Friday 12 October 2012

IPW-UK & Revolution Pro Moving Forward By Adam Joyce

Something was off when I walked into the Wyvern Hall last August for the IPW:UK Summer Sizzler but I wasn't sure what it was. Everything looked like it was in the right place but there was defiantly something different looking round. It wasn't till someone came through the curtain I noticed it was on the wrong way round. Then it dawned on me, all the branding was gone, the aprons and posts were bare, the entrance way and lighting rig only had A-Merchandise flags on and the posters for the next event bore no promotion logo. In fact the only IPW:UK branding I saw was a few crew shirts dotted around.

It turns out a couple of days before that IPW:UK promoter Dan Edler and booker Andy Quildan had had a falling out and as a result were now treating their shows as 2 different companies. Edler's keeping the IPW:UK and Quildan is going with the name Revolution ProWrestling while still acknowledging the IPW:UK history. While I have spoken to both guys since the split I've not bothered bringing it up. I feel if the reasoning is going to be known it will, at some point, come out. While publicly both have claimed it was, for the most part, amicable there must still be some level of friction between the two for business partners of close to 8 years to drastically separate. The break up may not be as public as the likes of the WAW/EVE it's still worth noting that Andy was pushing all his back IPW:UK DVD stock at near clearance prices on Facebook.

As I said before I've not pushed for the reasons so this article is purely my observations. As I mentioned I was at the Summer Sizzler, which in this instance we'll look at as the first RevPro event, I was also at Elder's first event following the split IPW:UK Samuels vs Kincade Frazier. Rather then do a straight up review of either I'm going to make to make observations on both and put forward my opinions on the direction both are going.

For those who've not been to a Sittingbourne show before over the last couple of years they've gained a track record of being made up of good to great matches featuring a combination of top level American/Japanese imports and some of the top UK talent. This one featured Prince Devitt (I know he's Irish but he spends his time mainly over in Japan so that counts in my book) and DragonGate USA's Open the Gate Champion, Johnny Gargano taking on Noam Dar and Zach Sabre Jr respectively in what were top class matches. It's great to see matches of this quality but on their own this can come across as quite lazy booking. If you are constantly bringing in workers who aren't top level stars for high class matches with no story behind them then it's easy for a more casual fan just pick and choose which shows they come and see. Chances are they could wait for someone they want to see live and just opt to pick the rest up on DVD at some point. I stated in a recent review you can either book based on the strength of your matches or on the strength of your storylines and I am a strong believer that without the stories you risk losing your connection with the audience.

Fortunately their current main angles are strong enough for fans to keep coming back for. The current story lines features Sha Samuels as the champion and retaining the belt at every show with the help of his lackeys Rockstar Spud and T-Bone, who on occasion will insight potential challengers into matches to draw them away from Sha, at least temporarily. Most notably Sha's former partner Terry Frasier who every time it looks like he's in line for a shot at Sha one of the others gets in his way. Along side that there is the feud between Spud and Marty Scurll that seemingly stemmed from an appearance Marty made on Take Me Out and escalated from there crossing into various other promotions as well as encompassing Scurll's recent cruiserweight title win reaching the point where at Summer Sizzler where Spud not only possibly cost Scurll the undisputed British title but also aided Project Ego in their cashing in of the MITB briefcase to win the IPW:UK tag titles as well as making them the (first?) RevPro tag champs.

Mentioning titles it's an interesting story looking at the IPW:UK side of things. The first thing that happened on the IPW:UK show was Sha came out to announce 2 things. One being that his scheduled opponent had been forced to pull out due to, what was later revealed to be, a long standing back injury. The second was to announce that he was un-unifying the Undisputed British title breaking it back up into the All England title and the IPW:UK title, which on a side note is now a world title. It's debatable whether the IPW:UK title is worthy of being called a world title but when you look at the talent that has been brought in to contend for it there certainly is a case that it has earned it with names like Al Snow, Takeshi Morishima and Jimmy Jacobs included on that list. With the tag titles they are following on from the title change at Summer Sizzler and with Zach spending most of his time with NOAH and so many good teams waiting in the wings was probably the best choice. One thing that stood out to me was that the history of the cruiserweight title has disappeared off the website. While it's understandable if they have decided to drop it for a while as the champ and his main rival have gone away to TNA British Boot Camp there are still a slew of credible contenders regularly appearing on IPW:UK shows however who could put on some impressive rankings and exhibition matches till the chance comes to get the belt back.

