Title changes, new management and a fun-packed Rumble highlighted Defiant’s return to Newcastle for No Regrets.

We’re inside Newcastle’s Domain for the second annual No Regrets. Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are eventually on commentary, with the latter looking like a bootleg Michael Cole with that soul patch.

Last Woman Standing for Defiant Wrestling Women’s Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Millie McKenzie (c)
We’re starting with a last woman standing match, complete with a time limit… although I doubt we’ll need one.

From the opening handshake, we’re all about the strikes, but Kay Lee goes in for a Gory Bomb early… before trying for a cover. At least Steve Lynskey’s been around the block long enough to know when to not default to a “normal match”! Millie’s straight back up with German suplexes and a low dropkick, only to get caught with a superkick before both women crashed into each other on duelling crossbody attempts.

Kay Lee ends up on the apron… but gets shoulder charged to the floor as the pair brawled around ringside, leading to Millie taking a Gory Bomb into the guard rails. An Irish whip into the same railings came as a receipt, but we’re already dealing with a flat crowd… a flat crowd that the pair ended up in, as Millie was whipped into some chairs as the camera crew struggled to keep up.

Millie’s revenge came by way of a suplex onto the floor, as this became a Fight Club: Pro special… with the camera just about catching Millie spearing Kay Lee in the crowd… who deserved individual spears as they MOOSE’d up the count. A Canadian Destroyer onto the stage gets countered into a back body drop, before Millie returned the favour, landing a monkey flip onto the steps, but Kay Lee’s got fight left in her… which is quickly snuffed out after a Canadian Destroyer onto the ring apron.

Unlike last time though, Kay Lee’s able to beat the count, before she’s met with a tope as Millie crashed into her before heading back inside for more German suplexes. A superkick looked to offer some feint hope, but Kay Lee’s able to sneak in a Gory bomb too. That doesn’t get the ten count as Millie’s back up, countering a superplex attempt with an avalanche destroyer… and with Kay Lee Ray falling down at the count of nine, that’s ruled the finish. So a disputed finish means we’ll probably get another rematch… this was fine, but I can really live in a world without crowd brawling. ***

Defiant Internet Championship: WALTER vs. Travis Banks (c)
The first of two weekends in a row these two will be fighting for a title, but WALTER’s already got one, in the form of the PWG title.

The crowd was relatively hot for this one, with Banks being the first person to try a chop as he knew he had to stick and move… but you know how that goes. After a leapfrog, Banks’ dropkick succeeds at the second attempt, sending WALTER outside for a low-pe, before he’s thrown back into the ring. Banks tries for a Slice of Heaven, but it’s caught and turned around into a Boston crab as Banks was forced into the ropes, before WALTER pulled off a slam with ease. An elbow misses as Banks tries to throw some kicks and then… der Ringgeneral geht CHOP!

Another slam and elbow drop gets a near-fall for WALTER, who kept up with chops, before he smashed Banks against the apron with a back suplex. Banks gets press slammed through the ropes and back inside, as WALTER nonchalantly worked over him, throwing even more chops as he tried to cut the Kiwi in half en route to a win.

Banks tried to mount a comeback, but just as quickly gets cut off with a gutwrench powerbomb before going back to them there chops. WALTER keeps up with a Gojira clutch, but a rope break just turns it into a RINGKAMPF butterfly suplex as this was looking to be an exhibition… but then Banks avoids a charge into the corner and mounts a comeback, tripping WALTER ahead of a cannonball, then a shotgun dropkick… but WALTER replied in kind with greater force.

The match descends into duelling chops, before a slap from WALTER almost led to the end… but Banks somehow escaped a Gojira clutch and rushes in with a Slice of Heaven for a near-fall. WALTER shoves away from a Kiwi Krusher and goes for a powerbomb, but Banks wheelbarrows it for a near-fall, before some superkicks get cut-off with a lariat as WALTER kept racking up those two-counts.

WALTER goes for the powerbomb again, but this time Banks counters into a DDT and a Lion’s Clutch… but WALTER rolls through and gets the powerbomb off anyway for a near-fall. Back to the Gojira clutch, as WALTER drags Banks to the mat… but the Kiwi holds on and pushes back so hard that WALTER’s shoulders are on the mat, and the referee counts the three, despite Banks tapping like a drunk at a bar at two! The referee calls for the bell, with WALTER thinking he won via tap-out, but this is declared a draw. I call shenanigans. This was a decent little match, but that finish was off – and that’s a couple of disputed finishes for WALTER here in Defiant. ***½

We quickly cut from there to Joe Hendry backstage, back in Defiant after his Commonwealth Games campaign. He throws t-shirts to two members of security, and talks them into taking an opportunity. It seems that Leon Mercer and Stan Kellitt were pleased with those tees…

No Fun Dunne vs. Martin Kirby
Kirby does the Ultimate Warrior laps of honour around the ring for so long his music actually stopped. Good job it’s not looped longer!

