NXT UK wrapped up its residency in Essex, as Tyler Bate and Kassius Ohno locked horns in one of the show’s bigger matches in recent history.

The show’s still in Brentwood, with Tom Phillips and Nigel McGuinness on the call, doing a grand job trying to breathe some life into a product that’s pancake-flat at times.

Xia Brookside vs. Kay Lee Ray
This is non-title, and the Brentwood crowd is decidedly pro-Xia as we got going with Kay Lee Ray taking her into the corner.

There’s a clean break, but Kay Lee swung for Xia after the separation. Brookside’s in with a headlock takedown, which led to a counter an escape as Kay Lee looked to work her opponent’s wrist. Brookside flips free using the ropes, then applied a wristlock of her own, which Ray broke with a forearm, before Xia tried to snatch the win with a crucifix. Kay Lee kicks out, and teased an Air Raid Crash, only for Xia to sunset flip her way free on the way back to another headlock. Heading up top, Brookside sees her crossbody caught and turned into a slam as Kay Lee was starting to pull ahead. There’s a front suplex on Xia for a near-fall, but a back body drop gets Brookside level for a spell, as she began to chain together offence.

A bulldog’s good for a near-fall, but Kay Lee Ray just slaps her. Headscissors take the NXT UK Women’s champ into the corner, but a running knee misses… only for Xia to connect with some headscissors to spike Kay Lee. From the kick-out though, Kay Lee quickly puts her away with a superkick and a Gory bomb, and that’s that. Decent, even if the usual crowd issues still persist. I really wish they’d play the video packages for the live crowd so they have a reason to care, but I strongly suspect those aren’t filmed in time. Bolting the door after the horse has gone, in a way. ***

They replay the story of Ilja McDragunov shunning Imperium to ally with Gallus. I mean, in WWE booking it was never going to be 5-on-3 for Imperium, was it?

We’re back with the next part of the Piper Niven sitdown piece. She’s still looking to be a role model for kids and people who think they can’t do sports and whatnot because of how they look.

Ligero vs. Travis Banks
So a few weeks ago, these two wrestled to a wacky double-pin draw, rolling a backslide attempt into a pin that I’ve not seen for a long while. Some called it an extremely contrived finish, but it gives us this rematch.

We start with both men shooting out of the gates, missing on dropkicks before they found their marks with an exchange of chops, forearms and eventually, simultaneous boots. Banks tries to resume with a suplex, but Ligero knees him away and lands a crossbody for a near-fall, before we went back to the chops. Ligero looked for an Octopus stretch and finally found it, before he kept Banks at close quarters and looked for some clotheslines. They’re caught as the pair tease the double backslide finish, but they kick out as Banks comes back in with chops, before he tripped Ligero into the corner. Running boots follow, as does a Coast to Coast dropkick, before Ligero countered a Slice of Heaven with a sunset bomb… then a Code Red for a near-fall.

Ligero tries to follow up with a springboard splash, but Banks moves away from the Mexican Wave, only to get caught with a small package that led to another tease of a draw. A release German suplex pancaked Ligero, who hit back with a pop-up forearm, only for Banks to hit a Kiwi Krusher out of nowhere for a near-fall. Damn it Brentwood, this is cracking stuff, and all you give is a polite applause?!

Banks hauls himself to the top turnbuckle, but Ligero cuts him off with a palm strike and built up to a superplex. The pair find their way to the apron, trading chops for fun, but Banks changes it up with a Fisherman’s suplex onto the edge of the ring, following that up with a stomp off the apron that missed. Ligero uses the ring steps for a C4L DDT on the floor that somehow stops the ref from counting… but Ligero throws Banks in, only for Joseph Conners to head out and post Ligero. That left Ligero prone for a Slice of Heaven, and that’s the win.

Joseph Conners attacks Banks the second his music hit, and it’s only then I notice he’s dusted off his Blackpool t-shirt from the initial championship tournament. Connors grabs the mic and gets WHAT’d as he recalled falling short for the WWE UK title… This was a great little match, but that finish. Conners declares himself “Takeover-worthy” as the crowd berated him with chants of “who are ya?” and promised everyone will suffer with him. Eh. It really wiped out the match, as the focus was put straight on Conners afterwards. Skip the finish, but watch the match. ***¼

They play another video package for Ridge Holland – the former Luke Menzies. He debuts next week, in Hull – a city he had a brief connection with, courtesy of two games for Hull KR over a decade go in rugby league.

