Travis Banks finally his NXT UK TV debut on the latest stacked episode.

Yeah, we’re counting the UK Championship Tournament stuff as not NXT UK, since that was technically under the WWE/NXT brand. We’re still in Plymouth (and will be for many more episodes), but Vic and Nigel do a good impression of being live in front of a green screen.

Joseph Conners vs. Dan Moloney
They replay Joseph Conners’ turn on Saxon Huxley from “three weeks ago”, while Dan Moloney looked to be a smiley babyface here. Who’s seen the worst things, I wonder? You can guess what the catcalls are here.

From the opening tie-up, Conners takes Moloney into the ropes before a judo throw from Dan… just has Conners come back with a wristlock. That’s shoved off as Moloney began to build up some momentum, landing some strikes before sending Conners into the sky with a back body drop.

Conners goes for Dan Moloney’s ear and yanks at it, then scores with a push-down stomp out of the corner. Moloney’s stretched between the turnbuckles, then taken outside for some strikes as silence ruled supreme in Plymouth. A short-arm clothesline followed in the ring for a one-count before a chin bar from Conners kept Dan down, as did a surfboard arm stretch.

Moloney fights back to his feet, but he’s taken into the corner for some elbows… but Dan finally finds his mack with some back elbows and a spinebuster for a delayed two-count. Conners is straight back with sunset bomb into the corner, before the Don’t Look Down gets the win. Decent enough, but this was mostly devoid of crowd reactions. Character work… it’s not really rubbed off on this crowd. **¼

In front of the green screen, Nigel and Vic hype up the main event: Travis Banks vs. Wolfgang. We then go to Radzi interviewing Isla Dawn, whose already pale complexion is exacerbated by the lighting. I’m guessing this is a war of attrition – reduce the production values across the board? Rhea Ripley interrupts, saying she’s found an opponent for tonight, and it’s not Isla Dawn.

We see Trent and Tyler entering the arena, but Gallus confront them as referees and Sid Scala try and separate them. Jesus wept, they still only have one NXT UK shirt among them? Johnny Saint’s sunglasses diffuse things as we return to the arena.

Mike Hitchman vs. Dave Mastiff
It’s a battle of short and stocky against big and stocky!

Mastiff’s still got his half Aces and Eights, half Vader gear, while Hitchman brought the fight early on, only to get consumed by a body attack from Mastiff. Bryan Danielson elbows follow as Boar looked to be in trouble, which only got worse when Mastiff lifts him up in a waistlock… but Boar got free, tripping Mastiff into the corner for a cannonball.

Hitchman keeps up with some clubbing shots, but Mastiff was caught in a chinbar before he elbowed free. More elbows follow, as does a headbutt from Mastiff, who followed in with a back senton to flatten Hitchman. From there, Mastiff lifts Hitchman into a fireman’s carry, but Boar slips out and comes in with shoulder charges in the corner before a second cannonball was blocked by Mastiff’s feet.

A massive shotgun dropkick is the response, sending Hitchman into the corner for a Mastiff cannonball… and that’s enough for the win. A very WWE-style “big lad’s match” – which just felt slow and plodding at times. These two are capable of more, but when the purpose of the match was to build up Mastiff, you weren’t going to get their best. **¼

They replay the aftermath of the attack on Travis Banks in the early episodes of NXT UK, as we’re still building up to today’s main event.

Dave Mastiff is interrupted by Radzi as he entered backstage. His face is still red, but there’s someone behind him out of focus as he gave his interview… which saw Mastiff say he was going all the way to the top, before the camera focused sharpened to reveal Eddie Dennis.

Tyson T-Bone vs. Ligero
After losing the battle of the hosses to Mastiff a few weeks ago, this is a curious “first match back” for T-Bone.

Ligero tries to stick and move early on against T-Bone, who tries to use his boxing before he opted for a more traditional armbar. A rear spin kick from Ligero finds its mark, before a World of Sport-like sequence from Ligero led to an apron gamengiri… only for a springboard into the ring to get cut-off with a forearm.

T-Bone follows Ligero outside, throwing some right hands into the midsection as Ligero was caught by the ring steps. They return to the ring as Ligero looked to fight back, but he’s caught in an eventual fallaway slam as once again silence prevailed in Plymouth. C’mon guys, do something!

A chinlock followed from T-Bone, as did a neck crank, but he gets free… and gets clocked with a right hand. Ligero gets free again and springboards back into the ring as he fought back some more, landing an enziguiri, then a dropkick, before a springboard Sliced Bread got a near-fall. From there, Ligero heads up top, but he rolls through after T-Bone rolled away, before an Exploder suplex tossed Ligs into the corner.

