The revolving door of formats gives us a look back at Imperium for this week’s NXT UK.

We open with the regular NXT UK titles, as we’re with Andy Shepherd in his living room again. First, we get clips of WALTER’s NXT UK debut in January 2019, and his debut match… where he tenderized Jack Starz with chops. Ah, what the hell, we get that in full!

Jack Starz vs. WALTER
Oh poor Jack. You were not long for this Universe… WALTER stares down Starz from the off, and unwisely, Jack throws the first blows. They barely faze WALTER, who replies with a goozle and a CHOP! It sent Starz rolling to the outside, where WALTER followed up with clubbing forearms and a back suplex onto the apron. Starz unwisely tries to fight back, throwing a dropkick before WALTER’s fires back with a shotgun dropkick and a powerbomb for the win. SPLAT.

They replay THAT CHOP, complete with Starz’s audible groan from it…

Nina Samuels voices over a video package on WALTER, as does Quarantine Beard Ashton Smith. They’re marvelling over his destruction of Jack Starz, the soul of whom also appears here.

Andy’s back as he bridges from WALTER’s debut to his shot at the NXT UK title at Takeover: New York. We get clips of that match, which WALTER of course won the title in, before we get a clipped form of the rematch from NXT UK #44…

NXT UK Championship: Pete Dunne vs. WALTER (c)
We join this in progress as an uppercut rocks Dunne, before he’s met with a shotgun dropkick into the crowd barriers… with some boot choking on the ring steps following for the challenger. Another boot keeps Dunne on the apron, as does a chop as Dunne tried to go back to WALTER’s arm. A kick to the back keeps Dunne on the mat as a chinlock has WALTER wrenching away on him, before the Austrian just toyed around with Dunne with kicks and forearms. A single forearm from Dunne knocked the champion down, but Dunne couldn’t immediately capitalise, as he takes WALTER into the corner for an enziguiri.

A missile dropkick off the rope targets WALTER’s left knee, before a punch has WALTER wobbly, allowing Dunne to roll through into a knee bar attempt. When that doesn’t work, Dunne goes for an Octopus stretch, removing WALTER’s tape to torque away at the digits some more before a crucifix bomb led to a near-fall. Dunne keeps up with stomps to the fingers before he sized up for a Bitter End… but WALTER just counters out with a clothesline. A retaliatory forearm from Dunne just earns him a Sambo suplex as you sensed we were getting towards the end, with WALTER rolling Dunne into a Boston crab for good measure. Dunne snaps back with a PK as he proceeded to stomp on WALTER, then rolled him through into the double-arm armbar, looking to roll through into a pin… but WALTER gets a foot to the rope to break the hold instead.

Dunne takes WALTER into the corner as he tried to wedge his hand in the turnbuckles, but the Austrian fought free, then went up top… where he’s caught with a thrust kick to the hand as he’s left sat on the turnbuckles. That’s followed up with a hanging armbar on the top rope, which WALTER tries to counter with a powerbomb… but Dunne ‘ranas out and gets a near-fall on landing. The struggle continues as both men go for a German suplex, but Dunne lands his before he got flipped with a diving clothesline by WALTER… again, for a near-fall. A Bitter End from Dunne comes next, but the triangle armbar looked set to get him the title back, especially when he tweaked the fingers… but then out of nowhere, Fabian Aichner comes out to push the rope so WALTER can make the break.

The referee tries to dispatch Aichner, but misses Marcel Barthel coming out – and the subsequent belt shot from the German. All that’s left is for WALTER to hit a powerbomb, folding Dunne in half and there’s your win. A really good main event, but one hurt perhaps by nobody really believing that WALTER was losing the title weeks after winning it, on TV. ***¾

So, with the building blocks for Imperium in place, we’re taken to Marcel Barthel and Fabien Aichner (presumably at Full Sail) talking about their history together – and how they formed a team in NXT UK, then joined WALTER in a “natural fit.” Ah yes, remember WALTER’s first NXT UK match? They teased not-RINGKAMPF way back then…

Next up: the skirmishes between WALTER, Aichner and Barthel and British Strong Style, as we join a trios match in progress – back from episode 47…

British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. Imperium (WALTER, Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner)
We join the match as WALTER came in and got chopped by Trent, but he tried to shrug them off as Trent looked to clear house all by himself… until he got felled like a tree. Thanks for coming! That single chop from WALTER proved to be a turning point as the Imperium trio isolated Trent, who had limited and brief opportunities to get back into it. Knees from WALTER kept Trent down as the crowd were more behind BSS than against the European trio. We’re eventually back to Dunne and WALTER, with the former champion blasting through WALTER with a missile dropkick to the knee, before a chop to the back led Dunne into a Gojira clutch. If you’ve seen RINGKAMPF, you can guess what’s next… but Dunne flips out of the German and issues one of his own.

WALTER manages to reply with a big boot and a German to flip Dunne inside out, before tags got us back to Aichner and Bate. Much like Trent earlier, Tyler damn near clears house by himself, using Aichner as a ladder for a Terry Funk Airplane Spin, before doing the same with Barthel… except WALTER makes a save. Neither side could grab an advantage until Tyler chained together a Koppo kick with a rebound lariat as British Strong Style built up the momentum, until a Bitter End and a Spiral Tap almost got them the win. Things get perhaps a bit too hectic until WALTER’s chop on the outside was redirected into the ring steps… and then a masked man wanders down to the ring. The ref’s laid out as a Cactus Clothesline took care of Trent and Fabian… and before long the masked man reveals himself as Alexander Wolfe!

