It’s another Best of NXT UK, this week featuring Pete Dunne, Joseph Conners and Isla Dawn.
– From NXT UK, June 2019: Mark Andrews pinned Joseph Conners in 6:15 (***¼)
– From NXT UK, December 2018: Isla Dawn pinned Xia Brookside in 5:00 (***)
– From NXT UK, October 2018: Pete Dunne pinned Noam Dar to retain the WWE United Kingdom Championship in 11:30 (***¾)
Someone pointed out last week that Joe Coffey, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate had been removed from the NXT UK banner on WWE.com. That seemed to be apropos of very little… Anyway, we open with the usual. They still haven’t made a new title sequence, and Andy Shepherd in his living room. This time without the Super Luchas wallpaper on his laptop.
Joseph Conners is up first to introduce his match. He stares into the distance as he tells us he’d stopped trying to fit in, and was all about trying to prove that he was worthy.
Mark Andrews vs. Joseph Conners
Conners has traded his trunks for tights, and we start with the pair trading holds as commentary fell silent to mask how (when this was first aired) they went all WCW on us by talking about the main event.
After having his hair pulled, Andrews managed to flip away from harm, only for a reverse neck flip – almost like a snap Muta lock – put Conners back on top. It’s aggressive stuff, but not helped by the crowd falling silent until Andrews began to fight back. Conners snuffed that out as he continued to go for the neck. The slingshot DDT from Conners turned into a lungblower of sorts as Andrews began to fight back, building up to a standing moonsault that almost ended things. Conners is back in with a sunset bomb into the corner, then a facebuster, but Andrews kicked out… and managed to cut off Conners with a Stundog Millionaire before heading up top for a match-winning shooting star press.
As much as we jump on Conners, he was excellent in his role here – albeit coming up short. I just wish they’d give him a bone here, rather than being “that good hand”. ***¼
Isla Dawn “introduces a technical masterpiece” next… but first, A-Kid speaks about his brief run in NXT UK. He’s an artist, and wants to paint a masterpiece… but I guess he’ll have to wait for the Spanish immigration restrictions to be lifted? He’s got a sketchbook of “everything (he) needs”, and he’ll show us all someday. Now it’s Isla, somewhere in the countryside, introducing her first and only match with Xia Brookside so far. Gotta dig the possibly-dubbed rain effects…
Isla Dawn vs. Xia Brookside
This was Isla’s first match since losing a NXT UK title shot… and she’s up against a Xia Brookside who was experiencing a homecoming here.
Isla accepts the opening handshake, as we begin with a lock-up and a wristlock from Dawn, but Brookside gets free and responds with some headscissors to keep Dawn on the mat. Those are escaped, as Isla switched into a knee spreader, before a strait-jacket choke forces Xia to almost dance her way free and into a reversal. Dawn quickly reverses it though, so Brookside bridges back and rolls backwards for another reversal as we’re staying on the mat, reversing back and forth. It’s a low-key technical outing this, with Dawn pulling Xia over the knees as we’re still trading those strait-jackets, before they switched up into an indy’riffic series of pins, racking up near-falls to confound referee Drake Wuertz. The end comes amid that sequence when Xia leaps up for a Victory roll, but straight out of WrestleMania X, Isla Dawn plays the Owen Hart, sitting down on the roll for the pin. A hell of a match, and one that went largely unappreciated judging from the lack of crowd noise. ***
Recent-birthday-boy Noam Dar picks next… but first, here’s a Dani Luna vignette. She talks about her rapid rise – coming from newcomer to facing Kay Lee Ray. She’s looking for a glimmer of opportunity to grab onto… as we see shots of her training outdoors. Cue speculation about the UK PC having been altered…
Next week: yeah, it’s more greatest hits. Now it’s Noam Dar with his birthday present to us. It’s the main event from the first ever NXT UK show, as he took on Pete Dunne in Cambridge.
WWE United Kingdom Championship: Noam Dar vs. Pete Dunne (c)
The main event from the first ever NXT UK starts with a tie-up as Dunne took Dar into the ropes, before we get a happy birthday chant from the crowd to Dar. Way to date the show! Noam manages to trip Dunne before some dizzying ahead of a backslide earns him a near-fall, but a clothesline from Dunne quickly neutralises Dar.
Dunne stands on Dar’s knees as he stomps them into the mat, but Dar hits back also with a chop block as Dunne had leapt onto the middle rope. Dar pulls Dunne onto the apron as we get some right hands… but back inside a suplex is countered into an X-Plex by Dunne as he got himself a breather. There’s an enziguiri in the corner from Dunne, who then flips out of a German suplex as he proceeded to Ligerbomb Dar for a near-fall.
Again, Dar goes for the knee as Dunne’s in the ropes, before a Northern Lights suplex picked up a near-fall for the Scotsman. On the apron, Dunne goes in for the joint manipulation as he wrenches on Dar’s wrist, but Noam escapes and plants him with a suplex onto the apron. Ow. Both men beat the count-out, but Dunne’s right back on Dar’s digits before he runs into a headbutt… Dunne comes right back in with a triangle armbar, which Dar rolls out of… and then back into. D’oh! The pair trade forearms and clotheslines, before a clothesline to the back of the head from Dar left them back on the mat as the crowd once again roared. Back to their feet, Dunne’s attempt at a Kimura’s countered with a suplex, before he kicks out Dunne’s legs once more… but he runs into a Dunne forearm as a Better End was countered into a knee-bar!
Dar tries to kick a submission out of Dunne, but the champion makes it to the ropes, before he went right back to Dar’s fingers, bending them backwards ahead of a stomp… as the Bitter End earns him the win. A really good TV main event, but I never got the feeling that Dar was in any real danger of leaving with the belt. ***¾
You know the score here. Three matches. They’re decent. They’re throwing in promos from other roster members to make sure you don’t forget about them. Problem is, now they’ve locked onto these “best of” re-runs without the variety we had a few months back, and no resume date in sight… well, this is quickly becoming the zombie brand of WWE. At least the clip shows are easy to digest, I suppose…