After a couple of months off, the former WCPW returned on Monday night as Defiant Wrestling. Here’s how their first show back went down.

It’s a bold move, running in Newcastle with a red and white colour scheme, I must say! First thoughts were “it’s the same layout with a new coat of paint”, since the to-camera stuff with the commentators was still super-dark.

The show opened with Stu Bennett coming out. He’d promised that someone new had signed to be part of Defiant, but first, he has the new Defiant title belt. Secretly, someone’s hoping they go all Impact and just put stickers on the old strap… Stu’s microphone doesn’t sound like it’s on, and eventually he invites out Marty Scurll to receive his new belt.

The lights go out as soon as Marty tries to speak, and we have our new signee – it’s Austin Aries! Aries said he was “meant to be exclusive to IPW:UK”, and I can barely make out what he’s saying. Acoustics! They eventually get into a shoving match, before Scurll walks away. I just wish I could hear these promos… Stu’s got something else for Austin… it’s a six-month contract for him. I thought that was already signed, per the YouTube teases?

We’re taken outside next as Primate is taking a belt sander to the old WCPW Hardcore title. It drowns out the promo, but I still heard more than the in-ring stuff we just had. They almost loop it again, but we’re quickly cut back to the commentary team. Hey, that’s a cool thing – hardcore titles should never be pristine title belts, and having it be the “old belt, just with the logo sanded off” is a great aesthetic.

South Coast Connection (Ashley Dunn & Kelly Sixx) vs. BT Gunn & Joe Coffey
The winners get a shot at Primate and Jimmy Havoc’s tag titles. The pairing of Gunn and Coffey came out without any hint of their Prestige past, save for the fact the two of them used to be in it.

Dunn and Sixx have dropped their long tights, and it seems all four men here are meant to be good guys. The South Coasters are certainly more flippy, but Coffey’s busting out the power with a Tyler Bate-ish Giant Swing/Airplane Spin combo, and it’s the former Prestige pairing who are on the up and up, at least until Sixx wheelbarrow’d Coffey into the middle turnbuckle.

Gunn comes in with a slingshot flatliner for a near-fall, before Ashley Dunn hits the ring again with a springboard elbow to Gunn… who brings in Coffey for a wheelbarrow giant swing instead. Sixx comes in for a chop battle with Gunn, but he doesn’t relent, managing to give BT a uranage into a backcracker to keep the momentum a-swinging. In the end, a double-jump crossbody gets Coffey the win to end a pretty decent pre-show match… I say that, but after a long diet of New Japan’s World Tag League, this was a breath of fresh air. ***

So yeah, when did Gunn and Coffey really turn? They shook hands with Dunn and Sixx afterwards, solidifying they’re the good guys. Yay for phantom turns!

We open the iPPV proper with a video package summarising the storylines at the end of WCPW, splicing in how/why Martin Kirby’s getting a title shot tonight (because Will Ospreay’s in Japan).

David Starr vs. Mike Bailey
This is the second in their best-of-three series for a shot at Zack Sabre Jr’s Internet title… Bailey’s already a match up, having won at Refuse to Lose two months ago, and in the entrances David Starr almost gets a new nickname as Stevie Aaron stumbles over “Mr. Americanrana”, nearly calling “The Product” “Mr Man”. That’d be an interesting kid’s book…

Speaking of interesting, we’ve got Steve Lynskey as referee here – broken arm and all!

From the off, commentary was painting Starr in a rather different light, showing him as a little more conceited and heelish, kinda like how he’s going in Rev Pro (and how he is in AAW in the States). Starr took the fight to Bailey from the off, starting the match outside the ring, and managed to hit a nice tope into the aisle… which Bailey returned with a baseball slide dropkick an Asai moonsault to boot.

Back in the ring, the match remained keenly-fought, with Starr getting a near-fall out of the inverted tiltawhirl slam, before shoving away a kick attempt as the Product seemed to have Speedball’s number. At least until Bailey was able to bust out his kicks, sending Starr staggering into the corner, but it’s not long before we get a series of indyriffic pins, which might well have been a rib on the ref.

Bailey eventually breaks up the pattern and plants some moonsault knees into Starr, whose lariat in reply was quickly met with a diving kick as both men were left laying. From the restart Cherry Mint DDT on the apron’s blocked as Bailey instead tried to drop Starr with moonsault knees on the apron – and came up short – with Starr instead landing a Product Recall Flatliner in the ropes as Starr wanted to get a count-out.

