The Cockpit played host to a pride of New Japan’s Young Lions for the venue’s final show of the year.

There’s more of a crowd at the venue that Dunkzilla affectionately called the “Cockers” – and yes, Dunky’s back on commentary alongside Andy Quildan and Andy Simmonz as we’re dealing with wonky microphones.

JJ Gale vs. Rob Lias
At the last Cockpit show, Gale attacked Lias as they’ve been going at it for a while…

Lias starts out hot, but Gale takes him into the corner with an Irish whip, and followed in with a big kick. Ground and pound follows, before a wacky spear took both men to the outside. Lias is back first though, stomping on Gale’s arm as the Contender was firmly back on the defensive. Gale tries to fight back, but Lias goes back with an armdrag and a levering armbar as he tried to pop the joint out. JJ’s back with a dropkick to catch out Lias, before a Gory knee and a chop got him further ahead. Problem was, Gale keeps up with uppercuts, using his bad arm, following up with a back senton for a near-fall, before a spiking DDT had Dunkzilla popping.

In the end though, Gale’s springboard got caught and turned into a Euro clutch for a near-fall, before he went back to the arm with a modified chicken wing for the submission. I think the name “chickenshit wing” may not catch on, but we’ll go with it. A solid outing for Lias, who worked a body part and got his dues, leaving Gale a bleeding mess. **¼

That wasn’t all for Lias though – he went backstage and returned with… a brick? TK Cooper’s back to make the save, laying out Lias before he went back on Lias, fighting with a dodgy mic to demand a no-DQ match to settle their issue. In GUILDFORD. Nowhere else. Hopefully there’s no building sites nearby…

Southside Speed King Championship: Darius Lockhart vs. Senza Volto vs. Ricky Knight Jr. (c)
Unfortunately the parade of “hey, they were a champion in Southside” continues as Ricky Knight Jr. brought his Speed King title to the Cockpit with little fanfare. The other S-word didn’t get mentioned, by the way…

Lockhart’s sent outside at the bell as Knight and Volto hit the ropes… Senza hits a ‘rana before Lockhart returned, taking Senza outside only to see his dive go awry as he ended up taking a slingshot stomp and a senton bomb as the American went outside to recover. Back in the ring, Knight hits a dropkick to Volto, only for Senza to hit back with chops that were returned, almost wrecking Knight, who fell to the outside after a dropkick.

Darius is back to shine with a half and half suplex for a near-fall, before he again tried to cave in Senza’s chest with another chop. A chinlock’s fought out of by Senza, only for Ricky to fly in with a missile dropkick to the pair of them as he proceeded to land a stacked-up Samoan drop. Impressive! A Finlay roll cannonball into the corner gets Knight a near-fall, as neither man could not escape, before Dunkzilla almost bust out a swear amid an almighty chop battle. Knight lands a right hand to break it up, before Senza Volto’s handspring cutter and a wheelbarrow cutter found its marks.

All three men look to fight back from their knees, but the tempo is quickly increased as Senza lands a Code Red for a near-fall… then a stacked-up sunset flip as minds around the Cockpit were blown. Knight keeps the match alive, then quickly put Lockhart away with a sitout tombstone for the win. This was a goddamn spotfest and it was an absolute hoot to watch live – the way the Southside guys are being introduced may be a little lacking, but so far their outings at the Cockpit have been home runs. ****¼

Bobbi Tyler vs. Gisele Shaw
Last time Bobbi was at the Cockpit, she’d aligned herself with Zoe Lucas… they at least brought bits of that back as Tyler was keeping up her STARDOM alliances here.

Gisele was coming in hot from a win over Tessa Blanchard a week ago, and she starts by pulling down Tyler into an armbar… and we’ve a quick rope break too. Shaw’s back up with armdrags, before she looked to hit the ropes… but Tyler pulls her back and stopped the Canadian in her tracks. A right hand from Tyler knocks Shaw down, as she began to rough up the future title challenger, landing a suplex before clamping down with a chinlock.

