Photo: West Smith @UkulelePunk on Instagram / @Ukulele_Punk on Twitter

Washington Hall tucked away on block with a residential feel. You could hear the hollow snap of the ring and the crowd screaming together every other minute or so, shouting their heads off at one of DEFY’s most important cards of the summer. It was steaming-hot inside the venue and no one really cared because the action inside was proportionally heated.

La Raza (Sonico and Leon Negro) def. Super Crazy and Guillermo Rosas

Friday rush-hour from Portland to Seattle kept me from catching this, though everyone I spoke with said this was very good, and that Super Crazy looked great.

DEFY Super 8XGP Quarterfinals: Matt Cross def. Judas Icarus

“High-octane” is a cliched way to describe something that was really exciting, but here, with this type of match at the top of the card, plus what had to be close to 100 °F inside Washington Hall, it feels like the most appropriate way of describing the bout between Cross and Icarus. Two human pinballs crashing into each other again and again, all symmetrical and with intent, all to the extreme delight of the crowd. People loved this.

Icarus is 21 years old with three years of in-ring experience but has the ability of someone with double that. He told me one of his biggest inspirations as a kid was Batista but after watching this match you’d have a hard time believing that (“I’m not what I look like I am.”). He’s like a lost member reDragon, a young dude employing a mix of flying and hard strikes that’d allow him to fit into to any top-tier promotion at the moment.

Cross has been wrestling for as long as Icarus has been alive, more or less. He was masterful, as per usual, and was fully in synch with Icarus, and he received a hero’s pop when he won this match. Actually, the final sequence at the end of this was not only awesome but pretty damn flawless in execution.

Cross picked up the win with an Open Road Cutter to advance to the next round of the Super 8XGP.

DEFY Super 8XGP Quarterfinals: Cody Chhun def. Mike Santiago

Referee Benjamin Roberts came to the ring before the match and the crowd booed him, which is a ritualistic thing the DEFY fans do to him.

Another solid bout. The crowd loved Chhun and loved to hate Santiago. Chhun got a proper Hometown Boy response from them while Santiago rifled off loud “STFU!” to the audience. People kept chanting “Cody! Cody! Cody f**ckin’ Chhun!” He came into the match with shiner under his eye, looked Santiago in the face and got the first licks in of the match. At one point Santiago, who was mega-intense in this, spiked Chhun with a huge cutter. As mentioned, the crowd enjoyed booing Santiago, and they laid into him with jeers and insults but with smiles on their faces. All of this just got Chhun over even more than he had been, it all worked. Chhun won with a springboard Sliced Bread that the crowd freaked out for. After the match, Santiago teased a handshake but flipped him off instead. Chhun did a spin-a-roonie in the ring and then drank some beer with fans.

DEFY and PCW Ultra Tag Team Championship match: Warbeast (Josef Samael and Jacob Fatu) def. Los Parks (LA Park and Hijo de LA Park)

Before the match, Josef Samael came out, grabbed the mic and claimed that in this match that all violence was legal, which in turn sent the crowd into a mini-frenzy; everyone began chanting “WAR-BEAST! WAR-BEAST!”

And then “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood blasted through the PA. Los Parks came out in spiked jackets and chairs. Warbeast went after the Parks as the crowd continued losing it for the luchadors in the ring. Things spilled out into the crowd early. Jacob Fatu went nuts and pushed security over, then threw four chairs into the ring from the floor. Samuel whipped LA Park with Park’s belt, then landed a solid old-school elbow drop with conviction. The crowd booed later when Samael started ripping Hijo de’s mask off.

The Parks mounted a comeback and did a father-and-son tope suicida to the floor. Later, Park took a plastic march table and hurled it at Fatu with seemingly full force, which was very loud, and later on in the match Park put Fatu through the same table with a suplex and it cracked in half, proving that plastic tables can, in fact, be broken in have with the right amount of effort.

Park did his famous strut and again the crowd lost their minds and started chanting “this is awesome.” It was around this point when Los Parks called an audible and went after the booed ref, Benjamin Roberts. The two poured water down his pants and whipped him hard across the back with Park’s belt, as you can see.

On social media the next day there were rumblings about this, that this was an improvised spot, not choreographed or planned in any way before the match with the referee, and this upset a clique of new locals, some of whom were even vocal about not attending the next night’s show because of Los Parks.

Towards the end of the match, a bloody Samael threw fire in LA Park’s face. Hijo de LA Park hit a Canadian Destroyer on Fatu and went for a cover but Samael dashed into the ring and quite literally stabbed him in the head with a spike, allowing for Fatu recover and hit a massive double-jump moonsault for the win. A correspondent at the Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online website rated this **** 1/4.

If any readers have been to ECW Arena in the past, like in the late ’90s–early ‘00s, I have to say that these four came the closest I’ve ever seen in a live setting to matching the authentic atmosphere that the Arena had, that sense of real danger, like anything could and may happen.

