After a brief time out, Defiant returned to the air as Gabriel Kidd finally got his shot at Rampage’s title – on a show that reached both ends of the spectrum.

We’re at the Plug in Sheffield, a venue that feels a little more claustrophobic than it ought to be by how tightly zoomed in we are on the action. Dave Bradshaw and Simon Miller are on commentary, with Dave having a cheeky smile as he nicked Simon’s catchphrase.

John Klinger vs. Omari
The number one contender in the opener, on the show before he gets his title shot, eh? I smell a storyline for later. Omari’s gotten a little more defined since I last saw him, as he’s getting more defined. It’s a shame he’s not broken out as much this year as some were hoping…

Klinger takes Omari into the corner from the off, before the pair roll around the ropes. They shift up into shoulder tackles, with Klinger having trouble budging Omari at first, before he does so to a rather pantomime-like boo. Omari’s quickly back with a dropkick, then a missile dropkick as Klinger’s forced to duck a dive on the outside… instead he ate a PK off the apron as the rather-cramped ringside area saw little action.

Back in the ring, a Falcon arrow’s good for a near-fall as Klinger continued to build momentum. A chop stings Omari, as Klinger cared not for the referee’s instructions, before he eventually ran into a leg lariat as Omari mounted a comeback. There’s a spear in the corner as Omari scored with some kicks, scoring a superkick for a near-fall. Both men pull themselves back up as we get an elbow/chop battle, with Klinger feeling the heat a little more before he hauled up Omari into some rolling German suplexes.

A third German suplex takes Omari into the ropes, but he’s back in off the top with a double stomp for a near-fall as Klinger rolled onto the apron for relative safety. Apparently an Omari win would “rock Defiant to its core”… have some perspective, lads! There’s hyperbole… and then there’s that! On the apron the pair trade chops and kicks, but Klinger clotheslines Omari back into the ring ahead of the slingshot spear that almost ends the match. Klinger looked for the Self Justice flying lungblower, but instead he has to make do with a clothesline as Omari kept fighting out. Some thrust kicks from Klinger see him rack up another near-fall as the crowd began to rally behind Omari, while Klinger just mocks someone in the crowd, before he nearly lost to a wheelbarrow roll-up. Omari keeps up with a big boot and a suplex, then a gutwrench sit-out powerbomb as the flurry nearly led to the upset, before Bones slid out of the O-Zone and cracked Omari with a lariat. One Self Justice flying lungblower later… and Bones gets the win. A decent opener that the crowd got going for by the end… but Klinger doesn’t feel like he’s been established enough to be a viable champion, which may hurt next month. ***

Post-match, Klinger asks for the microphone – which the referee has to run backstage for. Klinger calls himself the German Psycho, and gets the “What?” treatment, because of course we’re still in the early 2000s. So he finishes his promo in German, which was a nice touch to shut up the What-ers.

We’re outside as Tom Campbell, who’s quickly becoming omnipresent in Northern Graps, is with Joe Hendry “earlier today”. Martin Kirby’s apparently not turned up, but Hendry’s willing to take the easy paycheque if Kirby doesn’t appear.

Alpha Bad (Kip Sabian & Iestyn Rees) vs. Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter)
Straight from WOS Wrestling, Alpha Bad are looking to parlay that brief run into something bigger.

Rees and Lee Hunter start us off, with Rees showing off his power game early on, shoving and clubbing the Hunter Brother around. Both men tag out, as Kip Sabian rakes Jim Hunter’s eyes, before Jim flipped over in the corner and began to land a series of clotheslines. A springboard back elbow off the ropes takes Kip down, before Lee tagged back in and hits a slingshot senton as the Hunters looked to be in some form of control.

An imploding standing senton from Jim’s good for a near-fall as the Hunters proceeded to isolate Sabian. There’s a neckbreaker to Sabian, before a pair of dropkicks knocked Rees off the apron and through the standalone crowd barriers. Sabian turns it around as he throws Jim Hunter into his partner outside… with Rees turning it into an apron death valley driver as the crowd continued to amuse themselves. In the ring, Rees scores a clothesline on Jim for a near-fall, before a drop toe hold and an elbow drop kept Jim in trouble. Alpha Bad worked really well as a tandem, with some seamless double-team moves and the usual cheating behind the ref’s back, before Jim low bridges Rees to the outside, then catches Sabian with an enziguiri… but he can’t tag out as Rees pulls Lee off the apron just in time.

