After a cracking show with the British J-Cup last month, Rev Pro set up several storylines to be resolved in their last York Hall show of the year. Could the Legion be stopped? Can Michael Oku finally beat PAC? Would ‘Mad’ Kurt Chapman really take on Minoru Suzuki? For the answers to those questions and more, read on.

Pretty Deadly (Sam Stoker & Lewis Howley) defeated Moonlight Express (Speedball Mike Bailey & Mao)

Making their York Hall debut for Rev Pro were 90s throwbacks Pretty Deadly. From their catchy radio pop-rock entrance music to their arrogance in the ring, they proved worthy adversaries for former Southside tag champs and aerial experts, Moonlight Express. After a mis-start due to a bell that refused to ring, the match was underway. My money was on Moonlight Express from the get-go but it didn’t pan out for the former Southside tag team champs. Pretty Deadly’s teamwork matched that of MLX and eventually, after several false finishes, surpassed it.

This was a great opening match, running the full gamut of flippy stuff to hard-hitting strikes and everything between. It was just what the division needed, introducing another team that should provide further depth to the roster since Aussie Open’s Mark Davis was injured and Josh Bodom was ignominiously, and rightly, fired, effectively scotching the Rev Pro tag division’s main rivalry. With MLX, Pretty Deadly and now the Kings of the North on the scene, it’s in rude health. Roll on 2020.

Shota Umino defeated Hikuleo

Young Shooter’s excursion is off to a brilliant start. With a great new look, a really cool entrance video, a great nickname courtesy of Jon Moxley and a ready-made finishing move in the double-underhook DDT, the Death Rider, Umino is surely a potential future IWGP champion in the making.

Hikuleo’s journey to excursion was seemingly cut short by injury last year but teaming him with ELP as Rev Pro’s resident Bullet Club contingent has worked well. Umino’s persona as a slightly ornery yet heroic character plays well against Hikuleo’s old school heel tactics. Hikuleo’s attack on Senza Volto after he was knocked out of the British J-Cup had obviously riled Shota and things got off to a quick start with Umino racing to the ring and going straight for the Death Rider, looking to put away Hikuleo early. However, it was not to be and the big man was able to cut off Shooter’s attack, going straight for Umino’s back in the process.

Umino sold the constant attacks on his back well. Hikuleo employed some classic heel moves; rolling Umino out of the ring, attacking him on the outside, berating him in front of the crowd. Shooter tried to body slam Hikuleo several times but to no avail. Eventually, after wearing down the towering Hikuleo, Shooter was able to hit the slam – such an effective technique in terms of getting across Umino’s never-say-die attitude while making it clear that getting Hikuleo off his feet is, well, no mean feat.

After firing back, Shooter was able to score the roll up and the three-count but Hikuleo was not happy, continuing his assault after the match. Rather than resolve the conflict between these two Young Lions, it feels like we’re at the start of something which could play out into 2020 which will be great to see.

Gisele Shaw defeated Shanna

Last time, at the British J-Cup, we saw Gisele Shaw co-main event in her match against Tessa Blanchard. It was a war that left Shaw battered and bloody, illustrating for the Rev Pro faithful that she is a warrior. Shaw’s rise up the ladder of the women’s division continued apace at Uprising.

This match had it all, with an old school World of Sport style chain wrestling start, to what can only be described as a frank exchange of forearm shots to some excellent high spots from Gisele Shaw. It showcased the strengths of both wrestlers. For Shanna, at times, it felt like a real uphill battle against the young veteran Shaw who always maintained the edge over her opponent. Shaw’s Fujiwara armbar with a bridge finisher is probably the most brutal-looking finisher on the roster. While this wasn’t a walk in the park for Shaw, it told us everything we needed to know – she’s not to be messed with.

Hopefully, this is building to a title shot against Rev Pro Women’s Champion Zoe Lucas which will be a must-see match.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Evil) defeated Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr)

As expected, given his political leanings, Zack Sabre Jr was not in the best of moods but he was certainly fired up for this match against SANADA and Evil. After the usual rapturous chorus line of ‘Kaze Ni Nare’ which welcomed ‘the King’ Minoru Suzuki back to East London, both teams were straight in each other’s faces with Suzuki making a beeline for Evil and ZSJ gunning for SANADA. All of these men have met each other so frequently that you might expect that they would be out of surprises but not a bit of it. This match was a masterclass in wrestling from four of the best in the industry today. From Suzuki no-selling Evil’s heavy chops to Suzuki baiting Evil into the ring while standing on SANADA’s bicep, to the usual outside-the-ring-chicanery from Sabre and Suzuki to Sabre tying SANADA up in knots and vice versa, this was a joy to behold.

Unfortunately for ZSJ, his week didn’t get any better as he was beaten by SANADA with his own European clutch pinning combination. Funnily enough, this did not sit well with Sabre or Suzuki who continued to beat down on LIJ. Sabre grabbed the mike and made it quite clear that he was not happy about SANADA’s comments in a recent New Japan post-match interview that he was not interested in contesting for ZSJ’s Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom next month. With promises of vengeance in Tokyo on January 4th and 5th and to “come back and fix this country”, we should be in for quite a year 2020 from Zack Sabre Jr.

Minoru Suzuki defeated Kurtis Chapman

As ZSJ and his mentor strolled up the ramp to the strains of Suzuki’s music, the King stopped in his tracks and returned to the ring. There was a small matter that required his attention in the form of a challenge from ‘Mad’ Kurt Chapman. Chapman had spent the previous few weeks calling out Suzuki as a coward and threatening to invade Uprising and take him on. As Suzuki took to the mike and called out the ‘young boy’ it was game on.

