After sixty one episodes, NXT UK finally gives us an old-school British wrestling match – as Sid Scala and Kassius Ohno locked horns again.
We’re still in Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, as we open with a recap of Sid Scala replacing Jack Gallagher on the post-Takeover episode… along with the talking heads as we build up to tonight’s British Rounds match. Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness remain on commentary. Nigel, clearly exclusive to all forms of NXT. He’ll regret that if and when NXTs Japan and Mexico open.
Travis Banks vs. Tyson T-Bone
A rematch from a match that aired back in January – T-Bone will be hoping to last longer than two minutes this time.
T-Bone takes Banks into the corner from the off, but he’s quickly met with right hands along with the boots of banks. Another switcharound backfires as Banks wallops T-Bone with running uppercuts, before a low dropkick kept T-Bone rocked. Some Snake Eyes and a leaping crossbody got T-Bone back into it, following up with some elbows and stomps of his own, before some body blows had Banks looking for the ropes.
A slam gets T-Bone a two-count, before he looked to wear down Banks with a stranglehold, following that with a back suplex before Banks sidestepped a charge into the corner. Banks mounted another comeback, landing a Busaiku knee to take T-Bone outside for a low-pe, before throwing him back in for a springboard stomp. That gets Banks a near-fall in front of a silenced crowd, before a Slice of Heaven was blocked with T-Bone’s search for a flip back suplex. T-Bone nearly stole the win with that, but he’s caught with a small package out of nowhere as Banks snatched victory. It says a lot when commentary calls this impressive, as Banks I guess gets back on the board after losing at Takeover. Judging by the audible crowd response, there’s a lot of steam gone here. **¾
Backstage, Radzi’s still waiting for Toni Storm. He’s interrupted by Mark Coffey and Wolfgang, who don’t care, and take over the segment. The Gallus pair are mad that they weren’t beaten but somehow are out of the tag title picture… but they want their shot (whether they want it or not?)
Rhea Ripley vs. Debbie Keitel
With Ripley having moved up to “full fat NXT”, it’s weird she’s still around, especially since her feud with Piper Niven looked to have been paid off. It’s an NXT UK debut for Debbie Keitel, whose entrance video didn’t exactly match the music. The crowd don’t exactly rate Debbie’s chances, as she’s taken into the corner… and gets a clean break, before Ripley shrugged off a takedown attempt. Keitel goes for a takedown, but Ripley throws her aside, which earns her some slaps… but she just kicks Debbie and finishes her off with Riptide. What is it with NXT UK women and these squashes?
Ripley gets the mic afterwards and declares that she wants the NXT UK women’s title back… but she’s interrupted by Jinny and Jazzy Gabert. I’d genuinely forgotten they were around. Jinny takes a shot at Rhea’s “90s” look, and calls herself the future before sending Jazzy after her. Ripley kicks Jazzy off the apron, before Jinny pulls her back. That’s gonna be a hell of a hoss fight, when we get it.
“Earlier today”, Trent Seven is in a striped shirt as he’s bugged by Noam Dar and a bullhorn. Noam’s calling Trent a “daftie”, and says that “British Strong Style is dead”. Joel Allen gets to plug his SPLX brand on TV as he separates Trent and Noam, but there’s no such luck for Chris Sharpe and Tom Scarborough.
Johnny Saint helps Sid Scala warm up. I mean, it sorta worked when Grandad Trent helped Tyler Bate warm up at Takeover…
Joseph Conners vs. Kenny Williams
Twenty minutes in and we’re on match number three. We’re blasting through these bouts tonight!
Is Kenny Williams the same level as Conners, or a little above? We’ll see… it starts out badly for the Scotsman as Conners lands a clothesline for a near-fall, before Williams hit back with a spinning back elbow off the ropes. A springboard attempt ends when Conners hit the ropes, sending Williams down with a thump before a front suplex dumps Williams. Conners hits a running neck snap a la a Muta lock for a near-fall, before taking Williams into the corner for some body blows. The crowd boos as Conners tries to engage them into doing ANYTHING, so he goes back to slamming Williams, landing one for barely a two-count. A surfboard stretch has Williams on the ropes again, as does an abdominal stretch, but Williams slips free and lands a jawbreaker.
Williams rebounds through the ropes ahead of a Slingblade as the crowd remains dead. A kick in the corner knocks Conners down, as Williams fakes out a springboard, landing one at the second attempt with another back elbow. A wheelbarrow facebuster nearly gets the win as Conners got a hand to the rope just in time… allowing him to come straight back with Don’t Look Down for the win. Perfectly serviceable for a TV match, but absolutely heatless, unless they forgot to turn the mics up again. **½
They replay highlights of Ilja Dragunov answering Cesaro’s open challenge at Takeover, along with clips of Cesaro putting over Ilja in defeat.
Oliver Carter’s got a vignette – he’s coming back next week to win… we then get Media Jim interviewing Kay Lee Ray backstage. She vows to send Tegan Nox back home with two broken knees – and that match is set for two weeks’ time. Trent Seven vs. Noam Dar is on next week.
