The NXT UK involvement over WrestleMania weekend took centre stage this week as we had a good ol’ fashioned contract signing!
You know the score. They’re still in Coventry. Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph are still on commentary.
Jordan Devlin vs. Dan Moloney
This was Devlin’s first appearance since beating Travis Banks in that falls count anywhere match… and Moloney’s first since a tag team loss against Kenny Williams and Amir Jordan about three months ago.
Of course, we get the “Dan” meme pop and chants, as Devlin takes Moloney into the corner and cheapshots him with a chop. An armdrag keeps Moloney at bay, before the Air Jordan standing uranage and moonsault combination drew a near-fall. An elbow from Devlin keeps Dan down, as does a running back elbow as Jordan proceeded to keep Dan on the mat with a cobra clutch. Moloney fought to his feet, but was knocked down before he made a comeback with a couple of clotheslines and a huge back body drop. Heck, it even sent Devlin rolling to the outside!
Devlin responds by dropping Moloney neck-first over the top rope before a slingshot cutter back into the ring almost ended things. From there though, Devlin resists another fight back before a headbutt led to the pull-up Saito suplex for the win. That’s a much better finish that the Ireland’s Call – and Devlin’s got the box-checking “win over enhancement talent” that usually follows when someone loses a blow-off here. **¾
Mark Andrews vs. Noam Dar happens later tonight… but first, Kassius Ohno wanders out, mic in hand. He’s been told to apologise for what he did to Ashton Smith last week, and to ensure it’s not a “plastic” speech… he just reads one off his phone. The switch flips as he finished his text as he told us how he relished beating Smith, and that “NXT UK chose him”…
Talk then turned to the “hero”, Travis Banks, whom he threatened to bust up… and there’s no face-off with the Kiwi Buzzsaw this week. A pretty good promo, but we shouldn’t be shocked at that from Ohno. A vignette for Dave Mastiff is next, who’s been largely MIA since beating Eddie Dennis at Takeover: Blackpool. Mastiff’s showing off his strength, and he’s ready.
Green screen Vic and Nigel announce that Toni Storm defends the NXT UK Women’s title against Jinny in two weeks… and that leads to a promo from Jinny at the India try-out. Complete with Indian music… anyway, Jinny’s crowing over how WWE picked her to represent NXT UK, and she’ll be the hero for NXT UK and for India.
Xia Brookside vs. Rhea Ripley
This has been built up pretty well in backstage segments and promos, with Rhea Ripley taking exception to being called out as a bully.
Unfortunately, the crowd chanting “Rhea’s gonna kill you” kinda tells you what Coventry thought of Xia’s chances! Brookside manages to subdue Ripley with a headlock early on, but Ripley powers away and took Xia into the ropes for some choking. Shoulder charges follow as Ripley keeps Xia in the corner, before a stalling suplex led to a near-fall for the Aussie. A second one’s countered into a small package for a near-fall, before duelling dropkicks saw Rhea edge ahead thanks to her height advantage. Finally, that spot makes sense! An overhead armbar has Xia in trouble again, but she responded with some dropkicks before one was caught… forcing Xia to scramble to the ropes to stop a submission attempt.
Some headscissors from Xia sent Rhea into the corner, where she’s met with some double knees to the back… following those up with a Tree of Woe and a running dropkick. Ripley rolled outside for cover, but she’s quickly met with a crossbody off the top… then with a flying lungblower back in the ring. Somehow Ripley kicked out from that, but she was able to block a satellite sunset flip by just flinging Brookside into the corner before landing a Riptide for the win. Huh. Well, Ripley showed that the Riptide’s enough to stop anything, but I wasn’t a fan of the “take some offence, almost lose and win with just your move”. A match that probably does more for Brookside in defeat, one has to think. **¾
After the match, Ripley calls out the NXT UK women’s division, then called herself the “dominant woman in NXT UK”. Only to be stopped by music as Piper Niven – known better elsewhere as Viper – made her debut, as Ripley chose to leave the ring. Niven took the mic and said she took Ripley’s spot… and I guess those two have a match down the line.
