RPW returned to York Hall in London for High Stakes last weekend for their first major event of 2018, coming off the back of two solid Cockpit shows in early January. The show was headlined by Moustache Mountain defending their British Tag titles against Zack Sabre Jr, the current RPW British Heavyweight Champion, and Minoru Suzuki.

Revolution Pro Wrestling
High Stakes
January 20, 2018
York Hall
London, England

Watch: RPWonDemand

Commentators for the evening were Andy Quildan and Andy Boy Simmonz, who I found particularly grating by the end of proceedings.

British Cruiserweight Championship
Kurtis Chapman def. Rob Lias

This was a very strange choice to open the show. Opening matches, rightly or wrongly, usually carry the mantle of being fun and entertaining and being a means to energise a crowd. Chapman is still very young in his career and this was Lias’ debut at York Hall, so a lot of pressure was on both men. Sadly, it might have been a bit much. The match was relatively disjointed, undoubtedly a reflection on the inexperience of both competitors. Lias looked poised for victory before Eddie Dennis, who was beaten down by Lias at Uprising, interfered, giving Chapman a window of opportunity to land a Sega MegaDriver for a first successful defence. **1/4

The action between the two men wasn’t doing a lot for me, but the interference pissed me off. If you’re going to give Chapman a run with the belt, either present him as the plucky underdog or let him get a big victory. An opportunity like this elevates Lias either way, and his feud with Dennis continues regardless of the interference. That’s what a post-match segment is for. Not the most auspicious start for RPW’s first big show of 2018.

CCK (Brookes & Banks) def. Josh Bodom & Zack Gibson

Yes! This is the sort of opener the show needed. 10 minutes of hot tag action that livened up the crowd. Although they tasted defeat, this was the most complete showing by Bodom & Gibson as a team. They produced the sort of ‘SICK F’N TAG MOVES’ their opponents CCK are renowned for but they were to no avail, as Gibson eventually tapped out to an Octopus stretch. Bodom blowing off Gibson after the match suggests a split down the line, which would be a shame, whilst the altercation between Bodom and Eddie Dennis before the match began makes me think young Josh will be very busy over the next few months. ***1/4

Adam Brooks def. Ryan Smile

I’m going to be honest here – this was the sole reason I signed up to do this review. Adam Brooks is someone I’ve been watching closely in MCW for the last 18 months and whilst I’m not a huge fan of Smile, he’s the sort of guy who would make for a favourable RPW debut for Brooks. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

Brooks came out to minimal fanfare, hardly a surprise as the Oceania region is yet to gain a lot of traction for British audiences, but by the end everyone in York Hall knew who he was. Ryan Smile played his part here too, with arguably his best showing in RPW. His sequence of leaping the fence, backkicking it into Brooks before nailing a somersault plancha was majestic and was one of the best of the night. Indeed it is a testament to Smile that I actually bit on a couple of his nearfalls in this match, a match that was a foregone conclusion in my mind before the bell rang. A springboard tornado DDT, diving double knees and a pumphandle lungblower eventually put paid to Smile. This did go long, over 20 minutes all told, and would have been better off losing five minutes, but I thought this was an excellent debut for Brooksy. ****

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) def. Aussie Open

Now we’re getting into the swing of things. Another stellar contest that certainly fulfilled the expectations I had going in. The LIdJ team of EVIL and Sanada were a breath of fresh air in the World Tag League, whilst Aussie Open have been consistently great across all the British promotions they’ve worked in.

SANADA tying Davis and Fletcher up into a ball annoyed me, as that is one of the worst spots in pro wrestling, but aside from that this was great. Aussie Open were always going to see their stock rise in this match, regardless of outcome, but it was Kyle Fletcher who shone most. He got a lot of offense in and really worked the crowd in a fun back-and-forth tag team contest. SANADA eventually secured the win for his team by submitting Fletcher with the Skull End. ***3/4

British Women’s Championship
Jinny def. Bea Priestley & Millie McKenzie

Bea Priestley has been trying something new with her entrance of late, but it didn’t come off well at all here. In fact she came across as a Poundland Rosemary (now there’s a name I’d love to see get some UK bookings…), which is not something you want in your first big opportunity in a promotion. She redeemed herself with a solid performance however, albeit in a very formulaic triple threat.