“Earlier this week”, William Regal was with Sid Scala and Johnny Saint. Alexander Wolfe was in the background at the Harry in Enfield, as Media Jim (I missed him) asked questions. Wolfe interrupts, and asks for a match with Ilja Dragunov “ASAP”. I mean, he’s getting it in Dresden for wXw next month, and he gets it in this territory as well next week.

Kassius Ohno vs. Tyler Bate
Of course Tyler gets the superstar reaction… but his music keeps playing for so damn long it dies off. We get the “big strong boy” chants at the bell, as Tyler tried to take down Ohno… but he ended up getting taken down with a wristlock.

Bate escapes and grabs an arm, torquing it as Ohno tried to cut him off. He eventually succeeds, taking Bate down in a cross armbar, but it’s quickly escaped as Tyler got back to his feet. A cravat subdues Tyler, but the snapmare down backfires as Bate came back with an Octopus stretch, only for Ohno to get free and wrench back on Bate with a chinlock. It turns into a modified Romero special too, only for Tyler to break free. Bate used his boot to kick Ohno in the head – while in mid-headlock – as some of the crowd actually chanted “wrestling genius” for Ohno, who didn’t want their praise. Tyler heads into the corner and draws Ohno in with headscissors, taking him out for dropkicks before a knee to the gut stopped the former NXT UK champ.

Ohno removes a part of the turnbuckle covering and throws Tyler into it… Tyler heads back in, but gets booted straight back outside as Ohno was showing aggression. Overhead forearms keep Tyler in the corner, before a punch cut off Bate’s comeback before it could even get going. A cravat’s reapplied again, with Ohno holding Bate in mid air with the Kassius Clutch, and he rolled through as Bate tried to escape. GOOD GOD. The cravat’s used for a modified powerbomb – think an inverted full nelson bomb – which almost got the win, as the crowd started to pope up again. Elbows from Ohno looked to break Bate’s latest comeback, but Tyler’s able to land an Exploder as he began to build momentum.

Uppercuts have Ohno rocked, as did a knee lift and a flying European uppercut. There’s more of those for Ohno, as Tyler threw him around effortlessly with another Exploder as a running shooting star press almost got Bate the win. Tyler looks for the win with a Tyler Driver, but Ohno escaped and ate more uppercuts before a back body drop bounced Bate off the mat. Ohno adds a cyclone kick to the mix for a near-fall, before he went all Junkyard Dog on us with some headbutts. Bate keeps this match a slugfest, eventually hitting bop/bang on Ohno for a near-fall, as you sensed Tyler was about to snatch the win… but then he tried for a Fireman’s carry, and ended up having to let go as Ohno got the ropes. Bate throws some short-range lariats as he tried to chop down Ohno, but it backfires as Ohno hit back… and whiffs a moonsault!

From there, Tyler hits back with a deadlift German suplex, bridging for a near-fall, as Tyler grabbed Ohno’s wrist to keep him close by. They fight back to their feet, with Tyler hitting a series of Koppo kicks, then a rebound lariat that saw Ohno roll to the outside. Not to worry, a dive from Tyler finds its mark… only for Ohno to swat him away before a diving rolling elbow found its mark for a near-fall. Ohno again gets frustrated at the crowd chanting, so he slaps away Tyler some more, calling him a rookie… but the veteran’s boot puts Tyler on the top turnbuckle ahead of another Kassius Clutch. Bate escapes and manages to pull Ohno out of the corner for a spinning torture rack, before the Tyler Driver planted Ohno for the win. Really, really good, but this lost the crowd badly towards the end – there was no need to try for an epic just based on one segment earlier in the night. At PROGRESS’ Super Strong Style 16 last year, these two had a banger of a match – a proverbial “notebook” outing. This year? Still good, even if it began to drag without anywhere near as much buzz or hype. A microcosm of the brand, some would say. ***¾

This was one of the better episodes of this show – at least in terms of the in-ring. I’m detecting a pattern – this seems to be the case when NXT UK closes out tapings in a venue… why don’t they edit these shows to splice those matches into different episodes, rather than have “MEH” weeks? Same complaint, different week – but at least we ought to be inching closer to another Takeover announcement, assuming they stick with the late winter/late summer schedule they forged this year.