DARIUS LOCKHART vs. CHRIS BROOKES (w/Kid Lykos) - 4.5/10
They spent a long time doing comedy that also involved them being on the outside forever without being counted out. This all resulted in Brookes trapping Lockhart's leg and attacking his knee. This, predictably, somehow reinstated the count-out rules so we could get the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys™. I would have been okay with most of this if they hadn't spent almost half of their time doing the comedy to set up the "take out the leg" spot that would form the basis of the story for the next chunk of the match.
Brookes worked over Lockhart's knee for a while until Lockhart started to make his comeback... and pretty much didn't sell his knee after that. They also had a pretty ugly attempt at a slingshot cutter where Brookes undershot and it looked pretty bad with Lockhart going down anyway. The last few minutes were good if you can ignore Lockhart forgetting to sell his knee, but I was kind of over being irritated by that by the time the good stuff began.
JAMES MASON vs. KURTIS CHAPMA - 5.75/10
The story here was the veteran Mason pulling out all of the old World of Sport-style tricks to fool the young wrestler Chapman. This did not need to go seventeen minutes.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Zack Sabre Jr. came out and had a little stare-down with Mason as they crossed paths. Zack then talked down to Chapman, prompting Mason to come back out, at which point Zack left. I would be very happy to see Zack Sabre Jr. vs. James Mason.
JOSH BODOM & SHA SAMUELS vs. THE NIC (Charlie Carter & Oilin Delaney) - 5.25/10
No, "Oilin Delaney" is not the result of me trying to spell "Colin Delaney" but making some typos. That's the dude's name. Bodom & Samuels jumped the bell on The NIC. Stuff happened. The NIC had the match won but Samuels bumped into the referee and was able to make it look like an accident so he didn't get DQed. Then he ran wild on the babyfaces, then Bodom hit his finisher and got the win.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Well... at least it's some sort of progression with Bodom & Samuels. Samuels cuts a promo offering Carlos Romo to join them, saying they know he's better than A-Kid.
CARLOS ROMO vs. DAVID STARR - 6.75/10
Bodom came out to try to talk to Romo before the match but Romo didn't want to talk. After trying to tell us that Romo is this big deal, RevPro then had him lose. Yes, Starr raked his eyes, but given that the story of Starr's run with the Cruiserweight Title has been that he is a paper champion who can't win without cheating, I thought having him lose cleanly would have been a better idea. Not only would it set up another strong challenger to Starr so that El Phantasmo taking the title from him so much like a foregone conclusion that all of Starr's other matches feel almost pointless, but Romo's clean win over a champion here would contrast nicely with his tag team partner's loss to RevPro's other male singles champion in the main event (for which A-Kid sent Romo to the back, no less), so that we might actually think there is a chance of Bodom & Samuels convincing him that he'd be more successful joining with them instead of teaming with A-Kid.
EL PHANTASMO vs. MK MCKINNAN - 2.75/10
This was an extremely disappointing match that spent way too much time on gaga and went short enough (about nine minutes) that McKinnan losing feels like it takes major wind out of his sails, as he is probably the #2 up-and-comer in the company down to El Phantasmo. This is the sort of match that you need to have go twenty minutes to make sure that both guys have as good a chance as possible to come out of it looking great.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - GREAT! David Starr came out to jaw-jack with the #1 contender to his RPW Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship, El Phantasmo. Nope. Just kidding. He came out to jaw-jack with his real nemeses: referee Chris Roberts and matchmaker Andy Quildan. Starr ranted and raved, claiming there is a conspiracy against him and that El Phantasmo is getting special treatment. He also claimed that the ring was broken and therefore dangerous.
Starr was also upset that the heavyweight title got a new belt but his didn't, pointing out that his was in bad condition. He then made a comment about Quildan getting down on his knees in front of Gedo and being willing to do anything to get his title featured in New Japan... and based on the booking of this promotion over the past year or so, I'm not so sure that characterization is inaccurate.
