So the man behind The Indy Corner franchise asked me a few weeks ago if I would like to give a certain column a go. Namely, the top ten matches in the history of RevPro’s residency in Bethnal Green’s York Hall.
Sure, I said, that’ll be easy.
Since the inaugural event When Thunder Strikes on 15th June 2013, there have been 12 York Hall events (not including this week’s Global Wars UK), put on 83 matches, involving 91 wrestlers, with headliners including the best of British (Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre Jr, Will Ospreay), the best international talents (Tanahashi, AJ Styles, Adam Cole) and bona fide legends (Kurt Angle, Vader….yes, Vader, a legend whether you like it or not). So yeah, this’ll be easy to pick, right?
When going through this list, one worry that sprang to mind was repetition. A lot of the matches that people pick as their favourites involve a lot of the same people, Ospreay and Scurll most often. So to attempt to avoid this, I have imposed a rule on myself – a wrestler can only be in this list twice. I was going to attempt to not repeat any wrestlers at all, but that proved impossible for me. Twice I think is still challenging, but not so much that it can’t be done without damaging the quality of the list. I will also add a top 5 overall York Hall shows at the end of the column as well, as an extra treat.
With that in mind, let’s get into it.
10. The Thrillers (Mark Haskins & Joel Redman) vs The Hooligans (Roy & Zak Knight), High Stakes 2015
Kicking off with what I imagine is a surprise to most of you. This was set up at the previous York Hall show when the patriarch of the Knight family, Ricky, laid into Martin Stone, coming off his loss to Marty Scurll (a match that is certainly worth a watch itself). Zak and Roy attacked Stone and Redman and left with their tag title belts. Stone was unavailable to make the show, so Redman turned to his old partner in the Thrillers, Mark Haskins, to settle the score and retrieve the titles. The match was an insane brawl that saw the four wrestlers fight all over York Hall. Many fans are not overly fond of the Hooligans, but I’m not one of them. I find their brawling style to be more engaging than many others. Redman and Haskins held up their end of the brawling bargain and it was their superior in ring game that saw them on top of this one, with Redman winning the tag titles with his second of three partners with whom he would do the same during the course of York Hall history (previously with Stone and currently with Charlie Garrett).
9. Big Damo vs Tomohiro Ishii, Summer Sizzler 2015
In a show that saw Shinsuke Nakamura return, Will Ospreay and Matt Sydal in a 2 out of 3 falls classic and a major title change when Scurll faced Styles, this was the surprise hit of the night for many. Damo came into this as a relative newcomer to Rev Pro and made an unassuming entrance (well, as unassuming as a 6’3, 320 pound beast can be) while Ishii was roundly greeted with great enthusiasm from the crowd. The size difference didn’t matter to most – people came to see Ishii do a destruction job. What they got was an even battle of two brutes, with incredible power displays from Ishii and shocking agility from Damo. The upset was scored by the big man from an awe-inspiring coast to coast Damo-nator and a standing ovation greeted Rev Pro’s newest star.
8. KUSHIDA vs Kyle O’Reilly, Uprising 2015
When I attended this show, I legitimately forgot this match was taking place. With so much talent from New Japan plus some marquee matches taking place, this was on the back end of my interest levels. These gentlemen made me regret forgetting them! In what was arguably a better match than their Best of Super Juniors final earlier in the year, O’Reilly and KUSHIDA engaged in a superb technical display, including the most devastating right hand punch I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring. O’Reilly got a measure of revenge from his BOSJ loss by making KUSHIDA pass out to a triangle choke. Considering the event itself and the show the next night, this match is not often talked about, but it thoroughly deserves to be.
7. Colt Cabana & Matt Classic vs Lord Gideon Grey & Rishi Ghosh, Summer Sizzler 2015
You probably think I’ve taken leave of my senses. Maybe I have. Maybe the rules I’ve put on this list really has taken things too far. Or maybe this is a simply superb comedy match that is absolutely justified in its position on the list.
OK, it’s not the best match I’ve ever seen. It’s not even better than most of the matches that have been left off, nor the matches that have come before it on the list. What this represents is a pay off to a long storyline and a point on the card where a good laugh was really needed. Grey had beaten Cabana in a career ending match and when Colt tried to return, Grey had his lawyers on the case. Then a certain Mr Matt Classic defeated Grey, ending his streak, and Grey challenged Cabana and Classic to appear at the same time in a tag match. And it happened in this match. Kind of. But this match took place between two very intense matches and was a welcome comic relief. All four men were superb in their roles, with wonderful comedy moments and even a tribute to Dusty Rhodes, who had passed away a few weeks prior. If you don’t agree with this entry, tough tootsies, it’s my list.
6. Zack Sabre Jr vs Davey Richards, Uprising 2013
A slight change of pace from the previous entry involving one man I was at the time of this show I was appreciating and another I had an issue with. Richards is one of those wrestlers where you hear so much about from behind the scenes that it can’t help but slightly effect the way you look at them. However in this match, Richards was on form and seemingly having fun. Meanwhile Sabre Jr made me a huge fan when watching this match. His constant rallying against Davey’s attack was incredible, coming up with counter submission attempts out of seemingly nowhere. Richards’ selling of his arm throughout the match was masterful. The finish which saw Sabre Jr get the submission made me jump to my feet and is one of my favourite matches that I’ve seen live. It would have been the match of that particular show, but it wasn’t.
