It’s back to the UK as NXT UK begins its stay in Coventry – with a falls count anywhere match between Travis Banks and Jordan Devlin.
We open with an extended recap of the Banks/Devlin storyline – from their abandoned match at Takeover: Blackpool, to their double count-out match… to their more recent skirmishes in the Harry. From there, we see titles and… it’s straight to action.
Ligero vs. Joseph Conners
I swear I saw Conners in another universe kissing a photo of Ligero not too long ago. Conners gets a “promo with the media” during Ligero’s entrance, and my word, the Coventry Skydome looks rather compact here. Oh and dark too… for good reason, apparently.
We start with a lock-up as Ligero looked to score with early shoulder tackles… but instead he has to made do with a flying armbar that turned into a facebuster as Conners slipped out. They roll to the mat from a lock-up, ending in the ropes as the crowd laughed, before a ‘rana from Ligero earned a polite applause.
Conners lifts Ligero onto the apron, then throws him to the floor as we’ve some strikes on the apron. Back inside, a chinbar subdues Ligero, before Ligero countered a tiltawhirl into a pinning attempt. Regardless, Conners finds his way back into it, heading up top for a flying shoulder tackle (which Ligero didn’t duck) for a near-fall.
Ligero’s thrown to the mat again as Conners picks up some more two-counts to the sound of silence, which is broken as the crowd tried to get behind Ligero afterall. More slams keep Ligero down as I swear the crowd was sweetened briefly, before the claps return as Ligero’s caught in a Mexican surfboard stretch. Finally Ligero fights back with a jawbreaker, before he sent Conners sailing to the outside… but Conners is right back in as he’s forced to absorb some kicks as a leg lariat took him back down.
Conners gets dragged into the corner as Ligero worked his way into a springboard stunner from the apron for a near-fall. A backslide’s countered by Conners into a La Magistral for a near-fall, but Conners still can’t put Ligero away with a slingshot DDT… nor with a flipover facebuster either. Ligero tries to nick it with a small package, but the persistence pays off as a lucha roll through proved to be enough to catch out Conners as Ligero took the win. It was a match… but both these guys seem to be treading water, at least in terms of crowd reactions. Solid effort bell-to-bell, but the Joseph Conners Experience is a bad one in NXT UK it seems. **½
After the match, Ligero offers a handshake, but Conners just walked past him.
We cut to a promo with Toni Storm, who reckoned that Rhea Ripley is in her rear view mirror. There’s a slight hint of the cocky Toni that’s coming out in wXw, as she walks away… just as Jinny appeared with her roll-on suitcase.
A promo follows for a “new” tag team: Wild Boar and the Primate – they’re being called the Hunt, and they’re here again in two weeks.
Another promo, this time with Gallus. Wolfgang says they’re not to be disrespected… Mark Coffey reckons they’re proving a point. They are. Except it’s the same point many others had, in that they weren’t quite taken seriously in the main event picture. That bleeds into a walk-n-talk with WALTER, who doesn’t have any words for Radzi’s question. Neither do I.
Sam Stoker & Lewis Howley vs. Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel
So, Stoker and Howley had a badly corrupted entrance video. This made air. A few people recognised Sammy Smooth/Stoker, but it seems Coventry aren’t huge IPW fans.
Aichner’s all over Howley early on, working an armbar before he caught an escaping Howley with a powerslam. A grounded full nelson keeps Howley on the back foot, before Stoker came in and took some “pretty deadly” chops. Huh. Barthel comes in next, but he takes an elbow as he ends up getting cornered… only to come back with a cross chop to the throat of Stoker.
A running uppercut traps Stoker in the corner, before an uppercut and a butterfly suplex left Stoker on the mat once more. Aichner’s tagged back in as the Europeans ended up having to withstand Stoker’s second wind, before he’s just thrown down for a PK. Howley runs in to make a save, but he just gets thrown into the post before duelling low dropkicks took him from the ropes to the floor.
That left Stoker open to be thrown into Aichner’s impressive stalling suplex, before the crowd’s call for “one more time” just led to an uppercut-assisted powerbomb as Aichner and Barthel got the extended squash win. **½
Cue a Nina Samuels vignette… and this time she’s in action. Next!
Except not, because there’s plugs for upcoming dates and a Kay Lee Ray promo. I guess she’s coming soon.
Charlie Morgan vs. Nina Samuels
To borrow some Cockney rhyming slang, would you Adam and Eve it?
Samuels starts out strong, working Morgan to the mat with a wristlock, only for Charlie to try and fight free… but she’s taken back down as Nina works the arm instead. An arm wringer leads to Morgan getting free… but her springboard sunset flip is blocked as Nina’s able to cut her off with relative ease.
