The Ringmaster tournament concluded as Defiant crowned… two number one contenders?!
We’re back in the O2 Academy in Newcastle, with an opening video package that continued to list the withdrawn Matt Riddle… the tournament finals tonight will be a quartet of semi-finals, then an elimination four-way to determine the next challenger for Rampage’s Defiant title.
Dave Bradshaw, James R. Kennedy and Joe Hendry remain on commentary, as they pitch to the appearance of Jay Melrose. The Defiant GM has an announcement, which we can barely hear in comparison to commentary… he announces an injury to someone, and out comes Millie McKenzie to confirm the news. She’s a little too happy to announce her withdrawal, but then again if the eventual prize is a match with Rampage, then I’d be considering it a dodged bullet! Anyway, with an empty spot, Melrose decides to have a “second chance” match, with two of the younger wrestlers who were eliminated getting another shot.
Second Chance: Omari vs. Kurtis Chapman
We start with the pair taking each other into the corner, before a series of headlock takedowns and kip up escapes showed how evenly-matched these two were.
Chapman edges ahead with elbows before catching Omari in the corner with a dropkick. A crossbody off the top doesn’t even lead to a pinning attempt as Chapman measured Omari for kicks, before returning fire with that slam/flapjack deal for a near-fall. The Big O looks to chop his way back into the match, but Chapman’s had plenty of those before and shrugs them off, before he tries to clothesline his way past Omari… who easily wallops him down to his knees.
The strikes actually got the Newcastle crowd going at times, with Chapman taking Omari back into the corner before meeting him with a missile dropkick. There’s a thrust kick on the apron for Omari, and a tornado DDT too as Chapman looked to be firmly in control… and he even manages to scout Omari, hitting a low dropkick to take him down, before a back cracker led to a bumpy landing and another near-fall.
Omari manages to mount a comeback, lifting Chapman into an Electric Chair for an inverted Alabama Slam for a near-fall, then a gutwrench powerbomb as he had to fight off Chapman again one more time, before the O-Zone swinging Downward Spiral gets him the win! Omari’s got David Starr later on in the semis… and that should be half-decent… as was this match, a nice, spirited affair that got the crowd into it. That’s how you make an impression! ***¼
We’re shown footage from “last night” of BT Gunn thanking Stevie Boy for “last night”. My head hurts. Stevie Boy backs his tag team partner to win it all, before BT vows to get past Bad Bones… which is next!
Semi-Final: Bad Bones vs. BT Gunn
Holy crap, 60 minute time limits?! Don’t you dare…
Gunn fires out of the blocks, taking down Klinger with a superkick before he looked to hit a dive… but the German cuts him off and fires back with some chops as they brawled around ringside. Heck, Klinger even gives us a brief German lesson, but he’s quickly met with a dive by Gunn as they headed up the ramp, ending with Bones taking a suplex onto the structure. Back in the ring, Bones rebounds as he took Gunn into the corner before scoring a back body drop… then an overhead belly-to-belly for a near-fall. We’ve more chops as Gunn hits back with a superkick, then an enziguiri after Klinger telegraphed a back body drop as Gunn looked to be comfortably in control.
…and just as I say that, Gunn’s caught with a slingshot spear after having taken Bones onto the apron. Rolling German suplexes are next out of Klinger, but Gunn’s right back up… and again after another German! There’s a spinning kick to the head, but Bones instantly shrugs it off with some of his own and a diving cutter as Bones nearly took home the win. Gunn’s able to rebound, taking down Bones for a diving knee, but it doesn’t get the three and Bones manages to reply with a Sharpshooter.
Gunn’s forced to drag his way towards the ropes, but Bones pulls him away at the last moment. At the second time of asking, Gunn gets to those ropes, and manages to find a second wind with a flying cutter off the top… but Klinger’s able to kick out before we get a ref bump as a clothesline to Gunn in the corner caught the official as well. Taking the opportunity Klinger heads out for a chair – grabbing one from below the ring, right by the referee – before nailing Gunn in the head with it. Bones takes too long to make the cover and almost gets suckered by a crucifix, before he kicked out and hits Gunn with a flying lungblower for the win. An unpopular result, but it established Bones as “not the guy you want to cheer” in the final later on. ***
Post-match, Bones set up a chair and turned it upside down… but Kay Lee Ray and Stevie Boy make the save before any more harm could be done.
