Rev Pro’s first trip of the year to York Hall was an early contender for show of the year as High Stakes delivered a home run.
York Hall was sold out for what felt like the first time in forever… and it’s straight in to the action here as commentary comes from Andy Quildan and Andy Boy Simmons.
RevPro Undisputed British Women’s Championship: Zoe Lucas (c) vs. Gisele Shaw
Shaw had come up short about a month earlier in Guildford – will lightning strike twice here?
Zoe was extremely reluctant to hand over her title before the bell, and when we got going, Gisele walloped Zoe with a knee from the off… and we’ve a jump cut in plain sight as chops in the corner follow, rather than Gisele heading up to the top rope. Lucas rolls outside, and into the path of a baseball slide dropkick to the outside, as Shaw’s attempts to stay on top was stopped with Zoe just swinging her into the guard rails.
Back in the ring, Lucas puts the boots to Shaw, before a simple suplex drew a two-count. Short-range kicks and a nice back heel kick deck Shaw too, while more chops from Zoe led to a front suplex for another two-count. Shaw’s caught on the top rope with a Scorpion kick as Lucas got back into it, following up with a running spinning kick into the corner. A running X-Factor’s next as Zoe was almost destined for the win… but she ends up running into a Tim Thatcher-like goozle and slap as Shaw finally struck back. It descends into a hockey fight, before Shaw hit a Curt Hennig-esque neck flip for a near-fall. She tries to follow with a levering armbar, but they’re right by the ropes, so Shaw lands a powerbomb instead for a near-fall, before a spear got her even closer.
Lucas has to elbow out of a full nelson, but couldn’t avoid a clothesline before she finally fought back… catching Shaw’s dive before landing some kicks in the ropes. The SIM Card axe kick’s next for a near-fall, before an X-Factor off the middle rope kept the momentum building…
A draping DDT almost gets Lucas the win, so out of frustration she goes for her title belt. Zoe doesn’t seem to care about getting DQ’d, but lets go of the belt… so she can head under the ring to grab the old one. Shaw ducks the belt though, and grabs hold of a levering armbar… and almost as soon as Zoe lost grip of the old belt, she taps! A decent opener when you didn’t see the early slip that coloured a lot of opinions live – the curse of new gear strikes again, as Zoe’s new ring gear proved to be an unlucky charm. ***
Shaun Jackson and Kenneth Halfpenny had to carry Zoe away in a rugby tackle after that…
Dan Moloney vs. Jeff Cobb
Cobb was back in Rev Pro having made a brief stop off on the way to AEW… something that Dan had seen, as he was a little apprehensive when Jeff was offering a handshake.
We started with a knucklelock as both men were made to bridge back, before we got shoulder tackles that ended when Cobb didn’t go down from a Moloney dropkick… instead rebounding off the ropes to knock down the Brummie. Moloney’s back with a suplex, before he teed up for a Gore… but Cobb rolls outside. They trade chops around ringside, before Moloney tried to cannonball into Cobb by the railings… but he’s caught and powerbombed on the apron. Back in the ring, Cobb wore down Moloney some more, using a head and arm suplex to throw Dan like he were nothing. A superplex followed, but that seemed to spark some resistance as Moloney flipped off some chops before he traded German suplexes with Cobb.
A spear follows… but it’s not enough as Cobb came back in with a leaping uppercut into the corner… then an Oklahoma Stampede, before Moloney slipped out of a Tour of the Islands and rebounded with a Bossman slam. From there, Moloney caps it off with the goddamn Drilla piledriver, and that’s an impressive win. Dan Moloney continues to add big names to his CV – could he be an outside bet to get into title contention before the end of the year? ***¼
Southside Speed King Championship: Robbie X vs. Ricky Knight Jr. (c)
In the four prior singles matches these guys have had, they’ve split their wins… and have been impressive since becoming regulars in Rev Pro. By the way, RKJ… is only 19, and already looks well seasoned.
We start out relatively simply, with Knight and Robbie trading takedowns before they turned up the pace as they teased an X-Clamation and a sit-out tombstone early on. Knight’s back on top with springboard 450 to Robbie X on the outside, as he was looking to wow on his singles debut in York Hall. Chopping Robbie in the ropes got the crowd to turn a little against the champion, before a stalling suplex dumped the challenger for a two-count. Robbie’s right back with a hiptoss and a cartwheel dropkick as he began to push into proceedings, but it doesn’t last for long as a series of running dropkicks in the corner left Robbie out on his feet before RKJ’s through-the-ropes dropkick left Robbie laying.
