Hello and welcome to an alternative version of Graps and Claps. My name is Chris Wilson, the HumberGraps correspondent from the old G and C blog, making my debut on The Indy Corner and evidently trusted enough to report on shows beyond a region that hasn’t existed since 1996. A short introduction to myself: you know when you pay £££s to see Daniel Radcliffe perform in a play only for him to fall ill at the last minute so you have to watch his understudy instead? I’m that. The claps are there, but it’s not the authentic Odgen experience.
An 80-minute drive from Grimsby took me to my old stomping grounds of Sheffield. I went to university here (the fake one, Hallam) and wasted many hours hanging around the Peace Gardens. Today this area hosted a food festival with plenty of drinks options. The other two things you should know about me: I don’t drink, and I have a peanut allergy. So I walked past numerous gluten-free stalls resisting the urge to scream: “You don’t know how good you’ve got it!”
In the end, I tried a bratwurst for £5.50; decent but nowhere near the quality of the stall as seen at every funfair and music festival who cook it from a hanging circular barbecue grill. I also had a stonebaked ham and mushroom pizza for £6 cooked to perfection. Finally, since it must have been 25°c, I opted for a £3 Iced Mocha – good while it lasted, but a third of the cup consisted of unsaturated chocolate granules. Bleurgh.
An early-ish start time meant we headed straight for the show. The Plug in Sheffield is an indie music club and venue. It was where I went on my first night out at uni, with people from my dorm I had only met 20 minutes before the taxi arrived, slap-bang in the middle of the 2006 indie landfill epidemic. I was so overwhelmed and disorientated by the experience that I never returned there on a night out, opting for more comfortable surroundings at a nearby rock/metal club called Corporation.
I even dreaded going back when (then) WCPW announced a Loaded taping at The Plug last August. Leave the memories alone and what not. Then I saw War Machine, Angelico, Mike Bailey, KUSHIDA, and Ricochet go all out and I loved it as a wrestling venue. It’s a shame no one runs here regularly as The Plug slightly fills the hole left by the Fixxion in Wolverhampton – a 200ish capacity room where some, as you’re about to read, wrestle as if it’s a much bigger room.
In a Trent Seven-style warm-up act, Defiant GM Jason ‘Primate’ Prime cracked jokes before announcing an upcoming tournament on July 16th and 17th “because everyone’s doing it”. Primate asked the crowd for names (King of the Ring is apparently taken); opting for his own idea: Ring Masters. Or, in his lush Geordie accent, Ring Marrrsters.
He handed over to ring announcer Stevie Aaron, who asked us to “not be one of those people” by posting the results online because this won’t air on Access Defiant until Saturday. Soz, Stevie.
**THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR DEFIANT’S ROAD TO DESTRUCTION… IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE RESULTS, LOOK AWAY NOW (happy now, Stevie?)**
The opening contest saw Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) in a non-title match against a surprise team. This turned out to be Prospect (Alex Gracie & Lucas Archer), which is a bit like receiving a turd for Christmas. Aussie Open dominated the match as Davis delivered a satisfying amount of chops. Weirdly, I think Prospect are supposed to be good guys, partners who swerved each other now on a redemptive story, but they had maybe 5% of the crowd behind them. Davis and Fletcher picked up a relatively easy win via a Fidget Spinner on Gracie. On the microphone, Gracie and Archer decided they’ll have a match at Built to Destroy to get past issues off their chests.
Next, ‘The First 21st Century Bad Ass’ Millie McKenzie faced Lana Austin in what was advertised as a non-title match, but Millie put the belt on the line as a reward for Lana eliminating her in the No Regrets Rumble. This was a cracking match – Lana had the upper-hand but grew frustrated and tactically sloppy as the unsuccessful pinfalls piled up. It brought Millie and her multiple German suplexes back in the game. The ending was somewhat screwed up when Lana reached for the ropes after taking a belly to back suplex, but she was too far away so the ref had to pretend it was a two count. They repeated the sequence but this time Millie pinned her. A hug and handshake were short-lived: Lana attacked Millie with a steel chair, walking away sans belt but with the smuggest of smiles.
No Fun Dunne versus Jack Sexsmith (using his Divinyls theme, hello dubbing) proved to be a short but snappy contest. Dunne followed some ref-shoving chicanery by blasting Sexsmith with the springboard codebreaker.
Then Chris Brookes and Kay Lee Ray defeated Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins in five seconds.
Okay, rewind. Havoc and Haskins attacked #CCKayLeeRay before the bell. The referee was knocked out among the chaos – a perfect excuse for a brawl around the ring, chair shots and stage bumps galore. Havoc and Haskins isolated KLR. They desperately tried to revive the ref, but when Brookes recovered, Jimmy kicked the ref in the balls. So they brawled through the crowd, making use of the photo booth in the corner. KLR stepped onto the sound boot and jumped. It almost went horribly wrong as the protective shield collapsed under her foot, but she safely jumped with reckless abandon at two people and a concrete floor beneath. Again H&H gained the advantage. They revived the ref with a few slaps, but the ref went apoplectic as he kicked both men in the balls. He signalled for the bell just in time for Brookes to unleash DEATH. BY. ROLL-UP. I like a good brawl and this was top-shelf. Highly entertaining stuff.
