Since someone else is trying to lean in on the name, let’s take a look at DEFY’s debut from earlier this year, featuring someone really unexpected in a documentary…
We’ve got a slickly-produced open as Cody von Whistler and Matt Farmer provide commentary for the debut outing for DEFY. They’re in Seattle’s Washington Hall, and the first person they introduce is the host of DEFY – Steve Migs. We’re only 20 seconds in, and this has an entirely different feel to it – almost like the vibe that MTV were going for with Wrestling Society X back in the day, just without the Michael Bay-like reliance on explosions.
Matt Cross vs. King Khash
Khash is a trainee of the late Buddy Wayne, playing off his Irani roots, almost like a modern day Iron Sheik. They trade off on speed vs. power early, and in a nice touch, we get replays of big moves, starting with Khash getting his knees up to block a standing shooting star press.
The match moves outside for a brief moment, before Khash traps Cross in a Figure Four until there’s a popular rope break. The crowd thinks the match is over when Cross rebounded off the top rope by his shoulder and into a stunner for almost a three-count, before a double stomp to the back actually got the W. A fun opener, and hot crowds always raises the game. A good showing from Khash, who held his own and didn’t look too out of place. ***
Mr. Fitness vs. Eddie van Glam
These two used to be partners in other promotions, and already I’m not a fan of Eddie van Glam. It’s the “King of *insert word here* Style” template that grates on me. I get he’s wearing a Borat-style mankini under his trunks, but I’m guessing Capri-Sun didn’t want their brand on his shirt, going off his other nickname, “the Capri-Sun Kid”.
Van Glam has the “other” gimmick of an 80s hair rocker, instantly going for the Air Guitar Armbar on Fitness, who replied in kind, working over Eddie’s arm before a series of hip attacks get Eddie back in it. The mankini comes down for another hip attack in the corner, before a DDT almost won it as Mr. Fitness easily got a foot on the ropes.
In the end, Fitness drops Eddie with the Muscle Confusion – a Cobra Clutch into a German suplex – a high-risk finish to end the match. This was alright, nothing that’ll grab your attention, and far too short as well. Decent stuff from the local guys, but not much more than that. **¼
Loser Leaves Town: Mike Santiago vs. Ethan HD
Another battle of former tag team partners, and this is going to lead to one of them having to leave the promotion. Commentary tried to fill in the blanks, but I’m not a fan of having these kind of stories that rely on you having knowledge of their past in smaller promotions.
A fairly basic, but well-paced opening series starts with Ethan charging down Santiago with a shoulder tackle, before an eye rake from Santiago was missed by the ref as the match swung back-and-forth. HD lands an enziguiri from the apron, but a slingshot ‘rana misses as Santiago dropkicks his way free.
Ethan misses a stomp on the mat, but turns in with a moonsault as both men struggled to keep much of an advantage, Santiago draped Ethan across the middle rope, then dropkicked him from the floor, but rather than go for a pin he decides to clamp in a rear chinlock. A fireman’s carry is escaped by Ethan as the pair start throwing rights at each other, before a brief airplane spin from Ethan led to a superkick for a near-fall.
Santiago catches Ethan in an ankle lock out of nowhere, then smashes him with a rolling elbow after an escape. A superplex gets fought out of, before Ethan’s handspring roundhouse kick off the ropes got a near-fall. The crowd really got on Ethan’s case for a slight pause between the handspring and the kick, and that seemed to distract him as Santiago knocked him off the top rope and to the floor.
Not long after that, we get the end when Santiago ripcords Ethan into leaping knee… and that knee strike put Ethan HD down for the count… and out of Seattle! A pretty good grudge match, one that see-sawed back and forth the whole way – and one that I’d probably have enjoyed more had I had more than a passing knowledge of their backgrounds. ***
Drexl vs. Carl Cunningham vs. Nick Radford vs. Kate Carney
Cunningham’s nickname is “The Catch” for some reason… and he was one of Brawn Strowman’s squash victims last year was was Radford, whose gimmick is “the walking internet” – kind of like a harmless wrestler as a meme. Carney’s the “Midas of Professional Wrestling”, bedecked in gold, but Cunningham sparks a slap-off to get us going… and then he walks away because he was hit back.
