KENNETH HALFPENNY vs. SHAUN JACKSON - 4/10
A solid showing (given the time they got) from both men in their RevPro debuts.
BRENDAN WHITE & GABRIEL KIDD vs. DAN MAGEE & KURTIS CHAPMAN - 6.75/10
It was nice to see the undercard given so much time. That being said, with a match going this long (they went over fifteen minutes) I'd have hoped for something a little better, but for a cold match with a bunch of young guys of whom most of them have nothing going on right now to make us care about them, it was at least nice to see management give them a vote of confidence so that hopefully someone like Chapman will actually get another storyline at some point.
MK MCKINNAN vs. CHRIS BROOKES - no rating, didn't happen, also a TERRIBLE segment
This was the originally-scheduled match, but El Phantasmo came out and complained about not having a match. He said that the last time he didn't have a match was back at Live in Bristol in January. On that show he was scheduled to face Will Ospreay but Ospreay got injured by Chris Brookes so, after El Phantasmo came out to save Ospreay, MK McKinnan suggested that his match against Brookes that night become a three-way, and also a Falls Count Anywhere Match, simply because it was RevPro's debut in Bristol, and everyone went along with it.
Tonight, El Phantasmo noted that he once again does not have a match, and suggests that because "Southampton is just as cool as Bristol" they do the same thing tonight that they did in Bristol. Brookes grabbed the mic and not only rejected this proposal, but also buried Southampton because cheap heat. His idea rejected, El Phantasmo just walked away. McKinnan then grabbed the mic and said he liked El Phantasmo's idea, then he attacked Brookes and the bell rang, and the referee just went along with the idea that this was now a three-way Fall Count Anywhere Match.
Where do I even start with this mess?
1. El Phantasmo's delivery here was terrible. He came off like a douchebag trying way too hard to act cool rather than someone who actually is cool.
2. In Bristol, there was a reason El Phantasmo was at the building even though he didn't have a match scheduled anymore: His scheduled opponent had to pull out due to injury and it was too late for him to find a new booking. They also created a reason for us to want to see him in a match against Chris Brookes: Brookes injured Will Ospreay and El Phantasmo came out to make the save, setting up a conflict between them. Here, El Phantasmo is at this show even though he never had a match booked, and just figured he'd come out here and be able to get the card changed the way he wanted. He talk to the f*cking promoter or anything, he just sauntered out here like a douchebag and figured that everyone would go along with what he wanted.
3. Why does he want to have a Falls Count Anywhere Match? So far as I can tell he has no real issue with any of these guys, there was no precipitating situation where one of them ran away from any of the others to force a match where he can go wherever he wants to hunt the coward down, no anything to build up to this at all. So we are left to conclude that El Phantasmo wants this match to use Falls Count Anywhere rules because... he enjoyed it so much last time, I guess? Gimmick matches are supposed to be serious and dangerous. They're not something someone should want to do just because!
4. El Phantasmo's actual stated logic here is even worse if you try to take it seriously. He said he wanted to do the same match as Bristol because "Southampton is just as cool as Bristol." Well then by that logic if you don't offer to have this same match in every f*cking city you go to, you are telling the fans in that city that they are not cool enough to merit seeing this match in their city.
5. Chris Brookes clearly rejected this idea, but then McKinnan can just overrule him? Who died and put him in charge? Even any sort of stupid idea that a match's stipulations can be changed if a majority of wrestlers in the match agree to it doesn't work here because the original match is just Brookes vs. McKinnan, so El Phantasmo shouldn't get a vote.
6. As you might remember, I tore the aforementioned Bristol match to pieces in my review, and a large part of that was simply because RevPro's camera crew was not equipped to handle such a match, and we spent the majority of the time that they were actually making use of the situation just staring at fans' backs. Based on what I've seen from them in the intervening three months, I have zero confidence that they have fixed this problem.
Segments with a bait-and-switch like this always make me ask why the booker thought it was a better idea to book a bait-and-switch resulting in giving the crowd a theoretically bigger match than what you announced instead of just announcing the bigger (and thus theoretically better-drawing) match in the first place. While I am a believer that bait-and-switches should be minimized, I do believe that they can sometimes be justified if it is to the ultimate benefit of the storylines.
For example, the originally-advertised main event for ROH Injustice II was Nigel McGuinness defending the ROH World Title against Austin Aries, while Tyler Black was going to wrestle Jimmy Jacobs. We wound up getting a segment in which Aries got angry at the fans and insisted that he get his title shot in another city on a bigger show, Tyler came out and said he'd take the title match tonight if Aries didn't want it, Jacobs and Aries attacking Tyler and Jay Briscoe making the save, resulting in the card being changed to Aries vs. Jacobs vs. Briscoe and then Tyler vs. Nigel for the title in the main event (with Tyler getting a title shot because management didn't want to disappoint the fans via not delivering a world title match when one was advertised). These changes allowed for a segment in which Aries could explain his heel turn from two shows ago, the three-way between Aries, Briscoe, and Jacobs to show off the new "frenemies" relationship between Aries and Jacobs, plus a way to solidify Tyler as the new top babyface, having gotten cheered for a long time but only officially turning face when Jacobs and then Aries turned on him at Final Battle 2008 two shows prior... and, with the benefit of hindsight, we also now realize that all of this, combined with the booking of the main event of previous night's show, was done to set up a mirroring situation five months later at the weekend of Contention and Manhattan Mayhem III, where Tyler would again beat the ROH World Champion cleanly in the main event of a non-title match on a Friday night show in Manassas, then, after another Tyler/Jimmy undercard match bait-and-switch-esque situation (the match did happen, but it was a First Blood Match that went about three minutes), Tyler announced he was cashing in an MITB-style title shot he had earned at Caged Collision to get himself added to the world title match main event, and thus once again wound up with a world title shot in the main event of a show where the originally advertised main event was Austin Aries challenging for the ROH World Title in a singles match (see all of the mirroring going on?) in an effort to convince fans in the building at Manhattan Mayhem that this would surely be Tyler's night (and, as someone who was in the building that night, I can confidently say that it this plan definitely worked.
