Thursday 14 February 2013

Rev-Pro 'No Holds Barred' (10/02/13) Review By Aiden O'Brien

Pictures Provided By @MattMatt316

Rockstar Spud winning TNA's British Bootcamp may be the best thing to happen to the promotion's he's due to appear on before he fly's out to America as both Fight Club: Pro and RevPro enjoyed a larger audience than usual. In fact this was one of the largest crowds RevPro has attracted in a while so as a result it seemed like everyone on the show stepped it up a few notches and they may have produced one of the best Sittingbourne shows I've seen in quite some time. Ordinarily I feel the strength of the shows at Sittingbourne depends on the quality of imports on the card and the matches they are in. August had Gargano and Devitt, October had Generico and Jerry Lynn, November you had Tajiri and Devitt and December you had Elgin and Devitt and usually the imports are in the best matches of the night (With the exception of December in which LDR's vs Ego was a genuine MOTYC). So when I tell you that the weakest match on the six match card of this show was the only one to feature an import (Colt Cabana) I mean it to say that the UK guys *really* stepped it up.

To begin the show Mark Haskins took the mic before his opponent for the evening El Ligero could come out to call Ligero a cheat for costing Haskins the chance to beat Prince Devitt for the Undisputed Cruiserweight Championship at the previous show (In reality it was a four-way elimination featuring Devitt, Haskins, Ligero and Noam Dar in which Haskins eliminated Ligero first via low-blow and Ligero came back out at the end of the match to prevent Haskins from hitting Devitt with the Title belt) and that tonight he would cave Ligero's skull in and remove his mask. Haskins has become a lot better and more natural on the mic and has made a point since TNA released him in August to be in the match of the night and give the strongest performance possible. And Haskins stayed true to his word, attacking Ligero before the bell even rang and was extremely aggressive with kicks to the downed luchadore. Ligero fought back and when Haskins attempted his kip-up evade superkick combo, Ligero got in a crafty kick to the guy. Haskins took to outside the ring and Ligero then attempted a dive to the outside only for Haskins to meet him with a forearm smash. Haskins then placed Ligero onto the ring apron and although Ligero attempted to use that to his benefit, Haskins knee met his face with a sickening thud. Outside the ring Haskins drove Ligero face first into the ring apron and the turnbuckle post, again showing every intent to follow through on his pre-match promo. Inside the ring it was a battle of survival for Ligero as he had to wait for opportune moments where Haskins made mistakes and Ligero was able to take advantage. Haskins resorted to attempting to move the mask of Ligero so after Ligero made his big comeback, hitting a splash from the top rope from a near-fall, Haskins later distracted the ref so he could kick Ligero low. It looked like he was about to powerbomb Ligero but instead yanked the mask free from his head and rolled him up into a small package for the three count as Ligero desperately attempted to hide his face and then immediately had the Mexican flag he brought to the ring draped over his face by the ref as soon as Haskins left. Fantastic start to the show between two of England's finest wrestlers right now and after that result, you know the issue between the two is far from over as while Haskins attempted to cave Ligero's skull in and did remove his mask, Ligero survived it all and Haskins had to be under-handed in order to win the match.

While Haskins/Ligero was a slow burner between two of England's best junior heavyweight wrestlers, Will Ospreay was able to have an exhibition of his aerial talents in his win over Wild Boar. This was Ospreay's RevPro debut after making a name for himself as a fast-rising cruiserweight wrestler in promotions such as IPW:UK and Progress Wrestling and his initial match-up against Noam Dar may not have afforded him the chance to show him at his best. Noam would have worked the knee and limited Ospreay's offense so against Boar, drafted in as a last minute replacement, Boar worked as a base to ground Will so that when he was able to fly - And believe me he's called an "Aerial Assassin" for a reason - It looked all the more impressive. Ospreay performed a high jump moonsault over the top rope to Board outside the ring in the first few minutes of the match. He was able to leap off the top rope to avoid a charging Boar, rotate several times in mid-air before landing on his feet and then immediately turn his body around to his a spinning enziguiri kick to Boar. And in the coup de grace of the match a 630 senton from the top rope sealed the deal so Ospreay made an immediate impression in his RevPro debut. Everything he did looked crisp, there was no hesitation or nerves as Will presented himself in the best way possible to wow the Sittingbourne audience. But it took Boar as an opponent to act as a base in order to make Ospreay look so good so special mention has to be made in regards to Boar making Ospreay look a star.

