A week on from Lights Out, Defiant returned to Newcastle for a “Road to…” show, as they built up to April’s No Regrets.

Defiant posted this in three parts on YouTube, but we’re watching the all-in-one edit, for those wondering what’s going on. The show opened with recaps from Lights Out, including David Starr’s challenge to WALTER, and Gabriel Kidd’s muted heel turn, and it’s like they’re treating this as their weekly TV show, as there’s no special opening for this. Travis Banks comes out first to join commentary for the opener, and my word, the hard camera feels a little higher than usual here.

David Starr vs. WALTER
Oh hey, we’re opening with a banger – it’s pinfall and submission only, with no rope breaks… and the winner gets a shot at Travis Banks. I thought that Lights Out was for the shot at Banks’ belt?

We open with Starr taking WALTER into the corner, but the Austrian escapes and swings for a chop… only for Starr to escape. It’s a tentative opening as WALTER took Starr down with ease, and lifted him too, placing him on the apron with ease from a gutwrench. Starr finally snaps with some chops and right hands, taking WALTER into the corner, before tripping him up off the ropes… but you know what’s coming up.

CH… no, it’s ducked, as Starr comes back with a Thesz press, before his hand is kicked away… but he does manage to knock WALTER to the outside for a tope. This is a better start than usual for Starr, but we know what WALTER’s big equaliser is… but it’s something Starr’s had so many of, he manages to avoid it. They brawl around the ringside area, where WALTER lands an European uppercut before…

CHOP!

An apron powerbomb followed as WALTER took the upper hand, standing on WALTER’s throat as the referee looked to enforce a rope-break. In a match where they don’t count. Nevermind though, as WALTER kept blasting through Starr with slams before wrestling him to the mat, ripping off some KT tape on the shoulder before easily responding to a chop attempt from Starr. WALTER grabs an armbar, and hiptosses him when Starr looked to get free… but the focus remained on the arm inbetween some killer throws, such as a deadlift gutwrench that almost put Starr away. Some spitting from Starr just riled up WALTER for some more chops, with the referee AGAIN trying to enforce a rope break in a match without them. After getting shoved to the outside, Starr mounts another comeback with lariats, but WALTER replies with a chop, then a big boot, before finally getting dropped with a Han Stansen lariat.

Starr tries to follow up with a back elbow, but he’s got to escape a butterfly suplex, then a shotgun dropkick before decking WALTER with a Shining Wizard for a near-fall. Another boot from WALTER led to a rear naked choke as that bloody referee’s trying the rope breaks again, but Starr’s able to get through the ropes and hang WALTER in them to get free… except the Austrian’s right back with a hanging Gojira clutch, only letting go to let Starr drop to the floor to try and win via count-out. The Product beats the count and almost nicked victory with a Code Red, before he’s chopped away as he climbed the ropes, as WALTER dragged him up for an avalanche butterfly suplex.

Starr broke free and leaps over the Austrian, before dumping him awkwardly into the corner with a back body drop, as he tried to steal a win with his feet – legally – on the ropes. WALTER kicked out of that, as Starr got a Product Placement, then a rear naked choke… which WALTER stood up from, before snapmaring free… and he’s straight back in with a shotgun dropkick and a powerbomb for the win. Well, that was good, but tempered a little with some weirdness with the no rope break stuff that the referee was on autopilot for… but hey, Travis Banks vs. WALTER in two promotions, eh? ***¾

WALTER and Travis Banks had a staredown after the match, but WALTER eventually thinks wiser of it and walks off… as that match’ll be taking place at No Regrets.

Drake vs. Amir Jordan
Oh hey, it’s Roxxy using Drake’s music! Except it’s not, it’s Drake using Roxxy’s entrance video. At least he realises the screw-up…

Jordan slingshots his way into the ring… and straight into a knee from Drake before the bell. Ow. Ring bell dot MP3s sounds as Drake charges shoulders into Jordan, but Amir leaps over in the corner and gets a hiptoss out as he had Drake on the ropes… but Drake backdrops him to the floor, and follows out with some clubbing shots. Back inside, Drake whipped Jordan hard into the corner, somehow bloodying him in the process… but that just fired up Jordan into a Flatliner for a near-fall. Amir misses a flying forearm as Drake mounted a comeback, but Jordan’s able to follow up with more forearms and an enziguiri to put Drake down.

