If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll probably have realised that over the last 18 months I’ve made fairly regular visits to PROGRESS Wrestling shows in London as well as the occasional foray into WXW when they’ve been on the UK too, now though I have attended my first Revolution Pro Wrestling (aka RevPro or RPW) show with their 43rd Live At The Cockpit event.
For a bit of context RevPro is a south of England based promotion based out of Portsmouth but now with a regular presence in London, particularly through shows at York Hall in Bethnal Green and The Cockpit in Marylebone.
The company also has ties with New Japan Pro-Wrestling with several of their stars crossing over promotions; in the past their Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship has been held by the likes of Tomohiro Ishii and Minoru Suzuki while current champ Zack Sabre Jr is a member of the SuzukiGun stable in NJPW and current Undisputed British Cruiserweight Champion, El Phantasmo, is part of the Bullet Club (more of which later).
Arriving at The Cockpit today it was even more intimate than I expected, seating at most 200, and being in the front row meant I was within easy touching distance of the ring, with no form of barricade between audience and performers (though I’ll admit this still isn’t as intimate as being stood up against the ring at WXW).
Taking something of a lead from NJPW the format is also much more straight forward than I’ve generally experienced with a suited and booted ring announcer introducing a string of matches with the only extra chat coming from the wrestlers when needed, so it was with little delay that we got into the action.
James Mason vs Kenneth Halfpenny
First up was a contest between James Mason and Kenneth Halfpenny. Mason I was vaguely familiar with but Halfpenny was totally new to me and the two put on a fairly straightforward bout based largely around hold for hold counter work which was all very nicely executed.
Mason also demonstrated a fine streak of interaction with the crowd and, while it started the event off reasonably slowly and certainly wasn’t a match for the casuals, it got the ball rolling well.
Dan Moloney & MK McKinnan vs Kurtis Chapman & Dan McGee
The next match featured a RevPro debut as ‘Drilla’ Dan Moloney teamed with MK McKinnan against Kurtis Chapman and Dan McGee.
Most of the match revolved around Chapman getting generally beaten black and blue, or more accurately chopped red and purple as this match saw the first of the night’s increasingly ridiculous chop battles.
As a whole the match was another good warm up type one but did a great job of introducing Moloney as something of a powerhouse and for the less initiated like me Chapman came out looking great as a game underdog type of character, and Moloney’s finishing elevated piledriver looked particularly brutal.
Jaxon Stone vs Rob Lias
The next contest was scheduled to pit Rob Lias against Jaxon Stone but, when Lias made his entrance, taunting the crowd in fine heelish fashion, he was interrupted by TK Cooper who appeared from the crowd and delivered a beat down culminating in a modified Samoan Drop in the ring apron before pulled away by ring crew and referees.
Not being closely familiar with the ongoing story I’m told this was a receipt for Lias’ past actions and looks like it could be setting up for an official clash between the two somewhere down the line.
This left Jaxon Stone, another fabulously arrogant heel I’d not encountered before, without an opponent so he set his sights on one of the trainee wrestlers at ringside who initially accepted to the challenge, only for Gabriel Kidd to actually take it up.
The two put on a spirited affair that showed off the strengths of both men with Kidd getting the shock win.
Josh Bodom vs Kyle Fletcher
The first half was rounded off by what felt like a step up in name value as half of the Undisputed British Tag Team Champions Josh Bodom took on half of the former champions ‘The Aussie Arrow’ Kyle Fletcher.
Being the two more highflying members of their respective teams the pair put on a fast paced but nonetheless hard hitting contest that saw a step up in terms of action for the show.
While I’m a big fan of Fletcher I’m less familiar with Bodom but as a mainstay of RevPro it’s no surprise he came across great here as the pair went back and forth.
It was Fletcher who got the win though only for Bodom to attack him after the match continuing the ongoing feud between the teams that would only escalate further later in the show.
Shazza McKenzie vs Seleziya Sparx
After the break things got going with women’s action as Seleziya Sparx took on Shazza McKenzie.
Sparx looked imposing as she made her way to the ring and it soon became clear she was playing the heel and put in some great displays of strength.
