5-Star Match Reviews: Jordan Devlin vs. David Starr – OTT 5th Anniversary Show (2019)

jordan devlin david starr ott 2019

For anyone that might not be aware, there is a huge wrestling scene in the United Kingdom. It doesn’t get the same attention as wrestling’s other Meccas (the US + Canada, Mexico, and Japan), but to dismiss British and European wrestling would be to ignore some truly top tier wrestlers and their matches.

And in 2019, many fans called this match the match of the year and a well-deserved 5-star match. But was it really that great, or was it simply a case of passion overcoming reason? Read on to find out.

Today we look back at the World Title match between Jordan Devlin and David Starr from OTT’s 5th Anniversary Show.

As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.

The story

This match was billed as more than just another champion vs. challenger situation. Devlin represented the “big wrestling companies” and the pro-profit capitalist ways while Starr acted like he was CM Punk, acting as a voice of the voiceless and condemning what that capitalist motive was doing to professional wrestling as a whole. There was this “I vs. WE” contrast between Devlin and Starr. Devlin talked about his own accomplishments while Starr saw himself as part of a larger collective. Starr saw Devlin’s signing with WWE as him betraying OTT and yet another sign of the bigger companies destroying what made indy wrestling what it is. OTT did a great job creating an almost cinematic-quality hype video for this match, which shows that you don’t need billions of dollars to strike an emotional chord well enough to sell a ticket.

Anyways, Starr went into this with a purpose greater than his own. He wanted to save OTT from ‘people like Devlin’ and preserve what was left of British independent wrestling. He also vowed to make history repeat itself since he tapped Devlin out the last time they wrestled each other. But could he do it? Could he make lightning strike twice and show that his five-dollar words weren’t talk? Or would Devlin shut him up and show that he was in fact the better wrestler?

The match

This match originally took place on October 26th, 2019. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer rated it five stars.

This is for Devlin’s OTT World Championship. The crowd is overwhelmingly pro-Starr and they boo Devlin loudly and chant “you sold out” as the bell rings. Starr rushes Devlin and double-legs him to the mat. Both wrestlers take turns hitting mounted punches, leading to a yay/boo exchange from the fans. Starr overpowers Devlin with chops and hammer fists and then dumps him to the floor for a dive. Starr throws Devlin back into the ring but Devlin wipes him out with a suicide dive of his own. Another yay/boo punch exchange ensues until Devlin goes for a ringside powerbomb. Starr escapes and throws Devlin into some ringside seats. He charges for a big running attack but Devlin sidesteps, sending Starr into the same chairs.

Back in the ring, both wrestlers lock wrists and trade elbow smashes until Devlin elbows Starr to his knees. Devlin goes for a back suplex but Starr counters with a headlock takeover and a boot to Devlin’s gut. They trade quick holds until Starr lands a crossbody into a corner for a one-count. Starr starts working Devlin’s right leg and then switches to his left arm. Devlin tries countering an armbar with a roll-up but it fails as Starr tries pulling a Pete Dunne and breaking Devlin’s fingers. Starr stretches Devlin’s arm between the ropes as dueling “indy wrestling/Jordan Devlin” chants break out. Starr goes for a suplex but Devlin ends up on the apron. Starr elbows him and goes for a springboard attack but Devlin catches him with an uranage and a springboard moonsault for a two-count.

Devlin takes over with stiff strikes and some foot choking. He slaps Starr so hard that Starr falls to ringside and slumps down at some fans’ feet. Then he suplexes Starr back into the ring for a two-count, locks in a camel clutch, and runs forearms across Starr’s face. Devlin escapes the camel clutch with a Stunner and hits a rolling kick to Devlin’s face. They have another strike exchange that ends with Starr countering into a reverse sidewalk slam. Devlin ducks a clothesline and hits a Kofi Kingston-style Trouble in Paradise kick. Starr staggers but then hits back with a huge rebound lariat. Starr attempts some grounded hold but Devlin gets a ropebreak with his foot.