British Rounds: Kassius Ohno vs. Sid Scala
They’re doing this over 6 x 3 minute rounds, with the winner needing two falls (be it pinfall, submission or both), a knock-out, or whomever’s got the most falls after the time limit expires.
Sid’s actually in “proper” wrestling gear this time, complete with a jacket that reminds me of Travis Huckabee when he transitioned from referee to wrestler. One for the CHIKARA fan there. Scala’s got the crowd’s backing as we get going… and hey, there’s Chris Roberts. He’s probably the only one on the roster who’s been around long enough to have regularly done rounds matches in the past.
Round One: Ohno takes down Scala from a wristlock, and looks to work the arm early on. Scala tries to return the favour, but he’s taken down with a headlock, before he looked to restrain Scala with a cravat. Sid’s flipped down into a chinlock, but Sid grabs his foot to give him leverage to escape, grabbing a side headlock of his own before they got to the ropes for a break. A knucklelock from Scala led to Ohno tripping him down for a toe-hold, which Scala escapes from before he issues a receipt… as time ran out.
Round Two: Scala fires out of the gates, catching Ohno with a cravat early on, but Sid’s size advantage helped him escape as he switches into a full nelson. Scala has to cartwheel out as Ohno looked for something else, before they burst into some World of Sport-ish sequences as Scala went for a sunset flip. Ohno catches Scala with a standing surfboard stretch, torquing away on the arms as Scala hoped to ride out the clock. He escapes, and manages to roll-up Ohno for a near-fall, before reversing an Irish whip, taking Ohno into the corner before another sunset flip led to a near-fall as time ran-out. Between rounds, Ohno stayed on Scala as we entered the next rest period at 0-0.
Round Three: Ohno starts with a headlock, which he uses to sneak in some punches behind the ref’s back. Yep, Chris Roberts in being blind shocker. Those punches had Scala on the ropes, but Sid tries to fight back with some elbows and knee strikes, only to be decked with a chop. After beating a ten-count, Scala comes back with a hattrick of dropkicks, but gets decked with a rolling elbow by Ohno… and there’s the first fall. 1-0 Ohno.
Round Four: Scala’s’ barely up at the bell, and Ohno’s right back on him with a chop. He beats the standing ten-count, so Ohno slams him to the mat, as we get another ten-count. A kneedrop awaits as Scala’s pretty much on fumes, fighting back before another forearm had him back on the deck. Wash, rinse, repeat, eh? A neck crank, almost a neckbreaker without the drop, has Scala on the mat in the final 30 seconds, but he breaks free… and gets dropped with a headbutt. We’ve got less than ten seconds left, so Sid rides out the clock before he’s chopped at the bell. Still 1-0 Ohno.
Round Five: Sid’s still struggling, but Ohno’s taking the piss. That fires up Scala into throwing some shots, but Ohno just grabs a side headlock before he reacted to a hiptoss attempt by turning it into an abdominal stretch, complete with some clubbing forearms. A shoulder block has Scala down as Ohno’s having his own way here, turning in with a Cobra clutch, but Scala escapes with some knees, rocking Ohno before he got hurled through the ropes and onto the apron. Ohno stays on top of him, threatening to tie his leg through the ropes, but Roberts’ admonishment just gives Scala time to scale the ropes and land a crossbody for a near-fall. Ohno misses knee drops and elbow drops as Scala looked to be finding some luck, including getting his knees up on a back senton, but time runs out on the round as some running forearms had Ohno in the ropes. Still 1-0 Ohno.
Round Six: I’m surprised commentary hasn’t told us what happens if Scala gets a fall in this round. It’d be a draw, right? Scala runs out of the corner and throws some body blows at Ohno, sending him packing… but the referee breaks it up as Ohno headed into the ropes. Kassius lands a fireman’s carry takedown for a near-fall, before Ohno resumed the mauling. Scala breaks a chinlock, but Ohno just decks him with an elbow to the back of the head as another ten-count… wasn’t started. One job Roberts… you had one job! Scala gets back to his feet as we enter the final minute, but Ohno lifts up Scala into an Electric Chair, which gets countered into a Victory Roll by Scala for a near-fall. A crucifix eventually drags down Ohno for another two-count, but a cyclone kick just wipes out Scala… before he recovered with a backslide as time ran out. Ohno saves himself from a draw, with Scala plucky in defeat. Hey, this was quite good, but you’re going to need to do these a LOT more to have the ultra-casual NXT UK crowd invested in these going forward. ***¼
A solid episode of NXT UK this week, albeit one that was very squashy, cramming three matches into the opening half hour. We’ll need to see what happens with the British Rounds stipulation going forward, but if there’s going to be a secondary belt, as rumoured, on this brand, I wouldn’t mind it being under these rules. It at least makes more sense historically than other gimmick belts! We’ve had this whinge before about other crowds, but Cardiff, would it kill you to be excited about things? I’m of the mind that crowds can buoy almost any match – but when the crowd aren’t reacting to what’s in front of them, well, that makes watching any wrestling an absolute slog. The hallmark of a lot of NXT UK, unfortunately.