Things quickly break down as Carney and Drexl chop each other around ringside, whilst Cunningham pulls Radford into a surfboard pin. After breaking up a submission, Carney’s knocked down by Drexl, who followed up with clubbing blows before she managed to get free and turn her sights onto Cunningham. It’s a weird vibe as there’s action happening inside the ring and out before Drexl and Cunningham double-teamed Carney… which led to the predictable bickering. Carney returned to try to trigger the Tower of Doom, but she’s kicked away before Radford nearly stole a win with a sunset flip of all things.
We get a replay of a grzing flying Codebreaker from Radford, who’s then dumped with a Fisherman’s buster by Drexl, who quickly fell to a crucifix pin… as Kate Carney earned the upset win! This was all over the place at times; fun enough to watch, but not something you’ll be coming back to. **¼
Carney quickly got destroyed by Drexl’s Fisherman’s buster as someone’s music hits… it’s Davey Richards! Commentary played the “is that? Can it be?” card as badly-lit ringside staff restrain Drexl at ringside. Davey cuts a promo afterwards, declaring himself to be “home”… and although he couldn’t get a license to wrestle on this show, he’s able to wrestle on DEFY’s next show in April.
Big Jack vs. Jeff Cobb
Hey, it’s Careless Whisper… but it’s not the Love Making Demon, it’s “Big Jack” Cunningham. There’s a name straight out of WCW jobber lore, eh?
So, it’s a spot of big lads wrestling, eh? Jack’s surprisingly agile, leaping over Cobb out of the corner as the pair looked to dance around a test of strength. Jack barely shifts Cobb with a shoulder tackle, before Cobb just hits a bicycle kick as Jack was expecting a shoulder tackle in return.
Jack then heads up for a rope walk armdrag as he went all lucha Undertaker on us! Yep, I was NOT expecting that out of someone with such a generic name. After catching Jackup top, Cobb suplexes him out of the corner, and we’re all in for the instant replays tonight! Cobb follows up with a standing moonsault for another near-fall, before a Tour of the Islands is thwarted as Jeff falls onto his back.
A big legdrop squashes Cobb for a two-count, as Jack didn’t budge after dropping that leg. Another leg drop out of the corner misses, as does Jack’s attempt at a chokeslam as he instead eats a pumphandle fallaway slam! Jack follows back with a handstand into a splash for a near-fall as the pair kept going at it, before a series of clotheslines led to Jack lifting up Cobb for a swinging uranage… only to get rolled up for the pin! A pretty decent “old school” big lads’ match – you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting high-speed and hard-hitting stuff, but this was enjoyable stuff nevertheless. ***¼
Hey Jack, change your ring gear! That body suit with the arrows plastered all over it doesn’t help with the WCW Saturday Night jobber aesthetic!
Los Sexi Mexis (Ave Rex & Sonico) vs. Greengo Loco & Batboy
Two matches left, and an hour on the clock… I’ve a feeling one of these matches is going to go very long… all four of these guys are from Lucha Volcanica – a lucha group based in Washington state.
Loco and Rex get us going, and Rex scores an impressive early dropkick amid a flurry of armdrags and roll-ups. Loco forgets it’s lucha rules, and gets caught by a neckbreaker from Sonico, as we segue towards Sonico and Batboy, whose lucha-inspired stuff looks to be crisper than their partners’. A double knee-drop from Sonico leads to some near-falls before another armdrag takes the bat kid to the outside as the pace quickens, leading to a flip plancha to the outside from Sonico.
A dropkick/spinebuster combo sets up Loco for some more pain, courtesy of a legdrop as he was laid across Sonico’s knees. Sonico gets off a pair of suplexes, then a slingshot suplex for a near-fall, before Loco hulks up with a barrage of nipple plexes.
