Defiant crowned a new Internet champion – and a huge first defence as a name from David Starr’s present popped up on the scene.

We’re still in Manchester, and hopefully without powercuts as we open with recaps from the iPPV, featuring Defiant running IPW out of town, and we’ve some new clips in the opening package. Hi there Amir Jordan…

Flame pyro greets us inside the Bowlers’ Exhibition Centre, where Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are… the Internet champion?!

Austin Aries is out first with No Fun Dunne, Aussie Open and Mark Haskins, as the defeated IPW crew address their fate. Aries takes responsibility for IPW’s loss, saying he “picked some pretty weak links”, berating Kyle Fletcher and No Fun Dunne before Haskins grabbed the mic to call Aries pathetic. Those two argue back and forth, before Aries hinted that they all have jobs while he’s Defiant champion.

Stu Bennett heads out and says that he’s going to give them all Defiant contracts – despite their loss yesterday. That easy, huh? Aries thinks that Dunne, Davis, Fletcher and Haskins have his back, but slowly everyone but Dunne abandons him. Bennett announced that Aries is defending his title against Martin Kirby next week – cue some awkward reactions as the last of the IPW crew left with him.

Stu’s got a bag, and inside is the old Magnificent Seven briefcase. It’s still beaten up, and inside is allegedly a contract for a Defiant title shot… but to get into that match, there’s going to be a series of qualifiers as we’ll have six qualifiers and a seventh wildcard entrant. The first of those qualifiers is… right now! Except it won’t because it’s the Internet title match!

Elimination Match for Defiant Internet Championship: David Starr vs. Travis Banks vs. Mike Bailey vs. Chris Brookes
Zack Sabre Jr.’s lack of availability meant he had to vacate the title just before Chain Reaction, so we’ve got this elimination four-way to crown a new interim champion… with the winner’s first defence announced before the bell at Lights Out next month. Against WALTER. Oof.

David Starr tried to get some birthday wishes at the start of the match. Instead, he just gets a mini beatdown, culminating in a wet willie with two fingers and a toe. Worst. Present. Ever.

Once the dry heaves were over, a match broke out, and it starts like most multi-man matches do, with two in and two out on a revolving scale, and a frantic pace too. Bailey takes out Brookes and Starr with a Golden Triangle moonsault as everyone decided it was time to fly, ending with a shooting star press to the floor from Speedball.

In the ring, we’re back to the norm, with Brookes almost stealing a pin from a moonsault knees from Bailey on Banks… and the Kiwi Buzzsaw kept up with a nice springboard stomp as the revolving door continued unabated. A standing Han Stansen lariat from Starr knocks Banks down, but the Kiwi rolls outside as… yep, we swap around into a Parade of Moves, with Bailey right at home with some kicks as all four men were left laying.

Considering how quiet these Defiant crowds have been, this was a bit of a shocker – the match had the crowd reacting from bell to bell, and it wasn’t a spot-fest either. Sure, there were dives, but there was a nice variety of stuff, mixing it up as Bailey broke out of a sleeper from Banks… by sending the pair of them to the outside with a tope.

Brookes damn near gets a two-for-one as he hits Bailey with a Praying Mantis Bomb onto the head of Banks… but despite following up with an Octopus, he’s quickly eliminated as David Starr rolled him up for the pin! Bailey looked to work over Starr with kicks and shooting star knees, but Banks is in to level the Canadian with a clothesline before a Kiwi Krusher gets him out.

In a relative blink of an eye, we’re down to two – David Starr and Travis Banks!

Needless to say, they fight to their feet and trade right hands, but a simple trip ends Starr’s offensive run… until he catches Banks in the ropes for a Cherry Mint DDT. Banks quickly recovers with a Slice of Heaven, before a Han Stansen lariat left both men down again briefly, with another Kiwi Krusher almost getting the win. Starr kicks out at two but gets caught in the Lion’s Clutch, which Starr eventually breaks with a backbreaker.