Kirby plays mind games early on, only to get charged down with a shoulder block… but that keeps him on the mat as he tried to roll up Dunne for a pin, as Kirby made a comeback with a delayed suplex… into an eye poke. Dunne’s receipt for that is to Hot Shot Kirby into the ropes and resume the beatdown, but Kirby’s able to hit a dropkick to take Dunne to the outside for…

…not a dive, as Kirby rolled outside and rolled on the apron into some headscissors on the floor! Back inside, Dunne’s right back in it with an old school backbreaker for a near-fall, before his front facelock’s pushed away, giving Kirby a chance to mount another comeback with what I swore used to be called flying burritos. A Slingblade’s in next, as was the old Edge-o-Matic, but Dunne’s straight back with a springboard backcracker to almost win the match… although the crowd didn’t seem to give a crap.

A slingshot lungblower attempt follows, but Kirby avoids it… then ducks a false alarm enziguiri before a Rocker Dropper put Dunne down for a Zoidberg Elbow. Yeah, it doesn’t hit, but Kirby’s false alarm enziguiri sure did, seemingly hurting his knee in the process, leaving him vulnerable for a springboard lungblower for the win. That’s another win for Dunne, but the crowd don’t seem to be buying into him… but the big story coming out of this was Kirby’s apparent knee injury… something that commentary played up way so big, so quickly, that I smelled a rat. **¾

Defiant Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins (c)
It’s a one-on-one rematch for Aussie Open, whose run with the titles wasn’t exactly stellar, let’s be fair. Winning it “as a gift” then losing it last time out…

We started with Jimmy Havoc trying to poke Mark Davis in the eyes… and instead he gets some high fives for good measure, before turning an eye poke back onto Dunkzilla. It seemed eye rakes was all Havoc could do early on, as he scurried to tag in Mark Haskins for plan B, which seemed to involve Jimmy having a beer.

Once Jimmy had slaked his thirst, we were underway again with Fletcher swerving a kick from Haskins before getting punched out as those two went back and forth… until Haskins threw Fletcher outside for a snap suplex on the floor. From there, there’s some liberal double-teaming as Fletcher’s put into a chair for a pair of pump kicks, before he was returned to the ring for… an eye poke. Fletcher’s attempt to tag out to Davis was becoming rather more desperate, not helped by Haskins continual wearing down of the Aussie Arrow with a modified STF. Finally Fletcher breaks free of the double teaming, only to get kicked some more… as he stomped onto Haskins, only for Havoc to pull down Davis in the nick of time.

Out of nowhere, Fletcher hits a Michinoku Driver on Havoc, finally getting the chance to tag in Davis, who charged through the champions single-handedly. A sliding forearm into the corner squashed Havoc and Haskins, as the referee again seemed reluctant to enforce any concept of the legal man. Not to worry, Davis was taking them both on by himself, before Fletcher returned for a double-team cutter for a near-fall.

The Aussie’s double-team spinebuster gets cut-off as Haskins busted out a two-in-one of his own before Jimmy The Eyepoker tagged back in. He’s bleeding from the back of the head as a pair of Rainmakers were turned into eye pokes as that double-team Aussie Spinebuster comes off for a near-fall. A Fidget Spinner’s teased, but Haskins makes a save, only for Fletcher to throw a little superkick party of his own as the ref just gave up on the tag match concept.

A dropkick from Havoc took Fletcher into a German suplex by Haskins for a near-fall, followed by a roll up death valley driver into a powerbomb as the champions kept on with the double-teams. The momentum keeps swinging back-and-forth, with Davis eating dropkicks in the corner, before another Havoc death valley driver and a Haskins PK left Dunkzilla down and out. Fletcher gets targeted next, only to escape a double-team Rainmaker and catch Havoc with a backslide for the win! This was a nice fire-y tag match… it lost its way a little when tags were thrown out of the window, but the hot potato that is the Defiant tag team championship switches hands once more. ***¼

In the last match commentary told us that there’ll be an Internet title defence on their next show in Sheffield, with Travis Banks defending against WALTER and Zack Sabre Jr. ZSJ had been champion but was forced to vacate it because Defiant couldn’t get enough dates for him… making Banks an interim champion depending on commentary’s mood at the time. Perhaps that Internet champion is becoming for “internet fans”?

