Defiant made their Sunderland debut with their annual Magnificent Seven match – as the promotion’s lesser lights looked to break out from the pack.

We’re coming from The Point in Sunderland, the first time a PPV’s come from Sunderland apparently. Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are on commentary as it’s straight into action.

Defiant Hardcore/No Fun Championship: No Fun Dunne (c) vs. Omari
Dunne’s out first for some reason, and no, there’s no jump from Omari before the bell… he does light up Dunne when the match officially starts, as he took him into the corner for some chops.

A missed crossbody from Omari gets Dunne back into it, but a missile dropkick from Omari quickly swings it back around as neither man seemed to be able to get the upper hand. A knee from Dunne’s good for a near-fall, only for Omari to catch him with elbows and a leg lariat back in the corner. Omari keeps up with a release suplex for a two-count, before a 999 caught Omari as he was in the ropes. Dunne followed in with a flying back cracker for a near-fall, only for Omari to fight back from the apron as he set up for a flying double stomp. A deadlift Doctor Bomb’s attempted, but Dunne ‘ranas him into the ropes for a missed 999, as that Doctor Bomb finally lands for a near-fall.

Dunne grabs his title belt, but swings and misses with it as Omari then got suckered into an enziguiri… as Dunne then followed up with a 999. Another crack at the springboard lungblower’s stopped as Omari catches him with a reverse Alabama Slam onto the belt, with only the ropes saving Dunne from being pinned. After that, Omari goes for the O-Zone, only for Dunne to counter with a Destroyer, before the springboard lungblower finally got the win. Perhaps a little too pacey, but this was a decent opener that kept the crowd hot. **¾

Magnificent Seven: Los Federales Santos Jr. vs. Drake vs. Visage vs. Conor Renshaw vs. Benji vs. Man Like Dereiss vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman
This is a seven-way elimination match, and Conor Renshaw got the (unusual for him) hometown pop as he came out in a Sunderland football shirt straight out of the 1973 FA Cup Final, along with red and white striped gear that unfortunately looked a lot like underwear…

Speaking of unfortunate, Defiant used a video that announced MJF under his long abandoned “Feinstein” surname, but at least he got a promo to correct it as he ended up being jumped by half a dozen superkicks. The match quickly settled down into a “two in, everyone else out” style match, with Benji getting the upper hand early on… but a myriad of quick tags means that nobody’s able to build up too much momentum.

Despite having his wig pulled off, Visage is able to land a double-jump spear into Santos before Dereiss and Renshaw came in. A dropkick dumps Renshaw, who then blocks a suplex only to end up taking a Blockbuster off the top. Too many quick tags lead us to MJF breaking up a pin… which was followed up by him trying to bribe the Anti-Fun Police pair with some money… that Drake pockets. Benji restores order with a tope con giro, before Renshaw goes up top… only for Visage to cut off his dive and ‘rana him off the top rope into the pile below. The dives continue as Santos sets up for a tope, crashing into everyone else before he returned to the ring to slam Visage… leading to our first elimination.

With Visage gone, the next step was to build up to a Tower of Doom, with MJF getting caught as the pile was thrown into him. Next up DeReiss hits Santos with a step-up cutter, but MJF and Drake make the save… Dereiss misses a 450 splash and quickly gets caught with a Drake’s Landing for the elimination, with Benji coming in way too late to make the save with a back senton.

Conor Renshaw slips back in as he tried to take down the MJF/Police alliance by himself, focusing on MJF and Santos with chops before a double clothesline took them down. Drake tries to leap in but his crossbody’s caught and turned into a slam, before MJF caught him with a low blow as a triple-team powerbomb put the Mackem away. We’re down to Benji against the MJF/Police trio… Benji leaps in off the top with a crossbody to take everyone down, almost pinning Drake and MJF in one fell swoop, before a Big Ending from Santos left him on the mat. MJF powerbombs Benji onto Santos’ knees, before Drake hits a German suplex into the corner, sending Benji outside.

MJF then asks Santos to do another dive… but it’s a ruse as MJF rolls up Santos for the elimination. That annoyed Drake, who went for a Dragon suplex, only for MJF to slip free and roll him up for the elimination… leaving us with Benji vs. MJF. Friedman mocks Benji with his headband as a rather slack pin drew a near-fall, before a short package piledriver somehow only got MJF a near-fall. MJF argues with the ref, who gets into a shoving match with him, before Benji snuck in with a roll-up for the win! Well, the underdog wins out in a match that was perhaps over far too quickly for its own good, and never had a chance of being seen at the same level as last year’s star-studded line-up. **¾

Backstage, Prince Ameen mentions that Kanji is injured – as he’s on the phone to someone else asking for advice. In walks Laura di Matteo, who’s “meant to debut tomorrow night”… she wants to debut a night early, taking Kanji’s spot.

