Revolution Pro Wrestling
Live at the Cockpit 33
After the asinine J Cup, Rev Pro really need a solid show to get them back on track before the TV show and Global Wars. This isn’t it.
Josh Bodom def Kurtis Chapman
Josh Bodom walks to the ring like he wants to take your dinner money and kick your bag down the school corridor. He perfectly encapsulates the annoying bully that threatens to beat up anyone who looks at them in a way they don’t like. He exploits that heat wonderfully and serves as a reminder that wrestling can tell great stories with unlikeable jerks.
Chapman appears to be the perfect opponent. His diminutive stature juxtaposes the ‘tough guy’ scream that heralds his entrance into the Cockpit. If Bodom makes a great bully, then Chapman makes the perfect victim, pushed too far and ready to fight back.
Unfortunately, these wrestling stories need competent work and Chapman isn’t very good. There’s a tender gentleness to his offence that completely undermines what a wrestling match needs. Nearly every move, including his signature offence, feels under familiar and clunky. Far too often, he looks to his opponent for assistance or takes that split second too long to lock in a hold. A number of times, he finds himself out of position and must do the awkward squirming around the canvas like a bullied schoolboy trying to find his lost glasses.
What Chapman can do well is sell. His sprawling limbs and arms after an apron Tombstone Piledriver could be framed as a Renaissance painting. He crumples to the mat like a marionette with its strings sliced.
Bodom wins, as expected, and gets the pin fall with his knees arrogantly jammed into his opponent’s jaw. The commentary hints that he wants some heavyweight competition and specifically mentions Ishii. It would be in Rev Pro’s interest to start building some of these matches, because their talent lingers in the Cockpit far longer than it should. **1/2
Gnarly Neon Explosion (Cassius & Chuck Mambo) def Legion Of Lords (Rishi Ghosh & No Fun Dunne)
Lord Gideon Grey is a mid-priced suit. He’s Marks and Spencer’s. He’s a dad that gets one of his ears pierced. He’s a great wrestling character.
He introduces his best friend, No Fun Dunne, and warns Rishi Ghosh he is on his last chance with the Legion.
Despite what BritWres fans will tell you, the No Fun Dunne gimmick is not very good. I understand what he’s going for – an ironic oxymoron, playing the miser while generating more laughs – but it feels like a cheap Right To Censor and I don’t think that’s a good thing. The new gear looks awful, and I would love to see Dunne sinking his teeth into something more contemporary and relevant.
This match was pure pantomime. It was corny, cliched and camp. It felt very, very British. Cassius was like a Carry On character in a wrestling ring and, while this might not be to my taste, it has a place. It’s impossible to watch him bounce and twerk around the ring without smiling. I think we’ll be seeing him a lot.
Chuck Mambo was Chuck Mambo. He strikes me as someone who doesn’t pay his fair share of electricity bills and eats all your cereal when he stays over.
There were moves leading to a hot tag and a very bizarre ending. Rishi Ghosh had Cassius ready for the finish, but Grey insisted on throwing in a walking stick in and going for the cheap victory. This went wrong and led to Ghosh being pinned. There was an awkward silence in the Cockpit during this interference because nobody was quite sure about the story being told.
This was Rev Pro’s monthly comedy match and, as always, I smirked but never laughed. **
Zoe Lucas def Bobbi Tyler
Zoe Lucas bounces to the ring like the leader of the gymnastics team. She always hands in her homework on time and she wouldn’t dream of having anything other than a sensible haircut. She’ll also kick your teeth into the back of your throat.
The start of this contest was focussed. Both competitors danced and glided between holds like water, subtly selling the manoeuvres as they considered how to top their opponent.
Unfortunately, the heat of these exchanges is dissipated by a mistimed and ill-considered joke from Tyler. She quips “I’m not that flexible” as Lucas wrenches in a hold. Breaking the fourth wall is fine, but they presented this match as an athletic contest and it didn’t fit.
Tyler soon sprinkles in some violence. Her strikes are superb. Her knees find Lucas’s face with accurate, pinpoint precision. She’s a fascinating wrestler to watch but, while she got some offence, it was Lucas’s night. Her Scorpion Kick comes out of nowhere and will always swing the match into her hands. The barrage of moves Lucas inflicts on Tyler is apocalyptic and the three count is inevitable.
