Days removed from their second anniversary, Defiant returned to iPPV for a show that seemingly closed the book on some rivalries and set off some new direction.

There’s an issue with the VOD where the first two minutes have been lost (we watched the start of this on Tuesday night, so if it’s popped up since then… that’s why!), and we’re straight into the action.

Defiant Hardcore Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Jimmy Havoc (c)
We’ve a jump start from Jimmy as he swats away a dive with a chair, as commentary was trying to tell us that at last year’s Built to Destroy, Havoc lost the Hardcore title.

We’ve already got a chair wedged into the turnbuckles, but Ray avoids it and just throws the chair at Jimmy, before another dive to the outside was caught and turned into a death valley driver through a chair on the outside. Jimmy gets a ladder that was under the ring for… reasons, and a staple gun? There’s a table too, but Jimmy tries to charge Kay Lee into the road, and gets back body dropped instead.

With the help of a fan, Kay Lee gets onto the barrier and leaps onto Jimmy with a forearm, before the brawling continued in the crowd, culminating in Jimmy burying Kay Lee under a stack of chairs. We’re back on the right side of the barriers, with Jimmy charging into a chair before getting dumped with a Gory bomb into the barricades. They head into the ring, where Jimmy grabbed the staple gun and used it on Kay Lee Ray… so she picks up another one for a staple-off. Right in the chest!

The mechanical equivalent of a chop battle ends when Jimmy takes a staple to the head, before he’s trapped in the corner for some Shattered Dreams. Kay Lee turns it up a little by turning some chairs on their side, and I have a bad feeling about this… but first Kay Lee takes a death valley driver into a ladder that’d been propped across the ropes in the corner. Those chairs almost went badly wrong as Jimmy was scooped up for a sidewalk slam into them, but he was able to kick the chair away and land between the two for a near-fall.

Another Gory bomb followed, this time sending Havoc into the ladder, again for a near-fall, before she tried once more through a table. Havoc avoids that then pulls out a handful of thumbtacks from his pocket, putting them into Kay Lee’s mouth and slapping them out of them. We’re back to the chairs, which are uses as a landing zone as Jimmy turned a ‘rana from Kay Lee Ray into a powerbomb, before powerbombing her through a table for the win. This was alright, but the crowd seemed to be sitting on their hands. It’d have been nice to have some better camera work too, with the thumbtack spot being masked more than anything else! **¾

Gabriel Kidd vs. Prince Ameen
Once again, Kidd’s forgotten his theme music! He’s got new trunks, bearing the initials TBV (for Trial By Violence, a tag team he’s part of with Saxon Huxley), and his name in a sort of buffalo motif. It’s an improvement on the whole “lifeboat man” thing that was never ever explained.

Prince Ameen rushes the ring and tries to go for Kidd before the bell, but it’s Kidd who lays into Ameen when the bell rings, clotheslining and kicking the man who had him as a man servant two years ago. Ameen’s tossed to the outside, where they brawl around the swept-up remains of the hardcore match, before Kidd threw him into the barriers so hard it broke the damned barriers. Yeah, we’re into the crowd, and brought back as Ameen gets thrown into the ring post, before they’re back in the ring. Kidd spits in Ameen’s face… and gets a receipt, before he’s almost rolled up for the pin. Ameen continues the comeback with a spinebuster, before he grabs his Magic Carpet and whips it into Kidd, which isn’t a DQ for… reasons?

Eventually Kidd hits a lariat to stop the flow, as he then unfurled the Magic Carpet and threw it aside. The crowd finally begin to get behind Ameen as he’s slammed on the floor. Kidd grabs commentator Dave Bradshaw, but we can’t hear what he was saying as they again return to the ring, where Kidd continued to toy with Ameen, booting him in the head for the win. An utterly one-sided, decisive squash, and one that somehow lacked urgency. I kinda liked that – it was a deliberate outing, albeit one that didn’t connect with the crowd until after the dust had settled.

They air a trailer for the Ringmaster tournament that’ll be happening in Newcastle in July… it’s a 16-man tournament to crown a Ringmaster (and whatever that entails). At time of writing, announced names for the field were: Adam Brooks, Bad Bones, BT Gunn, David Starr, Kay Lee Ray, Kurtis Chapman, Martin Kirby and Matt Riddle. Again, it’s a shame those names are only on the ticket page and not the promotion’s website, which is looking rather spartan as of late.