Keeping with the theme of diversity of styles that is certainly one thing the Swanley IPW:UK events have going for them. On their last show they had a Mad Man Manson comedy match, Iyesten Reese squashing some no-names in a 'Skinny Boy Challenge' and gimmick wrestlers like Earl Jonathan Windsor. All of which would have stood out at a Sittingbourne show but all worked fine here. That's not to say they wouldn't have worked, the Knight boys got over great at the last Sittingbourne show seemingly in part because of how different they are compared to the Sittingbourne regulars.

The thing that Swanley definitely shares with Sittingbourne is the quality of main event talent. While the focus of IPW:UK is still Sha's heel reign there is defiantly less focus on his entourage. Although, as mentioned earlier, his main follower is currently tied up with TNA British Boot Camp but instead of having T-Bone at his side he had his unnamed head of security. IPW:UK defiantly seem to be building up at a big Samuels/Frazier match in the future with the dusty finish that this match had and the fact there has not been a clean finish in any of their matches. One thing it did demonstrate was the difference between the two venues in terms of what the talent can do. One thing I don't like about Swanley is how open it is. It makes the moderate crowds the it pulls in seem smaller as well as losing a lot of the crowd noise into the high ceiling, along with all the heat in winter shows. The space does give room for big brawls though that the more intimate setting of Sittingbourne negates.

The venues themselves are seemingly set up with their target audience in mind. The intimate setting of Sittingbourne working better for the Internet crowd that RevPro thrives on where as Swanley's space is better for shows that seem to be aimed more at large family groups. The venues are not the only thing that got divided up in the split. With the second IPW:UK training school opening both of them have been divided. IPW:UK have kept the original school that boasts starting the careers of current upstarts like Darrell Allen, the London Riots, the monster Snare and Carl Morina amongst others. RevPro have gotten the new one which, although it doesn't have any track yet, is run by the original trainer from the IPW:UK school in Andy Boy Simmonz who would have had a hand in training some of the above. The summer camps were not divided up as fairly as RevPro has wound up with both of them, on paper it seems odd seeing as how the family friendly atmosphere at holiday camps seems custom built for the style IPW:UK books it should be noted that these were both set up by Andy Quildan and as a result went with him when he set up RevPro. One other thing that didn't get divided up it seems was the A-Merchandise involvement in the IPW:UK shows. While I felt the lighting rig at Swanley was deemed moot by the fact that it was so bright in there the entranceway added an air of professionalism. It's also a shame that A-Merchandise hasn't come to some sort of agreement with IPW:UK with regards to the branding as the ring looked bare with just plain aprons and I'm sure Mark Sloan has little use for everything he now has bedecked in IPW:UK branding.

The question now is what does the future hold for these two promotions? Both have their 8 year celebrations lined up both with shades of their past. Quildan has opted to bring back a couple of his more regular imports with El Generico and Sami Calihan (who has sadly been forced to pull out) as well as the last UK matches of Jerry Lynn. Edler has thrown it back to the past as well announcing what looks to be the last ever IPW:UK match between Paul Robinson and Ashley Reed, arguably the series that put IPW:UK on the map those 8 years ago. From there both have announced further shows and new venues pointing that both are looking to the future, although Edler possible more so with, what looks like, a string of open trials for undiscovered wrestlers to demonstrate their skills and possibly gain some more bookings as well as their Future shows becoming more common means that while both claim to be 'Pro Wrestling At It's Best' IPW:UK may also be the window to the future. When it comes to sticking to the moniker RevPro defiantly live up to it with the stars they book but with the announcement of the return on the British National Championship year long tournament IPW:UK are showing they are determined to as well without having to reach across oceans, just other UK promotions. I guess it all just depends on your preference to what style of wrestling as to which promotion is better. I know I am happy to support either as diversity is important when it comes to promotions because, as any wrestling vet will tell you, no two crowds are the same and it is important to learn to work different styles. Also one more prospective place, that is at the same time reputable, where talent can get bookings can only be a good thing right?

For info on Revolution Pro you can check out their site at or on twitter @revprouk. For IPW you can check all their latest at or on twitter @ipwuk.

For all my random musings I’m on twitter @el_j. Feel free to let me know what you think on this article or anything in general. I can’t guarantee I’ll listen but you’ll never know if you don’t try

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