DEFY Pro Wrestling: Top 5 Matches from Super 8x Grand Prix weekend

Last weekend, DEFY Pro Wrestling held their two night event featuring the promotion’s second Super 8x Grand Prix (GP).  The first Super 8x GP was held in 2017 to crown the company’s first tag team champions.  This year’s Super 8x GP, DEFY Champion, Artemis Spencer, entered and put the title on the line which meant the winner of this year’s Super 8x GP would be crowned DEFY Champion.  In the end, after having survived three grueling matches against top level opponents, Artemis Spencer retained his title.  The weekend also saw DEFY’s current tag team champions, Warbeast, defend their titles two nights in a row, the return of All Elite Pro Wrestling (AEW) star Joey Janela, the in ring return of ECW star Super Crazy, and the debuts of New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) star Tama Tonga, and lucha tag team Los Parks.

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When looking back on that weekend, this was the coming out party for DEFY’s second generation stars. If Shane Strickland, Schaff, Randy Myers, the Amerikan Gunz, and Artemis Spencer are DEFY’s first generation of in promotion stars, then Cody Chhun, La Raza, Rosas, Judas Icarus, and Travis Williams have set themselves up as this promotion’s second generation.  That weekend felt like they were sending the message that they were young, hungry for the spotlight, and they were ready to take it from out of town talent and also from the prior generation. I loved it.  With a motivated roster of young talent, it means the promotion has longevity, and most importantly depth.  The best part is as a fan, with everyone driven to perform we’re getting to see some of the best live pro wrestling the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

There was no match that dissapointed that weekend.  Joey Janela versus Tama Tonga was the first time we saw a NJPW star take on an AEW star in a DEFY ring.  The mixed tag match from Night 1 featured the first ever “DEFY Chicken Fight”.  Taking all the matches into account, here are my top 5 matches from DEFY Pro Wrestling’s 2019 Super 8x GP weekend:

5.) Super 8x GP Semifinal: Cody Chhun versus Christopher Daniels
Chhun really impressed me that weekend.  Not only was he over with the crowd, but the young star was able to hang with veteran performer Christopher Daniels.  The match was hard hitting, and the crowd seemed split on who to cheer for.  At many points in the match, dueling chants for both performers broke out.  In the end, Daniels advanced to the finals, but as a show of respect Daniels raised the arm of the young star as he exited the ring.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more big things from Chhun in DEFY in the near future.

4.) Super 8x GP Opening round: Judas Icarus versus Matt Cross
This match felt like a step in the continued evolution of breakout Canadian performer, Judas Icarus.  Icarus had gained popularity after solid performances at the most recent DEFY events, but I don’t think anyone really expected him to have such a grueling match with independent wrestling legend, Matt Cross.  Cross and Icarus traded dives and stiff shots all throughout this barn burner of a match.  Cross advanced to the semifinals but it wasn’t without a valiant effort from Judas Icarus.

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3.) Super 8x GP Opening round: Douglas James versus Artemis Spencer
California kickboxer Douglas James made his Washington Hall return, and he made sure people were goin to remember him. James brought DEFY Champion Artemis Spencer to the limit in this Night 1 match. His hard hitting style played well off of Spencer’s anything it takes to win approach. Spencer even debuted a new “draped senton” move on James which was met with shock and awe throughout the crowd. Spencer defeated James, but James’ performance garnered a loud “Please Come Back!” chant as he exited the ring.

2.) DEFY Tag Team Championship: Warbeast versus Los Parks
This match could only be described as “controlled chaos”.  From the opening bell, these two teams tore the house down at Washington Hall.  I’m very interested to see how this match will look on the “video on demand” feed, because being there live it felt like I was watching a hardcore match during WWE/F’s Attitude Era.  The camera would be trained on something big happening in the ring, but off to the side, the audio of the other cameras, you would hear a loud shot or just see someone turn and fall out of no where.  It was action everywhere.  Some memorable highlights from this match saw Warbeast throw Los Parks through several rows of chairs, LA Park throw an unfolded plastic folding table at the Sheik, Jacob Fatu took a Canadian Destroyer from El Hijo De LA Park, LA Park suplex Fatu through the plastic table, and the referee got the strap from Los Parks.  Warbeast retained the titles, but this was easily their best DEFY outing so far.

1.) Super 8x GP Finals: Artemis Spencer versus Christopher Daniels
In kind of a surprise to myself and other long time fans, the finals saw current champion Artemis Spencer taking on pro wrestling veteran and last minute tournament replacement, Christopher Daniels.  Both had put on impressive outings already throughout the weekend, but this match put a fitting “book end” to a great weekend of action.  It felt like both men had scouted one another’s move sets prior to the bout.  Daniels countered each of Spencer’s signature moves including Spencer’s new “draped senton”, while Spencer found counters for a majority of Daniels’ move set as well.  In the end, Artemis Spencer retained his title.

