Following on from Mark Haskins’ win last week, IPW took control of Defiant as the show rolled into London for a squash-heavy show, and an Internet title defence.

Last week’s recap featured the Zack Gibson/Rampage feud, and exactly how IPW took control of Defiant for the coming weeks. That segues to Haskins celebrating IPW’s march thus far, and then it’s into the titles. Despite IPW “running the show”, we’ve still got Defiant logos and music as they’re selling it by saying that some of the set’s missing and there’s new crew members backstage. Hmm… IPW promoter Billy Woods comes out first, to no music, alongside Robert Sharpe and Chief Deputy Dunne. So the IPW crew couldn’t find a song for their boss?

Ah, there’s the logo change! Woods puts over Robert Sharpe, to a cry of “who!?”, then Damian Dunne, noting that Defiant wouldn’t book either of them. This leads to the announcement of a 5-on-5 IPW vs. Defiant match at Chain Reaction, but with nothing attached to it. The crowd doesn’t bite, nor to the announcement of Austin Aries’ defence of the Defiant title “next week” to someone who’s 26-0. Of course, he means losses, as it’s Gabriel Kidd getting the shot.

Yeah, I’ve already said it was a mistake to launch an invasion when the angle was foreign to 99.9% of the audience.

The Prestige (El Ligero & David Starr) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks)
David Starr is announced as part of the Prestige now, and Stevie Aaron rattles through his nicknames so fast it really kills the gimmick.

After ducking the jump start, Chris Brookes quickly takes Ligero down for the wet willie… except he doesn’t have ear holes, so David Starr makes the save, only for his attempt at retribution to go badly wrong as Brookes gets the wet willie on the Product after-all. Starr’s back in as he takes a double-team hiptoss and a pair of low dropkicks, but El Ligero holds Brookes on the apron to help Starr into a comeback.

The Product Recall flatliner gets a near-fall for Starr, as the Prestige double-team Brookes behind the referee’s back. Starr and Ligero enjoy frequent tags as Brookes is firmly on the defensive, as I reach for the mute button to save me from the commentary. Brookes gets a hand up to stop the “look at it” hip thrust, and things get worse when Ligero superkicks’ Starr’s product, which leads to another accidental kick there and a headbutt to Ligero’s groin as the Prestige pratfall around.

Travis Banks finally gets the tag in to unload on Ligero and Starr with kicks, before tripping Ligs into the corner ahead of a cannonball. A low-pe from Banks takes Ligero into the guard railings, before Starr accidentally collided with his own man, as a Slice of Heaven and a slingshot cutter gets a near-fall.

Ligero gets the tag in next, but it’s not long before Brookes takes down both halves of the Prestige with a chain of Dragon screws. Again Ligero rebounds, as Brookes gets sent into a Cherry Mint DDT from Starr, before a Code Red nearly picked up the win. Brookes and Banks make use of their familiarity teaming elsewhere, as Brookes’ powerbomb with a kick on the way down gets another two-count for CCK, only for Ligero to send Banks all the way to the outside with a back body drop. Inside, Brookes takes a quick series of moves from Starr and Ligero finishing with the Product’s Han Stansen lariat, and that’s the win for the Prestige. Pretty decent stuff, but aside from the initial CCK pop, this wasn’t an engaged crowd. ***¼

After the match, Joe Hendry – who had been on commentary – sarcastically cheers Travis Banks. Yeah, I’m still far from sold on Hendry as a bad guy, but at least Banks stormed the commentary area and decked him with a forearm.

We go backstage with New Adam and Zack Gibson. Hey, at least the interview crew have IPW shirts on. Gibson’s got no regrets about what he did last week, and he’s soon to be the world’s number one. We’re still waiting. Apparently that trainee wants a match with Gibson tonight, and that galls him, as Zack reckons it’s free money.

Xia Brookside vs. Millie McKenzie
There’s surprisingly little initial reaction for Millie here, but again… nobody here would have seen her initial debut. Eventually they get going as Millie scored a headlock takedown, but it quickly leads to a stalemate. Millie tries to follow in with an arm wringer, but Xia reverses it… only to get dropped with a forearm as a snapmare almost dumped her on her head. A PK follows to the back and front, but Xia’s back with a ‘rana out of the corner, then a diving leg lariat, before lifting her into the corner for an attempted Iconoclasm.

Millie avoids it and quickly comes in with a German suplex, then a Shake Rattle and Roll neckbreaker for the win. Well, that was swift, and rather abrupt – they didn’t really get a chance to do much, so… **

The lights go out instantly after the pin as Bea Priestley returns with her full music and entrance. Xia Brookside tries (and fails) to leave without being caught on camera as Bea has eyes for McKenzie. There’s a loud pop as Bea tells the crowd about her exploits in STARDOM… but Bea wants a fight if Millie’s got eyes on that title shot. Millie accepts, “right now”… and we have an impromptu match!

Millie McKenzie vs. Bea Priestley
A series of German suplexes sees Bea land on her head three times in a row, before a double clothesline left both women laying. Quite the rapid start, then?

Duelling forearms follow as the pair fight back to their feet, but a savat kick from Bea, then a roundhouse knocks Millie down for a two-count, before Bea traps Millie in the Rings of Saturn, trapping a free leg as Millie finally grabs the rope.

