I hit DEFY Wrestling: Mad Kingdom last night. Right before the pandemic, I had tickets for a DEFY show starring The Great Sasuke, plus they co-promoted the Super J-Cup show that S. and I went to in 2019. I thus had warm feelings, plus I’ve heard good things about them, plus Eddie Kingston was main eventing and like so many other fans I’ve been really impressed by his AEW run. So I decided to take a calculated risk and go out to an event.
It was pretty fun! Overall it wasn’t an exceptional show, but three of the matches were good to excellent and every match had something to like. I liked it enough to subscribe to their Patreon and I’m thinking I’ll make this a monthly excursion.
Washington Hall is a decent venue: your typical classic old-school event hall, with space for a few hundred people to watch a show. Parking is a bit of a pain. They got the crowd in pretty quickly, including vaccination checks. Food and drink was available.
The crowd had huge spirit. This was the second DEFY event since the start of the pandemic and the crowd was super-happy to be there. That kind of thing is infectious and I really dug the community. The announcer gave a shoutout to a couple of regulars who are fighting off illness and people reacted well.
Ethan HD fought Jordan Oliver in the opener. I knew nothing about either of them, except that Ethan’s a local and Jordan Oliver came in from New York. Oliver was really impressive, especially for a 22 year old. Great grasp of limb work, spent the majority of the match working on Ethan’s wrist and arm. Ethan supplied power moves in excellent contrast. 2.5 stars, would watch more of these two working with each other and I will keep an eye out for Jordan Oliver in the future.
They were followed by a promo from Rebel Kel, who has beef with Danika Della Rouge, who came out of the back to explain her beef with Rebel Kel. This unsurprisingly started a fight, which went all through the venue, around the ring, into the ring, etc. DEFY’s referees aren’t good at stopping fights. Della Rouge has a taser and doesn’t mind using it. She also has deadly powder, a chain to choke you with, all that heel stuff. The sight lines from where I was sitting (couple rows back) made it hard to watch all the action so it dragged on a bit for me. I’m curious to see how it looks on their on-demand service.
The Christopher Daniels vs. Titus Alexander match was quality. 3 stars from me. It had a bit of that 90s indie “we’re just gonna get our moves in” feel, but they were good moves. Daniels is of course a legend and he’s still got plenty of athleticism. Titus Alexander held up his end of the bargain just fine, plus he has a great look. Daniels put Alexander over and promised to come back to DEFY, much to the pleasure of the crowd.
Following a 20 minute intermission, Cody Chhun and Nick Wayne came out to chat. They were slated to fight the Bollywood Boyz, which I suspect would have been excellent, but the Boyz are stuck in Canada thanks to visa issues. Instead, they challenged Midnight Heat (Eddie Pearl & Ricky Gibson), which I gather is a rematch from the previous month’s show? Midnight Heat came out, heeled around a bit, and finally said they’d accept the challenge but if they won, whoever they pinned had to leave DEFY forever.
So man, I hate to say it, but the stipulation hurt the match for me. That’s just a ton of weight to put on an impromptu replacement match. Midnight Heat were great Southern-style heels with lots of arrogance and cheating. Wayne and Chhun make a really cool team; Chhun wrestles with smooth power from a strong base, and Wayne is a fun high flyer in the classic tradition of impossibly young high flyers.
Holy crap, Nick Wayne is only 16? He’s really good for his age. His dad is Buddy Wayne, who was quite good and apparently trained half the wrestlers in the PNW, including Darby Allin. But I digress.
Anyway, so the match itself was good! Nick Wayne does a good face in peril and he could make the comebacks believable. Chhun provided all the power moves you could want. I just had trouble buying that an ad hoc stipulation was going to stick. I would have bought a title change — why not? — but when Chhun got pinned I just didn’t believe he was gonna be leaving. Possibly my fault for not suspending disbelief. Overall 2 stars.
The penultimate match was fun. The Cook Brothers are kinda lanky heels, with nothing exceptional going on but they’re perfectly enjoyable to boo. Leon Negro and Guillermo Rosas are I think kind of an ad hoc team? Both wrestle lucha style, both were decent. Rosas uses Old Town Road for his entrance music and I’m always down for a little blatant indie wrestling copyright violation. He’s also a chonk and I’m pro-chonk. Anyhow: 2 stars, everyone brought the broad comedy, and it was a solid change of pace between the tragic loser leaves town match and the impending violence of Eddie Kingston vs. Schaff.
But! Schaff (who has the great man mountain rough guy look) came out and let us know that Eddie Kingston got a boo-boo and couldn’t make the match. Also that he, Schaff, was the most underappreciated wrestler in the business, so the main event was going to be just him sitting in a chair so we could all witness him. “Unless Eddie managed to call in some kind of favor from Tony, ha ha.”
OK, that’s a hint, so I started running through the possibilities in my mind. I was sorely disappointed that I wasn’t gonna get to see Eddie Kingston, but clearly someone else from AEW was going to show up. Darby Allin, maybe? Brian Cage, for a powerhouse match? I was gonna be a bit disappointed either way…
Wild Thing hit the speakers. That’s Jon Moxley’s music. Jon Moxley, who was part of the G1 that sucked me back into wrestling? In a little event hall in Seattle?
YEP. Boy, that was one excited crowd.
After letting us go wild for a bit, Moxley and Schaff proceeded to brawl throughout the event hall. I guess someone went through a table at one point? I couldn’t see it from where I was sitting. No problem; I got to see Schaff put Moxley through a few chairs in the middle of the ring, and I got to see Moxley suplex Schaff onto thumbtacks, and I got to see them brawl up to the balcony and back. I don’t think it went much over ten minutes but they both went hard. Easy 3.5 stars.
Afterwards Moxley talked about how hard a year it’d been for indie wrestling, which was why he was happy to fill in, and since nobody is the boss of him he’s gonna come back in November. The man is more charismatic in person than he is on a TV screen, which is saying something.