This was an extended squash and a sign that Lucas will be a pushed commodity in Rev Pro. I’m fully on board. There was promo with Jamie Hayter which, despite being delivered to a silent crowd, led to a lovely spot of violence and I am very interested in the forthcoming match. ***
David Starr def MK McKinnan
David Starr was unable to beat Kushida at last month’s J-Cup. Not being able to beat one the greatest junior wrestlers of all time is nothing to be ashamed of, but it would eat away at a man like David Starr. He is, by title, the best junior in the country. By rights, he should be confident. If that’s the case, why has he become much more insular during his entrance? He’s not telling the audience his monikers; he’s persuading himself they are still relevant. Is he really your favourite wrestler’s favourite wrestler? Is he really good at what he does?
There is absolutely no doubt that he can beat MK McKinnon. Starr proudly proclaims that he’s going to ‘beat the shit out of him’ and there is nothing to indicate that MK has any chance of stopping him. MK himself doesn’t even seem to think he can win. For the first part of this match, his face emotes that terrible vacancy usually found on a jobber. They’ll try and get a few moves in, but ultimately, they know they are fodder for the more decorated opponent. MK looks like he isn’t entirely comfortable sacrificing his health for the benefit of a subdued Cockpit crowd, just so one of their stars can get a cheap win before his next title defence. His offence is weak. His movements are slow.
But then, everything changes. A stunning dive to the outside puts MK in contention. An amazing senton has the power of determination firmly behind it. Suddenly, MK believes he can win. The vacant expression gives way to a smear of guts and a splatter of fortitude.
I’ve never given much thought to MK McKinnon before this match, but I wanted him to get the big upset here. I knew the odds, he had the smallest of chances, but it was enough for me to believe that it might just happen.
Of course, it didn’t. Starr was too fast. His offence is everywhere at once and his next move comes before his opponent has registered the previous. He’s the best in Britain. That might not be enough for David Starr, but it puts him above MK McKinnon.
This match was a great example of how narrative and emotion can be woven into even the most perfunctory, routine matches. Lesser wrestlers would have taken the night off, but Starr and McKinnon chose to ignite the Cockpit with emotion. ****
Great-O-Kharn def TK Cooper
Great-O-Kharn stumbles to the ring like a teenager that has stolen his mum’s cigarettes and is about to vomit. He tears the napkin away from his face, suggesting that he’s found the answer to whatever existential question it is asking.
Great-O-Kharn is here to learn how to be a professional wrestler. He has the fundamentals, but now it’s time to fly. His welfare and education have been bestowed upon Rev Pro. New Japan are going to expect Oka to be returned healthy, well, and ready to make them billions of yen.
Rev Pro have him feuding with Rishi Ghosh as a member of the Legion of Lords.
I’m not necessarily criticising the Legion of Lords. I’ve written before about how they encapsulate a very British tradition of wrestling. They hark back to the days of wrestling at the end of a pier to blue-rinsed grandmothers who believe every closed fist to be a travesty against all morality.
But that’s not New Japan Pro Wrestling.
It’s ridiculous to think they will send Oka back as a pantomime dame (however amusing that might be) but there’s a danger that his time is being wasted on all the wrong things. Why is he not feuding with a shoot style wrestler that fits the style of his home promotion? And why, for the love of God, does he have a napkin over his face?
The match was bad. Great-O-Kharn still attempts too many pinfalls and his offence is still boring and formulaic. He has told good stories before, but he tends to stay in his lane.
The commentary had to kayfabe this boring offence away by claiming that the reason he targets the face so often is because “you can’t train the face” like you can train a neck or a limb.
TK does bring some excitement as he whips and whirls his way around the ring, but even the charismatic Cooper can’t get this match moving.
The feud with Rishi Gosh is confirmed at the end. I hope they can put together something interesting, but I’m not holding my breath. *1/2
Team White Wolf (Carlos Ramo & A Kid) def HxC (Dan Head & James Castle)
The story of White Wolf Wrestling is utterly compelling. They are a vigilante group of Spanish wrestling fanatics who put on free shows and sell drinks for a euro. Carlos Ramos speaks about his promotion with a passion and pride that is often missing in this silly fake sport. He loves wrestling as much as we do, and he is determined to put Spanish wrestling on the map. He’s an infectious human being.
