Rev Pro returned to the London Cockpit theatre for their second such show of the year, headlined by Zack Sabre Jr. taking on “Speedball” Mike Bailey.

We’ve got a new ring announcer in the form of Theo Fraser – described unflatteringly by some as “Ed Miliband Gone Tory”. There’s even two new commentators, in the form of Luke Bond and Danny Garnell, so we have a completely new aesthetic to the audio side of this show – almost making this sound like a completely new company.

Zack Gibson vs. Dan Magee
On paper, this should be one-sided, given the relative inexperience. Magee’s accompanied by fellow “Contender” Rob Lias, as Gibson starts with his usual promo. It seems to be a little more muted than first time around, but the crowd at least stop booing – momentarily – when the script changes.

Gibson spends an age accepting Magee’s handshake offer… only to slap the taste out of his mouth instead, before he starts work on the left arm of the youngster. Magee flips out of a wristlock, then knocks down Zack with a slap before a leapfrog leads to an eventual hiptoss as Magee enjoyed a period on offence.

An armdrag comes next as Magee keeps the Scouser grounded with an armbar, but Gibson fought back and went for the arm again, dropping Magee with a trapped-arm bodyslam, before he snapped back with an Indian deathlock-style move to the arm. The Jim Breaks Special takes Magee down as Gibson looked to set up for the Shankly Gates, instead looking to stomp on the forearm before hitting a big suplex for a near-fall.

The match was pretty one sided, as you can tell… until Magee resisted repeated forearms from Gibson, then launched into some himself before a one-footed missile dropkick dropped Gibson for a near-fall. Magee’s offence quickly ended after that when he took a double chop to the throat as he tried to rebound out of the corner. A Ticket to Ride gets Gibson a near-fall – as Rob Lias rushed into put Magee’s foot on the bottom rope, and from the restart Magee hits a Slingblade… but then he gets distracted by Lias and nearly pays the price, as he has to leap over Gibson and get a schoolboy for a near-fall.

Magee keeps up with a cross body, but Gibson comes back with a Divorce Court before he goes for the Shankly Gates again. Lias gets involved, but that just distracts Magee again, leaving him open for a schoolboy roll-through as Gibson gets the Shankly Gates in for the submission. A good showing from Magee, but I’d be hoping for Zack to be in higher profile matches than this going forward. **¾

After the match, Gibson gets the microphone and goes over his promo again, before taking a shot at Magee for refusing help “just so he could lose (cleanly)”. Gibson leaves sharpish after that, as Magee and Lias have a confrontation in the ring, which quickly turns to Lias’ hand being shoved away… so Rob just decks Magee instead.

Lord Gideon Grey vs. Timothy Thatcher
This threatened to be one sided, and it certainly seemed that way at the start, as Thatcher took down Grey, only for Gideon to return fire with a toe hold. From there, Thatcher gets a Kimura after a heavily-torqued wristlock, only for Grey to make it into the ropes to force a break.

They keep it ground-based and technical… save for some comedy stuff when Grey puts a hand up to stop a charging Thatcher, only for Timmy to turn it into a Fujiwara armbar. He drags Thatcher onto the apron after scurrying outside, where Grey utilises the hardest part of the ring by stomping Thatcher’s knees into it.

Grey trips Thatcher as he tried for an ankle lock, but it’s countered into a crossface by Thatcher, only for Grey to escape into a pinning predicament for a couple of near-falls. Thatcher makes his face as Grey tried for a reverse figure four, before instead trapping an ankle lock, and that earns him some face-hooking as Thatcher pulled up Gideon by the nose to assist with a rather nasal surfboard stretch.

Up next for Grey was a grounded Octopus, before he escaped and tried to stomp on Thatcher’s ankle in the ropes as his Lordship went after Thatcher’s left knee and ankle. A Tequila Sunrise followed from Grey, but Thatcher worked it into a pinning predicament before he pulled THAT FACE again in response to some strikes from Grey.