Lucas Archer vs. Alex Gracie
We’ll gloss over how Alex Gracie turned on his tag partner last year, went on a rather ignominious run as a bad guy and then reformed with Lucas Archer after they both appeared in the No Regrets Rumble together. This had a polite reaction as the story seemed to be they needed to get their pent-up anger out before they could team again.

They start off swapping leapfrogs and the like, before Archer caught one… only for Gracie to slip out of a Fireman’s carry and tease a Fall From Gracie as they reached a stalemate. There’s a lot of swinging and missing as they’re avoiding each other’s offence, until Gracie slaps Archer in the face ahead of a series of clotheslines from both men. Archer’s flying forearm takes Gracie to the outside, but Alex returns as we’re back to the ropes for a diving uppercut, before Archer keeps the tit-for-tat with a neckbreaker as neither man was able to maintain any advantage. A standing frog splash from Gracie gets a near-fall, but the friendly rivalry continued with Archer going Old School for some rope-walking, before managing to hit a ‘rana after rebounding a powerbomb attempt off the top rope.

Gracie gets his powerbomb in anyway for a near-fall, but again Archer gets back in with a side Russian legsweep as he followed up with an axe kick for a near-fall, with Lucas perhaps showing a little more aggression. Oh, then he stops and calls for the worm. So much for the aggression… which we get as Gracie cuts it off with a belly-to-belly for a near-fall. A DDT from Archer counters a springboard bulldog as the finish of that worm happened anyway, as did a Code Red for a near-fall, but still Gracie’s able to kick out.

Archer looked for the finish with a springboard off the ropes, but a full nelson slam counters that, before Gracie almost stole the win with a Ranhei. Yeah, I was shocked too. SOS! Gracie keeps up with a barrage of kicks, only to get cut-off with an enziguiri before hitting back with an arm triangle. Archer floats over to break it up, before a springboard bulldog out of the corner almost went awry, as he turned it into a crossface on landing, but still they’re able to escape.

Throwing Gracie shoulder-first into the ring post, Archer looked to be on the ascendency, but he runs into a Michinoku driver for a near-fall, before reversing a Fall From Gracie for a near-fall. Archer crashes and burns with a top rope elbow though, then gets hurled into the corner with an overhead suplex, giving Gracie enough time to finish him off with the Jig ‘n’ Tonic… but somehow Archer kicks out! Yeah, there’s a bit of me annoyed that their finishers are being shown as “not good enough to put away someone who’s been out for a year”, but it is what it is. Gracie heads outside for a chair as he looked to snap, but he reconsiders time and time again, only to get suckered into a small package for another near-fall, as Alex ends up coming right back with a Fall From Gracie for a near-fall. Okay, we’re going long then?

They fight up on the turnbuckles, with Gracie teasing a slam off the middle rope… but it’s countered into a tornado DDT. Yep, still not enough. So they get into a shoving battle that quickly escalates, before a Fall From Gracie’s hit, and then retaliated with a pair of Samoan drivers from Archer for the win. Well, this lacked any kind of crowd intensity since it was a “friendly rivalry”, but this went on a lot longer than it perhaps should have done. Decent, but like every other time with Prospect, if this leads to them doing nothing afterwards, then this was for nought. ***

They teased another split on the stage, with a Fall From Gracie… but it’s just one big laugh!

Commentary throws out some dates for the future: that Ringmaster tournament’s being taped on July 16 and 17, but will drop on July 21 and 22, while Stacked will happen on August 26 and air a day later.

Out comes Jay Melrose with a microphone, complete with Primate name plate and graphics. He announces the Ringmaster tournament to the crowd, and confirms that the winner of the tournament will get a Defiant title shot in October, before throwing out some names. Scroll up, we had them there – along with names that have been announced since.

We’re taken backstage as a silent Simon Miller’s interviewed ahead of his match with Drake. Unsurprisingly for someone whose bread and butter has been doing YouTube videos, Miller’s really good at this promo lark.

