With the reinvention of NXT and indy stars like Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamaru trailblazing a now well-worn path in to the WWE, independent wrestling has never been hotter.
Accessing the bombastic and/or technically grounded style on the indies has never been easier, either. Companies like WCPW offer the action for free on their YouTube channel, and as previously mentioned, NXT have re-stylised the action to create their own brand available on the WWE Network. Of course, this boom in popularity and accessibility has wide ranging benefits for a number of promotions, and UK-based Revolution Pro Wrestling is certainly one of them – what’s disappointing, however, is that among the fervour for the renaissance in independent wrestling, RevPro haven’t quite been given the credit they deserve.
Since founding the promotion in 2012, promoter Andy Quildan has been quietly sowing the seeds for many of the trademarks of the new independent wrestling scene. Amongst the most prominent poster boys for the new era are “The Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay and “The Villain” Marty Scurll. Neither man began their careers with the company, but certainly found their careers taking off thanks to the exposure RevPro offered them. Both men were given the chance to shine on a larger platform in high-profile matches against the likes of AJ Styles, Ricochet, Matt Sydal, Kevin Owens and Shelton Benjamin. Their lengthy runs as British Cruiserweight and Undisputed British Heavyweight champions respectively offered them the exposure and long-term investment that many promotions, especially those based in the UK, couldn’t offer at the time.
Part of their success was the working relationship established with some of the more prominent companies working on the continent and even those further afield. Establishing partnerships with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre opened the door for international stars to make their mark on the UK wrestling scene, and in return, for UK wrestlers to take centre stage against some of the biggest names in the world. In fact, it was Ospreay’s match against “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada for Revolution Pro that inspired the 2017 PWI Wrestler of the Year to recommend the Englishman to NJPW officials.
That’s not to say that RevPro’s success has all been down to international imports, however. At heart, Revolution Pro Wrestling looks for the best and brightest on the UK scene. Ospreay and Scurll may be two of the most notable, but other staples of the UK scene like Sha Samuels, Josh Bodom and NXT’s Killian Dain – formerly Big Damo – have all at one time or another been woven in to the company’s fabric.
RevPro also runs its own school, based out of Portsmouth, run by both Andy Quildan and former multi-time champion Andy Simmonz. Students are afforded the opportunity to not only learn from the pair, but also from guest teachers such as Colt Cabana. Already we have seen RevPro grads such as James Castle, Psycho Phil and Lord Gideon Grey make the jump from the local shows in Portsmouth to the main roster, with more waiting in the wings. Names like Rob Lias, Dan Magee and Zoe Lucas don’t seem all too far behind.
Those looking to break in to the business can see a clear path to the bright lights of the York Hall. The students cut their teeth on a series of local shows in Portsmouth, usually emanating from community centres. These shows aren’t just for the trainees, however – AJ Styles, Carlito, Alberto El Patron and others have all made appearances on Portsmouth shows for the company, giving fans a chance to see the notable stars up close and in person. The next tier of shows, though, is the London Cockpit. These shows feel more like the RevPro equivalent of Monday Night RAW – stories are developed, trusted stars are booked and a commentary team preside over the action. The final tier of shows are generally based out of their spiritual home of York Hall in Bethnal Green – this is where the big boys come to play. Famous moments witnessed within the walls of the Hall include Finn Balor’s Bane-inspired entrance, the UK debut of Kazuchika Okada and the final RevPro appearance of then-champion AJ Styles before his departure for the WWE.
RevPro also have a monthly subscription service available to fans unable to witness the action first hand. Despite it since falling by the wayside, the company also pioneered a free YouTube show, known as RevPro TV, back in 2014 – a concept taken on to even greater heights by WCPW.
All in all, Revolution Pro Wrestling seemed largely to embody all that is great with independent wrestling before independent wrestling was cool. Although certainly not the only company of its kind, RevPro were able to help establish a new wave of wrestlers and popularise a movement in 2013 that is enjoying a pronounced boom period today. Certainly RevPro cannot take all the credit for that, but it certainly deserves to be recognised for one of the driving forces in the move to expose the wrestling world not only to the independent style, but to stars they may never have had access to before.
Ultimately, Revolution Pro Wrestling has anchored its self at the very heart of the modern independent wrestling boom, and played a huge part in the evolution of notable stars both in and out of the WWE. Its traits like these that have seen RevPro become a staple in modern UK wrestling, and are likely to remain as such for many years to come.