PAC. OSPREAY. A rapid-fire sell-out for York Hall meant the hottest match in Rev Pro’s recent history. Let’s do this…

The two Andys are back on commentary – and there’s scant mention of the card changes from earlier in the week we kicked off the show.

Josh Bodom vs. Angelico
This was announced a few days prior, and for a brief moment was going to be a three-way with MK McKinnan after Chris Ridgeway missed the show due to travel issues.

Sha Samuels accompanied Bodom to the ring, but quickly left to the back as Bodom was left to handle this on his own. We’ve wristlocks to start, as the match had a rather tentative feel to it. Bodom’s showing his trademark aggression, catching Angelico outside as he dropped him throat-first on the guard railing, before backdrop suplexes back inside kept him on track.

Angelico gets back into it with a Capoeira kick, as ring announcer Dan Barnsdall dropped in a five-minute time check. That got booed, which’d become a common theme as the night wore on. A 450 splash from Angelico’s rolled through, as Bodom comes right back with a Bodom Breaker for a two-count, before Angelico shoved away a superplex and crashed into him with a senton bomb for another near-fall.

Sha comes back to provide a distraction… but Bodom accidentally forearms him off the apron before a plancha from Angelico left Samuels down. Problem was, that distraction ends up working as Bodom caught Angelico with a Bliss Buster on his way back into the ring, and that’s a by-the-numbers win in under ten minutes for Josh Bodom. They’re putting something behind Bodom and Sha, but when the tag division is effectively on ice… why? **½

Team WhiteWolf (A-Kid & Carlos Romo) vs. Besties In The World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett)
Another late add, this match gave Andy Simmonz a chance to reminisce of relationships past while serenading us. Speaking of reminiscing… remember when Davey Vega had a Twitter (low blow, I know).

Fitchett and A-Kid start us off, with Fitchett slapping his way free of a guillotine choke as the Besties weren’t about to fly across the ocean and lose in a minute. A dropkick obliterates A-Kid for a two-count, before tags bring in Carlos Romo and the Twitter-less Vega, who lands a nice ‘rana to take Romo into the ropes. Romo’s back with a leg lariat for a two-count, as tags restored the Besties advantage, with a Fitchett suplex setting up Vega for a chop battle with the plucky A-Kid. The Miracle Worker Vega got a good sound out of the Spaniard, before some double-teaming led to a Flatliner and a standing moonsault for a near-fall on A-Kid. Tags out follow as Carlos Romo tries to make a comeback, taking down Vega with a ‘rana and a roll-up ahead of a Shining Wizard for a near-fall.

A-Kid’s back with a cravat to Vega, then a dropkick for a near-fall right in the Whitewolf corner, before a see-saw sunset flip and a dropkick almost got the job done. The pair trade snapmares and kicks for a while, before a kick-out from a sunset flip took Vega into a fresh Fitchett, who clocked Romo with an overhead kick on the apron, then nearly beheaded A-Kid with a crossbody. Holy crap, Mat Fitchett’s a one-man wrecking crew here!

A running gamengiri and a cannonball into A-Kid’s good for a two-count as the Besties double-teamed him. In retaliation, Vega eats a German suplex and two superkicks, before A-Kid and Romo battered the Besties with an endless series of topes, before A-Kid’s springboard moonsault finally took them off their feet. Things go wonky back inside as the Besties took over with a Giant Swing/standing shooting star press combo to A-Kid for a near-fall, before Romo superkicks away an overhead kick from Fitchett. A crossface followed, as Whitewolf looked for duelling submissions, only for Vega to counter out of his armbar by powerbombing A-Kid into the other pile. NICE. Unlike a Spanish Fly, which turned into more of a Rock Bottom as A-Kid then went up top for a missile dropkick to Vega for the win. Slight slip at the end aside, this was a breath of fresh air, and a fun tag team match – plenty of innovation from two teams who aren’t necessarily at the top of the division. More of the Besties, please! ***¾

Post-match, the Besties head to the back and are blown past by Sha Samuels and Josh Bodom, who attacked the Spaniards ahead of their match in Southampton a few days later.

They then play THAT Zoe Lucas promo of her shedding her prior Rev Pro roles as interviewer… valet… merch seller… and solidifying herself as women’s champion.

