PAC came back to Newcastle, as Defiant hosted his homecoming on this week’s Loaded.

We open with “last time on Loaded”, recapping Bad Bones blindsiding Lucky Kid, Kanji beating Little Miss Roxxy, and Joe Hendry getting blasted in the face with a prosthetic arm as Rory Coyle pretended he was Doink from 1993. Oh, and El Phantasmo’s sort-of on strike because he’s lost his sunglasses.

General Ameen’s in his office, looking over his list of suspects. It leads to the obvious line from Simon Miller, whom Ameen hands power over to while he’s doing his Whodunnit. Cue titles, as Ameen heads to the ring, I guess… YouTube buffers as Dave Bradshaw recaps what we just heard. He calls Simon Miller the Assistant to the General Manager, and if NXT UK isn’t giving us a stapler in jelly, then Defiant bloody well must.

South Coast Connection (Kelly Sixx & Ashley Dunn) vs. The Models (Danny Hope & Joey Hayes)
You may remember Danny Hope from the original WOS premier – he and Joey Hayes answered the open challenge from the South Coast Connection. During their strutting, I’m left wondering whether Hope’s cape was actually a sparkly throw or a proper cape…

Hayes and Dunn start us off, with the relative veteran Hayes countering a wristlock into a headlock. A shoulder tackle has Dunn kipping back up, as he returned fire with a dropkick, before a gamengiri in the corner looked to set up Ashley for something off the top. Instead he has to leap over Hayes, who grabs a headlock and dragged him into the corner as Danny Hope came in for the first time. There’s a quick roll-up for a two-count on Dunn, who’s kept in the corner as the Models looked to keep the pressure on. A diving European uppercut to the back’s good for a two-count for Hope, before Hayes leaps in with a right hand off the middle rope. Another leap out of the corner, this time from Hope, is cut off by Dunn, who finally brings in Kelly Sixx… some forearms in the corner later, and Sixx lands headscissors to take Hope outside.

There’s a tope for Hope on the outside, but back on the inside Hope holds Sixx in place for an enziguiri from Hayes as the Models again get a near-fall. A double-team suplex is broken up by Dunn as the South Coast Connection found a second wind, hitting a roundhouse kick before Dunn went up to help with a double stomp that spiked Hope in a belly-to-back piledriver for the win. Or the old spike Dudebuster if you remember that! A solid opener, but the crowd were eerily silent for the Models – the oft-mentioned curse of debutants coming in with no build. **¼

Kelly Sixx gets the mic after the match, bemoaning how coming to Defiant is usually disheartening. Discord gets a pop as Sixx then railed on the crowd’s reaction to them. He’s a little sore for how Newcastle popped for Benji over them last time out, then said that something needs to change. They’re going to spend more time reminding the crowd who they are, so they’re heeling, leaning on their association with Will Ospreay… saying that they’re “his boys”. They’re gonna tell on us to Uncle Will, and they’re going to get elevated. El, el, evated to the sky?

Lana Austin is backstage, being interviewed about her match with Bea Priestley at Unstoppable in February. It’s now a Falls Count Anywhere match, which angers her since she didn’t agree to any of this. She storms off in a huff… Benji is outside fighting with a parking meter. General Ameen accuses him of stealing ELP’s glasses…

We go back to the arena as Stevie Aaron introduces Marty Jones to the ring, bigging up some of the folks he’s trained. Jones teases leaping over the top rope as he got a polite reaction to the crowd. Hopefully he’ll not be bumping like when he was dragged into it with Josh Bodom at Rev Pro eighteen months earlier. Marty issues a rallying call for British wrestling, pointing to the Defiant crowd as a sign that it’s not “finished”… but he’s here with an agenda. He’s here to heel on Newcastle United! Fortunately he didn’t say anything about Sunderland… but instead, he’s here to plug his wrestling school in Oldham, and he introduces two of his trainees: Mark & Thomas Billington, the nephews of the late Dynamite Kid. No joke, I got goosebumps for that – a bit of a touching moment as Marty Jones had a big surprise for them. They’ve a match, which them being in their gear gives away…

Mark Billington vs. Thomas Billington
It’s brother versus brother here, as Thomas lands a bodyslam before he’s taken down with a back suplex.

