For the first time since April, NXT UK is back with new matches as they hit the relaunch button.
Wolfgang & Mark Coffey pinned Amir Jordan & Kenny Williams in 10:50 (**¼)
Aoife Valkyrie pinned Isla Dawn in 5:43 (**¼)
Ilja Dragunov pinned Noam Dar in 11:50 (***¼)
…and now for something a little more casual.
We’ve a video package summing up “the gap” that’s been around in NXT UK’s absence, interspersed with clips of the empty BT Sports studio. Then clips of all of the photo shoots that have flooded social media this week, and those are the long-missed tones of Nigel McGuinness. Yes, he’s back! They flash through a lot of the roster that’s still around… and now it’s new titles.
Wargasm’s “God of War” is the new tune, and we’re coming from the BT Sports studios in London, with no fans on hand. I mean, that’s no surprise given the miniscule number of promotions actually running shows… and the even smaller number who are doing so indoors. Andy Shepherd and Nigel McGuinness are the disembodied voices on hand for this as the show opens with Johnny Saint’s mouthpiece in the ring. He’s quickly interrupted by Ilja Dragunov, and on the new lower-thirds they’re really hammering home the different nationalities on the roster. Fun with flags.
After taking his coat off, Ilja tells us he’s fed up of waiting to cash in his title shot… but Noam Dar interrupts as well. His quarantine hair is a little calmer… but Ilja isn’t, as the Russian dives on the Scot, before they went at it in the ring. Referees come out to separate them, and we have Ilja vs. Dar for later tonight.
Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) vs. Kenny Williams & Amir Jordan
Coffey and Jordan start us off with a shoulder tackle, as the tag champions looked to establish themselves early.
A side headlock from Jordan is pushed away, before he came back with a dropkick… a tag brings in Williams, who springboards into a double sledge on the arm. Williams tries to pick up the pace, but Coffey muscles him away as Wolfgang tags in to work the wrist. An elbow breaks that, as Williams slides underneath before bringing Amir back for another double sledge to the arm. They exchange quick tags as they work over Wolfgang’s arm, but a short lariat from Wolfgang drops Jordan as Gallus took over again. Jordan goes for a crossbody, which is caught… and he’s promptly met with a Coffey diving uppercut for good measure. Wolfgang’s back with a neck crank, then an armbar… Jordan tries to use headscissors to free himself, but he’s dumped down as Gallus maintained their upper hand.
Another cravat, with some uppercuts, wear down Amir, before Wolfgang came in to claw away on Jordan’s recently-healed shoulder. Coffey’s in with a Million Dollar Dream, letting go to ripcord him into a headbutt as Wolfgang picked up a two-count. More rapid tags ensure the Scots stay on top of Jordan, before a double-team monkey flip almost put Amir away. Amir manages to get the hot tag to Williams who went wild on Wolfgang, but he’s stopped when his rana was caught. Somehow he’s able to rebound off the ropes to hit the move anyway, before heading up for a springboard missile dropkick. A big boot knocks Coffey outside ahead of Williams’ thru-the-ropes dropkick… but Wolfgang picks up the pieces as he threatened to press slam him to the outside.
Williams slips out and avoids his doom and almost rolled up Wolfgang for the win. From there, Wolfgang is in with a back suplex, before Coffey tagged in to hit a bridging suplex for another near-fall. Coffey tries for something, but gets rolled up as Williams bounced back with a Slingblade and a wheelbarrow facebuster. A tag out bring in Jordan for a senton bomb, but Wolfgang breaks up the cover just in time. Jordan tries to follow up with a rolling thunder from the apron, but he rolls into a chop from Coffey, who hits an enziguiri to aid Wolfgang’s slam for the win. I mean as a match it was aggressively fine, but it plodded for large parts – not exactly the rip roaring first match back you’d have hoped for after a lay-off. **¼
Post-match, the rest of the tag team division wander out – Webster and Andrews… Boar and Primate… Pretty Deadly… Carter and Smith. They’re somewhat distanced, and I wonder if that would have been a better opener instead? Oh, they also have Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel staring on from a TV screen too, since they can’t make it over.
Saxon Huxley is backstage talking about how he’s handled isolation. Poorly, by the look of it. Next week he’s bringing the end of times, as he comes from a dark place. What, Hartlepool? It’s not that bad…
Kay Lee Ray comes out for promo time. She’s rejoicing because the show is back… or she would be, if she didn’t have to face Piper Niven soon. They have a long past, “defining women’s wrestling in the UK,” and it’s led to them facing off on a WWE show. Kay Lee says it’s her chance to prove she’s a little bit better, and of course that draws out Niven, who’s here to crack wise. Niven asks Kay Lee to say how often she’s beaten her… it’s 11 of 19 times if you just count singles matches.
Kay Lee says that Niven’s not beaten “this Kay Lee Ray”, but her attempt to sucker punch Niven’s blocked. Ray scarpers, and there’s our build. Very basic “I’m better than you and I’m going to show it,” but it’s the simple stuff that sometimes works the best.
They air a promo package for Isla Dawn and Aoife Valkyrie… because they face each other next.
