INTERVIEW: Michael Oku reflects on RevPro Heavyweight Title win, talks Copper Box show, Josh Alexander calling him out

Originally published at INTERVIEW: Michael Oku reflects on RevPro Heavyweight Title win, talks Copper Box show, Josh Alexander calling him out

For the first time in Michael Oku’s career, he became Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion. He bested Great-O-Khan at the promotion’s Epic Encounters event on July 9th.

With the victory, Oku ended O-Khan’s five-year undefeated streak in the United Kingdom. I had the opportunity to chat with Oku and he described the feeling of winning the title as ‘unreal’.

He shared that his first match in RevPro was against Great-O-Khan and it was a squash that he was on the losing end of.

Exactly that (the title win feels like it happened at the right time). I think that’s what makes it feel really special… There’s a lot of people that have either won the Heavyweight Title and that’s their first title they won or maybe they won something else and then it’s straight to the Heavyweight Title. But for me, I ticked every box in terms of every stop I made on the way to getting the Heavyweight Title where there were times where I felt like it just wasn’t gonna happen. I just had to think that my role was to be the face of the company but not the face of the company. Secretly representing them but not have the top prize. That’ll be reserved for other people. So there were moments where I was like, ‘Oh well, if it happens, it’ll be cool.’ That’s me kind of thinking that it won’t happen. So for it to finally be like, here’s the nod of approval, here’s the stamp, the official title of Heavyweight Champ and by doing it, it makes the Grand Slam Champ in saying that I’ve done everything in RevPro. That’s what makes it really, really cool because again, like you said, I looked at the belt when I won it, you hear the reaction and it just made me think, oh my gosh, it’s actually happening. It’s actually happened to where I’ve made it to the point where I’m at the pinnacle of RevPro and people are happy that I am and it’s really like here’s the start of a new chapter. Here’s the beginning of a new chapter in a sense so it’s exciting to see where we go from here but at the same time, living in the moment and smelling the roses, it feels unreal.

Zero losses for five years (Oku said about Great-O-Khan’s streak in the UK). My debut in RevPro was against the Great-O-Khan and it was about a one minute, 30 second match and it’s just poetic… And that was in 2018 so that was kind of the start of the undefeated career in RevPro and I have just an opportunity and I think that’s the best example of maximize your minutes or seconds in that case of like, I was just a body, Andy (Quildan) just needed a body and he booked me the day before because I was helping out in the middle of the day, set up for the TV taping that he was doing and he’s just like, ‘Are you good enough to get beat up for two minutes?’ ‘Yep,’ and it was my goal to be basically the best jobber possible for that role and that was enough for him to then try and give me further opportunities and it really was from that one match that everything snowballed from there and essentially to this moment where all the stars aligned where the person with the undefeated streak is wrestling the guy who has one more thing left to do in RevPro which is win the Heavyweight Title and it’s the guy that he wrestled in York Hall in his debut. What’s gonna happen? So, again, it’s crazy that the stars aligned in a way that nobody would have even planned to have happen.

Coming up on August 26th is RevPro’s biggest show to date. It is their 11th Anniversary Show at Copper Box Arena in London, England.

Oku is scheduled to defend his title against Trent Seven. Also on the marquee is a singles match between former IWGP World Heavyweight Champions Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi. The question of who should close the show was asked and Oku explained why he thinks Ospreay versus Shingo should headline.

He stated that people are coming into the country and may want to see an attraction bout such as Ospreay versus Shingo. Oku admitted that he doesn’t know if he wants to follow that match either.

Of course, of course in theory (I feel I should be closing the RevPro 11th Anniversary Show). The British Heavyweight Champ, the title match should be last. It’s the question of do I want to follow Will Ospreay versus Shingo (Takagi)? And that’s honestly what it is and it’s an interesting thing because this last York Hall show, I did indeed follow Will Ospreay versus Leon Slater and I don’t mean they were on — it’s the first half of the main event and it was a break. No, it was a one-two punch. Will versus Leon Slater and then me versus Great-O-Khan and at that time, I was like, ‘Yeah, this will work’ because what you don’t want is that the fans to be like, mhm, no, no, no. We’re leaving disappointed. We would have been on a higher note if Will was the main event. But I think because the stakes that were involved was so high for this York Hall show and they really, really wanted this title victory, because that happened, it was okay for that to usurp Will versus Leon which they did do some build up to it. They had been building some things up, but I don’t really think the fans were invested in terms of who won more than they were just to be like, wow, this is gonna be a sick match, Having said that, for this Copper Box show, I think because we’re gonna have so many fans flying in from around the world, the question is what match are they looking forward to the most and I’d be foolish to (not) think that people from around the world are gonna be most anticipating on that card for Will Ospreay versus Shingo because again, they’ve done it a few times, but this is the first time they’re doing it outside of Japan and I think they’ve had maybe three or four singles matches. Only that first one which was the Best of Super Juniors final, that’s the only one that was in front of a crowd. So this would be the second one in front of a crowd because all the others happened during the pandemic. So, although I was happy to be in the main event of this York Hall one, I think it should be us then them. I think it should be Heavyweight Title then Will and Shingo and I’m fine with that. There’s no — put my ego aside.

