It’s Gallus vs. Unbesiegbar in the main event of NXT UK this week as Joe Coffey and Ilja Dragunov lock horns.
Last week went off the air with only Joseph Conners vs. Tyler Bate confirmed… Ilja Dragunov vs. Joe Coffey was announced via social media afterwards… and of course, we’ve since had the announcement of NXT UK Takeover: Dublin. Not problematic at all, that title… We’re still at York’s Barbican, with commentary from Vic Joseph and Aiden English. But first, Joe Coffey’s at the UK PC watching footage of Ilja Dragunov “costing him” at Takeover: Blackpool 2. Except it’s clearly the YouTube video with the “buy the network” shill…
Tyler Bate vs. Joseph Conners
It’s a hot crowd to start us off this week… until Joseph Conners’ entrance video tells us “I am worthy”.
Conners is forced to scurry early when Tyler looked for Bop & Bang. A ‘rana and some dropkicks take Conners outside, and he’s so frustrated he grabs a chair from security at ringside. After having second thoughts, Conners runs into the ring and gets taken down with armbars, before a monkey flip took Conners across the ring. A second one’s blocked as Tyler’s lifted to the top rope, then knocked down to the floor, which is where Conners took control for a spell. Working over Bate’s lower back lets Conners in for a clothesline for a two-count, before a neck crank wore Tyler down some more.
Conners looks for a backslide, but Tyler unhooks his arms and reverses it for a near-fall. A charge from Conners is caught and turned into an Exploder, before a standing shooting star press gets a near-fall. Tyler went for an airplane spin but got caught with a roll-up as the pair exchanged pinning attempts… leading to Bop & Bang as Tyler almost shut the door right there. Bate goes for a Tyler Driver, but it’s escaped as Connors came back with what I can only describe as a Slingblade Bulldog for a near-fall. He misses a moonsault after that, but recovered with a tiltawhirl slam before taking Tyler out for a tope. Right back in, Conners nearly wins with a slingshot Flatliner, and the frustration begins to return as Conners looked to lose focus.
Bate outboxed him, then returned with a Koppo kick before a Tyler Driver… was escaped! Conners slides outside, only to get dived on. He recovered to drop toe hold Bate onto the chair from earlier, before… an Awful Waffle?! That’s still only enough for a near-fall, before Conner’s Don’t Look Down was escaped, allowing Bate to hit the rebound clothesline and a Tyler Driver for the win. Conners got a LOT more than I expected, and a lot of time too… but ultimately it’s another loss as I guess that tells us if he is takeover worthy… it’s probably just the opener for now. Which is something worth pulling your hair out over, I guess. ***½
Next week is Toni Storm vs. Kay Lee Ray in an I Quit match for the NXT UK Women’s title. We get a promo piece for that, showing a braggadocious champ and a rather focused Toni Storm. They replay the stipulation that if Toni loses, she can’t challenge again while Kay Lee’s champion… which is an interesting wrinkle that’s gone under reported.
The ad for NXT UK merch follows. Apparently FTMF means “Follow That, My Friends”. In PG-land, anywway. Then the Mania ad. Hey, if they get caught in Saudi Arabia after next week’s show, they may need that boat to get back to the States…
“Earlier today” we have not-a-contract signing for WALTER vs. Dave Mastiff in two weeks’ time. WALTER thinks that Mastiff’s getting a favour, and promises that his title’s going nowhere. Then, Jinny interrupts Tom and Aiden as they were recapping. She calls herself the Queen of NXT UK, telling us that everything she’d ordered had been obeyed.
Referencing Jazzy Gabert, Jinny said that her career was over because Jazzy had disobeyed her. This is a verbal burial of Jazzy, it has to be said, which came in lieu of anything with her on-screen. It’s all about Jinny for now though… a good promo to tie up loose ends, although I’m still bitter they never addressed Jazzy vs. Kelly on the show it was advertised for. Another interruption now, and Tom’s had enough. He’ll storm off to Raw soon enough.
Noam Dar vs. Josh Morrell
The crowd’s Dar-ing it up as Noam took Morrell to the corner. Wash, rinse, repeat, but this time Josh shoves him away.
