We’ve got another Best of NXT UK special – as the British brand picks from the past once again.
Once more, we’ve got a bare bones title screen as Andy Shepherd still has his Super Luchas-ripped wallpaper on the laptop for this intro. I genuinely wonder if they just taped a boat load of links early on in lockdown, or whether Andy’s gone to the pains of keeping his looks similar between taping sessions?
From NXT UK, October 2018 – Zack Gibson pinned Noam Dar in 21:10 (****)
From NXT UK, June 2019 – Kay Lee Ray won a battle royal to win a shot at the NXT UK Women’s Championship in 8:40 (**¾)
From NXT UK, January 2020 – No Disqualification: Ilja Dragunov pinned Alexander Wolfe in 14:50 (***¾)
Zack Gibson pitches the first match, the main event from the third episode of the show when he was in a feud with Noam Dar. Back when Noam was a guy who the crowds liked, and wasn’t a character that was full of himself like a prima donna footballer…
Noam Dar vs. Zack Gibson
There’s no pre-match promo, as we start with the usual lock-up, with Gibson taking Dar down and into an armbar while the crowd slowly took their shoes off. Dar returns the armbar favour, but Zack’s back up as the early feeling-out process didn’t draw any clear advantage. It did lead to Dar trying to take his shoes off though… Nigel McGuinness tries to explain the hatred of Zack Gibson as the crowd went through their Rolodex of Gibson chants, instantly making him the hottest bad guy on this roster. We’re back to the wrestling as Gibson traps Dar in some headscissors, but Dar escapes and counters into an Indian deathlock… which he used to try and remove some footwear.
Gibson gets back in as he again looked to soften Dar’s arm, clinging onto the body part before he tried to through Dar into the corner… but the Scotsman evades him and goes for some pinning attempts as we had some nice callbacks to the classic British style of yore. A backslide’s blocked by Gibson, but Dar sweeps out the Scouser’s legs as Gibson was sent into the ropes with a bum knee. With a part to aim for, Dar kicks away at Gibson’s leg and knee as they end up outside, with Dar eventually being pulled down off the apron, before he used the entry ramp as a springboard as he dropkicked Gibson low once more. That looked better without the replay to be fair… They continued brawling around the ring, with Dar on top, peppering Gibson with shot, only for a Divorce Court (hammerlock DDT) from Gibson to buy himself some time.
A short-arm clothesline from Gibson knocks Dar down for a two-count, as Zack again goes back to the arm as he looked to prepare for an eventual trip to the Shankly Gates. Dar fights out of a chin bar/arm bar combo, but the focus remains on that arm… despite Dar’s attempt to fight out, as Gibson just ends up stomping on the Scotsman’s elbow. Gibson uses some misdirection with a twist to Dar’s surgically-repaired knee, before going back to the arm with a Jim Breaks-like armbar suplex. Dar tries to fight back, but he’s caught in the corner with an enziguiri before he kicks Zack out of the corner as he looked for a Ticket to Ride.
A suplex from Dar helps to get him a near-fall, as does a release Fisherman’s suplex… but the damage to the arm had clearly weakened the Scottish Supernova. Gibson thought he’d won it when he came out of nowhere with a Ticket to Ride off the middle rope, but from the kick-out he stalks Dar ahead of the Shankly Gates… only for Dar to go instantly into the ropes. Gibson’s sent outside, but he drags Dar out with him for a powerbomb onto the stage, which looked to be his way of trying to win this by count-out. Dar manages to beat the count, but he rolls back into the Shankly Gates, which he broke up with a desperation dive into the ropes as the crowd believed that Noam could perhaps win this… More boots from Gibson looked to snuff that out though, and there’s one last flurry where Dar tried to roll-up Zack for the win, then land a double stomp onto Gibson’s left knee, Zack was able to fight back on one leg, going back to the arm.
Dar trips Gibson into a knee bar, but Zack rolls into the ropes before he headed up top again… another Ticket to Ride misses as Dar sidesteps it and grabs an ankle lock, switching it into a knee bar in the middle of the ring… but Gibson slaps his way free and after kicking out Dar’s knee, he throws the Scotsman into the ring post, before a Helter Skelter suplex gets him the win. ****
Promo time with Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster. They talk about their 2019, winning the NXT UK tag titles in Cardiff, and their bad times – up to Mark Andrews getting attack by a mystery man before the shutdown. They show footage of Mark training for his comeback, and they’re keeping the whodunnit alive when they come back!
Kay Lee Ray vignette time. She introduces the battle royal from last year’s Download festival which was the first big step towards her winning the NXT UK women’s title.
Battle Royal for NXT UK Women’s Title Shot
Out for this one were: Xia Brookside, Jinny, Jazzy Gabert, Kay Lee Ray, Piper Niven and Rhea Ripley. Candy Floss, Isla Dawn, Kanji, Killer Kelly, Nina Samuels and Rhio all came out during the commercial break.