Tyler shrugged off a fightback and hit a pump kick for a near-fall, before a rope-hanging DDT led to a near-fall and more screams. Some trash-talking fired up Shaw, who lands a spinebuster before a springboard armdrag and the neck flip almost put Tyler away. A DDT from Tyler’s avoided, as Shaw rolls her away for a knee strike, before a DDT and a Fujiwara armbar eventually forced the submission. A nice little outing that keeps the story with Zoe Lucas spinning – although it’ll not be until next year when that title shot arrives… **½

The Legion (Rampage Brown, Sha Samuels & Great O-Kharn) vs. Dan Moloney & Kings Of The North (Bonesaw & Damien Corvin)
Lord Gideon Grey’s out with a Southside tag title, as the Legion have handed those titles around themselves. Gideon and Sha have the Southside belts… and a bust-up mic! So Gideon just does it au naturel and bellows his intro to the crowd. Thank God there’s only three members in the Legion, because he’d be increasing his risk of a coronary…

On paper, this was always going to break down into a six-way hoss fight, with Sha calling himself the “Eastside champion”. Wasn’t that a hockey management sim?

Bonesaw and Rampage start us off, with some lucha from Bonesaw, as we did the usual thing of cycling through tags. There’s a lot of aggression as Sha and Corvin faced off… only for Corvin to land a dropkick as the Kings looked to be on the right track. Despite being sent out, Corvin hits a urange off the apron to Sha, as “Ultimo Dragon” Gideon Grey provided a distraction… which allowed Sha to grab his scarf to use on Corvin.

That led to the Legion isolating Corvin, using a leg splitter and some stomps as all the shenanigans kept the Rev Pro newcomer in the wrong part of the ring. O-Kharn’s in with a facebuster for a near-fall, as Sha kept up with a PK to the back that was more a toe poke than a volley. A short-range lariat from Rampage gets a near-fall, before Corvin finally got free and made the tag to Bonesaw, who cleared house with a cannonball to O-Kharn for a near-fall. Sha broke that cover up, before Dan Moloney tagged in and found himself chopped by Rampage. He’s back with a ripcord Black Hole Slam for a near-fall, before the action spilled outside… where the dives started. Corvin went for a tope con giro as he continued to test his recently injured shoulder, while Sha went up for a moonsault… and it’d be fair to say the catch wasn’t the best.

Bonesaw instantly threw Sha into the ring as the tag team champions and the Kings brawled to the back… leaving us with Moloney and Sha to pick up where they left off in Southampton. On the VOD, the bell rings to end the match as we fade to black, and return quickly for the second part of the brawl, which ended with the Kings standing tall after Dan Moloney stopped the Legionnaire from using Gideon’s cane. A fun brawl on the VOD, but if it felt like something was missing, you’d be right. ***

Live, the match continued for a little while after the tag teams brawled to the back. However, Sha Samuels collapsed and began vomiting, which led to the match being waved off as the ringside medics checked on him. Thankfully he left under his own steam, but it made for a scary moment in the Cockpit.

Dan Magee & Kurtis Chapman vs. Moonlight Express (MAO & Mike Bailey)
We’ve still got Mad Kurt, and this month he’s gotten a cape, while Dan Magee looked on in embarrassment. Especially when he refused to shake MAO’s hand, dabbing instead… so Mike Bailey tried his luck, and got a dab too. So he responded with a threat that’d get him banned from Twitter. Just ask Chris Brookes.

MAO tries to calm down Bailey at the bell, as Magee started with some armdrags before he got tricked as MAO outwrestled him with some World of Sport-like tricks. Tags got us to Bailey and Chapman, but Speedball was still mad like an ogre, going after Mad Kurt before Magee helped his man out… before they were both caught with kicks to the midsection. Bailey’s back to throttle Chapman, before MAO held Mad Kurt in a wacky upside down submission that needed Magee to break up. Ow. Chapman’s back to try a barrage of strikes on Bailey, but the Orange Cassidy act ended with a massive chop. One that rocked him so much, that Chapman tried to tag out in the wrong corner. D’oh.

MAO’s back in and met with a lungblower by Chapman, before Magee began to build up a head of steam, landing a crossbody on MAO. The Morning Glory’s next for a near-fall, broken up by a kick from Speedball, before he hit back with a Slingblade to leave both men on the mat. Bailey’s in to go all Suzuki on Chapman, hitting a rear naked choke before a Gotch piledriver’s blocked… so it’s back to the kicks before he missed a corkscrew press. Magee adds to it by powerbombing Chapman onto Bailey for a near-fall, but there’s a turn around as Bailey hits moonsault knees as Magee and Chapman were stacked up onto each other.