The Millie comeback sees her land a spear for a two-count, but Bea tries for a wristlock – which she clings onto despite a rope break – before catching Millie with a Cheeky Nando’s in the corner. That’s followed up with a threatened double stomp, but it’s turned into a spider belly-to-belly, then a diving uppercut as the Destroyer gets Millie the win! Another short one, but a heck of a scalp for Millie, who’s the next contender for Kay Lee Ray it seems. If only they give that match some some… **

Next week, they announced that because IPW’s Billy Woods is “messing with the women’s division”, we’re getting Kay Lee Ray vs. Veda Scott and Little Miss Roxxy. Sounds like a perfect way to make your champion into a monster…

Mihai vs. Zack Gibson
Mihai is the Rampage trainee from last week… he trips over the curtain on his way out, and this is could be a murdering.

Zack wants to cut a promo first, and he’s irritated that Mihai wanted this match in the first place. He wants the rookie to just forfeit the match, and he does walk away… but Zack talked himself back into the match.

Mihai asks for the mic, but instead he gets a forearm to the face as Zack went to work, raking the eyes and face. Gibson’s in no rush, and he takes his time to threaten Mihai with a slap, before hitting a side suplex as the Scouser was more intent on sending a message to Rampage via his trainee. Out of nowhere though, Mihai catches Zack with a kick to the head, and almost nicked the win there, before Gibson just unloaded with a Helter Skelter and the Shankly Gates for the submission. Squash.

We’re taken to “earlier tonight”, actually five minutes ago, it seems, as we hear Zack Gibson’s music as Pastor William Eaver is talking to a zoned-out Prince Ameen under some railway arches. Ameen’s happy to create a whole new world, and he walks away…

Defiant Internet Championship: Mike Bailey vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
Speedball’s finally getting his title shot after wiping out David Starr in that best-of-three series across the closure of WCPW and the start of Defiant.

Apparently Sabre’s been defending that title all across the world… which is true, if by which you mean “this is his second defence of the belt, after beating Extreme Tiger in Jalisco in October”. That Internet title match, strangely enough, hasn’t appeared on Defiant’s video channels…

Bailey fakes out some kicks on Sabre, but Zack’s quickly in with his grappling game as the pair tussled on the mat. Sabre’s able to grab a gullotine, but it’s right in the ropes and there’s a struggle to force the rope break… and when he does, Bailey’s right back to those kicks as the feeling out process seemed to be more a case of Bailey trying to keep Sabre from standing up.

Sabre returns those favours, before a series of missed kicks culminated in a PK that Bailey kipped right back up from, so he could land a desperation enziguiri to reset both men.Bailey tried to rush in with a bicycle knee with the sometimes-bad-knee, and misses as he crashed into the turnbuckle, giving Sabre something to target, using an Indian deathlock to try and wear down the Canadian’s wheel.

That’s turned into a modified version of an armbar as Sabre’s Rolodex of submissions almost led to him getting pinned. After avoiding that, Sabre mashes up an armbar and a single leg crab for another submission attempt, but Bailey returns with a series of chops before a kick sent Zack down again.

An axe kick to the head from Bailey just fires up Sabre, but he can’t block a ‘rana as Bailey took him into the corner for a step-up kick ahead of a running corkscrew press… which Sabre catches and turns into a triangle choke. Bailey tries to roll out, but Sabre just busts out another wacky arm-and-leg submission before Bailey eventually rolled into the ropes.

More kicks see the two go tit-for-tat, with Bailey roaring back into the left-right quick-fire kicks, before catching Sabre with a moonsault fallaway slam! Sabre countered that on impact into an armbar, before rolling through some more submissions and into some back-and-forth indyriffic pins, stopping only when Bailey crashed down with the moonsault knees.

Sabre’s quickly back with the submissions to the knee, tripping Bailey down to keep the grapevine on, before Bailey rolled through to send Sabre to the outside for a dive… in the form of a moonsault from the inside to the floor! Back inside, Sabre tries to fly off the middle rope, but a kick from Bailey effectively swats him away, as do more kicks in the corner as Speedball set up for the shooting star knees…

…which connect as Sabre’s forced to kick out to save his title! A faked-out kick eventually connects from Bailey, but eventually those kicks get caught as Sabre just snaps into a Liontamer-like single leg crab, tying up the loose arm in the process as Bailey was forced to give up. A flash finish, but this was a really good outing if you can get past Bailey being Bailey. He’s marmite for me in places, especially when there’s big spots that led to him whacking his knee… and forgetting about it moments later, but he’s capable of big matches. ****

The show ends with Sabre dragging himself to the back, as we’re shown what’s on tap for next week: the Hunter Brothers vs. the South Coast Connection, Joe Coffey & BT Gunn vs. Aussie Open, that handicap match for Kay Lee Ray, and Gabriel Kidd vs. Austin Aries.

This was a show saved by the main event in my mind – with the series of short matches in the middle of the show almost derailing things. I wasn’t sold on the “IPW takeover”, which felt a little half-hearted, outside of that opening segment where IPW treated the whole thing like a joke. Still, there’s always next week, as the build to that 5-on-5 IPW vs. Defiant match continues… for whatever is on the line there.