Arnold Furious: June 4, 2017. We’re in the Cockpit Theatre, swiftly becoming a hot venue for Rev Pro to run. The shows that emanate from there tend to be consistently good. This was the day after the London terror attack and Andy Q thanks everyone for coming out and supporting professional wrestling. Hosts on commentary are Andy Quildan and Andy Boy Simmonz.
El Phantasmo vs. David Starr
This is El Phantasmo’s UK debut. He’s a Canadian grappler. Considering his outlandish name he looks remarkably normal. He does have a cool entrance though, coming out in the dark wearing neon gear. His entrance music has the lyrics “I’m a f*ck*ng headbanger” and Andy Q is beside himself. “I didn’t realise there would be quite so much swearing in that song”. Andy Q is so pure. El Phantasmo was recommended by Kyle O’Reilly apparently. Phantasmo is heavy on the mockery so Starr loses his patience. It’s interesting to see Starr get rattled and the chops he delivers are tremendous. Phantasmo gets over on personality before popping off spots, which is a decent approach for a newcomer. Commentary discuss Phantasmo and how he’s decided to come to the UK for a year to see how he fares. He certainly impresses with a few moves off the top rope. Especially when Starr rolls across the ring to avoid one and still gets caught with a ridiculous missile dropkick. Phantasmo comes unstuck ‘going to the well’ of high flying and Starr beats him with the JML Driver. This was a really solid opening match. Phantasmo got his character across and I’m sure has secured himself a future booking.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The London Riots vs. Josh Wall & Kurtis Chapman
Josh Wall is also known as Kelly Six. Wall is his trimmed down, no gimmick approach. Just black trunks and all business, as is the Contenders way. The Riots try for the Authors of Pain Super Collider spot but it’s horribly and obviously botched. The crowd, already quiet, completely no sell it. You could hear a pin drop. The lads get the crowd back by doing basics; brawling and dives. Commentary decide to razz on the youngsters; calling Chapman skinny and Wall chubby within moments of each other. Not that Wall is fat or anything, he just needs to tone up that belly. Or wrestle in a t-shirt like the Riots. The match is littered with untidy moments and hurried recovery spots. Both youngsters have wobbles but recover from them admirably. The match is at its best when the Riots bowl the kids over with power. There are not enough moments like that, as the match is structured to make the Contenders look good. Chris Brookes shows up and steals JD’s cricket bat allowing Travis Banks to blindside Davis and Kurtis gets the pin! If this match hadn’t suffered from so many unfortunate miscommunications it would have been really good.
Final Rating: **3/4
RPW Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship
Josh Bodom (c) vs. Ashley Dunn
No offence to Ashley Dunn but this screams ‘routine defence’. Dunn has only been in the business for 18 months and everything about him reflects that. From his movement to his crowd interaction to his appearance. He’s a work in progress. Bodom on the other hand has had a breakout year. His title victory over Will Ospreay is hands-down the best match I’ve ever seen him have. Here Bodom bullies the smaller Dunn, rightly so. It’s an uphill struggle to convince the fans that Dunn is a genuine contender. Ashley gets murdered with the Blissbuster very early but kicks out. I’m not sure I agree with that line of thinking. “You’re the third best Dunn in Britain” says Bodom. He’s not lying! I don’t think that’s even an insult. Ashley botches a crescent kick so they repeat the spot. Josh looks slightly annoyed at this turn of events. Generally the match isn’t going as he’d hoped and he finds himself waiting for Dunn more often than is ideal. Bodom tries to compensate by hitting bigger spots but the longer the match continues the less likely it is that Dunn isn’t beaten. Bodom’s stuff is so much crisper and the delivery is so superior that my initial feeling, that this is a mismatch, continues to be proven. Dunn takes some serious abuse, including the finish, which is a dropkick to the back of the head that looks like death. Bodom should have won much quicker than he did and Dunn took his abuse like a man but he didn’t belong in this match. Perhaps a better choice of offence from Dunn would have helped matters. He needed to be quick, sneaky and try roll ups and dives. As soon as that Blissbuster hit, the match should have been over.
Final Rating: **1/4
Eddie Dennis vs. Donovan Dijak
Dijak had a great run of matches against Josh Bodom for Rev Pro. Dennis is a lot closer in terms of size but maybe not in intensity. Andy Q brings the factoids; Eddie Dennis has never won a match in Rev Pro. That feels like a long-term booking concept. The match is two big lads bouncing off each other. “Come on Donovan Dijak, if that is your real name” makes Dijak break. Eddie Dennis is a funny f*ck*r. Dijak has done his homework and recognises Eddie’s “Next Stop Driver”, busting out a counter. Commentary is fairly critical of Eddie Dennis “pandering” to the crowd. The match dies on its arse as the pace slows and the intensity fades. I have a hard time with Eddie Dennis. I love him and his character but his matches don’t do a lot for me. He’s far better off in tags. Dijak makes amends by throwing Dennis around but it doesn’t bring the crowd back. They get into some beefy big spots down the stretch to get them back with Eddie surviving a string of big spots. Eddie is a guy who can kick out of big spots because he’s got that size to make it realistic. It feels like the finish but they go on to brawl some more before more big spots and dives. Dijak is getting good at match structure. Making me feel like the match is finished but then realistically carrying on is good for business. A common theme is that Dijak is much stronger than Dennis and frequently Eddie struggles to carry Dijak’s massive frame. I really like how the match becomes a struggle at the finish. Both guys looking tired and struggling to get their opponent up into moves. Eventually Dijak has too much for Eddie and downs him with the Feast Your Eyes knee strike. I didn’t enjoy the first half of this but it kept getting better and better. Dijak is on his way to superstardom.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Promo Time: Rob Lias
He’s out here to chat with Andy Q. The fans are still calling him Ricky. Rob, trying to escape the Contender’s division, bitches about his music and his “stupid black trunks”. Have you looked in the mirror mate? It looks like you murdered the cast of the Muppets and made a patchwork jacket of their pelts.
