For my 7th Wedding Anniversary last year, I purchased the wife some Copperhead Gin. Why? Well, she loves the Gin (yeah thanks a lot Jethro Roose… you enabler!) and it was our copper wedding anniversary. A touch of genius/expense to combine the two. Perhaps this is why NJPW are in the COPPER BOX? Nah – it is just a big cool venue. On second thoughts, wool is also an option for the 7th wedding anniversary which is a merchandising opportunity that Mr Quildan has missed. Rev Pro knitted scarfs… I am happy to volunteer the good wife to knit these bad boys (she will be delighted no doubt) for the good of the Revolution.
To celebrate the 7th Anniversary of the Revolution, after a week of non-stop rehearsals and shows (I was in ‘The Pink Panther – A Shot In The Dark’… yeah I’m a pretty big deal), I looked at my first day off and saw this very interesting card. The problem was that I had committed to a family day – I’d finally get to see my kids and we’d get to hang out. To my amazement – both kids AND my wife were pretty keen to go. A quick ticket purchase, some helpful advice from the great staff at Rev Pro and I was in! After travelling for two hours on the most annoying single track roads we arrived in the massively confusing one way system of Cheltenham.
Firstly, Cheltenham Town Hall is a gorgeous venue. It is large, tall, full of great features, with a good bar, great coffee and amazing ice cream (more on that later). There are plenty of places to park and, to be perfectly honest, this is a refreshing change from the usual Cockpit/York Hall combination. It is nice to go somewhere new, experience something different and, for me, to introduce my kids to the next tier of British Professional Wrestling.
As a family, we have been to see Jethro Roose in UBW at local leisure centres, village halls etc and, that has so far been the experience for the kids. For myself, I am usually at most Rev Pro shows and have wanted to introduce the family to a Buckland Community Centre show for example. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make it work. This time round, with the British swan song of Jushin Thunder Liger (potentially… personally I am convinced he will be around for the Royal Quest weekend!) I knew I had to be there and I wanted my kids to see this guy in action.
Whilst the internet is full of Liger articles and, to be honest, there are far more qualified commentators out there, he is responsible for me and many others turning to Puro with the Super J Cup. The internet was full of matches from the early 2000s which really resonated with me and now he has resonated with my family. As the kids say, all the feels.
First half was very heavy on contenders. This is not a complaint, just an observation of how cards are being built. Sha Samuels – always the pro – has been lashing out at some of the Rev Pro contenders over recent times which is why he faced Gabriel Kidd – the bully, a salty veteran taking on the young, hungry contender who is looking to make a stand. The match was good, the family getting to grips with the feel. Sha powerslammed Kidd and, it looked a bit off – as in Kidd landing on his head. He seemed to be fine but Mr Samuels was more than happy to get on the mic to call out everyone and their dogs. He wants ZSJ, that British title, he has been here from day one and wrestling for 17 years, he’d fight “all you mugs” in the car park… And then a brawl followed. With all of us being unable to see the brawl, my 6-year-old perked up and said “oh, they are going to the car park?”. I can confirm they did not. Anyways, Sha Samuels won and it was a fun opener. Little bit of afters from Sha and out came Shaun Jackson who had been hit by Sha during his entrance getting some revenge. He came out and German Suplexed the man from the EAST EAST EAST end of London. Kidd wasn’t happy about being ‘helped’. Perhaps a Kidd v Jackson match at the Cockpit soon?
Next up we saw Dan Maloney – who Cheltenham loved… shouting DAN for his entrance theme. They loved him…. Which is the opposite in London where, as you know, he is widely thought of as a villain. Next up Kurtis Chapman accompanied by Dan Magee. Kurtis took some punishment (who am I kidding – he took all the punishment!) before shoving Dan (Maloney) into the ring post 3 times. A few near falls for Chapman and then, a DRILLA… no wait – DRILLAS! Two times and Chapman was DOWN.
And now for some tag team action. Brendan White (my favourite of the contenders) with Kenneth Halfpenny as his partner against Aussie Open. Firstly, this Cheltenham crowd cheering for Aussie Open during the Ashes should be ashamed of themselves. Love them all you want AFTER the Ashes. My kids started getting a bit restless at this point. I think it was partly down to them witnessing Kurtis get murdered in the prior match but also not having that connection with White and Halfpenny. This was a fun, fast paced contest. Aussie Open won and said they are coming for Samuels and Bodom (bro) at Summer Sizzler (30th August limited tickets available) and then onto IWGP Heavyweight Tag Title victory at Royal Quest (31st August limited tickets available). If that wasn’t enough, they will be coming for those British Tag Titles. Give these guys ALL OF THE BELTS (sorry Vince… “titles”)
The first half came to a close with a triple threat match. I was very excited for this as I loved all three guys in the game. Firstly, Speedball Mike Bailey has come so far and is an allrounder. My wife and kids really enjoyed his skills, his look and how different he is. Mark Haskins and David Starr joined him in this triple threat. The match was a card reshuffle due to ELP being stuck in Canada (curse you generic airlines – you probably lost his luggage as well… DAMN YOU!) but really, these guys put on a hell of a show. I am not a fan of the triple threats but this was different, well worked, plenty of natural comedy from all three with Haskins being a great modern face. Starr mentioned the studs on Haskins jacket being illegal – he would need to remove his jacket immediately. Mark decided it was time to take off the jacket and launch it at David Starr’s genital area. A moment for David to catch his breath is required. We have all been there (well, men I guess… is there anything similar for ladies?!) and I can confirm that I winced. The match was a lot of fun with standard spots for a one on one match up being used with three people. Starr and Haskins worked over the arms of Bailey who went all flippy to get out of it. Lots of action in and out of the ring, including some top quality outside the ring sulking from Starr. Some great spots, flying, kicks, strikes, a power bomb backbreaker and a David Starr win over Speedball. The crowd loved this, lots of action, lots of chants and loads of fun.