On the apron, Robbie X cartwheels away but gets caught with a knee strike before he was lifted to the top rope… so the champion could try a Destroyer, but he’s thrown to the floow ahead of a moonsault from the champion. Christ! Somehow, Knight’s back with a powerbomb back inside for a near-fall, but he’s caught on the top rope with handspring kick as Robbie X adds in a Spanish Fly that almost led to a title change. The match descended into strikes, with RKJ throwing a knee and a superkick before a crossbody from Robbie X took both men backwards over the ropes to the floor. They get back inside to trade chops before a backflip kick clocked Knight, leaving him easy prey as a Spiral Tap had to be aborted. Unlike an overhead belly-to-belly, that had Knight land on his head…
A Del Rio stomp out of the corner keeps Knight down ahead of a Spiral Tap, but RKJ handstands out of an X-Clamation and comes in with a twisting suplex. A spinout back suplex and another Twister has Robbie back on the mat, as a senton bomb nearly gets the W… Robbie X responds with a powerbomb and a knee strike, as the X-Clamation finally lands for a near-fall… but then Robbie’s Asai moonsault finds a superkick as RKJ swiftly put him away with a sit-out tombstone for the win. Live, this was a blast to watch as both men put on a highlight reel’s worth of action, and while the atmosphere perhaps didn’t come across on tape, this was still a lot of fun to rewatch. ****
No Disqualification: Eddie Kingston vs. LA Park
How can I describe this match… it was an experience.
Kingston attacked Park before the bell, instantly throwing him outside and into the guard rails as we were all suddenly in danger. A chair from Kingston has LA Park down on the floor, before an Irish whip into an unsecure part of the guard rail meant that both men spilled into the crowd as LA Park got a Brookesing. Back in the ring, Kingston’s set up a table as he proceeded to strip LA Park of his belt… so he could whip him with it. Except Kingston passed the belt off to the referee so Tom Scarborough could do it too. Bad idea. Scarborough’s thrown into Park in the corner… before Park used the ref for his own means as the luchador hit back with a clothesline.
It gets a near-fall, with Park being thrown onto the ref from the kick-out… which led to some “shoulder injuries” when Park went for a pin. Of course, those injuries didn’t appear when Kingston was going for a cover, and we’re quickly in bother when the ref got clipped by a tope from Kingston. Park grabs a chair to use on Kingston, then powerbombed him through some in the ring as Park proceeded to get his own back for the earlier whipping. Both on Kingston, and on Scarborough. Poor Tom. He didn’t get the belt… he got a chair. Park keeps up on Kingston with a headbutt and a running knee for a near-fall, before Backfist to the Future and a STO nearly got Kingston a win.
The ref gets another battering as he’s knocked down for a splash from LA Park – in a not-entirely contrived way (but still fun), before Kingston tried to get the win with a low blow. It didn’t come off. All of a sudden, out comes Mad Kurt to low blow Kingston once again… which set up Park to spear him through the tablet, and that’s your win. A lovely slice of bedlam live, and while not a technical masterpiece, this was the most entertaining thing I’ve seen live since the aubergine and Fanta match in Germany. ***¾
After the match, Mad Kurt celebrated with LA Park… and survived. Dan Magee, who’d tried to stop Kurt earlier, didn’t… wasn’t happy with Kurt taking the limelight. Park didn’t care, and just laid him out with a chair. Poor Dan, going through the wars.
Chris Brookes vs. Carlos Romo vs. Hikuleo vs. Kyle Fletcher vs. Mad Kurt vs. Mark Haskins
That music is so. Damned. Annoying.
This is manic from the off, as we settle down with Chris Brookes stealing Mad Kurt’s cape to mock him with… Kurt tries to snap Brookes’ arms a la ZSJ, and gets it off before a rebound DDT using the ropes took Brookes outside. In comes Hikuleo, who gets the tag of “Hiku-lame-o”… and responds to the present bu decking Chapman. It’s deserved.
