A new year in Defiant brought more of the same as their first set of tapings wrapped up.

We open with a recap from last week, with Joe Hendry again becoming the Local Hero, Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins seemingly splitting up, and Rory Coyle telling us to watch tapes. I don’t even have a VCR! Oh, and Martin Kirby winning the Internet title…

We segue from that to Kirby entering the dressing room, and getting an impromptu guard of honour… and then, titles!

Man Like Dereiss vs. El Phantasmo
So, this is a hell of a rush from ELP, who worked the opener for Rev Pro in London before rushing up to Newcastle for this. Or at least it would have been, as commentary painted this footage from December’s taping as being newer (although the rest of the show was indeed from this past Saturday’s taping, per Defiant).

Dereiss starts by taking ELP into the ropes, before he hit the ropes himself for an eventual headscissor… not a takedown, as ELP cartwheels out and lands an enziguiri instead for an early two-count. The slingshot/handstand senton’s next for another two-count, before ELP goes for some rope walking and a ‘rana for a near-fall.

Dereiss hits back with an enziguiri and a DDT for a near-fall, before a springboard crossbody and a Quebrada gets ELP more pinning attempts. A shotgun dropkick from Dereiss takes Phantasmo into the corner ahead of a cutter out of nowhere, but ELP’s whirlibird neckbreaker is the instant response for the win. An enjoyable TV match, Dereiss looked good on offence, but in the end he was no match for ELP. **¾

Rory Coyle’s got a vignette as he’s going to make us wait for the talk about the Yard. It’s apparently our fault for not paying enough attention, so Rory walks us through the hints he’d laid, before he turned his attention to Joe Hendry. Coyle seemed to be annoyed at how Hendry had been chasing trends… but if the Local Hero was back, then he’d make a movie about him. So Rory Coyle is like Goldust, just without the innuendos?

Lucky Kid vs. BT Gunn
Surprise Lucky Kid! He was up against a BT Gunn who’d not been in Defiant since the summer’s Ringmaster tournament, and started out by… laying down for the Scotsman before the bell.

There’s some Scottish football banter on commentary that didn’t quite hold up, as we began the match proper rather tentatively, with Lucky Kid scoring an early shoulder block, only for BT Gunn to roll him up instantly for a near-fall (despite Gunn having a foot in the ropes!) Lucky Kid rebounds with low dropkicks, taking BT outside as now we… blaaah!

A plancha to the outside sees Lucky Kid miss, as BT then mocks Lucky’s fake-out, prompting Lucky to crawl towards the Scotsman… and get slapped. More chops follow as BT and Lucky lit up each other’s chests, which at least woke up the crowd. We’re back to low dropkicks from Lucky for a near-fall, only for BT to take him back into the corner, where a splash mises… but BT does lift Lucky onto the apron ahead of a Beele throw back into the ring. A roll-up Flatliner’s next, but Lucky kicks out at two, and we’ve got another glitch en route to a clothesline from Lucky. A lifting reverse DDT’s good for a near-fall, before he tries for headscissors into a crossface, which Gunn blocks as he instead sprung out of the corner with a cutter for a near-fall.

Gunn looked for a swinging Flatliner, but instead Lucky slips out for a handspring back elbow, before he scored with those headscissors into the crossface – dubbed the Lion’s Cage – only for BT to roll out for a near-fall, before the swinging Flatliner gets the win. This was a sound return for Gunn, who’ll be going it alone in Defiant… and seemingly away from the Hardcore division too. ***

Post-match, Bad Bones appears on the stage and attacked Lucky Kid, leaving him laying as I guess we’ve got the kindling from RISE facing off against each other in 2019.

They insert a promo from PAC here – he’s facing David Starr next week on Loaded. He says it’s not a dream match, and promises to make it a quick affair for the “horrible slug”. Next is David Starr, who’s quietly confident against the “little elf”.

Defiant Women’s Championship: Little Miss Roxxy vs. Kanji (c)
Roxxy’s gotten this shot seemingly by making Millie McKenzie submit during the championship gauntlet match three weeks back. Something tells me she’ll not be getting her first “real” win in Defiant…

Commentary’s calling Kanji a controversial new champion, and we start with a handshake as the pair wrestled around the ropes from the opening tie-up. Roxxy switches out into a side headlock, taking the champion down to the mat, only for Kanji to escape with headscissors that Roxxy bridged out of.

