For the final Cockpit show of the year, Rev Pro loaded things up as El Phantasmo got one more crack at the Cruiserweight title… while CCK and Team Whitewolf stole the show.

We opened up with Number Three being interrupted by David Starr, who was far from happy at the lack of notice he’d been given for his title defence. Cue fresh claims of the conspiracy against him, and talk that Starr’s “had offers”, before he demanded that Chris Roberts not referee the match.

HxC (Dan Head & James Castle) vs. Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter)
That font that Rev Pro use on their name plates is a little… unclear. To new fans it could easily be Dan Hero, not Dan Head…

It’s a first time match-up too, with HxC taking on the Hunters, and we’ve a jump start as the Hunters were attacked from behind, only for them to overcome that with dropkicks. Lee Hunter holds James Castle down as a slingshot from Jim lands for a near-fall – before he tossed Castle hard to the outside.

Finally the Hunters take their jackets off as they looked to isolate Head, getting a two-count out of a neckbreaker. Lee looked to score with a prawn hold, but a blind tag brought Castle in as a double-team backbreaker finds its mark for a near-fall. HxC keep Lee in their corner for a spell, which led to some cheating behind the referee’s back among some more legal combinations, as HxC were looking rather comfortable.

Jim Hunter comes in to try and stem the tide, scoring with a bulldog/clothesline combo, before a back elbow caught Head for a near-fall. HxC turned it back around as Head’s spinebuster left the Hunters in place for a double double stomp, before the Means to an End – the assisted Roll the Dice – gets a near-fall on Jim.

Castle tries to throw Lee outside, but the tables turn as Castle’s thrown outside before Head’s caught with the blockbuster onto the knees for the win. A bit of an out of nowhere finish to a match that felt massively cut short. **½

Josh Bodom vs. Darius Lockhart
It’s a Cockpit debut for Lockhart, whose UK tour was coming to an end here… with a little advice from Josh Bodom when it came to dealing with the hard camera.

Lockhart tried to work over Bodom’s arm early on, but Bodom countered back, using an overhead belly-to-belly throw to take Lockhart down for an armbar, before the American countered with a hammerlock. It’s all about the arms here, as Lockhart used a trapped-arm armbar, rolling Bodom back for a near-fall.

Some lucha rolls from Darius led to him tying up Bodom in a Paradise lock, before the low dropkick freed the former cruiserweight champion en route to some chops. Some mudhole stomping in the corner followed on Bodom, who hit back with… a poke to the eye. There’s some chops too, before Bodom’s corkscrew kick knocked Lockhart down for a near-fall.

Bodom keeps up the pressure with hard kicks to Lockhart’s back, then a standing moonsault for a two-count, but Lockhart responds with a drop toe hold into the corner, before Bodom just pulled him up for an enziguiri out of the ropes. A Pele-like kick from Lockhart catches Bodom before he’s taken into the corner for a knee to the head for a near-fall, but Bodom hits straight back with a powerbomb, then a brutal clothesline as he got back into it.

From there, Bodom throws Lockhart onto the apron as he teased a Bliss Buster… but Lockhart avoids it and comes back with a modified Fisherman’s suplex for a near-fall. Bodom then yelled “I’ve been to Japan” as if it were a medal of honour, which led to more strikes before Bodom was dropkicked through the ropes and to the outside ahead of a failed dive… one that saw Lockhart catch his legs in the ropes before the inevitable Bliss Buster found its mark. A valiant performance for Lockhart, who impressed in the Cockpit, but in the end the win for Bodom wasn’t ever in much doubt. ***¼

Rev Pro British Women’s Championship: Zoe Lucas vs. Jamie Hayter (c)
Zoe Lucas came out with a rather different change in attitude – showing none of the bubbliness she used to exude. Yet the crowd cheered as if it was “old Zoe”…

Andy Q mentioned on commentary how Jamie Hayter recently won the SHE-1 at EVE, which felt like the first time in forever that that promotion’s been mentioned here. When we got going, the pair locked up and held on for dear life, rolling to the outside before taking the tie-up around the ring… then rolling back inside to break the ref’s count out.