The double-team continued as a Hart Attack-like shoulder blocks puts Jim down for a near-fall. Eventually Lee gets the tag in as he flies into Rees with a back elbow, but it brings Sabian in… for some clotheslines as the fire continued to burn, leading to a reverse facebuster, akin to the pull-back neckbreaker Edge used to use. In the end though, the numbers game returns as Sabian catches a distracted Lee with a Kotaro Krusher for a near-fall.

The Hunters have a comeback of their own, as Sabian’s taken into an over-the-knee backbreaker before Lee busts out a giant swing as Jim’s low dropkick clocks Kip. Rees comes in, but gets double-teamed, before a superplex was countered into a springboard forearm/powerbomb… and just like that Alpha Bad get the win. Not quite the Blockbuster/Powerbomb combo we saw on WOS… but the Plug seemed to have a low ceiling, so it was what it was. A solid, by-the-numbers tag as Rees and Sabian continued to build up steam ahead of their tag title shot next month. ***¼

El Phantasmo vs. Will Ospreay
The winner of this gets the next shot at the Defiant Internet title – and this has the potential to steal the show.

Phantasmo seemed to be the favourite before the bell, as we started with a struggle from the opening lock-up that ended in the ropes. There’s a clean break as the match stayed on the ground, with Phantasmo working over the wrist… only for Ospreay to flip out… and end up back in the hold. Shoulder blocks follow as the ground silently waited… and were greeted with a quick flurry of offence that ended with some rope-walking from ELP who tried his luck ahead of a ‘rana that Ospreay cartwheeled out of, before sending Phantasmo outside with a dropkick.

Ospreay followed him there with some chops, then some clotheslines that sent Phantasmo over the guard rails, before joining him in the crowd with a forearm off of the railings. Back in the ring, more chops lit up Phantasmo, as did a backbreaker as the Canadian was kept grounded. Phantasmo tries to fire back with chops of his own, but he’s quickly taken into the corner as he mounts a comeback with a springboard crossbody and an Quebrada for a near-fall. Phantasmo gets a receipt for that backbreaker from earlier, but Will get a foot onto the rope to break up the cover… before ELP slingshots from the apron and handwalks into a senton. A spit-laden chop follows in the corner, but Ospreay’s back with an enziguiri and an over-the-top 619 as he burst back into life, scoring another near-fall with a running shooting star press. There’s a huge forearm from Phantasmo that caught Ospreay unawares for a near-fall, then a superkick as the whirlibird neckbreaker followed.

ELP heads up top after that near-fall, but while his senton connects, Ospreay avoids the frog splash before catching Phantasmo with an Essex Destroyer and a brainbuster to leave both men down. The pair slug it out from their knees as they fought to get back to their feet, eventually dealing in elbow strikes and chops as they stung each other… but again ELP heads up top and gets caught with an uppercut, before he’s caught with a handspring overhead kick as Ospreay knocked him down.

Ospreay takes him back up top, but ELP gets on Will’s shoulders… only to get brought down with an avalanche Iconoclasm for a near-fall. Good GOD. The hook kick is next, as is a Storm Breaker, but Phantasmo gets into the corner and leaps down with a Destroyer, then an OsCutter (?) for a near-fall. Phantasmo keeps it high risk, but a top rope ‘rana’s flipped out of as Ospreay returns with a standing Spanish Fly and some kicks, before another Storm Breaker saw Phantasmo rebound off the ropes as we got the SummerSlam 92 finish, with Phantasmo sitting down on a sunset flip for the win! This was really good, but could have been so much better in front of a hot (or at least, a better mic’d crowd). ELP gets WALTER or Mark Davis for the Internet title next, which is a prize I think many may have preferred not to get. ****

We’re backstage as No Fun Dunne is with Los Federales Santos Jr… but Santos is injured and can’t wrestle. Dunne’s got a replacement partner: (HT) Drake. After he’s convinced that it’s not a gimmick, he accepts the offer, and becomes Deputy Drake. It’s rightfully mocked on commentary.