Dar’s way too playful for his own good, which angered Morrell, before an exchange of slaps had Morrell on top. Dar tries for a wristlock, but Josh cartwheels free… then gets kicked in the leg, only for Dar to keep stalling. Morrell lands on his feet from a standing moonsault, but maintained the upper hand as he looked for an Arabian press… and nearly put Dar away with it. A suplex from Dar’s turned into a small package for a near-fall, before a back body drop awkwardly took Morrell to the apron, then the floor. Dar kicks his legs out from the apron as he pushed back, following with a running, diving forearm for a near-fall. Kicks in the ropes annoy the ref, as Dar refused to break, before Dar moonsaulted over the Scotsman… and had his legs kicked out again.
From there, a Nova Roller lands flush, and that’s the win. Morrell got a lot in there, and it felt like a leg sweep/Nova Roller perhaps shouldn’t have been enough… but a good effort from the “enhancement” talent. **½
The Hunt are backstage behind a fence, and they’ve finally heard the jibe that Zack Gibson and James Drake aimed their way. Well, it was more Zack’s words… they want a match, as they should. That’ll be next week… along with Storm vs. Ray in an I Quit match for the NXT UK Women’s title… and then they mention next week will be on at 3pm UK time because of Super Showdown. They left that announcement late – I thought they were going to chance it and see if the Saudi show was going to run to three hours…
That’s followed up with a plug for NXT UK Takeover: Dublin, Ireland. What is it with long show names?! Jordan Devlin’s interviewed, and he pokes fun at NXT UK management, saying he’ll be back when he’s “good and ready.”
Ilja Dragunov vs. Joe Coffey
Ah, the timing of this. Ilja’s spell “with Gallus” didn’t last too long, as we’ve got this blow-off for their rather informal arrangement.
We start out rather tentatively as Coffey looked to box early on, but Ilja avoids the shots before Coffey landed some clubbing forearms to the ribs as the pair stayed on the mat. A side headlock’s wrenched in, but Ilja shoots out and tries with a shoulder tackle… only for Joe to return the favour and take down the Russian with one of his own. We reach the obligatory stand-off as they do the WWE thing and DO THEIR POSES. Press right to taunt.
Ilja hits back first, using a leaping kick to take Coffey outside before faking out a dive… instead opting to head up top to leap into Coffey on the floor. Coffey responds on the floor with some more boxing, but Ilja’s chops act as receipts before he got whipped into the ring steps. A knee from Coffey leaves Ilja down as they return to the ring, where more chops wear out the Russian. Ilja tried to fight off the top rope, but he’s caught as Coffey instead brought him town with an avalanche shinbreaker, keeping up the focus on the knee. That’s mean. A Boston crab followed eventually, but Ilja gets to the ropes to force a break.
Dragunov tries to push Coffey into the ropes, but he’s having trouble getting anything going as Coffey went back to the knee, before an attempted electric chair/German suplex combo was slipped out of. Ilja goes for a Konstantin Spezial, but it’s swatted away… only for Ilja to have more luck with a swivelling lariat. The teardrop German suplex follows for a near-fall, then a super back senton, and finally a Coast to Coast… but Ilja’s leg gives out on the top rope, and he gets caught with uppercuts instead. Staying up top, Coffey hits a belly-to-belly superplex next, but Ilja’s able to come back with a knee strike to the head… before a clothesline from Coffey downed him. Awra Best for the Bells is ducked, but Ilja can’t capitalise… instead sidestepping a shoulder charge as Coffey hits the ring post. From there, Ilja plants Coffey with a death valley driver into the corner… then hits Coast to Coast, hurting his leg some more, before a Torpedo Moscau went through another Coffey taunt for the win. They hit hard, and while Coffey tried the “eye for an eye” thing by going for Ilja’s knee, it wasn’t enough as Dragunov leaves York with a big win. You’d have to think that’s knocked Coffey out of the title scene again. For now. ***½
Post-match, the rest of Gallus hit the ring, but while Ilja squared up (gammy leg and all), Gallus just backed away, saying that Ilja had “paid their debt”… and that’s how we end!
After last week’s tepid episode, this was a much better outing from NXT UK. While nothing was sensational, this was at the very least a watchable episode with some good wrestling. The announcement of a Takeover for two months’ time means that next month’s tapings should at least give us meaty storylines and gear up to something, as we avoid the traditional post-Takeover lulls that we’ve become accustomed to.