Lucas throws a slap… and gets some back in return as the champion lit her up with chops, before putting Zoe on the apron as she’s booted off. The tit-for-tat continues as a slap knocked Hayter loopy to the outside, as Zoe again brawled with her on the outside as Hayter was on the defensive once again.

Zoe rolls her back inside for the SIM card – a slingshot splits legdrop – for a near-fall, following up with a PK as Zoe started to look more comfortable. Hayter tries to fight back, but she’s met with a roundhouse kick for a near-fall, before locking in an Anaconda Vise in the middle of the ring. Hayter tries to knee her way free, but Lucas just switches the hold into a wristlock before the match descended into another strike battle.

Another forearm from Hayter catches Lucas on the head, before a step-up knee and a suplex into the corner looked to turn the match on its head. Some kicks to Lucas on the apron follow, as does a Stunner in the ropes, but Zoe’s right back in with a Scorpion kick and an axe kick through the ropes as Hayter almost took the fall.

After bemoaning the referee on duty, Lucas ends up taking a uranage backbreaker, then a diving knee as Tom Scarborough counted a near-fall, before Hayter’s Falcon arrow’s countered as Lucas took her into the ropes for a roll-up with a big handful o’ tights for the win. I like how Lucas’ character slowly shifted towards the dark side here, but the question remains the same as its always been in this division: is this the start of some proper build, or are we just having another go around with “champion versus challenger of the month” (unless the champions’ away)? ***¼

CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham) vs. Team Whitewolf (A-Kid & Carlos Romo)
There’s some banter before the bell as Jonathan Gresham introduced everyone to his stapler, Earl Perkins, while Chris Brookes refused to speak to Carlos Romo “because he didn’t have five stars”.

The early feeling-out process has Gresham and A-Kid going neck-and-neck, with neither man able to find an opening. Gresham eventually clamps on a side headlock, but A-Kid gets free and responds in kind. A tag brings in Romo, who height shames Gresham and gets punched for it in the process, before Brookes… returned the favour.

A-Kid’s back in, crashing into Brookes with a dropkick in the corner for a two-count, before a blind tag brought Gresham back in to counter a leapfrog into a German suplex. Gresham and A-Kid go back and forth with chops, ending with a low blow after the ref’s attention was diverted briefly. CCK begin to focus on A-Kid’s leg with some double-teaming, before a Muta lock saw him wrench on A-Kid with some nasty torque.

CCK keep A-Kid isolated in the wrong corner (as far as he was concerned), with Gresham now actively chopping out the leg of A-Kid en route to a single leg crab attempt. A brief fight back’s snuffed out by Gresham, before A-Kid had more luck with a chop battle… only to get decked by a discus forearm for a near-fall. Eventually A-Kid gets himself free as he shoved away Figure Four attempts from Brookes and Gresham, before scoring with a dropkick as Romo finally got the tag in.

Romo scores with headscissors to Gresham, then with a diving knee before a flip stunner took down Brookes for a near-fall. Gresham’s thrown outside as Romo tagged A-Kid back in as the Spaniards chain together a lungblower with a German suplex on the way to a pair of superkicks for a two-count.

Brookes fights off some double-teaming and lands a missile dropkick/back senton combo that rocked both of his opponents. Gresham’s back in to trade forearms with A-Kid, before a Quebrada led to a roll through into an ankle lock… but A-Kid got back to his feet, and instead found his way in a trapped-leg straight-jacket German for a near-fall, with Romo breaking it up.

CCK remain resurgent as a wheelbarrow cutter and the rope-hung neckbreaker gets another near-fall, before the livewire Gresham chained together another Quebrada, then a tope, before a Praying Mantis Bomb from Brookes and a shooting star from Gresham earned an even closer near-fall over A-Kid. There’s a flash roll-up out of A-Kid for a two-count on Gresham before duelling Peles left CCK down, as did a Spanish Fly to Gresham, then a moonsault from Romo… but Chris Brookes pulls out the referee!

