When I was young I went to a good few independent British wrestling events with my dad and younger brother in tow. The product on offer was a mishmash of past-it heavyweights, wafer-thin lightweights and at least four WWF “tribute” acts (which always had a Kane and a Doink in there). Simply put, the standard was terrible.
Fast forward to 2014 and British wrestling is thriving. Top international stars are joined by the best young talent from these shores to put on cards that rival any independent wrestling show anywhere else in the world. There’s not a single sniff of hyperbole in that last sentence, just take a look at Revolution Pro Wrestling for instance.
There’s no magic formula to create a perfect wrestling card, but there are some key ingredients that greatly improve the chance of succeeding. It’s an ingredient list that RPW’s promoter Andy Quildan has stuck to for the promotion’s premier events that take place London’s historic York Hall venue. Top international stars plus the cream of British talent, squaring off in competitive, leave-nothing-at-home bouts, and the odd superstar pulling power to splash on front of the poster.
At the most recent RPW event “The Summer Sizzler” there were no fewer than four guys you could label as on a world champion-level (Kevin Steen, Adam Cole, Shinsuke Nakamura and Prince Devitt). Each of them went out and put on a fantastic showing in front of a knowledgeable, super-passionate crowd. Just look at some of the matches:
I’ve only been going to RPW events since I moved to England around 14 months ago, but in that short time I’ve seen the above, plus Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi, the Young Bucks, the Inner City Machine Guns, Jay Lethal, Colt Cabana and Michael Elgin.
No matter how well you do pulling in international stars for the odd big show, it’s the home-grown talent who keep the wheels turning in between – and RPW’s roster really is exceptional. Current Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion ‘Party’ Marty Scurll has made amazing strides as he continues to hone both his in-ring skills and his cocky, ego-driven persona. Having overcome a serious shoulder injury shortly into his title reign, the summer looks set to be his.
Scurll is also the leader of the Revolutionists, an alliance that includes former tag champions Sha Samuels & Terry Frazier. Frazier makes up for his rangy, thin appearance with an intensity that genuinely unsettles those in the front row – an intensity often boiling over into going literally head-to-head with his detractors during matches. Along with fellow wind-up merchant Sha Samuels, he’s provoking intense reaction from the crowd. The Revolutionists, and their heelish ways, should only get better to watch as they continue to gel.
One thing that was always lacking from the British wrestling shows I went to as a kid was some decent high flying action (a half-arsed senton bomb does not a classic junior heavyweight match make). With the Swords of Essex, RPW has that base covered and then some. Paul Robinson and Will Osprey provide a more than ample amount of air traffic and didn’t look out of place in a career-highlight classic against the Inner City Machine Guns earlier in the year. The recent Summer Sizzler match of Osprey and Jake McCluskey against Irish high flyers 2 Unlimited also thrilled the crowd, and whet the appetite for more clashes between the two teams.
With NJPW golden boy Kazuchika Okada (and, er, a Too Cool reunion) to come in October, the next major card for RPW is off to a promising start. Here’s hoping the promotion can continue to put on great cards and give the exceptional local talent a chance to show the rest that the UK wrestling scene can do it just as well as anyone else. If you can get to London, you really show take in an RPW show.
Watch for: The opportunity to see the best new UK talent performing alongside some of the world’s best.
Recommended viewing: RPW shows are available on DVD from their official store. Particular highlights include Uprising 2013 (Tanahashi vs Scurll; Devitt vs Ricochet; Zack Sabre Jr vs Davey Richards) and High Stakes 2014 (Swords of Essex vs Inner City Machine Guns; Young Bucks vs Project Ego).
Got a promotion in the UK I should be checking out? Get in touch via past.the.pixels(@)gmail.com.