Somehow, Drake ends up taking over as he attempted a deadlift suplex from the outside, in, but Jordan escaped and rolled back in with a neckbreaker, before hitting a crossbody off the top for a near-fall. A bridging German from Drake swings the match back the other way, before an Ace crusher from Jordan puts it right back in his favour, as he headed up top again… only to get caught with a nasty lungblower off the top rope as Drake snatched the win. Technically this was alright, but Drake’s awful win-loss record meant that the crowd never bought him as a viable threat. **

Gabriel Kidd comes out with a microphone, as he’d been ordered to explain his actions at Lights Out. Kidd just sits in the ring, tossing the microphone aside as the crowd lightly booed him. Eventually Prince Ameen’s music hits, but Kidd doesn’t care as his former friend appears to explain to us what happened… and it seems Ameen is happy about it because his teachings were put into practise. Ameen wants a hug, and tries to rub Kidd’s ego by reminding him he beat Cody Rhodes for the Internet title, before bowing down to him. Yeah, Kidd just punts him in the head, but save for one guy, nobody cares as Kidd beats down Ameen on the outside, throwing chairs and whatever he can find his way.

This bit went on a little too long, and even Kidd whacking ring crew with chairs couldn’t draw much response. They ended up back in the ring where Ameen’s whacked with his scarf, before Martin Kirby comes out to stop things, prompting Kidd to just walk away.

Nathan Cruz vs. Justin Sysum
The winner of this gets into the No Regrets rumble in April… Cruz is out with the brand new NGW title belt, which on current form will reach TV by the end of 2018… he gets a mixed reaction as he tells the crowd that he doesn’t see this as a big opportunity – it’s another date in the calendar for a guy who appears on TV.

I think this was the first time NGW was plastered over Defiant, and we start with Cruz taking a shoulder block from Sysum, before a hiptoss is blocked and met in kind. There’s a nice sequence of leapfrogs from Sysum, who nails Cruz with a dropkick for a near-fall as the NGW champion was literally on the ropes. A back body drop takes Cruz down, but he’s right back as he throws Sysum to the floor… but the Hammer skins the cat and takes Cruz outside with headscissors. Sysum drags Cruz back inside, but a hotshot quickly turns the tables as Cruz nails the Thanks Tully slingshot back supled for a near-fall.

Just before Sysum tried a comeback, James R. Kennedy on commentary was joking about how Cruz could tweet “I am in Control”. Wasn’t that an old NGW stable that he fought against?  Nevermind, a leaping knee nearly puts Sysum away as this crowd barely made a peep here, with a back elbow off the ropes from the Hammer barely eliciting a cheer. Cruz pushes away a Stinger splash from Sysum, but out of nowhere Sysum clocks Cruz with a superkick, before catching him with clotheslines as the NGW champion was again on the back foot. After leaping over Cruz in the corner, Sysum gets off an Exploder suplex, before the pair teased their finishing moves until a Fisherman’s suplex almost won the match for Sysum.

For some reason Sysum went up top, but Cruz uses the ref as a human shield, before trying to roll up Sysum with his feet on the ropes. It’s easily spotted by the ref, who remonstrated with Cruz… but Cruz’s attempt to send Sysum to the outside was quickly met with a spear from the floor to the ring from the big guy. As Sysum measured up for the finish, Cruz ripped off a turnbuckle pad, and with the referee distracted trying to fix it, Cruz gets a low blow and a lungblower for a near-fall. Cruz tries to finish off Sysum with a superplex, but it’s fought off as Sysum proceeded to crash and burn with a 450 splash, as Cruz followed in with Show Stolen for the near-fall.

