WALTER’s back for a second week, as Mark Coffey sought revenge on the Austrian in this week’s main event.
Yes, we’re still in Blackpool as we’re reaching the end of the tapings there… Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness are still away from the green screen as they build up the main event.
Mark Andrews vs. Ligero
Commentary teased that this’d be a high flying match, but let’s face it… on this brand, both guys have sadly been interchangeable card fillers.
We start with Ligero going for an armbar, as he sought to ground Andrews in the early going. There’s lucha-inspired series of leapfrogs and roll throughs before Ligero rolled himself up a la Johnny Saint and rolled up Andrews as we began an indyriffic pinning series. One! One! One! Way to troll the ref… Andrews runs into a back elbow, but then ‘ranas Ligero off the top rope for a two-count, before we head to the pair of them trying to get back inside like it’s a reverse battle royal. Flips off the ring steps come to nought, so Ligero cannonballs off the guard rails before a slingshot stunner back inside caught Andrews for a two-count.
Ligero dishes out some chops as he largely stayed on top of Andrews, only to get caught with a wheelbarrow into Stomp 182, and a standing corkscrew splash for another near-fall. We’re back to kicks and chops from Ligero, but he misses an enziguiri… the pump kick hits as Ligero ends up taking a leaping enziguiri from Andrews, then a Stundog Millionaire, as we found out… you can’t suplex Mark Andrews! On the outside again, Andrews nails a tope con giro but another springboard back inside misses as Ligero nails a pumphandle facebuster for a near-fall. Ligero goes for a top rope ‘rana, but Andrews flips through and replies with a reverse ‘rana… it only gets a two-count, so Andrews heads up top for a shooting star press, only to land in Ligero’s knees. Ligero rolled him up for a two-count, then went for the C4L DDT which hit its mark for the win. A really good match between two of the brand’s midcarders… and sadly generated a reaction that could best be described as indifference on TV. Shame. ***
There’s handshakes after the match… and no angle too. That’s refreshing.
They replay Sid Scala’s announcement of the Grizzled Young Veterans defending their NXT UK tag team titles in that well-known British city of Phoenix. Still, at least the match against Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan ought to be a cracker. That segues into a promo with Oney Lorcan in the NXT locker room… but Danny Burch walks in to give him the news about their tag title shot. Erm, was this meant to go in last week?
Backstage, Pete Dunne’s stopped by Radzi who wants to know about WALTER. Dunne says he doesn’t fear anyone. Good to know. This felt a lot like the “main roster” promos that everyone knows and loves. Sarcasm.
Candy Floss vs. Xia Brookside
She’s had a week’s worth of promos, so I guess this counts as a reboot of sorts for Xia. We start with a handshake as Xia has to escape some early headscissors, before Candy Floss embarked on some quick pinning attempts as she tried to surprise Brookside early on.
A full nelson from Candy Floss is slipped out of as a wheelbarrow roll-up gets a near-fall… but Xia’s right back into the hold again and again as Candy Floss avoided the second roll-out. Eventually Brookside gets free and grabs a wristlock, clinging onto it as Candy Floss slammed her way free… but this crowd is barely making a murmur it seems. The wristlock eventually gives way to a cross armbreaker as Candy Floss worked over Brookside’s arm, switching into a hammerlock before she whipped Xia’s arm into the mat. Candy Floss stomps on the taped-up elbow of Brookside, who made a comeback with a chinbreaker and a flying bulldog, before some tiltawhirl headscissors put Candy Floss in the corner.
Running double knees follow, before Candy Floss is taken up top for the Brooksy Bomb – an Iconoclasm with a bridging pin – for the win. This was fine, but the crowd were largely ambivalent to Xia’s first win. If I had any faith in there being long-term booking here, I’d dare say that Xia’s being set up for a title shot down the road. **¼
Post-match, Rhea Ripley hit the ring and slammed Candy Floss, before she flapjacked Xia. There’s an inverted Cloverleaf for Xia, who’s swung around as Rhea got her heat back, drawing out Toni Storm as the pair had a brawl, with Storm landing a pair of headbutts. Except the second one hit Xia Brookside by mistake as the Riptide followed, with Ripley standing over Toni to end the segment and build to their rematch.
We’ve a selfie promo from Jordan Devlin next. He claims he’s run roughshod over the NXT UK roster, and challenges Noam Dar for the Phoenix tapings.
Mike Hitchman vs. Joseph Conners
Oh dear. I’d heard that the crowd were silent for this.
