Over a year since the show last aired, Loaded is back as Defiant are giving the “weekly episodic TV” format another crack – and they’re back with a bang!

While not quite a running joke, Loaded had several lives during the lifetime of WCPW – and while Defiant had a short-lived weekly show just after the promotion’s reboot last year, this is the last time we’re seeing “Defiant” and “Loaded” together. Hence we’re going with their numbering, rather than calling this episode 34. Last time Loaded was on the air, Alex Gracie was doing the “zoned out mad man” gimmick, having turned on Lucas Archer earlier in the year… Pastor William Eaver was a thing here (until he and Jurn Simmons picked up injuries, killing that whole deal)… and the show closed with a staredown between Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay. A lot has changed in a year – and not just on the wrestling landscape.

The show opens with a recap of the happenings at Refuse to Lose, featuring El Phantasmo winning with WALTER’s Gojira clutch… Primate announcing his return… Martin Kirby attacking Joe Hendry after their I Quit match… and Rampage successfully defending against Bad Bones.

From there we’re taken inside the O2 Academy in Newcastle, which actually seems hot! It’s like a throwback to the olden days, just without the leaky warehouse roof. James Kennedy and Dave Bradshaw are on commentary since Simon Miller’s run back at the desk was fleeting.

Defiant Internet Championship: El Phantasmo vs. Chris Ridgeway vs. WALTER (c)
Both these men had won title shots in the build-up to this show – ELP was meant to have cashed his in at Refuse To Lose, but WALTER had to drop out of the show, so we’ve got this three-way instead.

Commentary calls out the “rumours over WALTER’s future”, clearly playing up that “this may be the best time to face him”. We’re going to get that storyline a LOT I fear… Phantasmo and Ridgeway look to attack WALTER early, succeeding when they double-team him with kicks as it seemed that that was the only way Ridgeway or Phantasmo could succeed. Eventually WALTER hit back, but Ridgeway’s kicks stung him some more before WALTER scored with a double suplex.

Phantasmo’s back up, but he has to duck some chops before catching WALTER with one. Oh boy. Rope walking follows, along with some springboarding… which ends as WALTER just kicks the ropes to crotch the Canadian and send him to the outside. Hah! WALTER focused on Ridgeway from there, responding to some kicks with a chop as the Austrian stood tall, following up with a Boston crab as he rolled Ridgeway over.

Phantasmo comes in to break it up, so WALTER decides to take on both of his challengers with crossface punches in the ropes. Ridgeway catches one and tries to fight free, but WALTER fires back with chops before Ridgeway and ELP combine with kicks to finally send WALTER outside. Dives looked to follow, but Ridgeway kicks Phantasmo during the run-up, as the two challengers went at each other. A Quebrada gets Phantasmo a near-fall, before the Whirlibird neckbreaker’s broken as Phantasmo eventually got his tope off into WALTER.

Back in the ring, Ridgeway clocks ELP with a head kick, then a heel kick to the back of the head for a near-fall. WALTER’s back with a folding powerbomb to Ridgeway, but ELP broke up the cover with a senton as the Canadian kept up with a double stomp before a frog splash landed in WALTER’s knees. There’s another powerbomb from WALTER, but this time Phantasmo kicks out at two, as Ridgeway looked to take over, scoring with body blows while ducking chops. A Ridgeway kick’s caught, but he counters a powerbomb into a guillotine… only for WALTER to counter that out into a suplex… which Ridgeway slips out of and into a rear naked choke.

WALTER flipped out of that, before Phantasmo’s attempt to frog splash into Ridgeway saw him land in a triangle choke. It’s fast and furious stuff as everyone’s countering and escaping, with Ridgeway catching Phantasmo’s springboard with a rear naked choke… which WALTER broke up with a chop before tapping out Ridgeway to the Gojira clutch. My GOD. That was a hell of a match to start the show with, perhaps ending a little abruptly, but I loved that finish. More please! ***¾

We see a replay of the finish (again, yay for that, given how adverse Defiant had been to replays on their live shows).

