DEUS EX MACHINA
I love the tangible mistrust that exists between Kelly Evans and Jane Katze. This thread should continue on for a while. It is, in a way, a spinoff of the Dane/White relationship we've already seen before, but somehow this feels like a different and new dynamic. It's interesting.
The opening montage and voiceover worked fine for me -- if the PPV is called Aftershock, then the metaphors kind of write themselves. Good rundown as usual.
MASATO ISHIMARU vs. MALACHI
Like others have said, a far, far more competitive match than it deserved to be. Craig is always super generous as a match writer, though. Here's hoping he finds a good angle partner for Malachi going forward.
THE TROJAN TITLE SHOT
I admit I didn't catch onto the "a" FIST of DEFIANCE wordplay at first, so the reveal later on actually did surprise me. I must be as dumb as Jonny Booya. I'm not sure if Booya was the victim of being the odd man out when the whole arc had to be rebooked, or if this was an intended endgame to take him out of action for a while, but he felt adrift here. I still love me some angry, dumbshit Booya, though.
Knowing who is eventually revealed to be the one to take out FDJ, this works for me as a piece of misdirection. You think the point was to put Lindsay Troy's team at a disadvantage against Team HOSS, but in the end it seems like that was purely collateral damage. But it also leads to an eleventh-hour replacement that actually turns things against the World Trios Champions. I'm still chewing on the motivations here, but definitely interesting stuff.
HENRY KEYES vs SAMUEL T. TURNER THE SECOND
This was pure awesome and win. I've said before I'm a HYOOJ mark for brawls that go all over the arena, and this one totally delivered on the carnage you'd expect from these two bruisers. Quimbey warning fans to get the hell out of the way was unexpected, but damn it, I laughed. I didn't get the Drew Siler reference, must be before my time. Wieners in Keyes's mouth -- "JUST YOUR TYPICAL FRIDAY NIGHT" -- hah! Superplex to the floor?! Daaaamn. Great finish with a rebounding roaring BELL CLAP! I loved the match.
I wroted this.
TROY MATTHEWS vs JAKE DONOVAN vs CURTIS PENN
Out of these three, Penn is still the character who manages most consistently to demonstrate a strong sense of personality. The cast gimmick is a great touch for this arc, and him managing to squeak out the win should hopefully position him for a good push or a solid feud going forward.
As for the post-match, I hope it means Troy Matthews and Jake Donovan will launch into a focused feud that will hopefully give them both some direction.
I'LL TAKE THOSE ODDS
Lindsay Troy and Dan Ryan go to the Pleasure Dome and get themselves a ringer to fill out their team, none other than Blackimus Prime himself. As much as I like the last-minute fill-in by Ty Walker, I can't help noticing how casual and unperturbed LT and Ryan are about the possibility of going into the trios match one member short. Considering how damned unbeatable Team HOSS has been as a group up to now, and how Troy already lost a trios match against them on DEFtv, you'd think this would be a bigger deal to her. The whole attitude of the seg just felt too indifferent and 'whatev' given the stakes.
GOOD LUCK CHARM
I'm a big fan of Craig's work this arc. What I most appreciated with this seg -- and this was not really planned, but it just sort of happened, like many great things do -- was how it paralleled "Performance Anxiety" earlier on. In both cases you have the competitor in an unfocused mental state going into the Southern Heritage Championship match, and their respective confidants helping them center themselves and get their heads right. The story all along has been about what Holiday and Noble need in their lives to feel capable to reach success, what their support systems bring to bear, and you have a clear dichotomy between Frank and his shitty girlfriend on one hand, and David and the loving Mary-Lynn on the other. All of which culminates at last in...
SOUTHERN HERITAGE TITLE - DAVID NOBLE vs FRANK HOLIDAY (C)
Craig outdoes himself again with this one, with only a wee bit of help from this guy, mainly in the climax and post-match bit. This has been a hugely fulfilling angle to run with Craig and I've enjoyed the hell out of it. Noble deservedly stands tall as the NEW SoHer Champion!
