Rev Pro High Stakes 2020
February 14, 2020
We’re in Bethnal Green, London at York Hall. The home of BritWres. Commentary comes from the Two Andys.
Rev Pro Undisputed Women’s Championship
Zoe Lucas (c) vs. Gisele Shaw
I’m expecting Zoe to get really good this year. She’s about due. The Stardom tours have benefitted her and she’s getting the reps in now. It’s been a big two years for her and I’m pleased she’s making progress. Zoe has held this title over a year but that’s more a criticism of Rev Pro’s terrible women’s division than an advocacy of her run as champion. Gisele has been working a little more frequently than Lucas and it shows. The trouble with having Lucas as a heel is that she controls the nature of the match and she’s better positioned as a babyface, even if her cheerleader bitch character is pretty good. Rev Pro have a habit of turning all their women’s champions into heels, which is an indictment of the division as a whole.
The match improves when Gisele takes over. Shaw has a deeper moveset and is able to create meaningful near falls. Zoe tries to waffle Shaw with the belt but gets caught in an armbar and taps out.
Final Rating: **3/4
Dan Moloney vs. Jeff Cobb
Moloney is unbeaten in singles for Rev Pro. He did lose a triple threat that Sha Samuels won at the end of last year. Cobb is 3-6 in Rev Pro although defeats include a title match against Zack Sabre Jr and Minoru Suzuki. He’s not worked here since July 2018.
This should be a big power fight and Moloney does a great routine in standing up to someone else. However Cobb is a weird performer. He just stands there and wants to feed off the opponent. I’ve persistently said I’d like to see more fire from him and I think he’d benefit from someone helping his match structure. The match is solid. I have no major complaints about it but both guys will probably be disappointed it didn’t click better. Drilla finishes after Dan slips out of the Tour of the Islands. This was fine. I like Dan a lot but he needs more reps in with big names so he can improve.
Final Rating: ***
SWE Speed King Championship
Ricky Knight Jr (c) vs. Robbie X
This is the Southside Produce match. Seeing as Southside is now dead and a part of Rev Pro you’d think they would have unified all the belts but maybe they’re drawing it out like WWE’s Invasion angle. Both these guys have relatively poor looks as wrestlers but it’s deceptive because once they get up and running we have some outstanding cruiserweight style wrestling. I’ve seen both of them live and they’ve both great prospects but the ceiling on them both is juniors unless they can gain mass.
They both seem to realise this is a prime opportunity to show off in front of a large crowd and quickly get everyone onside. Robbie X has been on my radar for some time and I’m often surprised that he doesn’t get booked. I’m wondering if it’s Dean Allmark Syndrome, where the looks don’t match the skills. They have one bad spot where they do an overhead belly to belly into the corner where RKJ lands on his head. They have an absolutely inessential dumb transition spot lined up though so RKJ has to tie himself in the ropes instead of selling.
They do a few dumb things and there’s a lot of really obvious thigh slapping (RKJ loves a thigh slap, he fucking loves it). Fire Thunder Driver finishes for Knight Jr. This was a good match that got the crowd to take notice of them both.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Eddie Kingston vs. LA Park
I got the chance to hang out with Eddie a little bit during this tour and he’s a tremendous man. Unfortunately I was bit drunk when I tweeted out my appreciation for him and called him “lovely”. I don’t think he appreciated that. He’s not lovely. He’s a bad motherfucker. And you know who else is a bad motherfucker? LA fucking Park. There’s no DQ’s here and no fucks given. Park has a history of being…uncooperative so Eddie is a sensible opponent.
Eddie is a mad bastard. He makes Tom Scarborough hit LA Park with his own belt. Tom, you’re going to die. It soon becomes clear that Tommy Scarbs is in cahoots with Kingston. Oh god, LA Park is going to murder him.
A lot of the match surrounds the abuse of Tom Scarborough until our lord and savior Mad Kurt turns up to save Park with a nut shot on Kingston and Park takes it. This was…interesting.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Post Match: Chapman gets to do the LA Park strut but he spends too long dancing and irritating LA Park. Poor Dan Magee dies for Kurt’s sins. Good news for Kurtis though, he’s over.
Chris Brookes vs. Carlos Romo vs. Hikuleo vs. Kyle Fletcher vs. Kurtis Chapman vs. Mark Haskins
There’s some talent involved in this and Hikuleo is here too. “HikuLamo” says Kurt. He’s not wrong.
Kurt’s characterization work is great here. His Superman punch on Brookes being ignored is fantastic as is him chopping everyone in succession and them just ignoring him. They cycle people in and out of this and I can’t help but thinking they trim the fat and have this as a four-way it’d probably rule. As it stands Brookes is on his way out, Kurt is a meme and Hikuleo is just there. The one guy who tries hard to kill it here is Romo. He’s at every good juncture of the match from a work stand point. Obviously Kurt gets the headlines with his antics but the work barely involves him. Kingston runs Kurt off. Romo has it won but Vicky Haskins distracts the ref. Gideon Grey runs in to jump Kyle Fletcher and Made in Japan finishes. This match was all over the fucking place. There was an awful lot going on without the booking but as per usual Rev Pro feel the urge to throw a bunch of booking on top there.
