The “DE-FY” chants began even before the house lights were dimmed.
After the introduction, popular Seattle rock DJ and DEFY mainstay Steve Migs came out to a huge ovation. Migs ran down the card and the audience popped loudly when Heavyweight champion Artemis Spencer was announced, with people singing his name to the tune of “Seven Nation Army.”
Randy Meyers came out to co-host the show with Migs much to the delight of the crowd. He received insane pop, really crazy with girls shrieking, not all unlike, say, the Rock ’n’ Roll Express in the ‘80s? Oof, that analogy might figuratively and literally get me murdered. But it’s the truth, Meyer’s connection with the DEFY audience. It’s something else.
Meyers explained how he’s the Kathy Lee to Migs’s Regis, the Vanna White to his Pat Sajack. People insisted the two kiss so they did and, of course, it got a massive response from the audience. For every pundit and quasi-pundit out there arguing against comedy or silliness in wrestling, this is once again hard proof that non-traditional wrestling routes are a viable drawing card.
SCHAFF DEF. TRAVIS WILLIAMS
Schaff is a bonafide superstar in the Pacific-Northwest. He’s only a few years into his career and has been consistently interpreted by DEFY crowds as the local monster-hero.
“The Golden Boy” Travis Williams is a 20-year-old from Vancouver, CA who usually works out of ECCW. He’s already really talented but will be someone we talk about a lot more in the next few years. He had a Sammy Guevara vibe happening, the new young-handsome-bratty high flyer archetype. If he’s already this good at 20 he could be scary-good at 25.
When Schaff made his entrance it was to a stupidly deafening response, and just before he was about to step into the ring Williams dove onto him with a tope suicida through the ropes. The two brawled around the ring for about five minutes before the match even started. The two took the fight to the stage (the venue is a rock club and the ring is on the floor), and the pre-match fisticuffs ended with Schaff press-slamming Williams from the stage into the ring, which got another shrill awe-pop.
From here is when the match officially kicked off. It wasn’t too long but was all action. Williams hit a modified DDT from the ring apron to the floor at one point. He played heel well and kept a quick tempo with Schaff throughout.
The finish saw Schaff landing a torture rack into a neckbreaker slam for the win. A nice opener that really heated the crowd up.
SLOAN DEF. DANIKA DELLA ROUGE
When referee Ben Roberts made his way to the ring to officiate this match, he was booed, which is now more of a DEFY tradition than anything malicious. Both he and Danika Della Rouge worked at the recent ROH: State of the Art show in Portland a few weeks back.
Della Rouge has quickly become a local favorite among the Portland crowd. As mentioned, she wrestled recently for ROH and looks to be solidifying her Portland fanbase since last year. This is becoming a DEFY specialty, utilizing their great crowds to get younger local acts over.
The match itself was short but good. Rouge’s opponent, Sloan, vaped inside the ring before the match. I’m almost shocked that I haven’t seen a wrestler do this yet. Della Rouge did a tope suicida early on and later used an Arabian armdrag in the ring. Sloan’s selling and facial expressions were quite good but it looked like she sometimes struggled using power moves, kind of how I used to look when I’d do the static hold in gym class and my hold body would start involuntarily quivering. All right she definitely wasn’t that bad, and really, it’s negligible because the two had a solid match that the crowd enjoyed. Sloan won with a double-armed chicken wing facebuster.
UPRISING (Eli Surge & Judas Icarus) def. THE VOROS TWINS (Chris & Patrick Voros)
Referee Aubrey Edwards came out to a boisterous, borderline-massive reaction. She’s well liked in Portland, to put it mildly. If you’re reading this, you probably saw her in AEW reffing at Double or Nothing in May.
Uprising is another pair from ECCW in Canada; the Voros Twins, too. The latter also appeared for ROH a few weeks back on the same PNW loop as Danika Della Rouge and ref Ben Roberts.