Then Rampage Brown successfully defended his Defiant World Title against Joe Hendry in thirty seconds.
Okay, rewind again. Out came Joe Hendry for some shit talking. A staggered promo in which he drew out every boo and “Yorkshire” chant for over ten minutes, Hendry got to the point: once he wins the Defiant Title, he will challenge Will Ospreay at Built to Destroy. Joe then introduced us to The Joe Hendry Show with this very special guest… Joe Hendry. Cue more Terence Malick-paced self-adulation. The thing is, this type of promo has become too familiar on the British scene. Trent Seven did it at last year’s Super Strong Style 16. Prince Ameem tried the same shtick at 3CW in November and lost his North East title in thirty seconds. And the less said about Alex Gracie at Southside in February the better. It gets jeered but it’s not that entertaining… unless you’re Trent.
Rampage finally came out for the title match. After the introductions and, crucially, the bell ringing, Hendry talked on the microphone again. So Rampage piledrived (piledrove?) him and won.
I would trash this segment under normal circumstances, but my role as Andy Ogden’s understudy meant I was contractually obliged to go: ooooooooooo *point* AHHHHHHHH!!!!! And it caught on like a charm. The crowd switched to “hey hey hey, goodbye” after the third AHHHH. But then Hendry went up the ramp… Right next to me. Ooooooooo AHHHHHH!!!! The look on his face, as he contemplated kicking me in the bollocks, was reminiscent of John Cena’s Academy Award-winning performance for this:
Anyway, 10/10 segment would relive again.
Intermission. A pint of Coke costs £2.50 in The Plug. For those who haven’t had a soft drink on a night out since your fake ID didn’t work, that’s mid-range. Way better than the £3.80 gassy stylings at insert O2 Academy here.
In the second half, Defiant favourite Martin Kirby faced David Starr in an evenly matched contest both in athleticism and crowd support. Kirby picked up the win cleanly using a Sable Bomb. Fun fact: in over 20 attempts, I have never seen Starr win a singles match on UK soil. Another fun fact: he’s 4-2 in matches I’ve seen in Germany. Es tut uns leid, Dave.
Up next, Bea Priestly made a welcome return to Defiant née WCPW in a number one contender’s match for the Women’s Championship versus Chardonnay. Chardonnay has come a long way since being predominantly used as a valet in NGW, finishing off a successful weekend in which she performed for Ring of Honor, including a title match against Sumie Sakai in Doncaster. A feeling-out process turned into an engaging bout, suddenly turned up to eleven by a couple of brutal Coup de Graces from Priestly. Bea won with a Curb-Stomp variation to, assumingly, move onto Millie McKenzie at Built to Destroy.
Meanwhile, in the Defiant bubble, Gabriel Kidd and Drake challenged Prince Ameem and Whatculture’s Simon Miller. The “Why? Here’s why!” for Miller shtick seems quite effective, with “Why? section” signs handed out for visual effect, but this was alien to a punter who only uses Youtube for Steamed Hams videos. Ameem threatened A Whole New World but instead ate A Whole Chair Shot at the expense of Kidd for a DQ victory. I’m starting to like Kidd so hopefully he moves onto better things, but my mates went into the lobby area to play Top Trumps during this and they made the right choice.
Your main event should be labelled: WEMBLEY ARENA – PREVIEW COPY. Internet Champion Travis Banks faced Walter and Zack Sabre Jr in a triple threat match. Think about how good that sounds on paper. You have the excruciating chops from Walter. You have the explosiveness of Travis Banks. And you have the best wrestler in the world in Zack Sabre Jr. It’s a dynamic that can and will send 5000+ fans on September 30th into meltdown. Now imagine it in a 200 capacity room in Sheffield. Imagine what a Walter chop sounds like in such a tiny fucking room. Imagine them going at twice the speed than normal to fit everything in before the curfew. Then you’ll know why this is easily my favourite match seen in the UK this year. Whether you see this on Access Defiant, or wait for the epic version in four months’ time, just know you are in for a treat. That Walter won via submission, a rear-naked choke on ZSJ, to win the Internet Title almost seems irrelevant. I can say I was 1 of only 200 people to witness such an amazing spectacle live.
Not really sure what else I can say after that. Defiant Wrestling delivered a varied show where the high-points made the rare low totally irrelevant. I recommend checking out the show on-demand, and, if Defiant’s bosses read this: please return to The Plug sooner than later.
Thanks for reading, and sorry for the spoilers, Stevie, forgive me. Graps and Claps (the real thing) returns this weekend with GPW’s Night to Remember and a double-bill from RISE in Leeds the day after.
HOWEVER, well, did someone say #GrimsbyGraps? No, probably not. But I will be back to report on BWR’s Underground show this weekend too. Until then…..BYE!