Zack Gibson and Noam Dar locked horns as the third week of NXT UK provided us with a Scouse vs. Scottish clash.
The WWE Network’s airing a double-header of NXT UK this week – we’ll have the “second” review up later in the week. Needless to say, it would seem that they’re well aware of how many “lame duck” episodes they have in the can, like we speculated on last week…
It’s straight into the titles as we’re still in Cambridge – except for Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness, whose disembodied voices trail the show, which runs over an hour-long this week.
Trent Seven vs. Saxon Huxley
Hey, remember the Muscle Jesus? Saxon Huxley’s back after losing in the first round of last year’s UK Championship Tournament… and he vows that the dormant beast will reignite. Commentary appears to have been taped ages ago as Vic Joseph mentions how 205 Live is on Tuesdays (it isn’t… at least for now!), as Huxley and Seven lock up.
Saxon takes Trent into the corner, before he grabs an arm and wrenches away on it. The Hartlepool native’s all over Trent, but his early aggression just earns him some chops and a DDT as the PROGRESS Atlas champion looks to end it quickly… only to get clocked with a Thesz Press from Huxley. Some more shots from Huxley gets him a near-fall as I glaze over Nigel’s attempt to explain his character, before reawakening as Huxley takes down Trent with a Million Dollar Dream. A ripcord shoulder block acts as a buffer as Saxon loosens, then reapplies the hold, but Trent manages to fight free before he caught Huxley out of nowhere with a Seven Star Lariat. There’s no pinning attempt though, as Trent wants to inflict more damage as he chops Saxon into the corner, before we get a big back body drop (cheers!)
More chops have Huxley down to a knee, ahead of a snap Dragon suplex and a Burning Hammer as Trent gets the win. Your typical TV match really – Huxley having a period of offence but barring a major shock, he was never going to upset one of the brand’s poster boys on his second night on TV! ***
We’ve a video package on the Coffey Brothers, with some shots given a filter that make it look like the sixth-generation copies we all got from tape traders back in the day. Aah, memories…
Flash Morgan Webster’s stopped for a quick promo before our next match…
Mark Coffey vs. Flash Morgan Webster
This is playing off of what happened at Royal Albert Hall, and in the first week of NXT UK, where Flash made the save as the Coffeys beat down Mark Andrews.
Nigel McGuinness takes aim at Flash, suggesting he’s too placid, and we start with Coffey just beating Flash with some body blows in the corner. Flash tries to hit back with kicks to the leg, but it’s a flying armdrag that works as he began to fling Mark around the ring and into an armbar. A ‘rana from Webster finds it mark, as we see Mark Coffey’s chikara tattoo ahead of a Special Brew Flip as Flash picked up a near-fall – prompting Mark to head outside for respite. Joe Coffey leaps on the apron to stop Flash from diving, and the distraction pays off as Mark returns with a spinning uppercut as the match turned on its head.
A side Russian legsweep takes Flash down, but Coffey keeps up with a back suplex as the crowd seemed to chant “decaf” in perhaps the worst pun on the Scotsmen’s name. Coffey slows the pace down as he puts the boots to Flash, before landing another back suplex for a couple more two-counts. Flash tries to fight back from the bottom, hitting some body blows of his own, before flipping over Mark in the corner and finding his way with a Rude Boy moonsault press for a near-fall.
Another forearm from Webster leads into a bicycle knee that sends Mark to the outside, but again Joe offers himself as a human barrier… so Flash uses the ringpost to swing around into a ‘rana on the floor. Joe tries to get into Webster’s face, and again the distraction is effective as Mark hits a snap suplex to get yet another two-count. Flash slips as he went for a missile dropkick, but he hits it anyway… then looks to go back up, before he caught Joe with a PK on the apron as the distractions continued… only for Flash to shrug it off and beat Mark with a crucifix pin. This was okay, but the pace when Mark was in control was extremely plodding. **½
Post-match, the Coffeys put the boots to Flash, only for Mark Andrews and Travis Banks to make a save, eventually sending the Scotsmen scurrying.
There’s a Danny Burch promo – he debuts on this show… next! But first, there’s a Sam Gradwell promo. He’s got a new look after last year’s appearance in the tournament, vowing to be a “thunderstorm” and not a 5-star firework display.
We get a Jinny vignette. Much like the Eddie Dennis pieces, these are very good establishing videos… like what WWE excelled in in years gone by.
Sam Gradwell vs. Danny Burch
Gradwell’s look has him looking like an early day Sheamus, pale complexion and all!
We start with the pair slugging it out, but it’s Burch who’s got the upper hand early on, before Gradwell issues some receipts as he single-handedly messes with everyone’s white balance. A falling headbutt clocks Burch, who replies with a German suplex and a lariat of doom for a near-fall.
The crowd clock the Sheamus lookalike, but Burch doesn’t care as he pelts him with uppercuts, before a Michinoku driver from Gradwell almost gave us the mother of all upsets. Gradwell puts the boots to Burch, but it just riles up the Londoner, who decks him with a forearm as both men ended up on the mat.