A promo package plays for the Defiant title match… at least it was more than just clips thrown together, which makes a change from some of the older packages they had. Defiant GM Stu Bennett’s out to provide commentary for the next match, just to show they’d flown him out. He was rather happy with that guy with the original Nexus t-shirt…

Defiant Championship: Rampage vs. Austin Aries (c)
Sweet jesus, how many belts DOES Aries have? Five. It’s five, although there’s one missing that he’s won in real time but not in TV time. That hadn’t stopped him before though…

This was Rampage’s latest crack at the title, having been in and around the title picture since the company’s inception. He was geed up for this, shoving Aries down at the bell as the champion was already scurrying for cover, before he tried to use his speed and agility to try and get past Rampage. A quick dropkick put Rampage on the mat, but the challenger was quick to throw chops as Aries again begged off… and returned into a knuckle lock as his test of strength attempt seemed to be a ruse as he took the match outside… but Rampage reverses an Irish whip into the guard rails.

Back inside, Aries sidesteps a charge from Rampage, before he shoves him into the turnbuckles as the challenger had a nasty landing from his attempt to climb the ropes. From there, Aries beat down Rampage, culminating in an old school back rake for just a one-count as he seemed to be getting rather nonchalant in his attacks. A top rope elbow gets a near-fall for Aries, who went straight to the back rakes, only to get some back as a receipt as Rampage began a fightback, whipping the champion into the turnbuckles.

Rampage keeps up with a flying shoulder tackle, but he’s going for the piledriver too early as he has to make do with a back suplex to get a two-count. Another piledriver attempt is escaped as Aries came back with a bell clapper, sending Rampage tumbling out of the ring for a low-pe into the railings. A neckbreaker in the ropes keeps Aries ahead, but he runs into trouble as some boots from Rampage almost caused a title change.

Aries keeps blocking those piledrivers though, before dumping Rampage onto the apron with a death valley driver. That’s followed up with the Last Chancery, but Rampage is able to get a foot to the ropes… so Aries head out and grabs his title belt, teasing a DQ. Steve Lynskey disarms him, but it’s just a cover for a low blow as Aries nails a brainbuster… and that’s the win! Except it’s not, because Stu Bennett gets up from commentary and orders a restart!

Aries is distracted arguing with Bennett and falls into a small package for a near-fall, before an eye poke and a rolling elbow had Rampage on the ropes and in the corner for a dropkick… but Aries gets cocky and goes for a brainbuster which gets reversed, before Rampage’s piledriver gets the win! I could have lived without the restart because controversial finish and all that, but this was a good title match, with Aries’ arrogance eventually costing him. My only quibble was that with this not being the main event of the show, it didn’t feel as big a deal as it perhaps should have been… ***¼

After the match, Aries collects the rest of his title belts like you’d see someone scrambling to pick up a pile of papers they’ve dropped, while Bennett gets in the ring and straps the belt onto Rampage, before putting him over with something resembling a coronation speech.

Rampage exits stage left as Bennett has one “final” bit of business to do. It’s to do with his future, as he feels like he’s successfully guided Defiant from the turbulence that came following the departure of his predecessor and all of the messiness there, and the whole IPW invasion. Bennett names a new GM: Primate. Or, since I guess you have to use your real name here: Jay Melrose.

Sweet, Defiant is now Melrose Place!

Yeah, I had to get that pun in.

Primate/Melrose was put over as someone who’d be capable since he’s held in high regard, although if my knowledge of bald wrestlers with big ginger beards is anything to go by, it’ll not be long before Melrose becomes “Uncle Albert” if/when he turns bad. It’s a nice touch to keep the former Primate in and around the picture after his retirement.

No Regrets Rumble
In the interests of my sanity, having seen two Rumble matches in as many days, I’m not going blow-for-blow here. Unlike last year, where Drew Galloway had put his title on the line (eventually losing to Martin Kirby in a match that included varied luminaries as Rockstar Spud, Adam Pacitti, Zack Gibson, Rey Mysterio and various El Ligeros), this was just for a shot at the Defiant title at the next big show, Built to Destroy.

Your entrants, in order: Joe Hendry, David Starr, Team Hendry (Stan Kellett & Leon Mercer), WALTER, Millie McKenzie, Chris Brookes, Prince Ameen, Jack Sexsmith, Travis Banks, Amir Jordan, No Fun Dunne, TK Cooper, Lana Austin, Doug Williams, Simon Miller, Gabriel Kidd, Justin Sysum, Drake, Mark Davis, Little Miss Roxxy, Inflatable Lykos, Mark Haskins, El Ligero, Kay Lee Ray, Alex Gracie, Lucas Archer, Kyle Fletcher, Jimmy Havoc, Martin Kirby, El Ligero. Spot some surprises in there?

