NXT UK returns with more Superstar Picks – as the roster prepares to tape new shows.

If you missed Takeover last weekend, WWE announced that NXT UK would be returning with new content on September 17. WWE had been sewing the seeds for this on recent episodes of the show to varying degrees – and if you’d been following roster members’ social media, you could probably have guessed the announcement ahead of time, especially once Amale had posted photos of her flying into the UK a week or so ago.  So yeah, whether that was old or new, any quarantining will be just about done… which means NXT UK is either about to start, or is shooting new content that’ll be dropping in a few weeks’ time. Farewell Superstar Picks, your time with us was necessary but fleetingly short.

Quick Results
– From WWF on MSG Network in December 1984 – The Cobra pinned Black Tiger to win the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship in 12:30 (***¼)
– From Evolution in October 2018: Mae Young Classic Final – Toni Storm pinned Io Shirai in 10:00 (***¼)
– From NXT Takeover: Arrival in February 2014 – Cesaro pinned Sami Zayn in 23:00 (****¼)

We open with the shortened titles once more, as Andy Shepherd’s back in the living room to tell us about the return of NXT UK next month. It’s coming from the BT Sports Studios, but in the meantime, here’s some more matches from the past. First up: William Regal introducing the “only appearance in the WWE archives” of Rollerball Rocco as a tribute to him. He had two others: a 1985 house show in New Jersey, and a pre-show match for a UK taping for Sky One in 1989.

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: The Cobra vs. Black Tiger
They sure do love throwing in random 80s matches here. Of course, this was in tribute to the recently-passed Rollerball Rocco… this was one of only three matches he had in WWF. Howard Finkel paraded the Junior Heavyweight Championship belt before the match – it had been vacated when Dynamite Kid stopped bouncing between WWF and New Japan, so rather than have him lose it on a WWF show, they just stripped him of it. The 80s were weird.

Black Tiger tries to grab at the Cobra, but they end up in the ropes before Cobra worked over a wristlock… but Black Tiger flips free before landing a snapmare and a knee drop. A snapmare and an elbow drop follows as a chinlock from Black Tiger is escaped, before Cobra took him down in an armdrag. Overhead forearms from the Cobra had Black Tiger down for a cross armbar, but Black Tiger escapes as Gorilla Monsoon paid lip service to the character’s lineage. A clothesline from Black Tiger takes down the Cobra, but the Cobra’s back with a back body drop that flips Black Tiger down for another chinlock.

The Cobra goes for an elbow off the top… he misses, but clatters into Black Tiger with a spinning kick into the corner. A knee drop and a gutwrench suplex lands for a two-count as the pair scrambled rapidly between holds. Black Tiger kips up out of some headscissors, but he’s caught in a fireman’s carry gutbuster as the Cobra proceeded to roll him into a Boston crab. The hold’s broken up, as the Cobra instead went for a Romero special, but he pulls Black Tiger into the ropes to force a break. Nevertheless, the Cobra returns with a front facelock, but a release Northern Lights from Black Tiger counters out ahead of a legdrop for a near-fall.

An elbow from Black Tiger has Cobra down for a slingshot knee drop, and it’s back to the chinlock and sleeperhold, as the Black Tiger just wore down the Cobra. Chops get retaliated, but the Cobra misses a slingshot knee… and is back in a chinlock. Black Tiger grapevines Cobra’s legs, before he took Cobra into the ropes for a back body drop, with a follow-up elbow getting another two-count. Black Tiger reapplies a front chancery, before Cobra powered up… he’s then met with a kick as Black Tiger avoids a back body drop before he rolled into a cover. This time, Black Tiger misses a slingshot knee and gets squashed with a legdrop to the back of the head for a delayed two-count. Things continue to get a little scrappy with headbutts before Black Tiger applied a full nelson… it’s powered out as the Cobra takes him outside with dropkicks.

