With Takeover in Cardiff this weekend, NXT UK played host to the final push for eyeballs on that’ll be a stacked weekend of wrestling.
We’re still in Plymouth, with Nigel and Vic on the commentary headsets.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Tyson T-Bone
This is a real match. T-Bone’s back to his Grand Theft Auto-like video as this could well have happened in Preston had NXT UK not been a thing.
From the opening tie-up, Dragunov’s taken into the corner for a clean break, before his attempt at a leaping crossbody was caught… but Ilja squirms and took T-Bone off his feet anyway. A back fist and a back senton has T-Bone down again, before his Cravat was broken up in the corner, with T-Bone this time cheapshotting on the break. T-Bone wrenches away on Dragunov’s arm, throwing in some clubbing blows to the chest for good measure, before Ilja looked to mount a comeback with some headscissors… only for T-Bone to squash him with a crossbody. A half nelson suplex flips Ilja inside out quickly for a near-fall… as Ilja again mounted a comeback, scoring with another backfist then an arm whip.
A swivelling lariat follows, as does the Konstantin Spezial, but it’s not enough as I curse whomever coined “6-1-line”. T-Bone misses a charge into the corner, as his shoulder hits the post, before Ilja capitalised with a back senton off the top… which acted as a prelude to the Torpedo Moscau as he bounced off T-Bone for the win. A perfectly fine, if not a skippable TV match. Ilja Dragunov is seemingly the Keith Lee of NXT UK – he’s around, but there’s clearly no plans yet. **¾
They play a video package for Kay Lee Ray vs. Toni Storm on Saturday – focusing on Toni winning the NXT UK women’s title, then scant mention of her defences. My WWE Network black screened during it, which was nice…
Jack Gallagher’s backstage wanting to know who’s best at British wrestling: he or Kassius Ohno. He claims that his foot was under the rope in his last match with Ohno, which I’m sure you all remember. Next week, they rematch.
Joseph Conners vs. Oliver Carter
Those are some fancy snakeskin-like tights Joseph. It’s a NXT UK debut for Carter, who got a charitable reaction, but a bit of a beating from the off.
Conners clubs Carter into the ropes, but the Swiss-Ghanaian comes back with a back body drop before he had to abort a Quebrada. Conners gets thrown outside as he not-so-silently seethes… after some buffering, Conners is again clubbing away on Carter, taking him into the corner ahead of a short-arm clothesline for a two-count. A Rings of Saturn gets used to keep Carter on the mat, before he whipped Carter into the ropes for a headbutt. For a debut, this is certainly very auspicious on Oliver’s part. Way to get slotted on day one. Carter begins to fight back, landing a gamengiri on the apron before he headed up top for a Meteora… following up with some clotheslines for good measure.
From there, Conners takes an overhead belly-to-belly, then a rewind enziguiri as Carter looked to snatch the win. A leg sweep has Conners down again, but he avoids a Quebrada and comes up all bloody-mouthed to quickly polish off the debutant with the Don’t Look Down. Welcome to midcard ignominy, Oliver… **½
They run down the card for Takeover:
Noam Dar vs. Travis Banks
Last Man Standing: Joe Coffey vs. Dave Mastiff
NXT UK Tag Team Championships: Gallus (Wolfgang & Mark Coffey) vs. South Wales Sub Culture (Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Andrews) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake)
NXT UK Women’s Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Toni Storm (c)
WWE UK Championship: Tyler Bate vs. WALTER (c)
They cut to footage from after Raw, where Cesaro revealed he’d be at Takeover: Cardiff. If they don’t somehow finagle a Kings of Wrestling reunion, they’ve looked a gift horse in the mouth.
A video pack recaps Piper Niven’s clashes with Rhea Ripley – they’ll face off on NXT UK next week.
Kenny Williams vs. Jordan Devlin
This was built last week when Devlin was more than a little sour at not being on the Takeover card. Me and you both.
Williams starts out with some wristlocks, before Devlin took him down with ease using a waistlock… throwing in a slap to the back of the head for the hell of it. A knuckle lock follows as Williams managed to throw Devlin to the mat, before a rebound sunset flip nearly ended things. Another back body drop propelled Devlin into the sky as a clothesline takes him outside, where he threatened to walk to the back… only for Williams to give chase and fight him back towards the ring, via some uppercuts around ringside. Devlin switches around, charging Williams into the ring apron as the referee randomly stopped the count so he could split up their fight… that’s… a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Especially as he then restarts the count at one so Kenny could bravely beat it.
He rolls into the ring as Devlin made a point of working the midsection, but it got a little too patterned as Devlin nearly lost to a roll-up… before he dropped Williams with a knee to the gut. Devlin follows that up with a torture rack, which back in the day used to finish folks, but here it’s just something for Williams to fight out of. A PK to the back just seems to fire up the Scotsman, who worked back in with PKs of his own for a near-fall. Devlin’s taken outside for a Wrecking Ball dropkick, then a tope before Devlin again rolled out of harm’s way. Williams goes after him again, but just has the rope twanged into him before he teased a Spanish Fly off the apron.
Williams clung into the ring post to save himself, shoving Devlin down before they headed back in, this time connecting with another back elbow, before a wheelbarrow attempt from Williams got countered into a half nelson suplex as both men were left laying. Williams tries to respond with a rebound lariat, but instead runs into the path of a standing Spanish fly as the crowd actually got into this. From there, Devlin heads up top, but Williams slips out of a Fireman’s carry and brought the Irishman down with a top rope ‘rana, before the wheelbarrow facebuster finally connected for a near-fall. A headlock driver’s next, but Devlin fights free, shoving Williams chest-first into the turnbuckles before Devlin went up top for a moonsault to the back of Williams. Still not enough. Some kicks from Devlin soften up Williams though as the Devlinside awaits… and that’s enough. More even than you’d expect given these guys’ relative placings on the roster, but this was a heck of a TV main event, which plenty of call-backs to their prior meetings. ***½
The show looked to end with a video package for Bate/WALTER, focusing on Imperium’s formation and how they had the numbers advantage over British Strong Style this year – really, you should just X out here and watch the Prime Target special instead. That was so much better.
Instead though, we end with the Grizzled Young Veterans hitting the ring complaining about the “rib” being played on them because South Wales Sub Culture got added to the tag title match at Takeover. Zack’s unhappy at how singles matches seemed to be a qualifier here, and he’s quickly interrupted by Gallus… my God, they’re literally rushing guys to the ring here. What on EARTH? Webster and Andrews hit the ring, as Flash headbutts Gibson to spark a brawl among the three teams, focusing on Gallus and the champions as the show faded to black.
Another by-the-numbers week of TV, which barely differentiated itself as the “go home” episode of NXT UK by virtue of the video packages they aired throughout. This show’s really starting to get the feel of 205 Live in that the matches are usually good, but you can’t really escape the feeling that, right now, nothing matters here.