Friday, July 14, 2017

RevPro British J Cup Review

RevPro British J Cup
July 8th, 2017 | Walthamstow Assembly Hall in Walthamstow, Greater London

The Super J-Cup in Japan is the most famous junior heavyweight tournament, with the annual Best of the Super Juniors in NJPW being right up there. RevPro threw their name in the hat with this inaugural British J Cup. Eight of the top juniors from around the world would compete in four singles matches, with the winners meeting in an elimination four way to determine the first British J Cup winner.

British J Cup First Round: Marty Scurll vs. Tiger Mask IV
The ring announcer wisely noted that Tiger Mask did win back to back BOTSJ tournaments at one point. Marty refused a handshake, so Tiger Mask refused the “too sweet”. After some early back and forth, Marty went for the finger snap spot, but Tiger wisely grabbed the ropes. I’ve never seen anyone do that. Marty held serve, with Tiger Mask finding openings for hope spots like the Tiger Driver. He blocked the Chicken Wing, only to get his fingers snapped. Marty then used the Mouse Trap, which is a pinning combination, to get the three at 11:56. Solid opener. The crowd was into it, though they were a bit too pro-Marty, which hurt some of his heel stuff. It also felt too one-sided for going as long as it did. [**½]

British J Cup First Round: Josh Bodom vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
Liger got a thunderous ovation. Bodom attacked quickly with a cheap big boot. He got a quick near and arrogantly toyed with the legend. Liger fought back with a superplex, Shotei and Liger Bomb for a near fall. A brainbuster later and Liger got the win at 2:21. The crowd absolutely ate that up. Not much of a match to rate, but it was a great moment. The cocky Bodom got what was coming to him. You don’t fuck with a legend like Liger. [NR]

British J Cup First Round: KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O’Reilly
This is one of my favorite rivalries in wrestling. Their two BOTSJ matches in 2015 and 2016 both got ****½ from me and they had a match on ROH TV last year that also nearly cracked four stars. KUSHIDA came in as the ROH TV and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Lots of mat work between two guys who know each other so well. We got an appearance of SLEAZY KYLE, which was combated by SLEAZY KUSHIDA! Considering the length of the last match, and the slow approach they took here, you could tell this was gonna last long. KUSHIDA had the arm targeted, while Kyle went after the leg. Everything they did felt like a struggle, in a good way. It was all earned. Kyle was brilliant, catching KUSHDIA in a choke, but doing all he could to reach and transition to an ankle lock since he worked the leg. It’s the little things, folks. They moved into a strike exchange similar to the BOTSJ ’15 match. KUSHIDA eventually took Kyle off the top into an awesome Hoverboard Lock. Kyle kneed free, only for a knee to get countered into Back to the Future, giving KUSHIDA the win at 21:27. These two can’t have a bad match. It started slow, but built to some furious action. Great limb work, selling and exchanges. Their chemistry never fails to deliver. [****]

British J Cup First Round: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Will Ospreay
Positive reaction for the “Funky Weapon” here. The last match was a BOTSJ 2015 finals rematch and this was a 2016 finals rematch. On that night, we got a more serious, big match version of Taguchi. Here, he was in playful mode and Ospreay was more than happy to follow suit. For example, Ospreay poured Red Bull down Taguchi’s throat, which fired up the Taguchi Japan leader, only for him to crash. The “Funky Weapon” was exposed and Taguchi used it to sit on Ospreay’s face. Yes, you read that correctly. Ospreay managed to pick up the win with an awkward looking Oscutter at 13:26. Fun little match. Nowhere near the quality of their BOTSJ finals match as they opted for a lighter, comedy route. [**½]

John Wall and Kurtis Chapman vs. The Tempura Boyz
For those unaware, the Tempura Boyz are Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu from the New Japan Dojo. This was their first match in RevPro and the first major show appearance for Wall and Chapman. Chapman looks like Zack Sabre Jr., except he’s somehow way skinnier. He took the beating here, as the Tempura Boyz took joy in working him over. Tanaka and Komatsu work so well together. Their chemistry was clear from the start. Wall’s hot tag was solid and he impressed, before Chapman ended up getting dominated again. He did sell a package piledriver like death, which was appreciated. That move ended things at 9:33. Decent showcase for the Tempura Boyz, while giving the local guys a few moments to shine. [**¼]

BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi vs. CCK
DARYL! Hiromu’s stuffed cat got a huge pop and even a “Daryl” chant. CCK was Chris Brookes and Travis (TRAVIS, TRAVIS FUCKING) Banks. Their Tag Titles weren’t on the line here. There was some fine back and forth in this one, with each team getting in some signature stuff. I liked BUSHI and Hiromu utilizing a double STF on Brookes. I realized here that I would give almost anything to see a singles match between Hiromu and Travis Banks. The LIDJ guys worked so well together. If Hiromu isn’t getting another IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title reign soon, give them the Jr. Tag Titles. More interesting than the same few teams rotating with the belts. This was just picking up when Hiromu hit a low blow and BUSHI spit the mist for the DQ finish at 8:30. I’m hoping there’s a rematch coming soon. That was fun while it lasted until the finish. [**¾]

The third CCK member, Kid Lykos, showed up to help make the save for his buddies.

Matt Riddle vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Nothing against the British J Cup, but this was why I made it a point to watch this show. This was exactly what you’d expect. They traded brutal strikes throughout and fired up after some of their big offense, including German suplexes. The intensity out of the gates was off the charts. The quality dipped towards the middle thanks to a few miscues and some slow down. Despite that, the strikes were always vicious and the crowd was engaged in everything. They wanted to see who would hit harder. Riddle has a famous UFC knockout under his belt, yet Ishii dared him to hit him harder. Ishii brought headbutts and a brutal lariat, before Riddle caught a kick and nailed the Tombstone for a great near fall. He followed with the PK and fisherman buster, yet Ishii wouldn’t die. Ishii scored with a brainbuster to put Riddle away at 11:17, winning a magnificent sprint. They played to their strengths and delivered the kind of match I wanted, but something was missing to put it over the top for me. It was damn good, but I’ve seen much better from both guys in 2017. Still, definitely worth checking out. [***¾]

British J Cup Finals Elimination Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. KUSHIDA vs. Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay
All four guys competed in the BOTSJ this year. Marty was a dick early, antagonizing everyone and getting beat up for it. They brought some fun into is, as Marty used his umbrella on Liger following a ref bump. He tossed it to Ospreay, a la Eddie Guerrero, causing KUSHIDA to think Ospreay did it. That led to a great sequence where Scurll and KUSHIDA teamed up against Ospreay. They’re not a common pairing, so I was into it. KUSHIDA and Ospreay re-did their Oscutter counter into a springboard armbar spot, though it didn’t come off as cleanly here. In a surprising moment, KUSHIDA was the first one eliminated when Marty used the Mouse Trap to get rid of him. Liger kept getting dumped outside, leaving this to be Scurll vs. Ospreay. They’ve had some wars in the past. Ospreay tried a Rainmaker, so Scurll tried Cross Rhodes, both taking moves from their stablemates. After another ref bump and some more wildness, Scurll used the Mouse Trap again, this time to eliminate Ospreay. The final stretch between Liger and Scurll was good, with the crowd fully behind the legend against the villain. Shotei was countered into a finger snap that led to a great Mouse Trap near fall. Liger kicked out a brainbuster at one before hitting his own to win the first British J Cup at 23:00. A fun main event with the right amount of shenanigans and exchanges, before a good finishing stretch. Liger overcoming the villain who had outsmarted everyone else was a good story to tell and Liger was a great choice for the first winner. [***½]

Overall: 7/10. It clocks in at the typical 2.5 hours, yet this show felt like it flew by, which is a good thing. The tournament features strong matches and nothing on the card is bad. Riddle/Ishii wasn’t quite what I hoped for, but still a damn good match between two guys who meshed well together. The finals delivered, while it was cool to see the Tempura Boyz and the BUSHI/Hiromu tandem. If pressed for time, check out KUSHIDA/O’Reilly and Ishii/Riddle.