With the referee distracted, Jonathan Gresham puts Earl Perkins to use, stapling both members of Team Whitewolf before a slingshot cutter from Brookes got the win. I’d have this above the much vaunted CCK/LAX match from PROGRESS the following weekend, even if this version of CCK has found and settled into “their match” – it’s bloody good. ****½

On commentary, Andy Q bemoaned how his promotion had become a deathmatch group. Not quite, but staple guns weren’t his cup of tea!

No Fun Dunne headed out to start the second half of the show, announcing that he was replacing Lord Gideon Grey as manager since his Lordship had a match later on. Dunne didn’t have a manager’s jacket… so he stole Number Three’s instead.

Great O-Kharn vs. Chris Ridgeway
I guess it’s a Rev Pro edict to have bug eyes for Great O-Kharn’s intro.

O-Kharn tried to match Ridgeway at his game early on, but he was forced to scramble away and instead trade rights as Ridgeway escaped the Mongolian chops. Kicks take O-Kharn into the corner, then down to the mat before a leg grapevine took us into a STF, which ended with a rope break as O-Kharn rolled to the outside.

Back in the ring, O-Kharn shows us the swears he’s learned before he low bridged Ridgeway to the outside. Chops on the apron follow, as does a Snake Eyes to the side of the ring, as O-Kharn continued to, erm, dominate back inside. A scoop slam gets a two-count, as O-Kharn then took Ridgeway back into the corner as his selective hearing came back into play.

A claw-assisted chin lock keeps Ridgeway grounded… until he rolled into the ropes and found the second wind as a barrage of palm strikes started to rock O-Kharn. There’s a Dragon screw too, as Ridgeway followed up with more kicks in the ropes then an attempted German suplex, but O-Kharn elbowed free before he was floored with another kick.

Another leg grapevine looked to have Ridgeway well ahead, but O-Kharn goozles and slaps him away as the strikes returned from the former Young Lion. A Mongolian chop finds its mark, before a front suplex dumped Ridgeway for a near-fall, before a claw-assisted abdominal stretch wore Riddy down some more before a leaping knee countered the claw chokeslam. Ridgeway tried for a guillotine, then a rear naked choke as O-Kharn ended up getting dumped by a German suplex… but a PK from Ridgeway isn’t followed up on straight away.

No Fun Dunne provides a distraction on the apron, and gets kicked for his troubles, only for O-Kharn to come back with a straight punch and a chokeslam for the win. Huh… from beating Will Ospreay to losing to Great O-Kharn in a matter of weeks. You could certainly suggest that something’s changed for such a change of fortunes… ***

Dunne stuck around for our next match – he’s getting the mileage out of that manager’s license today.

Lord Gideon Grey vs. Shane Taylor
This came around after Grey twice cost Shane Taylor matches against the Great O-Kharn – so this was really Gideon getting his comeuppance.

Gideon begged for this to be a regular match, but he was having trouble from even a standing tie-up as Taylor shoved him aside. Taylor offers a headlock, but Gideon can’t make the most of it as he’s easily lifted into a side suplex. There’s a double-handed chop next, a la Shane’s former tag team partner, before Grey tried to attack Taylor from behind… and gets punched out for it.

Taylor effortlessly lifts up Grey for a comedy slam, complete with No Fun Dunne’s protesting from the apron. Gideon again thinks he’s gotten through, but a sleeperhold has no effect as Taylor’s quickly out and throwing Gideon across the ring with ease. There’s an avalanche in the corner too, but another distraction allowed Gideon to return with an eye rake… but a knee strike quickly has him back down for a near-fall as Taylor pulled him up.