Zack Gibson vs. Angelico
Gibson doing his promo gets a load of heat, as per usual, and talks smack about Will Ospreay. Andy Simmonz has no idea who Angelico is and struggles with his birthplace. South…..Engl…Africa. Gibson hating the flippy wrestlers is a good storyline. Gibson technically grounding fliers and then selling for their wacky offence is a solid contest every time. Andy Q shoots from the hip in this one calling World of Sport “pish”. Angelico looks a little uncomfortable and moves glacially slowly when running the ropes. It’s the second time this year that Gibson has turned up ready for a midcard masterpiece and has been met with a poor performance from his opponent; after Hirooki Goto. Maybe Angelico is just worried about hurting someone he’s not worked with before but all his strikes look soft. The actual structure of the match is fine, as they tell a basic heel vs. face routine with Gibson targeting the arm to set up the Shankly Gates. It’s all a bit lifeless and Angelico doesn’t bring much in the way of fire. As the match progresses and they become more familiar with each other it improves. Especially Gibson coming off the top and getting caught with a flying knee. Like with Dennis-Dijak it improves as the match progresses and the finish is neat. Gibson blocks the Bucklebomb and hits Helter Skelter to set up the Shankly Gates. It wouldn’t be the worst idea to put the belt on Gibson because he gets lots of heat and he’s not had a big main event run outside of Futureshock. There are unique main events to be had.
Final Rating: ***
Jinny vs. Nina Samuels
Nina is La Diablesa Rosa in Lucha Britannia. This is her Rev Pro debut. They set out to showcase some technical stuff by doing the Guerrero-Malenko near falls. It’s on the bigger spots where the wheels come off. Jinny bumping a couple of times off minimal contact where she was expecting to get her clock cleaned. Nina’s gear puts me off slightly too. It looks like beach attire from the 1970s. The match is far better with Jinny on offence as Nina seems happy selling and Jinny has gotten confident enough to work snug and make her spots look realistic. After Nina has taken a kicking she gets her shit together. They put together a streak of moves that look good, including a backbreaker that leaving Jinny holding her spine for the rest of the match. Makeover, which Nina somehow manages to flip bump on, finishes. I liked this but it was too sloppy to begin with. Jinny continues to improve in leaps and bounds.
Final Rating: **1/2
Zack Sabre Jr & Davey Boy Smith Jr vs. #CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks)
The two juniors are not merely thrown together as a team. They both represent Suzuki-gun, even though Davey Jr hasn’t been over to New Japan recently. #CCK are not defending the belts here. Presumably because the Juniors have no history as a team. Davey has not been part of the UK Revival and has spent most of his career overseas. He’s ok as a talent but I feel like his development was arrested during his WWE stint and although he’s only 30 years old it feels like he’s run out of things to do with his career. Sabre vs. Banks is great, as per usual, but whenever Davey is in there the match is less interesting. He does a decent number on Brookes’ leg to try and chop the tallest man in the match down to size. It’s very strange to see Brookes work babyface in Rev Pro (and Progress). He made a name for himself being a dick heel across the country and now he’s made it to the big leagues he’s switched face. The most intriguing section of the match is Brookes, babyface, defending himself against the assaults of Zack Sabre Jr, heel. Rev Pro have capitalised on this largely undone match by booking it for York Hall and Summer Sizzler. Andy Q starts screaming about CCK retaining the tag titles in a match that he himself billed as non-title. Sabre bullying Brookes with slaps and such is beautiful. Dick heel Sabre is my favourite Sabre. When he’s cocky and horrible he’s at his best. Brookes manages to get Zack to submit, otherwise Rev Pro would have no justification for booking Sabre vs. Brookes. This mostly worked although Davey seemed a bit distant and him and Travis brawling to the back didn’t make a lot of sense. Nice to see Brookes getting a big win though. It sets him up big time for York Hall.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Summary: This was a solid show from Rev Pro, although the lack of atmosphere didn’t help and there was nothing great. Most Cockpit shows have been overdelivering this year so it had to happen sooner or later that one of them would just be ok. The match-making disappointed, although Andy Q is deliberately trying to put on matches that haven’t been done to death elsewhere. The downside to this is workers unfamiliar with each other taking half the match to get adjusted to their opponent and getting the timing right. This was evident throughout this card. Every match suffered from timing issues of some sort. Best match was probably Starr-Phantasmo and they deliberately started slow to get used to each other before building to a crescendo. The Cockpit shows exist to help Rev Pro build to bigger shows (like Summer Sizzler) so it’s hard to complain about match quality on them but the bar had been set a bit higher than this. Rev Pro victims of their own drive and success.