Of course, Thatcher returned in kind, eventually decking Grey with a big boot. A belly-to-belly suplex off the ropes keeps Gideon down, at least until Thatcher picks him up for a side Salto suplex! After some offence that could be described as an annoyance, Thatcher grabs an ankle lock, before Grey tries for a low blow… but Thatcher squeezes his legs together to block it in front of the referee, and that gives him an easy route to apply a Fujiwara armbar for the instant submission. A fun, back-and-forth technical outing that was held in front of a largely silent crowd, it must be said. Grey showed a lot of stuff here that could have moved him away from his comedy act, but it’s just a shame he’s used so sparingly in Rev Pro these days. ***½

London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) vs. Kurtis Chapman & Josh Wall
Chapman (who seemed to get a second n in his name here) has filled out a little since his last outing, but he’s still in the “dangerously skinny for this game” division.

He tried to shock James Davis with a schoolboy at the bell as he lit into the Riots early on with corner forearms and a cannonball, before Wall came flying in with a double missile dropkick. Lynch tags in, but gets taken down with a pair of dropkicks, before catching Chapman with a pop-up into an uppercut.

Chapman counters the District Line powerbomb with a ‘rana, but they take too long to dive as the Riots blast them with a pair of uppercuts as our old nemesis – blurry mobile cameras – return! The Riots take the youngsters outside, where Chapman’s jacket is opened so he can take a chop to the chest, whilst Wall is dumped on the apron with a back suplex.

James Davis throws Chapman into the ringpost, before giving Wall a slam and a back senton on the floor. Back inside, Chapman keeps fighting back, until he eats a spear from Lynch, who then nonchalantly knocks Wall off the apron before claiming a near-fall. Chapman gets caught in a rear chinlock as Lynch stretches him for fun, throwing in some crossface punches, before he eats a pair of boots and a back senton from James Davis.

Josh Wall gets knocked off the apron again, which brings him into the ring to argue with the referee, but that just keeps Chapman in there for even longer. Davis wipes out Chapman with a rope-hung senton, but the youngster still keeps fighting back, hitting a Code Red out of nowhere to shock Lynch. Finally, Chapman makes the hot tag to Josh Wall, who kicks away at Davis, before landing a missile dropkick-come-double stomp as he then dives out to Lynch on the floor. A cannonball from Chapman helps Wall knock down Davis, before Chapman tags in – and it’s a clear mistake as he was still too beaten up, leaving him – and Wall – prey to take a double Samoan from drop Davis.

Chapman then gets finished off with a pop-up uppercut, then a District Line powerbomb… Wall flies in and gets the same treatment, before Chapman’s prone body is slung into Lynch – but he switches it into a sunset flip for a near-fall! Davis responds with a stiff lariat that knocked what little stuffing there was out of Chapman, as the Riots took a page out of the Authors of Pain’s book by powerbombing the youngsters into each other. From there, they tried again for the GBH slingshot spear, this time connecting, as the Riots took the win. A fun, glorified squash – but I’m happy they’re doing something with the Contenders other than have them do New Japan-esque “Young Lions” matches. **½

The London Riots head to the back, and the camera stays on Wall and Chapman – which seems to be the cue for an angle, as James Castle comes out and suplexes Chapman into the corner. Wall takes a shotgun dropkick, and it looks like Castle’s still mad at the embarrassment he suffered on the last Cockpit show by these two.

One thing I will say here, is that the music was used very harshly – with songs being suddenly cut-off rather than faded down at the end of a segment. Perhaps this is an entirely new crew running things at these Cockpit shows?

Marty Scurll vs. Luke Phoenix
The Luke Phoenix comeback continued here, after taking eight years away from wrestling… Phoenix first broke into the business in 2003, then left in November 2008 having worked for the likes of 1PW and IPW:UK… so yes, this was his Rev Pro debut, and Luke Bond on commentary tried to put him over as a prototype for the likes of Scurll and Sabre.