Randy Myers and Danika Della Rouge def. Travis Williams and Sloan

There was a 15–20-minute intermission before this match. A few lucky ringside fans got kisses from Randy as he made his way out. I find it hard to convey how over Myers is with the DEFY crowd. It’s not wrestling-over, it’s rock star-over. It’s different. Travis Williams, another young wrestler from Vancouver, BC, and DEFY favorite Danika Della Rouge was to kick the match off, but Williams refused. Myers then entered for his team and the match was more or less underway. They had an early exchange that saw Myers trying to land a kiss on Williams, who dodged Randy with lightning-fast agility. On the apron, Sloane distracted Myers with chapstick (his favorite) to turn the tide for her team. Della Rouge hit a springboard frankensteiner. After successfully avoid Della Rouge for a few minutes, Williams snuck back in and blasted her with a superkick to a chorus of loud boos.

The crowd loved the story but were sometimes quiet during the more wrestling-centric parts of this. Myers then challenged the opposing team to a chicken fight, so Myers lifted Della Rouge up on his shoulders while Sloane lifted Williams up so they could exchange punches. The crowd loved this. Della Rouge landed a big tope suicda into the crowd while Myers pinned Sloane to pick up the win for his team. There were lots of unique and interesting ideas in this, and the match structure worked; the wrestling part of the match was more of the backdrop, which a lot of people were into tonight. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but some of the loudest reactions of the night were in this match, and mostly for Randy Myers.

DEFY Super 8XGP Quarterfinals: Artemis Spencer def. Douglas James

Great match showcasing what’s happening on the West Coast indie scene in 2019. These are two of the best out here at the moment, two guys that the national audience hasn’t picked up on just yet. Spencer was recently announced for this year’s Battle of Los Angeles and also took part in London-based PROGRESS’ Super Strong Style 16 tournament in May. Douglas James just signed a contract with Major League Wrestling but has been active in the California indie scene for the past few years. He’s an undefeated kickboxer and a 10th Planet black belt and it carries over to his in-ring style, it’s easy to believe him when he’s on the mat because his submissions don’t look like trash, they look realistic, and the same with Spencer who also seems to have at least trained in some form of shoot grappling.

They shook hands before the match and the crowd was chanting for Spencer like crazy. As mentioned, there was a bit of matwork at the beginning of this, all pretty fast and tight, it looked more like a flow-roll than an exchange of freestyle or Greco-Roman holds. They chopped each other red at only five minutes into the match. There was a double crossbody spot that KO’d both of them for a while. James hit a massive frog splash that got a “this is awesome” chant.

Spencer hit a diving senton with James draped vertically on top the rope, eliciting a loud “DE-FY!” chant from the audience. Although James came back towards the end of the match, at one point even hitting a trifecta of suicide dives to the floor, Spencer finished James off with a corkscrew senton to advance to the next round of the Super 8XGP. The crowd chanted “Please come back” at James as he walked to the backstage area.

DEFY Super 8XGP Quarterfinals: Christopher Daniels def. Schaff

Daniels got on the mic and did his SCU schtick solo. He talked about how he’d won King of the Indies, the original Super 8 twice, and New Japan’s Best of the Super Juniors. People wouldn’t stop chanting “S-C-U” but it died out as soon as they realized Schaff was coming out; he got his own chants that were just as loud as they were for Daniels.
The crowd was split between these two and there were dueling chants as they shook hands and got the match underway. Daniels really made Schaff come off like a monster here. It was all basic, smart, and effective wrestling; they didn’t have to do all that much because the crowd wouldn’t stop chanting. Daniels did an Arabian Moonsault to the floor, then went back in the ring while Schaff sold for a while outside. Later in the ring, Schaff missed a big splash from the top. Daniels capitalized and used Angel’s Wings but Schaff kicked out of that, then used a rolling clutch-type pin for the surprise victory. Some fans gasped. It was around here or right at the end when Schaff kicked out so hard that he busted Daniels open above his eye. Daniels put Schaff over big on the mic afterwards.

Tama Tonga def. Ethan HD

There was no doubt about who the main attraction of the show was tonight. DEFY fans absolutely loved Tonga. I sometimes wonder what’d happen if he signed with a Western company full-time, because based on his reaction here he probably could have. Just his gear alone compared to everyone else on the show looked to be a notch above others. Image isn’t everything but in pro wrestling it counts for more than we often realize, with Tonga it really pays off, having the proper, fitted gear. The crowd interpreted him as a superstar without hesitation.

Before he and Ethan HD got started someone in the crowd yelled out “ROMAN REIGNS!” Because I suppose this person thought they might have looked alike or something. I don’t think Reigns ever got this much heat though so it couldn’t have been him. Tonga went into the crowd regardless and went after the fan, which stirred things up like crazy. That little taste of realism went such a long way here. Nothing happened, Tonga talked some trash, no big deal, but it was fortuitous in that it set a cool tone for the match without doing much of anything.

The match finally got underway back in the ring and it was solid. Ethan HD landed a hard double stomp on Tonga that was timed perfectly, looked great. The two went back to the floor and brawled deep into the crowd and back to the ring. Tonga’s overall athleticism is impressive, the how explosive he is off the ropes, the big dropkicks for a dude of his size. HD hit a big moonsault to the floor, but back in the ring, Tonga hit a Stinger splash and later a gun-stun out of nowhere for the win.