In the match before intermission Colt Cabana defeated Dave Mastiff, T-Bone and Rampage Brown to become the number one contender to Sha Samuel's Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship in a match to take place on March 31st. Cabana used to be a regular to these shores prior to his signing to the WWE but now his trips over here have become less frequent and more special. In fact it had been 3 and a half years since Cabana was last in Sittingbourne so the crowd were very happy to see him, although Dave Mastiff as former Champion had his fair share of supporters. With four big heavyweight's in the ring at the same time all four men spent time against each other, no alliances were made with such a high prize at stake. Mastiff hit an insane running crossbody onto Brown, the sight of such a large man flying at a target like that is an impressive sight. Colt hit his punch, Dusty elbow onto all three. There was a Dragon Gate-esque spot in which one man hit a running clothesline onto the other in the turnbuckle, a third then hit that man with a clothesline and then a fourth hit the third with a clothesline. When the fourth man went running to the opposite buckle, the third returned the favour with a clothesline, then the second hit the third and the original man attacked at the start got his revenge by getting the last laugh with a clothesline. Mastiff hit his cannonball senton onto T-Bone in the corner, he had Cabana and Brown together in another corner and was preparing to do the same to them when Andy Simmonz, former wrestler and current RevPro commentator and manager of Big Van Walter snuck into the ring and eliminated Mastiff by throwing him over the top rope. Understandably a naturally irate Mastiff chased Simmonz to the back, a conclusion between Mastiff and Walter's month long feud all in the waiting with their eventual first time singles clash. From there it wasn't long until T-Bone was eliminated as well, Cabana hitting a very shoddy and weak looking Go To Sleep onto him, only for Rampage Brown to steal the pinfall itself. With only Cabana and Brown left, the crowd was 100% by the Chicago, Illinois native and in the end the dreams of Brown debuting and immediately becoming #1 contender to the belt were destroyed when he went to the top rope and Cabana simply pushed him out of the ring so Brown was at least able to remain strong in defeat.

Post match Cabana took the mic to put over all three of his opponents and state that he considered the UK and England a second home even if he hadn't been back home in a while. He said that while he loved coming to the UK, he was at his stage in his career that he needed something more. He needed to win a Heavyweight Title or else there was no more reason for him to keep coming back to England. But he felt so confident that he could be the man to end Sha Samuels current 21 month reign as Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion that he would never return to the UK if he lost. So the first match announced for the 31st of March event, again in Sittingbourne, was Sha Samuels vs Colt Cabana in a Title vs UK career match for the Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship at a show appropriately titled "High Stakes". March 31st will also see the return of Prince Devit to defend his Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship.

I'd begged and pleaded with promoters up and down the country to book Zack vs MK in a singles match for over six months. From the first match of MK's I first saw I immediately saw the potential in a match between the two as they both have very similar styles and the same kind of presentation, work ethic and mindset to going all out every match. I got a teaser as they faced off in a tag match for Southside in August and the moments in which they shared the ring were absolutely blinding. So I was over the moon when RevPro announced that finally a singles match between the two would happen. But then after months of waiting for it to finally happen, the expectations I'd built on this match after so long of proclaiming it a UK dream match... Could the reality live up to the dream? Would the match live up to the hype that I'd built up in my head? Yes it damn well did. This match was AWESOME and exceeded my expectations. Zack re-affirmed my belief that he is the best wrestler in England still currently plying his trade on these shores - Although believe me at this rate it's not going to be for much longer as either Japan or America will take him full time in the near future - And that MK McKinnan, along with Noam Dar, is the future of the British wrestling scene.