Lana Austin vs. Little Miss Roxxy
This continued the build towards the eventual Lana/Bea Priestley match, with Bea out injured (in this universe). Lana jumps Roxxy before the bell with a baseball slide as Roxxy was doing the splits on the apron, before she’s thrown into the guard rails.

Austin returned to the ring and went for a clothesline, only to get taken down with headscissors as Roxxy made a comeback, using some wacky rope running ahead of a dropkick. They head outside again, but this time Roxxy goes for another headscissor off the apron… only for Lana to put on the brakes and swing Roxxy into the guard rails. Ow.

Austin does the same again, this time wheelbarrowing and swinging Roxxy into the ring post as the crowd barely raised a murmur. Roxxy gets her head thrown into the turnbuckles before she’s caught with a neckbreaker in the ropes for a near-fall… and the one-sided stuff continued as Austin cracks her with a headbutt before a suplex rolled through into a guillotine that ended with a rope break. Roxxy begins a comeback with some clotheslines, before scoring with a Fisherman’s suplex that almost got the (relative) upset. A Fireman’s carry comes to nought as Lana slips out and decks Roxxy with a forearm for another near-fall. There’s a running knee from Roxxy as the pair traded the advantage, before a Scorpion kick and a back cracker earned Roxxy another near-fall.

A Cloverleaf forces Lana into the ropes, but she hits back with a draping DDT as Roxxy tried to springboard in from the ropes… and that’s enough for the win. This felt like death, but it’s the victim of the “token women’s match” booking. This was Roxxy’s first match in Defiant since the London shows in December 2017, as she’s still looking for her second win in the company. **

Post-match, Lana went under the ring for a chair, which she uses as Roxxy’s DDT’d onto it. The most heat for all this came when Lana shoved a fan in the crowd… which certainly says something.

No Disqualification, No Count-Out: Joe Hendry vs. Martin Kirby
After a Dusty finish, then a screwy finish at Stacked, we’ve got this no DQ, no count-out match between a duo whose feud had spilled over onto ITV. Hendry didn’t exactly get a big response despite his apparent turn at Stacked, while Kirby also got a middling reaction despite high-fiving fans on the way to the ring. That says quite a lot…a pair of tweeners?

After a staredown, the pair come to blows before Hendry sent Kirby scurrying with a back elbow… Hendry gives chase, catching Kirby with uppercuts around ringside, while I swear you could hear the glasses clinking at the bar. It should not be this quiet for a blood feud like this.

Hiptosses follow as Kirby grounded Hendry in an armbar, but the Scotsman quickly corners him for more uppercuts before a Freak of Nature attempt was avoided, with Kirby throwing his foe back outside. Kirby keeps up around the crowd with some chops, before he dragged Hendry up onto the stage as a piledriver attempt is countered with a back body drop. They head back to ringside, but Kirby puts on the brakes as he was about to get thrown into the crowd… with Hendry instead getting thrown in as the barrier gave way. Kirby gets thrown into the barriers next, and yes, they give way too, before we returned to the ring, with Kirby unleashing with a forearm and a shoulder charge in the corner.

Hendry retaliates with a neckbreaker to a polite applause, before we got a ref bump as Kirby whipped Hendry into the corner. This better not lead to plunder… instead, it leads to a Sable Bomb, but Kirby can only get a visual pin before Steve Lynskey runs down… to check on his colleague. What bullshit. How many times do we see a ref bump and the second ref comes in to check the pin… and now they’re worried for their colleagues?! Kirby gets angry, as he should, before he superkicked Steve. A Rocker Dropper connects on Hendry for a near-fall as Referee #1 wakes up and is thrown nearby to count the pin. Kirby goes outside for a chair, which he instantly puts around Hendry’s ankle as the referee tries to stop the Pillmanising. Why?! It’s no-DQ! That distraction allows Hendry to pop up and hits a chairshot to Kirby for a near-fall, before the referee tries to stop Hendry from using the chair again. He’s given a clothesline for forgetting the stipulation, and I’m checked out of this match.

