Rev Pro’s first trip of the year to York Hall was a momentous one – as a rare WWE vs. New Japan match saw Moustache Mountain defend the Rev Pro tag team titles against Suzuki-gun!
Rev Pro British Cruiserweight Championship: Rob Lias vs. Kurtis Chapman (c)
It’s a first defence for Chapman, who was meant to have had this match at the Cockpit a fortnight earlier before it was crashed and turned into a trios match. As a first defence, Rob Lias is a curious choice having never been portrayed as a cruiserweight, but if Rev Pro’s big goal this year is to get more of their home-grown guys onto the big shows, then they’ve got to start somewhere.
Chapman jumps Lias at the bell, prompting Lias to roll outside… where he’s crashed into with a somersault cannonball as the champion came out all guns blazing. Lias feigned a knee injury as he slipped off the apron, but it’s like a child acting, as nobody fell for it. Except Chris Roberts, who tried to assist him back up the ramp, but of course it’s a ruse.
Chapman turned his back and is left open for Lias to attack him with a knee off the walkway, as Lias continued his onslaught in the ring, landing a Fisherman’s suplex for an early near-fall as the challenger enjoyed the upper hand in the early stages, all while commentary picked up on each others’ ailments. Eventually Chapman fires back in… and runs into a dropkick as Lias came close yet again, but you felt that a lot of the York Hall crowd didn’t really care.
Baby steps, though – especially when you’re making a debut in a bigger building…
Another Chapman comeback ends with a forearm to the head from Lias, then a knee lift, before a clothesline finally puts the champion back in the mix. Some gamengiri kicks cut off Lias on the apron as Chapman traps him in the ropes for a stomp off the top rope.
Chapman tries to end things with the Sega Mega Driver, but Lias caught it and turns it into the Jig ‘n’ Tonic for a solid near-fall… following up with a Batista bomb for another two-count and a backbreaker as Lias kept coming close. Out of nowhere, Chapman nearly gets the win with a small package, but Lias kicks out and goes straight to the back cracker before flipping into a Last Chancery…
Just as Chapman looked to be on the verge of giving up, Eddie Dennis wanders down the aisle and provides a distraction… Lias falls for it, as Chapman nearly snatches the win with an O’Connor roll. It’s reversed and kicked out of, as Eddie blasts Lias with a forearm in the ropes, only for Chapman to get another near-fall from a roll-up. Kurtis is able to follow up though, landing a Sega Mega Driver after a leap over’s caught… and the champion retains after being outclassed for most of the contest. Not exactly a convincing first defence, but you couldn’t really have Lias debut with anything other than a strong showing. **¾
Eddie Dennis celebrates with Chapman afterwards, so we’re clearly getting Lias vs. Dennis in the coming months… but could there be more added to it? Josh Bodom’s out early for his next match, and he gets into it with Eddie Dennis on the stage, but Eddie grabs a guillotine choke as security try to pull them apart.
Josh Bodom & Zack Gibson vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks)
Andy Quildan lambasts Josh Bodom as “the most unprofessional wrestler” he knows… is that a tease for Jimmy Jacobs down the line, or is this still playing off of 2016 Bodom? They play up Gibson “babysitting” Bodom, ahead of Zack’s usual promo, which is barely audible in York Hall.
When you can hear the crowd more than you can Zack, I think the mic may not be loud enough… at least on the mixing desk. What I can hear is Gibson ranting about star reviews… does the “Bullet Club top” line come next? No, it’s the rant we had about the fans preferring the New Japan guys, but I just wish it was more audible. Kid Lykos is out with CCK once again, and there’s a jump start as Brookes and Banks pump kick their opponents as the match spilled immediately to the outside. Gibson and Bodom take a pasting, including a running cannonball from Banks at ringside, but the tandem quickly swing things around as Bodom leaps from the ring to the floor as he tried for a stomp/backbreaker on Banks.
Back inside, a back suplex/neckbreaker combo gets Gibson a near-fall on Brookes, before a low dropkick from Bodom gets a similar result as CCK found themselves on the defensive. Brookes fights free of a Doomsday suplex, before making the tag out to Travis Banks, who lit up Bodom and Gibson with kicks to the chest. An errant forearm from Bodom wipes out Gibson again… and again as a shotgun dropkick from Banks set up Gibson for a springboard stomp.
