The big fight feel is here on NXT UK this week as Ilja Dragunov and WALTER clash for the UK Championship.
Aoife Valkyrie pinned Dani Luna in 6:05 (**½)
Jordan Devlin submitted Levi Muir in 4:48 (**)
WALTER defeated Ilja Dragunov via referee stoppage in 25:09 (****½)
We open with a video package charting WALTER’s reign as NXT UK champion… and Ilja Dragunov’s rise ahead of tonight’s main event. Cue titles, cue Andy Shepherd and Nigel McGuinness on commentary…
Aoife Valkyrie vs. Dani Luna
We start with a match between two relative newcomers to NXT UK, as it’s Luna who comes in with a side headlock at first as… they’ve superimposed fans onto the video screens. But not for all of the match.
Luna stays on top, floating Valkyrie to the mat, but they reach a stand-off, before Valkyrie bridged out of a wristlock attempt and cartwheeled free. Dani runs in with a knee to the gut, then sent Valkyrie into the corner, where a floatover was turned into an armdrag as Valkyrie began a comeback. Another Irish whip led to Valkyrie leaping over Luna before landing a dropkick, taking Dani outside for a baseball slide dropkick that was caught… and turned into a facebuster on the edge of the ring. Back inside, a chinbar and a slam keeps Valkyrie down for a two-count, before Valkyrie ‘rana’d her way out of a Fireman’s carry.
A springboard crossbody takes Luna down for a two-count, with a Pele kick getting a similar result. Valkyrie can’t land an Exploder, and after missing an enziguiri gets caught with a German suplex… then a regular suplex as Dani picked up a two-count of her own. Valkyrie swipes away at Luna to knock her into the corner, then pulled her down by the leg ahead of a leg clutch pin… Luna kicks out as Valkyrie went for a springboard off the bottom rope. It’s caught, but Valkyrie flips out of a German suplex, before knocking Luna down ahead of the Death Note flying scissors kick for the win. I think they gave it another name there, but ah well. A solid enough TV match, but a little too even if they had designs on pushing Valkyrie into the title picture anytime soon. **½
WALTER and Ilja are warming up backstage… then we get a heavily-filtered recap of the Heritage Cup first round ahead of the semi-finals which start next week.
We get a promo package for Rampage Brown – he’s signed with NXT UK… and we get footage of him in ICW and PROGRESS along with some talking heads. He’s coming soon.
They then recap the phantom assault on Mark Andrews earlier in the year… then the attack on Flash Morgan Webster three weeks ago. Both Flash and Andrews are in the ring, addressing what happened… and they’re quickly interrupted by Eddie Dennis. I feel a turn incoming. They’re really rushing through this, leaving little time for things to breathe as Mark brings up how long he’s known Eddie, who then called Andrews a narcissist.
Webster tells Eddie he’s talking “out (his) arse,” as Dennis proceeded to suggest that Webster had set things up. Pretty Deadly come out to back up Eddie, while the Hunt came out to provide support… Eddie compared Flash and Andrews to the kids he used to teach, before the Hunt jumped Flash and Andrews. Pretty Deadly wander off as the Hunt give a kicking to Andrews, before a death valley driver/powerbomb combo laid out Webster.
So, Eddie wasn’t courting Pretty Deadly – he’s backing the Welsh/Geordie combo in the Hunt then?! Eddie does the “shush” motion, and the Hunt go quiet…
Earlier today, Piper Niven’s asked about her plan in NXT UK… she suggested she’d injure Kay Lee Ray. Hmm.
The assistant to the general manager’s asked about the Eddie Dennis stuff. Pretty Deadly disavow all knowledge of it, and ask for a NXT UK tag title shot, but Sam Gradwell walks in to steal their thunder. Okay… Gallus were around to hear that, and they say that next week “they’re back to full strength.” So that’s Joe Coffey back next week…
Jordan Devlin vs. Levi Muir
Devlin’s still got the NXT Cruiserweight belt, back from before the shutdown.
Devlin works the arm to start with, then threw him over his head. A side headlock’s next, but Muir throws Devlin off, before Devlin came in with some right hands to knock Muir down. Stomps next, before Muir began to wring the arm… only for Devlin to elbow him to the mat. A running back elbow keeps Muir down, as this remained one-way traffic… with a uranage and a standing moonsault following. A flash roll-up gets Muir a two-count, but Devlin blocks a schoolboy and comes back in with a boot to the gut, then a delayed Alabama Slam for the heck of it.
Muir counters a sunset flip by deadlift Devlin up for a press slam, but Devlin counters out with a roll-up, before a headbutt knocked Muir down for the Devlinside as a Cloverleaf gets the submission. Very squashy, but very methodical too. Could have done with being a little pacier given the difference in experience. **
Post-match, Devlin calls out the Cruiserweight division and calls himself the “real Cruiserweight champ.” Interesting how they kept this evergreen by not mentioning who the “other champ” is…
Next week: Sam Gradwell, Lewis Howley & Sam Stoker take on Joe Coffey, Mark Coffey and Wolfgang… plus Noam Dar vs. A-Kid in a Heritage Cup semi-final. Plus I’d imagine a women’s match announced a few hours ahead of show time.
We’ve another hype video for the main event, with WALTER saying he respects Ilja as a “hardworking man with principles,” and said that him being the NXT UK champ will “never change.”
NXT UK Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. WALTER (c)
Going in WALTER’s held the NXT UK title for 573 days (going by broadcast date) – by far the longest individual title reign of his career. He’s since defended the title against Pete Dunne, Travis Banks, Tyler Bate, Joe Coffey and Dave Mastiff… while this’ll be his tenth one-on-one meeting with Ilja, with the challenger having won six of their prior outings to WALTER’s two.