Drake vs. Simon Miller
Miller jumps Drake at the bell, taking him down with some ground and pound, before chasing him around ringside… and unlike we normally see, this isn’t a turnaround point for the bad guy! Drake gets a foot in as Miller charged at him, and that’s your turn around as Drake returns the ground and pound favours, before booting him in the back and keeping things on the mat with a sleeperhold of sorts. The back of Miller’s head became a target as commentary surmised that Drake was trying to open up the cut again, clubbing and clawing at it, before Miller snatched the win with a schoolboy roll-up! Short and pretty much a banana peel finish, with Miller scarpering to the back, but that was alright for Miller’s first-ever singles match.

Post-match, Drake hung around ringside and grabbed the microphone, decrying the “golden boy” as he moaned about “this kind of bullshit” he’s had to put up with. We know it’s true because he’s allowed to swear, complaining about the fans thinking that Miller should have a title shot, before pointing out that he’s HT Drake, but Defiant told him to drop the HT “because it’s marketable”. I’ve not seen any Drake merch, so… that’s a moot point. Drake points out he’s here first and leaves last (I’d hope so, it’s meant to be your ring they’re using!), but he’s not been rewarded for it… so he’s done playing games, and so he walks out.

Will Ospreay’s next as he’s got a backstage promo, remarking how he was about to beat Joe Hendry a year ago… only for Marty Scurll to steal the match and the (then) WCPW title. Ospreay says he represents the current Internet age of blogs, reviews and podcasts, so it’s only apt he’ll be the Internet (television) champion.

Next is our tag title match, as Aussie Open’s putting the belts up against Chris Brookes and a mystery opponent… Brookes comes out first with a microphone, and reveals that after a string of random opponents, his mystery choice is his first choice: Kid Lykos is finally (back) in Defiant!

Defiant Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos)
So technically this was Lykos’ debut, since he was on the shelf when CCK debuted late last year in the promotion. Commentary glitches out a little as Dave Bradshaw’s microphone was seemingly built to destroy, and we’re underway!

Brookes and Davis start us off, with Dunkzilla taking Brookes into the corner for a clean break. A chop battle starts, with Brookes getting suckered in for a high five, as Kyle Fletcher came in to try and work over the arm, before taking Brookes into the corner as he urged him to tag in Kid Lykos.

That happens, as Lykos finally gets some ring time, but his first move – a brainbuster – is escaped as Newcastle sadly didn’t seem to get his love of the brainbuster. A leg lariat takes down Fletcher though, as uppercuts take Fletcher into the ropes, allowing CCK to take over as Brookes tagged in to briefly double-team Fletcher. Chops from Brookes keep Fletcher in the wrong corner as CCK exchanged frequent tags, while Lykos again failed on a brainbuster, allowing Fletcher to take in a riled up Dunkzilla.

With one hand, Davis powerbombs Brookes before punching out the wolf, as Fletcher returned to keep up the offence for the tag team champions. Fletcher nearly gets the win with a dropkick on Brookes, but it’s chops from Brookes that turn things around… only for Davis to throw a single one as the match remained finely poised. A missile dropkick from Brookes allowed him to get the tag out to Lykos, who’s quickly cut-off by a knee from Davis before he unleashed with a series of kicks to Fletcher, and a standing corkscrew senton to boot.

Dives follow as Lykos tope’d into the Aussies, before a slingshot cutter from Brookes set up for that sick effing tag move, as an elevated lungblower and a back senton almost put Davis away. Brookes gets sent outside as the Aussies isolate Lykos again, leading to a double-team Go To Sleep that almost gets the win as we burst into one big Parade of Moves, ending with a lariat from Davis to Brookes!

Brookes gets sent to the outside as he charged at Davis in the corner, leading to what looked like an awkward landing. Lykos was forced to go it alone as he low bridges Fletcher to the outside, before unloading on Davis with forearms… and then countering some Aussie Open double-teams by dumping Fletcher with a DDT. Lykos almost nicks it by rolling up Davis out of the pull-up piledriver, before he goes for a brainbuster… that backfires as the double-team spinebuster followed from the champions, before they put away Lykos with the Fidget Spinner. A valiant effort, and a good showing, but once Brookes went down from that landing, it was pretty elementary from there. With both men at 100%… the result may well have been different. ***½

A vignette from Bea Priestley follows, as she drags the remains of a fold-up chair through the woods, verbally lashing out at Millie McKenzie and vowing to stomp on head because her “monster craves it”. This was a really good video… why haven’t they done these before?