On the outside, Banks peppers Gibson and Bodom with superkicks off the apron, just as Chris Brookes prepared for a tope con giro to the outside. Bodom’s thrown back inside for a Kiwi Krusher for a near-fall, but the tables continue to turn, with Banks getting taken into the corner for a Ticket to Ride and a Coast to Coast cannonball as the pace suddenly rose. Another meeting of the minds sees Brookes throw Gibson into Bodom, before the latter counters a slingshot cutter into a half-nelson suplex with a Ticket to Ride thrown in.
A Bodom Breaker nearly gets the result, before the ring fills for a Parade of Moves, culminating in a diving lariat from Banks to Bodom… Bodom uses the ref as a human shield before sneaking in a low blow to Banks. Lykos gets instant payback with a baking tray shot ahead of a powerbomb/kick combo to Bodom.
There’s a bit of confusion as Gibson tags in, but he’s left staring as CCK blast through him with their usual array of moves, ending with an Octopus hold from Brookes as Gibson’s forced to tap. A fun tag match, with plenty of fun sequences between the two teams. It was perhaps a little on the short side, and could be argued that it seemed to exist more to continue driving a wedge between Bodom and Gibson than anything else. ***½
Adam Brooks vs. Ryan Smile
After debuting in PROGRESS the prior weekend, Adam Brooks continued his tour of Europe… with the absolutely annoying commentary of Andy Simmonz to tell us that he’s a guy to be booed. Unfortunately, the crowd went the other way, booing Ryan Smile as the Rev Pro crowd’s love/hate relationship eventually went off the rails (more on that later).
It’s a pretty tentative open here, as Smile started by going for the arm, only for Brooks to counter as the pair ended up breaking in the corner. Brooks keeps it on the mat as he tried to surprise Smile with a crucifix-like pin, before rolling to the outside to evade a kick attempt… but he ends up running into a leg lariat pretty soon afterwards.
Smile goes flying first with a step-up somersault plancha, before going for the obligatory guard rail spots… which saw Smile leap over the barriers after his Irish whip was reversed… and then leap back over into the ringside area with another tope con giro into Brooks. After breaking the count, Smile takes Brooks into the aisle, but a piledriver effort is met with a back body drop, leading to a near count-out defeat for the “All Day Star”.
After breaking the count, Smile walks into another kick and a low-pe as Brooks sent him back onto the walkway as the match slowed down on the outside. Simmonz’s commentary started to detract from the match as Brooks edged ahead, but he took his swipes at Smile for too long, as Ryan started a fightback… and promptly was cut-off with a kitchen sink knee to the gut. A bearhug from the back saw Brooks try to wear down Smile some more, before the Aussie ends up getting lifted onto the apron ahead of a running boot from Smile. Another one follows, but they go tit-for-tat as Smile eventually slips in a reverse ‘rana to leave both men laying. Smile tries to fight back with a series of right hands, eventually landing a shotgun dropkick as Brooks crashed into the corner as Ryan follows in with an eventual missile dropkick for a near-fall.
A Blue Thunder Bomb from Smile nearly ends it, as the crowd started to roar behind Adam Brooks… which seems to inspire something approximating a fightback, as Brooks tried to stop Ryan from flying, and succeeded with a corner dropkick ahead of a wild springboard DDT as Brooks flew from the ring to the floor. Brooks follows in with a senton bomb for a two-count, then a diving knee as Smile’s forced to kick out yet again.
Brooks tries to land a Bitter End, but Smile counters into a DDT, as he hauls himself back up, eventually pulling Brooks into a Destroyer to almost end things. A frog splash onto the apron produces a sickening thud for Smile, as does another one back in the ring, but Brooks still finds a way to kick out.
A third attempt at a frog splash goes a little wonky as referee Joel Allen didn’t exactly ragdoll into the ropes as Brooks tried to shove him… Smile bumped anyway, but shoved off Brooks’ superplex effort before crashing and burning with a 450 splash. In response, a tornado DDT from the Aussie left Smile wobbly, before a Meteora to the back of the head and a pumphandle lumbar check gets the rather surprising win. This one went over the 20 minute mark, and I’d argue the match would have been better had it been half the length… but a good showcase of Adam Brooks, especially if he’s going to be around for a while. ***¾
As for Ryan Smile… after the match he bowed to all four sides of York Hall in what seemed to be a farewell. Except it wasn’t shown, nor was the incident where a fan apparently yelled abuse at Smile. Stay classy, eh?
Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
EVIL & SANADA were hailed on their return to York Hall – which made for a slightly wonky atmosphere. Maybe Zack Gibson had a point after all?