Really, it’s fitting that this battle of top in ring performers would cap off a memorable weekend of pro wrestling action.  Great show, DEFY Pro Wrestling!

 

For more videos and pictures from DEFY’s Super 8x GP weekend, check out my Instagram: Cakeintherain206

DEFY Pro Wrestling is Here to Stay: Look back at “DEFY Never Dies”: 2nd Anniversary

On January 19, 2019, DEFY Pro Wrestling celebrated it’s 2nd Anniversary at the event DEFY: Never Dies.  In retrospect, that was the greatest DEFY Pro Wrestling event I’ve ever attended live.  Usually at DEFY (like every other pro wrestling event) there will be a slow or a lull in the action, a “bathroom break match” for example.  Last weekend, it felt like every match just “hit”.

In front of a crowd that would rival the packed house that attended PROGRESS Wrestling weekend, DEFY proved once again why they are the current leader in professional wrestling in the Pacific Northwest.  Here’s some quick notes and observations from last week’s show.

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Match 1: Moose over Big Jack
This match was the first surprise of the night.  As far as match announcements went, both Moose and Big Jack were not announced for the show.  In terms of storyline this match made sense.  At the first DEFY event, Big Jack had begun a campaign to establish himself as the main “big guy” in the DEFY locker room.  Having him take on a well known powerhouse like Moose was a great throwback to that campaign.  The match itself was a great opener.  The crowd was energized and it set the stage for the evening that followed.

Match 2: One Percent over Amerikan Gunz
If there was any tag team that was “DEFY’s tag team” it would have to be the Amerikan Gunz.  This was easily the best Amerikan Gunz match I’ve seen live.  Personally, of the matches the Gunz have contested in Washington Hall, I’ve only really been impressed by 2 or 3.  I felt like the crowd was always really being generous with their love.  This match changed my opinion, and a lot of the credit has to be given to the One Percent.  One Percent brought out an exciting performance for the Gunz that had a lot of the crowd cheering the whole match.  Jorel I’ve seen perform before and knew he was solid, but this was my first time seeing Royce and if there was a standout in this match, it had to be him.  Seeing the One Percent get the win over the Gunz I think is a good thing.  Like Shane Strickland losing the DEFY title at the last show, in a kind of shallow division, it doesn’t place the Gunz as the sole standard bearers and it opens the division to more matchups and pairings.

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Match 3: 10 Man “DEFY 2 Survive” Elimination Match
Team 1: King Khash, Judas Icarus, Sonico, Leon Negro, and Caden Cassady
Team 2: Guillermo Rosas, Eli Surge, “The Catch” Carl Randers, Guerrero De Neon, and Golden Boy Travis Williams
Winner: King Khash
With how much the show had nailed it so far, I really thought this was going to be the “bathroom break match”, but was I wrong.  This match on paper was a showcase of DEFY talent, and was just that.  What I didn’t expect was the amount of high spots everyone tried to fit in the somewhat short match.  It was fast paced and high risk.  Everyone in the match had moments, but to me the standouts were Judas Icarus (took a crazy spill to the outside in the close of the match), King Khash (always a solid performer, and if you catch him after his matches, you have to appreciate his fashion sense), and Sonico (from when I first saw him perform to now, he’s made huge leaps in ability in the past year or two).  If these guys are the future of DEFY, and we continue to see variations of these ten in match ups at future shows, I believe DEFY Is in good hands.

Run In by the Young Bucks
The big news of the night came when The Pride (King Khash, Guillermo Rosas, and Carl the Catch) attacked Joey Ryan who was acting as the interviewer.  The Young Bucks made an (unpaid) “unannounced” appearance providing back up for Joey Ryan and saving the interviewer.  This moment is huge.  The Young Bucks have set themselves as the top independent talents currently on the market, and for them to make an (unpaid) “unannounced” appearance in Seattle, validates DEFY and the Pacific Northwest as a major stop for performers. I look forward to whatever the Young Bucks will do at a future DEFY event.

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Match 4: “Swerve” Shane Strickland, Schaff, and Randy Myers over SoCal Uncensored (SCU) (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky)
Nothing against the main event, but this was the match of the night.  Three of the company’s standard bearers taking on three pillars of pro wrestling for the west coast pro wrestling scene.  I can’t tell you how excited I was personally to see Christopher Daniels perform.  When I first started watching independent wrestling, he was always a name I would look for on match listings.  I remember his match specifically from an old DVD I had of the first ROH show where he competed in the main event against Low Ki and Bryan Danielson.  Just being able to see Christopher Daniels perform live, already had me excited for this match.  Each team had moments, but I think the DEFY trio came out more impressive as a whole than SCU.  The combination offense of the DEFY team especially in the close of the match was just more compelling than the offense of the SCU team, who really acted more like three individual talents as opposed to an experienced unit.  Overall, this match was a great way to keep the show momentum going after the intermission.

