A new name, and a new era as Defiant launched their eponymous TV show with plenty of new faces and another surprising ending!

Gone is Loaded, and in its place is Defiant Wrestling’s “Defiant” show. That may be a little problematic for how we title things here, but hey ho!

We open with the “I am Defiant” package, complete with Primate’s growl, then a recap of the happenings at #WeAreDefiant – including the arrivals of Austin Aries, Chris Ridgeway and Mark Haskins. As ever, Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy (star ratings and all) are on commentary…

David Starr vs. Travis Banks
Starr’s not exactly happy-go-lucky in Defiant these days… largely thanks to him getting wiped out in that best of three series with Mike Bailey. He stopped Stevie Aaron from reading his nicknames, and we get a jump start as Starr wants to prove a point against the Kiwi Buzzsaw.

Banks burst into a flurry of kicks to send Starr outside, before a tope took the Product into the guard rails… but a second tope earns him a Cherry Mint DDT as Starr looked to get a count-out. That wasn’t forthcoming, so Starr unloads with his Violence Party of forearms and chops, but Banks manages to turn it around, tripping Starr into the corner for the usual cannonball.

Starr avoids a Slice of Heaven, but just gets dropkicked back into the corner for a springboard stomp, only for a Kiwi Krusher attempt to get countered back into a Blackheart Buster as Starr desperately looked to clinch the win. A Product Recall gets him closer, as does an inverted slam and superkick, before he tries for the Product Placement… which gets countered into back-and-forth roll-ups, before Banks nails a Kiwi Krusher for the win! Enjoyable stuff to start the “new era”, with David Starr’s more aggressive side not exactly producing different results for the Product. ***½

Starr complained that his shoulder was up… and from rewatching it… he has a point! The pin from the Kiwi Krusher does tend to hide one shoulder… but unfortunately when someone is always mad, it’s hard to believe them when they have a point! After the match, Banks offered a handshake to Starr, but before it could be accepted, El Ligero and Joe Hendry hit the ring to beat down on their former Prestige member… but that’s not all! They hold Banks down, and Starr joins in on the beatdown, only for the lights to go out…

CCK are Defiant?! Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos make the save, and it looks like David Starr has, at least informally for now, has joined the Prestige.

After an advert, we’re back with… Millie McKenzie? This certainly is a roster shift, but I’m not too keen on anyone getting the “already in the ring” treatment as, to quote Dave Bradshaw, “it’s time for our women’s match”. I’m sure someone will jump on that verbiage…

Millie McKenzie vs. Little Miss Roxxy
Commentary seems to be painting Millie as a no-hoper against Roxxy, whose win/loss record here isn’t great. Oh ye of little faith… Millie shoves down Roxxy as commentary predicted a Goldberg-like squash, but Roxxy taking her into the corner kinda killed any hopes of a short match. A back senton from Roxxy gets an early near-fall, but Millie shocks her with a spear before busting out her German suplexes.

Defiant quickly learned about Suplex Millie, and those three Germans get Millie the win! Well, I wasn’t too keen on how they painted Millie as a nobody going in, especially since they did little to play up the shock. Perhaps the crowd being behind her from the off threw things for a loop? **

A Joe Hendry promo follows next as he talks about targeting Travis Banks. Joe’s extremely animated, and says that he’ll take away the spotlight on the Kiwi Buzzsaw.

Pastor William Eaver & Liam Slater vs. Prince Ameen & Gabriel Kidd
They show highlights from #WeAreDefiant of Slater “joining” the Pastor, and we’ve got a tag team match coming out of that show. 2016 servitude vs. 2017 servitude in the house!

Ameen delayed in accepting a handshake as the Pastor forced him to pray… but Ameen doesn’t follow that God, it seems, and so Eaver tags in Liam Slater. Ameen tries to win Slater back by calling Eaver a “dickhead”, but instead Slater just attacks Ameen from behind.

Things turn around with a high knee from Ameen as Gabriel Kidd tagged in to get some payback on Slater, as a Hart Attack almost puts away Slater. The Prince goes after Eaver, and distracts himself so much that Slater gets back in… but this is getting scrappy as Kidd and Ameen just seem to have uncontrollable anger here.

That results in the Pastor and Slater isolating Ameen, but a double-team crucifix bomb’s avoided as Ameen manages to dive in to a tag, with Kidd unloading on Slater with a nice fire-y comeback, hitting his face-first pancake and a diving boot… but that seems to be enough for Ameen to want back in so he can bust out a Magic Carpet ride.

