A clash of former NXT UK tag team champions is your main event this week as we had a surprise at the end…
We’re still in Brentwood, with Nigel McGuinness and Tom Phillips on the call. You have no idea how many times I’ve accidentally typed “Brentford” in these tapings… Hey, you thought my opening line was dour, not even TV’s Tom could find anything else to plug!
Joe Coffey vs. Tyson T-Bone
It’s the return of Grand Theft T-Bone! T-Bone cheapshots Coffey after a rope break, but the Scotsman’s back with body blows of his own as this was pretty much no wrestling and all boxing.
A running clothesline has T-Bone further ahead as it’s back to the jabs and body blows, with a knee strike sending Coffey into the ropes. Joe’s back with a RINGKAMPF rebound belly-to-belly suplex, then a backbreaker ahead of a diving elbow for a two-count. Holy crap, this crowd is dead. Coffey switches up with a Corning hold, which seems to be flavour of the month on this brand after that British rounds match… it helps Coffey transition into an armbar on the mat, but T-Bone’s back with a headbutt and a hiptoss. An Exploder suplex drops Coffey for a two-count, but Coffey’s back with a diving charge into the corner before Awra Best for the Bells puts T-Bone away. T-Bone’s still waiting for his second win on NXT UK TV, but the fact Joe Coffey went 50-50 with him says more about how much he’s fallen… remember when he was challenging for the belt?? **½
Backstage, Xia Brookside’s being interviewed. She’s still angling for a title match with Kay Lee Ray, but it’s lukewarm.
Vignette time… it’s a man walking in puddles in the street… carrying a billy club. They’re moving Ridge Holland from the Largo Loop to NXT UK. He’s the former Luke Menzies…
There’s a Piper Niven package next, as she tells us when she first saw and fell in love with wrestling. She recounts her training, and her debut on NXT UK back in March. We learn that Piper’s got her sights on the women’s title, but more importantly she wants to be a role model. This was a good piece, but it felt like it was months overdue in introducing her…
Killer Kelly vs. Isla Dawn
This was Killer Kelly’s first NXT UK match since June due to injury… as much as I hate it, she’s in the Saxon Huxley bracket of folks yet to win a singles match.
Commentary mentions that Kelly’s left knee may be a weak point. Of course, she charges out of the gates, and misses a kick, as Isla begins to work over the arm, rolling Kelly into a trapped-arm half crab that forced Kelly to the ropes. Another rope break has Isla arguing with the ref, opening things up for Kelly to land a pump kick as she looked to take the upper hand. Isla’s on the ol’ jelly legs after some strikes, with a clothesline getting Kelly a near-fall. Kelly wrenches Isla’s neck next, but Isla gets free, taking Kelly into the corner for some uppercuts. A Saito suplex is blocked, only for Dawn to hit it anyway after landing a knee… but it’s not enough to put Kelly away.
Kelly kicks away Isla and coaxes her to the ropes for a hotshot, as a shotgun dropkick connects seconds later. The Shibata-ish dropkick is next, as Kelly looked to finish off Isla… but the death valley driver is escaped as Isla lands a bridging half-nelson suplex for the win. I guess that’s her finish – a decent TV match I guess, but Brentwood did not care one bit. So much for picking fights… **
Next week: Kassius Ohno vs. Tyler Bate. Maybe Brentwood will find it in themselves to make noise for that one.
We switch to a promo package from Ohno, as he rips on British Strong Style. More specifically, the appropriation of Antonio Inoki’s style for a cool name. Kassius Ohno’s segments are making me give a damn about this show – but I’m not a fan of the long line of people who’ve tried to kill British Strong Style. This isn’t Hulkamania in the 80s!
Next week: Xia Brookside vs. Kay Lee Ray. I don’t think it’s for the title. Plus: Travis Banks and El Ligero go again, trying to find a decisive winner.
Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake)
Zack Gibson starts out by berating Webster for his short tag title reign. He’s not wrong.
