El Phantasmo vs David Starr: The Feud That Reignited British Wrestling

The indie Rock vs Austin. Probably.

It’s hard to find a conversation about the British Independent scene that doesn’t somehow bring it back to NXT UK. Ever since the almighty WWE’s developmental brand signed their British talent to exclusive contracts, fans assumed the worst for the BritWres scene, with the likes of British Strong Style, Travis Banks and Flash Morgan Webster all now banished from appearing at your local community centre. There didn’t seem to be any hope for smaller brands not strictly affiliated with WWE, like Revolution Pro, who are now having to survive without mainstream attractions.

One thing I think we’ve all learned over the past few months is that you should never count out independent wrestlers, who will continue to strive to outperform the big leagues. Two men, two true diamonds in the rough rose above all expectations and redefined the British wrestling scene with a phenomenal series of matches as part of Revolution Pro Wrestling – El Phantasmo and David Starr.

A feud that revolved around the British Cruiserweight Championship which David Starr first captured from Kurtis Chapman at Epic Encounter 2018. A reign that would last for almost a year. David Starr, the spiteful champion, quickly became a highlight of every RPW show. Meanwhile, El Phantasmo was busy proving himself as one of the hottest high-flying prospects in the division, winning over crowds everywhere he went. Phantasmo would soon find himself across the ring from modern-day greats such as Will Ospreay, Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger and Zack Sabre Jr. ELP would later go on to win the British J Cup in 2018, putting him at the front of the contender’s line for Starr’s Cruiserweight title.

El Phantasmo

The two competed in numerous title matches across the country, stealing show after show. Despite ELP’s best efforts, Starr would always find a way to sneak away with the win. Fans were clamouring to see Starr’s comeuppance at the hands of ‘The Headbanger’. At this year’s edition of Epic Encounter, almost a year to the day after Starr won the championship, a newly designed title belt was hung above the ring as the two headlined a show in a gruesome ladder match for the ages.

Both individuals left absolutely everything in the ring as they brought their take on the classic ladder match to life, spicing it up with tropes of the deathmatch wrestling style. It was a true testament to the continued success of BritWres as blood spilled across York Hall, amongst the broken tables, chairs and piles of thumbtacks.

British wrestling has always been an exciting genre, bringing together all aspects of what makes professional wrestling so darn fun to watch. One thing it does excel in is its hardcore matches, bringing in the best brawlers and deathmatch wrestlers to do their best to maim one another. To many people’s surprise, David Starr is one of those names. Never one to shy away from laying in a pool of his own blood, Starr finally brought his flavour of deathmatch wrestling to the UK as part of this hyped match. ‘Davey Deathmatch’ was a complete antithesis to the David Starr that we’ve come to know and hate.

Bringing that alter-ego to London was the cute red ribbon that tied this match together. Almost like when Finn Balor dons the paint to become ‘The Demon King’, it adds that extra layer to a match, making it feel like even more of a spectacle. Credit to El Phantasmo too for taking some gnarly bumps throughout the match, bringing back that grudge match vibe that seems to be missing from a lot of professional wrestling these days.

So, for anyone who might still be thinking that a British wrestling scene without Pete Dunne is one that will fall back into the pits it crawled out of, consider yourself proved wrong. ELP and David Starr showed the world that the independents are in good hands. Phantasmo and Starr rejuvenated a lot of fans faith in a year where British and European wrestling was being picked apart. That’s something that I’m not sure a lot of other feuds could do.

Both ELP and David Starr have been showered with success across the world since this feud took off. With Starr’s emotional win at Progress’ Super Strong Style 16 Tournament and El Phantasmo’s debut with The Bullet Club, there’s no doubt that these two men are going to lead the indies into a new era. I’d jump on this bandwagon now, because it’s going to some real exciting places.

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