Match 5: Robbie Eagles over Cody Chhun
This was a great debut for Robbie Eagles.  His style and demeanor just seemed to gel with the DEFY audience.  The crowd seemed to love him almost as much as they did Cody Chhun.  Speaking of Cody, of all the high profile matches he’s been given at DEFY, I felt he really rose to the challenge and knocked this one out.  His clumsy gimmick really gave him an out for his one or two actual botches in the match, but really how could anyone tell?  It’s just “Classic Chhun”.  Cody Chhun is already a hometown favorite, but I think we wouldn’t mind a few more Robbie Eagles matches in the future.

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Match 6: Artemis Spencer over Desmond Xavier
After a crazy night of action that saw some of the best performances from local and out of town talents, the main event closed the show in the perfect way.  This was the first title defense for the new champion Artemis Spencer, and it did not disappoint.  If anything it set the stage for what we can expect from an Artemis Spencer title reign.  If I were to even try to characterize it, I would say Spencer wrestled a style that was more Seattle Strong Style, methodical and hard hitting, than previous title holders before him.  I felt Shane Strickland’s strength was his ability to heighten the pace of a match at the drop of a hat.  Spencer’s strength lies in the drama of his exchanges.  Each time he trades blows with an opponent, you can’t help but think he’s putting everything he can into those shots, and in return his opponent is giving him everything they can muster right back.  At the same time, Desmond Xavier provided a great first time title defense for Spencer, in that he was able to keep up and at times add more danger to the match.  Xavier’s tope from the stage to the floor was something that you had to witness live.  This match was the perfect way to close the night, and also a great preview for what we can expect from future main events from our current heavyweight champion Artemis Spencer.  Excitement.

When people look back at this event, I want it to be remembered for more than just when the Young Bucks made their first appearance for a Seattle/Northwest based pro wrestling promotion.  I want people to remember that at this point this was the greatest pro wrestling event from the top pro wrestling promotion in the Pacific Northwest.

You really set the bar high with that one DEFY.

DEFY Pro Wrestling: 2 Years of Seattle Strong Style

January 13, 2017, DEFY Pro Wrestling (DEFY) changed the landscape of professional wrestling in the Pacific Northwest with the promotion’s landmark event DEFY: Legacy. On that night in the historic Washington Hall, this new promotion began a campaign to turn the Pacific Northwest from the “black hole of professional wrestling” into a territory, nationally recognized talents would be proud to have on their resumes.

20190113_132214(Poster from the first DEFY event, DEFY Legacy, signed by Cody Rhodes, Shane Strickland, Jeff Cobb, and Matt Cross.)

If you’re a professional wrestler from the Pacific Northwest in order to gain experience, make contacts, and receive valuable feedback from veterans, you have to leave the Pacific Northwest. I believe it was someone on Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” podcast who said that the Pacific Northwest exists as it’s own kind of microcosm in professional wrestling, in that there are some valuable talents and fans who love the sport in the area, but outside of that area they just aren’t as recognized. In a span of two years, I believe DEFY Pro Wrestling has changed that perception and has sent a message to the professional wrestling community that the Pacific Northwest not only has a viable wrestling community but also the sky is the limit in terms of where it could go.

The promotion has a defined look, (with Steve Migs on the mic) it has a defined sound, and with the level of talent that is brought in monthly from around the country, it has a defined expectation of show quality. Without question I can say this company has been nothing short of impressive and at times surprising. Whether it’s the Lucha Brothers making their “unannounced prior to the show” debut, to a random fire alarm evacuation, DEFY shows always seem to create memorable moments for the fans. I’ve attended every DEFY show at Washington Hall. Here are five of my favorite moments from DEFY Pro Wrestling’s first two years:

5.) Tommy Dreamer’s Post Match Speech from DEFY: Vibes (April 13, 2018)
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In recent years, I feel like major stars and veterans on the independent circuit have shied away from expressing or “taking a side” when it comes to politics. In a profession that is dependent on a person’s marketability to a crowd, it’s probably best if a talent stays indifferent in terms of political leanings, in order to maximize bookings. Some characters like the sexually ambiguous Randy Myers can build a backing by being both talented and outrageous. Randy is a perennial favorite in DEFY.  During this match, after several failed attempts by Randy to make out with Dreamer, many expected Dreamer to have a gimmicky moment with Randy and just leave the ring, however once he got the win, Dreamer took the mic, and began an impassioned speech in which he basically said that he doesn’t care if you’re a homosexual, straight, or whatever Randy is, professional wrestling is a community that accepts you. You’re welcome here, and it’s one of the reason’s he’s proud to be in it. He then made out with Randy, laid one on the referee, and made his way out of the ring to the cheers of the DEFY crowd.