Taylor called for a package piledriver, but Dunne comes in and hits an enziguiri… and there’s your DQ. Ah, that was a fun one-way squash, but this just set up for… **

Santos coming out and attacking Taylor?! It’s three-on-one, with Grey wiping out Taylor with his cane until Rishi Ghosh makes a save! Rishi goes after Dunne and Grey before we got the eventual staredown with Los Federales Santos Jr. Except Santos pushes Rishi aside and charges into Dunne and Grey in the corner before the “Legion of Lords B-Team” hugged it out. My word, the Cockpit came alive for that reuniting!

RINGKAMPF (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
When this was announced, I had this match circled as a match of the night. It was an unexpected high bar though, as Andy Q bemoaned a music botch when the Aussies came out to their old music.

Fletcher and Thatcher start us off, with the latter stuffing a takedown attempt as he wrestled Kyle to the mat in the early going. A front facelock from Thatcher followed as Kyle tries to fight back, which means duelling uppercuts that surprisingly had Thatcher backing away as he tagged in WALTER. Kyle threw the first chops, ducking WALTER’s response before the inevitable happened.

Not quite “auf die Fresse”, but still satisfying.

Mark Davis tagged in as Kyle nurses his wound, and yes, we get the big lads chopping the tar out of each other. Shoulder blocks mix it up, as the pair reached a stand-off… until Thatcher caught Davis in the corner with a sleeperhold as RINGKAMPF weren’t exactly playing fair. Davis overcomes that as the ring filled up, with Fletcher tagging in for a uranage backbreaker on Thatcher… only for the Aussies’ double-team Go To Sleep to get caught and countered into an ankle lock from Thatcher.

On the outside, WALTER throws Davis into the ring post as Thatcher wore out Fletcher, with RINGKAMPF slowly isolating Kyle from any sniff of a tag out. A chinlock keeps Kyle down, as does a European uppercut, before WALTER tagged in and caught Fletcher with a bodyblow. Some double-teaming followed as WALTER lands an elbow drop for a near-fall, before a Boston crab followed right by the ropes. Eventually Kyle lucked out as he threw WALTER outside, but Thatcher’s back in with a Hardcore Holly-like kick to the stomach as Fletcher had to then block a butterfly suplex, lifting Thatcher away before a tag to Davis was stopped as WALTER pulled Kyle’s partner off the apron.

Fletcher keeps fighting, avoiding a powerbomb/uppercut combo as he then scurried through to tag in Davis, who found his mark with clotheslines to WALTER. Clotheslines and chops wear down RINGKAMPF, as Davis sidesteps a shotgun dropkick with WALTER missing as the Aussies settled into a groove. A double-jump facebuster gets Thatcher down, but WALTER’s right back in with his chops to equalise things.

Aussie Open avoid the duelling Gojira clutches as they shoved RINGKAMPF into each other, before an assisted Ace Crusher took Thatcher down. A Fidget Spinner quickly followed on WALTER… and shockingly, that was it! Much like the opener, this felt like an abbreviated tag match, but RINGKAMPF and Aussie Open are two teams who can’t fail to have good matches it seems. ****¼

Rev Pro British Cruiserweight Championship: El Phantasmo vs. David Starr (c)
This one was announced on a day’s notice, with Phantasmo seemingly getting a reward for the run of form he’s had in recent months.

Phantasmo offered a handshake, but Starr kicks it away as we started on the mat, with Phantasmo trying to counter a Cloverleaf by turning it into a triangle armbar… then switching out as Starr got to the ropes. After powdering outside, Starr’s quickly in the corner again, before he took ELP into the ropes for a trip, only for the Canadian to come right back in with a headlock on the mat.

Some criss-cross rope running led to a Thesz press from Starr, who then had to negotiate Phantasmo’s neck bridges, which instead turned into a monkey flip that Starr put the brakes on. A double arm stretch followed as Starr wore down Phantasmo… but again, Phantasmo got free with some arm drags before headstanding his way out of some grounded headscissors.