Mad Kurt’s music hit and, clothed in his shiny cape, the skinny Super Contender strutted to the ring, oblivious to his eventual fate. The comedy was further heightened by Chapman’s tag team partner Dan Magee begging him not to go through with it. It was a short-lived but excellent affair, with Chapman’s pathetic shots at a laughing Suzuki making it like watching a car crash – you know it’s going to be bad but you just can’t turn away. With a swift Gotch-style piledriver, it was lights out for Chapman, who was carried to the back by Magee after the crowd counted the pinfall in this unsanctioned match.

Minoru Suzuki defeated a microphone

After being beset with mike problems and stomping the heck out of the microphone before being given a new one, Suzuki promised to “see you again soon”.

6 Man Scramble Match – Dan Moloney defeated Ricky Knight Jr, Kyle Fletcher, Robbie X, Carlos Romo and Kenneth Halfpenny

Rev Pro’s scramble matches always deliver and this was no different. It served to introduce Ricky Knight Jr, the Southside Speed King Champion which will eventually be unified with the Rev Pro Cruiserweight title and provided a stage for some of the great talents on the roster. General bedlam ensued. There were high spots galore from RKJ, Robbie X, Carlos Romo and Kyle Fletcher. Rev Pro ‘Contender’ (or Young Lion) Kenneth Halfpenny was afforded some air time in a great display of his in-ring abilities and Dan Moloney was an absolute monster throughout the match.

It’s hard to name standouts in this one because everyone was so good. This match showcased some great cruiserweight and heavyweight talents.

Undisputed Cruiserweight Championship – El Phantasmo defeated TJP

El Phantasmo is one of the hottest heels in Rev Pro. As a babyface, he was eminently likeable… how things change. After announcing himself, listing off his achievements in 2019, TJP thankfully cut off ELP’s pre-match diatribe. However, several disparaging comments from ELP about members of the audience later, things got underway. ELP and TJP were evenly matched but TJP’s technique and mix of mat-work and high flying proved difficult for ELP to counter at times.

This was a good match, another well worth a watch, and TJP was brilliant. However, it was yet another cheat-to-win finish by ELP, punching TJP in the groin after a ref-bump spot. In his pre-match rant, ELP proclaimed his title the Undisputed World Cruiserweight Championship, effectively leaving the question of who can beat him unanswered.

Undisputed British Tag Team Championships – The Legion (Great-O-Kharn & Rampage Brown) defeated Kings of the North (Corvin & Bonesaw)

Kings of the North made their Rev Pro debut at the British J Cup, staking a claim to a title shot against the newly crowned unified tag team champions O-Kharn and Rampage. This was a good heavyweight brawl. Massive slams and strikes from O-Khan and Brown, big double-team moves from Corvin and Bonesaw – the Kings certainly made their mark on the champions despite suffering a loss. Gideon Grey remained the Legion’s x-factor, distracting Corvin and Bonesaw so that the Legion were able to get the jump on the challengers. Bonesaw made it quite clear on the way to the back that this wasn’t over.

Michael Oku defeated PAC

In a relatively short time with the promotion, it’s fair to say that Michael Oku has come to symbolise the spirit of Strong Style that Rev Pro upholds with so much reverence. Contrary to what some believe, strong style isn’t about hitting hard and dangerous-looking moves, it’s about fighting spirit and never giving up. We’ve seen these qualities in Oku’s Rev Pro matches this year (his match against Shingo at Ungovernable is a prime example) and it was on full display at Uprising. The set up for this match was perfect, with PAC getting himself disqualified from the British J Cup final (great match – check it out) and then assaulting Cup winner Oku and destroying his trophy. The enmity between the two was palpable then and was almost tangible at York Hall. As a fantastic-looking ‘Beyond Gorilla’ Robyn Goding-filmed video package aired, Oku made it clear that he couldn’t defeat PAC without the fans. For PAC, it’s a different story as we all know by now. PAC’s constant mockery of the crowd makes him a heat magnet and putting such a bitter, miserable character up against the young, bright, optimistic Oku made for compelling viewing.

The match itself got underway with Oku taking the fight to the surly Geordie. After dragging PAC outside and slamming his face off the ramp there was a real sense of hope that Oku could beat the AEW Star PAC. Oku’s escape from PAC’s Brutalizer submission and scoring a hit with his amazing frog splash were just two highlights.

However, Oku was soon cut down to size. A Tombstone piledriver to the ramp surely signalled the end for Oku. Except it didn’t. PAC took his sweet time going for the Black Arrow before being rolled up by Oku who got the win. Absolute scenes! This was a fantastic match, probably Rev Pro’s match of the year.

This was a brilliant final York Hall show of 2019, giving us a glimpse of what’s to come for Rev Pro in 2020. There is much to look forward to with developing rivalries, more unification matches between Southside and Rev Pro’s Women’s, Heavyweight and Cruiserweight divisions. At a time when the world seems to be a more hostile place than ever, it was great to have a main-event where hope, in the form of young up-and-comer Michael Oku, won out over hate. Have a great festive season, everyone!

All pics courtesy of Beyond Gorilla

By Stephen Goodman

Wrestling journalist based in south London. I like New Japan, Rev Pro, SOUL and lots more.

Leave a Reply