The finals for the NXT UK Women’s title tournament were set, as we also saw the clash of two of the brand’s big hosses.
We’re onto a new day of tapings from Birmingham, as we’re steaming through this backlog of tapings. Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph go through the brackets, which effectively boil down into “NXT” vs. “NXT UK” – or at least, in terms of where they were before this show started!
NXT UK Women’s Championship Tournament – Semi-Final: Dakota Kai vs. Rhea Ripley
It’s a rematch from this year’s Mae Young Classic, and we start with chants of “DK” (and not, as I first thought, mocking “UK” chants).
Ripley’s not a fan of the chants for Dakota, so she starts off with a test of strength as the Australian looked to impose herself on the match. Kai tries to bridge up, but she’s quickly put back down before Ripley patronises her in the corner… which draws the expected fightback.
The pair start a brief set of indy’riffic pins as Kai looked to get the upper hand, sidestepping a dropkick before knocking Rhea down with one of her own. A PK catches the Aussie, as does a double stomp, but it’s only enough for a near-fall as Rhea rolls outside, where she wandered into the path of an apron PK. Back in the ring, Ripley flapjacks Dakota as she forces her way back into the match, landing a dropkick of her own for a near-fall, before charging into Kai with her shoulder in the corner. A stalling vertical suplex is next, as was the inverted cloverleaf as Birmingham seemed more energetic than, erm, “last week”.
Kai gets to the rope and starts another comeback, connecting with forearms to the chest, then a Scorpion kick before a shotgun dropkick sends Rhea into the corner. Running boots keep the Aussie there, as Ripley eventually rolled back outside for a breather… but this time she catches the running PK and dumps Kai on the apron as she turned the tables once again. Another flurry of slaps looked to give Dakota hope as she set up for the Kai-ropracter destroyer/backstabber, but they go back and forth a little more until Kai’s missed kick allowed Ripley to hit the Riptide pumphandle powerbomb for the win. This was a real good outing, with Ripley delivering on the promise she’s been showing. While I’m not a fan of “outside” talent in NXT UK, if it’ll help her develop, then it’s a win-win situation. ***¼
Radzi catches Sid Scala talking to Johnny Saint. He’s got a one-on-one match with Joe Coffey in two weeks time… and he’s very upbeat about his upcoming doom.
After an advert, Radzi’s backstage elsewhere with Jordan Devlin, who called out Pete Dunne after last week’s show. Big shock, I know, Devlin’s a good promo, and he again calls out Dunne for a title match, if only so he can win the belt and rename this place NXT Ireland.
Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Andrews vs. Joseph Conners & Saxton Huxley
Our warm-up for the impending tag title tournament continues as we have some potential entrants in action here. Huxley and Conners now have the generic NXT “double name” ‘tron, while their Welsh opponents had separate entrances.
We start with Huxley and Webster, but the latter’s having to stick and move from the off as the crowd serenaded “hey Jesus” for the Hartlepool native. A flying ‘rana catches Huxley, as does a dropkick, before he tagged into Conners… who ran into an armdrag as the action was quite flowing here. A double hiptoss leaves Conners down for duelling moonsaults, while Andrews followed right back in with the Stomp 182… only for Conners to try and come back after a distraction from Huxley.
It didn’t work.
A blind tag did though, as Andrews ran into a big Thesz Press from Huxley for a near-fall, as the bad guys suddenly found themselves in control. Conners lands a lariat to try and shut up commentary from talking about his ear, a character trait you only knew about in WWE! Huxley’s back in as he wore down Andrews with an armbar, and we’re getting frequent tags as Flash was left a distant spectator.
Andrews finally hit back with a chinbreaker, but he’s got to evade a fresh Huxley before he tagged in Webster. Flash is all about the flurry of strikes before a high knee wiped out Conners. Huxley took a Rude Boy moonsault press before he lifted Flash onto the apron, where the Modfather took the opportunity to fly into Conners with a cannonball off the apron. A crossbody back into Huxley’s caught and turned into a slam. Instead of tagging out, Huxley stays on top of Flash… who scurries away and tagged out to Andrews. A headbutt and the Eton Rifles from Webster leaves Huxley down, as a shooting star press gets the win… with Joseph Conners left staring on the apron as he couldn’t believe that he hadn’t been tagged in earlier. That was a bit of a rushed finish, and I’m not a fan of the “troubled partners” after just two matches, but this was a pretty good showcase for Flash and Andrews. ***
Yeah, Conners jumps Huxley after the match, prompting chants of “Judas”. This crowd’s very quick-witted. The Don’t Look Down leaves Huxley laying, as Birmingham tells Conners “you’re a sinner.”
