By: Mark Buckeldee
This is a special live report covering Revolution Pro Wrestling’s High Stakes 2021. This is Rev Pro’s biggest show since their last York Hall show in February 2020. Of the 22 wrestlers on that show, only 8 were present on this show. The main draw was a title unification match for the Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship between Will Ospreay and Ricky Knight Jr (RKJ). The estimated attendance was around 600, a good turnout considering the lack of big fly-in talent. Only Rev Pro management will know if they found that number pleasing or disappointing.
- Young Guns vs Doug Williams & Brendan White vs T.E.A.M vs Sunshine Machine – Fast-paced chaotic action full of dives
- Shota Umino vs Dan Moloney – Decent stuff with a dominant Moloney
- Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship: Michael Oku (c) vs Robbie X vs Chris Ridgeway – Fast-paced action with a clever finish
- Yota Tsuji vs Mark Haskins – Some promising stuff from Tsuji but way too long
- Undisputed British Women’s Championship: Gisele Shaw (c) vs Hyan – A rabid crowd elevated a good women’s match where Hyan impressed
- Title vs Title, PWA & Rev Pro Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open vs Destination Everywhere – An action-packed tag match with a hot crowd. Some issues with the match breaking down but otherwise great – RECOMMENDED
- Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship unification match: Will Ospreay vs Ricky Knight Jr – RKJ came across like a star in a fast-paced, slightly overbooked indie style match with 2 abrasive, cocky personalities – RECOMMENDED
Young Guns (Ethan Allen & Luke Jacobs) vs Doug Williams & Brendan White vs TEAM (Kenneth Halfpenny & Shaun Jackson) vs Sunshine Machine (TK Cooper & Chuck Mambo)
The Young Guns are seen as two of the best prospects in the UK, despite still being incredibly young. TEAM are Two Extremely Athletic Men and were utterly despised by the crowd. Sunshine Machine were beloved babyfaces, while Doug Williams and Brendan White were a dad and Lad style team.
This was chaotic at times. Brendan White showed off his power moves, including suplexing both of TEAM at the same time. There was a fun double rowboat spot that was broken up by top rope splashes. Each team shined in one way or another, with TEAM making up for being the least polished by being the most hated. The Young Guns brought a lot of intensity and meanness. The dives included stereo topes through the corner posts (Sunshine Machine), a big man tope (Williams), a Moonsault to the outside (White), and a crazy flip dive by Chuck Mambo off TK Cooper’s shoulders. Soon after that Ethan Allen pinned Mambo after the Young Guns hit a running kick-Package Piledriver combination.
Ethan Allen pinned Chuck Mambo via kick assisted Gotch Style Piledriver (11:40)
This was a crazy opener designed to get the crowd going. Each team showed something different. White got an opportunity to show his power but the ones who stood out to me were the Young Guns. They’re seen by many as the future of British Wrestling despite being very young, with great intensity and polish at this stage of their career.
Shota Umino vs Dan Moloney
“Two jackets” Shota Umino returned to his UK learning excursion after a long break and he has shown signs of ring rust in his appearances this year. This was a decent match, but it went a little too long. Dan Moloney has been on the cusp of breaking out in the British scene for a few years. He has intensity and a great physique but something about his matches means that they often don’t hit that upper echelon. This was another example of that.
Moloney dominated most of this, with his heavy strikes and big bombs. Somehow Umino kicked out of the Drilla (Powerbomb style piledriver). After using Tanahashi-like dropkicks to the knee, Umino’s come back included an avalanche Michinoku Driver and a Moxley esque Double arm DDT to pin Moloney.
Shota Umino pinned Dan Moloney via Double Arm DDT (14:17)
This was decent but a bit too long and it didn’t feel that engaging. I think that Moloney needs to keep his matches shorter and a little more intense to keep them interesting. Umino has not looked great since returning earlier this year but we got some examples of his polish and charisma here.
Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship: Michael Oku (c) vs Robbie X vs Chris Ridgeway
Michael Oku was doing double duty on this show. This is not unprecedented in Rev Pro as promoter Andy Quildan used to do the same with Zack Sabre Jr in IPW: UK before he set up Rev Pro.
This was intense, with Chris Ridgeway grounding the match with his vicious kicks while Oku and Robbie X showing off their high flying. Oku had a hot streak with a round-the-world DDY, a Fosbury flop onto both men, a top rope springboard Moonsault to X, and then a Half Crab on both opponents. Ridgeway looked strong by countering aerial moves into submissions, the highlight being when he turned an Oku Moonsault into a triangle choke and transitioned into a crossface. The finish saw X hit a Spiral Tap on Ridgeway, but Oku broke it up by hitting a Frog splash on both men and pinning X.
