We’ve another NXT UK double-header – and this week starts with Pete Dunne defending the UK title once more, this time against Danny Burch.
Once again there’s no pre-show piece, as we crash to titles as we’re still in Cambridge. Well, we aren’t, but neither are Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph…
Dave Mastiff vs. Damien Weir
Hey, I think I know that guy in the ring. “Bomber” Dave Mastiff’s opponent here may be better known under another name. He looks scared… as did Vic Joseph as he mangled in a Yorkshire pudding reference.
We start with Weir bouncing off of Mastiff, before he got flattened with a body splash. A stalling suplex follows, with Mastiff not leaving his feet as he throws down Du… erm, Weir. The crowd are right, that’s not fun! Weir’s dragged into the corner and met with a cannonball… and that’s all folks. A certified SQUASH.
From there it’s to Vic and Nigel in front of the green screen, as they recap last week’s main event… or more specifically, the uniting of the Scots as the Coffeys and Wolfgang ganged together.
We’ve a sit-down promo with Ligero. He speaks with a really well put-on Yorkshire accent for a Mexican… and that segues into a promo for James Drake as they are in action… next! Well, after another Jinny promo anyway. Perhaps three in a row is laying it on a little thick?
Danny Burch is warming up backstage. Time for a match?
Ligero vs. James Drake
Yeah, the “arse face” chants followed Drake to Cambridge…
We start with Ligero taking him into the ropes as we got a clean break, but Drake hits back, catching Ligero in the corner with some forearms to the head. Ligero has forearms and chops of his own, before a leaping leg lariat barely gets Ligs a one-count. Ligero switches in and out of waistlocks, before he’s thrown throat-first into the ropes as Drake found a way back in with some body blows, but he’s got a long way to wear down Ligero as a grounded Million Dollar Dream gave commentary time to plug the November NXT tapings.
Drake ripcords out of the hold as he knees Ligero in the gut, but a Code Red out of nowhere almost gets Ligero the win. Ligero can’t follow-up though as Drake clings onto the arm to slow the luchador down, before he trips him into the corner ahead of a running dropkick that left Ligero with nowhere to go. Somehow Ligero gets up at two from that, and instantly hits back with the C4L tornado DDT for the win. A decent back-and-forth TV match, but in spite of their ability, you got the sense Ligero’s going to be slotted as a cult favourite midcarder. **¾
Radzi’s backstage to plug Toni Storm’s match with Dakota Kai “next week”. Oops. The pair end up face-to-face as they talked about the upcoming NXT UK Women’s championship. Kai promises to be better than Toni… in a friendly fight.
Ashton Smith promo time. We’re getting a LOT of these. Apparently Smith is in action next… but we then have a Zack Gibson promo ahead of his match with the “Bhangra Bad Boy” Amir Jordan. He vows to get past Jordan as his path to the top continued.
Ashton Smith comes out for his match… but he’s jumped by the Coffeys and Wolfgang on the stage. Smith’s thrown to the back as his match is chalked off, and instead we get some Scottish in-ring promos. The crowd mock their accent with a chant of “oh, what are you saying?”, to which Joe Coffey replied “no-one likes us and we don’t care.” Fair enough. Cue the “what?” chants, but Joe powers through them as he vowed that he and his countrymen would be gatekeepers in NXT UK… before promising to take out British Strong Style. Wolfgang and Mark Coffey didn’t say a word and just stood there throughout.
Radzi’s backstage again as Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews want to see the GM. Everyone’s wearing NXT UK shirts because I guess that’s all they had ready? Nobody stands out wearing them. Ashton Smith walks in licking his wounds, and I guess we’re setting up a trios match against the Scotsmen?
Sid Scala vs. Eddie Dennis
Scala survived being murdered by Dave Mastiff a few weeks ago… I doubt he’ll fare much better here. The debuting Eddie Dennis had his PROGRESS music, and seemed to have Scala quivering in his boots.
A boot to the gut knocks Scala down from the off as Eddie puts the boots to him. Scala tries to fight back with some forearms, but Eddie overpowers him and decks him with a forearm of his own. A back elbow takes Scala down as Eddie racked up the near-falls, then slows it down with a cravat, throwing in some knees to the head, then a knee drop.