This was a fast-paced one. The story here was that the Voros brothers were mischievous heels doing tricky Tag Team Things, antagonizing Uprising, two young dudes who just want to win, damn it. Judas Icarus was notably crisp in his work, particularly with kicks. He and Eli Surge showcased cool offense, lots of double-team action. The Voros Twins returned with quick team attacks of their own, mainly punishing Icarus. The crowd had fun throwing Parent Trap and Zack & Cody references at them. After a few minutes of this, Icarus was able to make a hot tag into Surge who used a Gargano-styled slingshot spear into the ring at one point. The last few minutes of this sizzled; a Voros twin memorably attempted a diving senton onto both members of Uprising but only nailed one.
The finish saw Uprising make one last hot comeback that featured Icarus welcoming both Voros’s to Enzugiri City and the two using a modified rEdragon brainbuster-with-kick-to-head for the pin. The really nice tag match with an excited crowded. Lots of “this is awesome” chants here, too.
The Voros Twins were still in the ring when Steve Miggs came back to the ring to announce the next match. They started beating on Miggs until his co-host, Randy Meyers, made the save. They actually did a solid Hart Attack on one of the twins, too, which received one of the loudest reactions of the night. I’ve so often seen these kinds of run-in angles fail on indy shows but this was seamless and well done.
IMPACT WORLD CHAMPION BRIAN CAGE def. MIKE SANTIAGO
It’s almost cliche to bring up Brian Cage’s physique, you’d think, but on seeing the guy in person, it’s … shit, it’s pretty amazing what the human body can be shaped into. It’s built-in charisma, the possible secret X-value in that “x-factor” people often bring up when talking about what makes a star.
The match kicked off with a whole lot of jawjackin’ and trash talkin’, the two circling each other in the ring, the crowd just feeding off that alone. The current Impact World champion scooped Santiago up into a powerslam hold, did a few reps with Santiago, then tossed him over his head. Cage then laid in a few knife-edged chops and even did the Flair strut. Yeah, I hear you woo-ing in your head.
Santiago, one of half the Amerikan Gunz, used a variety of kicks in an attempt to dice out Cage’s legs throughout the bout, often during comebacks.
The crowd was pretty loudly behind Cage in this one. They had a few nice exchanges towards the end, but I think everyone seemed to know where this was headed. Cage scored the win after using an Inverted Gory Special-bomb. Another solid match here.
-Cage got on the mic to thank everyone. Big news came next as Cage announced he was entering DEFY’s Super 8X Grand Prix next month in Seattle, WA. On this announcement, Schaff appears from the stage and came to the ring to get in Cage’s face and enter himself into the tournament as well. It wasn’t explained how DEFY decided this but Schaff said he’s going to be Cage’s opponent in the first round of the two-night tournament in late July. Including Cage and Schaff, the other entrants announced for the Super 8X GP are LA Park, Tama Tonga, Joey Janela and DEFY Heavyweight champion Artemis Spencer.
La Raza (Leon Negro & Sonico) def. The One Percent (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)
It’s notable how familiar the crowd was with both teams, and both deserve any and all credit as they brought the show back from intermission with a high-impact all-action tag match.
Royce Isaacs, of recent NWA 2019 Tag Team Tournament notoriety, was first in for the One Percent. He had to pause the match early to put on his jacket. Sonico later did a Super Astro-style springboard headbutt. The crowd loved chanting “Sexy Lucha” at Leon Negro. He, unfortunately, did not come out to Ginuwine’s “Pony” tonight.
The One Percent did a lot of cool power moves in this one, Isaacs with the power suplexes, and Nelson, too, though Nelson’s highlight came when he did a big air somersault senton into the crowd towards the end of the match. Sonico and Leon Negro were intense all night and lucha’d things up with some intense dives in and around the crowd.
There were a couple missed spots from La Raza towards the end of this but the crowd never gave up on the match, though there were some awkward but polite pauses. It was ultimately negligible, though, and the finish was a heated one that saw Sonico skyrocket himself through the ropes with a tope con hilo onto Isaacs while Negro landed a Fishman body splash from the top for the win. Another good modern style match.
Rebel Kel def. Riea Von Slasher (w/ Drexl)
Rebel Kel is from Seattle, WA and has recently been working for Stardoms in Japan. Riea Von Slasher appeared at the last DEFY show in Portland but is another regular from ECCW in Vancouver and is a great heel and was possibly the best on this entire show.
