Yesterday Revolution Pro made their first stop of the year at the legendary York Hall to present ‘High Stakes 2017’, a show that was packed with great looking matches from top to bottom, but highlighted by two particularly anticipated bouts: the confrontation between Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr. and the RPW Undisputed British Heavyweight Title match between Katsuyori Shibata and Matt Riddle. Also on the card were three big debuts, in the form of War Machine who challenged for the RPW tag titles, TNA’s Trevor Lee who faced off against WWE UK’s Trent Seven, and YOSHI-HASHI who took on WWE UK Championship Tournament finalist Pete Dunne. First up, however, was a match to crown an ‘interim’ RPW Cruiserweight Champion.
1. Ryan Smile vs Josh Bodom – RPW Interim British Cruiserweight Championship
As promoter & ring announcer Andy Quildan explained, while the current RPW Undisputed British Cruiserweight Champion Will Ospreay is tied up with New Japan and ROH engagements, RevPro will crown an interim champion in the meantime and then unify the belts at a later date. Not an ideal situation, but I’m sure it’ll make for a good match down the line. The two men chosen to compete for this interim title were Josh Bodom, who had gotten his 2017 off to a bang with a big win over Eddie Dennis at Live At The Cockpit 12, and Ryan Smile who impressed recently in the crazy 6-man tag main event of that same show. Smile made his RPW debut last year against Josh Bodom in fact, so it was interesting to see how the two had progressed. Smile’s a very charismatic and athletically gifted performer, he’s a lot of fun to watch and was able to use his speed to keep Bodom off balance for much of the match, but after getting caught with a backstabber as he attempted his huge springboard cutter finisher, Bodom hit the Bliss Buster to win the interim title. This was a good opening match, the crowd got behind Smile well and he and Bodom put on a good show.
2. Joel Redman & Charlie Sterling (c) vs War Machine – RPW Undisputed British Tag Team Championship
A huge debut here for the former ROH World Tag Team Champions, War Machine of Hanson & Ray Rowe. I was really looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint, although I was surprised at how vocal the crowd were in their distaste for the champions. It’s not anything Redman & Sterling have done that’s caused this, but it’s more about what they aren’t. I’ve been impressed with them as a pairing, and they did really well here, picking up the victory after catching Rowe with the spinning tombstone, spiral tap combo for the win, but they are a relatively clean cut tag team that only rely on their work in the ring to stand out. War Machine showed what a smooth team they’ve become with some of their double-teams and tag work throughout this match, a very hard hitting duo that I’d hope RevPro are planning in bringing back on the basis of a strong debut.
Post-match the champions were attacked by Travis Banks and the debuting Chris Brookes, collectively known as the Commonwealth Catch Kings! That should be an interesting match down the line, great to see Brookes debut and more of Banks in RevPro!
3. YOSHI-HASHI vs Pete Dunne – International Challenge Match
This is one of those matches that only RevPro could provide, featuring one of the finalists of the recent WWE UK Championship Tournament facing off against a stalwart 10 year veteran of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Another good bout, this one saw Dunne grounding YOSHI well and dictating the pace of the match, but eventually the Headhunter of NJPW loosely exploded all over Peter and then put him away with his Karma finishing move. While I did enjoy this, I felt like the Global Wars shows last November would’ve been a better introduction for YOSHI, whereas Peter was getting very mixed reactions after the UK Championship Tournament.
4. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Marty Scurll
After the events of Global Wars you might have expected this match to start with more of a bang, but as it was it began in a much more cautious manner, neither guy wanting to give away the advantage early on. The crowd reaction was as it has been for much of this brewing feud: very pro-Marty, flying in the face of the story being presented. When Marty turned on Zack and kicked him low at Global Wars he was rightly booed, but for much of that match the reverse had happened and Zack was on the receiving end of the crowd’s ire, the theme of which continued here at High Stakes. The match itself was a slow burner, clocking in at just under 41 minutes, but the last ten minutes or so of action were a compelling back-and-forth that saw Zack pull out the win after rolling through a chicken wing attempt and pinning Scurll with a leg-clutch roll. Marty was dominant for much of the match, by merit of his skill at times, by way of cheating at others. Referee Roberts ended up getting a lot of stick towards the end as a result, deciding not to disqualify Scurll for using his umbrella to choke Sabre well after the five count. From the reaction to the match online it appears to be a divisive one, but I enjoyed it for the most part and the crowd were pretty loud throughout.
