A star-making performance for Michael Oku headlined in a warm Cockpit Theatre as Rev Pro were back on track.
We opened with Andy Quildan – whose job title has had a slight bump up to “President” – as he’s here to introduce the new Rev Pro tag team champions, Aussie Open. Andy teases stripping Aussie Open of the belts, but instead out come referees Chris Robert and Tom Scarborough with new straps. You’ve never seen a man’s face change from sadness to joy so quick!
We’re back to the sadness though, at least for the champions, as Sha Samuels and Josh Bodom ran out and attacked them ahead of their tag title match tonight… using the old belts to lay out the Aussies, all while Josh Bodom filmed it. Or aggressively scrolled through his Twitter. Either or. The two Andys are on commentary tonight – Messrs Quildan and Simmons – as Slick Lombardo’s making his Cockpit debut as a ring announcer.
Kenneth Halfpenny & Shaun Jackson vs. Brendan White & Gabriel Kidd
We’ve another Contenders’ tag as we seem to be going through a spell of these guys trading wins with each other.
As has been the way with this group of Contenders, we’ve got a nice mixture of the basics and some more “advanced” stuff. The Kidd/White team blended grappling and power well, while their opponents were equally adept… even if they did seem more prone to throwing in some flashier stuff. This ain’t the Young Lions’ limited movesets! A double-team shoulder charge played up to Halfpenny’s rugby past, before Brendan White hit a stacked up release Northern Lights on the other two. At the same time. Christ. Diving boots and shotgun dropkicks catch Halfpenny ahead of a slingshot clothesline for barely a one-count, before a slight trip and a Winning Combination put White down. To borrow a line from a lot of commentators, “they didn’t quite get all of it”.
White gets his receipt in from an earlier legdrop as he hit a springboard moonsault that looked to bounce off of Jackson’s face, before Jackson came back with a roll through into a Fisherman’s suplex for the win. A nice finish, although I think we perhaps need to throw in one or two more contenders into the pack to prevent burnout. ***
Rob Lias vs. James Mason
Since becoming a regular part of Rev Pro this year, Mason’s been a reliable hand when it comes to working a completely different style. While it may not land at bigger venues, Mason’s “holiday camp style” is always good to get the crowd going.
Lias was being outsmarted by that, and needed to attack Mason from behind to get a foothold in things, as those underhanded tactics got him in control… as did some attempts at sneaky cheating that the ref didn’t fall for. A quick snapmare and a legdrop got Mason right back in it, only for a flying forearm to put him right back down. A Macho Man elbow drop nearly wins it for Lias, who then ends up trading a bunch of near-fall from cradles, before Lias stole it with a roll-up while having his feet on the ropes. This was perfectly fine, but Lias is missing something in his whole act to make you want to boo him beyond the cockiness and the cheating in the ring. He’s not generic, but there’s work to be done there. **¾
RevPro Undisputed British Women’s Championship: Seleziya Sparx vs. Zoe Lucas (c)
It’s a Rev Pro debut for Sparx, who’d been training with Dragon Pro for the last few months and had wrestled for a growing number of indies over here too.
Zoe stalled from the off, but was quickly snapped down with a Judo throw early as Sparx looked to frustrate the champion, avoiding her offence while landing her own. A German suplex through the ropes gets an early near-fall, but Zoe’s quickly back in with the SIM Card splits legdrop.
A series of kicks, including one through the ropes, would have led to a pin… had Sparx not had her hands on the ropes, much to Zoe’s annoyance. Some would call that character “entitled”, but the bratty side of Zoe as champion here is making her so easy to boo. Like when she screams for the referee to count… A leg spreader has Sparx in trouble, but she’s able to break it up and dump Zoe with a spinebuster, before she countered some headscissors into an eventual buckle bomb. Seleziya gets closer with a Widow’s Peak, but Lucas got a hand to the rope before sneaking the win with a sunset flip – somehow clutching onto Sparx’s tights for the win. This was decent, and got the crowd more invested than most of the “random challenger” matches. No mention was made of Bobbi Tyler, who was over in Japan for another Stardom tour… **¾
David Starr vs. Rickey Shane Page
Our first sighting of Starr in Rev Pro since he lost the Cruiserweight title at Epic Encounter – and he’s here in his new INDEPENDENT branding.