Eddie keeps screaming “I’ve waited a decade for this”, as he seemed to think that Scala was beneath him… it prompted another fightback with Scala scoring with a crossbody off the top for just a one-count, before Eddie countered some mounted punches and turned it into the Severn Bridge buckle bomb. One Next Stop Driver later, and that’s a relatively easy win for Eddie. Almost a competitive squash, but I guess we can’t have too many people steamrolling through the roster. Eddie’s got the same sort of character he’s got around the UK, and it’ll be interesting to see how the story plays out here. **½
“Next week” we’ve Toni Storm vs. Dakota Kai. Oh, and a tweet from Johnny Saint confirming the triple threat “next week”. When producing shows so far in advance backfire… they backfire badly when you’re watching live!
NXT United Kingdom Championship: Danny Burch vs. Pete Dunne (c)
I guess the mobile camera went wrong as we just had the hard camera for Burch’s entrance, seeing him wander in-and-out of shot. That was odd. These two have had two prior singles meetings, once in NXT and once for Rev Pro – both were won by Dunne.
When we get going, we start with the almost-obligatory tie-up as Dunne’s taken to the mat in a hammerlock as they grapple in the opening moments. Burch reaches for a rope break as Dunne looked for a leg, as the match remained somewhat tentative, with Dunne looking for his opening.
Dunne starts to work over Burch’s arm, standing on one hand and wrenching away on the other. Burch tried to return the favour, but Dunne gets to the ropes and clocks his challenger with a forearm as the focus resumed on the veteran’s arm once again. There’s another escape as Burch pulls down Dunne into a leapfrog, but the champion gets to the ropes quickly as a crossface was teased.
Again, Dunne picks his shot, twisting Burch’s ankle on the apron before landing an apron X-Plex. Burch returns to the ring, but he can’t escape more arm work as Dunne kicks away the arm, then hits an Indian deathlock-style move to the same body part. It’s not flashy, but it’s very effective offence from Dunne, restricting Burch to hopeful chops more than anything else. Those chops slowly grew though, with Burch chaining in some European uppercuts and an enziguiri before heading up top for a missile dropkick that almost turned into a full-on John Woo! A Matt Riddle-like powerbomb and Tiger knee nearly gets Burch the relative upset, as the crowd burst into “UK” chants while Dunne absorbed then delivered forearms.
There’s an enziguiri from Dunne in the corner as he went back to work, stomping on Burch’s arm. That tactic backfires again as Dunne looks for a stomp on the ring step, but Burch escapes and pulls Dunne to the floor for a German suplex. Back inside again, Dunne’s got a triangle armbar that Burch escapes as he bucklebomb’d Dunne, sending the champion onto the apron. It forces Burch to bring him back in the hard way, taking him up top as there’s a teased German superplex…
…but Dunne twists the fingers to get himself free, only for Burch to hit the release German superplex anyway! NICE! There’s a delayed cover, which means Burch can only get a near-fall, as both men pulled themselves back up for another slugfest. An enziguiri from Dunne catches Burch as he X-Plexes his challenger into an armbar… but Burch escapes into a crossface as they’re getting frantic.
Back-and-forth forearms led to Dunne flipping out of a German suplex, only to get clocked with a clothesline as Burch flipped him inside out. Dunne grabs hold of Burch’s arm and traps him for some stomps as the champion looked to be ahead… only to get clocked with a headbutt and a Tower of London elevated DDT! It’s not enough though, and Burch looks to go for a crossface… only for Dunne to roll out… but Burch rolls with him! The hold’s still on, so Dunne tries to tweak the fingers to get free.
It doesn’t work as Burch clings on, almost squeaking out a tap before Dunne slipped out… and he’s straight into a Bitter End which gets a near-fall. Dunne reapplies the triangle armbar, focusing on Burch’s injured arm, and after some finger tweaking the challenger’s left with no option but to tap. An epic main event, as Dunne’s sneaky-good 2018 just rolls on! ***¾
Post-match, there’s a begrudging nod of respect between the two as the show goes off the air with Dunne posing with the belt between his teeth.
A solid episode of NXT UK, but with a pair of squashes the focus was definitely on the main event. Did it deliver? Just about – it’s perhaps not one of Dunne’s better matches of the year, but it was still a high-quality outing from the UK champion. Whether the crowd really believed throughout the match that Burch was capable of getting the win though… is probably a subjective thing!
“Next week” (ahem) we wrap up the Cambridge shows… so let’s get onto them!