There’s a sweet back body drop as the pair raced through moves, with Mark landing an armdrag into a wristlock, which he clung onto despite Thomas’ best attempts to get free with a monkey flip and roll throughs. Eventually Thomas flips free, but Mark has flips too as he counters another monkey flip as the brothers were just showing off here. Thomas takes a monkey flip, then some leg sweeps and a back body drop before Mark headed up top for a missile dropkick that landed hard on his brother. Mark’s caught up top with a dropkick, as Thomas almost slips… but he gets the superplex off before anything bad happened, ahead of a clothesline as Thomas followed up with a snap suplex.

From there, Thomas nails a kneedrop off the middle rope, before he tombstoned his brother… but that’s not all, as he’s gotta shout out his late uncle with a swandive headbutt! He picks Mark up after that, but a suplex by the ropes leads to both men falling over the top rope and landing badly on the floor (the Bad Bones bump)… and as the Billingtons hit the ring, the South Coast Connection run out in Will Ospreay shirts to cause the double DQ. Well, the exhibition match was pretty decent – they’ve got a LOT of work to do, both in terms of frame and some of their in ring. There wasn’t a single pinning attempt here, which had to be intentional, but it’ll be easy for some to slate these guys as “technical backyarders”. I enjoyed this for what it was – and I hope to hell this isn’t the last time we see the Billingtons. **

Sixx has the mic again… he deflects the idiots in the crowd who chanted slurs, before passing the mic to Marty Jones, who asked the crowd to show their appreciation to the Billingtons, before asking the SCC “who are ya?”. There’s more backhanded digs from Marty, who I really want to see hang around as a manager for the Billingtons if/when they develop.

Speaking of people mad about respect, Bad Bones is backstage and says he refuses to speak English anymore. Except for the bit on his t-shirt that says GERMAN PSYCHO, as he tells us there was something inside him that he tried to hide… but now that’s coming out to play. Next week, it’ll be Bones vs. Lucky Kid…

Rory Coyle’s playing with his VHS tapes again. He wants us to go on Google Maps, NE6 2HL. Hoult’s Yard. Russell? It’s the site of the first WCPW shows, where Rory Coyle was promised a look in into WCPW if he helped Primate, but it didn’t go to plan. Apparently WCPW Management thought he wasn’t suitable, and while Primate went on to “become the face of WCPW”, Coyle was left to rot. Sadly we don’t see Bás Bán (whatever happened to him), as Rory tells us he was beavering away while Primate became the face… and since Primate never fought his corner, he’s sure as hell going to fight his own.

This was an EXCELLENT pay-off to the “Remember The Yard” vignettes – I may not have liked how Coyle was just wheeled out here with no fanfare, but the way Defiant’s built him up in vignettes after the fact has been good storytelling.

Conor Renshaw vs. Omari
Renshaw has the same video template the Models did – and he gets booed for being from Sunderland. He’s likely the warm body for Omari today, with the former Fight Club Pro Infinity winner charging into him at the bell. An Irish whip sends Renshaw into the corner, but he’s back in with a back elbow and a backdrop suplex for a two-count, only for Omari to turn it around with a deadlift sit-out gutwrench powerbomb. Renshaw rolls to the outside after that, but he avoids a dive from Omari, who instead sends him into the turnbuckles ahead of a nasty double stomp to the back. From there, it’s a simple case of the O-Zone as Omari wins the squash.

Omari gets the mic as he calls out Nathan Cruz after the backstage attack a few weeks ago. He mocks Nathan Cruz’s nickname of the “Professional”, then challenges him to a match next week.

Backstage, General Ameen’s berating Simon Miller over the phone before Martin Kirby knocks in the room. He’s found a classic, luminous pink Real Madrid shirt to keep the character up, as he’s bragging about being the “Interwebs” champion. Ameen has something important to do… he accuses Kirby of stealing the sunglasses, and of course Kirby says he’s nothing to do with it.

Meanwhile, Kirby says he shouldn’t defend his title because people should pay to see him. Ameen pulls out the Defiant Rulebook (which I swear is a Yellow Pages, kayfabe!), in which it has Eric Bischoff’s rule – the Internet champion must defend their title for free on YouTube. Glad to see they remembered! Kirby has a retort: apparently if Kirby beat a guy from Europe, he can overrule that. Apparently it’s in the book, so it stands!

Mark Haskins is in the promo area bemoaning all the problems he’s had lately with Jimmy Havoc and the Anti-Fun Police. He’s going for the AFP, and issues an open challenge to any or all of them next week. Mark Haskins vs. Anti-Fun Police, Bad Bones vs. Lucky Kid and Omari vs. Nathan Cruz is booked for next week, but first… our main event as PAC is BACK in Newcastle! Once we’ve recapped the card for February’s Unstoppable.