We’ve got a third referee out, and a member of ring crew, and they predictably get knocked down. More security and trainee appears, but the crowd are seemingly laughing this off. Hendry’s putting the boots to a security guard while Steve Lynskey ran to the bank to tell the ring announcer that this match had been waved off as a no-contest. Such bullshit. You have a no-DQ, no-countout match that the referees try to enforce the rules in? Yeah, this is getting the almighty DUD. Not for the wrestlers, but for the way this was handled. Don’t do stipulations that mean “we must have a winner” when that’s not the way you’re going for the second show in a row.

Post-match, Hendry bemoans that Martin Kirby ran away rather than restart the match. Just like Kirby complained at Stacked. Hendry gets “who are ya?” chants, before he challenges Kirby to an I Quit match at Refuse To Lose. I look forward to that ending in a double count-out.

We’re outside as Will Ospreay’s walking to his car… he feels like he’s let people down because he lost to El Phantasmo. He asks to be brought back at Refuse To Lose against anyone. Wait, they tried to do the “I’m not good enough” shtick?!

Defiant Internet Championship: Mark Davis vs. WALTER (c)
After that goose egg, we’ve got a match that is going to have to go some to not be great. Mark Davis was in as a late replacement for the injured Chris Ridgeway, winning an internet poll for the opportunity to get murdered by an Austrian. This match is up to watch for free on YouTube – so watch away!

These two went through a bloody chested war back in February in PROGRESS, and although they seemed to be building towards a rematch, plans changed somewhat. From the opening tie-up, WALTER charges Davis into the corner, where we got a clean break, before the Australian returned the favour as one lone fan in the crowd yelled “no-one respects you anymore, ref”. After that last match, he has a point.

WALTER tees up for a chop, but Davis scurries away before he’s taken down with a headlock as they ended up exchanging shoulder tackles. Davis runs into a boot, as WALTER picked up a near-fall out of it, before he tried again for it and was pushed back as Davis rushed back with a back senton. Only to turn around into a chop as WALTER went straight for his lethal weapon. Davis has one of his own, as he punches out WALTER, lands a German suplex, before chopping the Austrian to the outside, where he quickly followed after him for some more chops around the ringside area. WALTER gets thrown into those flimsy guard rails, before he lifts up Davis with a back suplex onto the apron. Back in the ring, WALTER elbows Davis before trapping him in the ropes for some crossface punches that rang around the Plug, but one of them’s finally caught a Davis fires back with forearms in the corner.

The flurry of strikes would have been followed with a sit-down splash, but WALTER blocks it and turns the hold into a Boston crab right by the ropes. WALTER keeps on roughing up Davis, throwing another of those gunshot-like chops that had the crowd crying in disgust, leaving Davis reeling in the corner. Dunkzilla eventually fires up and retaliates with his chop/clothesline combos, but WALTER quickly returns as he tries to bloody up the chest again, as Davis was left reeling in the ropes. It looked like WALTER was the one getting bloodied up here, as Davis finally found his retribution, only to get dumped with a German suplex as the pair traded those briefly. The crowd finally twig that WALTER’s bleeding – but the blood fired up the Austrian briefly, at least until he misses a shotgun dropkick.

Davis tries to go up top, but gets caught with a butterfly superplex for a near-fall, as that same guy in the crowd wants to see Australian blood now. WALTER takes the idea as he unloads more of those chops, before Davis counters with an enziguiri and finally the Alphamare Waterslide! Good GOD! WALTER’s up at two from that, before a chop led to a Gojira clutch as Davis sank to his knees, but he’s up after the arm drop gimmick… only for WALTER to go all Minoru Suzuki with a folding powerbomb for a near-fall. A Fire Thunder Driver’s teased next, but Davis slips out and manages to catch WALTER with a sit-down splash, then a sliding punch into the corner. Davis manages to hurk up WALTER for a powerbomb, but that too only gets a near-fall, before another powerbomb attempt is countered into the sit-out tombstone… which proved to be enough for WALTER to retain. A suitably bloody war, even if the result was barely in any doubt. A heck of an outing for Davis, who still keeps his tag title… even if he didn’t seem to get WALTER’s (kayfabe) respect. ****

Sorry El Phantasmo, you’ve got WALTER next (or maybe not, since WALTER announced he wasn’t able to do November’s Refuse to Lose. Whether that match’ll be rescheduled for December remains to be seen).

