Due to the 16 Carat and WrestleMania weekends, as well as Epic Encounter (and handing in my dissertation!), the Live at the Cockpit reviews have taken a backseat over the past couple of months, so to catch up, I’ll be reviewing the most important matches across LatC 14 and 15. These shows feature plenty of feud development as RevPro continues to expand its focus on the native roster, with the CCK team of Chris Brookes and Travis Banks featuring in a particularly prominent role.
Live at the Cockpit 14
Revolution Pro Wrestling
Live at the Cockpit 14
Sunday 5th March 2017
Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, England
Moustache Mountain def. The Revolutionists (Sha Samuels and James Castle)
Samuels forced Castle to come out to the generic Contenders music and ran him down for attacking some of the Contenders at the last LatC show, which Samuels believed was beneath the Revolutionists. This match would mark the end of the Samuels and Castle team and presumably the entire Revolutionists stable, since Bodom and Scurll haven’t fought in it for over a year now. Throughout, Samuels appeared thoroughly unimpressed with Castle, who, in a rather meta way, was not living up to his expectations. Moustache Mountain felt a little bit like also-rans here. They were clearly not the focus of the match and their WWE contact situation leaves their status in RevPro a little unknown. This could well have been their final appearance, despite the win, or they could be coming back. Nothing in the booking really makes it obvious, but they feel impermanent here.
Everyone did a dive right at the start, including Samuels’ hugely impressive moonsault onto everyone on the outside. The match kept up that fast pace throughout and all four men performed well in the sprint-y environment. Bate and Seven got to hit their big moves and all their schtick on the way to routing the Revolutionists in disarray. The bigger story post-match was Castle slapping Samuels and knocking him out with a knee. It played like a babyface earning his freedom from his bully partner, but by the time this feud made it to the York Hall, Samuels was the face. Castle just isn’t there yet to be the sympathetic character when compared to someone who stands out as much as Sha. **½
Dave Mastiff def. Jeff Cobb
Mastiff has been one of the feature wrestlers of the 2017 Cockpit shows and had a really good match with Eddie Dennis on the last show, while this was Cobb’s reintroduction to RevPro ahead of his appearance at their Orlando show. This started off a little bit plodding, but got a lot more interesting once Mastiff took control. Cobb is obviously impressive when throwing his opponent around, but here he got to display his underrated selling and got a relatively quiet crowd really behind him. Landing the power moves felt even more significant after that sequence. The visuals of Cobb deadlifting Mastiff were great to see. Mastiff continued to look really dominant, as he did against Bate and Dennis, not appearing overwhelmed at all despite facing a bigger man. After Cobb’s comeback, Mastiff put him back down, hitting the Cannonball for another Cockpit victory. He wasn’t on the Epic Encounter card, but expect to see Mastiff continue to have good matches on LatC. ***
Ryan Smile def. Pete Dunne
Dunne attacked Smile during his entrance and Pedigreed him with Smile’s head stuck in his entrance cape, just in case you forgot he was a WWE UK guy. There were 9 matches on this show so establishing heel heat in such a memorable way and so quickly was a very good decision. The attitude that Dunne exudes right now is so strong; he comes across like an absolute bully and never drops the act for a second while he’s in the ring. He’s arguably the most complete performer who regularly wrestles in the UK, which is why it’s a bit of a shame he probably won’t be wrestling regularly in the UK for much longer. RevPro have booked him pretty well on the way out though, giving Penta El 0M the shine ahead of the main event of the Orlando show, and now giving Smile a big win here.