Thank you for letting us know how you feel, Tommy.

4.) When the fans got loud, and threw stuff.
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The atmosphere at a DEFY show in Washington Hall is different. In large part it’s due to the DEFY fanbase, the DEFYance. It’s hard to pick one moment, but I feel like all the moments that created the identity of the DEFY crowd, deserve a spot on this list. Be it the first show when the fan run “Streamer Club” added flair to a wrestler’s entrance by throwing streamers or toilet paper (*Steve West) as they entered the ring, to the two matches (Mexablood and Rey Horus vs British Strong Style, and Artemis Spencer vs Rey Fenix) where the fans showed appreciation by throwing dollars into the ring, to every show where the DEFYance lived up to the slogan “At DEFY, WE GET LOUD!”, the DEFY crowd has built an identity all their own, and it’s these moments among others that helped create that image.

3.) Lio Rush’s run in DEFY.
There have been a number of notable stars that have performed for the DEFY audience. In two years, it’s remarkable how many talents have made their presence felt, only for us to learn that a month or two later they have signed some sort of deal with a major organization and that match they had (or some match set for a later date) was their last performance at DEFY. Brody King, Jeff Cobb, reDRagon, Matt Riddle, etc. It feels like DEFY has become a step, before a major independent star leaves the independents.

Of the “runs” (match series) in DEFY, very few were as memorable as the 4 or 5 matches of Lio Rush. It felt like every match Lio Rush had in DEFY was a contender for the promotion’s match of the year. His style was just perfect for the promotion. He was hard hitting, high flying, and showed a level of perseverance in his matches, that was rarely duplicated. It’s no surprise that he is currently on the WWE main roster. Even if it was short, it’s going to be hard to forget his run of matches in DEFY pro wrestling.

2.) Shane Strickland vs Artemis Spencer, DEFY: On Edge (December 14, 2018)
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This match had to be the most important in DEFY history. Not only was the match thrilling but it felt like the culmination of the company’s development. At the first show, Shane Strickland was the main event talent representing the Pacific Northwest. Even if he was a nationally recognized “outsider”, Strickland was from Tacoma and therefore represented our region. It felt like the organization was basically built with him as the main event focal point. Strickland won, lost, and helped develop the heavyweight title picture of the organization into something special. At the same time, Artemis Spencer wasn’t as recognized nationally, but his matches in DEFY (and other local organizations) made him recognized as an emerging star. This match felt like a passing of the torch. It felt like Strickland, this well known star outside of DEFY, by losing the belt was saying “DEFY now has it’s own stars and they can contend with anyone outside of DEFY.” Artemis Spencer winning the belt felt like validation of the talent we had been cheering for. That maybe the homegrown talent like Artemis Spencer, Cody Chuun, The Amerikan Gunz, or even Carl the Catch, could make a play on the national stage.

1.) Progress Wrestling weekend (August 9 and 10, 2018)20180809_212656
One of the biggest validations that not only DEFY, but the Pacific Northwest has now emerged as a viable territory for professional wrestling, had to be the weekend when Progress Wrestling came to Seattle. It was big news in the pro wrestling community when one of the top (if not the top) organizations in the current European professional wrestling scene announced a Summer tour, and Seattle would be the sole West Coast stop on the tour. The prospect that the Seattle pro wrestling community had gained enough of a reputation that a foreign pro wrestling company would want to hold a show here is astounding. We went from the “blackhole of professional wrestling” to the sole West Coast stop for a top European professional wrestling organization. Not to mention the shows were incredible.

Some of the best matches and most unlikely match ups occurred that weekend. For example, in one show we saw Pete Dunne (the defending WWE NXT UK Champion) take on Brody King (currently signed to ROH) with Lucha Underground ring announcer, Melissa Santos, provide an intro for the match. The first time the DEFYance threw money into the ring was after the Mexablood and Rey Horus versus British Strong Style match. Who knew a piece of paper could raw as many cringe moments as it did when Randy Myers took on Jimmy Havoc? The room was packed. The crowd was loud. I think DEFY left a great impression on the Progress Wrestling fanbase.

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In two years, DEFY Pro Wrestling has become the top professional wrestling organization in the Pacific Northwest. DEFY has helped Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, shake the stigma of the professional wrestling community in the area, and helped it emerge as a stop for talents on their way to the top. With as much as the past two years have felt like a rocket ship, I look forward to seeing where DEFY Pro Wrestling will go next. Really the sky is the limit for this fairly new organization.