The road to Takeover continues as NXT UK celebrated Christmas with a run of the mill episode.

Nigel McGuinness and Tom Phillips are on commentary as we stay in Hull… and it’s straight to the wrestles.

Amir Jordan & Kenny Williams vs. Pretty Deadly (Lewis Howley & Sam Stoker)
This was Amir’s first match back after shoulder surgery… while Tom Phillips was really reaching for positives about Hull. I feel you.

Williams and Stoker start out, with Sam getting his arm whipped before Amir Jordan came in to land a dropkick… and Bhangra! Lewis Howley tags in and tries to run at Jordan, but ends up taking a hiptoss before Kenny Williams’ brief tag in led to him dropkicking Howley on the outside, while Jordan’s tope found its mark. Howley distracts the ref as Stoker hung up Jordan on the rope by his bad arm, and that’s what Howley targets straight afterwards. A Jim Breaks arm lift targets it even more, before Howley lost a suplex… but tagged in to Stoker, who hit an arm whip as he tried to put Amir back on the shelf.

Pretty Deadly isolate Amir for a spell, but Jordan eventually found a way free, sidestepping charges as Stoker and Howley sent themselves outside before making the tag to Williams, who soared in with a back elbow off the top. There’s more dives as WIlliams launched into Howley and Stoker on the outside, before a Slingblade back inside gets a near-fall. Stoker broke up the pin, then tossed Jordan outside as Pretty Deadly tried to double-team again, landing a double-team gutbuster for a near-fall. Williams hits back with a snap wheelbarrow, before Jordan’s senton bomb got the job done… and that was way too close to “squeaking out a win” for Jordan and Williams. Pretty Deadly looked real good here, and you’d almost think that they were the full time guys. Progression, what’s that? **¾

“Last week”, Imperium’s heading to their locker room as they were interrupted to ask about the ladder match. Fabian Aichner’s angry, while Marcel Barthel’s more composed about it all…

“I Can DX What I Want” is the name of the name of the theme for Takeover: Blackpool 2. I wonder why that got picked…

Ligero’s doing a pre-tape talking about Kassius Ohno. We’re still pronouncing it, I see. He talks about the first time he met Ohno… then the time he wrestled him in New York earlier this year. Ligero remembers the shortcut Ohno took, and this leads to a rematch next week.

Trent Seven comes to the ring next, clearly having grabbed the first few things out of the wardrobe that morning. He talks about Eddie Dennis trying to get his attention a few weeks back, and bemoans how Eddie’s changed. Trent talks about how Eddie robbed Michael May of his debut, then asked Eddie to come out to clear the air. Eddie just stares at Trent from the aisle. It brought back memories of Kamala… anyway, Trent reminds Eddie what he’s given up to get here, and we go full cheap pop as Eddie got into the ring. He then whacks Trent on the head with the mic. GOOD. They’re facing off in Blackpool, and that’s the bit.

We get a video on Kay Lee Ray, Toni Storm and Piper Niven… Toni feels she can’t trust anyone, while Piper Niven reckons she’s in the match because she’s earned it.

Next week will be a “Best of 2019” episode. That ought to be a quick one to recap…

Amale vs. Jinny
Amale’s not using her wXw theme here, which kills my theory of the “ready made theme choices”… she’s playing the babyface here too, ditching her usual mannerisms. Meanwhile, Jinny’s out with Jazzy Gabert, despite the tension between those two as of late.

