After what has been a busy couple of months for Revolution Pro Wrestling, following their takeover of fellow UK promotion Southside Wrestling, the process of unifying the titles of both companies has begun and the third annual British J Cup has now been contested. This year’s British J Cup was resplendent with awesome matches. Let’s see what went down on an extraordinary night of action at London’s York Hall.

British J Cup first-round match: El Phantasmo defeated Senza Volto

Accompanied to the ring by fellow Bullet Club member Hikuleo, this one went the way you probably would expect from bad boy ELP. He’ll cheat his way to the win despite his extraordinary athletic ability in the ring (he did his usual ‘Taker top-rope walk but this time around the whole ring which I have never seen before).

After getting the jump on Volto early on, El Phantasmo dominated the match from the outset. Hikuleo predictably interfered and cut off Volto’s comeback. ELP took the win after a savage dick punch to the masked French Sensation while the referee was distracted with sending Hikuleo to the back after his meddling.

The take-home messages from this match? Remember that Bullet Club likes to hunt in packs; Volto continues to impress with his athleticism and should continue to be booked on Rev Pro shows and ELP is great at being unlikable.

Getting the win wasn’t enough, however, as ELP and Hikuleo laid the boot into a prone and defenceless Senza Volto. Then, music hit and a pistol appeared on the screen firing a bullet. Who was this to the rescue? None other than the York Hall debuting ‘Shooter’ Shota Umino, freshly arrived on an excursion from New Japan. After storming the ring, taking some shots from Hikuleo but fighting back to deliver the Death Rider to the big man, Shooter basked in the adoration of the East London Rev Pro faithful. Shooter has arrived and is gunning for Bullet Club setting up a match against Hikuleo at Uprising, Rev Pro’s next event.

British J Cup first round: Robbie Eagles defeated Bárbaro Cavernario

Another great first-round match. Robbie Eagles continues to impress with his aerial ability and his selling made Barbaro look like even more of a beast. Barbaro’s entrance wear may have been more Fred Flintstone than Conan the Barbarian but his insane Lucha style soon won over the crowd. With dives out of the ring and into the front row, a quite frankly worrying top rope Superfly-style splash from the top turnbuckle onto a laid-out Robbie Eagles on the wooden floor, the chants of ‘please come back’ at the end of the match were well deserved.

Eagles’ grit and determination won through in the end and, after a couple of submission attempts and despite taking a battering, he managed to tap out the big man.

British J Cup first round: Michael Oku defeated Rocky Romero

One thing I love about Michael Oku’s matches in Rev Pro is his ability to turn the tables on his opponents in big match situations and use their strengths against them. He tried it with Shingo back at Ungovernable in Manchester. Back then Oku’s efforts were to no avail – he dug in and showed real heart and resilience, classic babyface tropes but ones which will always resonate with audiences. However, Oku did it again here against Rocky Romero, picking up the win with an incredibly sneaky inside cradle.

It was pretty standard fare from Rocky, although with a bit more of an edge than usual, lawn darting Oku into the barrier on the outside at one point and generally employing a range of tricks, presumably taken from his forthcoming book on Sneaky Style. Oku took a bit of a pasting in this bout. Would he recover in time for the final?

British J Cup first round: PAC defeated Amazing Red

Dream match time and this one delivered. Chants of ‘he’s a bastard’ and ‘he’s amazing’ started up before the bell had even rung. The atmosphere was truly electric. Red has had a tough time recently after tragically losing one of his former students, Matt Travis, but was able to put that aside and pour his heart into delivering a great match against PAC.

The Bastard’s nefarious ways saw Red in all kinds of trouble as the action spilled out of the ring at various points. The two traded insane dives, Red’s top rope Code Red attempt followed by PAC’s escape was a real highlight.

This is one of those matches where repeat viewing will be rewarded so I would recommend seeking it out. While Red didn’t make it through to the final after PAC’s Black Arrow / Brutaliser combination, we can only hope to see Red again in the UK at some point in the future but if that was his last appearance then it was an amazing one, pun intended.

Ren Narita defeated Brendan White

This was effectively the New Japan LA Dojo versus the Rev Pro Contenders division and, probably unsurprisingly, the LA Dojo came out on top. Ren Narita is a hot prospect for the future. His speed, power and aggression in the ring are all hallmarks of a star in the making. Hopefully, he’ll get the exposure he deserves in the US while training under the tutelage of former Rev Pro champ Shibata.

This was a pretty standard Young Lions match with a limited move set but Narita’s overhead belly-to-belly suplex and Texas Cloverleaf saw him through to pick up the win.

RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Championships and Southside Tag Team Championships unification match: The Legion (The Great O-Kharn & Rampage Brown) defeated Moonlight Express (Mike Bailey & MAO)

For some inexplicable reason, Sha Samuels, complete with ‘East End geezer’ gimmick, has joined the Legion of Lords. Who knew? Who cares? Anyway, after an overly long introduction from Samuels and Lord Gideon Grey which enjoyed a lukewarm reception from the crowd the match could get underway.

Not having seen Moonlight Express in action before, they were quite clearly the superior team, with sick tag moves in abundance allowing them to win over the York Hall crowd quickly. However, it wasn’t to be their night. After Samuels was sent to the back by the referee for interfering, O-Kharn and Rampage were able to out-muscle MAO and Speedball Mike Bailey for the win.

At the end of the match, thankfully, the Kings of the North made their Rev Pro debut just as we were being subjected to Gideon Grey on the microphone again. What a joy it was to watch the Kings of the North clear the ring and challenge the Legion to a tag title shot at Rev Pro’s next event, Uprising. With any luck, the Kings will win the titles in short order.

After the Kings of the North had gone to the back, the screens by the entranceway were seemingly ‘hacked’ and ‘Mad’ Kurtis Chapman appeared on the screen. His message? A challenge to Minoru Suzuki at Uprising. Cue nervous laughter from the crowd. ‘Why would he do that?!’ might be your first reaction. I have no idea but I can’t wait to see what happens.

Gisele Shaw defeated Tessa Blanchard

It’s no secret that the organisation of Rev Pro’s women’s division has been patchy at best. With a strong champion in the form of Zoe Lucas who, we are told, hasn’t been booked because of her tours in Japan, and without any matches really built up in the division beneath her until last month’s Queen of the Ring, the division has needed a kick start for some time. However, with the absorption of Southside Wrestling and their strong women’s division, having the super-talented Gisele Shaw versus Impact Wrestling World Title #1 contender Tessa Blanchard as a co-main event is certainly a good place to start in terms of a reboot.

Both competitors received a warm welcome from the York Hall crowd and it was straight down to business. Blanchard and Shaw are no strangers to one another and it showed. With Blanchard mocking Shaw with a wry smile at various points in the match, things soon got pretty brutal as Shaw began to bleed from the mouth after a skirmish outside of the ring.

Shaw’s aerial ability played off well against the power and mat work of Blanchard. After a couple of forays up to the top turnbuckle which didn’t yield much of a result for Blanchard, presumably looking for her Magnum finisher, Shaw was able to regain control and tap out Blanchard for the win. A really good match and definitely worth a look.

British J Cup finals – Fatal Four-Way Elimination match: Michael Oku defeated El Phantasmo, PAC and Robbie Eagles

Another great match where a lot happened. After a short-lived ‘alliance’ between PAC and ELP which allowed them to beat on Oku and Eagles respectively, PAC used a chair on Oku and got himself disqualified.

Various high spots from ELP and PAC dominated the first half of the match. ELP’s top rope-walking was taken to another level when he walked the top rope around the whole ring, dodging two clotheslines from Eagles and then carrying a prone PAC for part of the way. The top-rope walk spot is now done – no one will ever top that. After a punch to his nether regions, Eagles was eliminated by ELP.

With PAC and Eagles gone, it was down to brass tacks for ELP and Michael Oku. Desperation soon set in as ELP simply could not pin Oku in a culmination of a feud that’s been going on for several months. ELP reached for the Styles Clash and even the One-Winged Angel but received no satisfaction.

After a third half-crab attempt, Oku was able to tap out ELP in the middle of the ring and become the third winner of the British J Cup in a much-deserved push for this hot prospect.

His family were at ringside and, after a heartfelt series of hugs, Oku lifted the cup. However, it was not over there as PAC rushed the ring and got the jump on Oku. “Congratulations, Michael”, were the Bastard’s mocking parting words after smashing the cup on the ground outside the ring. Truly shocking.

After a few moments, Michael Oku was on the mic and challenged PAC to a match at Uprising.

This was a great event and just what Rev Pro needs after several misfires in its last offering at York Hall which was, unfortunately, shrouded in controversy after botched endings and near-misses with injuries in two of the matches. With a reasonably packed out York Hall, let’s hope that next month’s Uprising event on Sunday 15th December can keep the momentum going for the company. With appearances from New Japan’s SANADA and Suzuki, it will certainly be a great way to close out 2019.

Images courtesy of Beyond Gorilla