We return to the Dream Factory for the first time since Epic Encounter. There’s a reason why RevPro has earned that semi-sarcastic moniker – their 2017 has been really strong so far. The promotion has balanced its usual great dream match booking with genuinely strong yet simple story progression that provides an antidote to the more overblown story beats elsewhere. This Cockpit card perhaps best displays that mix of stories with super-indie matches, particularly with the third match between Donovan Dijak and Josh Bodom, who return to their great mini-feud from this time last year.
Revolution Pro Wrestling
Live at the Cockpit 16
May 8th, 2017
Kurtis Chapman, Josh Wall & Ashley Dunn def. Ash Draven, Malik & Cara Noir
A good decision here to make the opening match a showcase for less known talent, introducing them to the RevPro audience. If RevPro is the first to unearth one of them as the next star of BritWres, so much the better for them, but for the moment it at least creates a different dynamic to the bigger name matches later.
The most immediately eye catching wrestler here is of course Cara Noir, the former Tom Dawkins in a Black Swan gimmick. The jury’s still out for me on whether it’s cool or a bit naff, but it succeeds in getting him noticed and I’ve heard more people talk about him after this match than ever before. In-ring though, the standout here was Ashley Dunn, who looked like the most complete package and someone who could easily slot into a higher profile match on upcoming Cockpit shows (and indeed will at LatC 17 against Josh Bodom). The home-grown Contenders in Chapman and Wall continued to look good for their experience levels here. If Chapman bulks out to any degree, he will be one to watch.
As for the match itself, it was a bit of a clusterfuck since all six guys were trying to get all their shit in, and it probably would have served them better to properly structure a full match at the expense of hitting less moves. Some of the action was certainly impressive but there was no driving force behind it all, so it felt a little empty. Dunn’s stuff looked a step up from everyone else though, so hopefully he gets a better chance to flesh out a match with Bodom. **
Zack Gibson def. Ryan Smile
Smile hasn’t had the best couple of months either in-ring or on Twitter, but he redeemed himself somewhat here. He bumped all over the place for Gibson, who always works best when he gets to lean on and boss around a smaller a wrestler, using his big-for-BritWres size well. Gibson kept his feud with Will Ospreay always in the mind throughout this one, taunting him through his best friend Smile as he bullied Smile around.
This was a really domineering performance by Gibson that gives me high hopes for his eventual match with Ospreay, which, if it takes place in the York Hall, will be the biggest match of his career. To be fair to Smile, his singles matches have always been good (it’s his multi-mans where he gets a little lost/overly-creative) and I’m down on him purely because of his Twitter attitude. If he smartens up he has the potential to go even further, but he did a good job putting over Gibson here. ***
Jinny def. Alex Windsor
Another long-term story that evolved here was Jinny vs the Cockpit boy, one of the best and most memorable BritWres fans who destroys Jinny every time she comes out. Keep doing what you’re doing Cockpit Boy.
These Jinny matches less about the actual matches themselves and more about building herself up on the mic with the undefeated streak to back up her words. There are few British wrestlers who can do that better than Jinny. Seeing Windsor as a babyface was a little odd but she made it work; her character work is the best thing about her and it’s good to see can play both alignments. The actual wrestling here may not have been great but both women brought the animosity to boil here, chatting shit to each other throughout and putting some real tension into the match. Windsor had a couple of good nearfalls but Jinny managed to poke her in the eyes and hit a big boot to extend her undefeated streak. Windsor may have actually been better as a face from an in-ring perspective. Perhaps her being typecast as a heel should be re-thought? **½
Donovan Dijak def. Josh Bodom
These two had two fiery matches just over a year ago in a surprisingly great mini-feud. Now both Dijak and Bodom have gotten a lot better in that year, making this third match a salivating prospect. Dijak kept the intensity of those first two matches going right out of the gate with a Fosbury Flop dive to the outside, an impressive feat for such a big man in the little room the Cockpit provides. It’s rare that I say this, but the crowd brawling here was great, and just as satisfying as the ones they’ve had before. Dijak and Bodom are two guys with fantastic heated chemistry that you would just never expect to have.