Webster’s the early aggressor, taking down Gibson with a headlock, clinging on despite Zack trying to counter it into a pinning attempt… but Gibson eventually got free and grabbed a leg as the first NXT UK tag team champions tried to force themselves in. Only for Webster to go back to the headlock. Mark Andrews is in, but Drake bails as he was about to take a double-team hiptoss. Back inside, Drake took over, only to get caught with a backslide from Andrews. Webster’s back in to try and build momentum, helped by some double-teaming, but Gibson and Drake try and use some double-teams themselves… only to get sent packing with dropkicks.
They switch things around, again with double-teaming, as Webster became isolated in the wrong corner. Webster’s taken outside for the double-team slingshot backbreaker, before he was popped up onto the guard rail, all while Mark Andrews looked on, non-plussed, holding an arm out in case Flash suddenly crew fifteen feet in length and could make a tag from the floor. Back inside, Webster continues to get worn down, with Drake’s chinlock adding pressure, before Gibson scored a couple of two-counts. A ripcord forearm keeps Webster down, as Brentwood seemingly sat on their hands. Webster used a chinbreaker to get free, but he’s still in the corner as Drake just came straight back in, before Webster’s springboard moonsault out of the corner bought him time…
Except Zack Gibson scurried around outside the camera’s view and pulled down Andrews at the last second. All of a sudden, out come Gallus, with Mark Coffey and Wolfgang lording it in the aisle as they watched on. The distraction allowed Webster to roll past Drake and finally tag Andrews back in! Andrews hits the Stomp 182 on Gibson before another moonsault off the top rope turned into a satellite DDT on Zack. We cut away to Gallus and return as Andrews hits an assisted standing 450 for a near-fall, but Drake and Gibson begin to double-team again as they nearly snuck the win.
Andrews counters a step-up dropkick from Drake into a sit-out powerbomb, before Gibson got sent outside… alllowing Andrews to wheelbarrow Drake again, only to send himself outside for a ‘rana into Gibson on the floor. Back in the ring, Webster nearly snatched a win with the Shadows Over Malice senton as Gallus watched on, before Drake whipped down Webster by his oft-injured shoulder. Gibson tags back in to try and trap Webster in the Shankly Gates, but it’s escaped as Webster’s on his lonesome… caught in the corner with a dropkick and a Ticket To Ride for a near-fall. Another turnaround sees Webster counter a Doomsday Device with a Victory roll for a near-fall, before Andrews knee-slid into a superkick… then recovered quickly to hit a reverse ‘rana on Drake as this feels like MOVEZ. It’s got the crowd going, so who am I to complain?
We’ve more company as Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel appear on the stage. That’s apparently the cue for Gallus to hit the ring for the cheap DQ, and that’s dragging the match down for me. Crap finish, and the fact it felt like it wasn’t really going anywhere until the final few moments didn’t help. ***
Alexander Wolfe and Joe Coffey appear to even up the squads as WALTER’s music hits. He’s here to tell everybody off. Gallus and Imperium square off, until… Ilja Dragunov comes out?! Can we just pause to let stuff breathe and people react? Imperium look smug, thinking Ilja’s on their side… but no! He crosses over to Gallus, as Ilja McDragunov starts a Pier Six brawl. It’s Imperium vs. Gallus and Ilja… and now the crowd care as the show goes off the air.
The first half of this week’s show was so dry, it’d make anyone salty. I’m sure this is all ticking the right boxes with those in charge, but it’s just so dour. Apart from Ilja Dragunov and his suddenly-found Scottish heritage.
The problem with having people as designated pin-eaters is that they quickly become hard for non-hardcores to care about – and unfortunately T-Bone and Killer Kelly have been slotted in those roles hard in the first year-or-so of this brand. Problem is, as we’ve seen with Joseph Conners, just throwing them wins doesn’t automatically make the crowd care – but we’re definitely in a two-tier NXT UK – with your stars and the relative nobodies, with precious little middle ground. I really want to like this brand. There’s folks on the roster I used to love watching. How is this such a struggle?!