NXT UK hit its half century this week as Moustache Mountain finally got their shot at the tag titles.

We’re still at the Download Festival, opening with a recap of the Grizzled Young Veterans winning the tag titles at Takeover Blackpool back in January, and the path we’ve taken to get to this week’s rematch. Vic Joseph and Aiden English are on commentary again, acting confused when Rhea Ripley marched to the ring. There’s a referee there, which is handy, because the Aussie wants to wrestler Piper Niven now. That’s a hell of a bounce on the mic there, Rhea…

Rhea Ripley vs. Piper Niven
Piper charges to the ring as we got going with Ripley eating some forearms before she struck back, taking Niven into the corner… only to get caught with a running crossbody out of it.

Niven clotheslines Ripley to the outside, with Rhea taking a bad spill on her way down. Eventually Niven follows her outside, only to get charged into the apron as the Aussie kept on clubbering. After posting Niven, Ripley throws her back inside, but barely gets a one-count as she probably should have took the count-out. Ripley stomps a mudhole in Niven in the corner, before some bodyscissors on the mat led to a submission attempt. Rhea got a little too arrogant though, and began playing to the crowd… which opened the door for Niven to land a shotgun dropkick. But she too took her time with a Vader bomb, as Ripley pulled her down into the turnbuckles for a near-fall, before an inverted Cloverleaf ended when Piper hand-walked her way to the ropes.

Some trash talking ended when Ripley slapped Niven… you know what’s next. Piper resists an Irish whip and instead dropped her with a Saito suplex, before sidestepping a shoulder charge as Ripley ate the post. From there, a Piper Driver follows, and that’s enough for the win as Niven found her week wasn’t all too bad against wrestlers named Rhea. I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch, as both women brought their A-game here. Takeover, perhaps? ***½

Commentary muses whether Niven is next for a women’s title shot. Could be.

Outside, Media Glen’s interviewing Kenny Williams in the mud. He’s attacked by Noam Dar, who knocks him into the mud tracks, and rubs his head in the stuff. Be a Star, Noam, eh? Nothing like a bit of grappling in wellies…

A video package for Ilja Dragunov follows… he’s wrestling next week.

Jack Starz vs. Alexander Wolfe
Poor Jack. He looked so innocent in that match graphic. Wolfe gets the Imperium entrance, which looks odd as he stands below Fabian Aichner’s name in the not-a-boy-band lineup. Commentary say he’s found his Sanity since he joined Imperium, which is a cute line.

Starz tries to work the arm early, but he’s already overwhelmed by the bigger Wolfe, who had no problem taking him down in an armbar. A German suplex drops Starz with some venom, before some Irish whips see the Leicester native bounce off the corners… but Starz tries to fight back, only to run into a pump kick. A bodyslam drops Starz next, before he finally hit back with a hattrick of European uppercuts, only for Wolfe to rebound with a death valley driver and a sit-out powerbomb for the win. Very squashy, but Starz is fantastic in this role as a human tackling dummy. I’m not too sure how far Wolfe can progress in this brand, but I’m here to see the ride. **½

Earlier today, Wolfgang commandeers a camera crew into a Portakabin. Gallus are moaning about the standard of accomodation before Wolfgang chases the cameraman out. We’ve got Gallus vs. The Hunt and Dave Mastiff next week.

There’s a Toni Storm vignette next as Vic and Aiden gush over her title run. She’s back in action next week.

Jazzy Gabert vs. Dani Luna & Mercedes Blaze
Dani and Mercedes got the “already in the ring” treatment, which may tip you off about how this is going to go. Gabert’s got some superhero-like music, which reminds of Justin Sysum. Remember WOS?

Gabert starts by slamming Luna, before she threw her into the corner to force Blaze to tag in. She hesitates, so Jazzy just brings her in the hard way, then squashes Mercedes in the corner as Jinny looked on with glee. Dani attacks Jazzy from behind, which ranks high in the list of things You Probably Should Not Do. Dani tries a crossbody, but she just bounced off of Jazzy, before Jinny told her to end things, as a Dominator put away Blaze. They both got the Mischa East in EVE treatment. Splat.

From there, we’re taken a pre-taped package with Kassius Ohno, who says that NXT UK is in a state of emergency. He’s here to bring the European style to the brand, while he ran through the “founding five” of the brand… focusing on Mark Andrews, calling himself the stepchild of the brand. We’re getting Andrews vs. Ohno then, as Kassius is insistent on calling himself the “best British wrestler in the world”. Umm…

I never knew “six bearded brawls” were a thing. Is it anything like a Pier Six brawl?

NXT UK Tag Team Championship: Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) (c)
If I didn’t know better, I’d say the champions’ music got some iffy dubbing, because there was something funky going on there.

Gibson tries to restrain Tyler early with a wristlock, but it’s quickly broken… only for the champions to swarm him as Tyler… used a hiptoss to take James Drake down. There be no feeling out process here! Trent’s in to come in with a crossbody to Drake, but there’s a blind tag to Gibson as the champions were staying a step ahead. Chops from Trent sting, as does a floatover suplex, but the champions rebounded, taking Trent outside for that double-team backbreaker as Tyler Bate could only try and cheerlead from the floor. Back inside, a modified Cobra clutch keeps Trent down, as Gibson and Drake used submissions to keep Trent at bay. Try as he might, Trent’s fightback was snuffed out instantly as he was taken into the corner, before he eventually made the hot tag to Tyler, who went wild with clotheslines.

Gibson tries a charge, but Bate caught him and turned it into an overhead belly-to-belly, following up with a running shooting star press. Drake runs in to stop a Tyler Driver, but can’t avoid his share of a double ‘rana as Tyler took them outside for a plancha. Back in the ring, Trent helps with a powerbomb, but James Drake’s distraction held up the start of the count sufficiently for Gibson to kick out at two. Trent tags back in but he blocks the rebound lariat from Bate, as they double teamed him out of the match… Trent Seven’s legal though, and turned around into Gibson’s Ticket to Ride as he was well and truly planted. Drake’s brought back in for a nice double-team legdrop to the back of Trent’s head, but it’s not enough to put away the elder statesman of British Strong Style!

Some sparring from Drake was stopped by a Seven Star lariat from Trent, before Tyler’s brought back in to box his way past Drake. In amid the flurry, Gibson gets the blind tag as the momentum of this match began to swing wildly. Another blind tag from Trent led to a swandive headbutt from Bate, before a Burning Hammer almost led to the finish… but Zack barely kicks out just in time! Well, that’s got the crowd wild… but just as Moustache Mountain were looking to finish it off, Imperium storm the ring and lay waste to Trent and Tyler as the match was waved off. This was just starting to get real good, but I guess it leaves the door open for a big time rematch down the line. ***¾

Alexander Wolfe handcuffs Trent Seven (symbolism?) to the corner as the crowd was chanting for Pete Dunne. He wasn’t coming, as Trent had to watch WALTER Just dismantle Tyler Bate with powerbombs onto the apron and the floor as the show went off air with Imperium standing tall while Trent shouted in vain for the key to his cuffs… all while Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 IV played in the background, as if this were some scary movie.

This was a really good episode of NXT UK – sandwiched by really good matches, this episode saw Imperium establish themselves as a rather violent force – rather than one that just stood by and declared about how the mat is sacred. Make no mistake, Imperium aren’t around to be cheered – they’ll take your heroes and make examples of them.