The Heritage Cup gets underway on NXT UK this week, with Noam Dar and Alexander Wolfe locking up under British rules.
Wildcard Qualifier: Kenny Williams pinned Ashton Smith & Amir Jordan in 9:24 (***)
Jinny submitted Xia Brookside in 6:32 (**¼)
Heritage Cup Quarter Final: Noam Dar beat Alexander Wolfe by 2 rounds to 1 (2:56 of round 5) (**¾)
We’re back in the BT Sport Studios in London, with Andy Shepherd and Nigel McGuinness around for commentary.
Wildcard Qualifier: Kenny Williams vs. Ashton Smith vs. Amir Jordan
None of these guys were announced, so instead we’ve got the the “how will the tag partners co-exist” gimmick here for the mystery three-way. Williams and Jordan worked well in the early stages, dropkicking Smith to the outside.
Jordan frustrates his partner, leaping over him before an O’Connor roll from Williams led to a two-count. Amir gets some roll-ups of his own in before they hit a stand-off… that was interrupted with clotheslines from Smith. We get some pin attempts as everyone tries to nick a pin on each other, before things broke down with Jordan hitting a crossbody on Smith for a two-count. Ashton pushed on with a delayed suplex to Jordan, but Williams breaks the count at one, before taking Smith out with a springboard dropkick. A dropkick through the ropes keeps Smith outside, but the follow-up plancha was caught… as Amir Jordan’s tope knocked the pair down.
Rolling Smith inside, Jordan gets two two-counts before he’s met with a dropkick. Smith starts to pull ahead as he knocks Williams back outside as he set up Jordan for a superplex, but Kenny pulls himself back in to intervene… eventually helping with an uppercut-assisted powerbomb on Smith that got Jordan a near-fall. Amir breaks the count, noticing Williams was about to hit a stomp, as the tag partners went at it. Smith capitalises on their discord, before ducking a rebound lariat from Williams, who took out Jordan before Ashton’s Blue Thunder bomb almost got the win. We’re back to roll-ups, as Jordan hits an enziguiri to Smith, before a slingshot Flatliner caught Smith for a near-fall.
Williams and Jordan start laying into each other with elbows, but it’s a missed swing from Williams that set up for another O’Connor roll… only for Smith to break it up before catching a springboard crossbody. Kenny counters back with a ‘rana that spikes for a near-fall, before he was pulled into a death valley driver for a near-fall – with Amir Jordan breaking it up with a springboard senton, before he almost stole the pin for himself. Jordan goes for another slingshot from the apron, but he’s caught with a superkick, as Williams snuck back in to hit a satellite DDT onto Smith for the win. This was energetic, but ultimately three guys doing movez with the tag team wrinkle thrown in for the hell of it. Williams takes on Trent Seven in the first round of the tournament. ***
We get a vignette for Jinny… then one for Xia Brookside. I think you can tell what the second match is gonna be.
But first, a vignette for Eddie Dennis, who brings up a Stephen Hawking quote. He’s saying that he’s adapting to the changes in NXT UK – his mind is like a machine, apparently, but we can’t understand it.
They replay the attack on Mark Andrews “earlier this year” before the shutdown. Nobody’s taken credit for the attack, and I guess there’s no footage to pour over in the intervening months? “Earlier today,” Flash Morgan Webster’s asked about his match in the Heritage Cup with A-Kid, which he says is going to be his way to get 2020 back underway.
Xia Brookside vs. Jinny
This’ll be their third meeting on NXT UK TV, with Jinny having won both prior outings. Given that Jinny popped up after last week’s NXT UK Women’s title match, you’ve got to think this’ll be her trying to stake a claim for a title shot.
Jinny brings up those prior losses at the bell, as she went for a wristlock on Brookside, who just rolls her way free. A side headlock’s escaped via a handstand, before Jinny’s taken down in an armdrag, but she gets back up and reapplies a wristlock, dragging Xia away from the ropes before Brookside again flipped free. A dropkick takes Jinny into the corner, but she gets into the ropes to avoid any follow-up. There’s a cheapshot to Brookside ahead of a backbreaker for a two-count, before Jinny whipped her hard into the corner. An old-school eye rake on the top rope is next, but Xia hits back with headscissors out of the corner before a monkey flip was sorta blocked into a lungblower.
Xia has slightly better luck second time around, taking Jinny into the corner for a forearm and a crucifix that nearly nicks it. A La Magistral gets another two-count, as Brookside began to work over Jinny’s leg instead with a deathlock, dragging Jinny away from the ropes before we got the eventual rope break. Jinny smashes back with a forearm from the ropes for a near-fall. Jinny trash-talks Brookside again, but she gets caught with a chin breaker before Brookside’s headscissors take her down again. Xia tries to go for a German suplex out of the corner, but instead lifts Jinny up top for an Iconoclasm… but instead Jinny’s pushed onto the apron, where she pulls the hair to hang Brookside in the ropes. A modified STF follows back inside, and that’s enough for the submission. I get that NXT UK don’t do squashes, but this really should have been more one-sided given the direction they’re going. **¼
Post-match, Jinny gets the mic and tells us she’s fed up of playing nice. Apparently we’ve not seen the best of her, and she’s going to be the Queen of NXT UK.
