The stars came out for the final round of NXT UK in Phoenix, while we also saw the first defence of the NXT UK tag team titles.
This week… the crowd finally mustered up a NXT chant! Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness are on commentary as ever.
Tyler Bate vs. Jack Gallagher
The crowd went mild – although compared to other reactions, they were positively raucous here.
Commentary waxes lyrical about the Gallagher/Gulak partnership on 205 Live, completely ignoring what was going on in the ring as Bate and Gallagher tried to find an edge on the mat. A takedown from Gallagher sees him go for a waistlock, but Bate countered with a Fujiwara armbar, only for the tit-for-tat to continue. Some headscissors on the mat force Bate to roll back into a neck bridge so he could eventually flip his way free, only to get suckered in by the offer of a foot. Gallagher goes to work on Tyler’s legs, using a toe hold… but again, Tyler gets free as neither man could keep momentum going. A stomp to the knees from Gallagher allowed him to focus on the legs again, snapping back in an Indian deathlock, before a bow and arrow hold was reversed… with Bate nearly sneaking a win.
Eventually, Tyler finds a way in with a knuckle lock into a Fujiwara armbar, but Gallagher effortlessly escaped and went back to the ankle, this time stretching Tyler before he aimed to kick away his legs some more. Uppercuts from Bate stop Gallagher briefly, only for him to get trapped in the ropes by the leg, as a hobbling Tyler ultimately went back to the knuckle lock. A Jim Breaks-like arm raise leads into an airplane spin, but Gallagher slips out into a Eddie Guerrero’s old Lasso from El Paso, then adds in a wristlock as Bate eventually broke the stretch via the ropes. Back on the mat, Gallagher and Bate roll back and forth, trading indy-riffic one-counts to troll the ref, who eventually makes a two-count before Tyler simply scored the win with a roll-up. A fun, almost old-school British style mat – I’d like to see more of this, ideally as part of something that isn’t a “thrown out there” match in a foreign environment. ***
At the Harry – the WWE UK Performance Centre in Enfield – we see some drills, which included Travis Banks… who gets pulled off the apron as Jordan Devlin sparked a brawl. That bled into a video package for WALTER’s NXT UK career so far, as WALTER faces Kassius Ohno next.
Well, after the Nina Samuels vignette. Oh, and an Eddie Dennis promo from the Harry. Eddie tells us that a year ago (from the day of his Takeover loss), he picked up a severe injury… but four months later he signed for WWE. He’ll bounce back, and after everything else, I’m glad he didn’t go full Alan Partridge and say he was going to have the last laugh.
Kassius Ohno vs. WALTER
Commentary doesn’t mention the storyline of Ohno “quitting NXT” – but instead focus on Ohno “taking on the shiny new toys”. Wasn’t that Joseph Conners act?
Ohno seems a little reluctant to start this one, and when he does he’s instantly taken into the corner by WALTER before a knuckle lock led to a Test of Strength… which ends in the ropes again as WALTER seemed to have Ohno rattled. An arm wringer from WALTER eventually whips Ohno to the mat, only for Ohno to get out of an armbar and… throw a chop.
Ohno keeps throwing them, but WALTER barges through him as commentary knew what was coming. WALTER tries for a crossface punch, but Ohno catches it before he’s just booted through the ropes and sent to the outside. WALTER follows after, trading forearms before WALTER just dumped him on the apron with a side suplex. Back in the ring, Ohno finds a second wind, laying in some forearms as WALTER was dropped in the corner, before a cravat kept the Austrian down. Briefly. WALTER gets back to his feet… but is taken back down as Ohno cinched in the cravat, before WALTER finally got free by way of a body slam.
A Gojira clutch attempt forces Ohno to the ropes, but WALTER slaps away the rope break… only for Ohno to break the waistlock as WALTER chopped the back, THEN hit his German suplex. WALTER keeps up with a running boot in the corner, then a running sit-down splash for a near-fall, before some more crossface blows led to another Gojira… but Ohno rolls back on WALTER a la Bret Hart/Steve Austin to nearly steal the win. Ohno’s right back with a diving forearm, but a missed moonsault just gave WALTER the opportunity to hit a shotgun dropkick and a powerbomb for the win. Fun, but you know the usual stuff with the crowd. These shows man… and we’ll have another batch of these after WrestleMania. ***
Ligero gets a promo, replying to Joseph Conners’ stuff from last week. He reckons Joseph Conners lost because he’s too obsessed with not being at the top. Those two match up next week. Joe Lanza will be thrilled. Also next week: Falls Count Anywhere: Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin.