RevPro Undisputed British Women’s Championship: Bea Priestley vs. Zoe Lucas (c)
So this was meant to be Zoe defending against Sammii Jayne, but an injury to the Queen of the Ring tournament winner forced a change in line-up. Regardless, it meant that Zoe Lucas still got her York Hall moment.

Zoe tried to cheapshot Bea with the title before the match but Priestley ducks and lands a Saito suplex from the off. Zoe’s right back with a roll-up as she’s having to avoid Bea, before she chopped her knee away mid springboard, as the champion thought she’d found an opening. Well, a missed leg lariat in the corner stopped that as Priestley came in with a dropkick, sending Lucas outside… forcing Zoe to cut-off a dive and follow up with some more kicks as Bea was trapped between the ropes. Back inside, Lucas finds the mark with the leg lariat and a dropkick, as Bea had to grab the ropes to keep the match alive, as things were quickly becoming one-way.

A facebuster from Lucas is good for a near-fall, as she rolled Priestley into position for a leg stretcher, before Bea got free and came back with a double jump flying knee. I think. Swings and misses led us to Bea getting caught with a Scorpion kick, before she replies with a superkick, as duelling head kicks led us to a double down. Back-and-forth shots interspersed another booed time-call, with Priestley edging ahead… only for Lucas to catch her with a spinning heel kick and a rolling death valley driver. A PK’s good for a two-count, before more kicks almost became her downfall as a head kick’s caught and turned into a backpack stunner for a near-fall. A second Scorpion kick is caught and turned into an ankle lock as Bea found her stride, booting Lucas in the ropes for another near-fall.

Priestley rolls Lucas to the mat in a Rings of Saturn, but Zoe’s able to get to the ropes, and while the hold’s not broken, she manages to reposition herself… she tries to get both feet on the bottom rope to help with pinning Bea… but they slip off as Chris Roberts makes a FOUR COUNT for the win. Well, that clearly didn’t go to plan (even if it was just the four count), which soured a match that the crowd were just about getting into. **¾

Everyone slinks to the back quickly after that… Yeah.

CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
Oh God, Andy Quildan’s heard someone else use the “OGs of CCK” tag line and it’s spread.

This was a match that live… was frankly bizarre. I’m not going to “move-for-move” this one, which started with Andy Boy Simmonz railing on Andy Quildan for Aussie Open not having their title shot yet… and a lot of stalling as Brookes and Gresham couldn’t decide which of them was starting the rematch of last August’s showstealer. Of course, there’s comedy when Chris Brookes faced off against Mark Davis… witn Jonathan Gresham instantly dropping off the apron to avoid being mauled. The comedy continued when Davis oversold a test of strength from Gresham, before Chris Brookes took a chop from Mark Davis… and walked to the back. They sting that much!

Brookes comes back through the crowd, with Gresham throwing him back in to break the count. Cue time check. Cue booing. Yep, five minutes in, and you can hear one guy scream “minus five stars”. Oof. Gresham and Fletcher exchange ducks out from chops in the corner before a headlock takedown has Gresham scurrying, before he chopped Fletcher in the groin as the ten minute time call gets booed. The weird thing is, I’m not actually omitting as much detail as you think… but once we pass the ten minute mark, the tempo raises, as Davis tagged in and flattened Gresham with a back senton.

A bodyslam throw from Davis keeps Gresham on the back foot, before all four men ended up outside, with Davis chopping Brookes… then Gresham before a powerbomb attempt was stopped, with Brookes unsighting Davis ahead of a stomp on the apron. The match then spilled into the crowd as the mobile camera crew were struggling to deal with their tethers, catching Brookes throwing Davis into the wall before the camera crew miss Brookes burying Mark Davis in chairs.

Meanwhile, CCK rush back to the ring so Gresham can use Earl Perkins – the staple gun of doom – on Fletcher, as this became a handicap match of sorts. Some rakes to the eye keep Fletcher down… before he’s then thrown outside as Brookes then killed him with a Praying Mantis bomb on the stage as CCK looked for the count-out win. Except Mark Davis had dragged himself back up and through the crowd, allowing him to throw Fletcher back inside… only for Davis to get DDT’d on the ramp, then dragged up to the stage then into the curtain as they again tried to neutralise the bear. That gave CCK more time to wear down Fletcher with a double-team suplex, before Davis staggered back to ringside and finally got the hot tag in… to instantly dive out onto CCK.