Gabriel Kidd vs. Joe Hendry
This was Kidd’s return to Defiant after a storyline suspension, and he’s up against Joe Hendry, who’s got his latest custom entrance based on Feeder’s Buck Rogers to call Kidd a jobber again.

They start on the mat, as commentary tells us that Joe Hendry’s match with David Starr was “cancelled” a week or two ago. You sure about that Dave? You sure they didn’t have a match that was disappointing because of the injuries? A headlock from Hendry’s broken when Kidd took out a knee, as even commentary expressed their shock that this blood feud was being fought out in an amateur wrestling style. Kidd torques away on Hendry’s wrist, before he forced him down to the mat with a Fujiwara armbar, which he then turned into a ZSJ-like arm twist. Hendry tries to get free, dropping Kidd with a suplex for a near-fall, only for the Scotsman to get charged into the ropes as Kidd found a way to tie Hendry into the ropes by his bootlaces.

The laces break as Hendry fell down, then headed outside to re-do his laces… only for Kidd to follow afterwards and throw him into the timekeeper’s table. Back inside, Hendry fired up and landed a neckbreaker for a near-fall, before Kidd escaped a suplex with a handful of hair and dropped him with a clothesline. Kidd throws Hendry outside again as he looked to take a count-out, but Hendry quickly returned… so Kidd catches him in a sleeper hold as the methodical pace continued.

Kidd leaps onto Hendry’s back to keep that sleeperhold in, forcing the Scotsman to the mat… but somehow Hendry finds enough in him to stand back up and counter out with a suplex. Duelling strikes seemed to weaken Kidd more, as Hendry found an opening with repeated uppercuts, only for Kidd to lift Hendry onto the apron and meet him with a slap. Just like that though, Hendry’s back in with a clothesline, then a DDT for a two-count, before a Freak of Nature was escaped… but Hendry tries to catch on with an ankle lock, only for Kidd to get free and land a Finlay Roll as he kept on ticking. A running lariat decks Hendry for a near-fall as now they start to increase the pace.

Another bodyslam from Kidd ends with Hendry rolling through into an ankle lock attempt, as he keeps going for that body part… and finally he’s able to trap Kidd in the hold, holding firm despite attempts to roll out, before Kidd eventually got to the ropes. Kidd slips out of another Freak of Nature, and lands a second lariat for a near-fall, only for Hendry to right back to the ankle lock as the referee then called for the bell. Except Kidd didn’t tap out… as it takes the referee to clarify that he called for a time limit draw?

After 18 minutes and 37 seconds of the 20 minute limit.

Insert a great big “HUH?” as the crowd booed. I’d not have minded as much if the finish wasn’t so screwy, but I did like how they used this match to show that Gabriel Kidd is capable of matching Hendry… and of course, Kidd didn’t entertain the “five more minutes” **¾

Given how easy it is to go back and check “hey, did this even last 20 minutes”, I have to think this wasn’t the planned finish, at least in execution.

Defiant Internet Championship: El Phantasmo vs. Martin Kirby (c)
ELP’s getting the “too sweets” again here, as Martin Kirby’s back to wrestling only on iPPV.

Kirby slows down the pace from the off, jumping outside to have a pop at the crowd… he then took the mic to take a wider shot at the crowd’s chanting for ELP. We finally got going as ELP took Kirby into the corner for a clean break. Kirby returns the favour, albeit with an attempted cheapshot that was telegraphed… and ducked by ELP.

Things briefly pause as ELP took Kirby into the ropes for a dropkick before some rope walking led to a ‘rana. Kirby tries to bail as we get a Benny Hill chase around the ring, which backfires as Kirby got back in first and missed an elbow drop before ELP hit the handstand senton in off the apron. Phantasmo takes Kirby from corner-to-corner, only to get lifted into the ropes as Kirby proceeded to clothesline ELP off the ropes, leading to an awkward landing for a near-fall. Kirby keeps up the pressure with an abdominal stretch, completed with an added nipple tweak before he rolled Kirby to the mat for a near-fall.

A knee to the midsection drops ELP for another two, as Kirby retained the upper hand. Kirby’s shoulder charge keeps the Canadian in the corner before ELP fired back, catching Kirby unawares with a springboard crossbody, then a Quebrada, before a clothesline took Kirby outside ahead of a tope. It’s a quick turnaround from ELP, who nearly wins it with a springboard crossbody in from the apron, only to get caught out with an enziguiri.