We’re back into the side headlock, with Roxxy switching into a hammerlock, only for Kanji to roll through as Roxxy’s taken into the corner. Kanji goes for some pinning attempts, picking up some near-falls which segue into indy’riffic near-falls, before a low dropkick took Roxxy back into the corner. There’s a step-up knee in the corner before Kanji trips Roxxy for a step-up leg drop for a near-fall.

Roxxy’s back with a dropkick before a high leg lariat in the corner and some more kicks has Kanji loopy ahead of a STO for a near-fall. We move from there to a modified camel clutch from Roxxy, who then pushes Kanji away with her boot as she perhaps got a little too confident… only for Kanji to land a springboard punch as she fought back in.

The leapfrog/headscissors takes Roxxy into the turnbuckles ahead of a 619, before a missile dropkick planted Roxxy for another near-fall. Roxxy responds with a Scorpion kick and a back cracker for a two-count, but a roundhouse from Kanji leaves Roxxy down as a moonsault finds its mark as Kanji gets the win. A solid, albeit mostly heatless match, but that’s the curse when you’re so new to the roster I guess. **¾

Backstage, General Ameen’s interrupted by a coughing and whistling El Phantasmo. Someone’s stolen ELP’s light-up sunglasses, as we’ve some late submissions for panto season with the hammy acting. Ameen says he’ll look for the glasses, as ELP won’t wrestle again until they’re found.

They run down the announced card for Unstoppable in February…

Defiant Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) (c) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos)
Lana Austin vs. Bea Priestley
Primate & Joe Hendry vs. Gabriel Kidd & Rory Coyle

Rory Coyle vs. Joe Hendry
Coyle’s got his burlap sack o’ tapes, while Joe Hendry’s rolled back the clock as he’s back to making custom entrance themes, this time begging Rory to switch to DVDs. Hah.

Coyle charges Hendry at the bell, but he’s quickly back as Hendry shoves down Coyle, then followed up with a leaping knee. A thumb to the eye from Coyle turns it around briefly, with Hendry cutting him off with a short lariat and an eventual suplex, prompting Coyle to powder to the outside, where he incited Hendry into a game of cat and mouse.

Coyle edged ahead when he hung Hendry across the top rope, dragging him outside for some body blows… but Hendry fought back with uppercuts before Coyle used a crew member as a human shield. It worked though, as Coyle manages to throw Hendry into the ring post, before taking the match back inside as he filmed a selfie on his camcorder as he looked for a camel clutch on Hendry.

Hendry fights out with more uppercuts though, but he’s quickly caught in a full nelson slam as Coyle impressively held onto the camera throughout. After Coyle put it down, he’s met with a back elbow, then a DDT as Coyle’s left reaching for his burlap sack… only for Hendry to respond with an ankle lock… and then the lights go out? No, it’s not another YouTube ad, it’s a video on the big screen that isn’t patched into the live feed.

The lights come on as Coyle (on the big screen) laughs, distracting Hendry as Rory then hits him with the mannequin arm… and there’s the cheap DQ. This was fine, but again this was more to build the ongoing storyline and their upcoming tag team match in February. **¾

Gabriel Kidd comes out to attack Hendry too, only for Primate to make a timely save as the show goes off the air.

Next week: PAC vs. David Starr… and really, do you need any more reasons? Oh, well the South Coast Connection do a wrestle too, as that’s the only other thing trailed.

Five episodes per taping is a real marathon for fans to sit through, but this didn’t show up as much – at least compared to the relatively dead crowd from the prior week. Still, at least the “new look” of Defiant has seen them establish something of a two-tier roster – with one level likely to appear on the big shows, and the other that’s there to put up a fight but ultimately come up short. We’re not getting the blowaway squashes, but it’s a much better product that doesn’t compromise any of the (admittedly, shortening list of) stars they still have by not having star vs. star matches every week.

Watch Loaded #5 on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JevhyLOJslY