NXT UK’s back with more Superstar Picks, as the well continues to dry…
This may have been a tricky episode to put together, given the whole gamut of allegations that have been made against WWE-contracted wrestlers (and of course, the wider wrestling world). The NXT UK Twitter account had been silent since last week’s show, which sparked a fair amount of rumours… Remember, believe the victims. Support. Learn. Change. Love those who have fought for this change.
From NXT TV – Last Woman Standing: Asuka beat Nikki Cross in 15:30 (***½, match edited)
From WrestleMania 2 – Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid beat Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake to win the WWF tag team titles in 13:00 (***¼)
From Beast in the East – Finn Balor beat Kevin Owens to win the NXT title in 19:20 (****)
We’ve a cold open as Andy Shepherd greets us instead of the now-problematic opening titles. Jinny is first up for her pick…
Last Woman Standing for the NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Nikki Cross
We’re from NXT three years ago here, as we start with Cross eventually taking Asuka into the corner with shoulder tackles. Cross stays on top of Asuka until she misses a body press, hitting the mat as the champion tries to take over… only to baseball slide into the apron as Cross pulled a trick from the Finlay playbook.
Cross heads under the ring and pulls out a bunch of chairs as we get a jump cut, returning as Asuka whipped Cross into the ring steps. Asuka pulls a bin from under the ring, so of course 2017 Full Sail chants for ECW… as Nikki had the bin put over her head ahead of a bunch of kicks. A missile dropkick takes Cross down, which leads to our first count of the night. Cross gets up at eight, so Asuka knees her away before a kick to the back gave her time to go out for more plunder in the form of chairs. A tug of war over a chair saw Asuka fall into the guard rails, but she counters a leap from Cross with a knee strike as we got another count for the unusually silent crowd. I think the 2020 PC Plants make more noise than we got at times here.
Asuka gets more chairs into the ring, before she took Nikki onto the apron… where the Scotswoman surprised the champion with a falling reverse DDT. Cue another jump cut to edit out a break, as we return with a swinging Fisherman’s neckbreaker from Cross that led to another count. Asuka beats the count, so Cross spams them… but Asuka’s back up, and quickly manages to catch Cross with a belt shot. Nikki gets up, then gets put down with a spinning head kick. Cross needs the ropes to pull herself up… as she suckers Asuka onto the apron by low bridging her. Asuka recovers and measures up for a superplex… but cross clings on to avoid the pile of chairs below, as she instead slid out and powerbombed Asuka onto them instead, with Asuka seemingly cracking her head on the edge of the ramp as well.
Somehow Asuka gets back up, using the guard rails for leverage… so Cross pulls her towards the stage as they scramble… leading to Cross getting knocked to the floor as a hip attack off the stage left Cross down. Cross gets up and takes the fight towards the commentary area, as she hit a Magic Killer, using a rail from a seating deck as the “second man.” Yet Asuka gets back up, and clobbers Cross with a spinning backfist as they staggered around some more. A ladder from Cross takes Asuka down, giving Cross time to drag a table out of mothballs, opening up a ladder by it. Asuka’s knocked onto the table as Cross then heads up… but Asuka gets herself off the table and climbs the ladder as well as Percy Watson, Nigel McGuinness and Mauro Ranallo ditch the commentary table.
Just as well, really, since Asuka suplexes Cross through the table… and Asuka gets up first to retain the title. This was fine, but out of context it didn’t really stand-out, which is a shame because I remembered it being so much better in the time. It picked up towards the end, but those are the dangers of these pick ‘n’ mix shows… ***½
Nina Samuels is next for her pick, but first we’ve a brief video package on her. But first, a Zoom call with Oliver Carter and Ashton Smith. I’m used to seeing Oliver Carter on these kinda things. He’s showing off his new gear, but Ashton’s annoyed that it’s got colours. Ashton wants them burned because he’s scared he’ll be wearing the MC Hammer/High Energy trousers. I think this might be more character-based vignettes than they’ve had combined to date.
WWF Tag Team Championship: Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine) (c) vs. British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid)
We start with Davey Boy charging down Valentine as he proceeded to work over the Hammer’s arm.
A trip off the ropes led to a hiptoss on Smith, but he’s quickly back as he tagged in Dynamite Kid to take Valentine into the buckles for a two-count. A suplex and a standing elbow drop from Dynamite led to another tag as Davey Boy returned to hit the suplex for a two-count. Valentine powders outside, then returned to clock Davey Boy with some forearms. In comes Brutus Beefcake next, as he worked over Smith’s wrist… but Davey Boy press slams his way free and makes the tag out! Dynamite comes in with a clothesline and a chop for a two-count, before a small package nearly put Beefcake away. More quick-fire tags has Smith back in for a Fisherman suplex that almost gets the win.
Valentine tags in and comes in with a flying axehandle to Smith as he followed up with a suplex of his own for another two-count. We get a picture-in-picture of Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne as Smith was being worn down with a chinlock… but he powers up and sneaks in a tag to Dynamite Kid as the pair exchange forearms, with Dynamite edging ahead. Shoulder charges in the corner drop Valentine for another two-count, as Smith returns to help land a double-team shoulder tackle. That gets Dynamite a two-count, as did a sunset flip, as commentary mused that Dynamite’s size perhaps cost him. He followed that up with a backbreaker, but Beefcake comes in to break up the pin… not that that mattered, as Dynamite stayed on Valentine with more forearms.