A corkscrew crossbody of the top nearly does it for Loco, but he falls into a pumphandle driver for a near-fall by Sonico as Batboy makes the save, hitting a Finlay roll and a 450 splash onto Sonico. Ave Rex stops the ref from counting three by grabbing his hand, which somehow isn’t a DQ, and in the midst of this Sonico pulls off his mask and throws it at Batboy… the ref returns to see the mask in Batboy’s hand, and that’s an instant DQ. Well… that finish was cheap as hell. Los Sexi Mexis dropkick their opponents after the match, and get some cheers for their dastardly tactics. As a match it was okay, but that finish was so bad… **½
Big Jack heads down to the ring afterwards – prompting Los Sexi Mexis to flee. Those who were left took the move Omari calls the O-Zone, whilst Loco was headbutted. Well, that’s getting your heat back from the Jeff Cobb loss… even more so when he grabbed a table from under the ring, before chokeslamming Greengo off the middle rope and through the table.
A nice mini-documentary aired to build up Shane Strickland – with plenty of skyline shots of Seattle and all its cranes. Apparently this is Strickland’s first time back since he was a newborn?! There’s a few shots of his matches against new Britwres favourite El Phantasmo in here, back from ECCW in November 2016, and poor ELP’s getting his ass handed to him here.
GFW NEX*GEN Championship: Shane Strickland vs. Cody Rhodes (c)
Well, if this match doesn’t instantly date this show, I don’t know what will! Someone screamed “Stardust” at Cody before the bell, and that’s the moment that went viral as Cody and Shane corralled the crowd into “F that guy” chants.
We start out fast-paced, with both guys’s initial onslaughts leading to a stand-off, before Cody burst into his basement uppercut and a kick to the stomach. Strickland snaps back with headscissors and dropkicks to take Cody outside, but he fakes out a dive as the crowd roared their approval.
A Gory special puts Strickland in some trouble, but he works free and gets off the Space Flying Tiger Drop after Cody was kicked to the outside, before a springboarded Flatliner almost gets Shane the win. Strickland keeps up the pressure with a backdrop suplex, before taking Cody into the corner, trapping him as a leaping kick left the champ down.
Strickland utilises a leg spreader to force Cody into a headlock as a wacky submission attempt kept Cody at bay, only for the pair to attempt a crossbody block at the same time, wiping the other out. Back-and-forth shots ensue, as Cody breaks in with a series of clotheslines before teasing the Cross Rhodes, before instead having to make do with a sunset flip out of the corner.
The momentum continued to shift as Shane boots Cody in the back of the head for a near-fall. Another crossbody’s rolled through, as Cody traps his challenger in a Figure Four, before a Disaster kick and a springboard body press leaves Strickland out on the floor. He follows up by teasing a Cross Rhodes on the apron, before instead making do with a rope-hung DDT for a near-fall. Strickland rebounded with a death valley driver on the apron, then a double stomp off the top… but Cody kicks out just in time! A JML Driver attempt gets countered into a roll-up as both men look for their finishers… and inexplicably leads to the ref eating a dropkick in the corner. That’s what happens when you too-sweet!
With the ref down, Shane hits a roll-up into a cutter… but there’s no ref, so it’s for nought! We eventually get a second ref, just in time for Cody to spike Strickland with Cross Rhodes for a near-fall… and after a few more back-and-forth shots, Cody catches Strickland in a backslide, and that’s enough for Cody to retain! A pretty solid main event – plenty of back-and-forth, and we keep up the Jeff Jarrett motif of a ref bump as well! ***½
Technically, Cody still hasn’t lost this title… it just was stripped from him in July, and with the Impact/GFW relationship falling apart, it’s presumably gathering dust on Double J’s shelf.
Overall, I really liked the presentation of this. From the initial MTV-ish stylings, to the camera work and the commentary… this was different. In a really good way.
Sure, some of the matches weren’t great shakes, but as we’ve seen time and time again, it’s not all about the asterisks. Things like lighting can be improved on in future shows, and it’s been shown time and again that different presentation and different matches can enhance a show. Add in a hot crowd like what Seattle had here… well, you can see how DEFY’s taken off in the Pacific North West!