Feck off with the Moose chants, he’s not even here!

Bailey beat the count, so Starr keeps working on the leg in a bid to force a referee stoppage, before turning Speedball into the modified Sharpshooter. David, you need to give this a name or else we’re gonna have to keep calling it the Edgucator, and nobody wants that. Not even Edge!

After Bailey got the ropes, Starr teased a trapped-leg Product Placement, before running into a moonsault slam as he then countered out with a Blackheart Buster to keep his chances alive. Starr even removes Bailey’s kickpad to try and lessen the blow of those kicks, but it didn’t work as Bailey swung and gutted through it, eventually drilling Starr with shooting star knees off the top for the win. Well then, I wasn’t expecting the series to end after two matches! A fantastic match to open the show – and this wasn’t overly kick-heavy either, so win-win-win on all fronts! ***¾

After the match, Starr throws a temper tantrum, looking like an angry Bluto in the middle of the ring.

Next up, we had a sermon from the Pastor William Eaver. The scheduled match between him and Moose was off because Moose is in Japan… and long story short, he’s interrupted by Prince Ameen, who notes that this is a repeat of his gimmick from the start of WCPW. So, we’re calling out copy/paste now, eh? Ameen offers Gabriel Kidd for the match as a replacement, under the same rules as before: Liam Slater’s still the guest ref, and if Eaver wins, Slater “joins him”. If Kidd wins, Liam “joins” Ameen and Kidd… which is a thing.

On a side note, if we’re going to get promos on the stage, that red Defiant video screen needs to go – the animation really distorts the image and makes things hard to watch. Internet video, eh?

Pastor William Eaver vs. Gabriel Kidd
Eaver went for Kidd early on, but the former Internet champion managed to put the brakes onto that as he kicked the Pastor outside. Outside of Ameen leading “Kidd” chants, there was precious little reaction early, at least until Kidd threw himself into a sitting Eaver with a cannonball.

Liam Slater – the referee here – headed outside to try and enforce the rules, but he seemed conflicted or at the very least, unsure in himself. Back in the ring, Eaver uses Slater as a human shield, with Liam again not really sure of what to do. I’d hope that was intentional storyline confliction, rather than a real “deer in the headlights” look.

Eaver fakes out a dive as he largely kept control, building up to the Clothesline from Heaven… but Kidd tries to steal a win with a roll-up as he mounted a comeback. Kidd shakes off an O’Connor roll and DDTs the Pastor for another near-fall, but the momentum shifts again as Eaver hits a Fisherman’s suplex for just a one-count.

Another Clothesline from Heaven attempt is blocked as Kidd fires back with a diving boot… but Slater holds up the count and just stares blankly at a snarling Kidd. With Kidd staring down an apologetic Liam, Eaver takes advantage with the lariat, and a faster count gets him the win. Basic, but it starts the story off, I suppose. **¼

So, it seems they’re doing the Pastor having a cult storyline – similar to what Liam Slater went through with Joseph Conners in NGW. It’ll be interesting to see what this develops into, but Slater badly needs to start expressing himself… and just as I typed that, he snapped, choking Ameen with a t-shirt before the pair hit a double crucifix bomb.

Drake vs. Jurn Simmons
A late addition to the show saw Jurn Simmons make his “proper” debut here, after appearing in the Pro Wrestling World Cup earlier this year. At the end of WCPW, Drake was being established as something more of a threat after repeatedly being cannon fodder… would this continue in Defiant?

Nah.

Jurn’s Viking-like war march is a far cry from his traditional entrance, but you gotta to what you gotta do when you can’t use Slickfist. Drake tries to attack Jurn at the bell, hitting a spinning heel kick off the top rope as the Newcastle crowd seemingly refused to buy into anything from the local lad.

Jurn’s press slam gets him into thing, as does a massive Irish whip into the turnbuckles, but Drake’s able to fight back… even if the crowd don’t play along. A suplex throw gets Jurn back in, but he misses a boot in the corner and gets a neckbreaker out of it, before he tried to wear down Simmons with a Northern lights suplex. Drake slips in a German suplex too, before his flying lungblower’s barely caught and turned into a pair of powerbombs by the Massive one.

All that’s left from there is a piledriver, and the Marquee Player gets the W. This was fine, but there’s always going to be an uphill struggle when the crowd doesn’t get invested. **¼

We cut backstage to a Joe Hendry promo, where he brags about winning the British Senior Championships at his weight class last month. He’s got the medal to prove it… and he complains at how Marty Scurll inserted himself into the match where Hendry lost his title a few months ago. This time Joe’s prepared, so he’s no problem with another triple threat.