Valentine struck back and hit a kneeling piledriver. Ganso bomb?! Dynamite kicks out at two, as Valentine quickly went back to the cover, with similar results, before Valentine headed up top… and got press slammed down by Dynamite. The referee quits counting as Smith and Beefcake came in to break it up, but the champions stayed on top as Valentine put the boots to Dynamite. Smith’s back to scoop up Valentine for a powerslam, but it’s only enough for a two-count. A suplex bounces Valentine for another, but Valentine’s quickly back as he trapped Smith in a hammerlock. Beefcake is back to hit a forearm off the top to the exposed Smith, before countering a snapmare by dumping Smith on the mat. Beefcake stays on the shoulder, sending Smith into the corner before Valentine hit another forearm off the top as the champions looked comfortable.
A shoulderbreaker followed, but Valentine pulls up Smith at two… and the finish comes not long after when Valentine’s shoved into the corner… he clonks heads with Dynamite Kid, and with Beefcake slipping on the way in, that’s enough for the Bulldogs to win. Decent enough, and it sort-of holds up some thirty years later, but this started to drag the longer it went on. ***¼
We get a Ridge Holland promo set to clips of him beating poor fools before lockdown. “No-one is stopping Ridge Holland.” Of course, these promos would be nice if they actually built up to something.
Hang on a second, the desktop on Andy’s laptop is from Super Luchas. They couldn’t give him the official NXT UK logo? Nikki Cross, Drew McIntyre and William Regal are doing Superstar Picks next week.
NXT Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Finn Balor
This one’s from July 2015’s Beast in the East special, held at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan.
We start off hot with Balor hitting a shotgun dropkick before he looked for the Coup de Grace early… but Owens rolls outside and ends up getting leapt onto instead. Back inside, Owens cracks Balor with a back elbow before he avoided a dropkick… but a dropkick through the ropes took Owens into the streamers that had been thrown earlier. Balor takes Owens into the guard rails and dropkicks him off a chair, then back inside as they continued to go back and forth. A crossbody from Balor’s countered into almost an Air Raid Crash by Owens for a two-count, as he proceeded to put the fists and boots to the Irishman.
Owens whips Balor into the buckles as Michael Cole on commentary rattled off Finn’s Wikipedia, as more back elbows left Balor down for a delayed two-count. The Tokyo crowd try to cheer on Balor out of a chinlock, but Balor gets thrown outside and into the ring steps as he had to dive in to beat the count… and ends up squashed with a back senton as Owens gets a near-fall. Throwing Balor back outside doesn’t yield the count-out win, so Owens snapmares him… and mocks again with a chinlock. Balor punches his way free, and manages to roll out of a sunset flip to hit Owens with a low dropkick. Owens pulls out the John Cena flying shoulder tackles, then the back suplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle, since he was feuding with Cena at the time…
Balor’s back with another double stomp, before he took Owens into the corners for chops. This crowd oohing and aahing is weird, compared to the WWE crowds of a more recent vintage. An overhead kick from Balor has both men down, and when they get back to their feet, Balor follows up with a tope con giro as Owens powdered outside. Quickly returning to the ring, Balor hits a double stomp to the back before he lifted up Owens for the reverse 1917… but it’s only enough for a near-fall. Balor heads back to the corner as he heads up top, but the Coup de Grace misses as Owens comes back with a German suplex. That left Balor in the corner for a cannonball, which gets a near-fall, before the sit-out package powerbomb drew the champion another two-count.
Owens trash-talks Balor, and ends up eating a Slingblade, but he’s back to his feet to cut off Balor on the top rope. Headbutts don’t stop Finn for long though, as a gamengiri took Owens down before Finn got third time lucky with the Coup de Grace, stomping through Owens for a near-fall. Balor takes Owens to the corner, but a bell clapper stops Owens from being lifted up top… only for Balor to get him up at the second time. Balor goes for a superplex, but Owens tries to counter into the spin-out suplex. It’s avoided as Finn slips free, then went back up… only to get caught with a Finlay roll off the middle rope for a near-fall! Owens tries to underscore it by heading up top again, but he lands in Balor’s knees with a senton, before the 1917 drilled the champion for a near-fall! Owens slaps back as he again trash-talks Balor, who then countered out of a pop-up powerbomb and came back with a clothesline… a pair of shotgun dropkicks follow, before Finn races up top, landing a second Coup de Grace, and that’s enough for the win! Even out of context, this felt like a cracker of a match – but it made me pine for five years ago when the product had a semblance of momentum. ****
The show ends without any farewells from Andy… and of course they said absolutely nothing about either of the current events in wrestling. If you’re surprised, I don’t know what to tell you – this is the WWE MO. Don’t hold you breath for any on-screen acknowledgements… While the matches on show were fine, the fact they’re going back to the well next week tells you they’ve run dry on formats. Maybe the rejig is a sign of the current landscape – but many more of these paint-by-numbers shows will begin to hurt. Perhaps they’re looking at restarting in front of empty arenas – I mean, why else are they suddenly throwing in segments on these clip shows?