Jinny suffered a bad concussion during the match, as well as fracturing her hand, and she was quite visibly woozy about halfway in and it was a struggle to complete the match. Credit to her for doing so, and the finish quite nicely adds more heat to a future singles rematch between Jinny and Millie McKenzie. A Canadian Destroyer from the second rope had McKenzie set, before Jinny threw her from the ring and stole the pin. McKenzie shone here, she is the future of British women’s wrestling, and I just hope they save the rematch between the two women for their WrestleCon show. **3/4

Will Ospreay def. Mark Andrews

My eyebrows were raised when RPW first announced this match in early January, as Mark Andrews hadn’t wrestled a match for the promotion since May 2014. The booking reeked of an angle, but I didn’t care as I love both guys and I was sure this would be fantastic.

Ospreay started this like a house on fire and maintained a terrific pace for nine-and-half excellent minutes of pro wrestling. Some of the counters were plain ridiculous. One thing I am noticing about Ospreay is that he really appears to be filling out his frame. That’s not a surprise given he came on to the scene very young, but he is developing more and more into the Ricochet mould every time I see him. A vertebreaker and shooting star press looked to have Ospreay in trouble before he brought up the knees, hit a Robinson special and connected with an Oscutter for the win in a tremendous sprint. ****1/4

Post-match Adam Brooks hit the ring, laying out both Ospreay and Andrews before cutting the Australian flag from the waistband of Will’s trousers, presumably setting up another big match for WrestleCon.

British Tag Team Championships
Suzuki-gun (ZSJ & Suzuki) def. Moustache Mountain

Seeing the entirety of York Hall on their feet to sign Kaze Ni Nare was a delightful sight. The story coming into this was ZSJ’s frustration at a lack of contenders for the belt he won last March, and Trent’s desire for a title shot. Victory here for Moustache Mountain would have secured future British title shots for both men, whilst victory for the Suzuki-Gun team would give Zack both belts.

RPW’s cameramen usually do a fine job, but missing Trent’s post slapping spot was shameful. It’s a spot literally done for the camera, so don’t waste the spot if you’re not going to capture it on the VOD. Anyway, that’s a minor indiscretion for a match that will be amongst the conversation for best British tag matches come the end of the year. Yes, there you go, I’ve said it! January is never too early to think about MOTY contenders!

The early going was structured about Sabre and Suzuki working over the limbs of Tyler Bate, all building to the Trent hot tag. Nothing pleases me more in wrestling that a perfectly timed meaty hot tag, and that’s just what I got. The interactions between Suzuki and Bate were fire and left me craving a singles bout between the two, and after kicking out of the Tyler Driver it was Suzuki that scored the win. With Trent trapped in an Octopus stretch, Suzuki wore Bate down with a sleeper hold before hitting the Gotch piledriver to give us new British tag team champions.

A fantastic tag team contest with ebbs, flows and great demonstrations of teamwork from both team. Suzuki smiled more in this match than I’ve ever seen him do, and all four men put in tremendous performances. There was no Suzuki-Gun nonsense, just twenty minutes of excellent old-school tag team wrestling. A superb main event to cap off a brilliant evening of wrestling at York Hall. ****1/2

CCK made their way out after the match, signalling that they will be the next challengers for the new tag team champions.

Final Thoughts:

High Stakes was a very good show bell-to-bell from RPW. Will Ospreay added another great contest to the slew he’s already had this year, whilst the debut of Adam Brooks couldn’t have gone much better. Then there was the main event. Words can’t really describe how much I enjoyed it, and it is a match every wrestling fan should watch.