The early going saw people try to gang up on Jazzy, but she gets rid of some of the newer faces early, tossing out Rhio, then Kanji (who didn’t get named). Jazzy continued to get the monster treatment as she dished out a Dominator to Candy Floss, but was made to step aside as Jinny underscored it with an elimination. There’s some, shall we say “not-woke” chants from the Download crowd as Piper Niven and Xia Brookside combined to eliminate Jazzy… much to Jinny’s disgust. Her plan’s fallen apart! Jinny tries to fight back, but Niven, Brookside and Isla Dawn triple team her, with those last two looking to throw her out… only for Jazzy to make the save and take Jinny back in. Not to worry, Xia just threw Jinny out moments later.
Killer Kelly tries her luck with Ripley, but ended up getting hot shotted and thrown out of the ring. Isla Dawn’s thrown out too as we’re left with Ripley, Brookside, Samuels and Niven as the final four… well, final three, as Nina was turfed out by Piper, so we were left with a trio that all had business with each other. Niven and Ripley trade right hands, but it’s a cannonball from the Scotswoman that had Rhea in trouble. A Vader Bomb looked to be next, but Ripley gets up and shoved Piper onto the apron… the favour’s returned, as Xia Brookside came in and dropkicked the pair of them to the floor. But of course, this was 2019 and we have to have the “wait, X wasn’t eliminated” trope, as Kay Lee Ray appeared from nowhere and threw out Xia. This was decent for a battle royal, but bookers: come up with another battle royal finish. This one’s worn out. **¾
Promo time with Jinny. She brags about coming into NXT UK all ruthless and aggressive… and she’ll be back to prove she’s the only woman on this brand. The vignettes they gave Jinny before her debut were really quite unique – compared to the cookie cutter stuff we usually get for debuts.
Next week: more greatest hits from this show’s history… then, Ilja Dragunov picks our last match for the week. He tells us about how Alexander Wolfe was his trainer and mentor, but he’s no longer “the same person” that Wolfe trained, as they intersperse this with footage of Ilja’s brief time in Gallus.
No Disqualification: Ilja Dragunov vs. Alexander Wolfe
These two had a cracker back in November 2019, despite the screwy finish… can they repeat the magic in a no-DQ setting?
Ilja rushed Wolfe in the aisle as the pair fought in time to the Imperium theme… Wolfe just about gets his jacket off as Dragunov chops him around ringside, but Wolfe hits a back suplex onto the apron as the pair finally hit the ring. Ilja lands a spinning back chop, then a back senton as Wolfe took too long… and these guys are sprinting. Wolfe lands hard on the outside, and gets kept there with a kick as Dragunov heads up for a flying body press to Wolfe on the floor. Dragunov strokes a Kendo stick, but Wolfe disarms him instantly… Dragunov demands Wolfe hit him, but his trainer just drops the Kendo stick and dares Ilja to pick it up. It’s a ruse though as Wolfe kicks Ilja in the head, then unloaded with stick shots. Eventually Ilja blocks one and throws some chops to try and disarm Wolfe… who just shrugs it off and uses the Kendo stick to pull Ilja into a neckbreaker for a two-count. Wolfe keeps using the Kendo stick to try and choke out Ilja, but Dragunov gets free and gets the stick for himself… which he gleefully used. Wolfe blocks another shot, but can’t avoid a Konstantin-Spezial-like home run shot with the stick, before a table’s pulled from under the ring. Throwing Wolfe into the ring steps, Dragunov props up the table in the corner… only to get caught out after another scrap as Wolfe caught him, throwing a chair from the floor, then dumped Ilja awkwardly on the edge of the ring with a death valley driver.
Back in the ring, Wolfe tried to DDT Ilja on a chair, but Dragunov escapes and threw the chair right back at Wolfe. Grabbing the chair again, Ilja sets up for a Coast to Coast, and lands it flush for a near-fall. Dragunov gets some more chairs from outside, piling them up in the ring as he prepared for a superplex… but Wolfe slips out and instead goes for a powerbomb. Ilja held on, but couldn’t avoid a nasty German suplex into the chairs, before he got spiked with a DDT for a near-fall. More chairshots await Ilja, who then has a chair rammed into his throat and the mat, before Wolfe slammed Ilja’s hand in the chair. That’s a new kind of Pillman-izing… the other hand’s given the same treatment, but Ilja responds with a clothesline before he picked up Wolfe and hit a running death valley driver through the table, before Torpedo Moscau connected for the win! This didn’t quite have the same spark as their first match in November, but this was a heck of a scrap that didn’t just resort to the stereotype of “hit them with plunder”. ***¾
At least they’re picking out good matches for these best-ofs – and if you’re keeping an eye on the names and faces they’re repeatedly showing, you can perhaps tell who they’ve got plans for when this show finally gets back to new content…