Cruz grabs a chair and his NGW title belt for… reasons. The chair’s just a distraction as Cruz went for a belt shot, but Sysum kicks Cruz low as the ref was distracted, before hitting a 450 splash for the win. Turnabout is fair play and all that! This was a pretty long match for both guy’s debuts – but I’d dare say they’d be able to do this match elsewhere to better reactions. Defiant can be a tough crowd… ***

We see the finish from the Kirby/Dunne match at Lights Out, then the finish to the Magnificent Seven match as Rampage instantly named his cash-in. Is this going to lead to a match and interference?

No Fun Dunne vs. Chris Brookes
Nope – it’s Dunne vs. Brookes… so why the Rampage clip?

Dunne teases a megaphone shot at the bell, but instead he uses it to express himself giving and receiving submission attempts. It’s a nice wrinkle to the act, making the character a little more comedic as his woe from a wet willie was made loud and clear to us all. Eventually referee Steve Lynskey removes the megaphone, then counts a near-fall as Brookes got a near-fall from a roll-up… and my word, that turnbuckle pad hasn’t been fixed from the Cruz match. Not to worry, Brookes takes the match outside as he stomps on Dunne’s head in the apron, before falling for the false alarm enziguiri as Dunne almost took the win.

Dunne whips Brookes into the corner so hard the megaphone spills to the floor, but Brookes is right back with a dropkick before he was sent onto the apron… where he returns with a slingshot cutter for a near-fall. From there, Brookes nicks a couple of near-falls before booting away another false alarm, as a swinging neckbreaker off the top rope kept those two-counts coming.

Out of nowhere, Dunne tries a springboard lungblower, but Brookes superkicked it away as the pair continued to go back-and-forth, ending with a brainbuster from Brookes for another delayed cover. He goes for the rope-hung neckbreaker again, but Dunne blocks it and hits a spear to turn the tide, before that springboard lungblower was blocked… only for Dunne to reverse the pinning attempt and take home the win. Decent match, dead crowd. This deserves so much better in terms of reaction, but it is what it is. **¾

Stevie Aaron’s back with a contract signing – as Rampage puts pen to paper for his title shot. I don’t recall this being a thing for Magnificent Seven winners… so I’m instantly calling shenanigans, especially as that Magnificent Seven briefcase is on a table. There’s a hideous pun from Aaron that’s rightfully ignored by the crowd, before they went to sign the contract… except it’s not in the briefcase.

El Ligero’s music hits, and he comes out, having hidden the contract in his trunks. Since he can’t talk, this turns into a fight for the contract, with Ligero trying – and failing – to attack Rampage with a chair and all manner of plunder. After spitting water on Rampage and superkicking the ring crew, Ligero gets another chair… but this entire segment is barely drawing a reaction. At least until Rampage tried to press slam Ligero into the crowd, before he Beel’s the masked man into a conveniently placed trio of guys in Defiant merch behind the railings.

Finally they make it to the ring, so I guess this is a match?

Rampage vs. El Ligero
Rampage spots the table immediately, but Steve Lynskey threatens to DQ Rampage if he used the table.

Rampage tosses the table outside immediately, then proceeded to wipe out Ligero with a slam out of his leapfrog attempt at the crowd finally made noise. A back body drop takes Ligero out of the corner, but Ligero spits at Rampage, prompting another angry outburst from Rampage… For some reason Ligero kicks the referee low, before taking Rampage outside for a ‘rana into the guard rails. Plunder comes into force as Ligero uses a chair, taking the fight into the crowd, by way of a jump off the stage with another ‘rana. Now Ligero’s calling for a second referee as he tried to get the win with a count-out… of course, Rampage beats the count, so Ligero punches out the ref.

Rampage fires back with a spinebuster, but of course there’s no ref, so he just goes back after Ligero with a backbreaker. That turnbuckle is still wonky from two matches ago, for those keeping score. Ligero tries to counter out of a pieldriver and hit a low blow, but that’s’ blocked… so he goes for the briefcase and clocks Rampage with it, before hitting a Mexican Wave splash.