A cartwheel back elbow and a sliding splash trapped Phantasmo in the corner, prompting the Canadian to kick his way free, only to get pulled out into a powerbomb for a near-fall. Phantasmo’s stomped on after he took a powder outside, but he quickly gets back in it as he throws Starr outside for some chops around the apron, following up with a slingshot senton back into the ring for barely a one-count.

Another one-count followed from a backbreaker, so Phantasmo looked to wear over Starr’s wrist, leading to some rope walking and the flying ‘rana as Starr clung onto the ropes to stop the cover. Phantasmo takes Starr into the corner for a back elbow, but a follow-up’s stopped when Starr back body drops him into the turnbuckle pads for a rather rude landing.

Starr keeps up on Phantasmo with some body blows as he tried to shove him out of the ring, just so he could get the referee to “do his job” and start a count-out. The antagonising of Tom Scarborough continued, but it backfired on Starr as it gave Phantasmo enough time to mount a brief comeback. That comeback ends as Phantasmo’s taken into the corner for some chops. Another fight back from Phantasmo’s equally short, as he’s cornered for a dropkick as Starr picks up another two-count as the momentum began to swing around, with ELP finally scoring with a springboard crossbody and Quebrada combo.

Starr goes outside where he’s met with another moonsault, before we went back inside as a small package countered a Blackheart Buster for a near-fall. Phantasmo comes close with a superkick, before he took Starr up top… only for Phantasmo to get shoved into the referee. That helped Starr back in as he scores with a pair of elbows off the top for a two-count, We’ve another ref bump as Scarborough’s squashed, but he shrugs it off as Phantasmo ate a German suplex and some Han Stansens, before replying with a brainbuster out of nowhere!

Fighting back from the mat, Starr and ELP trade headbutts, then forearms, before an attempt at the Trapped Arm Bob Fossil ends with Phantasmo back body dropping Starr into the ref. Now we’ve a proper ref bump, as Starr looked to wipe out Phantasmo with his belt… but a superkick stops that, before the whirlibird neckbreaker dumped Starr as Chris Roberts ran out to make a two-count.

Phantasmo heads back up top for a senton bomb, then a moonsault, but the second part’s caught and turned into a German suplex before a discus forearm and a Product Placement earned him a near-fall. A quick Blackheart Buster’s next but Phantasmo won’t stay down, as he popped up to land a clothesline as he nipped in ahead of a Han Stansen!

Starr rolled outside and deliberately looked to take the count-out… except this time Chris Roberts refused to count him out! That angers the champion, who returned to the ring and took a Destroyer off the middle rope, before a Burning Hammer and that senton bomb/moonsault combo drew a near-fall as somehow Starr found it in him to kick out.

Starr again tempts fate, low blowing Phantasmo… but Chris Roberts refuses to call for the DQ, raising Starr’s ire even more. A quick roll-up’s only good for a near-fall for ELP as Starr retaliates with the Trapped Arm Bob Fossil for another two-count, so Starr decides to make the most of the situation and teases another intentional DQ. Except this time, Chris Roberts grabs the belt and gets spat on…

He tries to retaliate by laying out Starr with the belt, except he ducks! Phantasmo eats the belt shot instead, and that’s the pin as Chris Roberts beat El Phantasmo. Ah man, the SummerSlam 1997 finish with Chris Roberts as Shawn Michaels… and I’ve got to wonder out loud, can Rev Pro build up El Phantasmo for a third crack at the belt, or will losing to all of this be the end of him as a serious title contender? ***½

For the final Cockpit show of 2018, this was a solid card, and just like the entire calendar year here, there was more hits than misses. The main event, for my tastes at least, rumbled on a little too long, even if the story was a solid one… and much like the rest of the wrestling landscape, 2019 will be an interesting time in Rev Pro, as the need to find and develop new talent has to be balanced against the risk of them perhaps getting snapped up by WWE.

As for Cockpit 35 – this is a great show to watch, but if you’re pushed for time, pick the last two tag matches and the main event.