Rev Pro revived their Contenders division for their latest trip to the Cockpit, as the build for Epic Encounter continued.

With PROGRESS also running on the same day, in the same city, we had a different array of talent on show, with CCK and Aussie Open otherwise engaged. That seemed to be the cue for Rev Pro to pull the trigger on their oft-threatened Contenders reboot, which is what opened the show after Andy Quildan’s introductory speech. Let’s keep this one brief – commentary comes from the two Andys…

Gabriel Kidd vs. Brendan White
This was Kidd’s debut for Rev Pro (albeit with a missing D), while White made his first appearance the prior week in Northampton.

Like in New Japan, the Contenders have nondescript gear, and work a grounded style… complete with lots of grunting! Shoulder tackles seemed to effect White early on, but it’s Kidd who gets the first W with a lariat. **½

Michael Oku hit the ring next to plead his case – you see, Andy Quildan’s show opening speech mentioned that he’d already contacted everyone involved in the 2019 Contenders division. Except Oku hadn’t had a call, yet he still came to the Cockpit just in case it was a mistake. Bad news: Oku isn’t in the Contender’s division… Good news: it’s because he’s skipping it and being made a permanent member of the roster. Who’ll be making his debut at that level later tonight against David Starr.

Sha Samuels vs. Kurtis Chapman
Chapman was having to borrow other people’s gear because of a house fire… fortunately, there’s folks on the roster with similar build to him!

Problem is, all this made him an easy target for Sha’s bullying antics… especially once he found a way through Chapman’s wristlocks. Sha manages to coax Dan Magee into getting involved, which led to a quick ejection, as Sha continued to dominate. A sit-out Michinoku driver’s good for a near-fall before he pulled Chapman out of the corner… and got met with a lungblower for good measure. Chapman tries to box his way back in before an Octopus stretch continued Kurtis’ ongoing tribute to Zack Sabre Jr… but Sha falls into the ropes for a break, before he caught a flying Chapman with a powerbomb for the win. By the numbers, but at the end of the day Rev Pro look to be doing something with Samuels right now, while Chapman continues to stutter. **¾

The NIC (Charlie Carter & Oisin Delaney) vs. The VeloCities (Jude London & Paris De Silva)
Originally meant to be Team Whitewolf against the Australians, Carlos Romo’s flight issues meant that we had the return of the NIC against the VeloCities.

After an even start, the NIC began to edge ahead with some nice double-team moves, including a Hart Attack, before the VeloCities found a gear with some more aerial offence. The old World’s Greatest Tag Team splash to the lower back puts the NIC back in it though, only for De Silva to come close with a tornado DDT as the Aussies find a second wind, coming closer with a standing shooting star press and a moonsault combo. In the end, Delaney catches a crossbody from London, turning it into a fallaway slam as Carter tried to get the win with an elbow drop, before a suplex/powerbomb combo got the NIC a maiden win. Solid stuff, with the crowd eventually getting behind both teams, but since the NIC are sticking around, this result made more sense in this “pick ‘em”. ***

Josh Bodom vs. A-Kid
Travel woes led to A-Kid getting this singles outing as he looked to address Bodom’s part in driving a wedge between Team Whitewolf last time out.

A-Kid’s bringing the fire as he didn’t exactly back down against Bodom, only to get caught with a roundhouse kick as the Spaniard looked to fly. That led to Bodom laying it in as he bounced A-Kid off the top rope with a superplex, before nailing him with a Bliss Buster on the edge of the apron. A-Kid turns it around with a Spanish Fly for a near-fall, but his neck was heavily compromised from that Bliss Buster… then from a snap cutter as Bodom tried to end it. A senton from Bodom keeps the pressure on as he tried to cheat to victory, using the ropes to try and aid a body press, before a roll-up from A-Kid got the win. This was fine, but you got the sense that it was more an upset than a “hard fought win”. ***¼

Post-match, Sha Samuels hits the ring and called out that Carlos Romo wasn’t helping A-Kid when he was being beaten down. Dan Magee makes the save and challenges Sha to a streetfight on the next Cockpit show on May 5…

David Starr vs. Michael Oku
This was a non-title match, which Starr seemed to take lightly, especially since Oku charged into him from the off with forearms and dropkicks.

Starr took the match outside, where he turned it around by repeatedly slamming Oku hip-first on the edge of the apron. That’ll stop him! When things calmed down, Starr whacks Oku with lariat-like blows and chops, but he’s still taking Oku too lightly. Starr tries to make the referee engage a standing ten-count against the man Starr called “a malnourished twat”, before he mocked Oku’s chops.

A punch had way more effect from Oku, as some kicks and whips to the leg as he was looking to put Starr away with a half crab. Starr hits a desperation powerbomb onto the knee, but Oku keeps trying the half crab, only for Starr to again get free and wallop him with a Han Stansen for the win. Not quite as one-sided as you’d think, but a heck of an effort from Oku in defeat. ***

AJ Istria vs. MK McKinnan
A debut for Istria, and you sensed that he was unknown to this crowd… which led to a rather muted reaction during the early exchanges.