TK Cooper’s got a backstage promo now, and his semi-final’s next…
Semi-Final: Nathan Cruz vs. TK Cooper
Not sure what’s going on with the ring music, but there’s a LOT of peaking going on here (with commentary struggling not to get drowned out at times).
TK’s head has been glued shut after having had his head cut open the prior night against Kay Lee Ray, and he’s on the defensive pretty much from the off as Cruz keeps it on the mat. It’s something TK’s eager to do also, as they swap holds before TK started to get a little arrogant. Cruz fights back, taking TK into the corners before some misdirection and rope running allowed the Kiwi to get back in with a dropkick. A slam just gets TK a one-count, before he edges ahead with some forearms… only for Cruz to grab a handful of hair en route to the Thanks, Tully backdrop. An abdominal stretch from Cruz is quickly escaped with a hiptoss, before TK’s taken into the ropes with a knee as that cut threatened to re-open itself… but again, TK fires back as he takes Cruz back into the corner, then launches him into the sky with a back body drop.
An axe kick misses as Cruz looked to end this, but instead he’s met with a Tiger suplex for a near-fall, before TK gets hotshotted into the ropes. The Show Stolen’s next, but TK’s up at two, and manages to avoid a big splash off the top as the axe kick succeeds at the second time of asking. Cruz manages to get back into it as he manhandled TK up to the top rope, but they end up switching positions as TK manages to take Cruz down with a Spanish Fly… only for Nathan to roll to the floor to save his skin. TK does follow him out to throw him back in, but Cruz ends up hitting back as they go to the apron, before he’s caught with a springboard corkscrew moonsault when TK’d pulled him in between the ropes.
That was enough for a two-count as Cruz got a foot to the rope… TK tries to go up top, but he’s distracted as Cruz grabbed his ring jacket and threw it to TK… the referee removes the garment, allowing Cruz to crotch TK up top before bringing him down with a lungblower for the win. This got pretty good towards the end, with Cruz again playing the role of antagonist to a tee, at least with this crowd. ***¼
Adam Brooks has a promo from after his match last night. You know what that means…
Semi-Final: Adam Brooks vs. El Phantasmo
These two have had two prior singles matches, sharing a win apiece between Fight Club Pro and Rev Pro earlier this year.
When we get going, Brooks tries to end it quickly as he snuck in with a backslide before cowering between the ropes. That sort-of backfires as the pace shoots up, with Phantasmo landing a nice dropkick for just a one count, before a back body drop and a backbreaker drew some near-falls as the Newcastle crowd twisted Spandau Ballet into an ELP chant. A sweet handstand/delayed slingshot senton connected for a two-count as Brooks became a base for some rope walking, before ELP was shoved down and finds himself with the rope kicked into his groin. That gave Brooks a way back in as he put the boots to ELP, before one of those boots got caught and turned into a leg sweep as the pair exchanged fire on the outside.
Returning to the ring, Phantasmo’s forced to backflip over Brooks as he chains together a crossbody and a Quebrada for a near-fall, before the whirlibird neckbreaker spun Brooks around ahead of the eventual landing. Brooks manages to hit back with a slingshot DDT from the apron back into the ring, nearly taking the win with that, before the pair exchange elbows and chops.
ELP looked to edge ahead, but he eats a knee to the face, then an enziguiri, before an ushigoroshi picked up a two-count for the “Loose Ledge”. Another comeback from Phantasmo ended when his big splash off the top met Brooks’ knees, as a springboard Destroyer out of the corner nearly took the win… but instead Phantasmo scores with a takedown and a jack-knife pin for the win! This was a really good outing here, with both men shown as even… but my word, Phantasmo’s really been taken to the hearts of the Newcastle crowd in just 24 hours of matches! ***½
Semi-Final: Omari vs. David Starr
Another match where the pair have wrestled twice before (in one-on-one matches), and interestingly Omari’s got an unbeaten record against the Product, taking wins against him for Kamikaze Pro and Lucha Forever.
Starr’s playing to the crowd, who sang his name from the off… a far cry from his time as a whiner here, eh? When we get going, Starr and Omari trade hammerlocks as they tried to wear the other down, but it’s a missile dropkick from Omari that stems the tide, only for Starr to hit back with a neckbreaker as he caught Omari across the top rope.
We’re quickly into strikes next, with Omari really walloping Starr with elbows as he capitalised on his reach advantage… but Starr was no slouch either, before he was forced to escape the O-Zone. A leg lariat from Omari’s good to end Starr’s brief resurgence, but he was able to snap back into Omari with a thrust kick before heading up top… only to get caught with a gutbuster and a gutwrench powerbomb after he took too long scaling those ropes.