Black Tiger tries to head back inside, but a press slam takes him off the top as a figure four headscissors keeps Black Tiger down. Tiger rolls out of it, before he caught Cobra with a clothesline, then a series of rolling neckbreakers for another two-count. A scooping tombstone’s next, before Black Tiger went up… and whiffed with a back elbow off the top rope! The Cobra capitalises with a spinning heel kick off the ropes, but it’s not enough. We get some more back body drops and a dropkick as the Cobra began to dominate, taking Black Tiger outside for a tope suicida. Somehow, Black Tiger’s back up and punches Cobra down in the ring ahead of a splash off the top rope, before a floatover suplex gets a near-fall.

Another scooping tombstone plants Cobra for a near-fall, before a third one was reversed as the Cobra hit one of his own, leading to a back senton off the top rope for the win. This started out pretty scrappy, but when things settled down, it got pretty damn great by 1984 standards. ***¼

Of course, the women’s match is up second… remember when Toni was meant to be about to break out and get “promoted” to the main NXT? Toni says this match changed her career, and it’s so important to her, she got the show date tattooed on her. Yes, we’re going back to Evolution in 2018…

Mae Young Classic 2018 Final: Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai
After a handshake, we get going with Toni grabbing a headlock, but Shirai counters right back, only to get taken to the mat as the pair looked to neutralise the other. Storm scoots out of some headscissors as we get another handshake, before they rotated through more holds, with Storm flipping out of a wristlock ahead of some body blows. A low dropkick catches Shirai for a near-fall, as Storm keeps up with the strikes, throwing in uppercuts and forearms… but Shirai backflips away and lands a dropkick of her own as she looked to stay in the match. There’s a vicious handstand into a knee drop that gets Shirai a near-fall as she tries to pull Toni into a version of the Rings of Saturn… turning it into an Octopus-like stretch, but Storm makes it to the ropes as a break’s forced.

Storm leaps over Shirai before catching her with a German suplex, sending Shirai into the corner for a hip attack. From there, Toni heads up top, but she’s caught as Io sprung up and hit a leaping kick to send Storm down, following up an Orihara moonsault to the floor. They both end up on the apron, where Toni teases a Storm Zero Tiger Driver… but Shirai wriggles free, only to get dumped with a German suplex onto the apron. Ow. Barely beating the count, Shirai’s forced to kick out of a cover as Storm keeps up the offence… only for Shirai to hit back even harder, before she ran into a lariat from Storm. Toni follows that up with a Storm Zero Tiger Driver for a near-fall, forcing Shirai to the ropes as she tried to find some respite… Shirai hits back with a 619 as Toni was in the ropes, then a picturesque springboard sunset flip… but Storm kicks out at two, only to get clocked in the corner with a running double knees. Io heads up top for the moonsault… but Toni lifts her feet up, and quickly catches Shirai with a Storm Zero, and that Tiger Driver gets her the win! ***¼

They air the video package announcing the return of NXT UK, complete with horses having long since bolted from their stables…

Next week, we’ve a special on Ilja Dragunov and WALTER – as they build up to that eventual title match at some point. Then… a video package on NXT UK’s tag teams. Webster & Andrews… The Hunt… Pretty Deadly… Imperium (except maybe not for NXT UK’s return)… Carter & Smith… Williams & Jordan… and of course, the current champions, Gallus’ Mark Coffey and Wolfgang. It’s telling that the Grizzled Young Veterans wasn’t part of that list – perhaps that NXT call-up is sticking

Ilja introduces his pick for the main event here, and it’s a bait and switch for those who read the WWE.com preview…

Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
It’s from the first ever Takeover, in the early days of the WWE Network. We start with a lock-up from Cesaro, as he shoves Zayn away. A headlock takedown and quick escapes are traded as Zayn and Cesaro were feeling each other out, but Zayn flips free before a tijeras was caught… and turned into a tease of a Giant Swing. Zayn pushes away and sends Cesaro to the outside, following up with a tope con giro for good measure. The crowd’s already molten for this, as Zayn returned to the ring for a crossbody… but Cesaro effortlessly catches him and turns him into a backbreaker for a near-fall as Sami rolled back to the outside.