HxC, edgy ‘x’ and all, have been making quiet but significant waves in Rev Pro. They’ve moved from the opener to the semi-main with dependable, innovative work and consistent story telling. Cream rises to the top.
This match was exactly what this show needed. It was a cacophony of blind tags and flips. HxC’s brutality collided with White Wolf’s speed in a dazzling, beautiful car crash. In many ways, it was the atypical Cockpit match. It was competitive and loaded with hungry stars desperate to move up the card.
Even the commentary changed its tone. They referenced the training school and the hours each team spent developing their tactics. It was presented seriously, ergo it will be taken seriously.
This had all the prerequisites of a hot tag match; obligatory Spanish Flies and superkicks dotted the traditional two vs two match up. The ending felt a little flat, not quite building up to the crescendo the participants wanted, but it was enjoyable and earned its place as one of the best matches on the card.
White Wolf took the victory and, hopefully, some more bookings. ***1/2
El Phantasmo def Jody Fleisch
Rev Pro is a company of dichotomy. It’s quite clear that their biggest shows are those with NJPW augmentation. That is in no way a criticism. Attendance is the most consistent way to put a company’s worth into data and attendance means income. If a company has an opportunity to have the greatest wrestlers of all time feud over their titles, they would be fools not to take it.
The problem with using the stars of NJPW, is that they’re not yours. I’m not privy to booking conversations, but it’s clear that Rev Pro can’t pin the foreign stars at will.
The business model in this situation should be obvious. Use the worldwide superstars to draw the eyeballs and force them, Anthony Burgess style, onto your stars. When the mystique of the Japanese tourists fades away, fans have homegrown stars to sink their teeth into.
Rev Pro’s idea is sound. Let the stars battle over the big belt, and use the Cruiserweight strap as your 1b. They have a solid, captivating champion in Starr and a young, hungry challenger in ELP. The story tells itself.
The problem is, Rev Pro don’t want to tell the story that is screaming in their face, subtweeting them on Twitter and engaging in a letter writing campaign to their friends and family.
David Starr defeated ELP at Summer Sizzler, with the caveat that he can never challenge for the belt again. ELP valiantly fought his way to victory at the J-Cup. Surely, the next step is to declare that the J-Cup trumps Starr’s caveat and ELP wins the belt from Starr at Global Wars? That isn’t obtuse, arrogant fantasy booking on my part. That’s the story Rev Pro have built.
Instead, Starr is engaged in a sloppily built match against Kushida and ELP is nowhere to be seen.
I love Starr and Kushida, but how many tickets did that match sell? Ishii vs Suzuki sold the tickets to Global Wars. You could even argue that the NJPW stars as a collective is the draw. Kushida brought some fans, I’m sure, but they’ve sacrificed a chance to tell a story that is their own at one of their biggest shows.
I’m not digressing as much as it might appear, because this match fits into that theme of ‘waste.’ Yet again, the story here seems obvious. The up and coming star, ELP, battles the grizzled veteran Fleisch. ELP should fight valiantly, yet respectfully, before the British legend puts the new star over.
Instead, the wrestlers told a confused and convoluted story. It starts with begging for chants and claps that should be earned and not given. They delay doing the one thing that the Cockpit faithful have paid to see: wrestling.
In a particularly egregious spot, Jody goes from calling ELP a bell end to shaking his hand within seconds. That story I outlined earlier is the twelve bar blues – it’s a template with a million subtle variations – but Fleisch and ELP decided to dance around with the story they were telling. Unfortunately, they didn’t end up telling one at all.
There were flips and moves but nothing felt serious. It certainly didn’t feel like a main event.
I enjoyed a second rope hurricanrana and a sell job here and there, but this match stunk of insignificance. This was compounded by a sudden superkick ending that left a vacant, uncompetitive feel.
This was fine. Fine isn’t good enough. ***
Rev Pro have followed a disastrous J Cup with an utterly forgettable Cockpit show. There are some serious cracks in the booking and it’s getting harder and harder to find compelling narrative in their stories.
There is still hope in the TV show and Global Wars just around the corner, but Rev Pro are showing real signs of forgetting their bread and butter.