Omari continues to rain down blows on Starr in the ropes, but the chops quickly offer some resistance, before Omari ends up suplexing himself and Starr to the outside. The sick Bad Bones bump strikes again! Somehow both men beat the count, as we’re back to the duelling chops, before Omari’s move to hit the ropes just earned him a Pretty Pumped and a brutal Blackheart Buster as he landed upside down on Starr’s knee. A crossface is next, but Omari’s lanky frame made it easier for him to get to the ropes… so there’s just one thing an exhausted Starr can do. More chops! The odd forearm’s thrown in too as Omari was trapped in the corner, but he’s able to muster another comeback, teasing the O-Zone before landing a Finlay roll and a springboard moonsault as Starr narrowly escaped defeat.
Omari tried to push the issue, but ends up rushing into a Cherry Mint DDT on the apron, before Starr followed in with a Han Stansen to secure victory. The best of the semi-finals, and a match that really ought to help Omari break out further in 2018 I’d say. ***¾
Aussie Open come out next, sporting their tag titles despite their first round tournament eliminations. Kyle Fletcher cuts an echoey promo, issuing an open challenge for their titles… and it’s answered by another pair of eliminated entrants.
Defiant Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c) vs. Filthy Kliq (Kay Lee Ray & Stevie Boy)
I’ll let World of Sport throw in the connection between the Aussies’ opponents!
Kay Lee Ray tried to nick the win straight away with a roll-up against Kyle Fletcher, but that was more for mind games than anything else, as she tried a wheelbarrow roll-up and a backslide as Fletcher eventually put on the brakes, countering a small package into a suplex… before turning her into a human game of pass the parcel with Mark Davis.
Kay Lee eventually countered back into a small package as the Scots pair turned it around… sort-of! Kyle Fletcher’s sent to the outside for a dive before Stevie Boy comes in to keep up the push, leaving Mark Davis on the outside as Kay Lee continued her dives. Back in the ring, Stevie wipes out Fletcher with a dropkick for a near-fall, as Kyle found himself isolated and perhaps being made to pay for issuing that open challenge?
Finally Kyle gets free to tag in Mark Davis, who quickly misses a back senton… but Dunkzilla’s able to turn it back around as Stevie Boy’s kept cornered with a variety of strikes. Davis tries to work over the arm of Stevie, but he’s able to break free as Kay Lee Ray gets the hot tag in – and manages to take down both of the champions at the same time! A cricket chop into the corner’s stopped by Davis, who high fives and punches her out for a near-fall, before Kay Lee escaped the pull-up piledriver with a ‘rana. Another of those sends Davis down by the head, before a tornado DDT rolls into a guillotine submission almost forces a submission. Just like that, Davis turns the tables with a sit-down splash out of the corner.
There’s miscommunication and misdirection that puts the Aussies in trouble, before Fletcher leaps out of the corner and into a powerbomb on Stevie for another two-count… but Stevie rebounds with a guillotine choke, only for Kyle to power up out of it… and get dragged back down as he needed Mark Davis to forcibly break it up. A pair of dives from the challengers don’t work, a Kay Lee Ray’s caught and met with a double-team Go to Sleep, while Stevie’s thrown back in for an assisted cutter that almost gets the win.
Stevie escapes a double-team powerbomb as both teams looked to be swinging for the fences, with Fletcher eating a Destroyer then a Gory Bomb as Mark Davis just about shoved Kay Lee Ray into the pile to save the titles. Davis and Ray tag in next, but after her attempt at a Gory Bomb proved futile, she’s quickly taken into the double-team powerbomb as the Aussies win. This was a fun little tag – it took me a while to get into it, with the whole aesthetic of the match throwing me off a little, but when it got going, it was good. Commentary suggested that this may not be the last time we’ll see the Filthy Kliq in Defiant… ***½
After everyone left, Joe Hendry left the commentary desk so he could do a live Joe Hendry Show. You shouldn’t have… The crowd chant at Hendry to the point where it drags, but thankfully out comes Martin Kirby. Hendry’s aggrieved at Kirby “stealing the spotlight”, as this descended into Kirby railing at Defiant management – under their various guises – for injustices and screwjobs, citing how Defiant/WCPW never wanted to highlight him from day one.