Michael Oku pinned Robbie X via Frog splash (12:37)
This was the second shortest match on the show, and the length suited it. While it won’t be the most memorable match, everyone looked good. Ridgeway’s style stood out and he did a good job of being the core of the match. His submission counters were great. Robbie X got the least, but he still looked crisp and hit some good aerial moves. Oku has some weak points, like his arm-based strikes and his small frame. Despite that, he has a fantastic crowd connection and an understated charisma. His aerial moves were very crisp, and I loved the finish.
Yota Tsuji vs Mark Haskins
Yota Tsuji started adopting Lucha spots before leaving New Japan. He didn’t do a lot of that here. At one point he popped the crowd by faking a dive and pulling a fan out of his knee pad. The venue was hot and stuffy enough that I think some people were jealous of him for that. Mark Haskins targeted the leg to dominate the first half of the match and Tsuji’s leg selling was very good. Tsuji fought back with dropkicks to the knee, and he locked in a Prison Lock. Later, he used some high kicks that I didn’t expect. After a big forearm exchange, Haskins hit a roll through Samoan Driver for 2. Tsuji had a comeback with a Lariat, a Giant Swing, and a Boston Crab. After a DVD on the apron wasn’t enough, Haskins’ manager Gideon Grey got involved. Sadly, for Grey, he just got speared for his efforts. Tsuji won the match with an ugly-looking release Vertebreaker (Vertebreaker set up with a German Suplex esque landing).
Yota Tsuji pinned Mark Haskins via release Vertebreaker (21:45)
On the plus side, Tsuji had some great moments. His selling was good, and I think that he is already much better than Shota Umino and Great O-Khan were on their Rev Pro excursions. I have a lot of hope for Tsuji. That said, this was easily twice as long as it should have been. It was overly long. It did not help that Haskins, while very good, has been around for 15 years and he feels a little stale. The thing is, I can’t put my finger on what could change my opinion on him.
There are expectations for matches in the pre-intermission spot on these York Hall shows, as Rev Pro usually put their second-best match there to avoid crowd burnout. This was not at that level. Despite that, I have a lot of hope for where Tsuji goes from here.
Undisputed British Women’s Championship: Gisele Shaw (c) vs Hyan
Texas-based Hyan is the current Heart of Shimmer Champion, and she has been on a 2-month long tour of the UK. Gisele Shaw has been one of the key parts of the Rev Pro women’s division. The UK women’s scene has good depth, but much of that is tied up in NXT UK.
This started out with grappling before Shaw won the first fall in surprise fashion with a high-angle Fujiwara armbar. Shaw tried to capitalize but eventually, Hyan fought back with power moves, including a Glam Slam (aka Implant Buster aka Jaded) which saw Hyan tie the match at 1-1. The crowd was firmly behind Hyan, who looked good with a flurry of well-executed power moves including an Airplane spin into a Samoan Driver. Hyan got another near fall with a big Powerbomb, but Shaw countered a Glam Slam attempt into a half Nelson suplex. A springboard cutter by Shaw earned her a near fall, as did a running knee. Hyan tried to fight off the Fujiwara armbar, but Shaw delivered some Bryan Danielson esque stomps to the face before cranking back on the Fujiwara armbar and forcing Hyan to tap.
Shaw had earned the crowd’s ire with her intensity at the end, but she won them back by praising Hyan. After this, Irish wrestler Debbie Keitel returned and took out both wrestlers before challenging Shaw.
Gisele Shaw beat Hyan 2-1 (19:02)
This match had some flaws. Shaw is good and has done a good job in what feels like an unexpected position as the company’s default women’s ace. She still has areas to improve, and I think one is to move away from the twisting aerial moves that she sometimes uses. Sideways rotations are tricky and there’s a reason you don’t see them a lot.
This was my first time seeing Hyan, and she impressed. Her power moves stood out and she did a good job getting the crowd sympathy without looking weak. The match built well, and I loved the surprisingly sudden first fall. Honestly, this was one of the strongest Rev Pro women’s titles matches that I can remember. It’s maybe just below being at the level of recommending it, but it was surprisingly good and my 3rd favorite match on the show.
Title vs Title, PWA & Rev Pro Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs Destination Everywhere (Michael Oku & Connor Mills) –
Aussie Open last lost a 2 on 2 tag match in August 2019, when they lost to Guerillas of Destiny at NJPW Royal Quest. Of course, they’ve only had 13 matches as a team since then.
Oh my, there was a lot of action here. A LOT of action, with my almost indecipherable notes going to 4 (admittedly small) pages. The crowd loved Aussie Open here and they were very loud. Oku was also very over, with Connor Mills’ relative lack of charisma meaning that he was often the forgotten man here. One of the early highlights was Mills and Oku getting caught during stereo topes and getting slammed into each other.
Mark Davis used some brutal chops here, punishing both opponents. Mills had some great spotlights, including an Arabian Press to the outside. Both teams used some great double teams, including a neckbreaker drop style Doomsday Device from Oku & Mills. The action was frantic, with too much to mention, and the match often broke down with the referee failing to instill discipline.
