Last month’s Live at the Cockpit was main evented by a tremendous all-star 6-man tag, with Pete Dunne, Marty Scurll and Travis Banks defeating Will Ospreay, Shane Strickland and Ryan Smile. That match got rave reviews and generated real buzz for the Cockpit shows, which have been overlooked for some time. RevPro have a full schedule of Cockpit shows for 2017 and are making them a real effort to make them an important part of the promotion this year, and so we’ve decided to start reviewing them.
Revolution Pro Wrestling
Live at the Cockpit 13
February, 5 2017
Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, England
Zack Gibson def. Dan Magee
Magee is one of RevPro’s ‘Contenders’, essentially the Portsmouth School of Wrestling graduates in Young Lion gimmicks. No other British promotion does this, but I far prefer the idea over the ProJo slapping green wrestlers with over-the-top wacky characters before they’ve really mastered the basics. It also makes them natural underdogs, and Gibson works best when he can control a match and beat down his opponent only to slip on banana peels and let them back in, which is pretty much what happened here. Gibson got continually distracted by the crowd, but it was the outside interference of fellow Contender Rob Lias that gave Magee the best chance of winning. Magee admonished Lias for trying to cheat to help him, allowing Gibson to roll Magee into the Shankly Gates and score the submission. I appreciate the building of the Lias/Magee story, even if it was a little unsubtle, and Gibson looks like he’s on for a big role in RevPro in 2017. **
Timothy Thatcher def. Lord Gideon Grey
This was a bizarre match as soon as it was announced, and the execution was equally bemusing. The idea here was that Grey would have to actually wrestle instead of permanently cheating in order to have a hope of beating Thatcher, and at least Grey managed to sell that story well. Nothing Thatcher did suggested that was the story though, and he just took this as another day at the office, doing random holds that had no sense of progression about them. A big problem here was believability, as Grey is a fair bit smaller and a lot less muscular than Thatcher, and without his chicanery it was difficult to buy that he could go hold for hold with Thatcher, and no story within the match was ever built to get around that.
If this had been a silly Grey-centric match, it could have had a chance of being fun, but as with most Thatcher-centric matches, it ended up being a sequence of hold with little to no meaning, until one of the holds led to Lord Gideon tapping out. At least Grey’s Twitter is tremendous. *
London Riots def. Josh Wall and Kurtis Chapman
Wall and Chapman are Contenders, but defeated James Castle and Sha Samuels in just a couple of minutes with a surprise rollup at the last Cockpit. These guys really inhabit the underdog Young Lion spirit, and I’m liking Chapman especially as a potential future star. He’s still a teenager and is very very skinny right now, but he can really project his fighting spirit and chucks himself around the ring. The Riots were excellent opponents for the young upstarts here, and they absolutely crushed the Contenders here with big power moves, cutting off their spirited comebacks in the most satisfying of ways. Wall and Chapman had a few big hope spots and Chapman’s reversal of the Riots’ double team finisher was a fantastic moment, but the ending stretch saw the Contenders killed dead to ensure there was no way they could pop back up, and that made sure the crowd knew who the dominant team were. If you enjoy Young Lion vs New Japan Dads matches, this is definitely one for you. ***½
Marty Scurll def. Luke Phoenix
Luke Phoenix has been out of wrestling for 8 years, before returning at the end of last year, and as such, I know absolutely nothing about him. My very first impression of him was that he looks like the stone bust head from 90s children’s TV show Art Attack. I loved Art Attack, but that thing was pretty creepy. Luke Phoenix.
Phoenix certainly showed that he’s a fundamentally sound wrestler even after a long time away, and could completely keep up with Scurll in that department, but he fell flat when it came to conjuring a crowd reaction. He’ll need a few more matches in RevPro for the fans to become familiar with his moves and mannerisms, because very few people in the crowd knew what to react to. Luckily, he was wrestling charisma machine Scurll and didn’t really have to worry about the fans not making any noise at all, as they lapped up everything Scurll did. The pair weren’t holding back in this match, as evidenced by the large welt on Phoenix’s chest by the end of it. Phoenix clearly wanted to prove he still belonged in the ring with the rise in talent of modern BritWres, and I think he accomplished that, although he’ll need time to find his character and how to interact with the crowd and make them truly care about him. If RevPro stick with him, he should be able to do that. ***
Ryan Smile def. Travis Banks
Smile and Banks are two of my absolute favourites in Britain, and I’m very happy that they are both doing good things in RevPro already this year, but this match didn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations for it. It was still a good match with some fun athletic spots, but as a random midcard Cockpit match with no story going in, it felt a little flat. Both these guys work best when they have strong emotion to feed off of, and they just couldn’t create that here.
