We’ve got a “director’s cut” special on NXT UK this week as we get a repeat of the WALTER/Dragunov match from last month’s TakeOver.
Heritage Cup Contender’s Tournament – First Round: Wolfgang beat Sam Gradwell by 2 falls to 1 at 1:27 of Round 5 (**¾)
Oliver Carter, Ashton Smith & Saxon Huxley pinned Primate, T-Bone & Eddie Dennis in 9:02 (***)
From NXT TakeOver 36: Ilja Dragunov submitted WALTER to win the NXT UK Championship in 22:03 (*****)
We open with a clip show of that WALTER/Ilja match, hyping up the “revisiting” of it on this week’s show. Cue titles, and we’re back at the BT Sport Studios in London… Andy Shepherd & Nigel McGuinness are on commentary.
Heritage Cup Contender’s Tournament: Wolfgang vs. Sam Gradwell
This is the last of the quarter-finals… I’ll go 2-1 Wolfgang, because it’s always bloody 2-1. How do you deep-fry yogurt?
Round 1: The early exchanges led to little, as Gradwell went to the ropes to break a waistlock, before a wristlock led to Gradwell being taken to the mat. A shoulder tackle knocks Gradwell to the outside, where he mouths off a little and drew Wolfgang outside for a scrap. Gradwell hangs up Wolfgang by the arm, then leapt off the apron with a forearm before returning to the ring, looking to grab a count-out win… but Wolfgang rolls in at seven as the round petered out.
Round 2: We start with Wolfgang charging down Gradwell at the bell, following up with some European uppercuts before Gradwell went back to the arm, having had his ribs targeted briefly. Arm wringers have the Scotsman down to a knee, but Wolfgang returns with a whip into the corner and a back body drop out of it, before he headed up top for a Bionic elbow? A diving back senton squishes Gradwell too, but Wolfgang doesn’t go for a pin as he instead poses before slapping Gradwell to the outside, where he rode out the remaining time as the ref’s ten counts take longer than ten seconds.
Round 3: Wolfgang’s on top, boxing Gradwell into the corner to start, before Gradwell burst out… and kneed away a spear. A STO follows, and that’s Gradwell 1-0 up at 0:23 of the round.
Round 4: Gradwell tries to take advantage of Wolfgang’s caginess, scoring with an arm whip, then a splash to the arm (even if it hurt his own ribs). A chinbar/hammerlock briefly grounds Wolfgang, but the Scotsman fought back with more boxing, before Gradwell tried another STO. It’s headbutted away as Wolfgang levels with a scoop slam/facebuster at 1:49 of the round. BECAUSE OF COURSE THIS IS ENDING 2-1.
Round 5: Gradwell goes to the arm again, and manages to sneak in a rolling elbow for a near-fall. Wolfgang replies by going back to the ribs, before Gradwell rolled away, then leapt over a spear, before a third one got the win at 1:27 of the round. Wolfgang faces Teoman in the semis, and I’d bet that ends 2-1 too. Decent for what it was, I suppose, but I don’t like Gradwell on the wrong side of these results. **¾
The assistant to the regional manager has an update on the “Blair Davenport situation” after her attacks on Nina Samuels and the assistant… last week. He’s not got a neck brace on this week, but is choked up as he announced Blair’s been suspended with immediate effect. Moving on…
Kenny Williams vignette time. He’s got Noam Dar in the semis of the Heritage Cup next week – and they both reckon they’ve got the upper hand. Beard-less Kenny Williams will never not look weird.
Another trailer for the Art Attack rebrand of NXT next week. I wonder if they’ve convinced Al Snow to let them have Head?
Also next week: Pretty Deadly defend the NXT UK tag titles vs. Gallus (in the form of the Coffey brothers)… that takes us backstage as Gallus are celebrating Wolfgang’s win. Jordan Devlin’s annoyed at them, and sells his neck when Coffey goes for him. I can wait for that match.
Saxon Huxley, Oliver Carter & Ashton Smith vs. Symbiosis (Eddie Dennis, T-Bone & Primate)
Talk about a random trio… Huxley gets a lot of his music playing in the ring, kind of like how they did back in the day when JR was plugging Skittles. Remember how Jim loved how fruity they were?
Huxley and Primate start us off, trading blows as Primate ends up getting sent to the outside. Eddie Dennis has to calm him down, before T-Bone came in and struggled over a tie-up as Huxley ends up taking him into the ropes. T-Bone gets free as commentary mused over how Huxley hadn’t looked for a tag – in the opening 90 seconds, mind you – before Huxley landed a froggy Thesz press.
Oliver Carter tags in to shut them up, then Ashton Smith, but Smith’s instantly taken into the Symbiosis corner. He fights out, but gets flung with an Exploder by T-Bone, before a double sledge off the top by Primate to Smith’s back followed. Dennis is in too to throw his shots, leading to a swinging side slam that Smith escaped.
Primate tags back in, but so does Oliver Carter, who lands a leg lariat to Primate ahead of a Quebrada for a two-count. Carter runs wild, sweeping Dennis off the apron, then taking down T-Bone with a spinning heel kick before Primate flung Carter into the turnbuckles – sending him flying to the outside. Symbiosis isolate Carter, who takes some elevated backbreakers from T-Bone, before he’s stomped down by T-Bone and Primate for a two-count. Eventually Carter gets free and tags in Huxley – right as Eddie Dennis came in – and Huxley’s on top with running knees in the ropes.
