Kassius Ohno made his debut as NXT UK brought an announcement for WrestleMania weekend to the table.
Yet again the show’s coming from Coventry, with Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph on the call. They tease a major announcement from the off… as Johnny Saint and Sid Scala are already in the ring. Of course, Sid gets to make the announcement: it’s that they’ve been “allowed” to have Pete Dunne defend the title over WrestleMania weekend. It’ll be at TakeOver: New York – something that’s cheered by a lot of people who’ll be staying up awfully late at night to watch. Pete Dunne comes out before they can announce a challenger, but even a blind man can see who it’ll be. Dunne demands that he faces WALTER. Johnny and Sid nod, and that’s likely the match.
Nigel and Vic peer over their shoulders on a green screen as they pitched to Journalist Glen Joseph asking Toni Storm questions. Toni addresses Jinny’s comments from a few weeks back, in a roundabout way calling Jinny a spoilt rich girl before she walked away… and bumped into Rhea Ripley on the stairs. Rhea wants promo time too, as she addresses Xia Brookside’s promo from last week in a heavily enunciated manner.
Eddie Dennis vs. Ligero
Eddie’s all over Ligero early, surviving an early onslaught before taking the masked man outside for a swinging side slam onto the apron.
Ligero’s thrown back in, then whipped into the turnbuckles as Eddie threatened to rip the horns off… with a cravat. Some knees stop Ligero’s attempt to break out, as Eddie threw him back into the corner for a near-fall. A forearm drops Ligero in the corner, but he’s back with a wheelbarrow facebuster as Ligero had to innovate to get back in it. He’s quickly back in trouble as Ligero had to spring off the top rope to avoid a Severn Bridge bomb, taking Eddie outside with a kick as a slingshot ‘rana to the floor left both men down. Ligero keeps up the pressure, but once he had to abort a leap off the top, he was quickly caught with a clothesline from Eddie, who quickly pulled him up for a Next Stop Driver.
Ligero again escapes and lands an enziguiri, before his C4L DDT is caught… the swinging side slam from Eddie’s countered into a Destroyer, but it’s not enough to keep him down. From there, Ligero climbs the ropes, but gets booted on the top rope as Eddie brings him down with a stalling superplex, before a Severn Bridge bucklebomb and a Next Stop Driver put Ligero away. An entertaining, competitive outing, but Eddie picking up the win puts him back on course for something. ***
We’re taken to the Harry in Enfield, as we’re shown a montage – Amir Jordan wants a tag title shot, which he tries to get Kenny Williams to ask for. Kenny tells him he’ll do it if Amir can do a pull up… and after the montage, Amir sure as heck can do it. Then he goes and spoils it all by asking Kenny to dance.
Sam Stoker & Lewis Howley vs. The Hunt (Primate & Wild Boar)
It’s a return for “Pretty Deadly” Stoker and Howley, but I don’t think they’ll have any different outcomes today. Primate and Boar are in full gear to play up their animalistic characters, and this is a tandem straight out of early 90s Superstars. In a good way.
Primate flings Stoker over his head with a release belly to belly early on, as Boar gets a tag in to hurl Stoker with a T-Bone suplex. Some face raking kept Stoker on the back foot, as did a double-team slam as Primate came in to dump his partner with a back senton on Stoker, who was never at the races. A German suplex puts Stoker in the corner, giving Howley an easy tag in… but Howley’s early fire is put out with a Primate headbutt, before a cannonball from Boar crushed Howley in the corner. More double-teaming set up Howley for a pop-up German suplex… and that’s all folks. A sheer, unadulterated squash… and I loved every second of it!
Ashton Smith vs. Kassius Ohno
Oh dear. Ashton, it was nice knowing you…
Coventry came relatively alive for Ohno’s debut here, as they’d not seen the promos (I guess). Ohno offers a fist bump to start, but starts to work over Smith’s arm in the early going. A suplex is blocked as Smith looked in vain for a fireman’s carry, only for Ohno to club him away. A boot through the ropes hurts Smith’s chances, as Ohno took the upper hand with a running suplex for a near-fall. Smith begins a fight back with a pump kick and a series of forearms, but Ohno just shoves him away,,, and then walks into a superkick as Smith managed to take him down with a Samoan drop. Of course it’s not enough, as Ohno obliterates Smith with a big boot, before some back sentons flattened him ahead of a ripcord elbow as the formalities were completed. An easy win for Ohno, who’s likely to be a massive part of NXT UK in the near future. **½
After the match, Ohno helped Smith back to his feet… only to dish out another rolling elbow. Chants of “one more time” perhaps tell you how the crowd really feel about Ashton outside of his entrance routine. Meanwhile, Travis Banks came to the ring to check on Smith, staring at Ohno on the way, as those two now are likely to go at it…
A vignette airs for… a cup of coffee? Oh. It’s the Coffey brothers in a cafe, talking about Gallus’ bad run of form. Joe says that Gallus need to establish dominance, and I hear Jon Davis looking at his last pile of t-shirts.
Tyler Bate vs. James Drake
Both men were out on their lonesome, which made a change from them usually being joined at the hip.
Bate takes down Drake from the off as the pair jockeyed for position on the mat… only to reach a stand-off. Drake tries to work the arm of Bate, who rolls free before scoring with a dropkick, before catching a leap from Drake, turning it into a brief airplane spin. That clearly didn’t dizzy Drake enough, as he was able to recompose himself and shove Bate off the top rope and to the floor, as the match began to spill outside. After throwing Bate into the crowd barrier, Drake took over in the ring with a grounded cobra clutch, before a gutwrench suplex drew a near-fall for the tag team champion. The “arse face” chants for Drake make it past the censors, which gets a giggle out of commentary as Drake held Bate in a chinlock, before a backbreaker dumped Tyler upside down for a near-fall.
Drake’s back in the chinlock as he tried to keep Tyler on the mat… turning it into a camel clutch that Bate stood up from as he backs into the corner as he began to get on the front foot. Tyler drags Drake back into the ring, then met him with a standing ‘rana before a big back body drop sent him flying. Bate stays in charge, throwing Drake with an Exploder suplex as he then kipped up into a running shooting star press that he landed at the second try. We head outside again, but this time it backfires for Drake as Bate throws him into the guard rails, then back into the ring before Tyler got caught in a tombstone-like facebuster for a near-fall. Tyler responds with a rebound lariat, before a Tyler Driver’s countered… with Bate landing on his feet, only to take a dropkick in the corner as Drake kept pushing on.
A 450 splash from Drake misses as Bate makes his next comeback, hurling him into the corner with an Exploder, before a Spiral Tap off the top got the win. A rare singles match for Tyler led to a really good TV main event – and laid more groundwork for an eventual Moustache Mountain tag title shot. ***½
The show ends with “breaking news” of WALTER walking away from Johnny Saint and Sid Scala. Media Glen asks the GMs what happened… and they close the show by confirming WALTER’s challenging Pete Dunne for the NXT UK title at TakeOver: New York. Guess that means we’re not getting a TakeOver UK anytime soon…
Genuinely, this was a really good episode of NXT UK – after many weeks of “sort-of okay” and bland shows, this delivered in the ring and in terms of story development. The arrival of Kassius Ohno creates a new “monster” in the brand; one that you’d expect will be in the title picture sooner or later – even if it does highlight the brand’s failure to break someone out of the existing pack. Still, at least with the Hunt there’s some hope for the months ahead.