Scurll takes down Phoenix early on as the pair grappled for supremacy, ending with Scurll getting an initial advantage with a wristlock as he took Phoenix down. Luke counters with one of his own, but Scurll gets free and grabs a headlock takedown before the pair squared off. Phoenix is taken into the corner as Marty does his backwards scuttling and roll through into the chicken wing pose… and yes, for someone who has “Villain is my hero” on his trunks, Marty is pretty far away from being a heel these days.

Phoenix goes for an armbar, but Scurll goes into the corner for another one of those scuttling breaks… before he instead chops away at Luke en route to a rear chinlock. After a headscissor takedown’s blocked, Phoenix comes back with a nice thrusting dropkick, only to take an arm whip as the Villain sends him to the outside. A superkick on the apron is blocked as Scurll’s pulled down, and then we get a dive attempt that Phoenix aborts, before he finally takes that apron superkick.

Marty flips off a fan after initially offering a handshake (now I feel smug), before he chops Phoenix around the ringside area, then again in the corner as Scurll wrenches back on Phoenix with a bow-and-arrow hold. A simple slap to the face knocks Phoenix down, as this looks to be becoming awfully one-sided again… and just as I type that, Phoenix mounts a comeback with rapid-fire chops. A snapmare and a kick to the back is received, then given as Phoenix keeps up his comeback, before a shotgun dropkick takes Scurll into the corner for another diving dropkick for a near-fall. Scurll rushes in and knocks Phoenix as he climbed the turnbuckles, only for Luke to shove him down and connect with a swandive headbutt.

That gets Phoenix a near-fall, before he calls for a brainbuster, but Scurll avoids it with an arm whip before running into a leaping knee. Phoenix falls for the “Just Kidding” superkick, but he counters a Graduation by tripping Marty and snatching in a Muta lock until Scurll made the ropes. A powerbomb from Scurll gets a near-fall, but the back and forth continued as he ran into an enziguiri, before Scurll replied with a brainbuster.

Phoenix counters a chicken wing and lands a Dragon suplex, before locking Phoenix in something very close to the Axel Dieter Jr Special (the full nelson, using legs instead of arms for the hold). The hold’s released so Phoenix can get a crucifix pin for a near-fall, but after the kick-out Marty gets the hand and snaps Phoenix’s fingers, before a chicken wing is countered with a wheelbarrow roll-up for a near-fall.

Scurll absorbs a spinning heel kick and a double stomp for another near-fall, before another swandive headbut rudely ends as Phoenix hits the knees. A tombstone piledriver, then a stuff cradle piledriver gets Scurll a pair of near-falls, before a series of thrust kicks to the head just enrages Phoenix, who again kicks out. Marty goes for the umbrella and nearly gets rolled up for the win after the ref catches him, but after he shrugs off another attack, Scurll goes back to the stuff cradle piledriver and another cradle tombstone… again for a near-fall.

The end came when Scurll stomped away on the downed Phoenix’s head, then grabbed the chicken wing as Phoenix held on before eventually tapping. Phoenix showed a lot of fight here, but he suffered a lot from people not knowing who he was – and likewise, from coming across (to those who didn’t know) like just another trainee in an enhanced squash match. This was good, but the crowd probably would have been into it more had Phoenix been more established. ***½

Travis Banks vs. Ryan Smile
Smile’s got a cape – and a new title (but we’ll get onto his OTT success when that drops!)

Smile starts off a chant of “make him Smile” against the sour-faced Banks, who starts off with a wristlock that Smile breaks out of a la Will Ospreay with see-saw kip ups, before he ducks a series of kicks en route to a stand-off. Banks cartwheels, then leaps over Smile before a trip leads to a la Magistral cradle for a near-fall, as Smile retaliates with a dropkick after a long stretch of rope-running.

Banks backdrops Smile to the floor, then follows up with a PK off the apron as they trade chops, using fans in the front row as place holders. Back inside, Banks stomps away on Smile in the corner, before whipping the “All Day Star” so hard into the other corner, Smile flipped upside down before impact. Yep, that’s impressive!