A Blackheart Driver dumps Banks on his head for a near-fall as the Product started to surge ahead, setting up for a Product Placement… but Banks counters into a roll-up for back-and-forth near-falls, before his attempt at a Slice of Heaven is blocked and met with a vicious lumbar check from Starr. Somehow that’s only enough for a near-fall, and when he tries to get a superplex, Banks catches him with a spin-out super Kiwi Krusher… and that’s enough to get Banks the “undisputed” Internet title. Although commentary tells us seconds later it’s only interim. Small matter, but this was fantastic. Easily the best Defiant match in recent memory… and now we’ve got Travis Banks vs. WALTER next month. Twice, if you count the already-announced wXw match! ****

After the match, Banks returned to the ring to applaud – and console – Starr… who took it as well as you’d expect, as he levelled the new champion with a clothesline.

Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. South Coast Connection (Kelly Sixx & Ashley Dunn)
Winners get a tag title shot, apparently, and Mark Davis has gone softly-softly after splitting from IPW, as he wasn’t trying to detach folks hands from their wrists with high fives.

We start with Dunn and Fletcher, and it’s fast out of the gate as the SCC double-teamed Kyle with dropkicks, before handing Dunkzilla some too. Sixx takes his partner outside with a back body drop into the Aussies, but a big right hand from Davis quickly knocks Dunn out as the match swings into the newly-favoured Aussies’ hands. The sliding forearm from Davis is good for a near-fall, before Dunn almost gets beheaded with a vicious Fletcher dropkick.

Fletcher’s almost playing with Dunn, but Kelly Sixx is in to turn it back around, nailing Davis with a Quebrada in the ropes before going after Kyle… but Fletcher’s able to escape and tag in the big guy, who of course chops and clotheslines his way through the flippy southerners. He ducks a punch from Sixx, who lays out Dunn by mistake as the Alphamare Waterslide (inverted Angle slam) takes Sixx out.

Dunn and Sixx combine to land a flying neckbreaker and a big splash to Davis for a near-fall as Fletcher makes a save, following up with a flying Ace crusher to Sixx as a double underhook from Davis led to a sit-out spinebuster from Kyle in a nice double-team move. Sixx has to make the save again as the Aussies looked comfortable, but a dropkick from Dunn helps move things again as a uranage/back cracker combo gets a near-fall on Dunkzilla.

An attempted belly-to-back piledriver’s turned into a Destroyer as Davis gets his hand in, before Dunn is wiped out with a Fidget Spinner… and Aussie Open gets the title shot. Sure, their turn was a little ehh, but this was a great little match. Dunn and Sixx are very underutilised on the UK scene, it has to be said. Hey, Defiant’s on a roll tonight! ***½

We’re backstage as Travis Banks confronts Starr after the attack there… Starr says that cutting corners is the only way he can get things done… particularly because he wants WALTER. Yep, they’re going there with this. Starr cannot beat WALTER anywhere… and it seems that Travis Banks has sympathy, so he offers to get Starr a shot in that match – it was granted after the show, meaning Lights Out is now a three-way: Starr vs. WALTER vs. Banks.

After replays from Chain Reaction, where Millie McKenzie won the Defiant Women’s Championship, we’ve got her first appearance as champion.

Lana Austin vs. Millie McKenzie
This was Lana’s first appearance in Defiant in almost a year – and she got a huge hometown reaction. It’s non-title, but I’d be surprised if we had an upset here. Or if commentary mentioned anything other than Millie’s age…

The pair start by going for holds, but Millie clings onto a wristlock before shoving Lana away. Next, she takes down Austin and tries for a submission with a leg grapevine, before Lana gets up and just pulls Millie down again as the crowd fell silent. A forearm rocks Millie as Lana rolls her up for a hip attack… but Millie gets angry and tries for a German suplex in retaliation.

When that doesn’t work, Millie goes for a monkey flip as the champion eased into control, taking Austin up top as she teases death by an avalanche German suplex. Austin elbows out of it, and kicks back at Millie, ahead of a side Russian legsweep that nicks her a near-fall as the crowd started to get into it. Just like that though, Millie breaks out the German suplexes, landing a trio before Austin tries to kick back… and that just brings out McKenzie’s anger as she shoves away a punch and nails an Ace Crusher for another near-fall.

Lana nearly nicks the win again with a Northern Lights suplex, but Millie gets out of a DDT and lands a spear before connecting with a pumphandle German suplex for the win. Decent enough, but there were some hesitant moments in this – but at least we’re not getting Millie squashing the entire division. **¼

After the match, Millie was attacked with a German suplex by Sammii Jayne. She gets “who are ya?” chants as she leaves. This could be a decent little feud, given how good Sammii is as a hate-able baddie.

