Not without incident, the IPW invasion in Defiant Wrestling came to a head in Manchester this past Sunday night.

We’re watching the “as live” version, complete with technical issues… so we’re not going to hold anything against them! This show was the culmination of the invasion of IPW in Defiant Wrestling, which all took place in front of crowds that were vastly unaware of it, thanks to the unique way Defiant taped their product. Your main event is the 5-on-5 elimination match, with control of Defiant being on the line. It’s a strangely apathetic crowd in Manchester despite those high stakes. Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are on the call as always…

Zack Gibson vs. Rampage
After a nice video package ahead of this (much better than the “slap together some highlights and call it a day” deals WCPW did in their last days), we’re underway… but first, Zack Gibson has the mic, because of course he does. Apparently voice flows through computer screens these days… I’m not about to argue!

There’s a jump cut as we see Rampage suplexing Gibson after (presumably) our first power cut of the show. A piledriver attempt is ended when Gibson backdrops him to the outside for a tope, before returning to the ring for a Ticket to Ride for a near-fall. Gibson keeps up with a teardrop suplex, but a uranage from Rampage looked set to put the brakes on it all

A long shot shows a fan running towards the ring – and he seemingly hopped the railing before security can stop him… and that was a ploy! It wasn’t a fan, it was a Gibson trainee, and the distraction there allowed Gibson to win with a roll-up. This was a bit wonky because of so much of the match being lost to technical issues, so no rating.

After the match, Rampage piledrives the Gibson trainee so hard the camera cut to a ceiling shot! A second piledriver follows, as does more technical issues, as we jump cut to commentary addressing the problems we missed. Ironically, their next iPPV is called Lights Out….

Drake’s out once the lights are back on. He’s got a mic as he waffles on about a perceived lack of respect… which the crowd backs up with chants of “shit Zack Gibson”. There are similarities, I guess. Eventually Drake meanders to him “not being a gimmick”, along with the fact that he wasn’t booked for tonight, as opposed to folks like Martin Kirby, El Ligero and Primate. If Drake hadn’t been buried deep so far, this would have had a chance… but it feels like a reboot that’s not going to last.

Drake vs. Amir Jordan
This was originally advertised as No Fun Dunne vs. Amir Jordan, but Chris Ridgeway’s injury forced a reshuffle into an offshoot of a trios match a few weeks earlier. Today though, Jordan isn’t a “Rampage trainee”…

The crowd want a dance-off, and eventually the music hits. Of course, Drake isn’t playing ball, and he jumps Jordan instead… but Amir’s able to overcome that and take the Geordie into the corner. There’s a lot of back and forth, with Jordan hitting a clothesline before dropkicking Drake into the corner ahead of a slingshot through into a rolling neckbreaker as Amir almost picked up the win.

Drake’s Shining Wizard nearly gets him the win seconds later, before a frog splash cross body put Jordan within a second of victory… but the end follows pretty soon after, when he charges into a boot from Drake in the corner, who snatches the win with a roll-up and some feet on the ropes. This never really got going for me, but Drake getting his first win since beating Angelico by count out last year is… a thing, I guess. **½

Another video package follows to sum up the feud with Gabriel Kidd and Pastor William Eaver’s cohorts. Of course, Eaver’s torn quad could derail whatever the plans were, but here he’s got another of the Pastor’s roadblocks to go through.

Jurn Simmons vs. Gabriel Kidd
Jurn has new music here, courtesy of Mikey Rukus, but he’s flying solo as that one guy doesn’t seem to know who the Dutchman is. Kidd’s new trunks bear the words “life boat man”, for… reasons?

Kidd charged straight at Jurn, but the Marquee Player happily fights back, charging Kidd into the corner before whipping him chest-first into another. After a short-arm clothesline though, Kidd’s right back up and tries to jump Jurn as he mouthed to the crowd… but Simmons easily tosses Kidd outside.

On the floor, Simmons gets thrown through a barricade before Kidd dropped him into the front row, ahead of a flying elbow as the Dutchman was draped across the barriers. That seemed to put Kidd ahead, as he drops Jurn with a clothesline ahead of his waistlock facebuster, but Jurn’s spin-out back suplex keeps it even for another near-fall. Kidd falls out of a gutwrench powerbomb as he fought back in… but a Massive Boot follows after Jurn used the referee as a human shield.

