this year’s shows didn’t contain the star power of last year’s shows, several NJPW stars made their UK debuts.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs Marty Scurll
At times, due to cartoonish overly expressive facials and gestures, Marty Scurll often falls into comedy. The subsequent effect is that, working as “the Villain”, when he looks to get booed, he struggles. But more of that on night two. This was a basic match-admittedly Liger is 51-with moments of comedy interspersed throughout. The finish was the highlight of the match in terms of ring work: Liger caught Scurll in a Japanese leg-clutch roll, only for Scurll to reverse into the chickenwing to force Liger to submit. ***1/4
Tamoaki Honma vs Sha Samuels
Tamoaki Honma made his RevPro debut and his first appearance outside of Japan since 2003 at York Hall against Sha Samuels. Samuels dominated much of the match, using his considerable size advantage to ensure Honma struggled to harness any momentum. Samuels is a fantastic bad guy and working against a consummate underdog in Honma made for an easily accessible dynamic. After negating attempted interference by fellow Revolutionists member James Castle, Honma delivered the falling Kokeshi to secure the victory. ***
Yuji Nagata vs Pete Dunne
Many in BritWres circles have Pete Dunne pinned as the next breakout star from British shores: over the past year, Dunne has delivered multifarious excellent performances across the country in a variety of different promotions. At Global Wars night one, Dunne had possibly the most significant match of his career against Yuji Nagata, a stalwart of NJPW. Nagata’s first wrestling match outside of Japan since 2005 didn’t reach the heights expected, but it had its moments. At times, Nagata struggled to match Dunne’s intensity, which caused the match to be flat in parts. Nagata secured the victory following the backdrop hold.***1/4
Chris Hero vs Tomohiro Ishii
There isn’t a better wrestler than Chris Hero on the planet today: Hero is the greatest independent wrestler of all time and this year has provided a host of evidence to give credence to the notion. I have been lucky enough to have witnessed Hero wrestle a number of times this year: it is a visceral experience incomparable to anything else I’ve seen live in wrestling.
For a long time, people have longed for Hero to face some of the upper echelons of Japanese talent. Over the course of Global Wars UK, fans received that opportunity, and it far exceeded unrealistically high expectations. After some pre-match pleasantries, Hero smashed Ishii in the jaw with a violent elbow strike that elicited a roar from the crowd. Ishii has a tendency to have better matches when his opponent hits him hard and, by god, Hero hit him hard and frequently: naturally, Ishii reciprocated. For twenty minutes, Hero and Ishii beat the crap out of each other with kicks, elbow strikes, forearms and headbutts.
After trading multiple strikes, chops and boots in the ring, at ringside and on the ramp, Hero landed a snap piledriver. Unperturbed, Ishii rose immediately to his feet but was greeted with a cavalcade of wince inducing elbow strikes. Ishii roared in defiance one more time before Hero secured the victory following a Gotch-style piledriver. ****1/2
Will Ospreay vs BUSHI
In a first time singles match, former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, BUSHI, made his UK debut against RevPro’s British Cruiserweight Champion, Will Ospreay. Despite an outstanding first half of the year, Will Ospreay has cooled off in recent months due to a conflation of booking and injuries. This was a good back and forth encounter but, like Dunne/Nagata earlier, it didn’t reach the heights expected. As Ospreay ran through his signature offence, Chris Roberts was inadvertently knocked over, presenting BUSHI with the opportunity to spray Ospreay with black mist. Ospreay managed to kick out of a Canadian Destroyer before the RevPro Cruiserweight Champion landed the OsCutter for the win. ***1/2
Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven, Tyler Bate & David Starr) vs Los Ingobernable (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & EVIL)
Last year at Global Wars, Naito was only a couple of months removed from his fateful trip to Mexico and didn’t receive much of a reaction. One year later, Naito was possibly the most popular Japanese import on these shows. In eighteen months, Naito has altered from a faux Tanahashi facsimile into a superstar. The fantastic thing about the current incarnation of Naito’s character is that he can-for lack of a better phrase-phone it in and, as a paying customer, you don’t feel short changed as those same traits of not giving a single fuck have allowed him to become a superstar. David Starr’s inclusion in the match was seamless, not to mention his impressive drawn on moustache.
Given the format of the match type, everyone was granted ample time to showcase themselves: Seven and EVIL provided the velocity of strikes, Starr provided the athleticism, Bate provided the nuance, SANADA provided the smooth transitions and Naito provided the laying around on the apron dispassionately. Los Ingobernables secured the victory after delivering an STO to David Starr. One other point arising from this was how over Tyler Bate was en debut.***1/4
Zack Sabre Jr (C) vs Katsuyori Shibata
British Heavyweight Championship
Katsuyori Shibata and Zack Sabre Jr’s previous meeting at Summer Sizzler 2016 flattered to deceive, appearing flat and uninspired. The first half of this match felt like a carbon copy of their first effort, with both men continually reaching a stalemate on the match. The match changed in tone after Zack Sabre Jr began to viciously focus on the heavily taped shoulder of Shibata. Playing up to the negative reaction he first received against Jeff Cobb, Sabre showed no remorse in his pursuit of victory. Shibata, animated by the crowd, delivered countless kicks before landing a sleeper suplex followed by a PK to gain somewhat of a surprise victory and the British Heavyweight Championship. As a match, this easily topped their previous encounter due to the increase in vigour in the second half.
After the match, Scurll dragged Sabre to the back before Chris Hero and Shibata stood face to face heading into their match on night two.****
Final Word: Last year, RevPro and NJPW’s Uprising was a genuine show of the year contender. Although Global Wars UK night one failed to live up to last year’s in terms of quality up and down the card, this was still a thoroughly enjoyable show. Unsurprisingly, Hero vs Ishii was the match of the night by a significant margain while Sabre/Shibata was fantastic once it kicked into a higher gear.