Next week: A-Kid vs. Flash Morgan Webster in the Heritage Cup. That leads to a video package with Spanish music for the hell of it. Also next week, Kay Lee Ray gives a State of the Union address. I’m thinking this roster might be a little, erm, depleted?
They replay the Heritage Cup rules – it’s six, three-minute British-style rounds, under best of three-fall rules unless there’s a DQ or a KO.
Heritage Cup Quarter-Final: Noam Dar vs. Alexander Wolfe
Pete Dunne’s your special referee for this, and was apparently needed after a pull-apart during the cup draw where Dar whacked Wolfe with a ball bag. Sorry, I’m being deliberate double entendre-y here, it was the velvet bag with the remaining ball in from the cup draw. Wolfe’s got a slightly, erm, jollier version of the Imperium theme here. Subtle.
Round 1: They go to ground early, but neither man can grab a hold as they get free, with Dar heading into the ropes. Dar looks for a wristlock and takes Wolfe down, then again with a front facelock… but they end up standing up into the ropes as Dunne forced a separation with the standing five-count. A chinlock from Wolfe leads to a side headlock and a cravat, before he switched into a double wristlock on the mat… which Dar escapes… and finds himself put back in. Wolfe stretches away on Dar, who replies with a snapmare and a nonchalant kick as time ran out on the first round.
Round 2: Dar comes in with a headlock takedown, but Wolfe’s right back up… and gets his foot stamped on. And again. Dar wrestles Wolfe to the mat for a two-count, then followed in with some body blows… they head to the mat as Nigel brings up Kassius Ohno’s British rounds match in prior NXT UK shows, before Wolfe tried to force some pinning attempts. A strait-jacket choke’s thrown out of by Wolfe, who goes in with a headlock takedown as we entered the final minute. Dar gets out with a spinning backslide… but it’s enough for only a two-count before before he snatched the first fall with a roll-up at 2:48 of the second round.
Round 3: A belly-to-belly from Wolfe takes Dar down early on, with Wolfe tying up Dar with a modified chin bar on the mat. Dar escapes by sweeping the leg, but he can’t escape the German’s clutches, especially when Wolfe went to pull the hair. Some kicks on the mat led to roll-up as Dar nearly nicked the win, before Wolfe tried his luck with a roll-up. A headlock suplex gets a two-count on Dar, as it’s back to the front chancery from there, but Dar stands on Wolfe’s hand and gets himself free, leading to a standing surfboard stretch. Wolfe reverses it, only for Dar to go to the ropes, where the pair slug it out for the remaining seconds of the round.
Wolfe sneaks in a cheapshot over Pete Dunne after the bell, which warranted a replay,
Round 4: Dar kicks out Wolfe’s leg at the start of the ring, taking him to the corner for a running front kick, before a diving forearm almost ended the match. Dar seemed to whinge that Dunne was slow, but not to worry, he gets up and sized up Wolfe for a Nova Roller… but Wolfe ducks, returning with a pump kick and a German suplex to level things up at 58 seconds in the fourth round.
Round 5: Wolfe tries to charge at Dar, but gets prat-falled as the Scotsman looked to outsmart him. A twister suplex nearly gets Wolfe the win, before Dar dropped out of a German suplex, kicking away at Wolfe to pull him down to the mat. The submission attempt doesn’t come off as Wolfe goes for a roll-up, only for Dar to kick out and go for the Fujiwara armbar. That led to nought as Wolfe locked in an Anaconda Vise, but Dar rolls him up for a two-count to get free. More kicks and a back elbow dropped Wolfe in the corner for a near-fall, before Dar went back to the Fujiwara armbar… which is again countered out of. Wolfe spins Dar with a lariat, then took him down for a knee bar, only for Dar to tweak Wolfe’s fingers to break the hold. Dar tries to snatch the pin, using the ropes for leverage on a sunset flip, but Dunne kicks it away before a Nova Roller aimed at Dunne hit Wolfe for the pin with seconds left in the round.
Dar goes through to the semis to face either A-Kid or Flash Morgan Webster. In front of the wrong crowd, this totally would have been the British Brawl For All, at least in terms of responses. **¾
Post-match, Wolfe told Dunne the loss was his fault… he tried to hit Dunne, who hit back with kicks and stomps before WALTER ran out to make the save. The distraction helps Wolfe attack Dunne from behind, and of course Ilja Dragunov makes the save for Dunne, since Trent Seven and Tyler Bate weren’t going to do it. Peter and Ilja clear house and end the show standing tall… with Dunne’s music playing? Huh.
A run of the mill show – we perhaps shouldn’t have built our hopes up for the wildcard match, given how benign it was. As for the remainder of the show, it’s clear that NXT UK has some direction, but as to whether it’s one that’ll capture imaginations remains to be seen. In hindsight, I’d have liked them to have dug into the archives for any British round-ish matches they could have aired towards the end of the shutdown era, but alas, it looks like the Heritage Cup format is going to be a learning experience for everyone.