Conners puts the boots to Hitchman early on, but the Wild Boar hits back with a big clothesline and some mounted punches in the corner. Boar’s sent outside as Conners comes back with a clothesline of his own, then clubs on Hitchman on the apron. Back in the ring, an atomic drop/facebuster gets Conners a near-fall, before Conners tells Boar to “look at me” while he was in a chinlock. I’m not sure if that’s anatomically possible…
More beating from Conners draws silence, then some charitable boos, before Boar comes back with a chop block, and a back senton cannonball as Conners was in the ropes. A T-Bone suplex takes Conners to the outside, but back inside Conners is able to avoid a charge into the corner and land a slingshot DDT for a near-fall. From there, Conners wants to be looked at again, as he called Boar a “pussycat”, only to get met with a pop-up powerbomb. The crowd chants “pussycat” as Boar took Conners up top, only to get taken down with a sunset bomb, before a second one sorta hit the bottom turnbuckle across the ring, as the Don’t Look Down DDT got Conners the win. Another 50-50 midcard match, but nobody’s caring about Conners. Not even enough to boo the result. Oh dear. **
Gallus are backstage as the Coffeys warm up for their respective matches. They still think NXT UK is their Kingdom. Aw, that’s sweet.
Jinny gets a video package, calling herself ruthless and aggressive. That leads to a backstage promo from Radzi, who’s given some fashion advice, as well as interview advice. “What do you make of the women’s division here?” is a typically-awful WWE Interviewer Question, while Jinny’s response not only built up Toni Storm, but also called back to their pasts with Toni being “the one person who’s stopped me getting to the top”. A crap set-up, but a good promo from Jinny, who’ll face Mia Yim next week.
Ashton Smith vs. Joe Coffey
Coffey at least starts out aggressive, forcing Smith to back off before the Mancunian started with a headlock.
He clings on, then goes for it again as Coffey’s forced to shove free as he ended up pouncing Smith to the outside. A second pounce outside sends Smith into the barriers, before they returned to the ring, as Smith fought out of a strait-jacket sleeper. Coffey followed up with a cobra clutch as he continued to yell delusionally at Smith, who stood up and slipped out of the hold, only to run into a bear hug. Coffey charges Smith into the corners then hits some forearms to the lower back before Smith started to injure the swollen eye of Coffey. An overhead belly-to-belly stops all that though, as Coffey lights up Smith with uppercuts, including a nice pop-up uppercut, before Smith again went back to the left eye of Coffey, who again charges him back into the corner.
Another pop-up’s countered with a dropkick as Smith then cracked Coffey with a superkick… but he can’t get a cover, and instead looked for a springboard out of the corner. He’s caught and dumped with a German suplex before Awra Best for the Bells gets the win. Eh, this was solid enough, but an even match and a very tired crowd meant that this was probably a “welcome to the midcard, Joe” outing. **½
Wolfgang and Mark Coffey join Joe on the ramp to celebrate, and it seems we’re having a Gabe Sapolsky/Paul Heyman special as Joe’s exit turned into Mark’s entrance for our main event…
Mark Coffey vs. WALTER
They at least spelled “Mark” right this time… but since we’ve less than 10 minutes left in the show, I’m expecting this to be a pretty one-sided outing for WALTER.
Mark tries to chop WALTER early, but the crowd laughs it off as WALTER swung and missed… the second chop didn’t miss though, as he took Mark into the ropes for a series of crossface punches. Ow. Coffey heads outside, where he does his best Jay White and charges WALTER between the ring apron and the guard barriers. Back inside, Mark lays in some forearms on WALTER, then some uppercuts before a Mexican surfboard stretch kept WALTER on his knees. WALTER manages to stand up and reverse the hold, but Coffey gets a foot to the ropes before he elbowed his way free, coming back with a clothesline off the ropes… only for WALTER to shrug it off.
More standing lariats just fire up the Austrian, before he blocked one and dropped Mark with a German suplex. A running boot into the corner drops Coffey, who’s then draped across the turnbuckles for a chop and some boot choking as we got “classic WALTER” here now he was done taking Coffey’s guff, following up with chops and a back suplex onto the apron. From there, it should have been elementary. More crossface punches followed, then a Gojira clutch that Coffey broke up, before some chops and uppercuts took Coffey back to the clotheslines. A Pele-style kick has WALTER down again, but he’s back up and chops Mark in the back before a Gojira clutch gets broken in the corner.
WALTER’s right back with a shotgun dropkick to catch Mark unawares, before a powerbomb took him down for the pin. That felt oddly truncated, and while you could say “WALTER took his best stuff and still came out on top”, I’m not a fan of your big monster being on the defensive for as long as he was here in just his second match in. ***
WALTER stands alone in the ring to end the show, as we’re done with Blackpool – next week, NXT UK comes from Phoenix, Arizona and the Royal Rumble tapings. Hmm…
Five matches in one show meant that very little was likely to breathe – a classic case of stuffing in too much for the sake of giving people matches, I guess? Not listening to the post-show calls, I missed that Triple H’d mentioned that there was no date set for a second UK Takeover… which means we’re back to these shows being aimless and directionless for the time being. From looking at what may be spoilers for the next few shows, it looks like we’re going the EVOLVE route and getting some familiar names from NXT in the Phoenix shows, but it’ll be February’s tapings in Coventry will tip-off whether we’re building to anything, or whether we’re in for more wheel spinning.