MK was landing more of the early shots, including a series of kicks that had Istria trapped between the ropes, before the Aussie came back with a dropkick to take MK outside. Istria works over MK’s arm for a spell, before another battle of kicks ended with MK taking him back into the corner. Istria goes back to the arm, albeit to staggering silence, then with some chops as the crowd started to get behind MK. Another strike battle doesn’t seem to do the trick, as MK hit back with a grazing roundhouse, then a headbutt before taking down Istria for a near-fall. An attempt at the katahajime is blocked as Istria counters with an armbar as Andy Simmonz got called out for a toilet break.

An old-school shoulderbreaker followed from AJ as he went back to the arm, only for McKinnan to slip free and lock in a katahajime… then follow it up with a spin-out pumphandle slam for just a one-count. The katahajime’s back on, and that’s all folks. A very slow burner, which the crowd eventually got into, but a “boots and trunks” wrestler against an unknown is always going to be a struggle. **½

El Phantasmo vs. PAC
The headline here, of course, was the viral photo of PAC making a little child cry.

There was a match behind this of course, and with these two having wrestled a few days earlier for Fight Forever Wrestling, they were more than a little familiar with each other as there was a lot of the other second guessing their opponents here. ELP plays to the crowd too much, but ends up doing his slingshot senton before PAC took Phantasmo outside… and right in front of the little kid who he stared down. Hey, it’s old school heat, and it worked a treat.

That got the crowd solidly on PAC’s back, and on ELP’s side as we got a nice long shot of one of the mobile cameras with a big ol’ smudge on the lens as PAC brought the Canadian down with a superplex. There’s more mugging to the traumatised bairn either side of a faux apology, before ELP hit back with a big tiltawhirl backbreaker. A clothesline takes PAC outside for a baseball slide dropkick, as Phantasmo followed in with an Orihara moonsault to the floor. Back inside, ELP comes close with a whirlibird neckbreaker, only for a German suplex to swing things back around as that kid again got taunted.

PAC looked to go airborne, but gets caught with a step-up enziguiri, a ‘rana and a big splash off the top, but it’s only enough for a two-count, before a Destroyer sent PAC scurrying for cover. ELP tries to pry him off the ropes, but ends up getting mule kicked for his troubles before the Rings of Saturn forces the submission. An enjoyable match, and with ELP taking the loss via dubious means, I guess this means ELP’s firmly in the “to be protected” bucket in Rev Pro alongside ZSJ and Will Ospreay… ***½

After the match, David Starr came out to attack ELP ahead of their ladder match in May. PAC stares over him, which made Starr back off… but only so PAC could wave goodbye as Starr was told to “enjoy yourself” – a sentiment shared by Tony Khan, who was on-screen in the front row…

Anyway, Starr does enjoy himself, laying out ELP with a belt shot before he went to the back… patting PAC on the arse, before returning with a ladder. A ladder he placed over ELP, as he then cut what seemed to be the proverbial “go home” promo, complete with “shoot names” as Starr accused ELP of getting where he is by kissing arse. Oh yeah, and apparently we’re getting “Death Match Davey” at York Hall. Will they allow barbed wire?!

RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Title Match: James Mason vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
This was built up from the Cockpit show earlier in the month, and as you’d expect, we started with holds… lots of holds, as Sabre looked to work over Mason’s arm in the early going.

Commentary plays up how even if there’s a title change, we’d not have had a change to the Sabre/Tanahashi match at Madison Square Garden as the crowd quietly, but appreciatively watched the pair go hold-for-hold. Sabre tries to delay things as Mason eventually took him to the mat and grabbed a leg, working a leg spreader as the director had a brief wobbly. Sabre reverses it as Mason scoots away to force a break, but the champion quickly got back on top as he torqued away on Mason’s wrist some more. Mason tries to issue a receipt, working a wristlock with some torque as he looked to bend Zack’s arm over his head, only for Zack to come back with a monkey flip and a dropkick to take Mason outside.

Mason’s back in to continue to frustrate Sabre, using a neck bridge and a monkey flip as he rolled into Sabre’s guard, before a double leg lock led to the pair rolling into the ropes. Next, Mason scoots out of a grounded headlock, before another roll-up led to Mason getting into the ropes as they remained evenly matched. Another series of pinning attempts led to Sabre quickly getting caught in a Boston crab, before he countered out of a body press, catching Mason in a Euro clutch for the win. This won’t be a match for everyone – if you’re not a fan of the grounded game, or technical back-and-forth, this’ll probably be a match for you to skip. However, if you’re into that sort of thing, then strap in – this’ll be your cup of tea! ****½

With most of the promotion’s regulars elsewhere in London (only David Starr pulled double duty here), Rev Pro’s 40th Cockpit affair was a bit on the muted side, with plenty of solid action, but nothing that’d have matched the ladder-filled spotfests going on in Camden. Rev Pro stuck to their guns and put on a show of “their” style of wrestling, for better or for worse.