After grabbing a referee, Ligero gets a near-fall, before bulling the referee… Lynskey shoves back, as Ligero falls into a piledriver for a near-fall, as Rampage pulls him up at two. A second piledriver does the trick, as Rampage walks away with the win. This was perhaps a little on the overbooked side, but I got the sense that the crowd were more disappointed that they didn’t see a table spot more than anything else. **¾

Post-match, Rampage gets the contract that had been retrieved from Ligero, and signed it on his chest for good measure.

They run through the card for No Regrets on April 28:

Defiant Championship: Rampage vs. Austin Aries (c)
Defiant Internet Championship: WALTER vs. Travis Banks (c)
Martin Kirby vs. No Fun Dunne
No Regrets Rumble for a Defiant Championship shot

Gabriel Kidd vs. Martin Kirby
Gabriel Kidd comes back out to silence, since he didn’t like the music Prince Ameen’d gotten him before. This is a follow-up to earlier in the show, where Kirby saved Ameen from Kidd’s beating.

Kidd puts the boots to Kirby from the off, before throwing Kirby outside for a spot of brawling around ringside. Back inside, Kirby mounts a comeback with some headscissors, but he’s cut-off by Kidd, who’s back in with chops as the crowd started to get behind Kirby. It sort-of works as a low dropkick got Kirby in it, but Kidd’s right back on him with a shoulder block.

Eventually Kirby gets free with a facebuster of sorts, but a charge into the corner’s stopped with a big boot for a near-fall from Kidd. Gabe tries another charge into the corner, but Kirby escapes it… before his attempt to climb the ropes saw him shoved off into the commentary table. Some chops there keep Kirby on the defensive, as do some thudding slams on the floor, before he’s taken back in for a chinlock from Kidd.

Kirby fights free, and blocks some charges from Kidd with a boot and a dropkick, before taking him down with a nice Slingblade. A Sable bomb’s called for, but Kidd blocks it, then takes him into the corner with some chops, only for Kirby to escape again, landing a rolling neckbreaker for a near-fall. A waistlock takedown from Kidd gets him a near-fall, as he rolls outside to rearrange some furniture at ringside.

Ah, it’s because he’s teasing a superplex to the floor on Kirby. Of course, Kirby fights free, only to get taken down with a lariat. Kidd’s toying with Kirby as he’s in a heap, before finishing him off with a side slam. That… was anticlimactic. There’s something to be said for hot crowds, but whether it’s the match they saw or the characters, the fact that the crowd’s jeering of Gabriel Kidd was left away from the match says a lot. **½

More Lights Out clips, featuring Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins getting distracted by Primate’s mask… then clips of Millie McKenzie defending her women’s title and Aussie Open winning the tag titles.

Defiant Women’s Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Millie McKenzie (c)
A rematch from Chain Reaction in February, we started out with Kay Lee going for an early small package, before running into a forearm as the early tit-for-tat got going.

McKenzie tried Kay Lee Ray’s own Gory Bomb on her, but it’s escaped as we’re back to the forearms, before Millie switched it up with an armdrag. A German suplex is avoided by Ray, who throws a chop before she’s eventually taken into the corner with a German suplex… but she’s right back out with a superkick. Another Gory Bomb attempt, this time from Ray, ends with her backdropping Millie away before she slid into a Koji clutch, right by the ropes, as a rope break’s quickly called. An Octopus stretch from Millie ends with Kay Lee escaping and slapping her… but it just prompts more shots from McKenzie, whose attempt at a Code Red gets caught and turned into a Gory Bomb.

Somehow, Millie kicks out, before she popped up from a German suplex… just so she can deliver some more of her own… but that third one’s shrugged off as Kay Lee comes back in with superkicks, prompting a reverse rana as both women ended up crumpling to the mat. Kay Lee rolls to the outside, but she’s able to block a dive from McKenzie, using her forearm to good effect, before swinging around the ring post with a 619-like kick to Millie on the floor. They end up on the apron, where Kay Lee teases a suplex, only to get dumped with a Destroyer on the apron for the win. Well, thumbs up for something on the apron actually winning a match, and it was just about the only thing this crowd actually reacted to. **¾

Defiant Tag Team Championship: Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins vs. BT Gunn & Joe Coffey vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) (c)
A rematch from Lights Out, but we’ve a jump start as Coffey and Gunn attack Havoc and Haskins from behind. Much like Lights Out, Aussie Open aren’t in the ring when the match starts!