A nerve hold is next. Yeah. Luckily, Nina keeps well away from the 80s as she works into another armbar. Charlie elbows away as Nina tried to proclaim that this was the “Nina Samuels Show”, but it’s for nought as Charlie manages to roll her away and clock Samuels with a head kick.
Another roll through led to an enziguiri from Morgan, but Charlie’s springboard crossbody’s caught and turned into an ushigoroshi for the win. Almost a “splat” squash, but you’ll not be surprised to find out that this wasn’t exactly their best. Better look in Bethnal Green for that… **
Pete Dunne “addresses the media” at the Harry. I swear, NXT UK is only followed by a handful of people, one of them being Glen Joseph, going by the media questions. Dunne vows that the next time he faces Gallus, it’ll be the last time. Good.
Travis Banks and Jordan Devlin are warming up… as we go into adverts for Fast Lane… and a Johnny Saint tweet confirming WALTER and Pete Dunne face the Coffey Brothers next week.
Uhh. Jeff Jarrett is in Coventry?! Commentary seems to hint that it’s not a one-off appearance…
Falls Count Anywhere: Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin
On paper, this is the blow-off match to the feud, but lets see. Devlin’s left hand is taped up, as he beckons Banks into the aisle to start the slugfest there… which almost led to Banks winning in the opening seconds.
Chops from Banks take Devlin into the crowd as they play up “falls count anywhere” some more, heading up into the tiered seats before Devlin’s grip on the upper deck is broken apart, with Banks sending him falling a few feet to the floor, before diving onto the Irishman from the upper deck with a crossbody for a near-fall.
More chops from Banks assist Devlin in getting back to the ringside area, but Jorgan gets a chair… which Banks quickly disarms him of as they finally hit the ring, with Devlin begging off. Kicks from Banks barely appease the table-wanting crowd, before a superkick sent Jordan crashing to the outside… where he was able to use that chair to deflect a low-pe as he picked up a two-count on the floor.
The “massive head” chants for Devlin make it to TV, as all hope of him having escaped that shadow dissipated. Still, Jordan keeps up on Banks, whipping him into the corner ahead of a backbreaker for a near-fall, before Devlin shouted something to the crowd that I couldn’t quite make out.
A uranage and standing moonsault’s next for another two-count for Jordan, who then took Banks onto the apron, only for a Spanish Fly to the floor to get blocked as Banks shoved Devlin into the chair that was still laying there. Banks followed in with a flying double stomp for a near-fall, before pulling out a table to win the crowd over.
In the meantime, Devlin rolled back into the ring, and we quickly get a ref bump as Banks dropkicked Devlin into the official. A bicycle knee followed from Banks, then a Kiwi Krusher… but the “babyface who caused the ref bump goes for a cover” only gets a visual ten count from the crowd, who still remembered Tye Dillinger. Out of nowhere, Devlin cracks Banks with a headbutt, before a moonsault led to a near-fall as the official suddenly woke up and made the count.
Devlin tries to take Banks up top, and fights off a resistance to land a superplex… only for Banks to roll through and hit a Kiwi Krusher as Devlin took too long for a second suplex. It’s still not enough though, and once both men remove their wrist tape, it’s time for a series of palm strikes and clotheslines, before some misdirection from Banks led to a Slice of Heaven.
Somehow, Devlin rolls to the outside from that, as Banks too dragged himself to the floor, where he’s caught with a roll-up for a near-fall. Devlin tries to throw him into the ring steps, but Banks avoids the assault and instead stomped on Devlin’s knee in the ring steps. Another flying stomp off the ring steps targeted the knee, before an ankle lock looked to force a submission, but Devlin rolls out and sends Banks into the guard rails.
The pair drag themselves on the apron as Banks teased a Kiwi Krusher through a table, but instead Devlin countered with a Spanish Fly through the wood… and that’s all folks. A really good brawl by this show’s standards, and I guess in lieu of Takeovers, this counts as your Big Match Blow-off? ***½
Officials tend to Devlin and Banks after the match as we get long replays of the match… and we go off the air as commentary reminds us of the Coffey Brothers vs. Dunne and WALTER next week.
Main event aside, this was a very paint-by-numbers episode of NXT UK. Thirty-odd episodes deep, and we’re starting to see some signs of change in the makeup of the roster. Nina Samuels, who’d been a fairly regular feature as enhancement talent in the women’s division, is now being given a push, while new faces are slowly being added. Does this mean that some of the lower-card names will get cycled out to make way? I’d hope so, because even the most hard-nosed of bookers must recognise that there are some folks on this roster right now who are just not connecting. Intentionally or otherwise.
NXT UK remains a product that’s doing a job, but to an audience that is used to seeing a lot of these names involved in better matches in front of hotter crowds… it still feels very bland and beige.