Simmons only gets a near-fall out of that boot, but as he does the throat slit deal, the lights go out. This time, it’s planned… as we return to Prince Ameen in the ring. He’s laid his Magic Carpet on the ring, and Jurn gets it pulled from under him as Kidd takes advantage with a DDT for the win. Commentary painted it as an upset, but to me this felt like a blow-off. **

For some reason the crowd chanted “hug it out” at Kidd and Ameen. They’d already done that at the last London show…

We get a video package summarising Joe Hendry’s restraining order on Travis Banks, including this line. I’m not even going to begin to figure that one out.

Joe Hendry appears on the stage as commentary brags about him qualifying for the Commonwealth Games. It’s time for the Joe Hendry Show, and there’s a metronomic clicking to every single word Hendry says. Yep, it’s annoying. Hendry brings out his guest, Stu Bennett as Stevie Aaron gets to grips with a selfie stick so he can record this all for Joe Hendry’s Twitch channel.

Bennett berates Hendry for wasting everyone’s time, particularly since he needs a fifth member of the Defiant team. Hendry tries to offer himself as that last man, or as the “Prestigious Solution”, in exchange for a bunch of title shots. He even tries a bribe, but they’ve killed all the microphones to stop that clicking (which my suspicion may be down to the Twitch gimmick… try putting a phone, not on WiFi, next to a speaker while it’s using data, and observe the interference!)

Anyway, talk turns to how Joe Hendry has that restraining order on Travis Banks… so he can’t be on Team Defiant alongside him. Hendry rips up the restraining order, which I’m not sure is how those things work… but it’s for nought as Bennett refuses to put Hendry in the main event. The segment ends with Hendry trying to piece together his ripped up order, and I now want to see a taped-up restraining order!

Instead, we see Hendry down at ringside as he’s doing commentary for the next match. A quick fact: our review of David Starr’s match for Rev Pro last Thursday in Portsmouth went up yesterday… between that match and this one in Manchester (on Sunday), Starr wrestled in Reseda, California for PWG (on Friday) and in Chicago for AAW (on Saturday). Oh to see the air miles he’s collected…

David Starr & El Ligero vs. Chris Brookes & Mike Bailey
Commentary notes before the match that Zack Sabre Jr’s had to vacate the Internet title, so that’s something that’ll be resolved in the near future.

Chris Brookes eases past Ligero early, until he goes for a wet willie… which is always a daft spot with Ligero, since he doesn’t have ear holes on his mask. Ligero cowered away regardless, before he fired up to face-off Mike Bailey… and ran into a kick. Yup. Starr’s tagged back in as he comes up once again against Speedball, charging him into the ropes before scoring with a Thesz press for a near-fall.

A dropkick from Bailey takes Starr outside, but the Golden Triangle moonsault’s blocked as Starr throws a clothesline, before the sort-of Prestige pair clonk into each other, as Ligero accidentally launches Bailey into Starr on the outside. Chris Brookes wants in too, and gets in a somersault plancha for the hell of it, before pulling down Starr into another drippy wet willie. There’s a nice, early birthday present, eh?

Bailey wants in too, but he finds a way to make a wet willie even more disgusting, by teasing it with his big toe. I never knew he shared something with Gene Snitsky…

Ligero fortunately makes the save as Starr composes himself, as there’s some double-teaming behind the ref’s back as the match becomes more of a background for Joe Hendry’s comedy. They continue to isolate Brookes, who chops away from both Starr and Ligero at the same time, only to get tripped and kicked for a near-fall.

Brookes reverses a brainbuster from Ligero before getting the tag out, and it’s Bailey who eases ahead with a corkscrew press onto Ligero, before he flipped into the clutches of Starr. Another leg sweep led to an attempted double-team, but Ligero ends up kicking Starr low as things went from bad to worse. A kick to the ropes crotches Starr again as Bailey keeps kicking Ligero… but the Product is back in to whiff on a PK as he suddenly has a change of heart. Nah, Bailey sees through the offer of a handshake, before dumping Starr with a German suplex… and getting one in return.

Both men are left laying after a strike battle, before Brookes and Ligero tagged back in for what looked to be a final furlong. A gamengiri from Ligero proved to be not enough, as his springboard back in was caught and turned into a swinging neckbreaker for a near-fall, before Brookes was thrown into a Cherry Mint DDT from Starr ahead of a Ligero Code Red for another near-fall. More Bailey kicks left Starr loopy, before Speedball became Lykos for the elevated lungblower… only to get turned into another weapon as Starr powerbombed Bailey onto Brookes to break up an Octopus hold.

