We’re two weeks away from Unstoppable – and the road to Manchester stays in Newcastle for the latest episode of Loaded that ended with a tease for something that we aren’t going to get.

We open with a recap of the South Coast Connection from last week, whining about a lack of opportunity… Martin Kirby refusing to defend his title… and PAC beating David Starr in the main event, which led to Starr somehow getting the title shot he wanted. The hunt for El Phantasmo’s glasses starts the show, with General Ameen quizzing Visage, who’s brushing his hair… and then titles!

Anti-Fun Police (No Fun Dunne & Drake) vs. Mark Haskins
It’s straight to the action, and it’s a handicap match since Haskins seemed to feel that Jimmy Havoc was a hindrance…

Haskins started by throwing kicks and shoving Drake into Dunne as this was a tornado rules match… so no tags. Ahh? Drake clocks Haskins with a forearm to the kidneys, before a forearm from Haskins keeps Dunne on the outside as he was having more luck than you’d think with the numbers games… at least until Dunne got back in the ring, that is. A backbreaker/top rope knee drop gets the Anti-Fun Police a near-fall as the two-on-one offence remained relentless. Haskins is cornered for a series of running uppercuts, but he’s able to fight back with chops and kicks before he pulls Dynne off the apron. Drake looked to dive, but he’s forced to change direction as in the end it’s Haskins who hits those misdirection topes.

A PK on the apron from Haskins takes down Drake, while Dunne has to roll away from a flying double stomp… he can’t quite avoid the roll-up as Haskins locks in a Sharpshooter, while Drake’s attempt to break it up ended with the pair of them getting caught in a bridging armbar. Dunne escapes and breaks up the hold, but gets tossed outside, as Drake’s attempt to capitalise ends with him getting punched out. Of all moves, the 999 (619) from Dunne connects, but his slingshot backcracker’s caught and turned into a death valley driver from Haskins for a near-fall, before that bridging armbar’s reapplied. Drake breaks it up with the megaphone, and that’s a DQ in a match that never really got into any kind of gear. **¼

Post-match, the Anti-Fun Police keep attacking Haskins with the megaphone, before Drake threatened a chairshot. He has to stop short of hitting Dunne as Haskins moved, before the rozzers scarpered once Haskins got hold of the chair.

Backstage, General Ameen’s on the phone to El Phantasmo… who’s actually behind him in the office, on the phone to him. Ameen still can’t find his glasses, or the fact that pantomime season is over. ELP goes all remake Darth Vader on us, at least until Ameen gives him an Internet title shot against Martin Kirby at Unstoppable.

Defiant World Title: Rampage (c) vs. David Starr
Defiant Tag Titles: Aussie Open (c) vs. CCK*
Defiant Internet Title: Martin Kirby (c) vs. El Phantasmo
Bea Priestley vs. Lana Austin
Primate & Joe Hendry vs. Gabriel Kidd & Rory Coyle

* I put an asterisk there due to an unfortunate injury to Kid Lykos at PROGRESS this weekend that puts the match up in the air. Or at the very least, whom the challengers are…

Joe Hendry’s backstage next with Primate, talking in the third person about whether he can trust Primate. Primate claims Rory Coyle’s bending the truth, and he’s going to prove Joe can trust him with a match vs. BT Gunn next week. O-kay?

Nathan Cruz vs. Omari
Omari leaps into Cruz at the bell with a leg lariat, then took him outside with a missile dropkick, before a tope con giro connected… yep, a hot start!

Cruz gets thrown back in the ring as Omari flips back in, but he’s caught with a leaping knee a la Triple H. Omari hits back with a Kenny Omega-esque Finlay roll and moonsault for a near-fall, before he looked to go for the O-Zone… only for Cruz to slip out and take Omari outside with a baseball slide that sent the relative rookie sailing through the ropes. On the apron, Omari throws some kicks, but Cruz blocks them and drives him into the apron wrist-first as the former PROGRESS champion brought some aggression to the flips that his opponent came with. Cruz keeps the focus on the wrist, stomping on Omari’s arm then splashing on it, as he then proceeds to wrap the arm around the ropes.