While McKenzie fought back well she couldn’t overcome the strength of Sparx here and while I’m not that familiar with the RevPro women’s division she looked like a strong contender based on this.
Mark Davis vs Sha Samuels
The earlier issues between the Tag Team champions and Aussie Open continued next as Sha Samuels took on ‘Dunkzilla’ Mark Davis.
The match began with Samuels playing the fantastic heel and stalling on the fired up Davis at every opportunity.
Once they got their hands on each other they went all out fighting in and out of the ring with Samuels continually cutting things off whenever Davis looked like he was building momentum.
As the two brawled referee Chris Roberts got caught in the crossfire allowing Bodom and then Fletcher to get involved before chaos reigned as the locker room emptied to try and keep the two teams apart which proved easier said than done.
While the match was a heated affair it was the overall story that made this work so well as, even not knowing the details, I was invested right away and loved the whole thing which, following an after match promo from the Aussie’s looks like it’s going to build to another title clash over the summer.
Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo) vs Team Whitewolf (Carlos Romo & A-Kid)
Tag team action followed as the Undisputed British Cruiserweight Champion El Phantasmo brought his Bullet Club team mate Hikuleo to RevPro to take on the Spanish duo of Carlos Romo and A-Kid aka Team Whitewolf (interestingly, for me, the first match I saw at an indie show back last year saw Romo, then known as Adam Chase take on A-Kid).
The match was fast paced and hard hitting throughout with three of the four firmly in the lighter weight class, a large amount of the action was based around A-Kid being beaten down by the heels with the much bigger Hikuleo, a part of the same family as Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa the sons of Haku, hitting some particularly nasty chops on the smaller man.
Later in the match Whitewolf regained the upper hand and on several occasions looked like they could get the victory, particularly Romo over ELP, however it was the Bullet Club team who eventually claimed the victory.
After the match the two members of Team Whitewolf had a confrontation in the ring that didn’t look as if it ended well. While they are a great team if they do go against one another they can certainly put on some great one on one matches so either way it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.
David Starr vs PAC
Back in 2015 I had the chance, at some distance, to see the man then known as Neville complete on WWE Raw at the O2 and he certainly impressed.
Now though, back under his original name of PAC and with the nickname of The Bastard things have changed and, as he was taking on one of my current favourite performers David Starr, to say I was looking forward to this would be an understatement.
Thankfully they didn’t disappoint.
From the off Starr was living up to one of his many nicknames of The King Of Taunts doing his best to irritate the already intense PAC before the two fought all over the small venue with neither getting the clear advantage until, once again, Referee Chris Roberts was incapacitated before Starr hit his Han Stansen lariat for what looked sure to be a victory.
With Roberts still down PAC looked to gain advantage using the classic Eddie Guerrero trick with his impressive looking championship belt only for that to backfire.
The eventual climax came as, again with Roberts distracted, PAC hit Starr low allowing him to hit his twisting shooting star splash, the Black Arrow, to get the win.
After the match Starr called out RevPro owner Andy Quildan and, continuing a now long running story, the two set up a match at Summer Sizzler in August that will see Starr’s RevPro career be on the line against Quildan’s ownership.
While the in-ring action was second to none in this match, and it was great to see two top level stars giving their all for such a small crowd, what elevated it even further was how the two played on stories not just from RevPro but elsewhere in their careers, giving the whole thing a very real feel connected to what I’ve seen from Starr elsewhere and it certainly felt like there was unfinished business between the two when the bell rang.
While different in tone and presentation from other wrestling events I’ve attended, Live At The Cockpit was nonetheless very enjoyable with at least half the card being some very good matches and the final three matches all being standouts in their own ways.
The main event was something that felt particularly special, only elevated by the intimate surroundings and I’m looking forward to seeing where the various main stories we saw develop here go next, while I’m very excited for the Royal Quest and Summer Sizzler weekend at the end of August which will be my next visit to the world of RevPro and NJPW.
Action photos by Beyond Gorilla – Robyn Goding, you can see more on the RevPro Facebook page and find out more about Beyond Gorilla by clicking here