Much of this match saw Dunne stretch every part of Smile’s body, including pulling his mouth, and of course biting the fingers, for some great visuals. Few wrestlers control a match more compellingly than Dunne. Smile’s fight back was a lot more compelling than his over-blown run against Elgin and Brian Cage in Orlando, perhaps because he has such good chemistry with Dunne. Both men got to look great through the offence they hit, fully living up to their high-flyer and ‘Brusierweight’ labels respectively. The final moments recalled their final sequences as part of the excellent 6-man tag that main evented the first Cockpit show of the year, but this time with Dunne kicking out of every move Smile threw at him. Smile couldn’t put Dunne down for good, but did wear him out enough to roll him up for a three count. Dunne still looked strong in defeat, so perhaps we’ll see him again in RevPro, but Smile’s win was played up as a major moment and a shift in the hierarchy of the promotion. ****
Matt Riddle def. Timothy Thatcher
Thatcher thrives in the shoot-fight environment, which this match went to straight away. Thatcher controlled the ground game while Riddle had his number in the striking department, which felt logical, at least in a ‘pro wrestling’ way. Thatcher’s grappling definitely loses something on video. Watching live, you can really get into the nuances and see what he’s trying to achieve, but through a computer screen it can sometimes come off as lifeless. Riddle is one of his best dance partners though and that was evident here as well as in the wXw AMBITION tournament final. When this match incorporated MMA-style moves, it felt genuine and both guys were in their element, while some of the cutesier technical manoeuvres in comparison felt out of place. This was something completely different to the other matches on the show though and was much appreciated. Very slowly but surely, I’m warming up to Timothy Thatcher. ***½
British Tag Team Championship
CCK (Chris Brookes and Travis Banks) def. Charlie Sterling and Joel Redman (c)
Despite technically being the heels, CCK are already one of the most beloved acts RevPro are using regularly and their overwhelmingly positive reaction to their attack on Sterling and Redman at High Stakes has been worked into the story here, with CCK saying they offer the type of wrestling fans actually want to see as opposed to the generic, white-meat champions. Redman and Sterling jumped CCK at the bell, properly flipping the alignments for the match.
Calling Redman and Sterling ‘generic’ is a bit unfair; they had a great match against War Machine at High Stakes and were properly fired up to have another one here. There was more intensity on display in this match than any other on the card and that’s how a main event should feel. The story of the match was of Redman and Sterling getting frustrated with the crowd’s reactions and making sloppy mistakes, while CCK’s tag work was superior, flustering the champions further. They got to his several big moves, but the crowd remaining unimpressed with them, in this instance, really helped the story being told. CCK’s first win was thrown out after Banks used a belt shot, but this fired up the crowd to get even more behind CCK and prevent a groan-worthy finish. Brookes and Banks both got fighting spirit spots, withstood the champions’ biggest moves, and eventually beat them cleanly. Redman and Sterling have an out for a rematch after an earlier visual pinfall by Redman, but this was a very popular win that makes RevPro’s tag division so much more interesting. ***½
It’s fantastic to see Chris Brookes becoming a major player in BritWres with his CCK brand really flourishing under both the Banks and Mondai Lykos versions. It’s arguable Banks had already broken out on his own and with the South Pacific Power Trip, but this is yet another act that he’s gotten over with. Brookes, Banks and Lykos represent a ‘second wave’ of talent breaking out from relative obscurity after British Strong Style were so successful last year, and RevPro will give two of them (book Lykos damnit!) a big platform to showcase their stuff on.
Live at the Cockpit 15
Revolution Pro Wrestling
Live at the Cockpit 15
Sunday 9th April 2017
Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, England
Jinny def. Toni Storm
This was built to be Jinny vs Rhia O’Reilly, but O’Reilly was injured so Storm stepped in. She and Jinny wrestled each other multiple times over WrestleMania weekend and have met a few times before in PROGRESS too, so there weren’t likely to be any chemistry issues with this matchup. Jinny was on the mic pre-match and is still so effortlessly good in that department. She always has been really, but she has genuinely improved her character work along with her obviously improved in-ring talents. There was also a very exuberant little girl leading the ‘Let’s all go to Tesco, where Jinny buys her best clothes’ chant, which was excellent.
