This week in the NXT UK timeslot – a selection of matches from the WWE library that’s meant something to the roster.
With WWE in the middle of huge swathes of cuts, with over two dozen being released or furloughed, there’s a lot of uproar among fans over just how WWE are handling the current pandemic. I mean, it sure is strange that the first company to publicly make cutbacks is the one with the biggest TV deals… Anyway, with NXT UK not having any tapings booked until the end of July, and that’s assuming the current situation eases by then, we’re looking at at least 15 more weeks without original content, unless they find a way to edit around the two weeks from the last set of tapings that haven’t aired.
Like last week, we’ve got another clip show this week – and with the NXT UK social media accounts asking fans to submit their favourite matches involving British wrestlers (not just from NXT UK), it looks like clip shows are the way they’re going for now.
We open with an in memoriam graphic for Howard Finkel, before credits and Andy Shepherd with a new laptop. This week, NXT UK stars are picking their favourite matches for this proverbial jukebox.
First up: Dave Mastiff in his garden bigging up the Dynamite Kid… because that’s our first match this week.
Dynamite Kid vs. Tiger Mask
From Madison Square Garden on August 30, 1982. I’ve never seen this before!
We start at a pretty high pace for the standards of the 80s, as Dynamite and Tiger Mask (the original, Satoru Sayama, not the one still going in New Japan today…) tried to catch each other off guard with leg sweeps and back elbows. From there, they go to ground as Tiger Mask tried for a submission, but a rope break gets Dynamite back up as he goes in with forearms before a slam left Tiger Mask down for a knee drop off the middle rope for a two-count. A gutwrench suplex and a snapmare leaves Tiger Mask down ahead of some headscissors as Dynamite Kid – who was challenging for Tiger Mask’s WWF Junior Heavyweight title – started to falter. Back body drops sent Dynamite packing as Tiger Mask faked out a dive with what we call now a 619, while the referee began to count out the challenger.
Back inside, Dynamite goes for Tiger Mask’s leg, and works into a grounded toe hold, before taking Tiger Mask up and into the ropes for a knee to the midsection. A second one looks to follow, but Dynamite catches him out with an enziguiri, before a slam left Tiger Mask down… and Dynamite heads up for a swandive headbutt, but he whiffs, headbutting the mat brutally. Tiger Mask’s back to his feet for a suplex, before springing up to the top rope for a moonsault that gets the win. Very bare bones by today’s standards, but packing this much in in seven minutes is a breath of fresh air compared to all-the-same matches. ***¼
They recap NXT UK’s trip to Glasgow last year. That might be their first tapings back if everything lines up. For now, Kenny Williams in his living room pitches to footage of his and Amir Jordan’s push for the NXT UK tag team titles falling apart… and then it’s to an old NXT UK match that aired almost a year ago.
NXT UK Tag Team Championship: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) (c) vs. Kenny Williams & Noam Dar
Glasgow popped huge for Dar’s arrival, and we start with all four men slugging it out… taking themselves to the outside.
In the ring, Dar goes for Gibson’s throat and chest with chops and uppercuts, before a running forearm and a Northern Lights drew a near-fall. Things turned around with some double-teaming as Drake took Dar down with knees and forearms, keeping him isolated as all Kenny Williams could do was watch the champions focus on Dar’s recently-injured knee. When Dar did force an opening, Zack Gibson pulled Kenny Williams off the apron to prevent a tag as Drake went back to grounding Dar with a front facelock. Nevermind, Dar gets the tag moments later as Williams clears house, scoring with a springboard crossbody to Drake before a running forearm cracked the champion.
A bulldog into the corner took Drake into the turnbuckles, while Williams’ through-the-ropes dropkick puts Gibson into the barriers. Kenny keeps going with a DDT after he got caught by Drake, before a springboard trust fall to the outside saw Kenny try to ensure that the champions wouldn’t go for another count-out win. They return inside as Williams lands a high back elbow off the top rope for a near-fall, but Drake manages to find a way back with a backbreaker. Dar tags in, and quickly runs into a boot from Gibson, before he kicked away Zack’s leg from under his leg as the Champagne Super Knee Bar followed.
Gibson gets free by tagging himself out of the match, but the champions can’t double-team as Williams took Zack outside for a back elbow off the barriers as Dar locked in the Champagne Super Knee Bar again. Zack tries to run in to break it up, but an ankle lock subdues him as Glasgow became unglued… until Zack pushed away and sent Williams into Dar to break it up. A Parade of Kicks ensues next, before Dar almost snatched the win with a small package… Drake looked for the win with a single leg crab, with Williams having to grab Dar’s hand to prevent the tap before he broke the hold with an enziguiri. Good save! Gibson clocks Williams with uppercuts, only to get caught with a rebound lariat off the ropes, before Dar took a the bullet for Williams in the form flying lungblower… that allowed Kenny to hit a wheelbarrow facebuster for a near-fall.
Dar comes in without a tag, but James Drake just pulls him outside and wraps his bad knee into the ring post. Karma? That leaves Williams on his lonesome, as he’s eventually trapped in the corner for the Grit Your Teeth dropkick, before a Helter Skelter from Gibson and an Organ Crusher 450 splash from Gibson led to the win. Christ, that was a good main event. Some good tag work on both sides, with a hot tag – this is exactly the kind of stuff this brand’s capable of when things click. ***¾
We’re back in Andy’s living room… he pitches to Ligero, who gives us a women’s match, as we get clips of Toni Storm vs. Kay Lee Ray from Takeover Cardiff… and then pitches to another match from Cardiff, featuring a hometown hero…
Tegan Nox vs. Kay Lee Ray
This is non-title, as Tegan got a pretty good reaction for her second match in these tapings.
