Ahead of OTT’s second Defiant women’s show, we had a trio of matches as the luchadors were still in town!

As we’ve already covered, OTT’s days at the Tivoli are numbered, with the venue scheduled for demolition at some point in 2019. While they’ve been working other buildings like Suir Road and the National Stadium, these last few Tivoli shows have been seen as special events for the obvious reasons.

Aonghus Og McAnally opens up the pre-show as they’re still basking in the glory of the prior night’s Anniversary show. Don Marnell’s not in front of camera but is on commentary. The pre-show’s barely an hour long on the VOD. I approve heartily!

NLW Championship: Curtis Murray vs. Terry Thatcher (c)
During our time “away” from watching OTT, the NLW championship that had been won by Jordan Devlin was retired and replaced with a new OTT championship. That old NLW belt that technically has a lineage linking it to former champions like Pete Dunne, Pac and, erm, Heidenreich, was then recycled as a sort-of “developmental” title (for want of a better expression).

Murray’s got a RINGKAMPF scarf thrown at him during his entrance, presumably in support of a namesake – Terry Thatcher. We start with Thatcher charging out of the blocks as he rocks Murray in the corner with elbows and dropkicks, before rolling him across the ring for a HUGE corner-to-corner elbow drop that gets an early two-count.

They end up outside with Murray getting thrown into the stage wall, but the Northern Irishman gets his own back as he dropkicked Thatcher into the stage… then tried to pull him down, only for the champion to escape and launch himself off the stage anyway. Back in the ring, Murray slingshots himself in with a neckbreaker as Thatcher was hung in the ropes, getting a two-count out of it, before he went to work on Thatcher’s arm.

Murray starts to unload with some body blows as Thatcher was in the corner, before dumping him with a big back body drop out of the corner. Murray, whose gear is very much reminiscent of Will Ospreay’s prior designs, keeps up as he pulls Thatcher up for a tombstone… but the champion handstands out of it and lands a superkick before coming back with a falling powerbomb for a near-fall.

An attempt at a roll through from Murray sees him caught with a spinebuster as Thatcher started to come back into it, before heading up top… and getting crotched as Murray hit the ropes. After pulling Thatcher to the mat, Murray goes flying with what looked like a flying lungblower, but instead it turned into a nasty flying Meteora that nearly ends things, before he’s caught with a reverse ‘rana as Thatcher stayed in it.

Thatcher pulls up his braces as he prepared to unleash kicks on Murray… but he ends up running into a big boot as the call to “brace yourself” backfired. There’s another vicious kick to the head as Murray keeps up the offence, and the mockery… which of course backfires as the pair begin to exchange palm strikes.

A leg sweep pulls down Murray as Thatcher leaps in with some stomps, targeting the head of Murray, who collapses into the corner as Thatcher did the “brace yourself” gimmick again. Yeah, it’s a ruse… and Murray rolls up Thatcher with a big handful of tights to win the match… and the title. This was a little rough in places, with that flying double knees looking particularly nasty, but considering the relative experience levels this wasn’t too bad. **½

Flamita vs. Sean Guinness
The crowd were in pretty hot form for this one, digging up the “oh oh here he comes, he’s a Flamita” chant before we got going.

We’ve a cagey start here as Flamita takes Guinness into the ropes ahead of a clean break… which gets repeated, but Guinness is taunted into doing a flip a la Flamita. He eventually does… along with referee Niall Fox. God help his knees… he’s learned from Speedball! Ring announcer Butch gets dragged into this too, but at least he gets help from Flamita and Guinness, even if it didn’t look graceful.

With the pros left to it, Guinness and Flamita rush into action, with plenty of swinging and missing before Guinness finally went for a rolling armbar that Flamita rolled up into a pinning attempt. Flamita keeps up the spectacular offence, leaping up top for a missile dropkick that took Guinness outside… and had the crowd scurrying as a tope takes them both into the floor seats.

Back inside, Flamita rolled out of a 450 splash as Guinness looked to make some headway with kicks, taking the luchador outside as the crowd again scattered for as a tope con giro saw Guinness land in those chairs again. Oof.

Guinness keeps up the offence, cartwheeling off the top rope as he took Flamita into a version of the Ki Krusher for a two-count. The comeback sees Guinness take a trip into the corner for a 619, before a Praying Mantis Back Cracker (how else do you call it?!) gets Flamita a near-fall. Another crack at the Praying Mantis bomb is countered out of, but the pair end up fighting over a brainbuster with Flamita finally landing it, only to get an instant receipt.

The pair trade elbows as they fought back to their feet, with Flamita almost nicking it with a Spanish Fly, before he powerbombed Guinness ahead of a 450 splash that finds it mark. Somehow, Guinness kicks out, and ends up up top as he tried to fight out of a top rope Spanish Fly… only to get caught with a rolling uppercut. A top rope ‘rana’s countered with a stiff powerbomb before Guinness heads back up for another double stomp, which gets a near-fall, only for Guinness to go to a cross armbar for the submission. This was good, but felt clearly toned down – a balls-to-the-wall rematch would easily steal a show. ***½

Bandido vs. Shane Strickland
Literally seconds after Flamita had the crowd hum “Tequila!” for him, Bandido’s out to the same song. It’s almost like the “Ah, Ted!” show where everyone was coming out to the same song for a while…

We start on the mat, with Bandido grabbing a front facelock on Strickland, who got free by tripping Bandido to the mat. It didn’t last too long, as Bandido came back with some Romero specials that pulled Strickland around the ring, before the (then) EVOLVE champion powdered to the outside.

Back inside, Strickland and Bandido acrobatically avoid each other’s strikes, with Strickland cartwheeling out of a ‘rana en route to the double dropkick standoff as the Tivoli lost their minds. Everyone flosses, before Bandido tries to sucker Strickland outside… and it eventually pays off, as Bandido’s able to jump him on the floor ahead of a backbreaker in the crowd.

Strickland manages to find a way back into it, as he flosses in slow motion to try and get under Bandido’s skin. A snapmare and a low dropkick from Strickland keeps Bandido down for a two-count, before a mounted sleeper tried to keep the luchador down… but with little success as Bandido stood up out of it and got free. An attempt at the backspring German suplex is countered by Strickland, who can’t avoid a monsterous satellite DDT, nor a pop-up cutter from Bandido.

Strickland fakes out a kick before he clocks Bandido with a knee, ahead of a powerbomb attempt that’s eventually countered into a sunset flip comb in a sequence that defied belief. They continue as Bandido lifts Strickland onto the apron, but Strickland hits back with a cutter that caught the edge of the apron before he drapes Bandido on the stage for a double stomp that took him down to the floor.

In the ring, there’s another Swerve Stomp that gets a near-fall, so he keeps up with some clubbing blows to the back of the head as Evil EVOLVE Strickland began to rear its head. Bandido’s pulled up as Strickland looks for a half-and-half suplex, but instead he gets a ripcord superkick… which just earns Bandido more strikes on him as an enziguiri put him down to a knee… only to recover with a torture rack version of a Go To Sleep.

Bandido followed that up with a rebound German suplex, using the top rope for extra momentum, before he headed up top for a moonsault fallaway slam. Strickland slips out and quickly catches Bandido with a half nelson wheelbarrow driver… and that’s your lot! A win for Swerve – in another match that was quite good but felt massively restrained. ***¼

So, a good but not great trio of matches here. Plenty good enough to warm the crowd up with, but you got the sense in the last two matches especially that they were holding back for something bigger… which was to follow in Defiant 2!