A stacked-up bodyslam from Davis leaves CCK down, as does a Gold Coast Waterslide as we entered the final five minutes… but Brookes kicks out. A knee and a springboard stomp from Brookes leaves Davis down, but Gresham just tags in and runs into a flapjack as Fletcher tags in, nearly pinning Gresham with a crossbody.

Gresham’s right back with a dropkick into the corner as time ticked down, before Brookes came in… gets kicked away and watches as Davis tagged in. Chops are fired back and forth, with Davis getting a good sound out of Brookes, before a pull-up piledriver almost led to the win. Kyle’s back in to superkick away Gresham, only for Gresham to counter with a Quebrada as Kyle’s injured knee stopped him from following up. From there though, Davis returned to help with a Fidget Spinner… but Brookes pulled out the referee as two minutes were left on the clock.

Gresham makes use of the distraction, staple gunning Davis before a small package to Kyle Fletcher got a delayed three-count. So, the number one contenders to the tag titles take a loss, but this was a match that just did not click with the crowd at all, feeling like it struggled to get into first gear. Had this been on a smaller show, then it may have worked… but when the match was built up as the sequel to one of 2018’s hottest matches… this was a damp squib. A crushing disappointment as this match limboed well underneath the high bar everyone expected them meet. **

Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. El Phantasmo
This was MJF’s debut for Rev Pro – and a spot of mic work before the match solidified his role as “the man to boo” on the show. He bragged about being the “all star of All Elite Wrestling”, while claiming he couldn’t hear the catcalls over the “sound of the money he was making”.

Given how flat the prior match was, this was a breath of fresh air. Character work – it never goes out of style. Much like good guys giving the crowd something easy to chant at their opponents… They start with a monkey flip that led to duelling pinning attempts as MJF and Phantasmo looked to end things quickly, before duelling kip ups brought an appreciative cheer. MJF has the crowd applaud ELP, but the offer of a hand shake was returned with… plenty a sweaty middle finger from ELP, who’s then tossed outside as MJF faked out a dive.

MJF again dealt with a heckler (gotta love this level of interplay on a bigger show), as we then got the handshake… before he freaked out at ELP’s threat of a chop, which eventually landed a little high. ELP goes rope-walking from there, booting MJF on the head in the corners before a multi-jump springboard ‘rana took Friedman to the outside. MJF rolls into the corner as ELP looked to take to the skies… but the strategy backfired as ELP backflips back in as MJF started to go after the Canadian’s arm. A gutwrench powerbomb dumps ELP for a near-fall, as it’s back to the arm, with an abdominal stretch by the ropes leading to the always crowd-pleasing “referee spots the cheating bad guy, and kicks away the arm” spot.

After that, ELP finds his stride with a springboard crossbody and Quebrada combo for a near-fall, before MJF feigned injury and rolled up a distracted ELP for a near-fall. A Fujiwara armbar’s next, but ELP gets free and takes MJF outside, with a tope taking Friedman into the front row as the Canadian followed up with a springboard moonsault off the top rope and into the crowd. He BARELY cleared the light rig on the way, which could have been disastrous…

Back inside, Friedman stretches Phantasmo with an ankle lock and an armbar, but ELP’s able to free himself and get to the ropes. MJF tries to hit ELP with a Bliss Buster, but ELP flips out… and ends up having to leap over Chris Roberts to get to Friedman. It doesn’t work as he jams his ankle on the landing, allowing MJF to hit a package piledriver for a near-fall, as both men then began to trade forearms… they stop when MJF gobs at ELP, with the spittle dripping in a disgusting manner, as ELP hit back with a superkick and a pump kick, before he’s taken into the corner with a Destroyer.