Quildan then cut an excellent promo on Starr during which he- as the announcers have been doing all along, but this is being done right to Starr's face- laid out all of the reasons why Starr's claims of a conspiracy against him are bullsh*t. If you are going to do an angle where a wrestler claims the company is conspiring against him/her, then someone from management must cut this promo at some point. Otherwise you wind up in one of three possible situations:
1. The wrestler has no real evidence and comes off like a loon, but no one is telling him/her that he/she is wrong so the story never moves forward, and it looks like management doesn't care that the promotion's reputation is being impugned with false allegations of bias against a competitor.
2. The wrestler has some real evidence and some stuff that is just crazy-talk, making him/her look like a nut but also making it look like the promotion did actually make mistakes for the few situations where the wrestler has real evidence, making it look like management neither cares about the promotion's reputation being impugned or about trying to correct a legitimate mistake/oversight they made.
3. The wrestler has a lot of good evidence and management does nothing, making it seem like management are actually heels when they're not supposed to be.
You taking notes, Lizard-Face?
As he explained why Starr's claims were BS, Andy made a point of noting all of the things Starr has done to keep his title in unfair ways over the past year (trying to have a crooked referee, abusing honest referees, getting himself counted out, getting himself disqualified, hitting opponents with his title bet) and some of the ways that RevPro has tried to rectify the situation (allowing referees to refuse to DQ him or count him out, or telling him he'll be stripped of the title if he gets DQed or counted out), and all of the times that Phantasmo had earned a title shot, only for Starr to screw him when the title shot came around. He then tied all of this together- even Starr's demand for to have a new belt made for him- by announcing that (as El Phantasmo had suggested earlier this year) they were going to have a match where there would be no referee for Starr to abuse or pay off, no DQs or count-outs, and in which Starr wouldn't be able to hit El Phantasmo with the belt because the belt would not be in Starr's possession. Quildan said that he will make a new belt... and at Epic Encounter, he is going to hang it high above the ring, and if Starr wants that new belt, he'll have to pull it down before El Phantasmo does and thus defeat him in a Ladder Match.
I've been very harsh on Andy's booking over the past fifteen months or so, and I still do feel that a lot of that criticism is warranted. I still do feel that most of the booking in the promotion has been poor and that even this story has been dragged out for an artificially long time (Epic Encounter 2019 is on May 10th, over two months away), and that doing so has hurt the product overall because this was the only championship where the champion was around on a regular basis, meaning that the large majority of the title matches we got had dirty finishes, and often in the main event as well, and that there was even more pressure to book title matches, which led to more and more filler feuds (like the one with Tiger Mask IV with Starr almost never winning clean no matter what) to make sure there was a title match on the show while allowing them to stretch the Starr vs. El Phantasmo story out this long (Epic Encounter is the same event Starr won the title at last year, and if he beats El Phantasmo he will make it one full year as champion). I also think it's still a valid criticism that so much of the roster has been made to look inferior to NJPW's guys and that very little work has been put into building up anyone other than El Phantasmo. But there is no denying that Andy put a lot of thought into at least this one angle and that so much of what has happened will all tie in together at the end. Bravo, Mr. Quildan.
Starr tried to hit Quildan with the title belt but was intercepted by an El Phantasmo superkick. Phantasmo picked up the belt, looked at it, then tossed it back onto the chest of the laid-out David Starr.
JAMIE HAYTER vs. BOBBI TYLER - 5.75/10
RevPro British Women's Champion Zoe Lucas was on commentary for this match. Hayter won, then cut a promo demanding her rematch from when she lost the title all the way back in December (though she has been spending so much time in STARDOM that she hasn't been on a RevPro show all year until now, so it's hard to blame her for not acting on this yet). Bobbi Tyler then attacked Jamie from behind because she was angry about losing, I guess.
ZACK SABRE JR. vs. A-KID - 9.25/10
Even better than last year!
This was an up-and-down show from RevPro. The storyline advancement in the second half of the show was much-needed and the main event was fantastic, but so much of the undercard didn't deliver to the level it really should have. A show that is anything more than a one match show is becoming a rarity in RevPro, and that's not a good thing at all.