NO POWER IN THE 'VERSE CAN STOP ME
So this was a powerful, character defining promo by Lindsay Troy, and it more than makes up for the too-coolness of the previous seg. She issues her mission statement, throws a shout out to Tyler Rayne and Wade Elliott, and promises hell to pay on Team HOSS. Being that this really is HER fight, I don't mind that Dan Ryan and Ty Walker stood aside and let her take centre stage. She came across as the Big Damn Hero she needed to be. Excellent work.
WORLD TRIOS TITLES - LINDSAY TROY, DAN RYAN, TY WALKER vs TEAM HOSS (C)
Greeeeat clusterfucky style match! This is the blowoff that DEFIANCE wanted and needed. LT runs wild, Walker runs wild, Ryan runs wild, Team HOSS are their usual imposing, arrogant selves. I particularly marked for this line after Angel Trinidad dives out of the ring onto MUHBOITAI:
DEAR GOD, THEY CAN FLY, TOO?! OUR HOSS OVERLORDS COMMAND THE LAND AND SKY! NOBODY IS SAFE!
Perfectly satisfying finish with Ryan and Troy going all Captain Planet and letting their powers combine to take out Capital Punishment for the pinfall. NEW WORLD TRIOS CHAMPS! And in the time-honored tradition of the dastardly villains getting their just desserts in the end, Kelly Evans gets to expose that nonsense with the drug tests and kick Junior Keeling and his boys out of DEFIANCE. Couldn't ask for a better end to this long-running title reign.
STAKE THE CLAIM
I wrote the first part, Craig wrote the second part, and the Mushigihara attack was a joint effort. What I was going for with Frank here was, despite being at a personal low point at this moment, he was still able to recapture his dignity and kick Lexi to the curb. I will say that I meant to write an RP with Lindz weeks ago that would've explained the history with Frank and Lexi, and maybe helped to show why this was such a struggle for Frank. Unfortunately I dropped the ball on that and it never happened.
Mushi's brutal assault on the new and former SoHer Champions sets him up perfectly as the Next Big Thing in the division.
IT'S A CELEBRATION, BITCHES!
Nice little aftermath segment here following up on the World Trios Championship match. Team HOSS are exiled in disgrace, the winners gon' get their party on, Troy exhibiting a very different, but welcome, human moment because her usual crew weren't there to be part of it. Liked this a lot.
JONNY BOOYA vs CLAIRA ST. SURE
So like I said, I didn't get the bait-and-switch over "a" FIST of DEFIANCE until Kelly Evans spelled it out for Jonny Booya (and me), so hey, nicely done. I was sorry when Lee put CSS on the shelf a while ago, and I was happy to see her come back here, which I hope is not just a one-shot thing. But Booya's gone now? Boooooo.
DEFIANCE TITLE UNIFICATION - EUGENE DEWEY (C) vs DUSTY GRIFFITH (C)
Truly a James-Damien (Jamien? Dames?) joint in all the best ways. You need to make it epic if you're going to pit your two top babyfaces in a title unification match, and this delivered 100%. Taking a cue from the interview that was posted just before the show went up, you feel the mutual respect between Griffith and Dewey, but you also know neither of these guys is going to give an inch to the other. Excellent match from start to finish, and speaking of the finish, did anyone else picture Eugene engulfed in flames and a combo meter going berserk when he hit his Super Dragon Punch? Major props to you guys. Eugene Dewey is your NEW UNIFIED FIST OF DEFIANCE!
THE SPECTACLE OF FEARSOME ACTS
Even in defeat, Dusty is all class and respect when he hands over the two title belts to Eugene (contrast that to Frank Holiday's sour grapes earlier... haha). And then... SWERVE! Dusty gets a beatdown! Turns out Eugene has been keeping his feelings bottled up all this time and he pulls an EPIC NERD HEEL TURN! I always think back to Mick Foley's theory on heel psychology: no matter how fucked up the heel's actions are, he must always believe he's right. Eugene Dewey's turn here is a shining example of this principle in action. Every single one of his grievances is true for him, and the end result follows organically from that. Full disclosure, when I heard a rumor that this was going to happen, I didn't think it would work. Well, I was wrong. It was perfectly executed, and Bronson Box making his shocking return to back up Eugene's position was a great way to sell it. Now you've got a formidable pair of main event level heels to lord over DEFIANCE, a broken hero and former champion, and pleeeenty of storyline potential going forward.
Awesome show, everybody!