Fifteen years ago today Revolution Pro had what many consider one of the greatest moments in its history, the finals of the Spirit of the Revolution tournament. Starting over a month earlier, and really the bigger storyline had been going much longer, throughout multiple promotions in Southern California, July 14, 2001 saw what was probably the best feud in the area come head-to-head once again when Super Dragon and Rising Son faced each other in the finals.
The Spirit of the Revolution tournament was an ambitious tournament for the time. Tournaments were much rarer in indy wrestling at the time, with ECWA’s Super 8 and APW’s first King of the Indies really being some of the only exceptions. What would set the Spirit of the Revolution apart, was while the Super 8 and King of the Indies were single elimination tournaments, Spirit of the Revolution was modeled after New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Juniors in that it was a round robin tournament taking place over seven shows.
On April 27, 2001 at Revolution Pro’s “Brutality” show, then Rev Pro commissioner made the announcement that the Spirit of the Revolution will be starting with Rev Pro’s May 11th show at the Rudos Dojo. The participants were announced to be Super Dragon, Rising Son, Excalibur, Mr. Excitement, Shogun, and El Gallinero. All scheduled for the show was the Blue Meanie. This was set to be Revolution Pro’s biggest show to date.
May 11th came and as fans were showing up at the venue, Revolution Pro was given some bad news. Someone had called the fire marshalls and reported the venue for not being up to code to allow a large number of fans and inadequate plumbing. Years later an EWF fan admitted to being the one to report the show as EWF had a show on the same night. With the show having to be cancelled, Revolution Pro promoter invited every fan who showed up to his house for a BBQ instead. It was announced that the Spirit of the Revolution would be pushed back till May 25th.
While Revolution Pro was able to secure a new venue, the Norwalk Indoor Swap Meet, the start of the tournament was pushed back to June 2nd.
The feud between Super Dragon had started the year prior when Rising Son who was a promising rookie was having some of his better matches when the more veteran Dragon was involved. Son quickly developed into Revolution Pro’s second most popular wrestler, and when Super Dragon got injured and missed significant time Son was the face of Revolution Pro, taking on such names as Juventud Guerrera.
When Dragon came back from injury, he was teamed occasionally with Son, but the setup was they weren’t exactly getting along as each saw themselves as the star of Revolution Pro. In April they faced each other in XPW in a match that would introduce both of them and Revolution Pro to a much larger audience. Super Dragon took the win. You can read more about that match in Andrew’s column here.
With the Spirit of the Revolution being pushed back, Super Dragon and Rising Son then faced each other in a match that introduced them both to MPW. They once again stole the the show in what was named May 2001’s match of the month. Once again Super Dragon was the winner. Rising Son had never beaten Super Dragon to this point.
They next met once again in XPW, when Super Dragon and Excalibur teamed Rising Son and Ultra Taro Jr. on May 26th. Super Dragon got the win again.
June 2nd finally came around and the tournament was set to begin. On top of the tournament, Mexico’s Most Wanted (Damian 666 & Halloween) who were big in XPW at the time were set to face Matt Sinister and Disco Machine in the main event.
The format of the tournament was each wrestler would face each other once in a round robin tournament. A win was worth 3 points, a draw 1 point, and a loss 0.
The opening round of the tournament saw El Gallinero defeat Shogun, who a lot of people thought had an outside chance to make the finals to help push him to the top, Mr. Excitement defeated Rison Son, and Excalibur defeated Super Dragon in what ended up being June 2001’s match of the month. After the first round, the three wrestlers who most expected to be the favorites to make the finals had lost.
The second stage on June 9th saw Mr. Excitement defeat El Gallinero, Super Dragon defeat Shogun, and Rising Son defeat Excalibur. After two rounds Mr. Excitement was in the lead with 6 points, with everyone else but Shogun having 3 points.
Stage three had one of the more interesting moments of the group stage. After Super Dragon defeated El Gallinero and Rising Son defeated Shogun, Mr. Excitement and Excalibur went to a double count out. Each match had a 30 minute time limit, and the match was booked to be a time limit draw. The referee, Jason McCord knew that it was going to end in a draw, but didn’t know that it was going to the time limit. After about 27 minutes both wrestlers ended up on the outside of the ring and the ref counted them out. After the third stage Mr. Excitement was still in the lead with 7 points, and Shogun all but eliminated still sitting at 0.
The fourth stage on June 23rd saw Excalibur defeat El Gallinero, Shogun finally getting a win defeating the leader in Mr. Excitement, and once again Super Dragon defeating Rising Son.
The fifth stage was set with Super Dragon having 9 points. Mr. Excitement and Excalibur with 7, and Rising Son with 6. Rising Son needed a win and both Excalibur and Mr. Excitement to lose. For Dragon, Excalibur, and Excitement, it was win and you are in.
Rising Son took care of business first, defeating El Gallinero. He was now sitting at 9 points. Shogun managed to pull out the upset against Excalibur, leaving Excalibur at 7 points and Shogun at 6. It was now down to Mr. Excitement versus Super Dragon. While they had a really good, stiff match, Super Dragon ended up the winner setting up Rising Son taking on the man he could not beat once again in Super Dragon.
With XPW running a show on July 7th, the finals were pushed back till July 14th. On the 7th Revolution Pro did have a tag match where Shogun and El Gallinero defeated Mr. Excitement and Excalibur. Also on that show Jason Allgood defeated Matt Sinister for the Rev Pro Mexican Lucha Libre Heavyweight title.
On July 14th Super Dragon and Rising Son were to meet once again in the Spirit of the Revolution finals in a two out of three falls match. In the match they went back to all of their previous matches, playing off sequences that went on before. If this would have been the first time you saw the two of them face each other, it was a great match. If you had been watching this feud develop, it was a masterpiece. Up to that point no one had ever kicked out of Super Dragon’s finisher, the Psycho Driver. During the third fall when Rising Son did, the crowd went absolutely nuts. When Rising Son got the win the emotion in the crowd was crazy. Rising Son’s family was there and they were in tears. Super Dragon and Rising Son had faced each other around 15 times before this point, and he finally got his victory.
After this Revolution Pro had a lot of great moments, later that summer they had the first Revolution J tournament, but the emotion of the Spirit of the Revolution was never equaled. This was not only a tournament that built up over 7 weeks, but over a year, across multiple promotions. The finals finished second in the 2001 Southern California match of the year voting, behind Super Dragon and B-Boys match later that year in MPW. Super Dragon had become the biggest star in Southern California and for awhile Rising Son wasn’t far behind. Mr. Excitement was already a really good wrestler prior to the tournament but Excalibur started to get a lot more hype after and became one of the top local wrestlers before becoming an even better commentator. Shogun retired after a few years and El Gallinero was really the only weak link in the tournament, as none of his matches were very good. He later became Cyberspace and the El Gallinero gimmick was passed on to other wrestlers, notably Scorpio Sky and later Matt Jackson.
As far as the Spirit of the Revolution’s legacy today, you could argue that the tournament was the seeds that lead to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. The tournament was put together by Super Dragon, as he planned the entire thing. The success of it later lead to him wanting to plan another tournament that later became the beginning of PWG when he started discussing it with the rest of the PWG six.