The war between Imperium and Gallus yet again took centre stage as the tag team titles were on the line on NXT UK.

We’re still in Hull, and there’s a cold open as Tom Phillips and Nigel McGuinness are back for commentary. There’s a familiar face from the old UKFF in the crowd too…

Isla Dawn vs. Kay Lee Ray
We’re starting the Scots-heavy episode with a women’s match – and apparently beating Killer Kelly earned Isla Dawn a non-title match with the current women’s champion.

There’s loud duelling chants to start the opener, as Kay Lee slaps Isla and grabbed a side headlock. A back body drop attempt from Isla’s kicked away, but she’s back with a crossbody for a near-fall, before a Magistral cradle kept the pressure up. Kay Lee rolls out of a crucifix and tries for a Gory bomb, but it’s countered into a sunset flip as Isla was building momentum…

…until she missed a knee into the corner. Kay Lee hits back with a chop and a front suplex for a two-count, before taking Isla into the corner so she could wrap her knee around the rope. The champion misses a knee strike of her own and got spiked with a Saito suplex, with Isla landing her knee strike seconds later, sending herself flying outside in the process. Dawn picks herself up and heads back to the top rope for a Meteora, which gets her a near-fall, only for Kay Lee to bounce straight back with a Gory Bomb for the win. A competitive outing, but a decisive win as Kay Lee Ray holds steady ahead of her assumed rematch with Toni Storm. **½

Post-match, Kay Lee Ray bragged about being champion, and how she was still playing mind games with Toni Storm and Piper Niven. She got “what?” chants as Piper came out, but Toni Storm ran out too and went straight for Kay Lee Ray… who shoves the Aussie into Piper before bailing. Toni and Niven had a heated staredown until Sid Scala got a bar of his entrance music as he came out to defuse things. The crowd chanted for a triple-threat… and got it. At Takeover: Blackpool.

Backstage, Jordan Devlin’s continuing his best-of NXT UK presentation, showing the rest of the roster. I thought it’d be them all losing to him like the old WCW trailers of guys who left for the WWF, but instead Devlin takes pot shots at Tyler Bate, picking the Takeover: Blackpool tag match… then Tyler getting powerbombed to death by WALTER… and finally, WALTER beating him again at Takeover: Cardiff. Eh, this is close enough to those WCW promos…

Santa McMahon is a scary thing.

Joe Coffey’s at the UK PC in Enfield, and he’s asked about his upcoming WWE UK title match with WALTER. He’s still angry over how “Jolly” stole his thunder in Blackpool this year… and next year he’s going to take the title off of him to erase that memory.

Michael May vs. Trent Seven
It’s been a while since we’ve had a squash-match tryout. Of course May gets the “who are ya?” treatment, and is going to get overshadowed by Trent Seven, who’s the first big name on this set of tapings. Except there’s no match, as Eddie Dennis comes through the crowd and pulls Michael May out of the ring. Just like in the leaked rehearsals! May’s tossed into the stairs, then thrown inside as Eddie gave Trent a “gift”. What, a night off?

They pitch to Radzi backstage as he tries to interview Noam Dar. Remember his contract that had him guaranteed Takeover matches? Radzi does, and Dar marches him to Johnny Saint’s office in search of his match… Dar wants to take time off before his match, but he’s told he’ll be wrestling next week against Tyler Bate.

Jack Starz vs. Ridge Holland
“It’s time for proper competition”. HAH. This ought to be a squash, but you know how averse they are, even with Ridge getting the home-county pop.

Ridge starts with a huge Beee throw and a shoulder tackle, before he stomped the hell outta Starz. A cravat and some knees are followed by an uppercut, then an overhead belly-to-belly as Jack was seeing Starz. Jack tries to fight back as I get distracted by the sight of comedian Tommy Cannon in the front row, proudly sporting his credentials sticker, before Ridge POUNCES Starz across the ring. One Northern Grit later – an Emerald Fusion with a new name – and Ridge gets the squashy win. GLORIOUS. Could have done without Starz getting that bit of hope, but this was as close as you’re going to get to Goldberg levels of squashes here. **

Earlier this week, Kenny Williams is working out. He’s surprised by the returning Amir Jordan, who’s cleared after a shoulder injury – they’re tagging again next week, and that means Kenny’s back to having to dance. D’you reckon he injured him in the first place?

NXT UK Tag Team Championship: Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) vs. Gallus (Wolfgang & Joe Coffey) (c)
We’re only half an hour into the show, so either this is going long or we’re back to the short episodes…

We’ve a shoving match before the bell that led to Aichner and Wolfgang scrapping to start the match. Aichner manages to get free with a headlock takedown, before tags got us to Mark Coffey, who’s instantly taken down with an armdrag from Barthel. Marcel turns it into a wristlock, before he whipped Coffey down by the arm… things improve for the champions when Wolfgang returned as he lifted Aichner by the arm ahead of a shoulder tackle. Coffey’s back in for a double-team monkey flip, focusing in the arms, before a double-team leg roll on Barthel had the challengers on the back foot. A slingshot took Barthel into Coffey’s fireman’s carry, but an eye rake saves the German as Coffey got taken into the ropes for the double-team dropkicks. The challengers build up momentum, double-teaming Mark, before the referee held up the dreaded X sign after Barthel pummelled Mark Coffey. Of course, the bell doesn’t ring straight away so I smell a rat, and of course it’s a ruse as Mark cheapshot Barthel… who hit right back with a headbutt.

Aichner comes in, but Coffey fought back, back body dropping the Italian to the outside, before Wolfgang got the hot tag in and began clearing house. There’s a massive forearm knocking Aichner off the apron as Wolfgang looked to finish off the German, only for Barthel to get tossed into Aichner! A slingshot into a Samoan drop gets a near-fall for the Scotsmen, before a blind tag brought Barthel back in… he slips on a floatover onto the apron, taking a nasty spill off the apron to the floor. He’s quickly back amid a huge parade of moves, but Mark Coffey’s back to grab Barthel as they went for the European bomb… Coffey gets caught in the apron as he’s punched down, but Wolfgang fought back, only to take a Flatliner and a German suplex as things broke down again.

Barthel composes himself but leaps into a Coffey forearm, as Aichner’s Finlay roll and moonsault combo left him prone for a Wolfgang spear. Hey, I guess you really can’t escape! That got the crowd going bonkers, and then the Grizzled Young Veterans came out to steal the belts. You can take the boys out of Liverpool… Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster come out to make the save as they brawl into the ring, and there’s your awful finish. That’s how you keep four teams involved in the picture, I guess. ***¼

Johnny Saint speaks! He’s out to calm things down by scolding everyone, while Sid Scala grabbed the belts. They apparently already made a call: they’re putting the belts up in a ladder match at Takeover: Blackpool among the four teams… and the show ends with the crowd digesting it all. Dopper just looks… bemused, I guess?

A decent show this week out of NXT UK – as we inch closer to Takeover, we’re getting matches and something of substance. I’m really digging Ridge Holland’s squashes, but the way these shows are formatted mean it’s going to be at least a month before he’s in action again – and I guess it’s a coin flip of “debut him in Yorkshire” vs. “hold off” if he wasn’t going to be playing any major role at Takeover. Ah, the perils of weekly TV…