Huxley heads up top and scores with a Kane clothesline for a two-count, before Ashton Smith tagged in to help with a suplex. Eddie Dennis clears house and nearly wins with a swinging side slam, before Primate and T-Bone double team with a slam and a swandive headbutt that drew in Carter to make the save. The tables turn as Primate’s isolated, and gets caught with a Doomsday Cutter from Carter… and that’s the win! A perfectly fine trios match, fast-paced in spots with Carter picking up what feels like a rare win. ***
“Earlier this week,” Emilia McKenzie’s annoyed at Stevie Turner for running her mouth at Meiko Satomura. Apparently McKenzie’s got Turner in a match, probably next week.
Pretty Deadly are in front of the neon sign. They call out how six months ago they were facing Gallus for the titles, and not much has changed because they’re still in a title match against Gallus next week, except they have the belts now.
From NXT TakeOver 36: NXT UK Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. WALTER (c)
They added some “extra insights” throughout the match with picture-in-picture – kind of like how they did on some of the NXT UK clip shows we were getting over a year ago. Here’s my review of that from last month, back when Adam Cole t-shirts were de rigueur in Orlando.
As they cut to and from the originally-produced match, we got picture-in-pictures from Ilja, Rhea Ripley, Cesaro, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, Toni Storm, and Sheamus. I loved Sheamus being the concerned vet talking about “this Dragunov kid” throughout. One nitpick: especially in the early stages, these really broke up the flow of the match, but I guess if you’re watching on the Network or Peacock, you can see the original match anyway? They did throw in a renewed tease of WALTER/Finn Balor in there, so let’s see if and where that happens.
An early Cornish hipe from WALTER has Ilja in the ropes, but Dragunov stings the champion with chops before WALTER forced an opening with a forearm. Dragunov counters out of a waistlock and rolls WALTER to the mat, then landed a shoulder block before countering WALTER’s Thesz press into a surprising slam. A headlock takedown from Dragunov has WALTER down, but Ilja’s bandage has already disappeared – and WALTER going for the eyes means that blood-letting is almost a sure-fire thing. Dragunov clings onto a side headlock, but gets taken to the corner before he blocked a chop from WALTER, catching the arm and rolling him back to the mat in a scissored armbar.
WALTER tries to free himself, eventually doing do as he pulls up Dragunov, lifting him onto the top turnbuckle before a thunderous chop sent Dragunov crashing to the floor. A powerbomb onto the edge of the ring followed on Ilja, who was brought back into the ring as WALTER looked to close this out with a rear naked choke. Ilja gets to the ropes, but the hands are slapped away for the ol’ RINGKAMPF German suplex, before a Boston crab saw WALTER sit down on Ilja in the middle of the ring. That’s transitioned into a bulldog choke, before Ilja was rolled through for a kick to the back. More chops wreck Dragunov as it’s back to the rear naked choke, but a piledriver’s stopped as a back body drop got Dragunov free.
WALTER counters a Konstantin-Spezial lariat into a uranage for a near-fall, before another chop blistered Dragunov, who fell backwards into the ropes as that familiar part of WALTER’s arsenal continued to turn his chest red. Despite that Florida tan! A front kick has Dragunov on all fours, but he’s back to his feet, swinging with WALTER, surprisingly countering a clothesline as he rolled down in for an armbar, before instead opting to throw knees and backfists at a kneeling WALTER. More elbows looked to set up for an Octopus stretch, but WALTER picks him up… only for Dragunov to slip free and pull WALTER into a knee strike. WALTER’s right back up with a pair of clotheslines for a two-count, including one as Dragunov was looking for another leaping kick, before WALTER opted to chop Ilja’s back in the ropes. A swinging lariat from Ilja has WALTER down, as he then returned that back chop ahead of a German suplex, only for WALTER to goozle and slap Dragunov in return. A snap enziguiri has Dragunov ahead, with a running knee in the ropes ahead of a pumphandle driver for a near-fall, before a flying dropkick and a back senton off the top had the Russian surging ahead.
Except his Torpedo Moscau’s caught and turned into a sleeper suplex, bouncing Ilja on his head, but Dragunov’s right back to drill WALTER with a Torpedo Moscau as the Austrian was on his knees. Another Torpedo Moscau followed for a near-fall, before WALTER stopped Ilja in a hurry with a chop as Dragunov charged out of the corner. WALTER heads up top for the big splash, but he’s brought down in a hurry with a superplex, then met with a Coast to Coast dropkick again as Dragunov stayed on him. WALTER’s back with a dropkick and a powerbomb though, but couldn’t shut the door on Dragunov, as he then went back to the chops and a running knee. Another powerbomb drops Dragunov, as WALTER heads back up for a big splash, this time landing it as Ilja finds a way to kick out!
Mounting Ilja on the mat, WALTER rains down punches, but Dragunov gets free and hits a springboard Torpedo Moscau out of the corner… elbows from above have WALTER covering up, before Dragunov goes back to the rear naked choke, but WALTER’s still strong enough to get up, climb the ropes, and splat backwards to break it up. Ilja picks himself up though and comes back with elbows back on the road to the rear naked choke. WALTER tries to fall backwards again to break it up, but Dragunov clings on, eventually letting go to pepper WALTER with kicks and strikes, including chops and elbows to the back of the neck… before he pulled up WALTER into another rear naked choke for a frantic submission as Dragunov went one step better than October, and managed to make WALTER tap! A hell of a fight done at quite the sustained pace, with sickening strikes – and the addition of an engaged crowd helped pull this to give me that proverbial fear. A fear that didn’t need to be realised, as this felt like the perfect match to potentially wrap up their long and storied feud – for now. Much like my (still-preferred) “no chop” match from 2018’s wXw Superstars of Wrestling show, this was an easy call for me. *****
Summing up, Dragunov called the title “the result of years of hard work,” and the “best moment of his life… next to the birth of my son.”
If you’ve already seen WALTER/Dragunov, this wasn’t particularly a must-see episode of the show – although that match is worth a rewatch.