The interval – normally I go and browse the merch, but with the kids and wife with me I knew I had to step up. I knew I had to get the ice cream rounds in. With my close personal friend Andy Boy Simmonz near the exit door, dressed in a shirt and tie no less I decided it is time to treat the commentary team to ice creams. Mr Boy Simmonz went for Chocolate, because he is a perfectly normal human being. Mr Quildan’s order? VANILLA! Who orders vanilla? Hey Andy Q – I am going to buy you ice cream and there are 7 flavours – what are you having? THE BASIC PLEASE. Terrible. Well, last time I had ice cream at a wrestling show, I saw Ibushi. It was time. The 6 tubs of ice cream in my hand allowed for various judgemental looks/me being very paranoid. Two Chocolates, blackcurrant, mint chocolate chip (youngest child learning life lessons…. NEVER GO MINT CHOC CHIP), honey and ginger (my eldest child also making some TERRIBLE life decisions) and the vanilla. Now I spoke with Mr Boy Simmonz about the show, various other things great, close personal friends talk about but, during our conversation, no Quildan. Where was he? His ice cream was melting. I was worried.
The second half started with a promo for A-Kid v Carlos Romo, during which time I was finishing off ice creams and, having to finish off that terrible mint choc chip choice from child 2. We got into our seats as Carlos came to the ring. I look back to make sure Mr Quildan was positioned for commentary and, what do I see? Vanilla ice cream being shovelled into the mouth of the PLAY BY PLAY COMMENTATOR whilst Mr Boy Simmonz covers. Now, Andy Q can eat ice cream however he wants, but from a health stand point it is very dangerous to eat ice cream at such a pace, even if it is vanilla. He was having to call some top high flying action whilst falling victim to a dangerous brain freeze headache caused by yours truly. If my purchased ice cream killed or otherwise incapacitated Mr Revolution Pro on the 7th anniversary no less… well, I would feel somewhat responsible. Fortunately he persevered through the pain, the true worker that he is.
The high flying action of Romo v A Kid was excellent. It was very enjoyable, but it didn’t feel too much like a grudge match. I did say to the guys after the show that I thought they would be swearing in Spanish loads… I mean they did a bit, but I wanted potty mouth Spanish, which I demonstrated. My kids really took to Romo. He has a natural charisma. A top baby face. A-Kid is excellent technically, but really needed to make this personal. By being the aggressor in the match he did just that. It did feel like it took a while for the audience to get into the contest and invest in a darker side of A-Kid. It did feel very weird not seeing them tag. I think they had a great dynamic as a tag team but, in time I am sure that will develop into singles competition.
Carlos is a top gent, he approached my kids after the show to make sure they had a great time. He had a chat with me, wasn’t too bothered by my bad Spanish and was genuinely someone my family will support.
Next up was a main event anywhere in the world as the cliché goes. PAC (bastard form) v Sydal (third eye guy). This was everything you want from a PAC match and a return to form for Sydal. Everything you expect from these guys, a contest well worth watching on demand.
The main event featuring Chris Brookes with Lykos and Hikuleo versus Michael Oku and Jushin Thunder Liger. Now, my kids took to Liger immediately but not as much as I thought… See my eldest decided to hate on Lykos – quite a lot actually. Shouting at the lad, telling him to shut up. Oh what fun. The match was OK. Hikuleo has potential but lacks that big man aggression, presence and timing but, this is an excursion in order to discover these skills. I just hope he doesn’t rely heavily on the Bullet Club gimmick, using it as a crutch. A lot of back and forth to begin with but the triple team of Lykos, Brookes and Hikuleo took place. Oku wowed the family with his work rate and commitment. He really has a presence that resonates with all ages. The crowd were into it and with a Liger splash followed by an Oku frog splash – we have a winner. Oku was humble in victory and all the fun ensued.
All in all, a great time in a gorgeous venue without all the hoopla of everything needing to be 5 stars, what about NXT UK, what about contracted stars. No, this was about a great 7 years AND the send off for a great servant to the British Wrestling scene, one Christopher Smythers (artistic license) Roberts. At times he was a wonderful villain, a pantomime dame and a work horse. He will be greatly missed and a York Hall show will not be the same without him. ROBERTS!!!!