The match started off intense with both men charging at each other with yakuza kicks at the same time. Then came an insane sequence where both men blocked kicks to the shins, jumped over sweeping low kicks and ducked under high kicks that would have taken each others heads off. MK almost didn't avoid Zack's last kick as it swung wildly and clipped his face as he pulled his head away. Zack even got the first armbar out of the match from nowhere as MK quickly had to get to the ropes. From there they locked up with fingers clasped in a test of strength as then Zack threw MK down onto the ground with a judo throw. They kept a tight hold as MK struggled back up to his feet and then the two exchanged japanese sleeper holds and MK was even able to power Zack above his head and over when they were back to back in lock. Zack then broke that up and that's when the elbows and kicks started. And they were some of the hardest kicks I've ever heard. This was called a "proving ground" match for MK for a reason as not only did he have to prove he belonged in a RevPro ring, he had to prove he belonged in the same ring as Zack Sabre Jnr and survive a beating in the form of stiff kicks and his arm being contorted in ways it should not bend. MK celebrated his 21st birthday only the day before the show so while he and Zack aren't too far apart in age, generation wise Zack is a few steps above so MK had to be aggressive and really lay in those kicks and elbows, and Zack really was encouraging him to bring his best and allow MK's kicks just so he could return with a few receipts of his own. I know it's been said that MK does on occasion have the tendency to botch here and there, but there were only two instances and both added to this match. The first was MK barely moving out of the way of Zack's kick at the beginning of the match, the second came when MK on the top rope attempted to leap over Zack but instead his shins caught Zack's arms as Zack had to raise his arms to protect himself, but Zack then kicked MK on the mat showing that even something less than perfect can still tell it's own story as it showed Zack was above MK and McKinnan still had a lot further to go. Considering they went almost 15 minutes with high-impact strikes, submissions, counters, reversals, technical wrestling all at a fast pace, they never once left the ring outside of Zack's charging kick towards MK at the ropes hitting so hard the momentum took Zack over the top rope in the process. Considering it felt natural for Zack to take the win with how it seemed like he was always a step ahead of MK and that this was MK's proving ground match to show to the RevPro audience what he could do when fully unleashed but against someone who was *the* guy in Sittingbourne, they did have me on a few near-falls with MK's insane reverse rana folding Zack in half, his shining wizard getting a close two count and also MK rolling Zack's arm-bar attempt into a desperation pin-fall that very nearly came close to ending the match. In the end MK survived repeated arm-bar attempts but after Zack's running penalty kick which MK was able to miraculously kick out of, yet another arm-bar with Zack really wrenching and twisting away at the arm forced him into having to tap out. The crowd gave a deserved roaring ovation to the end of the match as a triumphant Zack made the "belt" motion, clearly having eyes on Prince Devitt's Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship. But as MK stood in the middle of the ring, defeated and with a bloody noise, the crowd gave him an ovation that showed he was to be a future star in Sittingboune and potentially the man to replace Zack down the line if Zack ever leaves these shores full time. Incredible match and you really have to go out of your way to see it. I would pay good money towards a rematch.

After that match a lot of wrestlers would be intimidated to follow that so Project Ego successfully defending the British Tag Team Championships against The Hunter Brothers went down a different path. The Hunters made their RevPro debuts in November against Ego in the promotions debut in St Ives, Cambridge so that match was second on the card in a strong face vs heel dynamic in a simple yet very good tag match in front of a brand new audience. At the December show both teams went all out as The Hunters beat The London Riots in a match that showed them at their absolute best in their Sittingbourne debut and Ego had a genuine MOTYC against The LDR's that was high-end state of the art modern tag team wrestling that showed Ego are at the top of the food chain when it comes to RevPro. Things started gentle with some comedy as Ego declared Hunters to look like "little girls" with their long hair and both Kirby and Travis wrenched an arm each and then planted a kiss on either of Lee's cheeks. On the third attempt Lee was able to duck and avoid both so Ego ended up kissing each other - Kirby claimed Trav slipped the tongue in. After that the two had a very back and forth wrestling match. The Hunters wrenched Travis' arms with multiple tags in and out leading to either man coming down from the top rope with a double axe handle onto the arm. The Hunters hit topes over the top rope to both members of Ego outside the ring. Jim Hunter tried to swing through the ring ropes immediately to DDT Travis only for him to reverse it and northern lights suplex Jim into the turnbuckle. But then when Jim attempted it the second time he finally hit the DVD. The match escalated as it kept building up and up but in the end it was Project Ego taking the win. Very good tag team match. I know a best of three isn't required after Ego took the first time, but I wouldn't mind a trilogy from this series.