Omari begins to fight back with a leg lariat and a roundhouse as he made the most of his lanky frame, following up with a gutwrench powerbomb for a two-count as his bad arm was made worse. Another attempt at the O-Zone’s easily blocked as Cruz goes for a key lock, before a back body drop sent Omari to the outside… except Omari’s right back with a gamengiri on the apron as he prepared to slingshot in for a double stomp to the back of Cruz’s head for a near-fall. A shove sends Cruz into the corner, but he pops Omari away before the Show Stolen lands… and that’s only enough for a near-fall! Frustrated, Cruz goes out for a chair, only for the referee to disarm him before Omari counters an attempt of him being thrown shoulder-first into the corner by rolling up Cruz for the win. This was fine – I liked Omari’s hot start, but the spell after then lost my interest, while Cruz’s wrist work playing into the finish easily won me back. Say what you will about him, but Cruz has got a knack of working with up and coming folks and having decent matches with folks with little experience. ***

Ameen’s backstage again, annoyed that he couldn’t find ELP’s glasses. He grabs the phone, but Lana Austin comes in. Hey, they’re throwing up name plates for everyone when they get on-screen… just like classic Shotgun. I like! Lana’s got information about ELP’s glasses, but she wants a lollipop first before she whispers her tip. Her reward, before Ameen finds out what happened, is a title match with Kanji… but she couldn’t get her match with Bea Priestley cancelled.

Next week: Visage faces No Fun Dunne… BT Gunn faces Primate… and Martin Kirby speaks about his Internet title match at Unstoppable.

Backstage, the South Coast Connection are calling Will Ospreay. Kelly Sixx brags about what happened with Marty Jones and the Billingtons in their voicemail before asking about Japan again. They go off to Nandos, because of course they do.

Lucky Kid vs. John Klinger
This was set up a few weeks ago when Bad Bones jumped Lucky Kid after his match with BT Gunn… Lucky’s got to be held back by the referee before the bell, before he charge sinto Bones with a Shotgun dropkick!

Lucky reels away on Bones from the top, before Klinger rakes the eyes and takes Lucky into the corner for some left hands. A couple of low dropkicks get Lucky back on top, before he shoves away some tiltawhirl headscissors as Lucky Kid instead has to nail an Asai DDT for a near-fall. A back body drop from Klinger sends Lucky Kid sailing as he then proceeds to go up top for a Macho Man-esque double axehandle smash for a near-fall. The “shit Perry Saturn” chants pipe up briefly before Lucky Kid fought back, only for a diving clothesline from Klinger to stop that and get him another near-fall as Lucky began to seem frustrated with himself. Klinger flips off the crowd before another axehandle smash draws a two-count, as he lands some knee drops to keep the momentum going.

Klinger slams Lucky and prepared to go up top… but yet another axehandle smash is countered as Lucky looked to come back… with his handspring caught and turned into some rolling German suplexes. Lucky rolls outside to get some respite, but Bones just climbs the ropes again and hits his third axehandle smash, landing on the floor as he’s going full Macho Man. Lucky Kid’s rolled back inside, but quickly returns with a plancha to wake up the crowd… before he ran into a slingshot spear from Bones for a near-fall. Klinger pulls up Lucky Kid as the crowd get behind him, but instead he lays in a forearm as Lucky’s laying again. A jawbreaker surprises Klinger, as Lucky heads into the turnbuckles for a missile dropkick to the back, before a La Mistica into a crossface out of nowhere forces Bad Bones to eventually roll up Kid for a near-fall

A half-nelson suplex from Bones, then a lungblower has Kid down again for a near-fall, before a top rope elbow drop finally gets the job done. Wow, that was almost an elongated squash – Lucky had some brief offence, but this was one-way traffic throughout in a main event that was almost deflating. ***

Post-match, Klinger gets the microphone and cuts a promo on Lucky Kid in German. Lucky’s laughing at him, so he gets clonked in the head with the mic… but that doesn’t stop him from chuckling to himself. Lucky’s thrown the mic, and he’s laughing because he knows something Klinger doesn’t… “he’s coming for you”.

The “he”… was unbesiegbar! The lights go out as the classic Ilja Dragunov theme hits, and Bad Bones quivers in the corner like it’s 16 Carat all over again! Newcastle knew who Ilja was it seemed… and we fade to black as the show ends with a screen informing us that due to contractual obligations, he’s no longer able to appear for Defiant. You can probably guess whom that contact is with…

Instead, we get Justin Sysum saying “interesting”. Is he the replacement?

Another solid episode of Loaded then, albeit with a crowd that seemed to be rather muted… yeah, perhaps we shouldn’t be comparing run of the mill episodes to PAC week, but still. I’m intrigued to see how/if the Anti-Fun Police vanquish Mark Haskins, while the brief tease of Ilja Dragunov vs. Bad Bones was fun while it lasted. Ah well, at least we’ve got another new-ish face in the form of Justin Sysum, as Defiant again continue to refresh their roster.