The York Hall, London
Revolution Pro have had great success with their York Hall super-shows and this year’s ‘Uprising’ was set to be the most ambitious yet, as the promotion brought in a sizeable contingent of top talent from New Japan Pro-Wrestling & Ring of Honor that helped ensure a sold out venue months before the show took place. Kicking things off we were treated to an impromptu tag challenge, as The Revolutionists of Sha Samuels and James Castle hit the ring and demanded a team to come out and face them (although Sha wouldn’t go as far to put his and Castle’s tag titles on the line). The team to answer that challenge was none other than legendary tag pairing TenKoji of Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima! While the match itself wasn’t anything special (Tenzan, in particular, is quite limited these days) it was awesome to see two of my all-time favourites live and the crowd seemed similarly appreciative, cheering loudly for Kojima’s machine gun chops and hissing in unison with Tenzan as he delivered his Mongolian chops. It was The Revolutionists who came out on top, however, after referee Chris Roberts was distracted by Castle, allowing Samuels to hit Tenzan with one of the tag belts for the three count.
Next up was ACH taking on Martin Kirby, who was subbing for Kris Travis after Trav’s unfortunate retirement from wrestling last month. This was a fun bout, I haven’t had much opportunity to see Kirby in singles action but came away impressed with him here, after he managed to avoid a 450 splash from ACH and hit the Fameasser for a big win over the aerially impressive ROH talent. Third out was one of the most anticipated matches on the card, a huge international challenge between Big Damo O’Connor and the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura! While Nakamura was in good form, having recaptured his title from Hirooki Goto at the Destruction in Kobe PPV, Damo was coming off the back of an impressive win over Nakamura’s CHAOS stablemate Tomohiro Ishii at RevPro’s ‘Summer Sizzler’ this past June. What’s more, Nakamura gave up a lot of size to the Beast of Belfast and that immediately showed as he struggled to handle the ferocity of Damo’s offence in the early going. This one turned out to be a pretty special match when all was said and done, somehow beterring both Damo & Nakamura’s matches back at Summer Sizzler. There were two scary moments, however, one that saw an inverted suplex from Damo turned into a sheer-drop reverse DDT and another that saw Shinsuke (perhaps unwisely) attempt the reverse powerslam on a man of Damo’s size. Thankfully neither man was injured and it was eventually Nakamura who came out on top after hitting his fourth Boma Ye of the evening to put the big man down.
The show continued at a heady pace with another huge match before intermission, as Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger took on the CHAOS duo of ‘The Rainmaker’ Kazuchika Okada & ‘The Raintaker’ Gedo! It’s such a little thing but something that New Japan does really well and that’s keeping opponents apart, so that when they do finally lock up it’s all that much more special. Okada vs Tanahashi is a good example of that and the crowd in York Hall responded ecstatically to what was likely a small preview of the Wrestle Kingdom 10 main event (should Okada & Tanahashi retain their title and no.1 contendership, respectively). The two have barely crossed paths since the fateful main event of Wrestle Kingdom 9 and it was great to get an up-close-and-personal reminder of why their rivalry is so special. In the grand scheme of things this was little more than the sort of throwaway tag match you’d get on one of New Japan’s smaller ‘Road’ shows designed to hype up their PPVs, but it was a lot of fun regardless and the crowd went wild for all four participants. Afterwards the show went to a fairly lengthy intermission, before we resumed in the second half with another highly anticipated match, a rematch of what many consider a potential match of the year candidate.
KUSHIDA and Kyle O’Reilly faced off in the finals of the 2015 Best of the Super Jr’s tournament, one of the most prestigious tournaments in all of wrestling. It was a fantastic bout that not only showcased the speed, agility and spectacular ability of both competitors, but also brought back some of the technical, ground-based elements to a division that’s been more about high-flying in recent years. For the rematch both men pushed each other to their limits, but it was ultimately O’Reilly who came out on top as he smartly caught KUSHIDA in a triangle choke to avenge his loss in the Super Jr’s final. While this didn’t have the crowd’s excitement right from the opening bell (KUSHIDA’s star isn’t quite as ascendant as other members of the NJPW roster and this was both his and Kyle’s first appearance for RevPro), some excellent back-and-forth exchanges on the mat got the audience in good voice and York Hall seemed to come unglued for the closing stretch, that saw a number of false-finishes and clever reversals from both opponents. A great bout for sure, but one that I hesitate to put over the Best of the Super Jr’s final without a re-watch first.