All four men end up on their knees trading shots, before Bailey whiffs with the shooting star knees. A pair of slingshot Ace crushers from Brookes leaves Starr and Ligero down, and after a Downward Spiral into the turnbuckles, Bailey nearly snatches the win with shooting star knees on Ligero. Bailey swings and misses with another kick to Ligero, who throws a superkick before going for his C4L – with a blind tag by Starr on the way up – and the Product steals the win there! An abrupt ending to perhaps the best match on the card so far – and there’s dissension between Starr and the Prestige after the way that one ended. ***½

Yep, Joe Hendry wasn’t best pleased – he clotheslines David Starr after that, not happy with what he perceived as the “Product” taking centre stage. Travis Banks comes out to make the save… followed by Stu Bennett, who addresses the Internet title situation. Long story short: we’re getting Bailey, Starr, Banks and Brookes in a four-way for the vacant belt on this week’s Defiant TV show.

No Disqualification: Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter) vs. South Coast Connection (Kelly Sixx & Ashley Dunn)
Okay, this is weird. This was originally advertised as a ladder match in a recap after the initial challenge was edited off of TV. Plans change?

Dunn and Sixx appear, then disappear so they can come out with a ladder. We remember, but they leave the ladder on the stage. Everyone charges to the outside for plunder, except Kelly Sixx, who stops himself so he can dive, and it’s the SCC who take the upper hand with dives before they take the Hunters around the ringside area.

Eventually we head inside, as Sixx backdrops Dunn into a ‘rana on Jim Hunter, before Lee comes in to swing the advantage around, with Sixx taking a neckbreaker onto Lee’s knees. More double-team sees a senton bomb onto Sixx as he was held in a neckbreaker – and just as we thought the Hunters were easing ahead, Dunn’s back to save Kelly from a suplex. Lee uses a chair to Sixx’s knee to save a powerbomb, before throwing that chair at Dunn on the top rope… sending the chair sailing into the crowd. That’s a bit reckless, eh? Jim’s back out for another chair, which Lee has no trouble using on Dunn, before more chairs get thrown into the ring… with poor Ashley getting slammed on them. To minimal reaction. Did the earlier power cut kill the electricity to the crowd too?!

The Hunters open up two of the chairs for a landing zone, but Dunn fights out of a back suplex before Jim takes a pair of roundhouse kicks as Lee gets dumped onto the chairs. Ouch. Sixx chooses that moment to go for the ladder, as the SCC went after Lee, setting up a ladder in the corner before whipping him into it. Another ladder appears, but Jim ends up wearing it as he’s thrown into the apron, leaving Lee alone once again.

Jim’s finally back as the SCC went for something off the ladder, but Dunn’s instead thrown into a chair that’d been wedged in the turnbuckles. Sixx tries to use the ladder, but instead he takes a back cracker while holding it… before Jim’s wedged into the corner with a ladder. Lee tries to help, but takes a backdrop onto the same ladder, which then gets tossed into Jim as he tried to break free.

The crowd again call for tables, and finally they get them, but they don’t see Jim take a double-team Falcon arrow through it as Lee moved the wood. Instead, the Hunters start to use the hardware, with a makeshift ladder bridge being set up between a chair and the turnbuckle, and it’s almost like these Hunters are used to being into construction in former lives? Jim was trying for something, but Sixx blocks it and instead brings him down with a brainbuster onto the ladder bridge.

Ashley Dunn comes in with a chair to Lee Hunter a la RVD, and we’re back to that ladder after the chair’s kicked through to Lee’s face. The same wonky chair’s used as Sixx stops a back superplex off the ladder from Lee, before he sets up the table, and with the ladder buckling, the SCC polished off the Hunters with a powerbomb/double stomp combo. I’d be very much shocked if this no-DQ rule wasn’t a set-up for the SCC to get a title shot – especially given that no-DQ/hardcore rules are very much the champions’ forte. As a match, this felt a little reckless in places, but overall a decent bout in front of apathy from the crowd. ***¼

We’re backstage again as Stu Bennett’s still looking for a fifth man. He’s stopped as Rampage wanders in… one handshake later, and it seems we have the mystery man!

A video package follows, charting Millie McKenzie’s rise from an “already in the ring” cannon fodder for Little Miss Roxxy – except it didn’t work out like that – all the way to title contention.