(And while we're on the subject of the mirroring here, three other things that either might not have been intentional or I'm sure if I'm remembering correctly, but:
1. I believe that MITB-style title shot that Tyler used to be added to this match came about as a result of management punishing Aries for trying to put off his title shot at Injustice II by making him have to earn it back.
2. The Manhattan Mayhem III main event paid off the idea of Aries wanting his title shot in a big city on the main event of a major show rather than in Edison, NJ, which was one of his reasons for trying to back out of the originally-scheduled title shot at Injustice II.
3. The main event of Injustice II had some interference that spiraled into a big schmoz at a point when it looked like Tyler was about to win, and the main event for Manhattan Mayhem III had a special enforcer at ringside to prevent such a thing from starting.)
Anyway, that's an example of how a bait-and-switch can help a product. That's good booking. What we have here in RevPro seems to be a segment designed purely to get some cheap pops and cheap heat for tonight by having El Phantasmo but the city over and suggest a gimmick match and for having Brookes bury the city. Having the fans react to a wrestler mentioning their city or to an announcement that they're getting an unexpected gimmick match is nice and all, but it doesn't actually help your business too much. After all, only fans who have already paid for a ticket or streaming subscription are going to be able to see this segment and respond to it. Actually advertising a Falls Count Anywhere Match which includes one of the hottest stars in the promotion (who didn't even have a match for this show advertised) is something that might actually sell some extra tickets or streaming service subscriptions (which is doubly helpful on a show where ZERO of your four champions are wrestling).
Oh. Right. The actual match...
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH:
El Phantasmo vs. MK McKinnan vs. Chris Brookes - 1.75/10
On the bright side, they actually were better equipped to follow the action this time. That was about the only good thing, though, as their brawling looked pathetically soft, and the big spot where El Phantasmo (who had gotten taken out early on) made his big return to the match not only happened outside so 98% of the fans didn't see it, but was also completely anticlimactic, as instead of showing up on a balcony and doing some big dive or popping up from behind a par to put someone in a sleeper hold or dashing over to break up a pin, he merely walked over to the other two and just started throwing some lame punches.
Like the Bristol fiasco, this match did improve once they got back into the ring, but like with that match, I am forced to point out that doing 90% of your nearfalls (and especially your finish) inside the confines of a wrestling wring makes the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation feel completely irrelevant. This didn't feel like a Falls Count Anywhere Match so much as it did a random brawl before they got into the ring and had a five-minute match. Throw in that atrociously hokey rope-walk fireman's carry spot where it is painfully clear that the guy standing in the ring is there to help El Phantasmo keep his balance rather than this ridiculous idea that the way El Phantasmo is grabbing his hand affords El Phantasmo any control over his body (especially when the other guy is grabbing El Phantasmo's hand with one hand and El Phanstamo's wrist with the other, making it look like he has move control over El Phantasmo than El Phantasmo does over him), and you've got yourself another sh*tty match. Can we please not do this again?
JOSH BODOM & SHA SAMUELS vs. AUSSIE OPEN - 6/10
Bodom & Samuels jumped the bell on Aussie Open. The match was a lot of big moves.
AUSSIE OPEN PROMO - A very good go-home promo for their title match against Suzuki-Gun next month.
EMI SAKURA vs. BOBBI TYLER - 4.5/10
Sakura is a comedic babyface who comes off to me a lot more like a heel. Not only did she purposely pull the referee into the way of a move, but she just comes off more like the person who you want to laugh at when she is overconfident and gets thwarted because of it, not someone who you want to laugh with. Tyler, conversely, came off like a rough-and-tumble babyface to me who sold very well. Sakura got the win after showing off her high-flying stuff.
PAC vs. PAUL ROBINSON - 7/10
This was Robinson's first match in RevPro in over five years. These two had a match that just clears my bar for a minimum acceptable main event. The second half was exciting and some of the storytelling in the first half with the young miserable tough bastard vs. older miserable tough bastard dynamic, but PAC spent too much time jawing with the crowd, which slowed the match down just when it felt like it was picking up steam, forcing them to reset a bit.
This was a bad show from RevPro. It was short (under an hour and fifty minutes), felt almost completely irrelevant to all storylines, and didn't have anything that was actually worth the time to see. Having their champions so constantly absent is making so many of RevPro's shows feel like pointless filler, and this was yet another example of that.