A tumultuous 2017 for Defiant ended with the company experiencing a full-blown invasion!

We open with a recap video of last week’s tag team main event, where Jimmy Havoc and Primate successfully defended their tag team titles before Mark Haskins and Chris Ridgeway invaded yet again. Defiant is still in Birmingham, with Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy being all neurotic about the threat they’re facing. We quickly cut to a locker room where Jimmy Havoc issues a challenge against the IPW invaders, with Primate and Joe Coffey on his side. They’re buzzed for a fight, but we don’t get that… yet!

Drake vs. Mike Bailey
Drake’s back to his “Kill All Gimmicks” phase… which is a gimmick in itself. Bailey’s limping to the ring as he’s still suffering from a missed moonsault kneedrop to David Starr at the iPPV almost a month ago.

Drake instantly tries to go for the leg, but Bailey’s able to hit a kick to the chest, then the cavalcade of left/right kicks as he guts through the pain. The pain that returns when he misses a knee into the corner, as Drake starts to work over the knee, driving it into the canvas. Regardless, Bailey’s able to backdrop Drake to the outside before shaking off his knee problems to hit a Golden Triangle moonsault to the floor, barely clearing the ropes. Back inside, Bailey cued up for something else, but Drake just ties him in the turnbuckles and dropkicks him to add more torque into the knees as the crowd booed in disapproval.

There’s more work over Bailey’s knee as Drake does the typical undercard bad guy thing of NOT ENDING THE MATCH, instead hoping the referee will wave it off. Bailey’s squirming on the mat as Drake keeps kicking away the leg, pausing as if the ref’ll stop the match… but of course he doesn’t. Drake goes up top and misses a missile dropkick, allowing Bailey to hit the shooting star knees that caused the injury in the first place.

It gets a near-fall, and my blood boils over this. I’m not a fan of Bailey at the best of times, but this painted him as a dumb babyface, doing the very moves and offence he injured himself on! Anyway, Drake goes outside and finds a turnbuckle steel, and whacks Bailey in the knee with it… and there’s your DQ. Ugh. This wasn’t horrific, but the whole logic of it just jarred with me. **½

After the match, Drake shows more viciousness than he did in the match, trapping Bailey in a single-leg crab with the steel for leverage, as commentary painted Drake as having ruined Bailey’s internet title chances.

Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter) vs. South Coast Connection (Kelly Sixx & Ashley Dunn)
The Hunters are back for the first time in several months… it’s not been quite as long as the Mexican World Cup qualifiers, but I guess Dave Bradshaw’s airbrushed out their match in Germany? Of course, Sixx and Dunn are the bad guys here since they’re not local. We opened with Jim and Kelly, with the latter getting an advantage as the action was frantic, if not a little clumsy early on. A nice monkey flip from Lee Hunter sent Dunn flying, as the Hunters exchanged frequent tags and slingshot sentons to Dunn for a near-fall.

The quick tags kept coming as everyone missed elbow drops and dropkicks, leading to that Marmite spot of four-way missed dropkicks. Dunn and Sixx take over from there though, nearly getting the win as Dunn kicked Jim in the back before cornering him for some chops. Another tag brings Lee in, as he moonsaulted into Sixx and Dunn, but we’re still in the business of fast tags as the Hunters hit a neckbreaker to Sixx for a near-fall as Dunn’s wiped out with a tope.

Sixx rebounds with a butterfly’d Falcon arrow, before Dunn throws forearms at Lee Hunter… followed by a leg lariat. They still can’t keep the advantage though, as more frantic tags led to a uranage backcracker combo on Lee, before Jim hits a springboard back elbow as this is really starting to feel spotty. Dunn and Sixx finally start to chain stuff together as a middle rope Blockbuster from Dunn, then a running shooting star press to Lee picks up a near-fall. Yet another blind tag lets Jim come back with a missile dropkick to both halves of the SCC as the Hunters finally looked to hold onto the lead… working Dunn into an accidental powerbomb by Sixx. In the end, a top rope ‘rana and a big splash get the Hunters the win – in a match that was fine, but just felt like a mish-mash of moves with very little sinking in until that final stretch. **¾

Interview Adam is backstage looking for Gabriel Kidd. Luckily for him, Kidd walks by as he’s still looking for Prince Ameen. Adam asks Kidd if the Ameen hunt is a distraction… and he gets blown off for it.

Next out is Alex Gracie, who was portrayed as someone with a bit of a loose screw in that self-interview last week. Gracie has a mic, as he tells us he’s not here to wrestle… fair enough. He invites Fat Ligero to the ring for an apology, as he thanks the unkindly-named masked man for making him realise he’s got to change. “Ligero” gets a hug… and a gift: it’s a lesson in Filipino stick fighting, as Gracie’s given him his protective jacket. I predict a sticking…

Sure enough, Gracie goes under the ring for the sticks, but he gives one to Ligero to parade around with as someone in the crowd tells Ligero to run. It’s too late, as Gracie drops an F bomb then whacks Ligero in the padding. Told you! There’s also a VERY questionable chant involving Jimmy Savile that somehow made it through editing, and we cut away as the crowd starts to boo Gracie.