Defiant Women’s Championship: Millie McKenzie vs. Kay Lee Ray (c)
Did you know that Millie McKenzie is only 17? Commentary was so shocked, it was about the only thing they could talk about!

It’s a rather cagey start, with Kay Lee trying to tell off Millie as she went for German suplexes in the early moments. Eventually Millie lands one, but Kay Lee rolled to the outside… before returning to take some more, followed by a reverse ‘rana that almost turned into a back cracker for a near-fall. Ouch.

Ray rolls outside again, but this time she sweeps Millie’s legs on the apron, before taking over. Another German suplex effort’s countered with a headlock takedown, as a sliding facebuster almost gets Ray the win… before she switches into a Koji clutch from the kick-out, forcing McKenzie into the ropes.

Millie shrugs off a chop as Kay Lee tried to edge ahead, but she’s met with some more German suplexes as Suplex Millie was in full effect. A superkick from Ray just earns her another German suplex, before we move onto the back-and-forth shots on the ground. They end up outside again, where Millie flies off the apron to send Kay Lee into the guard rails with a rana… again to minimal response.

A tope follows, and is replied to in kind, before Millie dished out another German suplex, this time sending the champion into the guard railings. Back inside, Millie switches suplexes, but she’s blocked as Ray counters with a Gory bomb, but Millie kicked out at two, before she countered a second one into a sunset flip for a near-fall. Ray returns with a sliding facebuster into the Koji clutch, but it nearly leads to the end as McKenzie rolled her up for a near-fall.

Another Gory Bomb’s attempted, but Millie slips out into a double-underhook Destroyer, before one last German suplex gets the win! A really good match played out in front of traditional apathy… although you’d argue Millie’s first major title was perhaps a little overblown on commentary. ***½

They play a video package recapping the IPW invasion, from Austin Aries winning the Defiant title from Marty Scurll months ago, through to the takeover and those few shows in London where IPW “ran the ship”. In hindsight, those shows would have been so much better had IPW had their own commentator in the mix… I can only guess that Dean Ayass wasn’t available?

Team IPW (Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher), No Fun Dunne, Mark Haskins & Austin Aries) vs. Team Defiant (Martin Kirby, BT Gunn, Primate, Travis Banks & Rampage)
It’s winner take all here, although the build-up to this match has been in front of rather lacklustre crowds… but that point’s been battered into the ground by us already. Playing out the entire invasion storyline in front of crowds who didn’t even know it was a thing is certainly something.

No Fun Dunne was replacing Chris Ridgeway in the IPW team, after a neck injury forced Ridgeway onto the sidelines…meanwhile commentary notes that Joe Coffey was replaced in the Defiant squad by Travis Banks. Well, “replaced”… at the end of the go home show last week, none of the teams had been announced!

So, we’ve got over 40 minutes for this Survivor Series-style main event, and we started with Kirby prowling in the ring as he waited for someone from IPW to get in the ring. Austin Aries teased starting, but there’s cycling tags as IPW tried to frustrate the home team, stalling for all their might, before Defiant… pull the same tricks. For a “cold war” there’s an awful lot of arsing around going on…

FINALLY! Austin Aries throws a kick and the crowd cheers in irony as we finally get some wrestling, although it’s brief as the ring fills with IPW getting chased away. Were this Raw, I’m pretty sure we’d be cutting to commercial here… especially as IPW walk out on the match. Of course, the referee doesn’t start a count, as Defiant chase after them for… reasons.

Wrestling Logic!

The IPW crew slowly emerge through the curtain, assisted by the Defiant mob as we’ve got a brawl through the crowd, expertly captured, of course! It looks a lot like Edge’s old WWE entrance, with the camera panning the crowd in the feint hope of finding something! Eventually they pick up some of the brawl, and the sound starts to go a little funny as I guess someone loosened a cable by the commentary team.

Finally Aries and Banks return to the ring, with the Defiant champion getting wrapped in one of the guard rail banners as Banks started to go to work with some kicks… but it breaks down again into a brawl as the elimination rules seemingly absorbed no-disqualification elements.