Banks stayed on top of Smile from there, but Smile did at least try to fight back, only to get knocked down straight away for another near-fall. Smile finally makes a comeback, taking Banks into the corner with some running forearms, before he’s taken onto the apron… only to turn that into a positive with a big missile dropkick to take the Kiwi to the outside. A series of missed kicks off the apron sees Banks clocked with a pump kick and a across-the-turnbuckles tope con hilo from Smile.

Ryan comes back with a double stomp attempt, but Banks rolls away before he returns fire with a bicycle kick for a near-fall. A cannonball into the corner gets Banks another two-count, before a blocked suplex sees Smile rolled through into a thrust kick. Smile delivers a superkick of his own before he’s planted face-first onto the mat as Banks prepared for a diving knee, then a lariat for another near-fall.

Banks and Smile trade slaps and headbutts, before an OsCutter puts down the Kiwi, as a big splash gets Ryan the win. A good match, with the ever-intense Banks taking the bulk of it, but eventually having no response for Smile’s pace in the end. ***¾

As the commentary team were summing up the match, they missed Chris Brookes rolling into the ring – he too having made the journey down from Nottingham the night before for Southside. A big boot from Brookes knocks down Smile as the Calamari Catch King asked “the Tory” for the microphone. Poor ring announcer…

Banks and Brookes drop Smile with the Magic Killer – which I’m guessing will get rebranded – before Banks is hoisted into an electric chair for a falling Codebreaker to Smile. Brookes mockingly congratulates Smile on his win, before before telling the crowd that he was only here to look for two specific people. They weren’t there, so Brookes spills the beans: “those boring, bland, cookie-cutter, juiced up idiots Charlie Sterling and Joel Redman” are defending their titles against CCK next month.

Are CCK heels or faces here? I’m being facetious, but those slights he aimed at Sterling and Redman were the exact reasons portions of the crowd turned on them at York Hall last month! Dan Magee and Kurtis Chapman come out to help Smile up – he rejects their help and leaves under their own steam. Just looking at this from kayfabe, why is Chapman out there when he took such a beating earlier in the evening from the London Riots?!

Also, while on the path of asides, I’m guessing the commentators here weren’t wholly clued up on the current storylines, since they seemed to take a while to figure out who Chris Brookes was, and why he was there. They’d been alright throughout, if inoffensive, but that seemed a little odd.

Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis
Dennis starts by locking-up with Mastiff, who just takes him into the corner as the larger Mastiff ends up taking him down with ease as both guys seem rather cagey in the opening exchanges.

Mastiff started to take the upper hand with some clubbing forearms to Dennis, who then leapt over a corner charge… before a shoulder charge barely moved big Dave. After a few more, Dennis lands a diving clothesline to take down Dave, following up in the corner with some forearms, before he nonchalantly boots away a crossbody attempt from Mastiff.

Dave comes back with a sit-down Earthquake splash for a near-fall, and that’s where the comeback continues as he clubbed down on Dennis before a massive double stomp earned a near-fall. Mastiff grabs a rear chinlock which Dennis fights out of, only to get knocked back as Dennis is taken into the corner once more.

Dennis tries to slam Mastiff, but he falls back due to Dave’s size and almost gets pinned from it. The beatdown continues with Mastiff whipping Eddie chest-first into the corner, as the Welshman gets his feet up to prevent some more corner charges. A series of forearms looks to get him back into it, as Dennis low bridges Mastiff to the outside, and then follows him to the outside with a somersault flip plancha.

Dennis immediately rolls Mastiff back in as he looks for a running uppercut in the corner, which we don’t see (instead, we see Chris Roberts’ feet as I guess none of the mobile cameras were in position). A buckle bomb attempt doesn’t work, but Dennis’ forearm rocks Mastiff… and this time he lifts up the big guy for a swinging side slam! That gets Eddie a near-fall, and his attempt to go up top is almost caught by Mastiff, but Eddie works free and almost has a crucifix buckle bomb. Instead, Mastiff wriggles free and dumps Eddie with a Finlay Roll, then a back senton, before a series of back elbows gets Dennis free again.