No Fun Dunne & HT Drake vs. Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins
Dunne kept his “Wembley gear” here, and seemed to have a back-up vest which he gave to Drake, at least for the entrances.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Havoc is out with a pint, which Santos confiscates. Because fun. A fan gives him a can of Red Stripe, which Havoc downs… and sprays over Santos, before chugging the rest. The UK’s answer to the Sandman, eh?

Haskins starts with a hammerlock, but Drake escapes – much to the chagrin of Simon Miller on commentary, who was happily throwing in cheapshots to keep their storyline going. After some work in the corner, Haskins fires back with a low dropkick, before Drake ducks a kick and tagged out to Dunne. Havoc gets a tag in too, flipping off Dunne as he tried to enforce the (no fun) law, as he proceeded to corner Dunne ahead of an Acid Rainmaker. Dunne goes for the No Fun Enziguiri, which prompted Havoc to drop a C-bomb and go backstage for some plunder… quickly returning with the chair that Kirby and Hendry used two matches ago. Santos confiscates it, providing a distraction for Dunne to capitalise on, as the Anti-Fun Police (and the special constable) took control.

Drake and Dunne worked well for a spell, despite Havoc’s attempt to fight back. A double-team neckbreaker/DDT from Havoc finally gets him free, before a tag to Haskins sees him quickly catch Drake in a floating armbar. The roll-through death valley driver’s next after Drake got to the ropes, and then it’s back to the bridging armbar that Dunne came in to break up. Haskins throws Dunne and Drake outside, but the misdirection allows Haskins to hit a pair of topes into the makeshift Anti-Fun Police. Santos gets involved as he grabs Haskins’ ankle, only for Havoc to punch him out as Haskins again was left at a disadvantage. One of the mobile cameras goes a bit weird as Haskins took a front suplex, and for some reason Jimmy Havoc wanders in with the Hardcore title that everyone forgot existed. To be fair, when the belt’s only been defended once all year, I don’t blame you for forgetting it!

Havoc returns with his title belt as the Anti-Fun Police used his temper against his team. It backfires as Havoc pokes the ref in the eye and whacks Dunne and Drake with a pair of chairshots… and because the ref couldn’t see, there’s no DQ. We get more shenanigans as Havoc pokes Santos in the eye, then flings a chair at Drake as this turned into a bit of a brawl, culminating in Havoc going for the Rainmaker on Drake.

Drake escapes as we instead get a superkick-assisted Drake’s Landing for a near-fall, as the referee again took a beating. In the meantime, Drake’s caught in a wheelbarrow Sharpshooter, before Havoc busted out a cross armbreaker, only for Santos to pull out the referee as Drake tapped. Of course, we didn’t see that. Santos feigns ignorance but gets caught between Havoc and Haskins, and even a pint doesn’t settle things, as Haskins went to catch him with a PK, only to knock Jimmy’s pint out of his hand. That angers Havoc, predictably, as he and Haskins come to blows. Santos comes in with a chairshot, but he whacks the rope and knocks himself out as the comic relief came and went. Dunne tries to commandeer the chair as Havoc and Haskins kissed and made up, but he’s stopped and caught with the Kiss of Death – Rainmaker and kick to the chest – for the win. Eh, it was what it was. They continue to tease Havoc and Haskins splitting, but away from the tag title picture, there’s not much of a reason for these two to be paired up in Defiant. ***

Defiant Championship: Gabriel Kidd vs. Rampage (c)
Gabriel Kidd still has no music, as his no-frills entrance is quite suitable for his character. He’s fed up of talking, and waiting, as he calls out Rampage… who keeps us waiting a little longer before his music finally hit.