Carlos Romo has a go too, chopping Kurt ahead of a leg lariat as we continued the revolving door you tend to get in these matches. Fletcher ends that with a deadlift brainbuster before Haskins swarmed the Aussie. Brookes tries to save his Schadenfriend, but instead built up to a stacked-up series of submissions that was part Human Centipede, part Octopus, part sleeperhold… which Mad Kurt broke up with a whip punch that just annoyed. He tries it again on Brookes, who chopped back hard before Kurt tried the barrage of strikes on everyone. This is gonna build up to Orange Cassidy, isn’t it? Today though, it built up to him punching out the cameraman before he got obliterated. Regular service resumes as Hikuleo hits a stacked up Samoan drop on Fletcher and Brookes, before dumping Romo with a scoop slam off the ropes.
Chapman’s back with an enziguiri to Hikuleo, before his cannonball was caught… and turned into a powerbomb to the floor. That looked like it SUCKED. Back in the ring, Brookes catches Romo with a slingshot cutter before turning him into a makeshift Lykos as another Parade of Moves continued… culminating in a Michinoku Driver from Fletcher to Haskins for a near-fall. Chapman shouts out Eddie Kingston with a Backfist to the Future, before countering Fletcher’s Grimstone into a Sega Mega Driver… but before Mad Kurt could capitalise, he rolled out Fletcher, and got chased away by the mere sound of Eddie Kingston’s music. Oh, and Eddie with a belt. We’ve got a picture in picture of Mad Kurt running all the way to the back, while Brookes ends up taking a Hikuleo clothesline and an accidental DDT for good measure.
With everyone on the outside, Romo goes for a tope con giro, but looked to whack his arse on the apron as part of the flip. A Spiral Tap back inside lands on Fletcher, but Vicki Haskins distracts as Mark Haskins punts Romo low and steals a near-fall. Fletcher’s back with a Grimstone for a near-fall as Vicki pulls out the ref… and masks from Gideon Grey (who’d been watching from ringside in plain sight) laying out Kyle with a cane shot to the back. One Made in Japan later, and Mark Haskins gets the win… but why the assist? We’ll find out soon enough – as for this match, it was fine, but perhaps a touch long as we took a little too long to get to the payoff with Mad Kurt. ***
We’re taken outside York Hall as Mad Kurt’s clicking his heels… he’s a nutcase.
RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Championship: The Legion (Rampage Brown & Great O-Kharn) (c) vs. Damian Dunne & David Starr
Gideon’s out to mock Andy Quildan’s introductions, as we see Sha Samuels back in Rev Pro. We also got the return of sniping at the camera crew… I mean, the Andys have a point.
So, this match really only made sense if you’d seen the Guildford show that led to Starr’s return… and with no video packages to fill in the gaps, this led to a lot of confused silences among the crowd. We started with Starr trying to take down Rampage, picking up where they left off at the Cockpit a few weeks ago. Rampage, by the way, was sporting the early 00s Triple H bicycle shorts for his new ring gear. Much like at the Cockpit, Starr was having issues with Rampage early on, but things turned around with the help of Damien Dunne, as the challengers made some… quite ludicrous tags.
Double-teaming takes down O-Kharn, but Dunne ends up getting obliterated by Rampage as he tried for a “false alarm” enziguiri. The Legion combine on Dunne to propel him into the air for a pancake… incidentally, this crowd is as flat as one. O-Kharn sitting on Dunne in the corner gets some light boos, before Starr made a comeback with some elbows and clotheslines, before tripping O-Kharn into Rampage in the corner. Starr has no luck with double-clotheslines, but Dunne’s back to help make some headway ahead of duelling topes into the guardrails. A springboard lungblower from Dunne only works on Rampage after a clothesline from Starr, but it leads to nought as O-Kharn tagged in to trade blows with Dunne.
An Iron Finger Slam from O-Kharn’s countered into a DDT, but he’s quickly back with a double Flatliner before Gideon Grey distracts the ref. He’s pulled off the apron by Dunne, as the challengers hit back with a 999-assisted Cherry Mint DDT on O-Kharn, before Rampage took an ugly stuff Kaepernick… only for Sha Samuels to distract as Mark Haskins ran in to Roshambo the challengers to death, allowing O-Kharn to pin Starr with an Iron Finger Slam. The Legion have new members, but the build up to this just didn’t click with York Hall one bit. I don’t want to point the finger, but hopefully a 6-on-2 disadvantage is the peak of the mountain for the bad guys. **½
RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship: Michael Oku vs. El Phantasmo (c)
ELP lamped Oku with the title belt during the introductions, and it looked to be a short match when ELP hit a Go 2 Sleep at the bell.