Cesaro throws Sami into the rails, then back inside… so he can throw him out on the other side of the ring as the Swiss native used the ring apron and the guard rails to his advantage. He keeps throwing Sami in to and out of the ring, but Sami fights back… only to get thrown into the railings. Back in the ring, a lateral press gets Cesaro a two-count… and it’s back to the outside. A Snake Eyes drops Zayn across the rails, but Sami manages to take Cesaro into the ring post before he prepared for a through-the-corner dive… which Cesaro counters with an uppercut. Christ, remember when Cesaro was tagged for sure-fire greatness?

Cesaro wraps Zayn’s legs around the ring post after that, before returning to the ring as he began to work over Sami’s leg, torquing it with his own knee. Sami tries to kick away, but Cesaro just hits a stomp onto the knee for a two-count, before he resumed torquing away at the knee. Zayn kicks away Cesaro, then came back in with a dropkick as he bought himself some time. Cesaro stays on him with stomps in the corner, before he trapped Sami in the middle of the ring with a half crab. Cesaro neatly repositions himself to obstruct Zayn, but in the end a rope break is eventually called.

Zayn manages to lift Cesaro to the outside, but instead of following up, he sets up for an Arabian Press… but Cesaro caught him and turned it into a tiltawhirl slam on the floor. Yup. Sami didn’t learn! A stumble almost cost Sami the match as he ended up having to drag himself back into the ring… and somehow manages to fire back with an Exploder into the buckles for a near-fall. A Blue Thunder Bomb continues Sami’s momentum, before he trapped Cesaro in the middle of the ring with a Koji clutch. Cesaro manages to break the grip and turned Sami into a Stretch Muffler, wrenching away on that damaged knee, almost forcing the stoppage, but Zayn dives towards the rope for the break.

Sami tries to block Cesaro in the ropes with a kick, but counters a Giant Swing into a wheelbarrow for a near-fall… only to get picked up as he flailed around to try and fight off the swing. It’s “only” a nine from Cesaro, who followed up with a European uppercut in the corner for a near-fall, before Sami tried to snatch it with a flash pin. It doesn’t work, so Cesaro hits a low dropkick for a two-count of his own. We keep going with Sami catching Cesaro on the top rope with a kick, but a top rope ‘rana’s caught and turned into a teased super Ricola bomb… but Zayn gets the ‘rana off anyway before almost nicking the win with a Helluva kick! Cesaro’s back with another uppercut which left the referee to give Zayn a standing ten-count. Sami gets up, and we wash, rinse, repeat.

Sami gets back up to trade shots with Cesaro, as he looked for any way back into the match… and it descends into a brief hockey fight before Zayn landed a snap German suplex! It left William Regal agog on ccommentary, but Zayn then ran into a boot before he countered a Neutraliser into a back body drop, sitting down for a near-fall. A Code Red-ish flip is next for another two-count, before Sami was suckered into a pop-up European uppercut… for a one-count?! Using the ropes, Sami gets back to his feet, but eats a spinning European uppercut before Cesaro ran in with a Neutraliser for the win. In a vaccum, this was pretty damn good – I’ve seen a lot of higher ratings, which probably came from being in and around the time period (and subject to the build), but considering WWE went six years into the archives for this, they weren’t going to pull out another Gentleman’s Three. ****¼

They play the post-match stuff with Cesaro walking away… then returning to the ring to hug Zayn, as Sami finally got the respect he was looking for. Oh, and the post-match chants for Sami, which for some reason was left in as they faded to black without a sign-off. I mean, the originally advertised match for this spot was Cesaro vs. Ilja Dragunov from NXT UK Takeover Cardiff last year, so maybe that was a late call and they couldn’t repurpose stuff in time?

…and that looks to be it for the Superstars Picks era of NXT UK. Next week, we’ve got a profile piece to build up WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov, which you’d think is set for NXT UK Takeover – be that in Dublin or however they handle it. Then the week after that… who knows? But that being one week away from the return of NXT UK, it’d be extremely likely that it’d be another profile piece or a roster rundown, rather than more picks from the vault. Still, buoyed by the match picked last, which I’d not seen in a long while, NXT UK wrapped up its trips to the archives with a solid show. Now, all eyes turn to the future as the show finally has a roadmap back to business.