Starr hits some body shots and charges into a corner but Devlin dodges and hits a slingshot RKO for a two-count. Devlin goes for another suplex but Starr counters and both of them fall to the floor. The referee begins his ring-out count (which in OTT goes to twenty) and Devlin makes it in at nine. Starr reaches the rope at sixteen but then falls backwards. Then he barely, barely, makes it into the ring right before the count of twenty. Devlin gives Starr the chance to stand up. He wants to throw hands with his challenger and Starr agrees. Big mistake. Devlin pummels Star with strikes. But Starr fires back with elbows and punches of his own. Starr busts Devlin’s head open and even makes his own knuckles bleed. Starr licks Devlin’s blood off his own hands and brings the crowd to their feet. Starr charges for a dive…but Devlin hits first with a spike DDT through the ropes onto the apron. Devlin charges but runs into a big boot. Starr follows with a Canadian Destroyer that Devlin no-sells as he hits a huge lariat. Both wrestlers collapse.

Devlin lands Kawada kicks to Starr’s face and grabs hold of Starr’s wrist. Starr fights desperately to break Devlin’s hold and succeeds by landing a huge head-butt. Devlin hits back with a running head-butt and a swinging Rock Bottom-type move for a two-count. Devlin goes to the top rope but Starr cuts him off. Starr lands a top-rope avalanche back suplex and charges for a lariat. Devlin blocks with a kick to the arm and then to the jaw. Starr counters a Devlin suplex with a Brainbuster to the knee but only gets a one-count so he follows with a superkick and a powerbomb to one knee. One, two, Devlin kicks out. Then Devlin blocks a lariat and gets a two-count off a backslide. Starr hits back with another superkick and a bridging arm-trap German suplex. Devlin kicks out and Starr grabs the referee in frustration.

Starr leaves the ring and crawls towards an official holding the OTT World Championship. He takes the title belt and throws it in the ring. Instead of going after a clearly-weakened Devlin, he decides to waste time and give his opponent time to recover. Starr has a LONG argument with the ref while taunting the crowd and then shoves the ref aside as he goes to strike Devlin with the belt. But Devlin hits first with a superkick. The belt falls to Devlin and he too teases hitting with the belt. But Starr taunts Devlin and dares him to use the belt. Devlin approaches with the belt but Starr spits on him. Devlin throws the belt to the ref (instead of throwing it aside), which distracts the ref long enough for Starr to hit a low blow. Starr rolls Devlin up. One, two, Devlin kicks out. Starr charges for a belt shot but the referee stops him and pulls on the belt. If the ref had that sort of power, why didn’t he do that earlier? Why let the nonsense go on for so long when he could’ve stopped it sooner? Anyways, Starr lets go of the belt, sending it and the ref flying. With the ref down, Devlin lands his own low blow and then lands a Package Piledriver. The referee counts one, two, and – Starr kicks out.

Devlin hits another stiff forearm and teases a second Package Piledriver. But this time Starr blocks and locks in a Texas cloverleaf hold. He tries trapping Devlin’s arm but Devlin still manages to get a ropebreak. BUT…as Devlin reaches for the ropes his hand hits the mat hard once, leading some fans to chant “he tapped out”. Starr gets up first and does a DX crotch chop to mock Devlin for signing with WWE. He goes for a Pedigree but Devlin powers out and lands a head-butt. Devlin tries another piledriver but Starr escapes and hits a piledriver of his own. Lariat from Starr. Devlin kicks out at one. Starr charges and hits one more full-power running lariat. One, two, three! There’s the match!

Winner and NEW OTT World Champion after 27:59: David Starr

Post-match, Starr looks like he’s going to show sportsmanship but then cheap-shots him with another lariat to the crowd’s delight. Starr has a huge celebration as he crowd-surfs and poses with his newly-won title belt.


If there was ever a match that created the impression that pro-wrestling has truly become niche, it’s this one. The pre-match hype video told one story but the match and its accompanying crowd reactions told a different one. The action was good for the most part but there wasn’t anything truly compelling or original here. It fit the stereotypical ‘indy-style spot-fest MOVEZ match’ to a T. And the story told within the match was filled with clichés and forced “drama” that didn’t have that much emotional depth. This is another example of PWG syndrome: just because a specific match with specific tropes and ideas gets over with a specific audience doesn’t mean it’s a top-tier match overall.

