NXT UK’s back with more Superstar Picks, as the well continues to dry…
We’ve a “didn’t they do well” episode this week as William Regal, Nikki Cross and Drew McIntyre are making their picks.
From NXT UK – Aoife Valkyrie pinned Isla Dawn in 4:30 (**¼)
From NXT UK – Noam Dar pinned A-Kid in 6:30 (**½)
From the WWE UK Championship Tournament: Pete Dunne pinned Mark Andrews in 10:30 (****¼)
We eschew the opening titles again, but the trailers for this show still feature the names who’ve been released. Andy Shepherd’s in his living room again as we go straight to the matches. Nikki Cross is first to pick, and it’s one of Aoife Valkyrie’s first matches as part of NXT UK.
Isla Dawn vs. Aoife Valkyrie
This one’s from this past March (cough January’s tapings in York). Commentary reminds us how Isla’s meant to have some momentum coming in. That may be evaporating against the newcomer Valkyrie. It’s her second televised match in, having beaten a male in her debut. Sorry, Amale. Pronunciation, pal.
Valkyrie looks to work the wrist early, hammerlocking the arm on the way to a roll-up for an early two-count as Dawn was having trouble early on. Some headscissors from Aoife lead to back-and-forth pinning attempts, while Dawn busts out some splits to avoid a head kick from Valkyrie. Innovative. Valkyrie keeps going with kicks, following in with a standing moonsault before another hammerlock neutralises Isla. Dawn recovers with a 619 in the corner to knock Aoife off the top, following up with a Meteora for a near-fall, but Valkyrie’s overhead kick gets her back in it as a flying scissor kick gets the win. By the numbers, but decent enough for a competitive TV squash. **¼
William Regal’s up next to pick, and it looks like we’re sticking to just the NXT UK archives… but first, we get footage of Imperium’s Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner winning the NXT tag team titles. WALTER’s in the wXw academy crowing over it, while the NXT tag champs bring up the media coverage they’ve gotten as Imperium eye up world domination. Fabian Aichner tells us how a SmackDown in 2003 made him want to learn how to wrestle as we get random Alex Wright footage on the show! Hey, that’s topped with a random appearance from Alex Wright! I’m all in on das Wunderkind here. WALTER puts over Aichner, as does Steve and Alex Wright, declaring Aichner and Barthel the “perfect European tag team.”
We’ve footage of Steve Wright and Axel Dieter – Barthel’s dad against Aichner’s coach – before we pivot to Barthel’s “mission” of “the mat is sacred.” This is the biggest profile piece I think they’ve given Barthel and Aichner to date…
William Regal picks his match…
A-Kid vs. Noam Dar
Another one that’s pretty recent, and we start with Dar trying to go for kicks.
A-Kid checks them and went for a waistlock takedown, before Dar used a knucklelock to take down the Spaniard. A side headlock and a noogie keeps A-Kid down, but they separate as A-Kid looked for an enziguiri in the ropes. A-Kid switches around into a headlock on the mat, before switching tack into an Octopus hold that Dar tries to escape. Eventually a log roll rips A-Kid, but he’s back with a roll-up, before throwing in a sunset flip and some back-and-forth crucifix pins for some ref-trolling one-counts. All that seemed to annoy Dar, who caught A-Kid and sent him through the ropes, bringing him back in as he teased a draping DDT… instead punting A-Kid instead. Dar keeps going with an elbow drop and strikes, before A-Kid fought free of an armbar. A dropkick turns the tide as Dar’s sent outside, but the Scotsman returns to avoid a moonsault, instead sidestepping another dive as A-Kid fell into an armbar. He reverses it as a triangle armbar has Dar in bother, as the pair go back and forth on submission attempts. Dar’s roll-up led to nought before a low blow was missed by the ref… leading to a Nova Roller kick for the win. This was fine, but my GOD, this crowd didn’t give a damn. **½
They leave in Noam Dar bragging about winning the battle royal for a NXT UK title shot. Which is weird because Ilja Dragunov won it… and Noam didn’t.
Another promo piece, this time on Pretty Deadly as we see Sam Stoker and Lewis Howley having a picnic. Sam’s tattoo of the Seattle skyline on his calf is bringing me serious Frasier vibes. They talk about the “brighter future,” as someone’s football runs into them. Howley boots it away and scares off the “kid” before the team toasted their future.
Next week, we’ve a special on NXT UK’s superstars wrestling in America…
Drew McIntyre picks his match… he’s glad to finally be on this show as he gives us a brief acknowledgment of his career on the British scene. He picks something from the first UK Championship tournament…
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Mark Andrews vs. Pete Dunne
These two had their first match together – this will be at least their 73rd in some form together – and Dunne started with a huge chinlock as he tries to wear down Andrews, but the Welshman came back with a satellite armdrag to take Dunne outside, followed by a somersault plancha! Dunne tries to stamp Andrews’ hand on the ring step, but Mark counters with a ‘rana to send Peter flying to the floor.
Back inside, Dunne sends Andrews into the bottom turnbuckle for a near-fall, and we’re back to another chinlock variant as Dunne makes a point of working over Andrews’ neck. Andrews blocks a slam into the corner, and instead lands on the apron for a slingshot into a wheelbarrow rollup, then gets a double-stomp – what Nigel McGuinness called the Stomp 182! Andrews lands the Northern Lights… then lands a moonsault-into-a-senton for a near-fall. A running shooting star press gets a two-count, but Dunne rolls to the outside, and this is where Andrews flies – only for his moonsault to be caught and turned into a release suplex on the apron! Dunne drops Andrews with a release suplex on the ramp, and that seems to be Dunne’s way of trying for a count-out win.
Andrews just about beats the count back in, but Dunne grabs his arm and stomps on his head by the ropes. Another release suplex is turned into the Stundog Millionaire for a near-fall, before eventually going up top… but Dunne cuts him off and goes for a superplex. Andrews fights free, but the slugfest on the top rope ends with Dunne crashing down as Andrews gets a shooting star press into the knees as Dunne rolls him into a small package for a two-count. Dunne looks to end it with the Bitter End, but Andrews counters with an armdrag, only to leapfrog into a forearm. Another Bitter End is countered into a ‘rana for another really-near-fall as this match hots up, and Andrews again goes up top! Shooting Star? He lands on his feet and gets German suplexed into the corner, and now it’s another release suplex before the Bitter End books Peter’s ticket to the final. What. A. Match. ****¼
That’s all folks, they flash up the copyright and trademark bug… and that’s it for another week.
Picking matches from the most recent NXT UK tapings (before the shutdown) perhaps suggests the pieces are being moved into place for their restart. While no official announcement has been made, the sudden move away from archival footage towards “hey, here’s guys from our roster” certainly is making sure the NXT UK roster doesn’t become a distant memory. Showing a pair of recent TV matches – in front of largely apathetic crowds – only served to remind you of just how stale this brand was getting before the forced pause. Still, as a selection box, this was fine… but until there’s clear news of how and when NXT UK begins to tape and release new content, this is just filler. Still, those vignettes were really good – go out of your way for the Imperium piece.