Kirby slips midway through a double-jump as he hit a missile dropkick… giving him time to head outside for a bottle of water that he proceeded to spit into Phantasmo. A second try ends up with Kirby spraying the crowd after a gamengiri, as ELP comes back with a top rope rana and a huge body splash off the top… sending the champion outside to avoid being pinned. Phantasmo followed him outside with an Orihara moonsault to the outside, but he jarred his knee on the landing, giving Kirby another way back into the match, as Kirby quickly worked into the old Edgucator to force ELP into the ropes. An attempt at the Sable Bomb’s thwarted when ELP comes out and tries for a Whirlibird neckbreaker, only for Kirby to get free and land a Jig ‘n’ Tonic for another two-count.

A running knee strike’s next from Kirby, who goes back to the Edgucator – which they rebranded the Prestige Lock here – but yet again, Phantasmo got into the ropes. Kirby throws aside the referee, but nearly pays for it when he’s caught in a small package, before he kicked away Phantasmo’s knee and went back to that same submission for the tap-out. This was fine – I enjoyed how ELP’s risk-taking style played into him losing. Where he goes next will be interesting… ***

John Klinger vs. Justin Sysum
“He’s not all there” is certainly one way to describe the thinking behind the Macho Man tribute act…

This was a rematch from the Unstoppable show last month, where Sysum took the win but took a beating afterwards as Klinger attacked his throat a la Randy Savage in the 80s. The kayfabe injury’s healed, and this month Sysum doesn’t have any wardrobe issues on his way to the ring… but he does have a Klinger issue as he’s jumped before the bell. Klinger takes Sysum into the guard rails, but he misses a double sledge off the top as he teased re-injuring Sysum’s throat. They head inside as the bell finally rings, but Klinger just takes a double sledge of his own as Sysum met him on the outside, before they went back in as Sysum began to work over Klinger.

Klinger tries to come back with a suplex, but both men end up on the outside after a nasty tumble, which led to a count-out tease. A pen’s thrown towards Sysum as a distraction, which didn’t work, and Sysum heads back in for a dive… only to be caught with a slingshot spear as the German found his way back inside for a near-fall. Sysum responds with a leaping forearm into the corner on Klinger, before an Exploder’s blocked with some elbows… a springboard back flip sees Sysum evade Klinger ahead of a sidewalk slam, before the WOS champion headed up top… and got crotched as Klinger knocked the referee into the ropes.

Klinger heads up after Sysum, raking the eyes as as superplex brought both men down hard. A delayed cover gets Klinger a very near-fall, as does a standing frog splash, before he headed outside for a chair… just because. The referee tries to stop Klinger, who just wedges the chair between the top and middle buckles… of course, Sysum avoids the throw into the corner, shoving out the chair before he leaps into a Self Justice lungblower for a near-fall.

The chair’s repositioned as Klinger looked for the win, but instead Sysum counters with a Falcon Arrow for a near-fall, before we nearly got a ref bump as Klinger pulled Sysum in front of him. With the ref unsighted, Klinger throws Sysum head-first into the chair in the corner, but can only get a near-fall from a roll-up, before a Macho Man elbow connected… But rather than go for the pin, Klinger grabs the chair again… the referee’s shoved down as Sysum ducks a chairshot before he hit back with a corkscrew forearm into the chair for the win. On paper this was fine, but these two didn’t seem to click much with the Sunderland crowd – and two wins in a row for Sysum perhaps means he’s in line for something bigger down the line? ***

After the match, Klinger beats up the timekeeper, just because, before Simon Miller made the save. In among that, someone in the crowd tries to throw a shoe into the ring (don’t do that you eejits), as Klinger eventually kicked Miller low before jabbing the chair into the assistant to the GM’s shoulder. Two Macho Man elbows follow, and I guess Miller’s still a ways off returning from injury, as he needed Prince Ameen and Adam Foster to come out to make the save for his save.

Lana Austin vs. Lizzy Styles vs. Laura di Matteo
Originally set as a three-way for the women’s title, an injury to Kanji meant that no gold was on the line here.

Before the match, Styles gets the mic to claim that she was going to win the belt… which is why Kanji wasn’t there. Not sure why Lana didn’t take exception to that, especially as Lizzy told her “we’re not friends”. More badmouthing from Styles earned her a headbutt as the match started with Laura being a proverbial house on fire. Styles pulls di Matteo off a cover and throws her outside, only to play to the crowd as Austin tries a roll-up for a near-fall. Lizzy telegraphs a back body drop, allowing Austin to kick her way back into things, nearly winning with a low dropkick, before di Matteo came back in to try and force her way in… only for Styles to take her outside again.