Oku kicks out – to little response – then was dropped with a whirlibird neckbreaker, as the crowd perhaps sensed that we wouldn’t be getting a screwy ending so early. Phantasmo took Oku outside, then tossed him over the guard rails as ELP looked to take a cheap count-out win while someone tried to take a selfie with Oku on the floor. He beats the count-out, but needed to get the knees up as ELP was waiting for him with a splash… and quickly headed up top himself for a splash… but stopped himself short as he teased a half crab instead. A ‘rana takes ELP outside next, but he caught a Fosbury flop and shoved Oku into the guard rails. From there, Phantasmo drops Oku by the knees on the apron, then wrapped his challenger’s legs around the ring post, before he uncorked some back rakes… but Oku endured and began to come back with roll-ups and backslides as he tried to snatch a win.
Another half crab attempt gets kicked away with ease, as Phantasmo worked in his way with a grounded version of the Gas Pedal. Oku struck back with a superkick, then unloaded on Phantasmo in the ropes before a satellite DDT took Phantasmo outside for a Fosbury flop! Back inside, Oku sails across the ring with a frog splash for a near-fall, before a half crab was again thwarted… so he nails ELP with a knee instead. Oku takes too long going for a springboard moonsault and got rudely shoved down into the guard rails. Back inside, another big splash from ELP gets a near-fall, but he misses a springboard moonsault as Oku came right back in with an ironic Canadian Destroyer. Oku tries to follow up, but got caught on the top rope, having to avoid an avalanche whirlibird neckbreaker before ELP just caught him with a Styles Clash off the middle rope.
That would have led to the win, but Oku barely was able to grab the bottom rope in time. Phantasmo stays on him with a V-Trigger, before a One Winged Angel’s countered as Oku rolled through and trapped ELP in a half crab… dragging ELP into the middle of the ring, only to get pushed away. We get a ref bump as ELP knocked Oku into official Oscar Harding… and with ELP pushing out the ref, there’s nobody to see Phantasmo go for a belt shot. Oku ducks it and hits a leaping knee, before teasing a belt shot of his own… but instead he throws it down and hits a CR2 of his own. The ref’s rolled in eventually to count a heavily-delayed near-fall, before ELP’s desperation roll-up came to nought, as he ended up taking a superkick as one more half crab in the middle of the ring, almost Lion Tamer-like, forced the submission. Finally, Michael Oku gets the win when it counted, and the reign of El Phantasmo comes to an end in an epic. ****¼
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
Will Ospreay was out with Greg Burridge and Garry Vanderhorne, his trainers from the London School of Lucha Libre, as we had a heavily-split crowd for this electric main event.
It started off tetchy, with Sabre getting taken into the ropes as the early exchanges seemed to frustrate Sabre. Ospreay tries to play into Sabre’s game with a toe hold, wrenching at the body part to keep him down, but Sabre’s able to get free and try for a bow-and-arrow hold that Ospreay quickly flipped from.
Zack’s back with a headlock takedown, clinging onto Ospreay as they get back to their feet, before Ospreay’s roll through escape led him into fresh trouble. He eventually ‘rana’s Sabre away though, then booted him to the outside before faking out a dive. A pescado from Ospreay leaves Sabre on the floor, before some chops took Sabre around ringside, and the intensity stayed high back inside, as Ospreay kicked away Sabre’s legs, before a missed standing moonsault left him prey for a neck twist as Zack began to bend Ospreay into shapes. Keeping Ospreay grounded, Sabre grinds the elbow into Ospreay’s back before he started to play around with some kicks. A stranglehold keeps Ospreay down, and when the challenger fought free, he was quickly spun back down before a handspring enziguiri attempt was blocked and turned into a STF… luckily for Ospreay, right by the ropes.