A series of running forearms into the corner keeps Mastiff on the back foot, but he immediately capitalises with a German suplex into the turnbuckles. Mastiff misses with the flip senton, which gave Eddie the chance to go up for a missile dropkick… but he misses and Mastiff catches him with the Bostin Crab (not a typo, they called and spelled that out on commentary, rather than the regular Boston crab) for the submission. A decent big lad’s match, perhaps a little on the slow side, but perfectly acceptable graps. ***¼

Interim British Cruiserweight Championship: Oliver Carter vs. Josh Bodom (c)
The Swiss challenger, Carter, was making his second Rev Pro appearance here, but sadly got the same muted response we’d seen throughout the show. Then again, when the bulk of your career is spent in Germany for Alex Wright’s New European Championship Wrestling, you can expect your exposure in the UK to be minimal at best.

On commentary they put over Carter, who wrestles as Mr Exotic Erotic in Germany, as having been trained by Wright and Cesaro… but just like how Marty Scurll was nailed on to beat Luke Phoenix earlier, it’s hard to see anything other than a win for the interim cruiserweight champion Bodom. Who still had his fan.

Bodom started by launching a forearm at Carter, who replied with one of his own and enziguiri to Bodom, who went outside… before whiffing on a dive that saw Carter hit the side of the apron hard. Bodom came back with a cannonball senton before he throws the dreadlocked-Carter back into the ring as the director decides that now is the time for a lengthy shot of Bodom’s rear end.

Carter takes a chest-first whip into the turnbuckles for a one-count, before hitting back with a Northern Lights suplex as Bodom scurries onto the apron for cover. That’s a bad place as a springboard forearm knocks the champion to the outside, and into place for a tope! Carter returns to the ring and hits a corkscrew tope to keep Bodom on the floor… but a count-out won’t get him the title! Back inside, Carter goes up top and rolls through a 450 splash, before walking into a roundhouse kick from Bodom that gets a near-fall. Bodom falls into a quebrada from Carter, then a Tiger Driver and a swinging Texas Cloverleaf as the Swiss native tried to force a submission. Josh gets the ropes then invites Carter into a battle of forearms, then chops, before they trade superkicks to send each other to the mat.

Carter kips-up into another superkick, as Bodom immediately takes him to the apron for the Bliss Buster – a move which, despite being his finisher, is completely unknown to the commentators. That gets him a near-fall as Carter kicked out, before he mounts a comeback as he knocks Bodom into the ropes then flies off the top with a Cutter – a move that almost gets the win as Bodom barely got his foot on the ropes.

Sensing blood, Carter goes up top, but his 450 Splash is met by the knees of Bodom, who follows with the Lumbar Check for the win – complete with some thrusting for each count. A pretty good match, even if it suffered from the same issues with the crowd not believing in Carter as the earlier Scurll/Phoenix match. ***½

After the match, Bodom got the microphone and told the “keyboard warriors” and “virgins in the crowd” that he didn’t care about them. He called Will Ospreay a fraud who was “walking around Japan with a fake Cruiserweight title… playing with the stupid bitch Shibata”. And just like that, I think a few hundred people in the Cockpit suddenly wanted to see Shibata kick Bodom’s face off!

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Mike Bailey
Bailey feints some kicks early on during the feeling-out stages, as Sabre tries for a takedown and instead gets sent to the mat himself as he rolls Bailey into the ropes for an early break.

Sabre looks to take over by grabbing a leg, but Bailey blocks it and they end up back to a vertical base, as they again cancelled each other out… and then, all of a sudden, DING!

Yep, someone’s phone went off, and in the quiet, echoey Cockpit Theatre, we all heard it. Sadly, it didn’t time with a strike for comedy purposes…

They resume with some feinted kicks before Sabre’s taken straight to the ropes from a lock-up. Bailey bows after the clean break, and Sabre just kicks him… so Bailey replies with a series of rapid-fire kicks to Sabre’s chest as a receipt before he peppers Sabre with a series of chops and palm strikes. Sabre just walks into Bailey as he replies with some strikes, but he’s eventually knocked down with a dropkick as Bailey continued his trademark offence.