ELP one-ups him with a flip Destroyer off the middle rope for a near-fall, before he responded to MJF rolling away from a splash off the top (and flipping him off)… by sailing ¾s of the way across the ring with a big splash for the win. Thoroughly entertaining stuff here, with MJF making a name for himself here in one night… can we have him back? ***½

Post-match, ELP does the belt motion around his waist, then points to the ceiling. We’re getting a ladder match… but when? Oh, and ELP does the “chin rub” motion next to a fan in an AEW t-shirt. If they’re paying for his visa… then why not?

Kip Sabian vs. MK McKinnan
These poor sods. Originally this was meant to be MK vs. Great O-Kharn, but Thursday’s card reshuffling led to this becoming MK vs. Chris Ridgeway. Except Ridgeway had car trouble on the way to the venue, so this ended up becoming MK McKinnan against late substitute Kip Sabian, who benefitted from the mantra in wrestling: always bring your gear! Sadly, in the death slot before the match everyone paid to see.

So, with the crowd perhaps whiling away the time before the main event, MK and Kip started this one off on the mat, exchanging head scissors, escapes and wristlocks, before Sabian’s attempt at a guillotine was pushed away as he instead returned in with a dropkick. MK’s back in with a tope con giro to the outside, then a missile dropkick back inside for a near-fall. A belly-to-back suplex is next for a two-count, before Sabian scored with a Northern lights for another two-count. Sabian gets lifted onto the apron, but he’s right back in with a springboard missile dropkick, then a gamengiri in the corner and a bulldog out of it as the crowd barely murmured. A knee to the back of MK’s head catches him in the corner for a near-fall, before Kip capitalises further with a springboard top rope ‘rana after MK’d blocked a superplex attempt.

Kip followed that up with a Falcon arrow for a near-fall, before MK woke up and began to mount a comeback, trapping Sabian in the ropes with a series of kicks, ahead of a springboard senton as Sabian was trapped in the ropes for another near-fall. McKinnan’s right back in with a guillotine choke, before Sabian escaped and fought back with a leaping double-knee Meteora. Another missed charge into the corner from Sabian opened him up for a diving knee from MK for a near-fall, after a katahajime was quickly escaped. Forearms weaken Sabian as he’s sent back into the corner, but he’s back with a springboard tornado DDT for a near-fall before a pumphandle sit-out side slam from MK, and the katahajime finally forced the stoppage. A good effort, but next to nothing on this card would have gotten the crowd interested at this point. ***

Will Ospreay vs. PAC
Yes, the mention of there being a 30-minute time limit drew jeers… while Dan Barnsdall somehow managed to conflate the two titles, calling Ospreay’s belt the “Open The NEVER Gate championship”. You only saw that live though, thanks to the magic of jump cuttery that commentary gave away…

Once the staredowns were done with, we have a rather tentative open, with Ospreay and PAC locking up, taking each other into the ropes. A fast and furious start, this wasn’t! The tempo’s upped with leapovers and ‘rana escapes, before PAC just raked Ospreay’s eyes into the corner.

Ospreay retaliated with a low dropkick, then with some chops before he’s sent outside as PAC nailed a moonsault that took him into the guard rails. Some more forearms from PAC helped to bust open Ospreay’s nose, which wasn’t helped as a delayed superplex gets the Geordie a near-fall. On the outside, Ospreay’s thrown into the guard rails, then dumped with a brainbuster on the ramp as we had a count-out tease, with Ospreay barely getting in in time.

Ospreay fires back up with some chops, but PAC responds with forearms before he low bridged him onto the apron… setting up a game of cat and mouse which saw Ospreay vault over some guard rails as he delivered a springboard forearm back into the ringside area. A Sasuke special’s next as Ospreay turned it up a notch, putting himself ahead further with a handspring enziguri. Another enziguiri out of the corner leaves PAC in the ropes for an over-the-top 619 and another springboard forearm for a near-fall. PAC avoids an OsCutter and responds by propelling Will into the sky for a flapjack, following up with a Phoenix Splash for a near-fall. Yeah, those time cues were getting booed here too, but they seemed to be timing high spots with them to try and obscure the jeers.