The storyline painted Starr has the hero and Devlin as the villain, yet neither of them really wrestled like one or the other here. Both of them followed the now-highly-clichéd ‘shades of grey’ mentality that was a good idea on paper but not in practice. Starr was supposed to be a CM Punk-style anti-authority type that was fighting the system and fighting for indy wrestling. And yet, he came across as a smug and obnoxious d**k more than once during the match. He lambasted Devlin for leaving for greener pastures, because apparently carving your own path to improve your own life is tantamount to selling out your beliefs and therefore verboten. I get that OTT were trying to paint Devlin as a sell-out here, yet he didn’t really come across that way as he wrestled. If anything, he came across as a guy that was falsely maligned by Starr and his followers so he decided ‘screw you, I’m going to fight harder just to spite you’. And even though Devlin was booed loudly, by the end he was getting just as many cheers. So the whole story narrative fell apart and the wrestlers failed to tell their story effectively from bell to bell. At least the fans reacted well to Starr’s win; but for most of the match up to that point, there was too much distraction because of jokey chants and not enough focus on the match itself.

In terms of action, the match was solid but uninspiring. If you had a check-list of every modern indy wrestling ‘trope’ at hand during this match, you’d have almost all of them crossed off by the match’s end. Random flips within the first three minutes? Check. Submission holds stolen from other wrestlers that don’t mean anything by the closing stretch? Check. Inconsistent selling? Check. No real sense of match progression and a focus on exaggerated ‘peak-valley-peak-valley’ chaos? Check. Both wrestlers wrestling in near identical styles that fail to differentiate between babyface and heel, therefore creating unnecessary ambiguity and confusion? Check. Overused ‘he gets back into the ring at the count of 19.99’ trope? Check. Canadian Destroyer used as a transitional move? Once again, check. I could go on, but you get the picture. Having so many of these things don’t necessarily make a match bad; they make it bland. Having all the same elements seen a million times in matches that took place both before this one and after robs it of its importance and replay value. If this match resembles so many others, why go out of your way to watch this one?

Worse still, the match was proceeding smoothly for a long time, but when Devlin kicks out of Starr’s German suplex, the match came to a grinding halt thanks to some cheesy forced drama. Starr shoehorned this tacky acting bit involving him going after the title. Instead of remaining focused on beating Devlin and maintaining the sense of urgency the match had cultivated up to that point, Starr decided to throw consistency out the window in favor of bad storytelling. There was this long, drawn-out title belt shot tease that was allowed to go on way longer than necessary. The ref, who had the authority to stop such nonsense, let the drama play out instead of shutting it down, which he did almost immediately when it happened the second time. That sort of forced tension came across as lazy match layout and unnecessary phony drama that only padded the match’s length without adding anything meaningful to it.

Final Rating: ***1/4

Unless you’re already a devoted member of the wrestling fandom, this is a completely skippable match. There’s nothing truly eye-catching or exceptional here. If you’ve seen one big indy match then you’ll see almost all the same elements and tropes here. Just because it has a hot crowd doesn’t automatically make it great. The idea that this is some kind of MOTYC or top-tier classic is laughable. One can use the words ‘fine’ and ‘passable’ to describe this match and that would be more than fair here. With all the initial hoopla of the match gone, it’s safe to say that this match really doesn’t hold up well or live up to the lofty expectations of a 5-Star match.

If there’s one thing that the COVID pandemic has taught us it’s that crowd atmosphere really doesn’t matter as much as it used to. There was at least one amazing match that took place under a no-fans policy, so the idea that crowds are integral to making good matches great and great matches amazing doesn’t really apply anymore.

There are better ‘chaotic indy’ matches out there, including some from WWE NXT and it’s technically not an indy promotion to begin with. These OTT guys tried to do something special here but in hindsight their efforts just weren’t worth such high praise.

Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.