5. Ricochet vs Prince Devitt, Uprising 2013
This was the match of that particular show. A simply incredible display from two incredible athletes. It was Devitt’s first foray into bringing his Bullet Club persona to York Hall, bringing chairs and brawling into the match, while Ricochet came a cropper from a number of knife edge chops. Ricochet did some flying (I know, unusual, right?) and the pair put together some incredible sequences that was a lot of stock raised in the British Cruiserweight Championship that the pair were competing for.
4. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Zack Sabre Jr, Summer Sizzler 2014
A history making match here, as a title holder in New Japan fought a title holder in NOAH in Britain for the first, and I’m quite sure only time. Nakamura’s UK debut was met with a lot of fanfare and proved himself extremely popular with the crowd. This match had kicks. A lot of them. All extremely hard. Despite Nakamura’s incredible offence, Zack looked every inch his equal, keeping him off guard with attacks to the arm. This was a strong style contest between two of the best, which Nakamura took with the Boma-Ye, and the crowd reaction to this match puts it high in this list.
3. Marty Scurll vs Chris Hero, Uprising 2016
The most recent match on the list was the match that many thought should have main evented that particular show. That would be the show headlined by a little known contest between Will Ospreay and Vader (spoiler alert – that match is not topping this list). I’ve heard quite a few people say this was the best match in Rev Pro history. While I can’t entirely agree, it’s not far off. What took place here was two men who clearly have a lot of respect for each other and allowing themselves to be messed up by the other. Hero added to his long list of match of the year candidates by taking a lot of abuse from Scurll and dishing it out as well. The end of the match was a top rope Gotch piledriver. An insane end to a match that seemingly couldn’t end and one of Scurll’s rare York Hall losses (only the third or fourth to my knowledge).
2. Swords of Essex (Will Ospreay & Paul Robinson) vs Inner City Machine Guns (Ricochet & Rich Swann), High Stakes 2014
A tag title match that was expected to be entertaining and over delivered in a huge way. Starting off rather light hearted with Swann jokingly complaining about pulls of the tights and hair, progressing to an early incarnation of Ospreay vs Ricochet and then into the more serious side of one-ups-man-ship. Two incredible teams with incredible manoeuvres. A surprise title change sealed the deal for the legend of this match in the history of Rev Pro (even if slightly sullied by the fact the Guns dropped the titles to the Kartel the next night) and it is simply one of the best tag matches I have ever had the privilege of seeing live.
>Before I reveal number 1, here are some honourable mentions:
Matt Sydal vs Will Ospreay 2 out of 3 falls
Nakamura vs Big Damo
AJ Styles vs Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll
Pete Dunne vs Will Ospreay
Project Ego vs Swords of Essex
Colt Cabana vs Marty Scurll Iron Fist Match
Jushin Thunder Liger vs Prince Devitt
AJ Styles vs Zack Sabre Jr
Prince Devitt vs Adam Cole
Some mighty fine matches that didn’t quite make the list there. Maybe if I had not decided on the rule of no more than two placings for any wrestler, the list would look a lot different, but I’d have been sick of constantly writing the names Scurll, Sabre, Styles and Ospreay. But one match must top the list, and it’s the match that I imagine a lot of you reading immediately picked without even thinking about it…..
Yes, I chose Bad Luck Fale vs Dave Mastiff from Summer Sizzler 2014……
Nah, just kidding.
1. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll, High Stakes 2016
When the year 2016 began, many were looking forward to High Stakes. I myself was very excited for Sabre Jr vs Styles for the title, but just as exciting was finding out who the number one contender would end up being. To determine this were the two men who were unable to defeat Styles in the previous York Hall show. Two men who had wrestled in singles action in a great match for Rev Pro at the Cockpit theatre. Two men who were also fighting to find out who would have an action figure made of them (seriously!). Ospreay vs Scurll was magic.
I was one of hundreds of wrestling fans losing their collective shit at this match. Sadly I was watching the match sat next to the one fan that wasn’t enjoying it. Undeterred, I continued to lose shit. Nothing these two could do to each other seemed to be enough. Chicken Wing attempts countered. Aerial moves kicked out from. Attempting to win by using the other man’s finishing moves. Everything was in this 28 minute masterpiece. When Ospreay finally tapped to a Chicken Wing that sapped the last ounce of competition he had from his body, no one was seated (well, apart from the one next to me) and York Hall applauded the efforts of two men putting each other through absolute hell. Over an action figure.
Sorry, that’s the only negative I have about this match.
Ospreay and Scurll have taken their rivalry everywhere this year, from Rev Pro to PROGRESS to WXW to Wrestlecon and, later this month, to ROH. But this is the match that got the ball rolling and this is the match that is best Rev-Pro York Hall match off all time. And it will take some beating.
As promised though, here are the top 5 overall York Hall shows in my opinion:
5. High Stakes 2016
4. High Stakes 2014
3. Uprising 2013
2. Summer Sizzler 2015
1. Uprising 2015
So that is my list and my strong recommendations for viewing if you happen to give RPW On Demand a go. With the impending Global Wars UK on the horizon, I’m sure this list would look different again, with the various new names making their first York Hall appearances, both from here and Japan, will be looking to impress. I’d love to hear from you regarding the list and any you may have yourself. Remember, I made this list with a major rule so as to avoid repeating the same wrestlers. Give it a go yourself – it’s tricky. Maybe restrict your list where a wrestler can only appear once, or no show can be repeated. Anything like that, tweet me @dagreeno.
Thanks for reading, and remember – it’s only my opinion.