The two talked trash to each other to start. Early on Kel landed a Pounce. She did some worrisome Tom McGee style spin kicks. Von Slasher later took control and abused Kel with a Gory Special using Kel’s own hair for leverage. Drexl interfered behind the referee’s back and gave Kell a draping DDT over the ropes onto the apron. Von Slasher used a Vader Bomb-to-legdrop and later a big moonsault from the second rope for two. Towards the end of the match, the did a stiff sequence of chops and forearm smashes.
Drexl tried interfering again at the end. He distracted the ref until Randy Myers snuck out and power bombed Drexel from the apron into the crowd. Kel then won with a chokeslam that looked a million times better than that recent Undertaker-Goldberg disaster. This was another fun match to watch, and the crowd really sounded to love the finish.
DEFY Heavyweight Championship
Artemis Spencer (c) def. TJ Perkins
For some reason, I was such a TJP naysayer during his time on 205 Live, but I’m really happy to admit that wrong and or/stupid I was beforehand. He was fantastic here.
Spencer looked better than ever, too, and is now coming into his own in a post-Swerve DEFY. The new fad with the crowd is to sing Spencer’s full name to the tune of “Seven Nation Army”, and they did that a lot early on in this match.
This match was killer. Seeing TJ Perkins in person forces you to appreciate not only his smooth technical style but his effortlessness in the ring. You see a huge gap in experience when you compare him and younger wrestlers on the show because he has an athletic intuition for symmetry during his matches; he always knows where to be with both reference to the ring and to his opponent and referee. It looks to be something wrestlers pick up with experience, lots of it.
This started out slower than all of the other matches on the show, but that’s not to say that the match was slow-paced. It had a similar feel to something out of this year’s BOSJ tournament. I enjoyed the in-ring work here but some fans couldn’t control themselves and thought it’d be ironic to shout “Wrestling!” during any grappling parts of the match. I get that fans want to shout silly things and pop their buddies at shows, but when you start yelling non-sequiturs at wrestlers, what are they supposed to do? How can they react in the context of their match? If it doesn’t enhance the overall experience for everyone at the show, then why bother? /soapbox
Midway through the match things heated up. Spencer did a 619 over the top rope. He’s a big dude to be doing that and pulled it off like he was about 205 lbs. He later landed a massive tope con giro into the crowd and seemed to have clipped the backend of a first-row chair, the non-folding type, and it looked brutal. People nearby looked shocked but Spencer was fine. He later landed his insane diving senton to a prone Perkins, who’d been draped in a vertical position over the top rope. This crowd loved it and moments later started doing an “ARTY ARTY ARTY—OI OI OI” chant.
Spencer won in the end after countering a Perkins Frankensteiner attempt with a sunset flip. The surprise pin got a great reaction from the crowd and both guys came off looking like total pros. High-quality match.
Spencer got on the mic to thank the crowd and to let TJ Perkins know that he’s wanted to do this match for about 16 years and they were finally able to make it happen. Perkins then asked for the mic and explained that he no had his freedom back.
“This is why I left.” There endless chants of T-J-P after that line. Once he thanked everyone again he passed the mic back to Spencer who went on to talk about how he’s entered in next month’s Super 8X GP. If this match was any indicator of how Spencer’s matches will go next month then the DEFY crowd will be in for something else.
Looking back even with a dash of hindsight, you’ll see how DEFY is one of the new top breeding grounds for national talent. With AEW quickly coming to full fruition and WWE and other companies netting as many top-tier wrestlers as they can last year, one would think DEFY’d be dry of talent. They’re not, and I feel it’s due to a combination of enthusiastic and educated fans with consistent and rewarding booking and event planning on DEFY’s part. These are far from “outlaw” shows, as some used to (and even still, sadly) call them. DEFY puts on pro wrestling shows that feel like more like rock concerts, where, generally speaking, fans are there to support the sum of all parts.
Considering the fact that there were only two bigger national names on this show, the Hawthorne Theatre was pretty much full despite there being an ROH show in Portland weeks prior, plus WWE and Prestige both planning shows in Portland for the next few weeks. Portland is a wrestling city again, and much of that has to do with the success of DEFY.
DEFY’s Super 8X Grand Prix tournament will be held on July 26 and 27 in Seattle, WA at Washington Hall.