Jinny and Toni demonstrated their chemistry throughout, going at a brisk pace and easily moving into some signature spots, including Jinny’s beautifully vicious seated surfboard, which Storm only got out of by nudging her head on the ropes. Jinny’s fashion obsession got the better of her after checking on her ‘illegal’ bracelets and getting caught up in sticking Storm in a bin bag ‘shirt’, a spot they’ve done in PROGRESS before, allowing Storm to get back in control. The hints that the bracelets might not be quite on the level ended up playing into the finish, with Jinny using a loaded bracelet to knock out Storm and pin her for a very creative ending. RevPro are playing up Jinny’s undefeated streak, so it’d be really cool to see her get beaten eventually on a York Hall show. **½
Josh Bodom and Zack Gibson vs Will Ospreay and Bubblegum
This match served as the final build to Bodom/Ospreay to unify the Crusierweight titles at Epic Encounter, while Gibson also issued a warning to Ospreay’s mate Goto ahead of their match on that show. Bubblegum has entered RevPro as a babyface on this set of shows, which is unfamiliar territory to most fans who know him from his ‘grotesque Manchester City fan’ character in PROGRESS, though he was never more than a jobber there. These two shows were around the time of the one year anniversary of Kris Travis’ death and Bubblegum was paying homage to him, so working babyface was fair enough.
Bubblegum and Ospreay made a pretty impromptu tag team with plenty of chemistry, though for much of the match Ospreay was the sole star, taking all the offence from the heel team before fighting both of them off pretty much all by himself. In that regard, Bubblegum didn’t make as much of an impression as he would have liked here. The best sequence in this match was between Gibson and Ospreay as they went counter for counter for a couple of minutes all on their own, which is good because RevPro are transitioning them into a feud. A longer match between Gibson and Ospreay is something we’ve never seen before so it’s definitely an intriguing move. The ending sequence was very creative and looked to be going really well until Ospreay botched a flip off of Bubblegum’s back. That flattened the finish a little bit, with Bubblegum hitting a shooting star press on Bodom to pin the ‘future’ champion and set up a title match post-Epic Encounter. ***
Martin Stone vs Luke ‘Dragon’ Phoenix
Luke Phoenix’s return to wrestling at LatC 13 was a solid re-debut, but he lacked the character that he will need to get himself over in the new world of BritWres. Happily, he came out looking more comfortable than last time, cracking a few jokes regarding his similar attire to Stone’s. It’s good to see RevPro give the older guys like Phoenix and RJ Singh a shot on these shows and they always look motivated in these matches.
The match got more serious as it went on and Phoenix got better and better as it went on too. Some of his manoeuvres here were silky smooth without a hint of ring rust. He’s still not there at transmitting his character, which Stone was far better at, but the work itself is looking good. Stone got a decisive win after some vicious knees and a London Bridge. Oh, and a crotch grab too. It was a weird place for such a comedic move, but I guess Stone really felt the need to fondle someone’s groin. ***
British Tag Team Championship
CCK (c) def. Ryan Smile and Shane Strickland
A second main event in two Cockpit shows proves how much RevPro are getting behind Brookes and Banks with guys like Scurll and Sabre Jr. temporarily unavailable and British Strong Style on their way out. Smile and Strickland missed the mark in their illogical match with Elgin and Cage in Orlando, but should be able to prove that was a one-off here.
Crowd brawling started the match off, but Brookes levelling Smile after Smile ran into his boot in the corner caused the crowd to erupt and the match never lost that excitement from then on. This only went just over 10 minutes, so for a main event this felt like a total sprint and the match was probably better off for it, because the intensity never dropped off. Tag legalities were thrown out of the window, causing Robin Reid’s head to explode, but the action was good enough and quick enough to ensure that wasn’t really a bother. There was a little too much ‘waiting for your next spot on the outside’ going on so the match didn’t feel like it had a true ebb and flow to it, which was one aspect that did hurt its overall quality. As a balls-to-the-wall sprint though this was an unqualified success and one of the better ones we’ll see all year in BritWres. ***½
Two more Cockpit shows well worth your time here, with basically every match at the very least watchable, with several standing out as must-watches for any BritWres fan, particularly Smile/Dunne and the CCK main events. CCK are firmly established as one of the main acts in RevPro now, so expect plenty more good tag team matches going forward.
Normal review service will resume for Live at the Cockpit 16 in May, with Marty Scurll vs Kyle O’Reilly as the feature match.