After last week’s debut, the scene continued to be set for NXT UK as two of the brand’s more recognised faces clashed, with Tyler Bate and Wolfgang in the main event.
Without anything to set it up, the only match trailed for this week was the main event – but let’s see how we get there. We’re still in Cambridge, but Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph remain in front of a green screen to introduce this week’s show.
Ligero vs. Mike Hitchman
Ooh, a rematch from the Royal Albert Hall!
It sure is odd seeing Ligero on WWE TV, and we start with him escaping a Fireman’s carry as a ‘rana took down the Wild Boar. A standing moonsault barely gets a one-count from referee Paz, before Ligero sprung around in the corner en route to a missile dropkick as he finally got that two-count. Hitchman puts on the brakes as Ligero went for an Irish whip, instead taking the masked man into the corner before a T-bone suplex drew a near-fall. A chinbar follows as Boar keeps Ligero grounded, but he manages to hit back with a crossbody and a clothesline as Boar looked to be in trouble.
A dropkick’s good for a near-fall for Ligero, but he’s caught in that Fireman’s carry and dumped ahead of a back senton as Boar squashed Ligero. The cannonball’s next into the corner but Ligero’s up at two, before a powerbomb gets Boar another two-count. Speaking of faces it’ll take a while to get used to seeing under the WWE banner, how about this? Boar’s “ghostly Mr Burns on ether” face…
Ligero pulls himself up and avoids corner charges, leaping over Boar before a low superkick and a C4L DDT got him the win. By the numbers stuff, but perfectly acceptable graps to kick off the show. ***
There’s promo videos for Dakota Kai and Killer Kelly. Where’s Axel screaming in Portuguese in the crowd (I think only me and him will get that reference…). Anyway, those two face off… next!
Dakota Kai vs. Killer Kelly
Oh hello there, wXw namedrop! There’s some banter on commentary about football/soccer before we get going, as Kai looked to work over Kelly’s wrist early on.
A roll-up gets Kai a near-fall, before a double stomp rocked Kelly ahead of a PK for another near-fall. Yeah, Dakota’s starting this one hot, but she’s quickly caught with a jawbreaker, then a forearm before a pump kick obliterated her in the middle of the ring for another two-count. Kelly’s comeback continued with some ground and pound, before she pulled the New Zealander into a Romero special Dragon sleeper.
A suplex puts Kai in the corner for the Shibata-ish dropkick, but it’s only good for a near-fall as Kai comes back with a wheelbarrow roll-up for a near-fall of her own. Kelly’s right back with a release German suplex that left Kai a little groggy, but she’s able to drag her into the corner with a drop toe hold before mounting a comeback of her own. There’s a Scorpion kick from Kai to send Kelly into the corner, as a running big boot sets up for some face washing boots in the corner, ahead of the Kaio Driver for the win. Another by-the-numbers outing, but this was enjoyable to watch, even if it was brief. **¾
The Blue Peter guy’s in the ring interviewing Kai after the match. She puts over the UK audience before talking up the upcoming NXT UK women’s title tournament. Either way, she wants in, whether it’s “full fat” NXT or the UK variety. My words, not hers!
Nigel and Vic are back in front of the green screen as they recap Zack Gibson’s UK Championship Tournament final win over Travis Banks from back in June. That feels like a million years ago…
We’ve another Eddie Dennis promo video, as he recaps forging a proper career for himself while his friends (Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews) “stayed with their parents and flew themselves to America”. It looks like we’re getting the truth-telling Eddie that worked well in PROGRESS (no sarcasm, since some like to look for that), playing off of the bitterness of his friends’ success. I’m all in for this.
Back in the arena, Zack Gibson’s out, complete with some booing that at times felt piped in. It’s your regular “soon” promo, with him crowing about winning the tournament, before whinging about how he had Pete Dunne “and the Royal Albert Hall” on his side. They do the shoe thing (hint: if you have to prompt the fans to do it, it’s no longer special), as Gibson reckons that at 100%, he’d easily beat Dunne.
Gibson turns his sights onto Noam Dar, calling him an embarrassment in the Cruiserweight Classic, 205 Live and now NXT UK… saying he’s only famous for his “ridiculous, rotten poses.” Of course, that draws out the Scotsman, but before Noam can hit the ring, Johnny Saint’s out to calm things down, and order the pair of them into his office. Ooh, they’re getting detention!
There’s a promo video for Ashton Smith (of all people). Hey, at least they’re not just throwing everyone out there cold. He’s up next!