Defiant Women’s Championship: Bea Priestley vs. Millie McKenzie (c)
The monster in Bea still had time to grab a fan’s “Pug For Bea” sign as the sound mixers drowned out commentary.

We get going with Bea on the front foot, taking down Millie by the arm, before sending her onto the apron for a vicious baseball slide dropkick. A PK followed off the apron as Bea started well, only for Millie to return fire with a snapmare and some kicks, only to get tripped as another low dropkick continued to target the champion’s head.

Millie tries to fight back, scoring a near-fall with a crossbody before she teased a German suplex… but Bea gets in an arm whip and started to tie up the champion, crossing her legs to restrain her for a curb stomp attempt. A Dragon screw from Millie puts the brakes on things, only for a shotgun-like dropkick to take Millie back into the corner as a diving elbow trapped Millie in the ropes for a near-fall. Finally Millie musters up some offence, unloading with a barrage of German suplexes, before a pump kick from Bea out of desperation left both women down. They get back up and trade forearm and elbow strikes until a spear from Millie and a diving uppercut gets her a near-fall, before she caught a springboarding Bea and hits her with a cutter.

They spill outside where Millie gets draped on the crowd barriers as she’s left helpless for a nasty double stomp to the back. That’s enough for a near-fall after Bea rolls her back in, but an attempt to climb the ropes is stopped with an avalanche German suplex from Millie, who followed up with a Destroyer for a near-fall. Millie tried for a pumphandle German, only for Bea to block it and come in off the top rope with a double stomp, before one more double stomp finished things off. A new champion after a match which saw Millie’s offence unusually limited – and hopefully a rematch will be a lot more open. ***

Joe Hendry vs. Will Ospreay
Winner faces WALTER at Stacked in August, but first Joe Hendry’s got something to say. Except he needs to think about it… which is great preparation! Hendry threatens to walk out… which was the cue for “flamboyant pirate” Will Ospreay to cut him off.

Hendry does try to walk away again, as we’re all about that cheap heat, before we finally start with Ospreay swinging and missing with some kicks, before he sent Hendry scurrying into the ropes. A waistlock from Hendry sees him keep Ospreay on the mat, before he again heads outside for that lovely thing that are Moose counts. Back in the ring, Ospreay starts to tee off with kicks and elbows to Hendry, before taking him into the corner for a kick… only to see his springboard back in thwarted as Hendry shoved him down into the ropes. Some rather un-technical stomps followed from Hendry, before a hiptoss lifted Ospreay high up and back down to the mat for a near-fall.

Hendry keeps up with a suplex for a two-count, before a grounded version of the Million Dollar Dream almost forced a submission. The pace is surprisingly slow and methodical, but out of nowhere Ospreay rebounds with a handspring overhead kick, then an enziguiri out of the corner and an over-the-top 619, as the springboard forearm came off at the second time of asking. Some more kicks from Ospreay keep Hendry down, but Hendry catches a third and meets it with a low dropkick, only to get caught with a sudden reverse DDT from Ospreay. A Robinson special misses, as Ospreay leaps out of the corner and is forced to avoid a Freak of Nature… but he ends up in an ankle lock instead. It’s rolled through as Ospreay tried to come back, only to take the Freak of Nature fallaway slam for a near-fall.

After getting back to his feet, Ospreay nailed a hook kick, before he called for the Storm Breaker… Hendry deadweights and back body drops free, aggravating Ospreay’s leg in the process, before countering another springboard into an ankle lock. Again, Ospreay gets free and manages to counter back with a standing Spanish fly, as the pair resumed hostilities with forearms and chops.

A Stundog Millionaire keeps Hendry down, as Ospreay heads up top once again… but once more, he’s caught as Hendry crotches him before a superplex attempt was met with a Cheeky Nandos… which gets countered into another ankle lock! The bell sounds, which is odd because there’s no time limit, but they continue on regardless as Ospreay’s kept in the ankle lock, despite his best efforts to escape, before he eventually fought his way up into a Rainmaker.