Unlike WWE’s Oil Rumble, this featured a lot of double duties, with everyone who’d already appeared bar Aries and Rampage having appeared here. We saw debuts for Jack Sexsmith (complete with his Divinyls song), TK Cooper (who may well be one of the smartest men on the British scene, since the work he did to keep “Keep It 100” now has him one of the most recognisable songs in a sea of rather vanilla copyright-friendly themes).

Oh, we also had the much vaunted debut of Simon Miller. Perhaps best known for his videos at WhatCulture and various video gaming sites, this was Miller’s debut following many months of training. The debut got one of the loudest reactions of the night, for sure, but I’m not too sure whether “slimmed down Ryback” was the intended look, with the head slapping and brick-wall themed singlet. His first elimination came with a pinfall over Jack Sexsmith, by the way, with a running sit-out slam. I wasn’t too thrilled with that given what’s on Sexsmith’s upcoming dates (and besides, isn’t that what the likes of Drake, Alex Gracie and the rest of the lower card is there for?). Aside from that though, Miller didn’t look too bad on his debut, and if this is to be a regular gig, then his training will set him in good stead before Drake eventually eliminated him. Just make sure you’re getting two pay packets from WhatCulture for this!

Joe Hendry was out first, threatening “less wrestling and more talking”. Well, stick to what gets the reactions, eh? David Starr was out at two, but was quickly overwhelmed at the entry of “number three” – “Team Hendry” – a pair of goons whom Hendry had paid off earlier in the night. You may recognise them as a right rogues gallery… when WALTER appeared, Hendry powdered out of the match to hide on commentary, a la his performance in the Magnificent Seven match, but after WALTER chopped his way through the Rogues, his eventual elimination came courtesy of the least likely individual.

David Starr. It wasn’t a pinfall or submission, but Starr threw WALTER out over the top, in what was the nearest thing he’s gotten yet to a singles win over der Ringgeneral, who had quite the mouthwatering staredown with Millie McKenzie of all people here. The ring slowly filled, with Ameen being careful not to faceplant himself, before Amir Jordan came out for a dance-off… which had to be ruined by No Fun Dunne. Joy!

We had interactions between Gabriel Kidd and Prince Ameen, no matter how brief, while the South Pacific Power Trip reunited, as did Prospect, since Alex Gracie and Lucas Archer drew successive numbers. Inflatable Lykos came out, complete with a guy in a black body suit controlling him, and yes, the joke got over here too, with Lykos eliminating Mark Davis courtesy of headscissors, before Mark Haskins beheaded the blow-up wolf with scissors. El Ligero did double duty too, returning to save us all from Joe Hendry’s commentary, before the Prestige leader ended up eliminating his team-mate… who walked away without accepting a handshake, before returning as the final entrant – Original El Ligero!

The final four ended up being Hendry, Ligero, Starr and Kirby… Starr thought he’d gotten rid of Hendry, but ended up tapping to the Hendry Lock as number two was forced to tap to number one after an hour… although one of them had actually wrestled a whole match! Kirby, still with his bad knee from earlier, was worn down by his sometimes Project Lucha partner Ligero, but managed to sneak in a Sable Bomb to leave us with Hendry and Kirby…

Of course Hendry went straight for the knee, and looked to win with a Freak of Nature, except Kirby kicks out. Another Freak of Nature’s attempted, then escaped, as Kirby ducks under a charging Hendry to back body drop him to the floor… and Kirby’s repeated as he picks up successive No Regret Rumble wins! A long match, as Rumbles tend to be, but this was fine – although in the bigger picture, having your next top challenger have a bum knee and a history of head injuries would have been iffy, were it not for David Starr returning to sneak attack Rampage, as I guess… three-way feud? **¾

The replay cuts off early so we’ll have to wait and see what happened next! It’s a bit of an abrupt ending to a show that was trending on the good side, without breaking through into the proverbial “next level”. In the last little while, Defiant seem to have changed their schedule, dropping weekly TV shows in favour of standalone events. The “Road to No Regrets” was one such event, that was sliced up into three parts for YouTube, and with no shows even on the books until May 28th’s Road to Destruction in Sheffield, that’s going to leave the company dark for the better part of a month. Whether that’s a good idea or not remains to be seen, but if we’re moving away from regular, episodic TV to a show-to-show format, then so be it.

Hopefully whatever changes we have will be positive, as the last few shows have been notably held in front of crowds of middling sizes and atmospheres – and as anyone will tell you, any televised product that’s low on crowd reactions will become a barrier to generating buzz, no matter how good the in-ring is.