There’s a jump start as SANADA attacks Mark Davis from behind, and there’s double-teaming right out of the gate… but EVIL’s quickly restrained as the Aussies went for him, with a Fletcher dropkick nearly getting the shock early on. EVIL responds by clotheslining Fletcher to the outside, as Mark Davis’ attempt to make a save goes wrong… sending both Aussies to the outside, with EVIL in tow.
EVIL has to make do with a non-folding chair, as he wedges Fletcher’s arm in one and throws him into the ringpost. That keeps Fletcher on the back foot, with SANADA nonchalantly holding a front facelock ahead of a suplex as the Ingobernable was having it all his own way. Fletcher ends up in a Paradise Lock, before Mark Davis comes in and tries to copy SANADA’s homework. It doesn’t quite work out as he’s quickly knocked down and tied in one. Jesus Mark, all you had to do was free your partner, and instead you both get dropkicked in the arse for your troubles.
Despite that, Davis is ready for the hot tag when Fletcher gets free, and manages to duck an errant clothesline as SANADA takes down his own man. Davis follows in with sliding forearms and the inverted Angle slam, almost pinning EVIL, before taking down SANADA with the one-handed powerbomb. It’s not long before SANADA tags in to go after Davis legally, before Kyle Fletcher goes all Kojima on us with Machine gun chops and forearms in the corner. SANADA backdrops him to the apron though, and that led to a springboard crossbody as Fletcher’s forced to duck away from EVIL, sending him to the floor with another dropkick ahead of a step-up flip dive!
Fletcher tries for a suplex, but SANADA escapes it and follows in with a Skull End… but Davis counters it and lifts SANADA up for an assisted cutter as the match began to enter it’s final stages… a Fidget Spinner looked likely, but EVIL saves his partner, before handing off Fletcher for a TKO as the near-fall came LIJ’s way.
Fletcher shoves away from a Magic Killer as SANADA eventually takes that Fidget Spinner for a near-fall, before the LIJ comeback saw Fletcher get isolated, taking the Magic Killer for a near-fall, before Davis eats an EVIL STO, meaning there was no help as Kyle had to tap to the Skull End. A brilliant tag match, with the Aussies looking like viable contenders – as opposed to the blow-out opponents that we’ve seen put up against certain teams out of New Japan. One of those matches that will raise Fletcher and Davis’ standing a lot, regardless of the result… but whether that actually parlays into Rev Pro’s tag division remains to be seen. ****
Rev Pro British Women’s Championship: Bea Priestley vs. Millie McKenzie vs. Jinny (c)
Well, after winning the title earlier this month at the Cockpit, Jinny’s first defence wasn’t going to be straightforward, putting it up against Millie McKenzie – whom she beat in the semi-finals – and the returning Bea Priestley. Speaking of Bea, she has a wacky entrance where a masked man in a white suit carries her onto the stage and places her in a rocking chair, which she eventually rose out of.
It was certainly a different entrance, and one that mashed up bits of Rosemary and Su Yung’s entrances… although I’d argue that it was perhaps not as well executed as it could have been, but that’s largely down to Rev Pro not being too hot when it comes to the theatrical. With Jinny more focused on Millie, Bea Priestley knocked her down with a head kick early as the two challengers turned their sights on each other, with an O’Connor roll eventually getting Bea a two-count… before Jinny boots her out of the ring. Jinny and Millie trade forearms next, before a teased Rainmaker’s blocked and turned into a forearm as Jinny decked the master of suplexes.
An Ace crusher follows from Millie, but Jinny rolled to the outside, only for a follow-up dive from Millie to get cut-off by Bea… who’s then thrown to the walk way by Jinny, who just about caught Millie as her tope almost crashed and burned. Bea keeps up the dives with a flip dive off the walkway, before Jinny’s tope sent her and Bea into the steps by that walkway to complete the set. That tope looked to jar Jinny’s knee, but she’s able to tee off with forearms on Millie until Bea returns… but it’s not long until Millie explodes with German suplexes for all. Jinny tries to resist a third, but instead she just pulls in Bea for a double German suplex (a duplex?) that gets Millie a couple of near-falls.