The match seemed to settle more into Austin/Styles, with Lana nearly losing to a suplex before those two lost sight of di Matteo, who flew in with a missile dropkick. A series of clotheslines from Laura keep Styles on the back foot, as did a tornado DDT, but it wasn’t enough to put the Liverpudlian away. A seated Octopus stretch from di Matteo’s blocked by Styles, who tries to win with a Northern Lights suplex, only for Austin to break up the pin as we went back to those two. Austin and Styles headed onto the apron as Styles teased a suplex onto the edge of the ring, only for Lana to get free and pull Styles in with a hanging DDT for a near-fall.

Di Matteo broke that pin up, but couldn’t avoid some kicks from Austin, before she countered a piledriver into an Alabama slam with a jack-knife pin for the surprise win. Another match that on paper was fine, but didn’t seem to generate much of a response from the crowd. With Laura also being on Loaded, you’ve got to think this was more than a one-shot outing for her… **¾

There’s a stare-down between Austin and Styles after the match, as they got into it some more with Styles pulling off Austin’s fake eyelashes after the match.

Defiant World Championship: Rory Coyle vs. Rampage (c)
Coyle had been building this one up with some mind games over Rampage, and yes, he’s got his big burlap sack of tapes.

When the bell went, Coyle powdered to the outside almost instantly as those mind games continued. Once Coyle made it back to the ring, he’s beaten from pillar to post as Rampage enjoyed the upper hand, clocking Coyle with a dropkick before a suplex dropped him for a near-fall.

A clothesline from Rampage takes Coyle to the outside, where the beating continued as Rampage threw chops and right hands around ringside. They return to the ring, as Coyle took a turnbuckle chest-first ahead of a side suplex that got Rampage a near-fall – and forced Coyle to roll outside for some respite. Coyle comes back in and took down Rampage with some ground and pound as seemed to be trying to incite a “darker” side of the champion. It’s almost a half-hearted set of strikes as Coyle was all about provoking, rather than winning the match (at least, that’s what commentary would have you believe) as he got a two-count from a simple whip into the corner.

More fists to the head drew another two-count, as Coyle was throwing many unanswered strikes to Rampage, before he started to bite away at the champion. A neckbreaker drops Rampage next, before the pair ended up on the apron, trading strikes, as Rampage got free to boot Coyle off the apron and down to the floor. Rampage joins Coyle on the floor, charging him down with a clothesline, as the champion found his groove once more, clobbering Coyle with forearms in the corner. An eye rake puts the brakes on, but Rampage catches Coyle on the top rope with some chops before another rake allowed Coyle to shove Rampage into the referee.

With no official, Rampage slams and piledrives the challenger… then does the “babyface goes for a cover with no ref” deal that annoys me greatly. Coyle rolls outside as Rampage stood around looking for the ref, eventually drilling him in the head with… a tape recorder? I’ve not seen one of those in years. Coyle goes full 1993 Doink from there, battering Rampage with a prosthetic arm, before he handcuffed Rampage’s hands behind his back.

Rampage tries to offer some resistance, but he’s left wide open as Coyle battered him… but a back body drop sees Rampage get free as he somehow DDT’s the challenger, with a second referee finally arriving to make a two-count. The ref then tries to uncuff Rampage, but gets stopped when Coyle chokes him with some jump leads… Coyle goes Doink ‘93 again with the prosthetic arm before he DDT’s Rampage onto the tape player… and after he rolled in the referee, that was enough for Coyle to get a slow three count as the “Last True Sick Boy” completed a remarkably quick ascent by winning the title. As a match, it was certainly different from everything else on show, but in Defiant I’ve not seen enough to be able to judge whether he’s “right” for the spot. Certainly, working as a villain and getting cheered on his way to the back perhaps shows that the character isn’t landing as you’d think. ***

Although a solid show, Magnificent Seven was another Defiant PPV that didn’t grab your attention outside of the results. With Defiant not really enforcing or reminding time limits (unlike, say, Rev Pro), the draw between Hendry and Kidd was a decent match to establish Kidd as being on Hendry’s level. That is, before you saw the way the “time limit” draw was called for…

For Defiant, it’s the same story unfortunately – with stories that make sense, but there’s still something intangible that’s missing that’s holding this group back.