We start with a lock-up, but Jinny throws some knees to the midsection of Amale before throwing her to the mat for some ground and pound. Nigel McGuinness mentions that Jinny’s the PROGRESS Womens champion, which is a very recent reference (cough), before Amale ended up running into a seated surfboard. Jinny wrenches back on Amale until we get the rope break, and Amale fires back with a dropkick and a massive face-washing boot to Jinny in the corner. She can’t follow-up though, as Jinny pushes her away then hit a kick through the ropes before a slingshot-senton a la Tyler found Jinny another near-fall. From there, Jinny traps Amale in the ropes and hits the Makeover (middle rope X-Factor), and that’s the win. Your usual modern day TV squash, with Amale getting a tiny bit in here. **

Post-match, Jazzy gets in and clotheslines Amale, before Jinny told her to do it again. And again. Jazzy refuses, showing mercy as she just walked past Jinny and went to the back. Those two aren’t long for this world…

Radzi interviews WALTER backstage… but WALTER doesn’t want to talk about Joe Coffey. He’s rather talk about Alexander Wolfe vs. Ilja Dragunov II in two weeks’ time… and they’re all rather polite about it. Wouldn’t you be?

Tyler Bate vs. Noam Dar
Dar sarcastically applauds the Hull crowd as they cheered Bate, and my feed drops out!

It picks up as Bate takes Dar into the corner, before they swap holds on the mat, with Tyler’s cravat quickly getting swapped as Dar went for a wristlock, which gave him an edge. My feed drops again, and recovers as Tyler’s got Dar on the back foot, but Dar gets back in, taking Tyler into the corner for a body blow. Tyler’s whipped into the corner, where he does a headstand to confound Dar, following up with headscissors and an armdrag as the Scotsman was sent outside for cover. Bate boots Dar out of a headlock from there, before Dar just dropkicked away another headstand in the corner. Perhaps you shouldn’t repeat tricks so quickly, eh?

Dar hooks away on Bate while working an armbar, before he used a snapmare to purposely throw Tyler into the ropes. Choking follows, but Bate fought back with some up kicks, before Dar just dropped him with a release back suplex. A neck crank keeps Bate down, but Tyler hits a back suplex to get free, before Dar just hit right back with a dropkick to take Bate off the apron. Another snapmare throw took Tyler into the ring steps, but the count-out tease backfires as Bate rolled in at nine. Noam tries to throw some PKs, but Bate blocks them and hits some right hands instead, before he headed up top for a diving European uppercut. Elbows and an Exploder suplex follows, before some pinning attempts back and forth led to Dar trapping Tyler in an omoplata.

After escaping, Bate comes back with a cross-legged back suplex for a near-fall, only for Dar to respond with a Flatliner as the match entered its final stretches. Dar measures up for… something, but just runs into an enziguiri, before he caught a rebound lariat and turned it into a Champagne Super Knee Bar. Despite getting kicked, Bate gets to the bottom rope, before Noam KICKED TYLER’S LEG OUT OF HIS LEG! It still doesn’t get the win though, as Bate managed one final flurry, landing a Koppo kick before Dar rolled outside to avoid Bate. It doesn’t work, as Tyler boots him off the apron ahead of a tope, before a rebound lariat back inside led to yet another near-fall. As Bate went for the Tyler Driver, Jordan Devlin comes out… and of course, Tyler gets distracted and nearly loses to a roll-up.

He shrugs it off though and quickly gets the win with a Tyler Driver, just as Jordan Devlin hit the ring as the entirety of that match was forgotten because we gotta hype Devlin/Bate. Sigh. It was a good match, too. Tyler’s the kind of guy who should be on TV almost every week, but this format means that he’s quickly become “just another guy”. Albeit one the crowd remembers and always pops big for. It’s almost like NXT UK was never meant to be more than a glorified Brit version of Main Event… just without the recycled matches. ***½

Bate chases Devlin away as he issued the challenge for Takeover… hey, remember that match we just saw? Here’s some highlights. Except it’s literally them REPLAYING THE FINISH. Sigh.

A paint-by-numbers episode of NXT UK this week, as this was the week they chose to largely focus on those who aren’t on Takeover. You know the score: it’s a big roster, but episodes like this really shine a light on who’s been getting the chances and who hasn’t, especially when you compare to a month earlier. In some areas, the lack of roster development and progression is shocking, but we knew about this from the off.