They’re back outside, as Jinny gets thrown into the guard railings by Bea, who followed up by draping Millie across a guard railing for a double stomp that sent her crashing to the floor. Bea can’t get the pin out of it though, and instead looks to go for a superplex… which Millie counters into a nasty Destroyer off the middle rope. Jinny’s quickly back to steal the pin though, throwing out Millie to claim the pinfall. Jinny rolled straight out to hold her wrist, as some suggested live that the match was cut a little short due to injury… but what we had was decent enough, if not a little too archetypal for a triple threat. We’re still on track for a big Jinny vs. Millie match too, given how this one ended… **½
Note: shortly after this review went up, it was confirmed that Jinny had suffered a broken hand and a concussion during the match – forcing her off of a PROGRESS booking the following weekend.
Will Ospreay vs. Mark Andrews
This was Andrews’ first match at Rev Pro in almost four years – his last being a losing effort as part of Team DEFEND in May 2014. Quite a lot of water’s gone under the bridge since then…
Erm, Andy… are you sure Mark Andrews said “the iconic, world-famous York Hall” when you spoke to him? Not every wrestler speaks in hyperbole!
Ospreay charges at Andrews at the bell with a shotgun dropkick, before heading outside after Andrews with a Sasuke special in the opening thirty seconds! Back in the ring, Andrews is quick to keep Ospreay outside, as he flips off the apron into a tornado DDT, before returning with a springboard cross body as Chris Roberts has to dive into the ring to make the count.
A standing moonsault gets Andrews a two-count, as does a legdrop, but they quickly go tit-for-tat as Ospreay rebounds off the ropes with an overhead kick as Andrews’ period on top came to a crashing halt. Ospreay keeps up, tripping Andrews in the corner, but his Shibata dropkick’s aborted as he instead takes the Welshman into the ropes for an over-the-top rope 619 and a springboard forearm for a near-fall.
They’re going to their big moves rather quickly, aren’t they? Still, it’s nice to have a sprint… The Shibata dropkick follows, as Ospreay tries for a reverse DDT, only for Andrews to counter with a Northern Lights suplex… before throwing in a Code Red? No, it’s countered, as was an OsCutter, before Will hits a Spanish Fly, as the series ends with a Stundog Millionaire.
From their knees, the pair exchange forearms until Ospreay hits a uranage flapjack and eventually a corkscrew moonsault as the IWGP junior champion picks up another two-count, following in with a savate kick to take Andrews off his feet again. Just like that, a reverse ‘rana shocks Ospreay, as Andrews flies back in with a Dragonrana, almost collecting the win just like that!
Andrews takes too long going up top and ends up getting crotched, with Ospreay countering by following him for a top rope ‘rana of his own… but Andrews rolls through and instead counters back with a top rope reverse ‘rana that Ospreay lands on his feet from too! Kicks back-and-forth keep the match even, as a satellite crucifix driver keeps Mandrews in front, as does a Kudo Driver/Vertebreaker… but still, Ospreay’s kicking out!
With little left in the arsenal, Andrews tries a shooting star press, but he lands on Ospreay’s knees as a Revolution kick and an OsCutter followed in quick succession for the win. A breathless, entertaining sprint… it’s just a shame they were so short! ****¼
Ospreay stayed in the ring to celebrate, perhaps a touch too long. Shenanigans? Yep… Adam Brooks hits the ring and lays into Ospreay with stomps. Mark Andrews returns to make the save, but he too is laid out with the pumphandle lumbar check. Brooks dishes it out to Ospreay too, before leaving with his proverbial pound of flesh – by cutting off the Australian flag from Will’s “fun with flags” gear…. Something that the ringside cameraman almost missed because he didn’t notice that the ring rope was obscuring his view. Cracking work as always…
Rev Pro British Tag Team Championship: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) (c)
At Uprising, this was set-up when Trent Seven tried to challenge for Zack Sabre Jr’s Rev Pro heavyweight title… and instead was met with a counter-offer. The Suzuki-gun pair of Sabre and Suzuki entered separately, and of course, York Hall knew how to do Kaze Ni Nare in time.
So yeah, this is a weird one: WWE vs. New Japan… for the second time in a matter of days, after IPW had Pete Dunne vs. Will Ospreay.
Despite losing that hair match at WrestleKingdom against Hirooki Goto, Suzuki was already growing back his patterned hair, but he started on the apron as Sabre and Bate opened us off with some technical offence… and for once, Sabre was left on the bottom as Tyler Bate looked to get the early upper hand. A position that changed when Sabre tagged in Minoru Suzuki, who only had eyes for Trent Seven.
Trent obliges, and the first thing he does is fall like a tree from a Suzuki chop. Timber!