We’re back to duelling shots as the pub brawl style continued… a boot to the head from Gradwell staggers Burch, who replies with a headbutt before a Tower of London assisted DDT got the win. Save for a few spots, this was pretty much a one-sided outing that put Burch firmly on top. Nice and hard hitting, but Gradwell’s going to need a few big wins as his name value kinda pales in comparison to the rest of this roster. **¾
Post-match, the Blue Peter Guy (Radzi) is in the ring to interview Burch, who asks him what it’s like to wrestle in the UK. Burch recalls flying the flag for British wrestling for 15 years so he could earn everyone’s respect… which leads to “Burch is coming home” chants. Could you tell this was taped around the time of the World Cup? It becomes our weekly rah-rah NXT UK promo, before it turned into Burch wanting someone’s attention: Pete Dunne!
Zack Gibson and Noam Dar are warming up backstage… then we get a promo video of Jordan Devlin, calling him the “Irish Ace”, and complete with footage from PROGRESS. Devlin’s in action “next week”… as we also have Travis Banks vs. Wolfgang. That’s “next week”, or “right after this show”!
Noam Dar vs. Zack Gibson
These two have met twice in one-on-one action, both in FutureShock in Manchester… with Gibson winning both of them.
There’s no pre-match promo, as we start with the usual lock-up, with Gibson taking Dar down and into an armbar while the crowd slowly took their shoes off. Dar returns the armbar favour, but Zack’s back up as the early feeling-out process didn’t draw any clear advantage. It did lead to Dar trying to take his shoes off though… Nigel McGuinness tries to explain the hatred of Zack Gibson as the crowd went through their Rolodex of Gibson chants, instantly making him the hottest bad guy on this roster. We’re back to the wrestling as Gibson traps Dar in some headscissors, but Dar escapes and counters into an Indian deathlock… which he used to try and remove some footwear.
Gibson gets back in as he again looked to soften Dar’s arm, clinging onto the body part before he tried to through Dar into the corner… but the Scotsman evades him and goes for some pinning attempts as we had some nice callbacks to the classic British style of yore. A backslide’s blocked by Gibson, but Dar sweeps out the Scouser’s legs as Gibson was sent into the ropes with a bum knee.
With a part to aim for, Dar kicks away at Gibson’s leg and knee as they end up outside, with Dar eventually being pulled down off the apron, before he used the entry ramp as a springboard as he dropkicked Gibson low once more. That looked better without the replay to be fair… They continued brawling around the ring, with Dar on top, peppering Gibson with shot, only for a Divorce Court (hammerlock DDT) from Gibson to buy himself some time.
A short-arm clothesline from Gibson knocks Dar down for a two-count, as Zack again goes back to the arm as he looked to prepare for an eventual trip to the Shankly Gates. Dar fights out of a chin bar/arm bar combo, but the focus remains on that arm… despite Dar’s attempt to fight out, as Gibson just ends up stomping on the Scotsman’s elbow. Gibson uses some misdirection with a twist to Dar’s surgically-repaired knee, before going back to the arm with a Jim Breaks-like armbar suplex. Dar tries to fight back, but he’s caught in the corner with an enziguiri before he kicks Zack out of the corner as he looked for a Ticket to Ride.
A suplex from Dar helps to get him a near-fall, as does a release Fisherman’s suplex… but the damage to the arm had clearly weakened the Scottish Supernova. Gibson thought he’d won it when he came out of nowhere with a Ticket to Ride off the middle rope, but from the kick-out he stalks Dar ahead of the Shankly Gates… only for Dar to go instantly into the ropes. Gibson’s sent outside, but he drags Dar out with him for a powerbomb onto the stage, which looked to be his way of trying to win this by count-out. Dar manages to beat the count, but he rolls back into the Shankly Gates, which he broke up with a desperation dive into the ropes as the crowd believed that Noam could perhaps win this… More boots from Gibson looked to snuff that out though, and there’s one last flurry where Dar tried to roll-up Zack for the win, then land a double stomp onto Gibson’s left knee, Zack was able to fight back on one leg, going back to the arm.
Dar trips Gibson into a knee bar, but Zack rolls into the ropes before he headed up top again… another Ticket to Ride misses as Dar sidesteps it and grabs an ankle lock, switching it into a knee bar in the middle of the ring… but Gibson slaps his way free and after kicking out Dar’s knee, he throws the Scotsman into the ring post, before a Helter Skelter suplex gets him the win. A hell of a main event, and easily the best match on this show so far if you’re going by snow flakes. Three episodes deep, and Noam Dar is perhaps the MVP of NXT UK – despite coming out with two losses… ****
While still retaining the WWE sheen, the third week of NXT UK continues to develop the roster – and give us some quality in-ring action. Even if you’re not a fan of “television matches”, come for the main event, and you shan’t be disappointed.