Mills and Oku got a second wind towards the end with a big reverse rana to Kyle Fletcher before Oku and Mills targeted Davis’ knee with splashes. Oku had the half crab locked in, but Fletcher broke it up with a chop block and viciously attacked the leg. Mills was removed with a top rope double team Go to Sleep style kick. Oku bravely kicked out of a flipping Crucifix Powerbomb, but the Fidget Spinner saw Aussie Open become the Undisputed British Heavyweight Champions for the second time. The crowd gave this a standing ovation.
Kyle Fletcher pinned Michael Oku via Fidget Spinner (27:38)
This got very messy at times and will irritate many wrestling purists with how it broke down for minutes at a time. Despite that, this was frantic, exciting, and energizing. The crowd was rabid and molten. The action was incredible for the live audience, and I was happy for Mills and Oku. While they were overshadowed by the size and intensity of Aussie Open, they did good work here and it was not a carry job. That said, the crowd adored Aussie Open. The Australians are a very energetic and engaging team, and this was a great semi-main event.
Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship unification match: Will Ospreay vs Ricky Knight Jr
Ricky Knight Jr, also know as RKJ, was very over with the York Hall crowd. Will Ospreay got a loud but mixed reaction. Things started with forearms before RKJ showed off surprising speed. I knew that he was quick, but I can’t recall many people running the ropes quicker than he did. RKJ dominated early on with a series of running dropkicks inside and outside the ring. He had great poise and charisma, feeling like a star. There was a lovely stalling suplex by RKJ, full of showmanship. Tables were set up on the outside, with a funny spot as they skittered away from one table during a suplex attempt with a comedic squeaky noise.
Ospreay used heavy chops and power moves to regain control. RKJ would fight back, with the highlight being a flip dive over the corner post (a move used by Ryan Smile who sadly passed away last year). Lots of fast-paced action ensued, including a draping Shooting Star press by Ospreay for a near fall.
During this, the referee ended up getting pushed off the apron through a table. RKJ hit his Fire Thunder Driver for a visual 3 count, but Ospreay kicked out when the second referee got to the ring. A 450 splash by RKJ only earned a 2 count. There was a crazy spot where Ospreay did an Oscutter off a guardrail to put RKJ through a table. Another Oscutter only earned a near fall, as did a top rope Iconoclasm. RKJ’s nose was busted open and Ospreay posed with the blood.
After more frantic action Ospreay got crotched during the super Oscutter and was hit with a top rope Tiger suplex for a huge near fall. RKJ then hit another Fire Thunder Driver but Ospreay got his foot on the ropes. RKJ then hit an Oscutter of his own but he pulled Ospreay up at 2 ½. He put on Ospreay’s elbow pad and went for a Hidden Blade. RKJ missed and his hubris cost him as Ospreay hit a jumping knee and a (not so) Hidden Blade to the face to pin RKJ.
Will Ospreay pinned RKJ via (not so) Hidden Blade (32:30)
After the match Ospreay attacked RKJ. Shota Umino made the save but the Young Guns attacked him and helped Ospreay. Aussie Open made the save, only to turn on the Young Guns and join Ospreay. The trio took out everyone and Aussie Open accepted United Empire shirts to end the show.
This was over 30 minutes, but the time flew by. This was an Ospreay style main event but RKJ more than held his own here. The action was intense and flashy, but RKJ deserved great praise for his poise and character work. The story of the match was that RKJ had Ospreay’s number but his obsession with beating Ospreay with his own moves cost him.
RKJ honestly felt like a main eventer and a new star here. You can say what you want about the match being spot heavy. You can complain about the ref bump and the table spot feeling out of place and it being overbooked at times. This was an all-action main event spectacle. It felt like the York Hall shows of old and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Rev Pro and RKJ.
The show went a little too long, at nearly 4 hours (including intermission). Some matches clearly went too long, and the show suffered from the wrong match in the usually strong pre-intermission spot. That said, the final two matches saw York Hall in fine form, feeling almost like the venue did before the long disruption. The last 2 matches were great frantic spectacles, and the second half also had one of the stronger Rev Pro women’s title matches at York Hall. The events after the main event added some intrigue, especially with connotations for New Japan. My only worry is that Aussie Open might be in Japan for the New Japan World Tag League tour when Rev Pro’s next York Hall show takes place. A good thing for them but a bad thing for Rev Pro.
This show gave Rev Pro a clear direction, new programs and it did a good job of highlighting the likes of the This show gave Rev Pro a clear direction, new programs and it did a good job highlighting the likes of the Young Guns, Michael Oku, and especially RKJ. To me RKJ feels like the next new star on the British Wrestling scene, he has a swagger and presence that makes me think that he will be a cornerstone of Rev Pro in the next few years.