T-Bone tries to regain momentum with a face-washing boot, then with a series of running knees for a near-fall as we ignore the blatant “use this, it’s a thing that only the Brits will get” reference on commentary. Either that or Vic Joseph watched some old Top Gear. Ligero rolls away from a right hand, then sidesteps a shoulder charge as T-Bone hit the ring post en route to the floor, as a cannonball off the apron from Ligero gives him the upper hand again. They return to the ring as Ligero hits the Mexican Wave springboard splash… and that’s the win. A bit of a weird finish, but the result is perhaps the most telling result here as that big hoss push seems to be over for now. **¼

Rhea Ripley comes out next. She’s got her own t-shirt, so you know she’s a star (unlike the rest of the goofs in the generic NXT UK tees). Ripley promises to give someone an opportunity and see if they can come close to what she did… so her hand picked opponent comes out for the next non-title contest.

Rhea Ripley vs. Candy Floss
There’s a decent reaction by the standards of the show so far for Candy Floss, whose name is explained by Nigel McGuinness. I’m surprised there’s not a Cotton Candy on the US indys, to be honest.

Ripley takes Candy into the ropes from the opening tie-up, before Rhea goes for, and gets a wristlock, taking Candy down to the mat. Candy flips free, but she has to rely on a dropkick to take Ripley down… and that just angers the champion, who comes back with a dropkick of her own for a two-count. From there, a chinlock has Candy in trouble, before she’s thrown into the corner ahead of the Riptide powerbomb. As close as a squash as you’ll get without it being totally one-sided… so we’re going to have Ripley dominate for a while before we get to a challenge, I guess.

Post-match Ripley raises Candy’s arm then beats her down some more.

Glen Joseph interviews Flash Morgan Webster who talks about the tag team division… except he gets distracted by Fabian Aichner, who he reckoned took liberties with Mark Andrews “last week”. The Italian challenges Flash to a match next week. That probably won’t end well.

Sid Scala is backstage with Johnny Saint. He’s beaming because Uncle Johnny’s allowing him to make an announcement: it’s Trent Seven vs. Joe Coffey next week. They’re also going to announce the tag team title tournament next week too. Uncle Johnny looked on approvingly as Sid did his lines without stumbling. Hey, given they’ve aired slip ups on this show, that’s an achievement!

Wolfgang vs. Travis Banks
Wolfgang was out with Gallus, while Banks was out alone. Expect Scottish shenanigans.

Wolfgang mocks the shoulder injury, but Banks just decks him with a forearm before going to work with some kicks, taking Wolfgang ingo the corner. He’s quickly met with a kick as Wolfgang throws Banks shoulder-first into the post, sending Banks outside as Gallus stalked him… and it’s a distraction as Wolfgang throws him into the ring post. Yes, by the shoulder. Subtle.

Back in the ring, Wolfgang gets a near-fall, before he uses a claw hold on Banks’ shoulder. Banks fights free, but a kick’s caught as Wolfgang lands a forearm… but he misses a charge into the corner as Banks lands a shotgun dropkick instead. They’re back outside, this time with Banks landing a double stomp off the apron before scoring another one back inside for a near-fall.

There’s more distraction as Mark Coffey goes on the apron, allowing Wolfgang to hit back as a spear gets an eventual near-fall. Banks gets whipped into the corner, but counters with a Slice of Heaven as Gallus again get involved… this time Tyler Bate and Trent Seven come out to even it up, before Banks gets caught with a Wolfgang forearm on the apron. Wolfgang tries to follow up with a suplex, but Trent pulls Wolfgang’s leg – and that trip’s enough to get the win, without the Bobby Heenan finish. Huh. This felt like a heavy condensed version of a good match these two could have had… I’m not asking for every show to be full of 20-minute PROGRESS-level bangers, but a show full of matches as short as this means that nothing got a chance to settle. Like this one. **

Banks and Moustache Mountain goad Gallus from the aisle as the show comes to an end with a reminder that we’re getting Joe Coffey vs. Trent Seven next week.

Well, I loved watching WWF Superstars back in the day, when it was full of squashes and other segments. This felt very much like that show, just without those segments. Add in a crowd that was very much in need of some sweetening, and this just felt like a dead show, devoid of anything that gave the British scene its buzz. The wrestlers tried, but this episode just didn’t even begin to click. Despite it being a WWE product, the sometimes wonky production values means that this has the feel of someone trying to copy WWE – much like those supermarket clone products that almost get it right, but it’s just not quite there.