The build for NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool continued as the NXT UK tag title match was finalised in this episode’s main event.

We’re watching this on a slight delay due to some technical issues – the second half of the NXT UK double-header’ll be reviewed on Thursday! We’re straight in with the opening credits, as we’re still in Liverpool’s Olympia, and into the opener!

Dan Moloney & Jamie Ahmed vs. Amir Jordan & Kenny Williams
Well, how’s a random tag team match to get us underway? Moloney and Ahmed have been cannon fodder, and you’d expect the team of Amir Jordan and Kenny Williams to perhaps not have too much trouble against them.

Again we have the “heh heh, Kenny Williams doesn’t want to dance” routine, as we start with Ahmed working the arm of Jordan early on, but Amir switches around and tags in Williams, who drops a leg over Ahmed’s arm for a near-fall. Jordan returns with a version of Rolling Thunder to Ahmed for another two-count, following up with a leaping forearm into the corner before “Screwface” tried to fight back. Ahmed pulls Jordan off the middle rope and follows up with a back elbow before before he then tags in Dan Moloney, who keeps up the beating. Butterfly suplexes from Dan get him a two-count, as he used his size to overwhelm Jordan… at least until he was caught in a backslide and a big back body drop!

Tags follow as Ahmed and Williams come back in, and there’s a springboard back elbow to Ahmed, then a gamengiri from the apron before Williams had to deal with Moloney too. A back elbow off the top deals with Ahmed, who misses a blind tag as Jordan tagged in, capitalising on a wheelbarrow facebuster by landing a senton bomb onto Ahmed for the win. Solid fare, but it was distinctly lower-card stuff. **¾

Kenny Williams can’t believe they’ve won, as both men celebrate before we fade into a recap of “last week’s” contract signing. That leads into a Gallus segment next. Yay?

Sure enough, Gallus head to the ring next as the three Scotsmen look to add some more sizzle to Joe Coffey’s title match this Saturday. There’s a smattering of boos as Joe does the “no-one likes us/we don’t care” routine, and I struggle to engage with this promo. Coffey vows that Pete Dunne will get what’s coming to him, because this is their Kingdom.

Nigel McGuinness in front of the green screen casually drops in that Pete Dunne’s been NXT UK champion for nearly 600 days. That’s worrying when they keep mentioning that…

We segue to a “press conference” for Toni Storm vs. Rhea Ripley. Sid Scala’s doing the talking for Johnny Saint, because of course he is. Nina Samuels has a question off screen, which Toni responds to by saying that she’s been based in the UK for years, but Rhea’s coming and going. Another questions asks what Rhea’ll do to keep hold of the title, to which Ripley gets offended as she took it as someone wanting secrets. Radzi’s got a question too, which prompts Toni to bring up how she was injured in the original tournament final. We muddle real world with tapings timelines a little, as Rhea Ripley keeps pointing out that Toni’s not beaten her… Glen Joseph pipes up calling Rhea’s win a “fluke”, as he gets the tempestuous question, calling Rhea a rip-off. She gets riled up, claiming that Toni is a copy of her. If anything Toni’s a copy of Bet Lynch…

Rhea keeps saying she beat Toni Storm, and that leads to the staredown to end the ill-tempered segment. This was a nice twist on the usual press conference that usually ends with someone going through a table.

Ligero’s got a vignette, dismissing Joseph Conners’ criticism of him (and others) as a “shiny new toy”. He brings up his history with Conners, and they face off next week.

Isla Dawn vs. Xia Brookside
This was Isla’s first match since losing her NXT UK title shot several weeks ago… and she’s up against a Xia Brookside who was experiencing a homecoming here.

Isla accepts the opening handshake, as we begin with a lock-up and a wristlock from Dawn, but Brookside gets free and responds with some headscissors to keep Dawn on the mat. Those are escaped, as Isla switched into a knee spreader, before a strait-jacket choke forces Xia to almost dance her way free and into a reversal. Dawn quickly reverses it though, so Brookside bridges back and rolls backwards for another reversal as we’re staying on the mat, reversing back and forth. It’s a low-key technical outing this, with Dawn pulling Xia over the knees as we’re still trading those strait-jackets, before they switched up into an indy’riffic series of pins, racking up near-falls to confound referee Drake Wuertz.

The end comes amid that sequence when Xia leaps up for a Victory roll, but straight out of WrestleMania X, Isla Dawn plays the Owen Hart, sitting down on the roll for the pin. A hell of a match, and one that went largely unappreciated judging from the lack of crowd noise. ***

There’s a video package to build up the Dave Mastiff/Eddie Dennis match on Saturday. It’s based around Eddie being annoyed with management seeing Mastiff as a “monster”, when he’s the real monster here. Crazy eyes overcome weight differentials it seems, and for a video package this did a pretty good job.

We see footage of Jinny attacking Isla Dawn backstage as she was having a breather after her match.

Damien Weir vs. Jordan Devlin
Weir actually gets an entrance here, and his music’s very… no fun.

Much like his opponent here, whom anywhere else would be a hell of a match, but here I fear it’ll be squash territory. The Liverpool crowd greet Devlin with “shit Finn Balor” chants as he threw Weir over his head with a wristlock takedown, before Weir was taken into the corner for some boots. Devlin works over Weir’s arm, deriding his opponent as “not even a challenge”… and as soon as he says he’s having fun, Weir fought back. Standard. Devlin quickly cuts him off though, landing a uranage and a standing moonsault before a backbreaker stretch looked to force a submission. Some elbows aggravate things, as does an over-the-shoulder backbreaker and a double armbar stretch. Weir almost nicks a win with a Victory roll, then with an enziguiri as Devlin started to get frustrated, but he cuts off a tope from Weir with a gamengiri on the apron.

Back in the ring, Devlin slingshots in with a cutter, before he pulled Weir into a belly-to-back suplex as the Ireland’s Call finally gets the win. A glorified squash, and this is one of those matches that “would have been better on the indys” if you’re looking at it from a ratings perspective. Instead, it just warmed up Jordan for an eventual match with Travis Banks. **

Post-match, Devlin calls for a mic as he wanted an interview, but instead out comes Travis Banks… Devlin powders instantly. Banks challenges Devlin to a match “right now”, but of course Jordan doesn’t accept.

We recap the last time Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews faced James Drake and Zack Gibson – the former PROGRESS tag team champions won then, and they’ll have to do it again to make it to the NXT UK tag team championship finals.

Moustache Mountain are backstage in their big coats ahead of the main event. They don’t think either team has a chance against them in the finals in Blackpool, with an ominous line from Trent: “it’s where it all began, and it’s where it’ll end with us…”

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

The penultimate NXT UK before Blackpool was a solid show, and one where the bulk of the “good stuff” came outside of the ring as the press conference and video packages built up well. Inside the ring, it was largely competitive squashes – which usually isn’t a bad thing, but I’d have liked to have seen more direct Blackpool build here.