We’ve a video package for Bea Priestley – the current Defiant women’s champion. She wants to defend the belt because she’s been away in Stardom… and she’s proposing a gauntlet. Hey, it was a better promo than some of the NXT UK stuff. At least it was in focus – both image and topic wise! Commentary tells us the Women’s title gauntlet is next week, but it’ll be like a Royal Rumble in terms of entries, with regular (non over the top rope) eliminations. I’m intrigued.

Kanji vs. Gemini
The winner of this match goes into the gauntlet next week – and it’s debuts for both women too. We saw Kanji at EVE a few days after this and were pretty impressed… unlike our thoughts on the Defiant sound crew. WAY TOO MUCH BASS. As for Gemini, it’s our first time even hearing of her… she’s apparently from Washington (halfway between Newcastle and Sunderland in England, not in the States), and is a NGW trainee.

Commentary mentions how Gemini may have issues lasting due to her size… which she uses to effect early as she throws Kanji across the ring, before squashing Kanji in the corner with an avalanche. A whip into the corner sees Kanji rebound out and into a sidewalk slam as the Nottingham-based Kanji looked in trouble, but she’s right back with a low dropkick and a step-up legdrop as Gemini suddenly had no answer. A springboard dropkick sends Gemini out of the corner as Kanji lands a moonsault off the top rope… and that’s the win! An underdog squash win, but I’d like to see more of both women as this was way too short to get a handle on either of them to be honest. **½

We’ve a backstage promo from Aussie Open who introduce themselves as the tag champions. Like Bea Priestley, they want to prove that they’re the best, but instead we’re told on commentary that they face CCK next week – the combo of Chris Brookes and Jonathan Gresham. If that’s given time, that’s going to be a hell of a match.

Gabriel Kidd’s backstage now addressing how people think he’s “scared” of the returning Primate.

Lucky Kid vs. Omari
Oh hey, surprise Lucky Kid… and a surprise airing for the RISE theme. Omari gets new music, presumably not to trip the YouTube content filter, as we get a rematch from August’s Stacked.

They open with a tie-up, before they went to battle with chops and forearms, then shoulder tackles as Omari refused to budge. Omari sticks a shoulder tackle before Lucky slipped out of a swinging side slam, before he got rolled up for a near-fall as the pace quickened. After a staredown, we’re back in with headlocks before Lucky Kid scores with low dropkicks, taking Omari outside for a faked-out dive.

Back in the ring, Omari connects with a dropkick to stop Lucky in his tracks, before landing some forearms and a cross-chop in the corner. A leg lariat follows in the corner, keeping Lucky on the back foot before he got free and rebounded off the ropes with a handspring back elbow. An Asai DDT looked to follow, but Omari shoves free and after landing some back elbows, he’s got Lucky on the mat. A clothesline from Lucky catches Omari in the ropes, sending him outside for a plancha, before an unfortunate choice of camera angle hides an Omaro superkick. There’s a gutwrench powerbomb for another near-fall, which Omari followed up with a double stomp as Lucky Kid was firmly back on the defensive.

Lucky flips out of a German suplex as he began to fight back with chops, only to run into a headbutt that send him to the outside… but Lucky skins the cat and lands an Asai DDT for a near-fall! Omari counters some headscissors into a facebuster as he tried to stop Lucky with kicks, but the Berliner’s back with an enziguiri and a German suplex, before he took down Omari with La Mistica as a crossface forced the submission. Solid stuff here, as Omari and Lucky Kid hopefully will become a more regular part of the roster with this weekly show. ***¼

Commentary announced the first iPPV of 2019 – it’s called Unstoppable. It’s on February 9, and it’s coming from the O2 Academy in Manchester. No more Bowlers should make this easier for folks to travel to…

We see someone putting a tape into a VCR. It’s Rory Coyle’s gimmick, as he took over the stream. It’s an introductory piece to remind us of what he’s done so far in Defiant.