The finish of Smile pinning Banks clean is a little surprising, as Smile hadn’t won a televised match in RevPro before and I thought his win might be saved for a bigger occasion, while Banks had just established the CCK team with Chris Brookes at High Stakes. However, with Smile teaming up with Shane Strickland at WrestleMania weekend, it seems this match will play into the long-term plan after CCK’s inevitable victory over Tag Team Champions Redman and Sterling, with Smile’s victory here giving him and Strickland a claim to the titles. CCK’s attack on Smile post-match suggests that’s the route RevPro will be going. It’s great to see CCK getting a big focus right now, as RevPro restock a tag division that’s never really been an important part of their shows before. ***
Dave Mastiff def. Eddie Dennis
Mastiff is another wrestler getting a big focus in 2017 RevPro, and the commentators really hammered home his size and strength advantage over Eddie Dennis, who himself is a big man. Despite being well over 6 foot, Dennis works best in the underdog role, and here put together one of the best singles matches I’ve ever seen from him. He and Mastiff sold the story of the match really well and it was impossible not to get behind Dennis in his efforts to string some impact moves together. Dennis finally being able to lift Mastiff, and then later dodging Mastiff’s cannonball, were both simple but very effective spots. Sometimes making a match basic makes it better than attempting to go all out and confusing the message you were trying to get across.
Mastiff has looked properly dangerous since returning to RevPro, and will hopefully get the chance to complete his story with Trent Seven and send him packing from RevPro. I’m glad RevPro are now investing in more native talents and giving them an edge that they don’t have in any other promotion, and they’re probably doing the best job of that with Mastiff. ***½
Interim British Cruiserweight Championship
Josh Bodom (c) def. Oliver Carter
Carter is a Swiss wrestler who has only had a couple of matches in the UK, and this is the first match I’ve seen him in. He has a good and distinctive look, and showed off his aerial ability really well here. Bodom meanwhile is still doing great things as a prick heel, and unlike certain other prick heels in BritWres, you actually want to see his matches and see him get what’s coming to him. This was a pretty spotty match and Bodom and Carter didn’t necessarily have the best of chemistry, but some of the dives and superkicks being thrown around were beautiful. Carter had ‘bang the mat’ syndrome, a common problem for younger wrestlers trying to artificially get a reaction from the crowd. The Cockpit is a more reserved crowd than perhaps he’s used to (my explanation: you have to leave that bit of the building to get to the bar) but the crowd were chanting for him and making some noise, so he shouldn’t have needed to force it. Carter kicked out of a Bliss Buster, but got put away with a Project Ciampa, which appears to be Bodom’s new finisher. **½
Post-match, Bodom complained Ospreay was hiding from their unification match in Japan, and then called Shibata a “little bitch”. Hopefully that comment will be relayed to Shibata, because the response will not be sunshine and lollipops for Bodom.
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Mike Bailey
A very strong main event for the show here, with Sabre Jr. continuing to be RevPro’s Ace and delivering matches with unique, big time atmospheres every time out for them. There’s very little hint of the playful ZSJ we see in other promotions, as RevPro Sabre highlights his aggressive, sometimes heel-ish side. Only when the world’s loudest phone notification ding goes off do we get some banter, and then Sabre and Bailey went right back down to business. That aggressive side inspired Bailey too; when he went for a respectful clean break away from Sabre, ZSJ nonchalantly kicked him in the face, causing Bailey to go beserk and level several sharp kicks right into Sabre’s chest. The battle of Bailey’s superior strikes against Sabre’s dominant grappling game permeated throughout the match, with Sabre generally controlling the match on the ground and contorting Bailey all over the ring, but then paying for it when Bailey got to his feet. Unlike Thatcher’s grappling game earlier in the show, Sabre’s submissions always feel like he’s either trying to end the match then and there, or weaken a body part, here Bailey’s leg, to deliver more damage later.
The final stretch of this was really high level stuff, with Bailey hitting all of his big moves but missing a kick that could have delivered a final killer blow, and instead getting rolled into one of ZSJ’s mind-boggling pretzels and being forced to tap out. The commentators called ZSJ the best technical wrestler in the world at the start of the match, and it’s hard to argue after a performance like this. If you want to see the master at work, I’d definitely recommend this one. ****
This Cockpit show wasn’t as good as the January show that kicked off the new RevPro, but there were several good matches featuring people who don’t always get the opportunity to have them, like Eddie Dennis or the Wall and Chapman Contender team. RevPro’s Cockpit shows have been really good for a while, and now they’re finally putting focus on these shows and crucially, putting them out online quickly. Keep an eye on these hidden gems of BritWres.