The main event was everything a main event needs to be. It had the entire crowd invested whether you were a Spud or Marty fan. This issue had been building for so long now that it had to come to a close before Spud left for America and there wasn't a more fitting place in Sittingbourne almost a year after the physical threads from Spud started to Marty at least year's No Escape 2012 show. This really felt like a main event match. Spud got the loudest ovation of the night and eventhough Scurll was the face and victim in the feud, events dictated in TNA's British Bootcamp meant the crowd was 70/30 in Spud's favour, especially with this likely to be his last Sittingbourne appearance, but Scurll did win the crowd round slightly by the end to a 50/50 split. Spud did well to neither reject nor reciprocate the crowds appreciation, instead he was fully in the task at hand to get his hands on Marty in what looks to be their last ever match after a year plus feud and gain some retribution over his loss to Scurll last time they faced at RevPro in June. It was intense, it was heated, it was more of a scrap and a fight than it was a wrestling match although plenty of wrestling moves were used from Scurll's second rope suplex back inside the ring to Spud and Spud's code red that I'd only seen him bring back to his offense in December. But this match was billed as No Holds Barred so any fancy wrestling skills were largely ignored over punching, kicking, clawing, scratching and biting. They brawled in the ring. They brawled outside the ring. Spud brought a chair into the ring - Not a steel chair, I'm talking about a heavy un-adjustable wooden chair - That he rammed into Scurll's stomach and then dumped it right ontop of his body right on his arm. I can't remember if it was Spud or Scurll - I'm leaning towards Spud - Who brought the back of drawing pins into the ring and then poured them down onto the canvas. Scurll was the first one to really look likely to send the other man down into the pins, but when he had Spud up on his shoulders for a death valley driver, Spud wriggled free and wrapped an arm around Scurll's neck in a sleeper hold. Scurll succumbed and went down onto the floor, but refused to allow himself be beaten by Spud. He powered himself back up, Spud still on his back, and then fall backwards onto the drawing pins with Spud's back taking the full brunt of them. But Scurll wasn't finished there. He brought Spud back up to his feet, declared that their issue, their year long running feud of burning hatred in which Spud had costed him two RevPro Title's and his big moment at RevPro's largest show of the year, was finally over and then picked Spud up with that death valley driver he attempted earlier, Spud for the second time going back first onto those drawing pins and Marty got the three count in a match that lasted over 20 minutes but at the time did not feel that way at all. Great end to the night, it was more story than moves but the big visuals like Scurll telling Spud to his face that it all ended here before the DVD onto the drawing pins will be something that RevPro can use in video packages for years.

This is so far my favourite show of the year. You had a fantastic main event that suitably brought to a close a year long rivalry to an end while being a fitting send off for Rockstar Spud. An incredible exhibition match between Zack and MK in the style of wrestling that I love featuring two of England's best right now. Two completely different yet equally entertaining cruiserweight matches. A great tag team between two of the UK's finest tag teams right now. And a heavyweight four way made special by a rare appearance by Colt Cabana and what his win means for RevPro's next show. This was one of the best Sittingbourne shows I've ever seen and RevPro usually stands for "Pro Wrestling At It's Best" due to featuring the best of England upping their games against the best wrestlers in the entire world. On this show however it was "British Pro Wrestling At It's Best" and really showed just how strong and talented the UK roster is as a whole right now. While the show may have seemed very cruiserweight heavy at first glance, each match had it's own identity and uniqueness so that the entire card was varied. I would urge anyone with a love of BritWres to pick this show up on DVD and be at Sittingbourne on March 31st. Unless that's the day you're flying out to America...... Frack.

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