MAO’s back with a split-legged moonsault on Chapman for a near-fall, as Bailey hit a delayed Golden Triangle moonsault to take care of Magee on the outside. Chapman sends MAO outside for Magee’s cannonball senton, while Chapman added to it with a flip senton of his own that saw him land awkwardly on a step. That could have broken a bone or two…

Chapman’s able to continue, but a springboard stomp perhaps wasn’t a good idea. A crucifix bomb doesn’t even get a one-count as Kurt’s shoulders wouldn’t go down… but he damn sure did after the Michinoku Spiral, as the not-Fidget Spinner gets the win. Mad Kurt is proving to be a revelation as a character compared to the old Super Contender – and it makes for entertaining stuff like this. ***½

After the match, Chapman hung around as he finally gave a handshake… then was interrupted as Pretty Deadly appeared in the Cockpit. They got the mic and challenged Bailey and MAO to a match at York Hall… and MAO accepted, a la The Rock.

That challenge, by the way, was something that Mad Kurt took offence to, because his own quest to face Minoru Suzuki was turned down. So he took his frustrations out on Howley and Stoker… who responded to his punches by slapping him silly, then dropping him with a Doomsay uppercut. That didn’t do the leg any favours either…

Carlos Romo vs. Shota Umino
This was Umino’s Cockpit debut, and he’s looking for his first win here having had losses in all three prior matches in Rev Pro. Meanwhile, Carlos Romo’s looking to get back on track after almost going the distance with Kyle Fletcher last month.

Romo’s the early aggressor, taking Umino down for some early pins as the Spaniard tried to keep the pace low. Umino’s able to find his way through with a shoulder tackle though, before taking Romo into the corner for some boots and chops. Carlos is back with a kick to the back though, as he picked up a near-fall… but despite all that, the early going was feeling very much like they were comfortable in first gear.

Umino fights to escape a full nelson as Andy Q was moaning about Carlos Romo and his hairband. It’s jealousy. Romo stays on Umino with a key lock as he was looking to wear down the travelling Young Lion. Eventually Shota escaped the full nelson, and got back up to land some running forearms, only to get caught in a grounded Octopus as the ropes were needed to save “Shooter”. Carlos stays on Umino with forearms, but Shota hits back with one of his own before he ran into another full nelson that sparked off a series of German suplexes. Umino went for a reverse suplex, but Romo rolls out and into a Butterfly hold, looking to make Umino submit… before he pulled him up and hit a Twist and Shout. Someone’s inspired by Umino’s early-Tanahashi gear…

The butterfly hold’s reapplied as Romo kept breaking it to throw some elbows, but again they’re right by the ropes as he got a foot to the bottom strand to get free. Umino’s right back with a pop-up knee and a diving knee strike for a near-fall, before he spiked Romo with the Death Rider for the win. Fun fact – this was the longest singles match Shota’s had yet… and it kinda showed. Umino’s on excursion for a reason, although I’d hope that his excursion is going to be full of long matches to get him experience, on this evidence, there’s a lot of spark missing. **½

After the match, once Romo’d gotten up and brushed away a handshake, Hikuleo ran out and attacked Umino. That’s building up to their match at York Hall later in the month, before Kyle Fletcher ran out to make the save. My ear drums took a beating because of Dunkzilla there, and we have our Heyman special as Kyle “pulled the main event forward” as he wanted to fight now.

Hikuleo vs. Kyle Fletcher
Hikuleo tries to jump Fletcher at the bell, but Kyle sidesteps as we begin with all the shots, before a dropkick took the Tongan outside.

Back inside, Hikuleo’s again swinging at air ahead of a Quebrada from Fletcher, before Hikuleo went down grabbing his leg. Thing is, we’d already had the medics out earlier in the show, and literally minutes earlier for Carlos Romo, so that killed any notion of a “real injury”. Kyle knew too, as he side-stepped Hikuleo as he got back to his feet, but the big man just pulls Fletcher outside for the hell of it.