Four sets of mounted punches see Defiant edge ahead, but Kyle Fletcher tries to take some control, only for Primate to level him with a back elbow and a T-bone suplex. The first elimination comes pretty quickly too, when Austin Aries grabs a leg and distracts Primate, allowing Fletcher to score a pin with a cheeky roll-up. Well, given Primate’s still healing up a broken jaw, he probably shouldn’t have been in anyway…

Defiant try to rebound, with Travis Banks squishing Aussie Open with a cannonball in the corner, but it’s IPW’s Haskins who takes over on Banks, kicking him into the corner, before Kyle Fletcher scurried back in to keep up the offence with forearms in the corner. The Aussie Arrow quickly found that a clothesline from the Kiwi Buzzsaw cut through him, before Rampage tagged in to blast through the youngster, finishing him off with a piledriver for Defiant’s first elimination.

No Fun Dunne’s forced in by Austin Aries, who didn’t want any part of Rampage. Dunne slaps Rampage… and turns around into a monster chop as Rampage started to cut through the IPW lackey. Martin Kirby finishes Dunne’s short shift with a Sable Bomb, before Mark Davis rushed in to isolate Kirby away from the rest of his team. A series of slams keep Kirby down, before an old school stump puller almost got Aries a submission win.

Kirby’s able to get free to BT Gunn, and the Scotsman is able to push ahead with a roll-up Downward Spiral to Davis… but a distraction from Aries costs BT as he turned around into the inverted Angle slam, with Davis getting the easy elimination. Martin Kirby rushes in with a Slingblade as Defiant tried to restore their advantage, but Austin Aries blocks a Slice of Heaven from the apron, saving Mark Davis from the kick… and allowing the Australian to hold up Banks for a Doomsday Device, with Aries tagging himself in for a Last Chancery as the Kiwi Buzzsaw’s forced to tap. Rapid eliminations, is it?

We’re down to Kirby and Rampage against Aries, Haskins and Davis, with commentary noting that the Defiant team have been with the group since day one of WCPW. The numbers game quickly comes into IPW’s favour as Haskins and Davis set up for a tope from Aries as the referee was distracted, and it’s looking rather bleak as Kirby’s again isolated against the IPW trio.

Kirby mounts a fightback, and quickly sneaks in a Last Chancery on Aries, who’s forced to tap to his own finisher. Well then! I guess that’ll make Kirby a defacto number one contender?

Aries batters Kirby with a rolling elbow and a brainbuster after his elimination… and that left Kirby prone for the next elimination, after some shoving between Haskins and Aries, which led to Haskins claiming the easy decision by way of a Sharpshooter on Kirby. We’re down to Rampage against the disfunctional Davis and Haskins, and he’s straight in to fight off a double-team as the referee does little to keep it one-on-one.

Haskins taunts Rampage from the “Defiant corner” as the double-teaming continues, but Rampage breaks through with a clothesline off the middle rope to Davis… and after shrugging off another comeback, Rampage gets in a clothesline and a piledriver to the big Aussie for the penultimate elimination!

It’s next fall wins… and there just seems to be a lot of apathy as Haskins and Rampage squared off for the final sprint. Rampage lands a clothesline but has to kick out from an O’Connor roll before a roll-up death valley driver almost sealed the IPW win. As did the Star armbar and triangle choke, but that’s countered out into a spinebuster as Rampage followed up with a piledriver… and that’s the win for Defiant! Hey, the crowd cheer!

This match had enough time given to it, bearing the stipulations and gravitas of the storyline, but similarly it felt like there were some rushed eliminations, particularly at the start. Decent enough, but this felt like a suitable microcosm of the entire feud. ***

Team Defiant returned to ringside with Stu Bennett as the show ended rather abruptly with celebrations and… it’s still 2017? Eh, I do it every day myself…

Those who watched this stream live were understandably miffed with the technical issues – sadly, it seems that this promotion’s first shows of the year seem to suffer with glitches… but once things got underway, it was a decent enough show, sadly played out in front of a quiet crowd. I don’t get the mentality of buying tickets to a show you don’t get invested in, as this is far from the first time Defiant/WCPW have had silence at shows. It’s just a weird visual, seeing decent wrestling and action getting played out to minimal reactions.

On paper, the IPW invasion makes a little sense, but to have it blown off in one batch of TV tapings is a little odd – but judging by the crowd reactions in Manchester, this was not resonating at all. In terms of future direction, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the IPW crew – clearly, Aries has to stick around for at least the next set of tapings as he has the Defiant title, but if you remove the entirety of the IPW roster, you’ve got quite a hole to fill. Whether they go the post-WCW-invasion route of having folks begging for jobs remains to be seen, but there’s at least some intrigue in what happens in Defiant now they’ve fought off the southern invasion of IPW.