Defiant Hardcore Championship: Jimmy Havoc vs. Primate (c)
I absolutely love the sanded-off Hardcore title – although as to whether a Hardcore title needs to be a thing is another question.

This was a battle of the Defiant tag team champions, after they unseated War Machine towards the end of the WCPW run, and rather than start off trading blows… they go to the bar for a drink. Makes sense.

In the ring, Primate slaps the drink out of Jimmy’s hand, which wasn’t a smart idea, especially since Jimmy had a staple gun under his shirt, which he immediately uses. I kinda value my life, so I’m not going to dwell too much on how exposing using a staple gun is on the head of a bald man…

We quickly go to furniture-destroying stuff, with Havoc taking a suplex through a chair before narrowly missing another with a German suplex, and then it’s plunder time. Roasting trays get used over each other’s heads, as do chairs, and finally… a table! That’s not used immediately as Havoc chops the ring post before Primate dumps him crotch-first on the guard railings, as Primate went for – and misses – a baseball bat shot.

Eventually Primate gets thrown into the crowd as the referee took a while to understand what “move” means, and we’re back towards the bar once again, where Primate’s attempt to use the soft drink gun as a weapon doesn’t work. Next it’s towards the stage as Primate evokes memories of last year, climbing up to a platform above the doors, and leaps off onto Havoc below!

Back in the ring, the pair tee off once more, before Primate’s spiked onto the apron with a DDT. The awkward landings intensify as Havoc’s powerbombed through two chairs – which barely budged – before a spear through the table gets Primate the win. This was fine for what it was, especially once you get used to the Hardcore limitations are here. **¾

Defiant Women’s Championship: Veda Scott vs. Kay Lee Ray (c)
This started back in WCPW when Scott attacked Kay Lee Ray at Refuse to Lose – and the following episodes of Loaded in that weird tag match that bundled in David Starr and Mike Bailey. Fortunately, we do have a new Defiant women’s title, and not just the old one with a sticker over it…

Veda jumps Kay Lee before the bell, with Scott looking to beat over the Scot. For some reason the ref starts counting even though the bell didn’t ring, just as Kay Lee hits Veda with a Gory bomb onto the side of the ring.

Finally the match starts, and it nearly ends just as quickly with another Gory bomb before getting trapped in a Koji clutch, but Veda crawled to the ropes in time. A German suplex into the turnbuckles switched things around, with Scott trying for a submission… but she doesn’t get the single-leg crab in deep enough and Kay Lee gets the ropes again.

A reverse Boston crab follows, but again Kay Lee’s too close to the ropes. She mounts a comeback, just about getting off a springboard back elbow, before dumping Veda with a front suplex for a near-fall… but when Veda thought she’d gotten into it again with a Tower of London, Ray hits back with a Koji clutch that almost forced a result.

Scott responds with a back suplex and a crossface as Ray kept looking for the Gory bomb, eventually hitting it for the win. Decent enough as a match, but this lacked a lot of crowd reaction – I guess that’s the side-effect of having two months off, unfortunately. **½

We get a Marty Scurll promo – and close up, that new Defiant belt looks a LOT like the old WCW “big Gold” belt…

El Ligero vs. Travis Banks
In WCPW’s dying days, Travis Banks was kicked out of the Prestige… seemingly for accepting a title match against Marty Scurll. Other exits mean that the Prestige is just Ligero and Joe Hendry these days…

Before the bell, Ligero tears strips into Banks – as much as he can for being a mute – before throwing a Prestige shirt into Banks… who gladly hits back with a series of kicks. The match spilled outside, with Ligero raking the eyes and charging Banks into the barriers, before he made the unwise decision to spark a chop battle inside.

Whenever Banks looked to get going, Ligero took a short-cut and restored order… at least until Banks fired back as he countered a C4L and cornered Ligero for a cannonball. Ligero did the same, countering a Slice of Heaven, but Banks is able to keep on top of things, sending Ligero down for a springboard stomp out of the corner that almost won the match. Ligero’s got kicks too, and a roundhouse to the head gets him a near-fall, as does a wheelbarrow roll-up, before Banks swung things back his way with a superplex.