PAC heads up for a superplex, but Ospreay slips free for a Cheeky Nando’s… which PAC kicks away before flipping back into a tornado DDT. Woah. A sit-out powerbomb’s next for a near-fall, before an attempt at a Black Arrow was aborted when Ospreay rolled into the ropes, as duelling lariats left both men down. Forearms from PAC keep him ahead, but Ospreay’s back as the 20-minute time check drew loud boos. They know. A punt from PAC keeps Ospreay on the mat, but he’s quickly back with a snap Dragon suplex before a snap ‘rana from PAC almost ended the match there. Ospreay’s straight back with an OsCutter for a near-fall, before PAC just clung onto Ospreay in the corner as he went up top. A shove off from Ospreay sends PAC into Chris Roberts… and with no referee, PAC looked to capitalise with a middle rope tombstone?

Instead, Ospreay wriggled free with a tornado DDT instead, before a hook kick looked to set up for the Decapitation elbow… but instead… CCK come out? Cue some fresh boos as Brookes and Gresham come through the crowd and attack Ospreay, playing off the Brookes/Ospreay feud that began at Uprising. Brookes grabs PAC’s title and tries to use it on Ospreay… but PAC stands on the belt and glares an unholy hole through Brookes as the two opponents combined to dispatch of CCK, as Aussie Open appear to finish off the job. Meanwhile, back in the ring, PAC and Ospreay stare each other down again and begin with more forearms, striking each other back-and-forth as they looked for another edge. The five minute time check draws more catcalls as a German suplex put Ospreay down, only for PAC to eat a Spanish fly in response. PAC kicks out, but can’t avoid a Rainmaker as Ospreay gets another near-fall, then followed in with a finger snap and a Benadryller for another near-fall.

Ospreay’s on the resurgence here, heading up top for a shooting star press… but again, PAC kicks out as Andy Quildan seemingly frothed at the mouth throwing out the names of wrestlers whose moves Ospreay was lifting. A Storm Breaker masks the two-minute counter, as Ospreay instead countered a counter into the Styles Clash, but yet again PAC kicked out as Ospreay was left aghast. We enter the final minute as another hook kick sank PAC to his knees, with the Storm Breaker following… except PAC rolls free and low blows Ospreay in front of the ref, demanding that he be disqualified. Except Chris Roberts, for some reason doesn’t want to incur the wrath of the crowd. Ospreay stays on the mat as the ring announcer began to count down the final ten seconds with some degree of trepidation in his voice… just as PAC went up top for a Black Arrow, only for him to flip off the crowd as he let time run out. A shower of boos rained down on the final bell as we finish with a time limit draw, ending a match that was pretty good, but was also marred with storyline run-ins and shenanigans that this crowd just didn’t want to see. ****

I don’t want to be a doom-monger here, but judging by the feeling in the room at the end of the show, this felt like a disappointment of a show…  especially when it became obvious that rematches and tags against CCK looked to have been set up on the back of this. Is it smart to eke out more than one match? Yes… but it’s extending a pattern where “big time” matches with PAC aren’t getting clean, satisfying finishes – and while for some promotions this isn’t a thing, I’d argue that Rev Pro attracts a “smarter” fan base that is wise to the potential reasoning why.

Until this show, since he returned to the European scene, PAC’s only clean wins have been over David Starr, Tiger Ali and Mike Bailey. Aside from that, there’s been the DQ over Zack Sabre Jr. and some losses in multi-man matches… now, I’m not saying this is “PAC playing politics”, far from it, but at the same time if you’re really unable to book PAC in a match without needing shenanigans to cover a finish, then crowds are quickly going to catch onto that. The venues for PAC’s next matches for Rev Pro have already been advertised: Northampton (vs. Chris Brookes), the London Cockpit and the 1865 in Southampton. Tellingly, the last two of those announcements didn’t come with names of opponents – which I guess means that we’re now at the level of PAC being a feature name rather than being in “dream match territory”, perhaps because of perceived political issues.

It may be harsh to rail on High Stakes because the main event had a screwy finish… but when the entire show as built around that match, it’s hard not to. Yes, you could argue that Rev Pro laid a bed for themselves in the shows building up to this, suddenly introducing Japanese-style time limits (and time calls) while teasing time limit draws – but anyone putting any thought into “gee, I wonder who’d win between a New Japan champion and a Dragon Gate champion” would likely have realised what was going to happen.