This was Rampage’s first match in almost four months after a severe shoulder injury, and you got the sense he wasn’t 100% going by the amount of KT tape on the shoulder. Kidd clobbers Rampage with a clothesline before the bell, but the referee refuses to make the count as the bell hadn’t rung. So Kidd makes the most of that wrinkle by decking Rampage with a title belt, before hollering like he was a WWF 80s cowboy or something. Where’s the bullrope and cowbell?

Kidd follows Rampage outside as we’ve got some brawling, before Kidd went on the hunt for some plunder… finding the omnipresent chair from throughout the night. There’s a chairshot that dumps Rampage onto the ramp, before a slam saw the ramp bounce as the champion took the bad landing as Rampage was left staggered. Eventually Kidd takes the match onto the apron, but Rampage slips free and pulls Kidd onto the apron as the challenger gets thrown into the ever-flimsy barrier. Did they ever secure those things?!

Another barrier just collapses as Kidd’s thrown over it… and you’d better believe Rampage is following him out there, as he uses a chair on Kidd before taking him back to the ramp for a suplex. Rampage gets a metal rod as he chokes out Kidd, as the match still hadn’t started, before that rod was thrown against Kidd’s back as the youngster was really being taken to the woodshed. They make it into the ring, and finally the bell rings as Rampage whips Kidd into the corner and catches him with a back body drop. A snap suplex follows for a two-count, before Rampage goes back for the chair… seemingly not caring about disqualifications. Steve Lynskey tries to disarm him, which allowed Kidd to score a near-fall from a roll-up as the challenger fought back.

Not for long though as Rampage charges Kidd into the corner for some mudhole stomping, leaving Kidd laying by the ring post, but rather than go for anything funny, he just goes back to the ring and hits Kidd with a big slam. That seemed to have tweaked Rampage’s shoulder some more, but he’s back in with some ground and pound on Kidd, which build up into some back-and-forth as the pair traded elbows before Rampage knocked him down with a big boot.

More shots follow as they fought back to their feet, before Kidd just whales on Rampage with some slaps, earning himself a clothesline in the process as Kidd rolled to the outside. There’s some more brawling outside, but Kidd gets back into the ring first and catches Rampage with a draping DDT, then a lariat, before he hit Rampage with his own piledriver… but it’s not enough to get the win.

Kidd rolls back outside and dismantles the guard railings, stacking two of them on top of each other as he set up to superplex Rampage off the top and through the railings on the floor… but Rampage counters with a superplex into the ring, before a quick piledriver puts Kidd away. If you don’t count the brawl, this was a pretty eh match, but factoring in the pre-match stuff, this was a spirited showing from Kidd, who managed to get the crowd on side. This was way too early for him to have even been considered for the title, but it’ll be interesting to see what Defiant do to keep warming him up for an eventual run with the belt. ***

Post-match, John Klinger hops one of the remaining guard rails and lays out Rampage with a lungblower… that prompts Primate/Jay Melrose to hit the ring for the save (knocking the ramp down in the process) as he chased away Klinger, only for the Defiant GM to be laid out as Kidd hit the ring and punched him in the jaw. Remember, Primate had to retire because of a broken jaw – and the fact that they did a physical angle like that makes me think that Primate may be coming back to action sooner rather than later.

Kidd may well have to go through Rory Coyle first, as he hit the ring (to near silence) as he made the save for Primate. The crowd barely knew Coyle it seemed, as the show came to an end with Primate getting carried to the back.

Fight or Flight was a show that, in terms of consistency, felt like it was over the place, and it suffered for it. While the two matches you expected to produce the goods did, the women’s match just didn’t connect with the live audience, while that no-DQ, no-countout blood feud ended up being even worse a letdown. It’s just a shame there’s a month between shows, as there’s plenty of loose ends that are left to tie up…

With Loaded returning in a little over six weeks’ time, the spark could well be returning to Defiant… however, for as good as Fight or Flight was at its best, the promotion somehow found a way to leave a sour taste behind. While the Hendry/Kirby feud has made sense on paper, it just hasn’t delivered bell-to-bell, with the booking of the non-finishes really not helping things either. We’ve said it before, but the return of Loaded should help Defiant build shows and characters (like Kidd and Coyle) but right now, this “PPV” show-to-show booking, and the general lack of shows just isn’t clicking.