They’re back up with chops though as Seven and Suzuki lit up each other’s chests, but it’s Trent who edges ahead, taking Suzuki into the corner for some overhand cricket chops. Tyler Bate tags in to try and capitalise with an attempt at a Kimura, but instead he just ties up Suzuki in the ropes before falling into the armbar in the ropes as Minoru took advantage of Tyler’s relative inexperience.
They headed outside as the challengers just lay waste to the champions, with Suzuki laughing at Tyler’s chops, heading up the walkway as Suzuki went early for that Gotch piledriver. It doesn’t come off as Bate tries for more chops, but again Suzuki laughs it off before unleashing with some body blows instead. The camera misses Trent chopping the ringpost as he went for Sabre – leading to a rather timely jab at his own cameramen from Quildan – before Suzuki and Bate finally made it into the ring to continue the Tyler teardown, featuring plenty of double-teams as Trent eventually broke past the referee to break it up… and awkwardly get dumped to the outside.
Savage Suzuki took his shots on Trent on the outside too, throwing him into the lighting rig, while Tyler continued to get decimated as the ruthless challengers maintained a stranglehold on proceedings. Kicks from Sabre keep Tyler down, but Zack starts to play with Tyler… and that aggravated him into a comeback… but the airplane spin tease is quickly aborted when Sabre climbs over Tyler and grabs a guillotine instead.
Finally Trent gets the hot tag in, as he starts to unload on Sabre with gunshot-like chops, eventually tricking him into a DDT as Sabre tried to duck a chop. A piledriver’s flipped out of as Sabre goes for a triangle choke instead, only for Trent to powerbomb his way free, before a cartwheel and a lariat helps him collect a near-fall. Seven tries for the Seven Stars lariat, but the rebadged Rainmaker’s ducked by Sabre who goes for an abdominal stretch, which gets countered in kind into a Tyler Bate clothesline-assisted Dragon suplex. Suzuki wanders in to break up the pin after Sabre took a piledriver, but he’s quickly tagged in after Zack fought back… and we’re back to Suzuki stalking Seven!
Minoru gleefully peppered Trent with kicks to the chest before upgrading those to right hands… which are fired back in kind, before Seven slips out of a rear naked choke and hits a Seven Stars lariat instead! After that flurry, Tyler Bate tags back in to knock Suzuki down with a trio of superkicks… but Minoru’s back with some big boots before Bate sent him into the corner with an Exploder!
Sabre makes the save this time though, and turfs Trent to the outside as Tyler’s left isolated against both members of Suzuki-gun… duelling PKs get a near-fall as Chris Roberts has no interest on even enforcing the concept of the legal man, as seen yet again when a double-team powerbomb to Suzuki’s allowed for a near-fall. Trent tries for a spike Gotch piledriver… but Suzuki backdrops out as Bate flies into a forearm from Sabre as we get a Parade of Moves, culminating in a Tyler Driver to Suzuki!
Somehow, Suzuki gets up just in time, before getting caught with Bate’s bop/bang punches… he comes back from that into a rear naked choke, and with Trent Seven restrained with an Octopus hold, there’s not much that can be done as Tyler’s worked into the delayed Gotch piledriver… and we have new champions! My God, that was a thing of sheer beauty. Constantly back-and-forth, with Moustache Mountain shedding most of their comedy here, while Savage Suzuki-gun were on show too. This is a tag match you’ll want to go back and watch time and time again, mark my words! ****½
After the match, Suzuki fakes out a handshake to Trent as the beatdown continues… but on the ramp appears a wild CCK, who march down towards the ring for a staredown. My God, we’re going to get CCK vs. Suzuki-gun?! Or are CCK RISE? Lykos fakes out going into the ring, but he thought better of it, as Suzuki took the microphone and asked “London… who is this?”
Oh boy. The crowd tell him, and Suzuki just responds by saying “sayonara”. Sabre’s a bit more eloquent, and if you’re not sure that they’re heading that way, well, we’ve got Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Travis Banks at the February Cockpit show! Possibly minus one fan, after Josh Bodom Fan™ was caught out saying “CCK Ichiban” and lived to tell the tale!
In the ring, High Stakes 2018 cannot be considered anything but a success. Sure, I’d have preferred Ospreay/Andrews to have gone longer (perhaps taking some time from the over-long Brooks/Smile match), but there was nothing here that could be classed as a failure, especially when you take into account the long game being played with the promotion’s graduating Contenders.