Isla Dawn vs. Aoife Valkyrie
The women’s match is still on second…
We open with a lock-up as Valkyrie gets a side headlock, grabbing hold tight before she was shoved off. It’s reapplied, then turned into a headlock takedown, but Dawn counters with headscissors before they stood off. Was that a hint of dubbed in crowd there? They hit the ropes, with drop downs leading to a spinning heel kick from Valkyrie, before a Corning hold from Dawn stopped Valkyrie in her tracks. Aoife flips free, but gets whipped into the corner… she cartwheels back out and springboards in with a crossbody for a two-count. It’s back to the side headlock next, and of course I drop out.
My network recovers after a ‘rana took Dawn into the ropes, where she uses the referee to buy herself some time. A Saito suplex is next, then a chinlock, before Dawn took Valkyrie into a standing surfboard. Dawn torques Valkyrie to the mat for a one-count, before a chinbar was fought out of, as Valkyrie came in with knees. They switch-around in the corner as Dawn lands some body blows, and it’s back to the double arm stretch. Valkyrie flips free and pushes Dawn away, then found a mark with a spinning heel kick, before overhand chops stung the Scotswoman. Another leaping kick has her down, before a running Blockbuster gets a two-count…
Dawn tries her luck with a roll-up, but it’s not enough as Valkyrie fought back with a flying scissors kick for the win. Again, this was decent, but given the promo packages Valkyrie had during the time off, this felt like there was only going to be one winner. **¼
They recap the Heritage Cup announcement from last week. This time with a flashier video package to recap the rules, and profile pieces of the guys in the tournament: A-Kid, Dave Mastiff, Noam Dar, Flash Morgan Webster, Joseph Conners (whose style was listed as “poacher”), Alexander Wolfe and Trent Seven. There’s a wildcard, but that’s not revealed here. Next week: Pete Dunne’s on hand to draw the brackets for the Heritage Cup. Hmm.
Also next week: Kay Lee Ray defends the NXT UK Women’s title vs. Piper Niven.
Noam Dar vs. Ilja Dragunov
We go to ground early as Dragunov launched in with some palm strikes from the mount as Dar scrambles away.
It’s scrappy as they tie up in the ropes… a cheap shot on the break’s returned by Ilja, as Dar cowered between the ropes. Dar comes in with an armbar, but his work looked to be for nought as Ilja lifted himself up and went back into the ropes… where there’s another cheap shot. Dar tries to kick out the leg, but Dragunov is wise to it as they reached another stand-off. A leaping forearm from Ilja and a crossbody has Dar down for a two-count. Dar rolls outside and tries to beckon Ilja there, which eventually happens… they scrap around ringside, with Ilja throwing Dar into the side of the ring, before they returned. Dar catches Ilja up top, eventually grabbing Ilja’s arm and torquing it, but Dragunov knocks him down before Dar came back with a kick to the leg to knock the Russian down.
That gets the Scotsman a two-count, but Ilja tries to fight back… and ends up needing to kick out of a Northern Lights suplex. Dar targets Ilja’s limbs, stomping them down one at a time like a modern day Ron Garvin, leading to another two-count, before a knee drop to the arm left Ilja almost stunned. Some rough housing follows, as does an elbow to the head, before Dar bounced Ilja off the bottom rope with a hiptoss, landing Ilja on his head for another two-count. Dragunov fought back once more, landing an enziguiri before a suplex dumps Dar in the middle of the ring. Ilja can’t go for the cover straight away though, and ends up nailing a swivelling lariat moments later. Ilja tries to get feeling back in his bad arm, as he prepared for a teardrop suplex, but Dar resists, and ends up dropping down to pull Ilja into an omoplata.
Ilja manages to block it, but Dar then goes for a Champagne Super Kneebar… that too is blocked as Dragunov stomped Dar in the midsection. From there, a knee lift has Dar down, before a Konstantin-Spezial lariat almost got the win. Ilja goes for it again, but Dar boots him away, then dropkicks him outside as he looked to race to victory with a diving forearm, but it’s still not enough. Dar keeps going, transitioning into a Fujiwara armbar as Ilja looked to be in trouble, but Dragunov fights back to his feet. He grabs Dar’s wrist and torques away before some chops to the neck and shoulders led to another series of knee lifts. Another chop has Dar bent over, before a teardrop-ish suplex almost gets Ilja the win, before he teed up for Torpedo Moscau… but Alexander Wolfe is out to distract.
Dar almost capitalised with a roll-up, but Ilja kicks out… then shoved Dar into the German before a Torpedo Moscau got the win. With a crowd, this could have felt so much bigger – but a lot of this being done in silence, without anything for the guys to feed off of, hampered it. A pretty good TV-level main event, as Ilja had a hell of a scrap on his hands here. ***¼
After the match, WALTER’s music hits. He stands in the aisle for a socially-distanced pose-off to close the show.
The obvious comparison is that “this is a studio show,” since it’s filmed in a TV studio. Problem is, without any crowd, much like the NJPW Strong shows, it’s a sterile environment. Perhaps even more so because the amount of bells and whistles from production to distract only highlights the situation. A serviceable show, with a really good main event given the setting, but this was far from the big return show you may have hoped for.