We’ve more picks from past NXT UK episodes, this time featuring Toni Storm and the Grizzled Young Veterans.
– From NXT UK, July 2019: Noam Dar pinned Kenny Williams in 10:10 (***)
– From NXT UK, November 2018: Toni Storm pinned Dakota Kai in 7:10 (***¼)
– From NXT UK, January 2019: Zack Gibson & James Drake pinned Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster in 9:20 (***½)
We open with the usual abrupt title screen, as we’re back in Andy Shepherd’s living room. He’s got a new wallpaper for the laptop, and we’re opening with a match from the Download festival last year…
Kenny Williams vs. Noam Dar
The culmination of a story arc over a few weeks, starting when Kenny shrugged off Noam’s requests for help in cheating.
There’s a feeling out process to start as Dar and Williams scrambled to find a body part, but it was Williams who outwitted his compatriot, as he walked over Dar during a pratfall attempt… before he got slapped. Dar slides outside to avoid Williams’ fight back, but he’s met with a dropkick through the ropes as Williams took the fight outside. An attempt to throw Dar back in is met with a rebound lariat for a near-fall, before he grounded Williams with a chinlock. Forearms from Williams follow, before a crawl-through from Dar’s rudely stopped with a superkick. A springboard back elbow’s next as Dar rolled outside and took a tope, before he was knocked off the apron with an RVD-like springboard kick. Another dive keeps Dar on the back foot, as does a leaping back elbow as Williams came down with snow on him ahead of a headlock driver for a near-fall.
A roll-up from Dar nearly snatched him the win, before he ducks a springboard and landed a twisting Fisherman buster for another two-count. Dar tries to force a submission with a double armbar, then an ankle lock, but in the end it’s a pump kick and a rebound lariat that has Williams back in front. Dar looked to throw Williams outside… but he skins the cat, only to get pulled into the Champagne Super-Knee-Bar… but Williams got to the rope just in time. Dar kept up on Williams, who’d loosened his boot as we got an Eddie Guerrero from WrestleMania 20 flashback… Dar threatens to use the boot, only for the ref to remove it, meaning he missed a low blow as a Nova Roller got Noam the win. This was pretty solid once the crowd got into it, but it says a lot about how the crowd connected, chanting for the cheater Dar in this one. ***
Toni Storm’s up next to intro her match. A women’s match? On second? How very progressive…
But first, Kay Lee Ray talks about how she’s used the pandemic time to find the good in the bad. The peaks, and the valleys. She’s on the verge of passing a year-long reign – something that’ll happen unless they tape something in secret soon… and so Kay Lee gloats.
Toni Storm vs. Dakota Kai
Both women came into this on the back of a win in prior episodes of NXT UK, and we start with a heavily pro-Toni crowd, complete with edited chants! We start with a lock-up as the crowd magically chant Evolution without moving their lips! AMAZING. Especially because the Evolution brand name wasn’t a thing when this was taped! Duelling kicks get caught as we reached a stand-off, quickly ending as Kai double stomps Storm and hits a PK for an early near-fall. Storm hits back with some kicks, before getting a near-fall out of a snap suplex, then following up with some uppercuts and a Muta lock-style STF on Dakota.
Kai’s forced to squirm her way towards the ropes, eventually reaching the bottom strand as Storm threw in a stomp on her way out of the hold. Duelling forearms see both women hit each other simultaneously, but Kai lands a Scorpion kick to catch Toni unawares… only to run into a big headbutt! Some more kicks from Kai get her in trouble as Toni catches and switches it into a trapped-leg German, taking the Kiwi into the corner for an uppercut… only for Kai to chase her into the other corner for a Yakuza kick! Dakota misses a face-washing boot but manages to connect with a pump kick, only for Toni to avoid another kick and throw another German suplex! Double knees in the corner follows, as does the Storm Zero (air raid crash version), and that’s the win. A little out of nowhere, but this was a hell of a competitive match within the limitations of TV. Go out of your way to catch this one! ***¼
The Grizzled Young Veterans are next up… it’s one of their four tag team outings with Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster…
But first, Sam Gradwell is doing a pretape. He’s been away for-ever, something he admits. After two years out with a knee injury, he’s back… and hopefully he’ll be better in ring than he is building a wall. That’s a gag he made, by the way.
Next week: they’re changing it up as they’re bringing up some more hidden gems from NXT UK… Zack Gibson and James Drake introduce their match… and it’s the NXT UK tag team tournament match. Back before they were called the Grizzled Young Veterans.
NXT UK Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Andrews vs. James Drake & Zack Gibson
They still can’t call Drake and Gibson “Grizzled Young Veterans” here, so Nigel McGuinness throws in many references instead.
Drake and Andrews start us off, and there’s an instant distraction from Gibson as the former PROGRESS tag champions double-team Andrews in their own corner. They’re looking for a quick win, dumping Andrews with a Doomsday Device for a near-fall, before hitting the slingshot backbreaker/elbow on the outside for another two-count. A cross-chop to the throat of Andrews gets Gibson a two-count as the Welshmen were struggling to even get out of neutral here. There’s a grounded cobra clutch from Gibson, before Drake came in and dished out a forearm as the crowd noticed the likeness of him on his own rear. Gibson takes us back to a chinbar as they frequently exchanged tags, with Andrews finally getting free, knee sliding past Drake and Gibson before making the hot tag to Webster! A Rude Boy moonsault press took down both men, as Webster (taped-up shoulder and all) uncorks some dropkicks and a clothesline. There’s a Pinball Wizard-like senton off the apron into Gibson, as a Baba O’Riley Buster (Angel’s Wings) drop Drake in the ring for a near-fall.
Gibson tags back in as the capture enziguiri takes down Webster, who then went for a monkey flip… only to get caught on the ropes as he eventually takes Zack to the floor with headscissors. Mark Andrews tagged back in during that, and he’s instantly flying to the outside with a ‘rana on Gibson, before Webster assists with a standing 450 splash onto Gibson for another near-fall. Another knee slide from Andrews looked to have him evade Gibson, but instead he turned around into a Ticket to Ride as Zack turned the match on its head. Drake and Gibson go for another Doomsday Device, but Andrews fights free and catches Drake with a top rope ‘rana, sending him into Gibson, then into a Pinball Wizard senton bomb from Webster. Flash tags back in to help with an Andrews reverse ‘rana that almost got them the win. Andrews tries to head outside with a tope into Gibson, but that’s caught and turned into a huge Helter Skelter on the ramp, leaving Webster alone in the ring as he’s almost pinned with a Drake schoolboy. A headbutt from Webster looked to give him some hope, as he worked into an Eton Rifle… but Drake catches it and throws him into a Ticket to Mayhem as Gibson and Drake booked their place in the final. I enjoyed this one – Webster and Andrews clearly weren’t at 100%, but at least this wasn’t a blow-away loss, which means they should remain in and around the title picture after Blackpool. ***½
A run of the mill show. Some may say that the greatest hits well is running dry, but at least they’re changing the format for next week – as this cut and paste effort continues to be kill time as we wait for any kind of news about a return.