The big moves kept coming at a quick pace here. Dijak makes everything look amazing; he hit three Feast Your Eyes in this match and, considering such a GTS-style move is easy to look bad, they all looked vicious. Bodom might not have matched Dijak’s crispness but the energy was there to cover for it, as well as Dijak’s crazy selling of his own FYE move, taking the hit and falling over the top rope in one move that nearly had me out of my chair. Bodom’s attempt to use his Cruiserweight title belt was thwarted by Ashley Dunn, distracting him for long enough to set up a third FYE and give Dijak his first win over Bodom. Very fun match with a quick pace and monster moves, and another match on this show that sets up a logical future matchup in Bodom/Dunn. ****
British Tag Team Championship
CCK (Travis Banks and Chris Brookes) def. London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch)
Look away now, tag legality fans. There may not have been a single tag in this entire match, eschewed in favour of CCK’s signature Sick Fucking Tag Moves. While the action here was certainly strong, there wasn’t much tying it all together. Some semblance of match progression took place when Brookes battered Rob Lynch with his own cricket bat after the ref got caught up in their squabble, resulting in James Davis being isolated and eventually pinned, but it wasn’t much to chew on.
All four guys acquitted themselves nicely here but on a show laden with evolving storylines and less accomplished wrestlers finding success in more meaningful roles, this match felt like an outlier; a moves-for-moves-sake match. This was enjoyable to watch in the moment but this wasn’t as good as CCK’s previous matches in RevPro. Still, they’ve been well established now and will get plenty of opportunities to have great matches going forward, including a rematch with the Riots if the post-match brawl was anything to go by. **½
Lord Gideon Grey def. Eddie Dennis
The happiest man in the world vs the saddest. RevPro have low-key invested in Dennis on these Cockpit shows, so despite having lost every one of his matches, when he does finally get the win it will be a genuinely feel-good moment. This match was almost intentionally weird due to Gideon’s ‘ennui’ gimmick, with Grey not playing along with the usual flow of a match. If he’s not going to have traditionally good matches, but also doesn’t want to be comedy fodder forever, this is probably the right way to go for Grey. Things got slightly more traditionally competitive later on, but it was nothing that needs to be seen. A furthering of both men’s individual stories, and hopefully next time out Eddie gets a bigger opponent. *½
Sha Samuels and Rob Lias def. Dan Magee and RJ Singh
A few stories all intertwined here and made a match that could have felt throwaway into something really fun to watch. Samuels fell out with former tag partner James Castle and lost to him at Epic Encounter, but here recruited a new rebellious Contender Rob Lias as his new partner/young boy to make his tea for him. Lias has broken away from the Contender gimmick in protest, seeing him turn on Dan Magee and defeat him in Portsmouth two months ago. Among all this is RJ Singh, who beat Samuels at the last Cockpit show and is being set up as the guy Samuels just can’t figure out. Trust Captain Q to have not only the best dream matches, but also the most logical long-form storytelling in 2017 BritWres.
Those stories permeated through the match well, with Lias and Magee sparking great animosity between each other and Singh having his best Cockpit showing yet as the grumpy veteran tired of Samuels’ overly-excited schtick. Again, if you’d presented me this match a few months ago I would probably have gone for a toilet break, but the visible improvement of Lias and Magee and the strong sense of character motivation here made this a good one, if still a bit short and basic. Another set of singles matches between the pairs of rivals here should deliver too. ***
Post-match, Samuels brawled with Lias and chucked him out of the ring, setting up yet another heated matchup for a future show.
Marty Scurll def. Kyle O’Reilly
A big-time matchup here that didn’t quite live up to its own lofty expectations, but did provide a big announcement for O’Reilly. To cut to the chase, post-match he announced he would be back in the UK for the British J Cup in July, and would face KUSHIDA one last time in the first round. Every KOR/KUSHIDA match so far has been excellent, and it may very well never happen again after the J Cup, making that show so much more exciting.
The energy of the match itself may have been different live, but on VOD it didn’t land as well as it could have. The opening 10 minutes or so felt like filler, and O’Reilly didn’t mesh with Scurll’s light-hearted antics too well. The second half of the match was better, as both men’s stiff shots upped the ante and it started to feel like a proper Kyle O’Reilly match. Some of the strikes felt brutal and they all felt like they had a purpose, with both men looking to soften the other up and hook in a final submission hold. The ending was cutesy and a bit of a contrast to the rest of the match, but it worked, with Scurll and O’Reilly poking each other in the eyes and snapping each other’s fingers. Scurll ‘accidentally’ snapped referee Chris Roberts’ fingers, which Roberts sold beautifully. This let Scurll roll an O’Reilly visual pinfall into a Chickenwing, forcing him to tap out. A bit of a mish-mash of ideas in this match but it was all good fun. ***
Dijak/Bodom was the standout match on this show and the best of their already-good series of matches. This show though was mainly about the development of several storylines based on in-ring results and ambitions. There’s nothing ‘soap opera’ about it and there’s been no illogical jumps in any of the stories, just good, simple progression that’s made several wrestlers feel important when they were just afterthoughts a few months ago. These 2017 Cockpit shows have been very rewarding to follow for that reason.