They appear in the aisle as Havoc and Haskins tried to powder, and they’re a part of the sandwich as Gunn and Coffey leapt onto them on the floor. Finally the bell goes as Fletcher and Haskins went at it, with the later eating a stomp to the back before Havoc charges into a spinning back suplex from Davis. It’s all one-way traffic for the champions, at least until Gunn and Coffey get involved, nailing Fletcher with a hiptoss knee before a wheelbarrow giant swing had the Aussie dizzy.

Haskins and Havoc return to target Coffey, then Gunn, as commentary nonchalantly dropped in how Havoc “ended Primate’s career.” I’m hoping that’s not the last they’ll mention that on this show (and yes, I know Defiant uploaded the retirement segment separately). Fletcher’s back in to take out Haskins with a Michinoku driver, before a spinning poke to the eye from Havoc keeps the Parade going, as we got chops from Havoc, Coffey and Davis. Guess who lost out there?

Havoc ate a one-handed powerbomb from Davis, who then got popped up into a slam by Coffey. On the outside, we see Havoc throwing a chair to someone as everyone’s brawling on the floor, leading to BT Gunn swinging a chair against the ringpost as he aimed for Havoc. Another missed chair shot, this time from Davis, puts him in trouble as Haskins proceeded to boot him and Gunn out of some chairs at ringside.

Finally in the ring, the revolving door effect continues, ending with Gunn taking a blatant low blow from Havoc , whose attempt at a double eye poke to Aussie Open ended with him taking a double-team sit-out spinebuster instead. Haskins tries to make a save, but takes an assisted cutter as the Scotsmen broke up the cover, and we wash, rinse, repeat on that cycle. A bridging German suplex almost ended things, but Jimmy Havoc pulls out the referee before BT Gunn wiped out Havoc and himself with a tope… but that just clears the ring as Coffey’s alone against Aussie Open. The Fidget Spinner would have won the match, but replacement ref Steve Lynskey doesn’t arrive in time and the pin’s broken up anyway.

Haskins teases a death valley driver to Fletcher on the apron, but it’s stopped as Davis and Gunn end up out there instead, only for Jimmy Havoc to dropkick them off the apron as they turned their sights to Coffey, quickly finishing him off with a joint Acid Rainmaker/head kick for the win. We have new champions, and we’re back to Jimmy Havoc as a dual champion. This was a typical three-way tag, but the flat crowd didn’t help matters much, in spite of all the craziness. ***¼

The show ends with Primate being introduced to the ring… and it’s not good news. He’s given the microphone, and yes, he can talk, albeit with some strain thanks to recent surgery on his jaw. He recounted how he was originally hired for WCPW, with a little help from Stevie Aaron redirecting him towards the hard camera, and everything that happened inbetween. He credited a hardcore match against Rampage as being the match that solidified him as a character in Defiant – and on the scene in general.

Talk then turned to an in-ring accident that messed up Primate’s jaw, which led to him showing the crowd the X-ray of his jaw, before he revealed that his first post-surgery update brought some bad news: his jaw was in such a state, that one bad bump would lead to his jaw shattered, so he was having to call it a day. The locker room emptied out as you could see several in the crowd welling up – as well as the wrestlers themselves. It was a fine, emotional send-off for someone whose career was derailed at the worst possible moment.

That being said, Road to No Regrets was a bit of a weird show – if you watched it as the weekly episodes on YouTube, then it probably didn’t come across too badly. “Binge watching” it via Access Defiant put it in a different light – two matches on the same show with similar ref bumps, and countless matches that were fine in the ring but just fell flat. It’s becoming too commonplace within Defiant, especially since their rebrand, as the quality of the matches has increased… while crowd responses have not. I don’t know if it’s bad mic’ing, or what, but if this is the norm, perhaps it might be an idea to slyly pipe in some noise in post production. As long as it’s not the looping kids from NGW!