We’re backstage with Kay Lee Ray, who’s trying to sweet-talk Stu Bennett in his office. Stu’s got a whiteboard with ideas for Magnificent Seven wildcards, including “Amir”, “Drake”, “Clery” and “The German Lads”. My bet isn’t exactly going to the media guy… anyway, Kay Lee wants a rematch, but she’s told that Defiant don’t do automatic rematches. Instead, she’s offered a match with Sammii Jayne, with the winner getting Millie at Lights Out. That contender’s match could be a real sleeper…

Mark Haskins vs. Rampage
The winner of this gets into the Magnificent Seven match at Lights Out… Haskins is billed as the “Star Attraction” which feels pretty dated, but hey, I guess he kept that moniker in IPW so, eh?

Somehow Rampage didn’t get an automatic slot, or even a title shot, for being the sole survivor at the end of Chain Reaction. How’s that for gratitude?! Still, it’s a rematch from the final fall at the iPPV, which they acknowledge.

Haskins tries to stick and move early on, and has some success with that tactic until Rampage just barges past him. It’s a fluid Haskins here… perhaps too fluid, as Rampage easily scoops him into a vicious slam, before he’s taken outside as Haskins busts out his misdirection tope, right into the commentary table!

There’s an extra headset on the desk, so I guess we’re getting guest commentary in a later episode, but for now we’re getting Haskins and Rampage brawling around the ringside area, before Haskins goes for the ground and pound back inside. An armbar forces Rampage to fight back to his feet, before backing Haskins into the corner for a break, as an attempted suplex from Rampage almost led to a loss when Haskins countered into a small package.

Haskins stays in control, peppering Rampage with kicks and boots, but Rampage gets back to his feet and fights back, eventually landing a neat dropkick after shoving Haskins into the ropes. A flying clothesline follows off the middle rope, but Rampage isn’t done as he tries for a piledriver, before countering into a spinebuster for a near-fall. Another attempt at the piledriver costs Rampage, but he’s quickly back with a uranage for a near-fall.

A Fireman’s carry is escaped as Haskins tries to mount a fightback, nailing a superkick before floating into the Star armbar on Rampage, but Rampage stands up again, before Haskins countered back into a roll-up death valley driver for a near-fall. More kicks from Haskins fire up Rampage again, as he finally catches one and knocks Haskins into the ropes with a forearm.

One Samoan drop and a piledriver later, and that’s all for Haskins. A nice little TV-style main event – with Rampage doing the double over the former PROGRESS champion. ***½

The show ends with a backstage segment as El Ligero and Joe Hendry approach Stu Bennett, annoyed that they’re not in the Magnificent Seven qualifiers. They assumed that it’s because they’re going to be a wild card… but it turns out that they are in qualifiers in a tag team qualifier, as the Prestige pair take on Joe Coffey and BT Gunn. Oh. I thought we were done with the remnants of the Prestige?

Next week: Austin Aries defends the Defiant title vs. Martin Kirby! Primate takes on Zack Gibson… Kay Lee Ray vs. Sammii Jayne… and that fight between the old members of the Prestige!

Defiant are pivoting towards a new audience – moving away from the old style of focusing on former WWE names and towards a new-ish roster of indy darlings. Not that that’s a bad thing, but there’s still work to be done. Case in point: WALTER. Don’t get me wrong, we love him. How can you not?

To Defiant’s audience though, what did you learn about him tonight, apart from “he’s new” and “David Starr can’t beat him”? It’s wrong to assume that because the show’s online, everyone knows about him – or will be bothered to do the legwork themselves. For a long time, it was a bugbear of WWE that they just threw new faces out there without storylines or an introduction, and while I’m not saying that Defiant ought to craft their own backstory or gimmick for everyone new, they really should do something for the live crowd (and thus, the TV viewers) to fill in the blanks, rather than just throw out a name and hope that commentary can get the story over.

Bell-to-bell, this was perhaps the best episode of Defiant yet – the Internet title four-way was particularly stellar, while the tag team match and main event moved at a fair clip and didn’t outstay their welcomes. Head over to Defiant’s YouTube channel and get this watched – it’s an 80 minute show (a little longer than usual), but it breezed by.