Since returning from Mexico early this year, Tetsuya Naito has shown a complete reversal in attitude, joining the nefarious LOS INGOBERNABLES stable in CMLL and bringing their ‘Tranquilo’ ethos to NJPW and, now, Revolution Pro. The man he was set to face was one of Britain’s best and, perhaps, most under-appreciated talents: Mark Haskins and, as a big fan of Naito’s new-found persona and Haskins’ in general, I was definitely looking forward to this match and had it marked as a potential show-stealer beforehand. While it didn’t quite reach that level, it was a very enjoyable contest that saw Haskins in control for the majority only for Naito to catch Haskins first with Gloria for a one-count and then hitting his new finisher Destino for the three. This was a very workmanlike performance from Haskins, who lost in spite of barely putting a foot wrong. You got the sense he didn’t quite know what to make of Naito, which has been a theme puzzling opponents of the ‘Stardust Genius’ ever since his return from Mexico. Similarly, the crowd were either fans of Naito or seemingly indifferent at the outset, but within minutes his attitude and general ‘tranquilo’ demeanour had some of them spitting-mad.
Showing that this show truly did have something for everyone, the next match was a complete departure from all the action prior, as Jimmy Havoc took on Josh Bodom in a no-DQ grudge match that saw Havoc bring out the plunder moments into the bout, before putting it to good use on young Bodom. However, Josh gave as good as he got, getting hardcore with a home-made kendo stick and staple gun. It wasn’t long before he’d had enough though and retreated up the ramp to escape the sadistic Jimmy Havoc. It was all a ruse, however, and Havoc was jumped by the other members of The Revolutionists. Sha Samuels hit a big spinebuster into a pile of thumbtacks and that was that, Bodom rolling up Jimmy for the underhanded win. This was a wild brawl, not quite reaching the heights of the bloody encounter Havoc had with Paul Robinson at PROGRESS a few months ago, but it was fun nonetheless. Finally it was main event time (the show seemed to be running late and I noticed more than few have to make a dash for the exit before the show had finished, which was a shame). This was another highly anticipated match-up, pitting the Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles against the former champion Marty Scurll and the man Marty felt cost him the title, Will Ospreay. In revenge, Marty had cost Will his Cruiserweight belt and the stage was well and truly set for a classic main event.
It did not disappoint. One of the best three-way matches I’ve seen in person since the amazing Ricochet vs Haskins vs Sabre Jr. match that was one of my favourites of 2013. All three men were on top of their game here, Marty proving why he’s probably the most complete British wrestler on the scene today, Will showing the sort of charisma, talent and athletic ability that’s sure to take him very far in this business and AJ demonstrating why he’s undoubtedly one of the top wrestlers anywhere in the world. Something this match did very well and that I really appreciated was that there was very little downtime. The situation was 1 vs 1 vs 1 throughout, without any prolonged periods where one competitor was laid out, turning the bout into a de-facto singles match. All three guys gput in a hell of a shift and York Hall was absolutely rocking for the duration and, while many had predicted that Marty would get his title back, after a spectacular finishing sequence it was ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles who was victorious, countering beautifully into the Styles Clash to defeat Ospreay. So, that was ‘Uprising 2015’. Another exceptional York Hall show in the books for Revolution Pro and, quite possibly, the best RevPro show I’ve seen to-date. The stand-outs for me were Nakamura vs Damo, KUSHIDA vs O’Reilly and the three-way main event, but the whole card delivered and I look forward to reliving it when it goes up for VOD & download on Monday over at; https://vimeo.com/revprouk