Backstage, Radzi asks Isla Dawn about Piper Niven… she’s happy that there’s more competition, and another Scotswoman. Speaking of… Kay Lee Ray approaches her and says that she’s not here to make friends…
Cue a promo package of WALTER, featuring footage from 16 Carat Gold (and a lot of older wXw footage)… and I spied myself on here a few times too. Since he’s not had enough matches to tell the story in NXT UK, this was their way of showing you: WALTER is a killer.
Backstage again, Trent Seven’s interviewed by Radzi, who asks about his future. He’s not too thrilled at a comment Joe Coffey made, calling him dead weight. There’s a match in the not-too-distant future then.
Promo time with Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel, who’s watching that Kenny Williams/Amir Jordan skit from last week. Barthel blames the fans for thinking that it was entertaining… they’re going to go through Jordan and Williams as a step towards the tag titles… because the mat is sacred. I think I saw that on a scarf…
Mark Andrews vs. Noam Dar
This came from the promo Dar cut on his return to NXT UK a few weeks ago.
Dar started by taking Andrews into the corner, but the Welshman wouldn’t back down, before he flipped out of a snapmare. He responded by taking Dar into the ropes, but an armdrag misses as the pair reached an entertaining stalemate, as the pair remained really even. A 619-like kick in the ropes catches Dar, who then trips Andrews on the apron ahead of a low dropkick that took him outside. Dar rolls Andrews back inside, then took him back down with an armdrag for a near-fall, before he bounced Andrews off the top rope. The same happens again, this time with Andrews’ ankle as the crowd tried to get under Dar’s skin… and it looked to take him off his game as Andrews fought back, sliding underneath a clothesline before landing an enziguiri.
A Stomp 182 connects, before Dar powdered outside… and into a tope suicida! Andrews rolled him back in for a standing corkscrew moonsault for a near-fall… and it’s not long before they’re outside again! Albeit briefly, as Andrews took Dar back in, dropping him throat first over the top rope before a springboard was pushed away nearly by the Scotsman. Dar followed up on the outside with a cravat throw that sent Andrews into the ring steps. They make it back into the ring, where Andrews cracks Dar with a forearm, before a roll-up from Andrews led to a near-fall… Another Stomp 182 is stopped as Dar went for a knee bar, but a rope break saves Andrews.
Andrews pulls himself up to his feet, clearly feeling the effects… but was able to land an enziguiri before he scaled the ropes and landed as springboard Arabian press for a near-fall. The pair trade more strikes before Dar lands a cross-chop, then is forced to kick out of a backslide… a forearm to the back of Andrews looked to have Dar ahead, only for him to fall to a Stundog Millionaire for another near-fall… Andrews tries to follow up with a reverse ‘rana, only for him to inadvertently take out Dar’s knee as the Scotsman blocked it… and from there, referee Drake Wuertz throws up the dreaded X, as seemingly Andrews and Dar picked up injuries that forced the match to a premature end. They announce it as a no-contest as doctors and trainers hit the ring, as the pair had messed up their knees in that move. It’s a damn shame, and hopefully the injuries aren’t too severe – as this brought a really good match to a sour end. ***½
They show plenty of replays of the reverse ‘rana and the suspected injuries as Dar and Andrews got stretchered out.
Nigel and Vic are slightly chirpier as they tell us next week: Isla Dawn vs. Kay Lee Ray… and Joe Coffey vs. Trent Seven.
Our main event segment sees Johnny Saint and his mouthpiece Sid Scala head to the ring for the contract signing. WALTER’s (relatively) suited and booted for this, while Pete Dunne kept up his slightly-modernised Peaky Blinders gear for these occasions. Scala calls it the match European wrestling has been demanding for years… and then pitches it for WALTER to say some words. Except he just inks the contract. Pete then tells WALTER that he wants the match (well yeah, you literally asked for it), before saying that NXT UK belongs to him. I have a feeling that’s bravado… his part of the contract’s signed, as WALTER just sat and stared, before addressing “Peter”, telling him his time is running out. After telling Dunne he could put him through a table, he decided to use words, not violence, and promise that the NXT UK title was his. They pose… and that’s our show.
So, I’m guessing we’ll just get packages next week for the match, but this was another solid episode of NXT UK. I’ll be honest, but knowing the Dar/Andrews injuries took me out of the match, but they had a pretty good main event up until the unfortunate finish. Add in build for future matches, and the debut of the (sometimes) Viper, and you’ve got a streak of decent shows building up.