Ospreay pulls himself up and throws some more kicks, before Hendry charged into the corner to avoid a Storm Breaker. Will’s legs are starting to cause problems, and as he tried for a Spanish fly on top, he’s forced to fight out of an avalanche Freak of Nature before throwing a headbutt and scoring with a cutter off the top for a near-fall. Keeping on top of Hendry though, Ospreay’s right back in with a Storm Breaker, and that’s the win! Ospreay vs. WALTER in August is a very intriguing match… and one that could leave Will with a very bruised chest. This was a pretty solid match; I’m probably never going to be sold on Hendry as a bad guy, but he played a good foil for Ospreay here. ***¾

Defiant World Championship: Martin Kirby vs. Rampage (c)
Yet again, the entrance music drowns out commentary as Martin Kirby is looking to regain the title he held so briefly last year.

We start with a tie-up between the two, as Rampage takes Kirby into the corner, complete with some rather patronising clean breaks, before Rampage just barges through his challenger with shoulder charges and chops. It’s almost like it’s men against boys, at least in terms of the size difference. A clothesline takes Kirby to the outside, where the chops continue, before Kirby avoided being whipped into the barriers, only to get backdropped into the crowd instead.

Rampage smashes through the crowd barrier as he tried to boot Kirby over the railing – and he seemed to pull a muscle or two on the way down, as Kirby took control from there, going for the knee as he took advantage of the miscue. A stomp to the leg in the ropes keeps Rampage on the mat, before he grapevines the champion’s leg… but Rampage’s free leg helps to get himself free. Kirby keeps putting the boots to Rampage in the corner, as he takes it to the ring post for a figure four around the post, doing even more damage. A second attempt’s stopped when Rampage pulled Kirby into the post, and before long he’s back in the ring with a shoulder block to take the challenger down. The momentum’s kept up with a back suplex, getting Rampage a near-fall, then again with a clothesline, then a knee drop as Kirby was forced to try and fight back… only to get knocked down with a clubbering forearm to the back.

A drop toe hold out of desperation takes Rampage into the corner for a shoulder charge, before a headscissor takedown out of the corner sent the champion flying. Kirby’s ducking right hands and meeting Rampage with dropkicks as he senses an opportunity… but a charge is caught and turned into a nasty uranage for a near-fall, before he fell for the false alarm enziguiri once more.

Kirby tries for the Sable Bomb, but gets back body dropped and booted away, as Rampage seemed to be rather more urgent with his offence. A piledriver’s countered out of with a jawbreaker by Kirby, who then sidesteps a shoulder charge as Rampage hits the post again… giving Kirby a chance for the Sable bomb for a near-fall. Tempting fate, Kirby goes for a Zoidberg Elbow, which of course misses as Rampage countered into a spinebuster.

Rampage unusually goes up top as he tried to slam Kirby… but it’s shrugged off as he instead countered another headscissors into a top rope powerbomb, ahead of a big piledriver as Rampage completed the defence. A solid main event, albeit one what lacked any back-and-forth from the crowd as you sensed they’d have been happy with either man as the champion. Solid, but it’s surely now time to have Rampage defending against nippy/annoying bad guys now? ***½

Speaking of… after the match, Gabriel Kidd – in an Ethan Page t-shirt – heads down to the ring, staring at Rampage, before saying “I’m next”. He may be right.

Defiant’s second anniversary show was solid without being spectacular. It’s a little harsh to say that they’re a shadow of the company they once were, but since the rebrand, Defiant are still trying to recapture the buzz they once had. Strangely, it may well seem that going back to their roots could do the trick, but after one match it’s way too early to say that Simon Miller is “the guy” – but as long as they bide their time, he may well play a key part.

As for the rest of the show, well, July’s Ringmaster tournament should go some way to “restocking” the company’s roster, which has been looking a little bare in recent months. Both the tag team and Hardcore divisions are looking a little spartan, with no obvious next contenders, and you’d have to think that Prince Ameen’s days are numbered, or at the very least he’ll be put on the back burner after being dominated by Gabriel Kidd…