5. Trent Seven vs Trevor Lee
Kicking off the second half the show, we were treated to the RPW debut of Trevor Lee who, while coming up short against WWE UK Championship Tournament competitor Trent Seven, gave an entertaining performance and hopefully we’ll see more of him in RevPro. Between dancing with the ref and ring announcer, Lee was also playing up his association with TNA and The Broken Hardy Brothers, but found he had little time to waste as the match picked up in intensity and Seven got down to business. Some big chops thrown by both men, before Lee hit his spectacular moonsault powerslam. It wasn’t enough to put Seven away, however, and the Moustache Mountain man pinned Trevor after a rainmaker lariat and second snap piledriver to secure a big win early into his RevPro career.
6. Jay White vs Martin Stone
The penultimate match of the evening saw New Japan young lion Jay White take on former RPW Undispited British Heavyweight Champion ‘The Guvnor’ Martin Stone, who’s set to be more than an infrequent visitor to the promotion in 2017. This was another strong match, but I don’t think its placement did either guy any favours and they were fighting to get the crowd into the action for much of it. Stone suffered the brunt of Jay White’s explosive offence at times, but for the most part was in control of proceedings until White unnexpectedly kicked out of the Stone-KO cutter in a huge near-fall. The young New Zealander rallied well, reversing the London Bridge rope-hung DDT attempt into a nasty looking Boston Crab with all the pressure on Stone’s neck to force him to tap. A huge upset for White and a great performance from both competitors.
7. Katsuyori Shibata (c) vs Matt Riddle – RPW Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship
Main event time and a huge reaction for the debuting Matt Riddle, former UFC fighter and recent winner of the ATLAS Championship in PROGRESS. On the other side of the ring, Katsuyori Shibata, one of the hardest hitting men in professional wrestling and current RPW Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion. From the immediate rise in noise within York Hall it’s safe to say that this match had a lot of anticipation behind it, but it’s also safe to say that it delivered. Big time. Like the Hero match, this was a compact, brutal affair. Not as much of a slobber knocker, but hard-hitting nonetheless and just a huge thrill to witness in person. Riddle rocked Shibata early on with the fisherman buster, but could only get a two count. He went to work with chops in the corner, but it only hulked Shibata up, who came back with a huge corner dropkick. They traded some vicious suplexes in the ring, before heading into a crazy finishing stretch that saw the champion survive some big offence from Riddle (including the Bro 2 Sleep). He caught Riddle in a sleeper suplex, hit the PK and locked on a deep rear naked choke to force Riddle to tap. What a ridiculously fun match, just so intense and full of energy. Shibata’s one of the best in the world right now and Riddle is an absolute star, if he’s not Shibata’s equal today, he soon will be at the rate he’s progressing. Once this hits RPW On Demand, you’re definitely going to want to check it out.
Overall this was a good show for RevPro, although the crowd was oddly quiet at times, before becoming very vocal at others. I’m not really a fan of putting such a big match like Sabre vs Scurll before intermission, Trevor Lee & Trent Seven had an unenviable task of getting the crowd back into the show afterwards and it felt like the crowd didn’t really pick up again until the main event. Perhaps the tag title match would’ve been a better choice for post-intermission, but regardless I did enjoy all of the matches on this show. Riddle vs Shibata is a definite must see by two of the most exciting performers in wrestling right now, while Scurll vs Sabre was a strong (albeit divisive) encounter between the two that maybe didn’t need to be quite as long as it was. I really liked the tag match, War Machine are one of my favourite teams to watch at the moment, while Stone vs White was an underrated match that deserved a better reaction.
Revolution Pro ‘High Stakes 2017’ will be available to view over at rpwondemand.com from Monday.