This week on NXT UK, we’ve got a look at some day trips – as we look at stars from NXT UK when they performed in the US…
– From NXT TV in 2019 – WALTER pinned Kushida in 16:40 (****)
– From the Mae Young Classic in 2018 – Toni Storm pinned Meiko Satomura in 13:00 (****¼)
– From NXT TV in 2018 – Pete Dunne pinned Zack Gibson in 13:30 (***¾)
We’ve no opening titles again, as Andy Shepherd pitches three matches featuring NXT UK stars in the States. Alexander Wolfe is up first to throw to WALTER vs. Kushida from NXT last year.
WALTER vs. Kushida
This was very early in the whole AEW vs. NXT “Wednesday night war”, and was something they’d actually built up pretty well from what I remember.
We get going as WALTER ragdolls Kushida across the ring, and yes, I’m having to fight to not capitalise that name like I did when he was in New Japan. Kushida tries for a takedown, but WALTER easily picks him up and drops him on the apron before patting his head like a small child. A front facelock keeps Kushida down, but he switches places and clings on as WALTER ended up having his head patted. He didn’t like that, and swings for a chop, before Kushida low bridged him and dropkicked him to the floor as we jump cut through a break. We’re back as Kushida gives WALTER a Flatliner into the buckles, before Kushida stumbled on a springboard… and got booted in the face.
WALTER drags Kushida away from the ropes and rolls him with a half crab, torquing him awkwardly until Kushida got to the ropes. Cross chops followed as Kushida was dragged up into the ropes, and my word, WALTER’s chest looks proper blistered. Like “days after getting sunburned” blistered. Kushida tries to fight back, but he’s chopped back down by the Austrian, before a powerbomb attempt gets countered into a nice DDT. Duelling “Kushida”/”Nein” chants ring around Full Sail as WALTER tries to force a way back in, but he’s caught with a gamengiri as Kushida flies with a chop off the top rope. WALTER leapfrogs, but gets met with a Judo throw and a cartwheel dropkick from Kushida, who was making his speed advantage count… catching another cross chop attempt before he went for a sunset bomb. It’s blocked, with WALTER just stomping on his face instead.
With Kushida on the floor, WALTER drags him up in a choke hold, as they proceed to trade kicks and chops on the apron. Kushida drops down as WALTER charges into the ring post, before Kushida hit a nice roll-through DDT from the floor to the apron. They make it back inside, as Kushida kicks away WALTER’s arm and looks for the Hoverboard lock… but WALTER holds on before he countered out of it with some punches to the ribs and an eventual Gojira clutch. Kushida keeps on WATER though, catching him with a triangle choke… but WALTER rolls free… only to get caught with a roll-up for a near-fall.
A dropkick to the back has WALTER staggering, but he recovers with a big boot and a German suplex, before a bridging half-nelson fallway slam almost won it for the Austrian. WALTER heads up top, but he’s stopped by Kushida who lands another gamengiri before joining him on the turnbuckles… and somehow gets the Hoverboard lock on! Kushida rolls WALTER down while in the hold, keeping it on after the impact as WALTER looked to have tapped… but WALTER squirms and gets to the ropes to save his skin. A dropkick to the arm ensures Kushidia keeps his focus going, before some Kawada kicks keep WALTER woozy… but a second Hoverboard lock is shoved away as WALTER crashes in with a shotgun dropkick. From there, a snap powerbomb gets WALTER a near-fall, before a ripcord lariat decks Kushida for the win. A hell of a match there, and one I’m sure WWE used to build Kushida with in the months that followed. Oh. ****
We’ve got Xia Brookside the vlogger again. She’s picking the next match… wait, so this is really a jazzed up Superstar Picks, and not “three random matches we dug out”… but first, a vignette for Eddie Dennis. It’s a well spoken, if not echoey piece, ending with the line “knowledge is power.”
Now Xia’s back to pitch to one of the semi-finals from 2018’s Mae Young Classic. It indeed was a classic…
Mae Young Classic 2018 Semi-Final: Toni Storm vs. Meiko Satomura
We’ve 30 minute time limits here, but I’d be stunned if we got close to that. Needless to say, we’re into the business end of the tournament, with every one of the semi-finalists being seen as deserving.
After a tentative start, Toni started to work over Meiko’s arm, but the favour’s quickly returned as they went back-and-forth. A hammerlock is countered as Meiko rolls through, taking down Toni for a side headlock, which the pair traded off on as we went from headlocks to headscissors and vice-versa. Keeping it grounded, Satomura eventually backs off… just to throw a kick into Toni, who tried to shrug it off. Shoulder tackles follow, but neither woman budges, so Toni just shifts it up into a big boot that almost brought the match to an end. Headbutts follow as Toni looked to wear down Meiko, scoring another two-count from a snap suplex as Satomura finally began a comeback with kicks to the leg.