Sabre comes back by yanking Bailey out of the air as he tried for a leapfrog, before he just kicks Bailey in the arse. The focus then turns into Bailey’s legs, as the Canadian scurried to the ropes as Sabre tried to work over the knees, but he ended up getting pulled down into a bow and arrow lock before an eventual rope break.

Sabre tries to chop away at Bailey’s legs with kicks, but he ends up taking a bicycle kick as both men end up outside, where Bailey continues with his kick-based offence, leathering Sabre with kicks against the ring apron. Zack fires back with uppercuts as the crowd heckle referee Chris Roberts for not starting a count… and for some reason Bailey carries Sabre up into the seating, only to get caught with an ankle lock in the stairs.

Bailey falls down the stairs as he sold his knee, and that just gives Sabre another body part to attack, as he goes straight into a single leg crab… before trying for an STF as Bailey made the ropes. Sabre keeps kicking at Bailey’s knee, as he then targeted it with a knee bar… but Bailey tried to get one at the same time, leading to the two wrenching back and forth on each other’s knee. Kicks and slaps try to give each other an advantage, but Sabre quickly rolls into a single-leg crab, then a scissored knee bar as Bailey again made the ropes.

An enziguiri out of the corner rocks Sabre briefly, before another enziguiri knocks Zack down, leading to another barrage of kicks, as an axe kick and a Shiranui got Bailey a near-fall. Another kick and a shooting star stomp misses as Bailey falls into an ankle lock, but the Canadian makes the ropes as Sabre tried to capitalise on Bailey’s one-note offence. They go back to trading uppercuts and kicks, before they snapped into a back-and-forth uppercut exchange until Sabre pulled Bailey down for a PK. Bailey popped back up and lands an enziguiri as both men collapsed to the mat.

Bailey gets back up first as he follows in with a leaping knee in the corner, but Sabre immediately returns with an uppercut in the corner as they go back and forth with those. A tornado enziguiri knocks Sabre down, as Bailey’s standing corkscrew star press gets a near-fall, before he lands another enziguiri in the ropes.

A Golden Triangle Moonsault follows as Bailey channeled Kota Ibushi – but he looked to land awkwardly on his knee on the outside. He goes up top, but Sabre rolls away from the corner to avoid the aerial attack… before running into a spinning back kick as Bailey collected another near-fall. Bailey follows by going up top, before his shooting star press is met with an uppercut, before a butterfly brainbuster and a PK gets a near-fall for Sabre… who grabs the ankle after the kick-out, and gets shoved down by Bailey.

Another tornado roundhouse kick knocks Sabre down for the shooting star Meteora, but another swinging kick is ducked as Sabre wraps up Bailey in a hold that mixed a heel hook with a Stretch Muffler, and that forced “Speedball” to tap out. A fantastic main event held in front of a crowd whose reactions could be best described as “quietly respectful” of both men. At least Bailey wasn’t ultra spammy with the kicks as he can be, throwing in different variations of those kicks in-between him not selling and Sabre getting his offence in ****

After the match, Sabre got the microphone and gave a backhanded compliment to Bailey, before putting Ospreay and Shibata on notice that he was going to get “his” Rev Pro title back… even if it meant having to go to Japan to do so.

As a standalone show, February’s Cockpit event was fine… however, if you compare it to January’s blowaway event, then you can’t help but call it a bit of a let down. Perhaps the mixed roster of wrestlers, featuring some guys who perhaps wouldn’t be anywhere near the A-level York Hall shows, along with the change of announcing crew played a part, as the lack of Andy Quildan or any “familiar” voices made this show come across like a bit of a downgrade.

That’s not necessarily to say this was a bad show, and with time the new announce team will improve, but it’s a pet peeve of mine for announcers to go into shows without much in the way of product knowledge. Little details can be picked up in time, but stuff like not knowing guys finishers was just plain weird to see.

Some fine wrestling on show here, as Rev Pro’s solid year rolled on with more of the same!