The crowd audibly laughs when Kirby referred to the promotion’s early days when he wore a dress… and it’s a little jarring since Defiant rarely do in ring promos, which I guess made this stand out a lot… but I just don’t get it? I mean, the points were valid, and I get that Joe Hendry and Martin Kirby were “partners” in another universe and feud there, but Kirby was already a good guy in Defiant, and heeling on a heel makes him… a whiner?
Primate’s out next as we’ve back to back talking segments… it’s worth noting that they seem to have stopped referring to him by his real name for the time being. He’s got some bad news for us: the scheduled Gabriel Kidd vs. Rampage title match is off after Rampage injured his shoulder earlier in the weekend. That match has been rescheduled… to the chagrin of Gabriel Kidd, who comes out with a mic.
Defiant… you need to mic these segments better. Either find a way to get the microphone audio mixed in like the commentary team, or don’t do in ring stuff. Too much echo makes these hard to listen to.
Kidd’s annoyed that he’s not getting the title by default, so Primate makes a new match as Kidd’s got to defend his title shot.
Gabriel Kidd vs. Simon Miller
I’m a little skeptical of this one. Miller should be exclusively facing experienced hands at this stage in his career, and while I’m not calling Kidd inexperienced… this perhaps isn’t the match I’d be going with.
We’ve got just under an hour left, and two matches on the card… hopefully it’s not padded out with reverberated talking… The bell finally goes as Kidd takes Miller into the corner and shoves him as the crowd tried to mangle a Tom Jones song into a chant. Miller shoves back, before Kidd wrings the arm and takes Miller down to the mat as the pair went tit-for-tat with holds. An arm whip flung Kidd to the mat, but it’s not long before Kidd takes Miller back into the corner and began to work over the newcomer’s leg.
Kidd takes the match outside, slamming Miller on the floor as the crowd tried to get behind Miller. There’s a chair thrown into the ring as Kidd took Miller back in for more leg work, gradually trying to chip away more at his foe. Before long, Miller fights back, elbowing Kidd in the midsection as he hobbled back into life, catching Kidd with an overhead belly-to-belly for good measure. Miller rages back into it, landing a Falcon arrow for a near-fall, before his attempt at a running powerslam failed as his knee buckled. Kidd capitalised with a big boot to take down Miller, before a short-range lariat earned a near-fall… and looked to do some damage in the process.
With Miller unable to defend himself, Kidd boots him down to the mat and hits some ground and pound… prompting referee Steve Lynskey to call for the bell and wave off the match. In truth, that lariat – and the landing from it – injured Miller’s shoulder, which led to the awkward stoppage and finish, forcing Kidd to try and threaten random ring crew with that chair that he never got to use. As a match, this was alright for Miller’s experience, but save for the one guy in the crowd it never really connected. Gabriel Kidd’s not exactly being taken seriously by this crowd as a main eventer. **
No, we’re not putting blame anywhere, and nor should you. Accidents happen.
We’re taken outside as Joe Hendry has a camera crew following him. He too is whinging about Martin Kirby’s earlier comments, calling them “unprofessional” and explaining why he walked out. Hendry says that him getting where he has isn’t an accident, and Hendry almost came off like a good guy here. A double turn, perhaps? We then cut to Gabriel Kidd backstage, as he’s using what happened to Simon Miller as a way to make him a killer. He threatens to repeat that to Rampage and dislocate every part of him to get the title. It’s a spirited promo from Kidd, but this isn’t translating in front of the live crowds…
Joe Hendry’s back from his breather as they ran through some of the card for Stacked, which has changed a little because of injuries, so we won’t repeat it. Stairwell promos follow as it’s now time for our main event…
Final: Nathan Cruz vs. El Phantasmo vs. Bad Bones vs. David Starr
We’re under elimination rules here, and we start with Bones jumping Starr before we quickly ended up with Starr and Phantasmo squaring down.
Those two quickly go after each other, with a dropkick from ELP dropping Starr, before that whirlibird neckbreaker’s quickly escaped with Starr hitting the Pretty Pumped instead. The revolving door effect is in full force here as Nathan Cruz slides into the ring to catch Starr, before he got rid of Bad Bones, who tried to take him by surprise. The revolving door leads us back to Cruz and ELP, with the latter scoring a crossbody off the top rope, before his rope walking antics took him into the path of Bad Bones… who was nonchalantly kicked off the apron, before he leaps over a swing from Starr en route to a ‘rana on Cruz for a near-fall. Phantasmo’s rope-walking will never not be impressive.