Except he isn’t, as Blue Peter Guy is backstage with Travis Banks, who vows to vows to become champion… but first he wants retribution on the Coffey Brothers.
Ashton Smith vs. Tucker
This feels like a match that’s been thrown out there in a death spot, particularly given it’s two very unestablished names to all but the most hardcore of fans.
Smith takes Tucker into the ropes early on with an armdrag, before the Northern Irishman ran into an uppercut as Smith acrobatically leaps into a sunset flip for a two-count. Tucker’s back with a superkick and a clothesline, before the pair trade near-falls from roll-ups. They squared off again, with Tucker kicking away at Smith’s legs before some more striked led to… Tucker running into a dropkick. Tucker clings to the ropes as Smith threatened to charge in on him, but it’s a ruse as he comes out of the corner with forearms, before a suplex barely drew a one-count.
Tucker goes to a chinlock to wear down Smith, but he escapes and hits a back suplex before catching a superkick and decking Tucker with a big boot. More boots follow in the corner from the Mancunian, before the Ash-Cloud DDT gets the win. This was fine, but the crowd didn’t seem to know who to cheer for until late on in the match. It’s an okay match to establish Smith, but be prepared for several more muted outings until the crowd cotton on. **¾
There’s a promo video for Danny Burch, who looks to be adding himself to Dakota Kai and Pete Dunne in the list of guys doing NXT in the US and the UK. Burch was put over as an experienced head who’s looking to take his moment in the UK. He apparently debuts next week. You what?!
We get a tweet from Johnny Saint confirming that we’re getting Zack Gibson vs. Noam Dar next week.
Wolfgang vs. Tyler Bate
Tyler Bate was massively over here, although commentary did quizzically ponder why he’s doing singles outings after stating his desire to win the NXT UK tag titles.
From the opening tie-up, Wolfgang takes Bate into the ropes before he mocks the moustache twirl. There’s no instant response, as Bate tries to work the arm, but he instead has to escape a waistlock as the “big strong boi” chants permeated the crowd. It works, as Bate grabs a headlock, but Wolfgang lifts him up and deposits him onto the apron, a la WALTER.
Back in the ring, Bate and Wolfgang embark in a Test of Strength, which took Bate to his knees… but he fights back and frees himself before catching Wolfgang with a dropkick. Another Test of Strength’s cut-off as Wolfgang knees Bate… who replies with an attempt at the Airplane Spin, which Wolfgang escaped from before flapjacking Tyler. Wolfgang keeps up by hanging up Bate in the ropes with a front suplex, as the work on the midsection continued. Uppercuts follow too, as Bate looked to be down and out, especially when he’s whipped hard into the corners as the Scotsman nearly picked up the win. A bear hug forces Bate to free himself with some bell clappers, before he mounted a comeback with some right hands and body blows.
Wolfgang’s brought to a knee as Bate scores with a knee lift and a diving European uppercut off the middle rope. Bate tries for an Exploder out of the corner, but instead he’s thrown into the ropes as he rebounds with some lariats that stagger Wolfgang, who’s then hauled up for the Airplane Spin and subsequent drop. A standing shooting star press gets Bate a near-fall, before a Tyler Driver attempt is countered with a back body drop.
Bate goes back up to the top rope, but his diving European uppercut is caught and turned into a release German suplex, before Wolfgang speared Bate across the ring for a near-fall. For some reason Wolfgang goes up top, but he’s caught with a headbutt… and issues a reply before missing a Howling senton bomb off the top. Sensing his chance, Bate picks up Wolfgang and lands a Koppo kick before hauling him up for a Tyler Driver to claim the win. A pretty solid main event, but save for a brief spell, this was mostly one-way traffic for Tyler. ***¼
Week two of NXT UK was solid, but otherwise unremarkable. The big concern with this product, aside from the fact that it’s already gotten the “sterile WWE” look to it, is that with so much of it already in the can, it’s going to be a long while before we see anything organic come from these shows. From my reckoning, there’s another sixteen shows to air before November’s tapings in Liverpool are broadcast – the first shows where the crowds will be reacting to what they’ve seen on air. Will that have an effect, or is the booking pushing names that the UK crowds are already drawn towards for the time being?
If there’s one real criticism of this week’s show, aside from the regular four matches… but aside from the folks who’ve already been established on WWE TV (I’m not including Dakota Kai here, since she’s infrequently on NXT), we barely learned anything about them. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as WOS in terms of character development, but it’d be nice to know a little bit more about these guys, assuming this show is intended to open up the UK scene to fresher, more casual eyes.