A deathlock follows to Toni’s legs, as Satomura’s all over her Aussie foe, pinning her into the corner with those measured kicks. Storm tries to elbow out of a suplex, and does so as she whips Meiko into the ropes… only to get met with a spinning heel kick as Satomura rebounded with some force. After sneaking in a backslide, Storm wraps Satomura in a STF, with Toni cranking on the hold until Satomura was able to drag herself to the ropes. Satomura drags herself into a corner, where she’s vulnerable for a hip attack, then a Fisherman’s suplex as Storm surged ahead. A kick sends Satomura sailing to the outside, and Toni follows her there with a lowpe into the ramp that looked to give both Toni and Meiko a bad landing. That infernal ramp…
Back inside, a Shining Wizard from Storm nearly ends it, before she began to punt away at Satomura with kicks to the face. You don’t get away with those, as Meiko issues receipts ahead of a DDT and the cartwheel knees to the back of the head! Satomura looks to finish off with the death valley driver, but Toni kicks out, and quickly comes back with a German suplex to fold Satomura in half, ahead of the Storm Zero Tiger Driver for another near-fall! Looking to finish the job, Storm picks up Satomura, and goes for the Tiger Driver again, only to be clocked with an overhead kick and a kick to the chest… but Toni manages to get a shoulder up at two! A Scorpion kick to the back of Toni’s head gets another near-fall as Satomura looked to be out of ideas… and frustrated for it! Another death valley driver looked to be the trick, but it’s countered into the Tiger Driver… and Toni’s in the final! Phenomenal! I need to go back and rewatch their Pro Wrestling EVE match, but these two never seem to fail to have really good matches. The best match of the tournament, and if it’s topped… well, it’s going to be a special outing! ****¼
Flash Morgan Webster’s up next to pick his match… but first, we’ve a Nina Samuels vignette. She tells us that during this “intermission” she’s not been reflecting – she just wants the fans to appreciate her and give her the response she deserves when the “Nina Samuels Show” returns.
Next week: we’ve got NXT UK Greatest Hits. How’s that different from “Superstar Picks”?
Pete Dunne vs. Zack Gibson
This was for the UK title, taped before Takeover: Brooklyn in 2018… and we’ve got Zack Gibson’s porno theme, back from before the Grizzled Young Veterans were a team. Heck, this was back when NXT UK was just “coming soon”…
We start with Dunne working over Gibson’s wrist, before the Liverpudlian tripped him down to the mat to get his own back. Zack’s wristlock eventually gets escaped as Dunne flipped free as an arm whip takes Zack into the ropes… where he blasts Dunne with a cross-chop in the throat. Some rope running gives Dunne an opening as he comes in with a clothesline, before grounding Gibson for an armbar… with some added torque to the fingers. The pair then trade slaps as Dunne mounts Gibson for a Kimura… which turned into a wacky double crab as they tied up each other’s legs for some upside down slapping… and then reset!
Dunne goes back to the arm, taking Gibson down so he could stomp on the elbow, before Zack switched around and dropped Dunne elbow-first on the rope. A keylock driver keeps the pressure on the arm, as did an Irish whip with a sudden stop, jerking Dunne’s arm on the route to a near-fall. Gibson changes tack with a cobra clutch, before a back suplex dropped Dunne for another two-count. Gibson stays on Dunne with a chin bar, then an armbar, working the fingers as revenge for earlier, before reapplying the cobra clutch. Another suplex has Dunne in a heap as Gibson looked to be taking things a little lightly, measuring his shots on Dunne… who seemed to find a second wind as he walked through the forearms before decking Gibson with one of his own.
Dunne builds momentum as he floated over Gibson in the corner en route to an enziguiri… an escape from a German suplex allows Dunne to kick Gibson’s arm before he floated an X-Plex into a cross armbar, but it’s right by the ropes as Gibson rolled to the outside. Staying on him, Dunne follows out with an Orihara moonsault, before throwing Gibson back in… as Zack begged for mercy. None came, as Dunne hits a Goomba stomp on his chest, before a sit-out powerbomb drew a near-fall. Gibson’s back with a kick out of the corner, before a Ticket to Ride out of the buckles almost caused the shock title change. Zack picks up Dunne, but he’s taken back down for another stomp – this time to the fingers – before he returned fire with another Ticket to Ride. Dunne responds with an enziguiri, before duelling enziguiris left both men down.
Trying to work over the knee, Dunne takes Gibson into the corner, but changes tactic as he went back to the arm as a set up for the superplex… but Gibson counters with a Twister off the top rope for a near-fall. The Shankly Gates follow, but Gibson can’t quite lock it in quickly, eventually trapping Dunne in the middle of the ring… forcing Dunne to crawl to the ropes as he bit his way to freedom. Stomps from Gibson leave Dunne in a heap, and with Dunne having lost his gumshield, Gibson just lariats him to death. Not literally. Gibson stares at the gumshield like it’s ancient treasure before he tried to toss it into the crowd… Dunne tweaks the fingers to retrieve it, before a Bitter End got the win. Oh wow, this was before that move was kicked out of a thousand times a match! A pretty good title match, reminding you of how good these guys are… except neither of them are NXT UK anymore, having both been “promoted” to NXT before the covid crisis began. ***¾
For the second week in a row, NXT UK signs off with Dunne celebrating… and that’s it! After last week’s confusing grab bag of matches, this was a marked increase in quality – which perhaps exposes the relative gulf between the top of the roster guys and “the rest.” We’re still getting promos from roster members, which should tell you that this isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As to where it is going, though, remains to be seen – but the UK Government’s announcements today about easing up restrictions could see some light at the end of the tunnel as far as fresh content is concerned.