Ilja’s raring to go before the main event announcements, and he starts hot with a running front kick, taking WALTER into the corner… only for the Austrian to swap places as he chopped and kicked the Russian down. A powerbomb looks to follow, but Ilja floats out, only to run into another kick… but he’s back with a leaping knee into the corner. Dragunov heads up top, but it’s way too early as WALTER chops him before a back senton off the top rope knocked WALTER down. A Torpedo Moscau followed, but it’s caught and turned into a sleeper suplex as Ilja’s head bounced off the mat. Dragunov’s back up to lay into WALTER with elbows, but WALTER catches one and throws him outside, via the bottom rope as Ilja’s head snapped back nastily.
Back inside, WALTER keeps going for Ilja with elbows, despite the challenger’s attempt to fire back, before WALTER grounded him with a side headlock. Ilja tries one of his own, which gets him free, but WALTER just drops a knee to his head before a chop to the back of Dragunov’s neck left him down. Ilja’s back with some palm strikes of his own, but WALTER goozles and chops him back down as Ilja pulled himself onto the apron… with WALTER happily helping him out some more with a boot choke. More elbows from WALTER keep Ilja down for a neck crank, before they traded slaps and chops as Ilja again tried to fight free.
A Greco-Roman knuckle lock forces Dragunov down, with WALTER stomping any semblance of a neck bridge apart, with a neck twist continuing to aggravate that body part ahead of a near-fall. Dragunov gets back up, but gets ragdolled with a German suplex as he tried to find a way through, before WALTER went back in with a chinlock and some more slaps to the neck. Elbows from Dragunov come to nought as WALTER just stands on the head and stretches his foe, then dropped another knee. Somehow, Ilja’s got enough in the tank to throw some chops, but WALTER wrecks him with a chop of his own as he again looked to force a pin, before WALTER draped Ilja across the top turnbuckle for a chop and some more stretching, finishing off by just unceremoniously dumping Dragunov to the floor.
There’s even more boot choking by the apron as Ilja got back to his feet, before WALTER kicked away as Ilja tried to get back into the ring, leading to a spill to the floor. On the apron, WALTER stretches Dragunov for some crossface punches, one of which is eventually caught before Dragunov turned him around to return the favour. Dragunov heads back inside and manages to haul WALTER up for a German suplex, but he’s clobbered in the neck before he could follow-up… but somehow Ilja hits a second German suplex, then a third, before a leaping kick to WALTER was returned with a chop. Ilja hits a pair of enziguiri though, then hauled up WALTER for the Gotch-lift suplex for a near-fall.
Dragunov follows up with some stomps as WALTER was left down and out, but a cheeky kick from the ground helps WALTER pull Ilja back down before an elbow to the next put Dragunov back to square one. He pulls Ilja up for a rear naked choke, but chops to the neck from Ilja, then a backfist get him free as he began to throw lariats, only for WALTER to duck and lock in a sleeper. Ilja breaks it in the ropes, but WALTER tries to reapply it… Ilja counters with an O’Connor roll, but WALTER gets up and goes for the sleeper again. Dragunov roll snack as the pace quickens, getting him a near-fall, as a Konstantin-Spezial got Ilja a little closer. An attempted Torpedo Moscau’s just swatted away by WALTER, who goes back to the vicious chops… but Dragunov remains defiant, and tries to fight back once more, throwing elbows and kicks until a lariat dropped him.
A quick powerbomb follows for a near-fall, as does another lariat as WALTER started to get a little annoyed with Ilja for hanging on. More chops to the neck follow as WALTER locks in a sleeperhold on the mat, turning it into a Dragon sleeper as a bloodied Dragunov rolled into the ropes. Of course, it was his chest that was leaking. WALTER stays on top of Ilja, picking him up and slapping the arms away for another sleeper, but he kicks the back before Dragunov tried to fight out of the sleeperhold… and does so with more chops to the neck. It becomes a slugfest, with headbutts from Dragunov and more neck chops wearing down WALTER ahead of a knee lift and a double chop. Dragunov staggers to the top rope from there, aiming for and hitting a Coast to Coast dropkick for yet another near-fall.
The impact from that looked to have tweaked Ilja’s neck some more though, as he takes his time getting back to his feet. More back-and-forth chops led to Ilja looking for another suplex, but he has to settle for more lariats before he pulled up WALTER for an overhead throw that almost led to the title change. A chop to the back knocks WALTER down, as Ilja again tees up for Torpedo Moscau… landing in the back of WALTER’s head, but it takes a lot out of Ilja too. Dragunov wilts on another Torpedo Moscau, eventually landing a diving knee for another two-count, before some Danielson elbows forced WALTER to roll outside for respite. Ilja follows him there, but gets caught with a sleeper suplex on the floor. Holy sh…
WALTER follows up with a big boot to knock Dragunov into the ring steps, before an apron powerbomb brought the Russian back inside the hard way. Another powerbomb followed, before WALTER went up top for his super finisher – a big splash… squashing Dragunov who still wouldn’t stay down for the three-count! Ground and pound from WALTER followed, before WALTER pulled up Ilja into a rear naked choke… and with Dragunov bloodied and unresponsive, the match is waved off. With a crowd – hot or otherwise – this would have sleepwalked into people’s match of the year discussions, but even with that limitation, this was a goddamn delight. Carve out half an hour of your week and watch this match! ****½
Post-match, referees and trainers put Ilja in the recovery position as he continued to spit blood as the show faded to black…
This was built as a one-match show, and it damn sure delivered, even with the empty arena setting providing something of a ceiling. Not quite the best match these two have had in singles warfare, but the main event was delightfully violent and probably one of the best TV matches this show’s had.