The final stop on the RevPro catch-up sees us dropping in on New Orleans. With the help of some Japanese friends, Andy Quildan’s dream factory had put together a sexy card. This one promised to be a lot of fun and – spoiler – it delivered.
David Starr defeated Martin Stone
Quildan is still refusing to do David Starr’s many nicknames during his entrance, which meant that we got a ranty promo about the RevPro conspiracy. He also referred to Martin Stone’s WWE appearances, calling him a corporate bitch.
In contrast to all that aggression, we got quite a technical opening, with there not being a clear winner between the two. Finally, Starr escaped to the floor and when Stone followed this became a brawl. Both of these men love a stiff strike, even hitting duel headbutts at one point which saw them both collapse to the floor.
The final minutes were two big dudes throwing everything they had at each other. Starr used the old fighting spirit to bounce back from a headbutt with a lariat before Stone reversed the Product Placement into a Crossface. Just as it looked like it might be over, Starr powered out into a Backbreaker and then caught Stone on a Monkey Flip turning it into a Jackknife pin (including some cheeky feet on the ropes) for the three.
It was a cracking opener. I know Starr’s American, but ahead of an international card, it felt incredibly British as they relied on stiff strikes and technical grappling to make their point. For new fans in attendance, it was a perfect taste of what you can expect from RevPro.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Adam Brooks defeated Brian Cage
While Starr and Stone felt like a natural pairing, these two are very different cats. Brian Cage made Brooksy look small, but then again, I think he makes everyone look small. He’s a big old dude.
Which makes it all the more impressive when he goes into his shtick. Early on he hit a Stalling Suplex complete with squats and then followed up with a Standing Moonsault before missing a 619. That’s all a bit silly for a man his size.
Brooks had to rely on his big bag of tricks to get ahead. A poke to the eye served as his way back into things and he went on to give a good account of himself. While he ate a few power moves including a ‘Buckle Bomb and a Deadlift Suplex, he was able to respond with a Reverse Hurricanrana and some Double Knees onto the apron.
In the end, he’d have to rely on the cheating to get the win. A ref bump gave him a chance to hit that Rainmaker Low Blow while a roll-up saw him get the three. Let’s chalk this one up as an excellent use of Brian Cage. You don’t need him to be a regular or to build him up to get over, he just has to walk down the ramp. So having Brooks defeat him, even in screwy circumstances, is an instant credibility boost. Well played all around.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
CHAOS (Will Ospreay, Chuckie T and Rocky Romero) defeated Kota Ibushi, Shane Strickland and Flip Gordon
Here’s a CHAOS trio that you won’t see often. Although judging by this maybe New Japan should give them a run out every now and then, because they were very entertaining. Slipping into the heel role early on as Rocky poked Strickland in the eye before running away.
They reinforced that role when Will and Kota were about to face off. They hadn’t even touched before they got a standing ovation, then, before they could do anything, the rest of CHAOS hit the ring, taking out the men on the apron and ganging up on Ibushi. It was wrestling 101 and wrestling 101 is effective for a reason. They knew the fans wanted Ospreay vs Ibushi and made us wait for it.
And as waits go, it wasn’t the toughest one to take, there were a lot of good wrestlers in that ring. At one point we got a Backflip Samoan Drop from Flip, into a Running Shooting Star Press from Kota all topped off with a 450 Splash from Strickland. If that’s not enough to tickle your pickle, I don’t know what is.
After the breakdown, we finally got to Will vs Kota. Unsurprisingly, it was brilliant. They didn’t go too far here, but they went far enough to tell me that you’d be mad not to want that feud. If Ospreay ever makes the step-up to heavyweight, those two could create magic.
We got six immensely talented wrestlers going out and being immensely talented. However, it wasn’t the spotfest you might expect. With CHAOS going heel they were able to incorporate some traditional goodie vs baddie wrestling in here which only served to elevate everything else they did. I loved it.
Verdict: Four Stars
Minoru Suzuki defeated Jeff Cobb
Suzuki was looking even more evil than usual at the start of this one. The grin lingering on his face made me scared, and I wasn’t the unfortunate sod standing across the ring from him. Cobb then made the mistake of trying to chop Murder Grandpa and, well, let’s just say it didn’t go well for him.
It takes someone special to turn Jeff Cobb into an underdog. Minoru Suzuki is that someone special. He was bullying a man who weighs 40 pounds more than him and laughing while he did it. Cobb might as well have been slapping an oak tree for all the damage it seemed to be doing. Meanwhile, he had to hop around the ring because the evil bastard was zeroing in on his leg.
And Cobb deserves credit for how he sold that leg and for his willingness to take a beating. It can’t be a position he’s put in often, and he did a cracking job, even going as far as tapping out to the Sleeper which isn’t something we see often. He went out there and gave the fans a Suzuki showcase which they lapped up. I’d like to see these two have a proper back and forth someday, but for this show, it was perfect.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Juice Robinson defeated Aussie Open (Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher)
Usually, I’d complain about using one of your top tag teams to put over a mashed together team of imports. However, that team contained Tanahashi, and at this point, we might as well bless the man with Godhood because who are we kidding.
In saying that, this was 100% mid-card Tana’. He went out there and gave everyone exactly what they wanted and no more, which I don’t mean as a criticism. The man has to be beat-up (even if he’s not as beat-up as he likes to pretend) and I don’t think you can blame him for not going all out every night.
Plus, you can’t tell me that Aussie Open didn’t love being in the ring with him. They stepped into a heel role with relish. Kyle Fletcher was particularly impressive, blocking off tags to The Ace and laughing while he did it. Although I did find it hard to look at Mark Davis without wincing. His chest looked like someone had done a number on it, I don’t know if that’s cumulative damage or if he’d had a tough match earlier in the weekend, but he could use taking a break from the chops.
In the end, Juice and Tana’ hit a Sling Blade/Spinebuster combo before a Pulp Friction to Davis and a High Fly Flow to Fletcher saw off another entertaining match.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Zack Sabre Jr
Slight disclaimer, I don’t have an official list of favourite wrestlers in my head. If I did, these two would definitely be on it. I love everything they do.
Forget that, though, because this was a fantastically wrestled main event. Zack came in as the cocky champion. ZSJ has dominated RevPro, so in his head, no-one can touch him. Sabre knew he could beat Ishii on the ground every day of the week, so he wasn’t content with that. He also wanted to show Ishii up on his feet, continually giving the Stone Pitbull the chance to trade strikes. Well, you can guess how that went. If you don’t want to, just take a peek at the fantastic look of disdain on Ishii’s face when Zack hits him.
Then you have to throw in the fact that trying to get Ishii to tap is like trying to get a brick wall to kindly move out of your way. You can sweet talk it, you can punch it and you can even wrap it up in all sorts of twisty holds, but at the end of the day, it isn’t budging. That meant that when Zack did take things to the floor, Ishii the warrior took over. He’d power his way out of the many ways that Sabre tried to hurt him always finding his way to the ropes and back to his feet. It was a feat of endurance as much an exhibition of wrestling ability.
And, in the end, endurance won the day. Ishii fought his way to his feet, hit one Brainbuster and this was done. The bastard was slain, and RevPro has a new champion. It was brilliant. I don’t care whether you are like me and think these men are the best or have never heard of them, watch this match and fall for their charms.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Outside of NXT, RevPro might have put on the most consistent show I’ve seen from WrestleMania weekend. To be honest, I’ve seen so many of them that I’m struggling to remember them all so I might be forgetting one, but from top to bottom this delivered with two proper stand-out matches. RevPro can look back on their time in New Orleans with a touch of pride.