Marking its 200th episode, NXT UK gives us a loser leaves town main event as Jordan Devlin looks to unseat Ilja Dragunov as NXT UK champion.
Oliver Carter & Ashton Smith pinned Joe Coffey & Mark Coffey in 10:23 (***)
Ivy Nile submitted Nina Samuels in 4:41 (**)
Loser Leaves Town – Ilja Dragunov pinned Jordan Devlin in 16:14 to retain the NXT UK Championship (***½)
After two weeks of probably the worst first-run episodes of NXT UK in its history, we’ve hit episode 200. I’ve been kinder than most towards this show in its near-four-year run, but holy hell, there’s been a real sea change in those recent episodes, supposedly in the name of making NXT UK developmental. I’ve no issue with that, on paper, but when WWE’s developmental system as a whole is at best, fractured, this particular step is a sticking plaster.
ANYWAYS, enough whinging from me, one of the poor sods who’s watched all 200 episodes. It’s a far cry from the first set of shows thanks to them having moved to the BT Sport Studios in London. Yep, gone are the days of touring shows, and any kind of chatter around a Takeover. Commentary comes from Nigel McGuinness and Andy Shephard…
Ashton Smith & Oliver Carter vs. Gallus (Mark Coffey & Joe Coffey)
This is for a spot in the NXT UK tag title three-way down the line…
Carter and Mark start us off, with a lock-up into the Gallus corner as Joe tagged in early on. Working the arm, Joe takes Carter down, then tagged back out as the brothers chopped Carter. Mark stays on Carter’s arm and wrist, before Carter fought back with armdrags and armbars.
Ashton Smith tags in and stays on Mark’s left arm, before Carter returned for more of the same. Mark goes for an O’Connor roll, but it’s blocked in the ropes as he eventually struck through, then brought Joe in for a double suplex. Smith makes the save as dropkicks cleared Gallus to the outside, before Joe returned with some right hands and a leaping shoulder tackle. An overhead belly-to-belly’s next, then a backbreaker on Smith, which seemed to tweak Joe’s knee a little. He shakes it off, only to jar it again with a leapfrog as Smith made inroads. Carter tags in and is slingshot into Joe for a one-count, and of course, the recent tag title challengers home in on Joe’s left leg.
A toe hold from Smith keeps Joe down after he’s spurned a chance to tag out. Joe boxes free, then tried a backslide… getting a two-count, only to get booted down after the kick-out. Smith knocks Mark off the apron too as Carter came in for a back body dropped 450 splash for a near-fall, before Joe got his knees up to block a Silly String. Joe can’t make a tag out as Smith pounced on him, only to get lifted away as Joe eventually made the tag out to his fired-up brother. Mark scores with a bulldog facebuster off the middle rope to Carter for a near-fall, but a full nelson slam’s escaped as Carter returned with a Koppo kick. Smith’s back, only to take a back suplex, before Joe tagged in to hit his part of a high/low for a near-fall.
Carter makes the save, then wiped out Mark with a plancha… Smith goes for Joe’s knee, then brought Carter back in for a monkey flipped moonsault for the win. A nice, solid opener – nothing overly special, but light years ahead of the dreck we’ve had on here recently. ***
Backstage, Ilja’s skipping…
Then A-Kid comes out of the assistant to the regional manager’s office. He’s asked for a rematch with Charlie Dempsey under Heritage Cup rules in two weeks.
We’ve a video package on the first 200 episodes of NXT UK – focusing on some of the names that’s come through its doors, the Heritage Cup, Kay Lee Ray (sorry, Alba Fire), Moustache Mountain, WALTER, and of course, Ilja. Pretty Deadly get a shout too, along with Doudrop as examples of those who’ve made it in the States, as well as Gunther and Rhea Ripley.
Emilia McKenzie’s walking and talking backstage when she’s interrupted by Lash Legend. Oh no. McKenzie’s fed up of Lash doing nothing but talk, and you know where this is going. Eventually.
Nina Samuels vs. Ivy Nile
Commentary mentions that Nina wrestled on NXT UK’s first women’s match, but you can probably guess they don’t mention her opponent that day (Toni Storm)…
After the crowd made way more noise than their lack of motion suggested, we opened with Nile taking Nina into the ropes for a clean break. Nina returns the favour, this time with a handful of hair into the corner before Nile’s headlock takedown took things to the mat. Ivy escapes, but gets taken down again, then escaped with headscissors… stopping to do some push ups on her way. Nina makes it to the ropes to force the break, then dragged Ivy against the ropes with the hair as she began to put a beating to her. Mocking Nile, Nina does some push ups before a Curt Hennig-esque neck flip nearly won the match. A neck crank followed from Samuels, as she then resorted to hooking the face as some of the crowd started to turn on this NXT 2.0 invasion.
