The big push to Cardiff starts here as the countdown to Takeover began in earnest!

One day, the Network will create a new trailer for “the brand new brand” that’s coming up to a year old… Anyway, after many weeks at Download, we’re in a new venue. It’s a familiar one – they’re back at the Plymouth Pavilions, which was used for tapings last October in shows that aired in late 2018/early 2019. Nigel McGuinness is back on commentary as well, having sat out Download, as he’s alongside Vic Joseph.

We open with Sid Scala and… he’s alive! Johnny Saint! Sid does the talking as he hypes up Takeover: Cardiff while Johnny tries to keep a straight face. The Takeover hype’s interrupted by Imperium, with Marcel Barthel telling Sid and Johnny that they’re “not in charge anymore”. Imperium try to bully the GM and his assistant, as WALTER demands to find out who his opponent is. Cue Tyler Bate’s music, as Aichner, Barthel and Wolfe try to head him off at the pass… but Tyler comes through the crowd and attacks WALTER from behind. That “Plant Life” t-shirt is giving me ideas for him being a vegan John Cena… referees come out as WALTER and Bate slug it out, as some of the lower level roster guys also were called into action. That led to Tyler Bate vs. WALTER being made for the title…

I’m not quite sure why they’re plugging Takeover’s start time in the GMT time zone, when we’re still in British Summer Time. They’ve copied more from New Japan, eh?

Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) vs. Pretty Deadly (Lewis Howley & Sam Stoker)
Howley and Stoker get the full music and entrance treatment here… and I swear the crowd made more noise for them in that barn in Milton Keynes than they did here.

Wolfgang charged into Pretty Deadly at the bell, as Lewis Howley’s attempt to evade the Scotsman… didn’t go to plan. Ground and pound keeps Howley on the mat. Tags bring in Mark Coffey and Sam Stoker, as again Gallus kept their opponents on the defensive, working into a nice double-team monkey flip to Stoker. Eventually a tag’s made to Howley, but he quickly falls to a slam as Gallus completed the dominant squash – thanks for coming, but at least your red leather trousers stood out. **

After the match, Mark Coffey took the mic and declared that Gallus were challenging the Grizzled Young Veterans and their titles. Hmm.

Jordan Devlin walks into Sid Scala backstage, angry how Tyler Bate walked in and got himself a title match. He gets a match in the main event tonight, against Alexander Wolfe. I like how they’re continuing to swerve Devlin away from title shots here… now, if only they can parlay this into sympathy with the crowd. Or even just explain why they’re denying the bad guy?

Backstage… it’s Media Jim interviewing Dave Mastiff. Dave’s been speaking to Johnny Saint, as he’s got a match with Joe Coffey next week.

Dani Luna vs. Rhea Ripley
Ripley charges into Luna with a big boot at the bell, taking her into the corner for some shoulder charges. The referee distracts Rhea as Dani fought back, only to get pancaked by the Aussie. Kicks and forearms keep Luna down, before a dropkick snuffed out Luna’s latest glimmer of hope, as Ripley quickly put her away with Riptide. We’re 2-2 on squashes this week then, as Ripley stays firmly in the bracket marked “really could do with moving onto full-fat NXT”. **

We’ve got promo pieces to recap Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray’s career together – covering their time together in Japan, being best of friends over there. Talk turned to how Kay Lee’s debut in NXT UK didn’t go as planned for Toni, as Kay Lee herself tells us things have changed… but doesn’t elaborate on what Toni’s done to cause it. Toni’s confident she’ll win in Cardiff, but Kay Lee Ray’s going to get under her skin and leave with the title. This was a good little piece, but could have done with being longer – with more focus on their past before NXT UK…

There’s a video package of Eddie Dennis having surgery following his latest/recent injury. It’s a well spoken promo from Eddie, which took me back to the vignettes he had for his debut, as he blamed the “self-entitled fans” for the injury. Heck, some of this felt like the shades of grey stuff from his feud with Mark Andrews in PROGRESS.

Next week: Piper Niven & Xia Brookside face Jinny & Jazzy Gabert…

Jordan Devlin vs. Alexander Wolfe
I think some of the crowd thought they were getting WALTER/Devlin, judging by the “oohs” for start of the not-RINGKAMPF theme…

The crowd self-police themselves to shout down the “shit Finn Balor” chants early on, as Wolfe looked to work over Devlin’s arm. A slap from Devlin sees him anger Wolfe, before he scarpered… but back in the ring, Wolfe keeps up the offence, using uppercuts and forearms to keep Devlin down. Nigel McGuinness compares Wolfe to Josh Barnett, just as Devlin scored with a back elbow and diving double knees as he looked to turn the tide. Wolfe puts the blocks on to deny an Air Jordan, before an over-the-shoulder backbreaker left Devlin in a heap. An abdominal stretch wears down Devlin some more, with Wolfe ripping away on the ribs for good measure.

Devlin got free and looked for a slingshot cutter… but he’s just caught and rudely dumped across the ropes as Wolfe continued to dominate proceedings. Christ, that landing from the rebound could have been so much worse… Finally Devlin manages to find some momentum, wheelbarrow rolling Wolfe into a double stomp, before he landed the Air Jordan combination… but the damage to the midriff was slowing down Jordan. He’s able to sidestep a charge into the corner as the slingshot cutter comes off for a near-fall, before the pair went back and forth with the forearms. Devlin looked for a Destroyer, but instead he had to counter out of a powerbomb, landing a headbutt in return before he grabbed hold of Wolfe’s wrist. The ribs give out again as Jordan went for the Devlinside, so he just proceeded to kick and stomp away at Wolfe’s head, before he got stopped by a forearm.

A standing Spanish Fly is next as Devlin countered Wolfe’s clothesline for a near-fall. Another exchange ends with a German suplex, with Wolfe bridging for a two-count as both men looked for a finish… but in the end, a head kick from Devlin dropped Wolfe as the Irishman looked to go up top for a moonsault… he misses and ends up getting decked with a pump kick instead, before a Ligerbomb got Wolfe a rare win. I’m sure you’re shocked to learn that this was only Wolfe’s second ever TV win under the WWE banner – at least in singles matches – and it was a pretty good main event, with Wolfe winning this clean as they try to build him up as something more than “Imperium’s newest member”. ***½

After the match, Media Jim’s back to ask about what he just saw… but instead, Tyler’s more focused on getting revenge on WALTER as he looked way too close to the camera. Tyler’s going for the WWE UK title… and he’s going to embarrass WALTER on the road to being a two-time champion as we fade out.

In terms of the bell-to-bell, this was a light week for NXT UK as the hype and focus is being put on the storylines for Takeover: Cardiff in a month. Tyler Bate getting his shot makes sense after he’d been put on the shelf by WALTER a few weeks ago, and especially since WALTER’s gradually been running through British Strong Style. We’ve got four weeks of TV before Cardiff – and if this sticks to the usual Takeover-level of a five-match card, then there’s not too much more to lock down. There’s something I’ve noticed in these last few weeks of NXT UK – in that the run times of these shows have been slowly decreasing. The early days of NXT UK were short, with the speculation being that they were originally edited “in case” they were able to broadcast them on UK TV. Now, I’ve not heard anything even close to speculation, but given that these tapings are formatted out, there’s not much to stop them from throwing in another squash match or segment in these “light weeks”… so perhaps this isn’t a big coincidence?