Martin Kirby heads to the ring next to explain his actions at Refuse to Lose. The initial boos for his music seem spartan. All he says is “my bad”, then he leaves the ring. So a non-explanation, really!

We’re backstage again as Chief Deputy Dunne and Los Federales Santos Jr. are alongside “Deputy Drake” to recap what happened in their loss to Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins at Refuse to Lose. It’s a wacky clash of Geordie, Birmingham and Mexican accents, at least two of which are legitimate. They recap how Havoc used illegal weapons, bad language and alcohol, and come up with a plan to stop him.

Commentary tells us that Primate’s replacement as GM of Defiant’ll be announced next week.

John Klinger & Nathan Cruz vs. David Starr & Rampage
Our main event is based off of the happenings at the end of Refuse To Lose, and since we last saw Nathan Cruz, I swear he’s cloned Jurn Simmons’ robe. All the shoulder pads!

After the good guys were done glad-handing the crowd for their entrance (with David Starr perhaps mocking Rampage in doing so), we start with those two having a disagreement before the match. When the bell goes, Rampage focuses on business, suplexing Cruz for just a one-count before Cruz kicked away a back body drop.

Cruz blocks a charge from Rampage, but ends up getting caught with a big boot as Starr blind-tags in, taking Cruz back into the corner for chops and forearms on the way to another one-count. Cruz slaps Rampage, which annoys the champion and turns things around as Klinger comes in for a brief double-team en route to the Thanks, Tully from Cruz for a near-fall. Klinger tags in and continues to wear down Starr with headbutts and chops, as the bad guys double-teamed Starr in their corner. Chops from Starr looked to give him hope, but Cruz fought back, choking Starr in the ropes as the match spilled outside. Klinger throws Starr into the guard rails, then back into the ring as Rampage’s bid to make a save was stopped by the referee.

Starr tries to fight back, knocking Klinger off the apron, but he has to flip out of a second Thanks, Tully before tagging in Rampage. Shoulder blocks ahoy follow from Rampage, then a flapjack, before he heads up to the middle rope for a flying shoulder block. Cruz escaped a piledriver as he tried to tag in Klinger, eventually doing so after an enziguiri.

Rampage manages to tag Starr in too, who scored with a springboard clothesline before an attempted dive was cut short with a slingshot spear from Klinger. Bad Bones looks to go up top, as does Cruz, but Bones is cut off with an enziguiri before Starr looks for a superplex on Cruz… scoring with that, only for Klinger to fly in with a Macho Man elbow seconds later as Rampage had to dive in to break up the pin. Klinger throws Rampage outside as he continued to focus on Starr, but a blind tag as Starr was in position for Show Stolen from Cruz brings Rampage back in… and after pulling down Starr he’s shoved into his tag partner before Cruz tries to steal a win with a roll-up. A retaliation comes in the form of a big boot and a uranage from Rampage, before Starr blind tags himself back in… and here’s the arguments!

Bad Bones charges in and throws Rampage into the ring post as the champion was caught unawares, before a superkick to Starr’s blocked and met in kind. They trade German suplexes, then clotheslines before Klinger’s suplex is turned into a rude Blackhart Buster for the win. A sudden ending, but a decent main event that built up towards the eventual Starr/Rampage title match. ***¼

Post-match, Starr grabs Rampage’s title belt then looked to lay him out with it… but he’s caught. Rampage boots Starr in the head as he saw through Starr’s antics, getting a smattering of boos as the show went off the air.

If you’ve been turned off of Defiant since they stopped doing their weekly shows, this is as good a point as any to jump back on with. The returning episode of Loaded didn’t bombard you with storylines while making sure you were told enough to “get” what’s going on. Yeah, this show’s best watched if you have some prior knowledge of Defiant, but you’ll be able to jump in blind and still enjoy this show.