The debuting Rickey Shane Page nearly came a cropper before the match, when his attempt to rope walk a la El Phantasmo went awry. On paper, this is a clash of styles, but Starr does have some form in death match situations… and in matches against much larger opponents. RSP matched Starr early on, but Starr turns it up with an old fashioned Product Recall… for just a one-count. That nasty cartwheel kick of Starr’s clocks Page for a near-fall, before Starr borrowed a page from the Sami Callihan playbook with a spitty chop. When it came down to using size, RSP had an advantage, which saw him chokeslam Starr off the top rope and onto the turnbuckles for a near-fall. Oh yeah, Rev Pro ditched the Japanese-style pads for this show and went back to the old school individual buckle pads…
Page seemed to have Starr’s number for a lot of this, to the point where you’d believe Starr was rather distracted having lost his title. A no-bump suplex had Starr almost beaten, as did a senton bomb, but that bottom rope saved Starr in the nick of time. Han Stansen lariats sent clouds of sweat flying into the air, and eventually wore down RSP enough for him to take the win. Solid, and I’d almost think Starr’s moving to heavyweight after this. ***¼
Post-match, after dealing with a heckler, Starr’s got something to say. Big shock. To be truly independent, he wants to run Rev Pro – and challenges Andy Quildan to pick a wrestler to represent him at Summer Sizzler in a winner-take-all match. I’m… not at all convinced on that direction.
Dan Magee & Kurtis Chapman vs. Team WhiteWolf (A-Kid & Carlos Romo)
With speculation over the future of A-Kid, there were plenty here expecting him to perhaps not get the spotlight he usually does…
As you’d expect, the opening exchanges between Chapman and A-Kid were very ground based, while Dan Magee offered something different as he offered a slightly rougher style. It seems that since the scrap at York Hall, Magee’s looking to keep the street fight jeans, which is a bold move. Romo and Magee go for crossbodies at the same time, but it was Dan who got the worst of it… but A-Kid not being there for Romo to tag out to gave the graduated contenders an opening. One they looked to capitalise on with mind games as they tried to make Romo wear Kurtis’ gumshield. Eww.
Eventually A-Kid gets in and cleared house with a headscissor/armdrag combo, before he rolled a Northern lights into a standing moonsault on Chapman. A knee from Romo sends Chapman to the outside in a rather precarious position for a brief moment, before a spell of double-teaming on Magee left him down with a bloodied cheek. Superkicks will do that to you… Cravat knees wore down A-Kid as Chapman prepared for an assisted stomp as the pace quickened – and things got a lot more hectic as both sides went for a pin… An errant superkick from A-Kid left Romo laying, but he was able to get the win nevertheless as a double armbar stretch made Chapman verbally submit as Dan Magee couldn’t quite break up a submission from Romo to make a save. Fun stuff, and we’re still getting the hints of dissension in the team… which may lead to a quicker-than-expected split if reports are true. ***
Chris Brookes vs. TK Cooper
Lykos is back out with Brookes, and to make a change… he’s the mouthpiece as he called Brookes the “backbone” of Rev Pro. They’re using Lykos to make the crowd hate him, and it’s sort-of working…
Lykos’ involvement isn’t restricted to the mic, as he choked on TK behind the ref’s back, then lended Brookes a helping hand during a Trailer Hitch. It was egregious, but also simplistic enough to have the crowd get on Brookes’ back… even if it didn’t also spill over into creating much sympathy for TK. Cooper had a good chance after landing a Jig ‘n’ Tonic, but he couldn’t hold onto the cover, before building up his momentum with a uranage and a standing shooting star. The Samoan headbutt helps, but a clothesline from Brookes ended the flurry before he ripped off the turnbuckle padding… only to get thrown into the exposed buckle.