NXT UK Tag Team Championship: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) (c)
Remember when Danny Burch was a part of early day NXT UK and had a brief feud with Pete Dunne? Commentary does!
Lorcan and Drake start us off, with the pair looking for the other’s arm… but it’s Drake who draws first blood by working on Lorcan’s left arm and wrist, only for Oney to roll free and return the favour with an armdrag and an armbar of his own. Burch tags in as Drake gets both arms wrung… only for Zack Gibson to get a blind tag moments later as he blindsides Burch with a chop and a punch, putting the champions firmly ahead. Gibson drops Drake onto Burch for a near-fall, as Drake slowed down the already-pedestrian contest with a chinbar. Burch manages to slip free, going through Drake’s legs and diving into a tag to Lorcan, who’s all chops… Drake takes a back elbow in the corner, before Gibson intentionally tagged Drake as both men were on the apron. The ensuing argument unsights the ref as Drake raked Lorcan’s eyes, then posted him, ahead of a more legitimate tag.
On the outside, Gibson holds Lorcan for a backbreaker/flying axehandle from Drake, before they returned to the ring as Zack blasted Oney with a short clothesline for a one-count. A grounded cobra clutch followed, before Drake tagged back in to land a forearm as the champions edged ahead. A nerve hold (what is this, 1980?!) is next from Drake, as Gibson returned to switch up the pace, landing a backdrop suplex for a series of two-counts… aaaand it’s back to the chin bar. Lorcan fires back to his feet, using body blows to free himself, only for a shot from Gibson to undo all of that effort as the quick tags brought back Drake to apply a cobra clutch. Oney’s able to free himself though, and gets the tag to Burch who pulls down a Gibson leapfrog ahead of a German suplex.
That sent Gibson into his own corner, but not to worry… Drake gets a German suplex too, and a running clothesline in the corner ahead of a missile dropkick. Burch ducks an enziguiri as he retaliated with a powerbomb and a big knee for a two-count. Again, Gibson intentionally makes a bad tag to distract the ref, and again it works as Burch is caught in the ropes for a dropkick from Drake and a Ticket to Ride out of the corner for a near-fall. From there, Gibson holds Burch up on his shoulders, but a Doomsday Whatever’s stopped as Burch slips out for some headbutts. Lorcan’s back in with a running Blockbuster to the two champs, as the challengers looked to get the win with a Doomsday Uppercut… but Gibson breaks up the cover by throwing Lorcan onto the pile with a Northern Lights suplex.
Lorcan tries for a single leg crab, having to alternate between Gibson and Drake… in the end, we get Lorcan and Gibson slapping each other as they had separate submissions on, before Lorcan slapped Zack silly. Drake’s back in, but takes a running uppercut before Oney dove onto them with a tope con giro… Drake’s thrown back in to take an assisted DDT, but somehow Drake kicked out at two! Burch comes in and looked for a double-team with Lorcan off the top rope… but Gibson simply pushes Oney to the floor as Drake makes the most of it, rolling up Burch for a near-fall – despite some assistance from Zack on the outside. Right hands from Burch looked to get him ahead, but in the end he’s caught by Drake, who scooped him up and threw him over to Gibson for the Ticket to Mayhem for the win. I really enjoyed this match, with Gibson and Drake’s offence being logical – even if a tad too plodding at times – but again, the dead crowd really hurt this. ***½
Next week, NXT UK returns to the British Isles with the first matches from the Coventry tapings. While the in-ring on this episode was the best from the Phoenix tapings, it suffered from exactly what everyone predicted going in – lack of familiarity and a lack of reaction. Oh well, that, and the fact that we don’t have any UK Takeovers on the books means that we’re back to the same format we started out with, with storyline arcs going over a handful of shows, but the “really big stuff” being held back on “just in case”…