Back inside, Kyle tried to land a suplex, but Hikuleo puts on the brakes and reversed it for a near-fall, before a good ol’ neck crank kept the Aussie down. They’re back outside as Hikuleo tossed Kyle into a wall in the Cockpit… except we could barely see it as the lighting away from the ring is a bit iffy. Kyle tries to fight back, hiptossing out of a uranage before he cracked Hikuleo with a superkick. A dropkick from Fletcher takes Hikuleo outside, where they teased brawling into the crowd as Kyle dived over some fans to hit a cannonball into Hikuleo. A tip for any fans: if a wrestler says move… MOVE!

Returning to the ring again, Fletcher heads up and lands a frog splash for a near-fall, before a sheer drop brainbuster that would make Tomohiro Ishii jealous got another two-count for Kyle. Forearms from Hikuleo lead to a scoop slam as the pair slugged it out… only for Kyle to wrap his arm around Hikuleo with a goddamn lariat. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. David would be proud.

The hattrick’s stopped as Hikuleo came in with a swinging neckbreaker for a near-fall though, before a superplex from Hikuleo as blocked, with Kyle turning it into a GODDAMN AVALANCHE MICHINOKU DRIVER, only for a lawn dart to be stopped via a ref bump. Poor Oscar Harding took a legit clothesline from Fletcher, which meant that there was nobody to make the cover, and when Hikuleo got up to hit a Samoan driver, it was almost sure that the match was over… but Fletcher’s up at two.

Hikuleo looks for the Stun Gun, but Kyle escapes and snatched a backslide for a near-fall, before he lawn darted Hikuleo into the corner. A hammerlock tombstone looked to follow, but Hikuleo slips out and shoved Kyle into the ref… a low blow follows as Dunkzilla curses like a sailor, before the Stun Gun got the win. This had a little more go to it than the last match, but with Hikuleo being the lone Bullet Club man in Rev Pro, he does seem a little out of sorts without a big storyline to work with… **¾

Ren Narita vs. Michael Oku
This was Oku’s first outing since winning the British J Cup a week prior… and of course, he had no trophy to show, thanks to PAC.

Narita starts by working over Oku’s arm as the feeling out process led to Narita almost losing to a quick roll-up. The pace remains slow as Oku tried to work the arm, following up with armdrags before a snap ‘rana surprised Narita, as did a dropkick. Narita tries to take back control with a side headlock, before he took Oku into the corner.

On the outside, Oku’s taken into the seating decks, where he began to fight back as they traded forearms and uppercuts. Back inside, a dropkick from Oku gets him some breathing room, but Narita just flings Oku into the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly that brought back memories of some of Oku’s wilder bumps.

Narita slows the pace down with a leg spreader, but after letting go Oku’s able to reply with a spiking DDT. A moonsault lands in Narita’s knees, but Oku stopped himself and went for a half crab, which got pushed away before the razzle dazzle roundhouse dropped Narita. The springboard moonsault connect at the second time of asking for a near-fall, before a GODDAMN DROPKICK flung Narita back into the corner. Oku tries to decapitate Narita with another dropkick, then returned the favour as Oku was flipped inside out with another dropkick. The Narita Special #4 looked to follow, but Oku blocks and rolled into a half crab, then pulled Narita away from the ropes, only for Ren to roll free and land the Narita Special #3! That leg lace ends in the ropes as Oku had to bite the rope to stay alive…

Narita looked to capitalise as the pair traded forearms, before more superkicks and dropkicks from Oku looked to get a knock-out… Narita tries to do the same with German suplexes, but Oku kicks out at two, before he caught Narita hanging in the corner with a frog splash elbow. From there, he rolls Narita out of the corner and went back up for a frog splash, before rolling Narita back into a high-angle half crab for the eventual submission. A solid back-and-forth match, with Oku throwing all the bombs he had in his arsenal to get past Ren Narita… and he’ll need all that and more to get past PAC later in the month! ***½

The final Cockpit show of 2019 was a show that had a lot of promise on paper, particularly when it came to the proliferation of Young Lions on the card. The problem was, the second half of the card flattered to deceive, with the three singles matches not connecting with the crowd to various levels… not helped by the show running late, as this again seems to be a problem with the Cockpit.

There’s no January show as the first weekend of the month clashes with a certain double-header in Tokyo… and as luck would have it, the second night of WrestleKingdom will be hosting Zack Sabre Jr.’s Rev Pro title defence against SANADA. At least they’ve both been at the Cockpit in 2019…