Wolfe powerbombs Bate, leaving him for Barthel to claim the easy win. Not-RINGKAMPF gets another ex-RINGKAMPF member as Nigel busts out some German on commentary to close out. That was a fun trios match, but one that perhaps was a little *too* loose in places… but hey, the addition of Wolfe to the group means that the Europeans now outnumber British Strong Style, without any obvious permanent additions for the other side. ***½

Wolfe joins us via picture-in-picture as he tells us joining Imperium was the best decision of his career. You know the RINGKAMPF lines, as Imperium were looking to get rid of British Strong Style.

Next week: more Superstar Picks as the Random Wheel o’ Formats returns! Andy’s back as we then jump forward to the start of 2020, and the Undisputed Era run-in at Takeover: Blackpool 2. We’ve clips from the trios match at Worlds Collide, featuring Alexander Wolfe getting legitimately KO’d… and we join the match in progress.

Imperium (WALTER, Marcel Barthel, Fabien Aichner & Alexander Wolfe) vs. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong)
Hey, a match I’ve not covered before! We join this one in progress as Bobby Fish, then Adam Cole wear down Marcel Barthel as they were readjusting following Wolfe’s injury.

A back cracker from Cole gets a near-fall, before Kyle attacked with knees to the ribs as the Hamburg native was left in a heap. Barthel hits a side Russian legsweep to get free, as WALTER comes in to charge through the Undisputed Era, allowing him a free shot at O’Reilly, whose attempts to fight back led to him taking a trapped-leg German suplex. WALTER looked to follow up with a powerbomb, but O’Reilly countered with a guillotine. A suplex sees WALTER try to counter, but instead he just hurls Strong and O’Reilly with a German suplex. Aichner and Barthel are back with a double-team facebuster for a near-fall on O’Reilly, while Aichner stayed in to ground Kyle with a side headlock.

WALTER’s back to punch Kyle in the ribs, following up with a slam and a sit-out splash a la Earthquake. Kyle’s left cornered in the Imperium corner as he tries to fight back, only to run into a WALTER chop that nearly won the match for the Austrian. Kyle eventually gets free and tags in Strong, who unloaded with forearms and chops to WALTER, before he ran into a clothesline as the Undisputed Era’s tactics of hitting and running were rather hit and miss. A Sick Kick from Strong puts WALTER down as Aichner tagged in and took a powerbomb for a near-fall. The Strong Hold follows, but Imperium turn it back around as my feed died, recovering as a Hamburgerkreuz from Barthel gets a near-fall. Adam Cole’s in to superkick Barthel in the knee before Marcel escaped an ushigoroshi.

Barthel can’t avoid an enziguiri as Cole gets the ushigoroshi off for a near-fall, with WALTER stomping it apart. WALTER’s taken outside as he single-handedly dismantled Strong, Fish and O’Reilly while tearing apart the commentary tables, looking to powerbomb O’Reilly… but the tables turn as Strong drops WALTER through the table with an Angle Slam! Back in the ring, Aichner and Barthel just about hit the pass-the-parcel suplex to O’Reilly, but their momentum’s stopped with a superkick from Cole. Aichner leaps into one too, before the Blackheart Buster from Cole on Barthel got a near-fall. It’s essentially 4-on-2 for the Undisputed Era, as Strong hits a Fireman’s carry gutbuster to Barthel, as a Shining Wizard from Cole still can’t get the job done.

Double-teaming drops Aichner, but Barthel recovers to try and thin the herd, only to get caught with a Dragon Screw in the ropes by O’Reilly. Imperium looked to be in further peril as a flying knee to Barthel’s leg opened up for a knee bar from O’Reilly, but Barthel drags himself to the rope to force a break… aided by a springboard moonsault from Aichner that made damn sure the hold was broken. WALTER’s suddenly back on the apron as Barthel frees himself of O’Reilly once again. Adam Cole tags in, but can’t keep Barthel restrained as we get back to Cole and WALTER. CHOP! CHOP! CHOP! Superkicks from Cole end the chop party from WALTER, but not for long as the Austrian continued to clear house, powerbombing Strong before a big splash off the top looked to get the win… except Cole’s legal, and the Last Shot almost sneaks out the win!

We resume with a four-on-three staredown and another scrap that begat a Parade of Moves. A high/low from Fish and O’Reilly took down WALTER before we started a series of dives that left us with WALTER and Fish in the ring. Fish misses a moonsault, then ate a shotgun dropkick before WALTER put him away with a powerbomb. The bits you saw here were really good, but things almost started to drag at the end – knowing how much of this had to be called on the fly after the Wolfe injury puts a new appreciation on this, though… ***¾

WALTER’s back in picture-in-picture to tell us he’s proud of what Imperium’s done, that he’s proud of being the champion and how he’s defended it. WALTER says that Imperium step in the ring for the greater good, and keeps the feud with Finn Balor alive for whenever they can get to that.

This was essentially the “best of” Imperium, but with the NXT UK taping format, there wasn’t that much they could pick together from the TV show. At least the matches they showed were pretty great for one reason or another, but it’s also telling that the story “ended” in January as the last set of TV tapings was pretty light on Imperium outside of them being roadblocks for Balor. Next week: it’s more “my favourite match” picks from the NXT UK roster, as the Wheel o’ Formats continue to roll on. As much as I like him, hopefully the next deep dive show isn’t WALTER-heavy…