This week, NXT UK began another outing with their bigger brother, as they headed to New York for the start of their WrestleMania weekend tapings…
You know, I have no clue why the “live” feed of NXT UK’s always sponsored by Cricket. A mobile phone company that doesn’t exist in the UK. Target markets, eh? Anyway, we’re at Axxess in Brooklyn, with the usual commentary team of Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph.
Coffey Brothers (Mark Coffey & Joe Coffey) vs. Raul Mendoza & Humberto Carrillo
Absolute SILENCE greets Gallus for this NXT vs. NXT UK match. To be fair the luchadores of Mendoza and Carrillo barely get a better reaction.
We’ve an awkward battle as Mendoza tries to force a high pace, only for Mark Coffey to put some brakes on as Joe Coffey came in and charged into Carrillo with a charging headbutt after the 205 Live guy missed a moonsault. A full nelson from Joe Coffey forces Carrillo to fight back from the mat, only to get caught in a butterfly Giant Swing and a suplex for a near-fall. This crowd cares so little, we don’t even get the obnoxious “sweets” here. Things turn around with topes to the Coffeys, which barely raised a peep from the crowd as I kinda get distracted by the maintenance guys looking under seats in the crowd. They go as Joe Coffey has to make a save as Mendoza was about to win with a moonsault, before an uppercut in the ropes to Raul has him on jelly legs as Awra Best for the Bells gets the Coffeys the win. Functional, and a decent enough match, but you know what my gripe is going to be here: dead crowds make for a tough watch. **½
Kassius Ohno is being interview by Glen Joseph, who has trouble with the name. Ohno wants to bring an authentic wrestling style to NXT UK, regardless of what results it brings. Ohno’s gunning for Ligero, calling him “quantity over quality”.
There’s clips of WALTER beating Pete Dunne at Takeover: New York, as we get talking heads building up the rematch. Flash Morgan Webster, Amir Jordan, Cathy Kelley and Mark Andrews all talk up the instant rematch. Hey, there’s Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel too, with no opinion, while Jordan Devlin’s interrupted by WALTER as he gave his take. They have a staredown, and I so hope THAT is happening soon.
Kona Reeves vs. Dave Mastiff
This was Mastiff’s first appearance on NXT UK since he beat Primate/Jay Melrose in the weeks after Takeover: Blackpool. He gets a shaky camera, so I guess WWE gave the Blackcraft camera guy a try-out here… Mastiff’s all over Reeves early, throwing in a nice big back body drop, before we got a jump cut after Reeves hung Mastiff over the top rope. A running knee gets Kona a near-fall, before he tried to restrain Mastiff with a submission attempt… but the big guy stands free and comes back with a crossbody to bring him down, and it’s not long before Mastiff finished him off with a cannonball. Exactly what you’d expect – and after a few months off, Mastiff’s back to winning ways. **¼
Selfie promo time: Mark Andrews and a way-too-happy Flash Morgan Webster have a team name: South Wales Subculture. They’re wrestling Moustache Mountain in a few weeks then…
Backstage, Wolfgang takes offence at Dave Mastiff being called a strongman. They exchange words, and have a pull-apart.
Kacy Catanzaro vs. Rhea Ripley
We’ve a David vs. Goliath-type encounter here as Ripley was trying to overpower Catanzaro, who actually got the crowd going with her acrobatics. Ripley manages to neutralise those with clubbing forearms, before a stalling suplex nearly got the Aussie the win. A crucifix is blocked by Ripley, who then caught a crossbody as Catanzaro’s lack of size just made her a target… but she’s able to counter back with a small package for a near-fall, before a leapover’s caught and turned into Riptide for the win. Squashy, but Catanzaro at least got this crowd going, so that’s a huge positive. **½
Backstage, Ripley tries to intimidate Kacy, but she’s stopped by Piper Niven… we then swish to Radzi trying to interview Jinny, but she has no words.
Next week: Kassius Ohno vs. Ligero and Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster vs. Trent Seven & Tyler Bate…
Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) vs. Amir Jordan & Kenny Williams
It seems Amir didn’t quite politic hard enough to make this a title match… Zack Gibson gets some heat from the crowd, but it’s barely lukewarm, let alone nuclear heat, as he tells us he’d demanded their opponents tonight be from the NXT UK roster.
Gibson works over Jordan’s wrist early, but Amir has more luck when James Drake came in, propelling Drake into the ropes with a high monkey flip. That seemed to be about the sum of their offence for a while though, as some double-teaming from the champions left Jordan and Williams down and out… not helped when Gibson took Kenny into the guard rails on the outside. Drake manages to get some licks in as a suplex and a chinlock has Williams on the mat, as does a chinbar, all while a knock to Gibson left him down on the outside. With no help, Drake’s forced to survive some double-teaming as the wannabe contenders made a dent, only for Zack to make a save by pulling out Drake as a senton bomb almost led to a win… and it did. Albeit by count-out, as Gibson took Drake to the back as the champions took the L. Well, this was fun in parts, with Jordan and Williams having a good spell 2-on-1 against Drake, and I’ve a feeling this isn’t the last we’re going to see of this match. ***
Glen’s interviewing Pete Dunne, asking him what’s next. Seems Peter’s a little salty about losing the belt, but he’s ready for another chase, as he’s gone from “give me WALTER” to “give me my rematch”, as we close out with eight minutes left in the hour.
Unlike the Royal Rumble shows, this episode of NXT UK didn’t drag too badly. Yeah, there’s the perma-complaint about dead crowds and a general lack of investment which perhaps shows just how little this brand’s penetrating WWE’s fanbase outside of the UK, but at least we had some storyline progression rather than “running on the spot” shows… and for that, I cannot handwave this as a waste of air. Is it must-see? Probably not, but then again, that’s the status quo for NXT UK’s weekly TV, it seemss.