The day after RevPro’s 11th Anniversary Show is AEW’s All In event at Wembley Stadium. The company has sold over 78,000 tickets thus far. Oku stated that he has a competitive mindset when it comes to thinking it won’t be a foregone conclusion that All In will be better than the Anniversary Show.

Hell, I’ll say it, I think my goal is in a completely healthy, competitive sense is for the weekend to be over and for people who went to both shows to be wondering which show was better. I don’t think it’ll be a foregone conclusion that the AEW show will be better than the RevPro show. So I know everyone on that card is gonna give it their all to compete in that sense and leave people being like, well, yes, we came from a different side of the world for AEW. But, Revolution Pro Wrestling is something we’re gonna need to keep our eyes on in the future.

This October, IMPACT Wrestling is scheduled to run events in the UK. On Twitter, former IMPACT World Champion Josh Alexander mentioned Oku and Leon Slater as names he’d be interested in seeing when IMPACT heads overseas.

Oku and Alexander were scheduled to go one-on-one at WrestleCon’s Mark Hitchcock Memorial SuperShow this year, but Alexander went down with a torn tricep. Oku is game for either a tag match against IMPACT talents or to get his singles against Alexander.

I just thought of a four-person team (to go up against IMPACT talents). Me, Robbie X, Man Like DeReiss and Leon Slater… Oh my gosh, yeah. They’re coming to the U.K. and it’s cool that one of their top guys, I think he (Josh Alexander) was like officially the longest reigning IMPACT Champion. He’s just outright saying — I think the tweet was, ‘Come at me OJMO and Leon Slater’ so we’re the two. We’re the two that he knows. If you’re coming to the U.K. and you wanna test yourself, we’re the two that you wanna call out and like you said, that injury happened and stopped that match from happening between me and Josh and he was World Champ at the time. It would have been a really cool thing, me wrestling the IMPACT World Champion. I think he remembers that and I definitely do. In Dallas, we had a big six-man at the Mark Hitchcock SuperShow. So we interacted then and I remember after that, I’m like, I wanna wrestle Josh Alexander in a singles. So the fact that it nearly happened, it’s like, ugh, but didn’t. It was real frustrating but here he is. He’s coming to the U.K., coming to my home country. He wants to wrestle me… It’s not just me being like, please, please, I wanna wrestle (Oku laughed). It’s him calling me out and that’s wonderful. So, aye, if we can make it happen, let’s make it happen for sure.

A former IMPACT X Division Champion that Oku has mixed it up with on multiple occasions is ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey.

Oku heaped praise onto Bailey and stated that he’s the reason he started having great matches. He went on to explain what Bailey has taught him about match psychology.

I 100 percent credit ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey for me starting to have great matches. He was the guy that gave me the blueprint of how to look at wrestling matches because the going thing, as you know, he was pretty much a regular here in the U.K., for a while, and the running joke was, ‘You can try as hard as you want, but if you’re on the card with Speedball Mike Bailey, he’s having the best match of the show.’ So it made sense for me in the infancy of my career to go to him and say, let me ask that guy for advice on how to have better matches and he gave me the blueprint of how he approaches matches and how to approach putting my own moves together because as well, if I look at my move-set, it really hasn’t changed in the last five years really but what’s changed is learning how to perfect where to put them and at the right time of a match and I guess it’s match psychology and that’s what he taught me is his philosophy on match psychology so, when you say that it seemed like we just clicked, it’s mostly because when he’s giving me feedback and it’s detailed feedback, it’s from him seeing a lot of my matches as well as wrestling the way he’s advised me to wrestle. So when we come together and that (West Coast Pro) was our second singles match, it’s just like, okay we both know each other’s stuff and we both are on the same wavelength of how we like to pace our wrestling matches. So, let’s go for it. We know exactly where to be for each other’s stuff, we trust each other and he’s incredible. He has a claim to say he’s the best wrestler in the world right now for sure. So, that match, again, it was the week after Mania week in San Francisco. I hold that really in a high regard, again, in terms of showing me to a new audience, to people who had never seen me before and connecting with them because of that match. I’ll always be grateful to Speedball.

Oku is scheduled to be in action for wXw Germany on August 12th in their Shortcut to the Top Battle Royal.

To keep up with all things Michael Oku, he can be found on Twitter and Instagram @TheOJMO. Our full conversation can be watched via the player at the beginning of this article or through the Andrew Thompson Interviews YouTube channel.