Boo/yay forearms followed, with Banks winning out with a lariat, only for Ligero to pull the referee in front of him to block a Slice of Heaven. Although Banks was able to put the brakes on, Ligero took a shortcut with a low blow for a near-fall, before he leapt off the top rope and into a Lion’s Clutch… which he stands up out of an escapes with a standing Sliced Bread.

Ligero keeps up, going for another C4L, before Banks escaped a sunset flip and instead lands a Slice of Heaven and a Kiwi Crusher for the win. Despite the enforced break that cooled down this storyline, this was a pretty good match between two guys who can be relied on – lots of back and forth, but another loss for the Prestige kinda means the group probably should be out of its misery. ***½

Ah, Defiant production values – switching to the commentary team as Ligero attacked the referee off-camera. Never change!

Defiant Championship: Joe Hendry vs. Martin Kirby vs. Marty Scurll (c)
Originally meant to feature Will Ospreay, his New Japan commitments meant he was withdrawn, with Martin Kirby taking his place. Hendry’s wearing his amateur wrestling championship medal to the ring, which’ll draw “Poundland Kurt Angle” comparisons I’m sure.

We had about 20 minutes left on the show when the bell went, and it started with Kirby going after both challengers as everyone seemed to tease their finishers in the first minute. Standard!

After getting the crowd on-side by knocking Hendry’s block off, Marty refuses a high-five from Kirby and instead goes after the former champion, who replied with some headscissors before finding the time to keep Hendry down on the outside with a kick off the apron. Back inside, Scurll and Kirby exchange some indyriffic pins as Steve Lynskey gets ribbed again, before everyone chases after Hendry. Where’s the Benny Hill music?

Hendry takes out Kirby momentarily, and wanders into a Just Kidding superkick, before Kirby returns to break up some more indyriffic pins – but instead he just see-saws a load of two-counts between Hendry and Scurll. Kirby outsmarts a planned double-team and unloads on Hendry and Scurll, before those two have an argument over who should superplex the former WCPW GM.

Instead, Kirby goes flying with a sunset flip out of the corner, forcing Scurll to suplex Hendry, before holding up Marty for a delayed suplex… as Hendry saves Kirby from an expected finger snap. There’s a lot of teasing and not much in the way of delivery here, it has to be said, as double-teams become frequent and sometimes inadvertent.

Hendry tries to force a submission with an ankle lock, but Scurll just drags Kirby to the ropes for a break… and earns himself an ankle lock too. The crowd went silent for that one, before perking up as Kirby slid in to throw in a crossface as Scurll had to endure a pair of submissions. After he tried a double chicken wing, Hendry and Kirby went back at each other, only for Scurll to try another chicken wing as Kirby went for the Sable bomb… which led to a nice bit of cheating as Hendry instead tried to pin the two mid-chicken wing.

Scurll busts out the Graduation as all three start hitting their big stuff, with a brainbuster nearly putting away Hendry, before Marty goes for some singer snaps. Instead of going for Kirby’s fingers, Marty goes for the belt and hits Hendry with it, but that just opens the door for another Sable bomb attempt… Hendry avoids that and tries a belt shot, but instead he wanders into a spinebuster as Kirby goes all Zoidberg on us again.

He doesn’t hit it, as Scurll throws powder in his face instead, before trapping Hendry in the chicken wing for the submission. Well, that was abrupt, and at times, somewhat disjointed. Triple threats (and any multi-way matches, to be fair) can be a tricky thing to pull off unless there’s a solid storyline underneath… and this just felt like “yet another match”, not helped by the crowd being silent for large portions. ***¼

After the main event, Martin Kirby was attacked in the ring by two new faces to Defiant – Mark Haskins and Chris Ridgeway! The pair were identified throughout as being IPW:UK guys, and it’s not long before the save’s made by Austin Aries… but it’s a ruse, as Aries dropped Kirby with a rolling elbow, and it looks like he really was exclusive to IPW:UK, and I’m guessing this is an IPW invasion?

#WeAreDefiant was a solid relaunch for the former WCPW – but precious little seems to have been done to make this look anything more than a fresh coat of paint. Still, this is effectively day one for the “new” promotion, and I’d expect them to quickly move away from all WCPW references… and without giving away spoilers to whatever their weekly show is going to be called, that seems to be the case.

Sure, some of the storylines were suspect (the fact they flat-out mocked the Slater/Eaver stuff is telling), but this was a case of business as usual amid a refresh… and one that should help move away from whatever negativity was attached to the old brand, both in and out of the ring.