Sabre keeps going for a backslide, but Ospreay countered free and hit that handspring enziguiri. A stalling dropkick into the corner a la Shibata finds its mark too, before a springboard forearm got a solid two-count. Ospreay goes for a reverse DDT, but Sabre flips out into a mounted choke, only for Ospreay to throw his way free ahead of a standing shooting star press as his style was starting to pay some dividends. Problem was, Sabre still had some aces in his back pocket – pulling down a leapfrog as another wacky submission attempt ended in the ropes, before a half nelson suplex stacked up Ospreay on his head and neck. Zack doesn’t rush in in following up on Ospreay, instead choosing to throw some kicks as Ospreay fired up with a forearm that knocked down the champion. Will takes his time to get back up though, as he measured up Sabre for some more forearms, before a snap guillotine attempt was quickly countered into a sharp brainbuster.
An Oscutter’s blocked as Sabre went for another half nelson suplex, but Ospreay flips free and hits a head kick as both men were left laying. Zack’s back with an attempt at the Euro clutch, but it’s smoothly transitioned into back-and-forth sunset flip pins for near-falls, before Sabre slipped out of a Cheeky Nando’s as he tried to choke out Ospreay. Will manages to power up and take Sabre back into the corner for a Cheeky Nando’s, but the follow-up ends quickly when Sabre crotched Will on the top rope. Ospreay tries to fight out of a superplex, and instead threw down Sabre… who rolled away, but not far enough as a Coast-to-Coast-like dropkick found Sabre for a near-fall. Following up with a hook kick, Ospreay downs Sabre… but Zack capitalised on some showboating to go for the leg.
Ospreay gets free again with another hook kick, before a Hidden Blade missed and was eventually met with a La Mistica as the pair seamlessly switched from defence to attack. A trapped-arm armbar looked to turn out the lights on Ospreay, but he’s able to reach for the rope with his foot. PKs from Sabre tested Ospreay’s mettle some more, before another exchange of strikes had Ospreay back on top. A lifting reverse DDT dumps Sabre again ahead of a shooting star press, but Zack’s out at two before an OsCutter saw Ospreay hang in the air… before he had to grab Sabre’s arm to stop him from rolling out. Another OsCutter, this time off the top rope, lands for a near-fall, before Ospreay countered a Euro clutch with one of his own. Sabre then leaps in, but has to counter out of Storm Breaker twice before he could lock in an Octopus hold… dragging Ospreay to the mat before yet another rope break saved him. More kicks from Sabre looked to wear out what was left of Ospreay, as did a Zack Driver, but it still isn’t enough, as Sabre instantly transitioned into a triangle armbar. Throwing down some elbows looked to push the match over the line, but Ospreay powers free with a powerbomb…
…but he didn’t get away as Sabre reapplied the hold instantly! Fighting up, Ospreay climbs the ropes and hits an avalanche powerbomb to finally get the separation, before a swift Hidden Blade and Storm Breaker finally proved to be too much, as York Hall erupted as one! While this may not have had the obvious, emotional storyline of say a Devlin/Starr from last year, the long history of Will Ospreay in Rev Pro proved to be more than an equal replacement as Bethnal Green witnessed the closest to wrestling perfection it’ll probably ever see. Perhaps buoyed with a bit of live bias, but there’s no fear here. *****
Post-match, Ospreay’s paraded on his coaches shoulders before he got the mic to thank his parents and the fans, before calling out his fellow new champions in Michael Oku and Gisele Shaw to join in the celebrations… and the tears of joy.
After a turbulent 2019, Rev Pro needed to make a statement with High Stakes, and that they did. While the one “new” storyline on the show undoubtedly fell flat for various reasons, the remainder of the show was a blowaway hit. Where the promotion was beginning to grow stale due to them not being able to have title matches last year, “bringing the Cruiserweight title home” (as some will see it as) will be a popular move, and will give Rev Pro something extra to play with on their cards. Sure, we’ve still got the Southside unification matches to come, but those don’t need to be rushed into just yet. After what felt like months of the British scene talking about potential replacements, High Stakes was the first sign of those replacements being given prime spots – and now it’s up to them to prove to the doubters that it was more than just talk that got them there.
In short: High Stakes 2020 was the feel-good shot in the arm that the scene needed… and to think, York Hall sold out without needing any New Japan imports. To continue the meme: Britwres is dead? No, but it’s healing up…