There’s more backfiring as Lykos swings and clocks Brookes with the baking tray as he’d assumed TK was in the line of fire. Instead, it’s Rob Lias who heads out to pull out the referee as that storyline’s being kept up… allowing Brookes to hit a low blow, throw TK into the once-exposed corner, and then win with a Praying Mantis Bomb. This was fine, but some of the key points felt a little wonky – like the turnbuckle pad at the end – but at least they’re building up a storyline for the luckless TK. **½
RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Championship: Josh Bodom & Sha Samuels vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c)
What a feel for this one, eh? The attack at the start of the show gave this one some edge, but this one quickly ignited.
At the bell, Aussie Open attacked their challengers, taking them outside for a fight… which saw Sha eat the double-team GTS on the outside before Bodom was taken down with a running forearm from Davis… a shot that looked to bloody Bodom’s nose. It was on from there. Bodom pushes the referee as this descended into a fight more than a tag match, featuring a belt shot from Bodom to Davis. It certainly helped create an impromptu “big fight feel”, complete with the crowd baying for (even more) blood. A superkick from Kyle eventually gets him a break from Bodom’s onslaught, but he needed to suplex Sha before bringing Davis in to clean house.
Sha tried to use the belt again, but Davis stopped him… then got dared to use the belt instead. Davis obliged, and there’s your DQ. Yeah, a cheap finish, but Rev Pro struck gold here with this atmosphere – so yeah, why wouldn’t you continue it? They found a way to turn what would have been a “Cockpit match” into something that you could quite easily build up to a bigger show… ***½
Michael Oku vs. PAC
You know, I could write chapter and verse on this match, but let me put it to you bluntly: you need to watch this one for yourself. While Michael Oku is without a win in Rev Pro since he debuted last year, the promotion’s handling of him has shown that wins and losses are only part of how a wrestler connects with the crowd.
On paper, this should have been an utter squash. PAC, virtually undefeatable, against a man who’s not won. The match started as you’d expect, PAC withstanding some early attacks from Oku, before the tables turned as PAC hurled the newcomer into the turnbuckles… then stole his catchphrase in the Geordiest of ways. PAC eased into an advantage while also seemingly taking him lightly.
Rings of Saturn were broken up by the ropes, while PAC revelled in “doing what I want”, taking Oku outside and into the wall, before he proceeded to mock Oku’s offence. As the match wore on, Oku was having to survive… but survive he was, and eventually it reached a point where PAC was beginning to let his guard down. A Sasuke Special/Fosbury Flop wiped out PAC on the floor as Oku forced his way back in, almost winning with a Quebrada, but PAC uses his power to dump him into the ropes as the brief hope was snuffed out. Then brought right back with a leaping knee as time was starting to become a factor. Another Rings of Saturn ends in the ropes, before Oku began to start sneaking in some very Young Lion-esque pinning attempts, only for PAC to end him with a tombstone and a Black Arrow. Extremely compelling – and a contest that pushed Oku over from “little more than a contender” to a star in this audience’s eyes. ****½
In this current form, Michael Oku is being portrayed as an ideal underdog – the queues for him at the merch table after the show attest to that. While you can’t stay in this role forever, especially with zero wins, the “home” Rev Pro crowd are taking Oku to their hearts – and there’s undoubtedly some mileage in this. Not that I’m advocating for them to go nuts and put a title on him or something… I mean, that didn’t exactly work out for Kurtis Chapman…
The post-match saw PAC dismiss Oku, who got a standing ovation for his efforts, before he declared himself unbeatable and the best independent superstar going. Oh dear. You can guess who that drew out. Saying the I word is like saying “Beetlejuice” three times these days, as out came David Starr to challenge him to a match for July’s sold out Cockpit.
If you look in terms of star ratings, only the main event will leap off the page for you – but this entire show, from top to bottom, was one of the better Cockpits in recent memory. With the creation of a hot feud for the tag titles – from pretty much nothing – and what almost amounts to a phantom turn for David Starr (despite him doing little different in terms of his character), things are really looking to be in place for Rev Pro to push on for a really good second half of the year.