The first of the NXT UK shows from Download Festival was on tap this week, as a battle royal crowned a new contender for Toni Storm.
We open with a recap of Imperium’s win last week, before we’re taken inside a warehouse/tent inside Donington Park. Aiden English and Vic Joseph are on commentary because Nigel McGuinness isn’t here…
Kenny Williams vs. Kassius Ohno
I pop for the “wrestling genius Kassius Ohno” shirt. It’s straight out of the 70s. Ohno looks to ground Williams early on, going after the Scotsman’s arm, but he can’t keep on it for long as Williams broke free and tried to up the pace. He’s quickly caught in the ropes as Ohno pulled him into the strands as the more experienced Ohno lowered the pace again. Chants of “please don’t eat him” rang out as I wondered if the situation at Download was so bad that cannibalism was a better option. Williams, perhaps sensing that, took Ohno outside for a dive, before he ended up back inside, caught with a rolling elbow in the ropes for an emphatic win. Ohno revelled in that win, having taken the Scotsman apart for a fair part of the match. ***
Ohno quickly ran to the back when the Imperium quartet’s music hit. That entrance video’s kinda like a boy band – everyone has to be in the right order… the Germans (along with the Austrian and Italian) hit the ring, as Barthel tells the crowd that they’re not there to entertain. Aichner tells us the addition of Wolfe makes them “complete”… and of course, the crowd chant “Sanity” at him. WALTER addresses Travis Banks as a “kid in the playground”, and that drew out the Kiwi, whose entrance video now has the New Zealand flag on, just in case you were confused. Banks tells WALTER to bring his A-game for their match next week. That’s shockingly quick.
Media Glen interviews Noam Dar to ask if he feigned injury. Noam stops to mockingly applaud Kenny Williams outside a Portakabin, before offering Kenny a spot as his “support act”.
The Hunt (Wild Boar & Primate) vs. Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang)
This one started out a wild scrap, with the Hunt being taken outside for dives early as the Scotsmen wheeled away.
Things calm down somewhat, with Wolfgang hitting a running/diving elbow on Boar before he grounded him with an overhead wristlock. The crowd was incredibly even between pro- and anti-Gallus, which didn’t do much to help raise up the Hunt as they tried to fight back. A full nelson on Boar’s broken up as he’s just hurled into the corner, before Boar finally got free and tagged in Primate to wheel away on Wolfgang. The crowd got into Primate’s comeback, but the Geordie’s got to fight back from a distraction before he took down Wolfgang with a back body drop.
Mark Coffey neutralised Boar with a spear tackle into the ring steps, leaving Primate in there on his own as an assisted slam led to the win. This started out as a hot brawl, but petered out a bit towards the end as another high-ish profile loss was racked up for the animalistic Hunt. **¾
Post-match, Boar tries to fight back… but he’s overcome by the Gallus trio only for Dave Mastiff to make the save as Gallus backed down from the big man.
Backstage, Radzi tells us that Moustache Mountain get their tag title shot in a fortnight. Luckily they’re with him, as they revealed that Pete Dunne wasn’t there, but they’re confident of winning those tag titles.
Battle Royal for NXT UK Women’s Title Shot
Out for this one were: Xia Brookside, Jinny, Jazzy Gabert, Kay Lee Ray, Piper Niven and Rhea Ripley. Candy Floss, Isla Dawn, Kanji, Killer Kelly, Nina Samuels and Rhio all came out during the commercial break.
The early going saw people try to gang up on Jazzy, but she gets rid of some of the newer faces early, tossing out Rhio, then Kanji (who didn’t get named). Jazzy continued to get the monster treatment as she dished out a Dominator to Candy Floss, but was made to step aside as Jinny underscored it with an elimination. There’s some, shall we say “not-woke” chants from the Download crowd as Piper Niven and Xia Brookside combined to eliminate Jazzy… much to Jinny’s disgust. Her plan’s fallen apart! Jinny tries to fight back, but Niven, Brookside and Isla Dawn triple team her, with those last two looking to throw her out… only for Jazzy to make the save and take Jinny back in.
Not to worry, Xia just threw Jinny out moments later.
Killer Kelly tries her luck with Ripley, but ended up getting hot shotted and thrown out of the ring. Isla Dawn’s thrown out too as we’re left with Ripley, Brookside, Samuels and Niven as the final four… well, final three, as Nina was turfed out by Piper, so we were left with a trio that all had business with each other. Niven and Ripley trade right hands, but it’s a cannonball from the Scotswoman that had Rhea in trouble. A Vader Bomb looked to be next, but Ripley gets up and shoved Piper onto the apron… the favour’s returned, as Xia Brookside came in and dropkicked the pair of them to the floor. But of course, we have to have the “wait, X wasn’t eliminated” trope, as Kay Lee Ray appeared from nowhere and threw out Xia. This was decent for a battle royal, but bookers: come up with another battle royal finish. This one’s worn out. **¾
Overall, this was a solid episode – with a hot (if not questionable, at times) crowd. A good start to the run at the Download Festival, complete with some big matches set for the weeks ahead.