We’re back with Zack Gibson and his ancient NGW entrance video. By ancient, I mean I swear there’s a clip of Zack with hair. On his head, not the beard he’s grown… of course, Gibson’s got something to get off his chest, and you probably know the drill. Soon to be recognised, and this leads to Zack tearing off into the Internet Wrestling Community. For some reason this rolls into a Bullet Club rant, a pop at the one-fallers, and I’m now even more conflicted about liking Zack Gibson… and wanting to boo him.

Zack Gibson vs. Gabriel Kidd
Gibson tries to charge at Kidd at the bell, but Gabe’s smart to it and avoids it all. Curiously, Zack’s pre-match promo made zero mention of this match supposedly being for a contract in Defiant, even though commentary covered that up.

On the outside, Kidd whips Gibson into the guard rails as the crowd chanted for one of the subscriptions that Gibson called out. It wasn’t the WWE. Classy.

Back inside, Gibson charges Kidd into the corners as he mocked the former Internet champion, saying that the crowd didn’t care about him. That spurred on the fightback, but Gibson quickly snuffs it out, before Kidd manages to counter a suplex as commentary brought up Gibson’s appearance on the World of Sport special. That feels a LOT longer than a year ago… The Kidd comeback continues with some forearms before he hits a shoulder block to send Gibson to the corner… but Zack blocks a charge and goes for a Ticket To Ride. That too is blocked as Kidd hits a waistlock takedown slam for a near-fall, as Gibson looked to start to work on the arm… only to hesitate and take a DDT instead.

Gibson heads to the ring apron to give himself some hesitation… and a chance to snap the top rope back on Kidd as the Scouser came back into it, landing the Ticket to Ride for a near-fall. A cross-chop connects, before Zack slips in the corner and gives Kidd the opportunity to hit the diving boot… but before Gabe can get the win, the lights go out! Pastor William Eaver’s music hits, but he doesn’t come out, as Zack instead takes advantage, hitting Kidd with the Tower of London, then the Shankly Gates for the submission. A flash win as Gibson makes a beeline to the back, and my, that sure looked like an afterthought! Decent enough as a match, but the finish left me feeling a little empty. ***

We’re backstage as Stu Bennett gets a phone call… it seems he’s gotten a cue, but he’s locked in his office. From there, we’re taken to ringside as Jimmy Havoc, Primate, BT Gunn and Joe Coffey come out armed with chairs (and plenty of swears), ready and waiting for the IPW “renegades”. Havoc reckons that now the odds are 4-on-3, they’re ready for a fight…

Sure enough Aries, Haskins and Ridgeway make an entrance. Aries then calls out that there’s more to come. Out comes more IPW re-enforcements: Damian Dunne, Mark Davis, Kyle Fletcher and Robert Sharpe hit the ring, along with a “guerrilla” IPW cameraman and IPW owner Billy Wood to stage a mass beat-down. I wonder if IPW ever went for a DMCA takedown for that “unauthorised footage” on last week’s show?

Dave Bradshaw gets choked out while Jimmy Havoc eats a pop-up piledriver from Davis onto a chair as the onslaught continues. It’s VERY reminiscent of the Nexus invasion, even down to the canvas ripping and the tie choking, with Mark Davis playing the role of Daniel Bryan. The show ends with the IPW invaders ripping apart a Defiant banner with scissors as the crowd launches into a brief and completely organic chant of “We Are Defiant” as Kyle Fletcher beat ringside photographer Oli Davis with a turnbuckle. Now THAT’S what you call resourceful…

Announced for next week: Liam Slater vs. Gabriel Kidd, Millie McKenzie vs. Little Miss Roxxy vs. Xia Brookside, David Starr vs. Chris Brookes… and I’m hoping some form of rebuttal unless Stu Bennett is still locked in his office?

Even if the bell-to-bell stuff this week wasn’t your cup of tea, then at least the show-closing angle was something that’ll stick in your memory for a long time. Sure, there’s a few things you could nitpick here, like how this felt at likes like a copy and paste of the aforementioned Nexus invasion… or how this seems to be a male-only invasion (for now), or how having an invasion between two rebranding companies might not be the best idea, especially when Defiant’s side features Jimmy Havoc – a man who recently held the IPW title for over two years! Admittedly, these are really only small points, and don’t get in the way of the wider storyline. But hey, what’s a review on the Internet without any criticism!

2017 has been a rather traumatic year for the promotion, going through a lengthy World Cup, a rebranding, and all sorts of behind-the-scenes turmoil. If the first four Defiant shows are anything to go by, the pieces are certainly in place for the company to do “more than just a rebuilding” in 2018, but there’s still plenty of work to do to win over even the casual internet fans.