Dave Mastiff vs. Tyson T-Bone
Yeah, I’d have liked to have seen this built up a little more than “one staredown and a backstage pull apart”, but it is what it is. Mastiff still has his Vader gear and the shaky camera, while T-Bone was in no hurry to enter the ring.
We get going with T-Bone sticking and running as he tried to use his boxing background on Mastiff, catching the “Bomber” with body blows before he ran into a body attack. T-Bone cowers into the corner, and makes a comeback as he clubbed away on Mastiff with body blows and hooks in the corner. More clubbing blows leave Mastiff on the mat, where elbow drops follow him as T-Bone only got a one-count after all that.
A fish hook-assisted neck crank keeps Mastiff on his knees, as our ever vigilant referee ignores the fact that Tyson had a big handful of Mastiff’s beard! Mastiff gets free with a bear hug, but T-Bone escaped, only to go for a sunset flip that Mastiff sits down on. Mastiff begins his comeback with some body blows of his own, then a headbutt, before some Danielson elbows left T-Bone on all fours. Mastiff keeps up with a German suplex to leave T-Bone in the corner, where he’s met with a cannonball… and that’s the win! A very WWE-style “big guys” match, but this was very watchable – especially compared to some of the Mastiff outings that I’ve seen in recent years. It’s like this new exposure has reinvigorated him. ***
We’re told of a tweet from Johnny Saint – next week, it’s Jordan Devlin vs. Pete Dunne.
NXT UK Women’s Championship Tournament – Semi-Final: Jinny vs. Toni Storm
These two have had quite the rivalry in PROGRESS, trading the promotion’s women’s title in the past year… and hold on, there’s some familiar faces in the crowd shots…
Jinny starts off the aggressor, taking Toni into the corner from a tie-up, before a second tie-up ended at a stalemate. A waistlock ends with Jinny taking down Storm with a wristlock as the pair continued to feel each other out; a headlock takedown has Toni ahead, but Jinny escapes as the back-and-forth continued with no end in sight.
Jinny eventually ends the deadlock with a forearm, but a side headlock’s quickly shoved off as Storm rebounds with a big boot for a near-fall, following straightback with a STF. There’s almost a tap from Jinny, but she clings on as she had to crawl towards the ropes for the eventual grasping break.
In the corner, Storm puts some more boots to Jinny, who responds with a Japanese armdrag into the corner for a one-count, with Toni suddenly on the defensive. A cross-chop catches Toni unawares, as Jinny keeps putting the boots to her, following up with an Irish whip that came with a sly trip as Toni took a bad landing into the corner. A floatover suplex gets Jinny a near-fall, as she follows in with a chinbar that Storm tried in vain to fight out of. Jinny gets mouthy, declaring that “was my NXT”, as she kept trying to force a submission, but in the end both women had the same idea as duelling headbutts put them both down. Duelling forearms follow as they fought back to their feet, but Storm edges ahead, catching Jinny with a trapped-leg German.
The impact from that sends Jinny into the corner, where a hip attack followed, then a Fisherman suplex as Jinny barely kicked out in time. Toni goes up top, but her rare trip up is stopped with a head kick as Jinny fought back, tripping Toni into the ropes as a middle rope X-Factor almost gave us the win. A ripcord’s cut short, but Jinny lands the Koppo kick anyway as Storm had to get a foot on the rope to save the match!
Exasperated, Jinny puts some boots to Toni, but the Mae Young Classic winner hits right back with a German suplex, then a Storm Zero Tiger Driver for the win. A similar finish to how she overcame Isla Dawn in the quarter-finals, but a much more competitive match here – probably the best in the tournament so far. Well worth a watch, as they managed to deliver “even within the confines” of a WWE TV match. ***½
We’re getting Toni Storm vs. Rhea Ripley to crown the first ever NXT UK women’s champion – as the camera showed the different emotions between Storm and Jinny after the match. The show ends with a face-off on the stage as Johnny Saint was forced to stop Toni from fighting back as Rhea Ripley shoved her… those finals, are “in two weeks”, so second show next Wednesday then?
This was much the same as the first show of the week – some solid matches, a little bit of storyline progression (even if it’s not to my tastes) as we rushed through the women’s title tournament. You know the score – so far NXT UK has been a hallmark of solid wrestling that doesn’t quite yet have a raison d’etre for it.