We start with some hair-pulling as Kay Lee tried to stop Tegan from grabbing a hold, with the Scotswoman taking things to the corner… only for Nox to send her packing. Ray runs back in, but takes some armdrags and hiptosses, before a chop from Tegan sent Ray down to the mat. More chops follow in the corner ahead of a crossbody that got a near-fall as Kay Lee again powders. Nox gives chase in the aisle, knocking the champion down before she frogmarched her back to the ring. Kay Lee hits what looked like a low blow, but she focuses on the injured knees of Nox, before she grounded her with an abdominal stretch. Tegan tries to sneak in a pinning attempt, but Kay Lee kicked out and went back on offence, snapmaring Nox through for a kick to the chest as Nox was feeling her knee. I get flashbacks of last year’s Mae Young Classic as Tegan shrieked in agony while her knee was stood on, before Kay Lee tried to kick her leg out of her leg.
Kay Lee heads up top, but crashed and burned on a senton bomb before a shoulder charge in the corner whiffed, with Kay Lee hitting the ring post. It bought Tegan time to recover, as the crowd went in for yay/boo shots while Nox built up a head of steam. A running uppercut caught Ray in the corner, before Tegan pulled out a Molly Go Round as I pop… but Nox can only get a near-fall out of it. Just like that though, Kay Lee Ray looked to make a comeback, only to see her Gory bomb countered into a sunset flip for a near-fall. Nox’s superkick’s good for a two-count, thanks to a delayed cover as her leg buckled after the kick landed. A tornado DDT out of the corner pushes Kay Lee Ray back into it for a near-fall, before she rolled Tegan into a guillotine choke, only for the pile to roll around the ring as Tegan almost got to the ropes. Kay Lee rolls them back into the middle of the ring, where Nox powered up and powerbombed her way free. Ray reapplies the hold straight away though, but this time Nox rolls into the ropes as Kay Lee Ray looked to keep the pressure on… only to run into a chokeslam for a near-fall. Tick off Molly Holly and Kane here! Tegan heads up top, but gets crotched by Ray as the Scotswoman sent her crashing back to the mat.
Somehow, Nox countered a Gory bomb into a Destroyer for a near-fall, following up with a Shining Wizard for another two-count… but when those didn’t get the job done, you felt that Tegan’s moment was up. The pair head to the apron, but a running knee sees Nox hit the ring post as the screams return… and it’s an open door from there for Kay Lee Ray, who got the win with a Gory bomb. I liked how Nox was forced to push for something extra to get a win, only for it to backfire spectacularly as Kay Lee Ray snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. ***¼
Next week: Tyler Bate vs. WALTER from NXT UK Cardiff: through their eyes. That could be decent…
A-Kid’s next… and I have high hopes for his pick.
William Regal vs. Cesaro
This is from the way early days of NXT – having aired on Christmas Day 2013! Somehow, this is another one I’ve not properly sat down and watched what would turn out to be Regal’s final match.
We’re in the days of Cesaro being as “we the people” guy, and of all the days… this match was ring announced by Howard Finkel. The match starts with Cesaro working over the wrist of Regal, taking him down to the mat, but Regal deftly escapes and manages to trap Cesaro in a headlock/chinlock variant as we jump cut through a break. Regal stretches Cesaro in a strait jacket, but Cesaro flips his way free eventually, before a knuckle lock’s broken as they continued to go move-for-move.
Cesaro powers Regal down in a snapmare into a pinning attempt, which gets a replay, before Regal dug into his bag of dirty tricks by cornering Cesaro for some backheels. The Swiss native didn’t take too kindly to that as he comes out with a chop block, and begins to work over Regal’s knee as we have another jump cut. We rejoin as Regal’s getting plastered with uppercuts, which left him laying as Cesaro looked to go for a Giant Swing… which kept Regal in trouble. A Neutraliser looks to follow, but Regal back body drops free and goes after the arms. Tripping Cesaro, Regal looks to force a way back in by stomping over the arms, but an attempt at a Knee Trembler’s stopped as Regal’s knee looked to give him trouble.
Not to worry, a knee lift leaves Cesaro in a heap, but Regal’s attempt at a butterfly suplex is powered out as Cesaro turned it into a Northern Lights for a near-fall. Regal holds on and tries to power through into a Regal Stretch on the mat, but Cesaro gets free and returned fire with a dropkick. Regal’s back on the defensive after taking a kneedrop to the back of the head, but Cesaro is in no hurry here as he pulls up the veteran for a Neutraliser… but shows mercy and lets go. Regal pulls himself up using Cesaro’s knee pad, as I get flashbacks to Shawn/Flair from WrestleMania 24, but Cesaro just snaps and hits the Neutraliser anyway for the pin. That’s all – and even in this clip form, this was a good match, but one that Full Sail seemed strangely muted for. ***¾
So, the first of the “superstar picks” episodes provided a decent handful of matches from the archives. Next week, we’ve got “NXT UK’s Most Brilliant” as they look back to WALTER vs. Tyler Bate from last year… and there seems to be no sign of those “lost two episodes” appearing any time soon.