Final Rating: **1/4
Post Match: Kurtis Chapman has run out of the building and is heading towards the Dundee Arms. Gideon Grey is still in the ring to introduce the tag title match.
Rev Pro Undisputed Tag Team Championship
The Legion (c) vs. David Starr & Damian Dunne
Starr won the Southside title in Southside to get back into Rev Pro having lost a Loser Leaves Town Forever main event of Summer Sizzler. O-Kharn’s hair has gotten longer since I last saw him. He looks like a veritable mountain man. I wonder if New Japan want him back yet? Starr’s influence is fairly apparent in chunks of this match but we definitely have clashing ideologies. Dunne, stripped of gimmick, plays babyface in peril for much of the match. It’s pretty flat.
Just when things are picking up Mark Haskins runs in to help the Legion. Rev Pro just can’t get out of their own way half the time. Starr had just gotten the hot tag too.
Claw Slam finishes and the Haskinses join the Legion.
Final Rating: **
Rev Pro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship
El Phantasmo (c) vs. Michael Oku
Oku, aka the OJMO, is one of the fastest rising stars in European wrestling. This is his biggest match to date though. Tackling a New Japan talent who spend a year hunting David Starr to get the belt. ELP has held the title for 280 days. That’s the fourth longest title reign in the history of the belt going back to 2011. They have a cunning storyline here, which is to play off Oku’s underdog status and have him build momentum for little bursts before being cut down again. It’s an old story but the oldies are often the best ones. It helps that Oku has built that grass roots fan support over the past two years. The story has some nice subtle tones to it. ELP thinks he doesn’t need to take Oku seriously and mockingly goes after Oku’s own moves, which costs him.
Meanwhile Oku pulls out all manner of shit in an attempt to unsettle the champ and upset him. Oku does a fine job of maintaining a knee problem and that being a continued weakness. He also does a magical job on ring positioning, grabbing the rope on the top rope Styles Clash instead of resorting to a kick out. The match works because the crowd desperately want Oku to win. I’m not sure where you go from here, I’d personally switch the belt again really quickly to give him another chase. Young babyface champions are a hard sell.
They even play off the Rev Pro booking here with a ref bump and the belt shot not connecting. They keep going to the half crab well but it doesn’t feel like the same spot over and over again as there are different set ups and different circumstances. The final one gives Oku the submission and the belt. This was a great example of a consistently booked Rev Pro match. The kind they want to do as big epic main events and keep misfiring on.
Final Rating: ****1/4
British Heavyweight Championship
Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. Will Ospreay
Ospreay has been chasing this belt for years. It felt like he was ready for it when Zack beat him in Walthamstow in 2018. But this is *really* Will’s time to shine. He was the best wrestler in the world in 2019. He’s finally at the point where Rev Pro can crown him as The Man. For those wondering if my past allegiance to Zack would have been maintained in attendance here? It’s tough. I wanted Ospreay to win but I love Zack so very much. As I wasn’t there I didn’t have to make the choice!
The last time they clashed in Japan Ospreay got choked out but he’s at the peak of his game and this is it. In their last match Will had answers to Zack’s mat game and that’s the case here too. It’s a little weird that the crowd isn’t as rabid as in Walthamstow. I put it down to a lack of Rob, Mort and myself. While the initial slow pace is a little jarring it leaves them wiggle room to work into. I suspect they were expecting a loud crowd and dueling chants and they don’t get that. When they switch gears the fluidity of what they’re doing is simply stunning. There are three major aspects to wrestling; difficulty, smoothness and speed. A really truly great wrestling sequence has all three. Most of the sequences in this match have all three.
Some of the work is just breathtaking. Zack seems to have a way out of everything. Even the simple things like rolling out of the way to evade a top rope move. The difference is Ospreay’s willingness to push himself further here than ever before and Will having adapted a larger size and more powerful offence. Plus he’s smart enough to stop Sabre rolling out of the ring. He’s finally been able to put it all together.
Zack gets him in the same hold that forced Will unconscious but again, he’s smart and knows where the ropes are. Sabre throws everything at Ospreay that’s beaten him before but this time it doesn’t work. Hidden Blade. Stormbreaker. Huge pop. Ospreay finally did it. I think I’d have liked this better if I’d seen it live and unspoiled. It feels like an important moment but as a match I think I marginally preferred the recent New Japan one. Still it’s a strong end to a long feud between two of the best Britain has produced.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Ospreay’s post match promo where he refers to himself as a “fucking idiot” is one of the best and most assured and confident promos he’s ever cut. I’m going to struggle to find something to criticise him for now. You’ve graduated Will. Finished article. Best in the world.