ELP’s forced to spin out of a Boston crab from Starr as those two renewed their rivalry, with ELP sidestepping as Bones slingshots into a spear on Starr (try saying that fast!), before he returned to hit a German duplex to Phantasmo and Cruz. The Wrecking Ball Knees quickly follow for David Starr for a near-fall, as Starr and ELP recover to pound on Bones in the corner.
For some reason Starr and Phantasmo cut each other off rather than focus on Bones, who recovers and goes for a pair of superplexes, aided by Nathan Cruz as the bad guys remembered it’s elimination rules! Cruz tries to steal some pins after that Tower of Doom, but he can only get two-counts, as the hunter quickly became the hunted, eating a backbreaker and a Han Stansen from Starr as the Professional was the first man to be eliminated.
Bones finds himself rather isolated after that, as he has to fight back against Starr and Phantasmo… before everyone trades off on kicks, including one from Phantasmo as David Starr was left open after handing out a Destroyer. There’s a receipt there as Starr caught Phantasmo with a Cherry Mint DDT on the apron, but Nathan Cruz quickly returns to crotch Starr on the ring post… leaving him open for a lungblower from Bad Bones, as the Product is eliminated.
I think we have a match for Stacked…
That leaves us with Bad Bones and El Phantasmo as the last two… and remember, ELP was the late replacement for Matt Riddle here. Bones quickly goes for ELP with some German suplex… then takes some himself before a release suplex from Bones took the Canadian to the outside. A tope followed as Klinger stays on top of ELP, then returned into the ring with a missile dropkick that may as well have been a full-on John Woo.
After almost falling to a small package, Klinger keeps up on ELP with a buckle bomb for a near-fall. Another flying lungblower’s blocked and countered as ELP manages to work his way into the whirlibird neckbreaker on Bones for a near-fall, before Phantasmo heads up top for a corkscrew moonsault… which led to a crash and burn. Bones is right back in with a cutter that spiked Phantasmo onto his head for a two-count, before he tried for the inside-out suplex once again.
Phantasmo blocks that as they trade strikes on the apron, eventually knocking Bones to the floor ahead of a massive springboard moonsault off the top rope! They head towards the commentary area, as ELP goes onto the stage for a running knee as he proved himself rather resourceful in his bid to win a title shot… before they returned to the ring to prevent a double count-out. Back in the ring, the pair continue to trade strikes until Bones lands a Falcon arrow, again for a near-fall. Another search for the flying lungblower’s blocked as Phantasmo meets Bones up top… eventually for a springboard enziguiri and a ‘rana down to the mat as Phantasmo follows in with a frog splash to come within a split-second of victory. A tornado DDT back into the ring almost goes awry, but the follow-up Jay Driller hits its mark as Bones managed to get a foot onto the rope to keep the match alive.
ELP tries for another Jay Driller, but Bones countered with a release German… then a pair of lungblowers that took ELP down for a two-count, before finishing him with that flying lungblower for yet another near-fall! Going to the well one more time, Bone dumps ELP with the Shadow Driver, and after landing on his head, ELP can’t kick out as Bones takes the win – and the title shot! This was an extraordinary main event – while I wasn’t fussed about the early phases where folks were doing the “stop each other because they might win” (in an elimination match), but once we got down to the final two, this became a really good back-and-forth outing. ***¾
Post-match, Bad Bones says that “a German’s just won your Ringmaster tournament”, then vows to come for Rampage, whose list of challengers is really piling up as he recovers from injury.
When this tournament was first announced, it was easy to dismiss it as “yet another tournament” – and to be fair, when the opening match came off the way it did, I was half expecting this to be a disposable pair of shows. In truth though, this was anything but. In two cards, with their hands forced somewhat, Defiant had a new star gifted to them in El Phantasmo, and managed to set the scene well for a pair of challengers for Rampage in the coming months, starting with that much-delayed Gabriel Kidd match in October. As for the rest of the field, well, the “tryout tournament” (for want of a better term) could well have signalled the arrival of the Filthy Kliq to Defiant, with Stevie Boy and BT Gunn perhaps adding some depth to the tag team division, while Omari and Kurtis Chapman also acquitted themselves well in their debut outings here.
Defiant’s back in action on August 26 with their Stacked iPPV in Manchester, before returning to Sheffield in October for a special called “Fight or Flight”. Firmly having moved away from the old WCPW schedule of taped shows building up to an iPPV has kind of taken the steam out of Defiant’s sails, but the in-ring is making this promotion a group you should at least be checking in on.