Before Ameen can go flying though, Eaver raises his hands in prayer, and the lights go out. The lights return as Jurn Simmons is in the ring, and the ref’s down… Jurn obliterates Slater, then Ameen with gutwrench powerbombs, and that’s an easy win for Slater and Eaver. This was a pretty intense outing, and enjoyable to watch… but man, this Eaver/Slater/Simmons trio sure is wacky and random! **¾

Jurn carries Prince Ameen to the back on his shoulders, and Gabriel Kidd just seems to have vanished…

BT Gunn and Joe Coffey are backstage now, where they denounce their former Prestige ties. Apparently Coffey was mad at having to put their singles careers on hold… so they’re tagging up? Logic! I’ve never had to cut a promo, but this felt a little meandering, as they eventually go to their latest bone of contention – having gone from being in front of over 4,000 fans at ICW to the Defiant pre-show. Apparently they’re getting a tag title match against Jimmy Havoc and Primate next week, and they want to make it a Hardcore match. Fair enough.

Martin Kirby comes out for the main event, but Austin Aries attacks him with a rolling elbow, sending him flying off the stage. Aries takes the mic and instils himself as the bad guy, calling the fans “puppets, before forgetting Defiant canon – that this wasn’t really “last night” (wink wink). Aries wants a Defiant title shot, and that brings out Stu Bennett instead…

Bennett refuses to give Aries a title shot, which the crowd isn’t happy with. Of course, Marty Scurll heads out and plays the fighting champion, overruling the GM… and we have a new main event!

Defiant Championship: Austin Aries vs. Marty Scurll (c)
The bell rings before Marty’s even had a chance to disrobe, but the match starts regardless, with Stu Bennett pacing around ringside in search of a chair.

Aries grounds Scurll with a headlock early as he slowed the match down, before whipping Scurll into the corner for a brief moment that looked awkward as Scurll tried to avoid diving into Aries’ knee as the champion had to scurry for the ropes to avoid a Last Chancery early on.

Things head outside as Scurll’s attempt to fight back ends with him chopping the ringpost as Aries maintained control, with the pair countering each other’s counters to suplexes until an arm whip sent Aries crashing to the mat. That gave Marty an opportunity to work over Aries’ left arm, before countering another counter into a back cracker. An O’Connor roll from Aries eventually gets a near-fall as the challenger started to get back in, throwing Marty from turnbuckle-to-turnbuckle.

A bell ringer takes Marty onto the outside, before a neckbreaker in the ropes leaves him there for a low-pe from Aries, but neither man seems to be able to maintain offence for any period of time. After a suplex into the turnbuckles, Marty calls for a chicken wing, but Aries counters with a shinbreaker and a side suplex, ahead of a corner dropkick as all of a sudden the tide shifts.

Aries does a Lykos, calling for a brainbuster only to get one himself, before Marty teases a belt shot. It misses, and a rolling elbow almost makes him pay, before going for a belt shot of his own. Joel Allen stops him again, but Marty’s gone outside for some powder… which he inadvertently throws into the ref’s face. Regardless, Marty finds his way into the chicken wing… and Aries instantly taps. But of course, no ref! Stu Bennett’s mad at that, and Marty – ever the good guy – grabs some water to rinse the referee’s eyes. In the middle of that, Aries uses an umbrella to crotch Scurll, before the Last Chancery forces the Villain to tap out… and we have a new champion!

A little overbooked for the main event, but I guess you couldn’t have Marty lose clean… however, this felt a little clunky for the time they had. Hey ho, it’s all storyline, I guess! ***¼

After the match, Aries gloats about becoming champion… and hands a message to Stu. Apparently, Aries burned the “piece of (muted)” contract he got, as being the champion means he doesn’t need one? Aries claims he runs the show, and he ends the show by wandering over to the merch area for people to get pictures with him. They cut away before a queue could form…

Next week: the Prestige take on CCK (wonder how that’ll go with an injured wolf), while Havoc and Primate defend their tag titles against BT Gunn and Joe Coffey… oh, and we have build for Chain Reaction, which’ll be Defiant’s first iPPV of 2018, coming from the BEC Arena (Bowler’s Exhibition Centre) in Manchester on February 18.

Defiant largely stayed away from the content that drew criticism back when they were Loaded… we weren’t over-run with over-bearing GMs, endless promos and loathsome commentary. I wasn’t too keen on the way they portrayed Millie McKenzie, particularly since commentary didn’t react too much when the person they’d buried got a surprise win… but let’s see where that goes.

Austin Aries winning the title on his second night in is a classic move to grab attention, but without Mark Haskins and Chris Ridgeway on hand, whatever was hinted at at #WeAreDefiant was certainly not followed up on here. Of course, there’s many more shows in the can, and plenty more can (and, if you believe the spoilers, will) happen. It won’t be an overnight change, but the roster changes for Defiant have sort-of signalled that they’re looking at a more internet-friendly audience, without so much reliance on fly-ins that pervaded WCPW. Whether they can build off the back of that remains to be seen…