Nile returns, catching a crossbody and turning it into a fallaway slam, before a running punch and a running kick caught Samuels in the corner for a two-count. Nile then heads up top, but got caught with a slap… she recovers with a Dragon sleeper into a flip stunner out of the corner… before another Dragon sleeper forced the stoppage. Decent enough for the time, but this NXT 2.0 influx isn’t going down well with the locals. **
Devlin’s zipping up…
Then Damon Kemp has a promo calling out Sha Samuels. Yeah…
Then we get Dave Mastiff doing a wacky fake Godfather segment with Jack Starz and… a mop with Charlie Dempsey’s face on it? Jack orders takeaway on his phone (you not heard of Deliveroo?) as the digs at die Familie end with a plate of doughnuts, and the legit line, “whose idea was this?”
During the break, Joe Coffey’s interrupted as he’s leaving the venue… he concedes he wasn’t good enough, and looks to be taking time off.
We’ve a video package to hype up the upcoming Wild Boar vs. Eddie Dennis dog collar match, which is happening next week…
Kenny Williams is watching a TV with Tiger Turan overlaid onto it. He’s losing his mind at Turan’s debut, saying he’s the “masked bozo” that distracted him a few weeks back, and looks to be hell bent on exposing the new masked man on the roster.
Loser Leaves Town for NXT UK Championship: Jordan Devlin vs. Ilja Dragunov (c)
Back in January, these two had an empty arena brawl that didn’t land with me… this time around, we’ll be seeing one of these two’s final match on this show. Oh, and yet again, no flags on the lower thirds just for this match. Commentary’s blowing up the stipulation before the ring announcements, which has me worried. I know what their instincts are like…
Dragunov goes for the arm early on, rolling Devlin down to the mat by it before the pair headed into the ropes. Wash, rinse, repeat as far as them heading into the ropes, as they both had each other by the hair, before things broke down into an exchange of rights. Devlin heads into the corner, lifting up Ilja onto the top rope as a face rake kept the champion there, as Jordan set up for a superplex… eventually hitting an over-the-top buckle brainbuster that sent Dragunov spilling to the floor. Commentary tried to lead us to “Ilja can lose by count-out, retain the title but still have to leave NXT UK”, but didn’t go all the way as Devlin went to throw Ilja back inside. Kicks to the back of Dragunov follow, before a back suplex drew a two-count. A legdrop’s next as Dragunov was kept on the deck, before an attempted comeback ended with Ilja’s clothesline getting swatted away… as he then crashed into the ropes, injuring the neck further.
Dragunov tries for a Konstantin-Spezial, but Devlin ducks and hits a standing Spanish Fly, before chops targeted the champion’s throat. Ilja strikes back in kind, only for an enziguiri to get caught as Devlin looked to counter with a cloverleaf. It’s fought out of, but a half crab’s applied instead as Devlin threw some stomps to the head. Another fightback ends with Ilja powering free, as he threw a punch on the way out to buy him some time. Dragunov snaps in with some Danielson elbows as a series of clotheslines took Devlin down… only for the challenger to hit a headbutt, sending Ilja into the ropes for the Konstantin-Spezial. German suplexes ragdoll Devlin either side of an enziguiri, leading to a teardrop suplex that impacted both men as Ilja drove his own head into the mat while delivering the move.
Devlin hits the ropes to crotch Ilja as he went up top… then knocked him to the floor as an apron PK targeted the neck ahead of an Asai moonsault. Back inside, Devlin hits a slingshot reverse cutter… but it only gets a near-fall by the ropes. Ilja recovers with a superplex and a punch from above for a near-fall, only to miss a Torpedo Moscau as Devlin sidestepped. After crashing and burning, Ilja’s pulled up into a Devlinside, landing by the ropes… the referee counts the three at 13:27… but Ilja had a foot on the ropes! Cue the arrival of Johnny Saint to chew out referee Chip Danning’s poor eyesight, demanding a restart… or a rematch… and we get a restart.
We restart after an 80-second break, with Dragunov headbutting his way out of another Devlinside, before he ran into a Destroyer. Devlin adds a sheer-drop brainbuster for a near-fall, before he missed a 450 splash… eating a Torpedo Moscau to the back of the head on the rebound. Dragunov gets back up, eats a pair of headbutts before a release German suplex countered a Devlinside… and the Torpedo Moscau finally lands for the win. Much better than their empty arena match, with the constant focus from Devlin almost fooling me for the finish, but in the end its the Irishman who’s booked his ticket out of Enfield. ***½
After two shockingly-bad episodes, this was more like it – at least in terms of steady in-ring matches. Add in a main event that I bit on, and this was closer to the consistency we’ve had from NXT UK over the years. The locals clearly don’t like the influx of imports from NXT 2.0, but we’ve got plenty more weeks of at least this go around… and I don’t see any changes in the near future.