David Starr vs. PAC
My God, the pop for PAC’s return was immense. I’ve criticised Defiant crowds for being quiet in the past, but when the moment came… they more than delivered.

PAC gets in Starr’s face during his intro, as the crowd chanted “welcome home” for his first match in Newcastle since December 2015 on the NXT Takeover UK tour. It wasn’t an entirely pro-PAC crowd though, as Starr had some fans on his side before the match started with a tie-up into the ropes from the aggressive Geordie. Shoulder tackles follow before Starr faked out PAC with a snapmare and a shoulder tackle… but PAC just kips up! A trip is next from Starr, who locks in a grounded headlock as the duelling chants were louder for PAC, who faked out a cartwheel dropkick before he patted Starr on the head. Heel, boy!

Starr rips off his shoulder tape and throws it at PAC, as he then took the hometown hero down with a hammerlock, only for PAC to escape and run into a Thesz Press as Starr was very much wrestling his match. A hiptoss from Starr allows him to return the head patting as he made PAC Look At It. And that’s the end of the Product, as PAC stood up enraged, not helped by Starr mocking his big ears, as a switch flicked inside the Open The Dream Gate champion. PAC takes Starr outside, throwing him into the ring apron, then into the guard rails before Starr hit back with a clothesline on the apron. A gamengiri from PAC cuts off a dive though, as Starr was back on the outside, with PAC then heading up top for a moonsault to the floor! Returning to the ring again, PAC crashes into Starr with a missile dropkick for just a one-count, before he started to open up the book of tricks labelled “Bastard”.

A chinlock keeps Starr down, but he manages to sneak in a Blackheart Buster out of nowhere. There’s a Violence Party n the corner with chops and forearms before an O’Connor roll out of the corner and a big elbow off the top looked to have Starr on his way… but PAC kicks out at two after all that! The Pretty Pumped keeps PAC down, but a small package nearly upsets Starr, who’s right back in with a thrust kick for a near-fall, before a Product Placement was muscled out of with ease. PAC’s tripped to the mat as Starr locks in a crossface, but it’s easily rolled out of as PAC ends up throwing himself in from the apron with a slingshot cutter! An uppercut catches Starr in the corner before PAC lifts him up top for a superplex for a mucho-delayed two-count. PAC gets in Starr’s face, prompting some slaps before a thrust kick catches Starr… PAC goes for another slingshot cutter, but he’s caught and dropped over the knee instead with a reverse DDT-like drop.

Starr goes for a Han Stansen, but instead cartwheels away before nailing a pair of Han Stansens for a near-fall. Looking to return the favour, Starr lifts PAC up top for a superplex, but it backfires as PAC dumps him down with a front suplex, before finding his feet for a Black Arrow… which Starr rolled away from! He’s instantly back in with a crossface, pulling PAC’s hand away from the ropes before a lone foot got to the rope to force the break. Starr looked to pull PAC up for the Trapped Arm Bob Fossil piledriver, but PAC back body drops his way free, throwing Starr into the referee! With no ref, PAC kicks Starr low, getting a huge cheer in the process, before heading up top as a Black Arrow finds its mark for the win! A hell of a match, boosted by the crowd being white hot for it – although this was somewhat of a lose-lose situation – PAC couldn’t really lose on his return to Newcastle, while the loss for Starr may well derail his bid for a Defiant title shot. ****

PAC and Rampage have a brief staredown on the stage, as the Defiant champion hit the ring, congratulating Starr for doing “a hell of a job”. The crowd applauded the polite version of that, rather than the snidey version, particularly since Rampage accepted Starr’s request for a title shot at Unstoppable. Rampage exited stage left as Starr was left in the ring with the mic, accepting the challenge… but not before he said the only thing he needs is the title. So I guess his title big wasn’t derailed afterall! Starr didn’t want his pity, his respect or anything else… except his belt. As we go off the air, Starr’s got his edge back, and it’s going to be great!

In the past, we’ve been very critical of Defiant, but since the return of Loaded they’ve started to slip back into a very entertaining groove. The shows may not have been chock full of “high-rating matches”, but the story-telling has been on point, with the pay-off for the Rory Coyle “remember the yard” vignettes catching me particularly off guard. If you’re not watching Defiant – especially this week – give it a go. All of it may not be your cup of tea, but there’s plenty of works in progress that may well catch your eye.