It’s a new town for NXT UK, as Finn Balor came to play in Coventry!

It’s a fresh set of tapings as the show moved to Coventry’s Skydome – and we’ve got new faces and voices around the place. Nigel McGuinness is now joined on commentary alongside Andy Shepherd, who’s moved up from ring announcer. He’s interrupted early on by Finn Balor’s music. You ever notice how this only usually happens on show one of a taping block and not, say, show three?

Balor tells us he didn’t come to boost the ratings… he’s here to challenge WALTER. Who appears, seconds later, music and all. Why is everything so dark?! WALTER stares down Balor from the aisle, waiting for the rest of Imperium to come out as Alexander Wolfe had a mic and welcomed him to NXT UK. Balor gets a “proper welcome”, but he’s able to swat away all of Imperium before diving out of the ring.

Backstage, Media Jim’s back! He asks Piper Niven why she appeared at the end of the Toni Storm match last week. Piper’s top is really setting off the camera… and the white balance to boot. She tells us she didn’t stop the match because Toni wouldn’t forgive her, before wistfully saying that Kay Lee Ray’ll get what’s coming to her.

Tyler Bate gets a promo package. Just in case you’ve forgotten about him. At least they had some cool shots of him… but why? It didn’t even build to “appears next week” or anything. Spoiler alert: he only had one match on the entire tapings, likely due to the injury that forced him out of OTT last month.

Pretty Deadly (Sam Stoker & Lewis Howley) vs. Dan Moloney & Dereiss Gordon
Moloney and Gordon got the “jobber” entrance, as the camera crew were doing their damndest to shoot Pretty Deadly’s entrance somewhat tightly.

Gordon’s thrown outside as Sam Stoker put a stomping to Moloney, before a double-team shoulder tackle got a one-count on Moloney – who was making his first appearance here in almost a year. Dan gets back with a knee to the gut before a suplex got a two-count on Howley as Nigel McGuinness mentioned how Moloney and Gordon have form teaming as the 0121. Not quite for the last few years though… Dereiss comes in to lay into Howley with forearms, before a dropkick drew a near-fall as the crowd chanted “Pretty Awful.” At the tag team, not the show. Stoker’s back in to double-team, before Howley returned with a suplex for a two-count. An uppercut in the corner from Howley lands, before he threw Dereiss into a hiptoss,

Moloney’s in to hit a big back body drop, but Pretty Deadly turned it back around as a double-team Go To Sleep got the win. The Deadly Pretty, apparently. The name needs some work. A fun competitive squash, as the newly-signed team look to get some steam. **¾

Johnny Saint and Sid Scala are talking backstage. Alexander Wolfe interrupts and demands a match with Finn Balor. They agree as Jordan Devlin comes in with a handshake of doom to Johnny Saint… before Sid Scala tells us Devlin’ll be defending the Cruiserweight title against Travis Banks in a few weeks. He must like Sid, because he didn’t shake his hand…

Earlier this week at the UK Performance Centre, Dave Mastiff, Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews are interrupted by Gallus. The Scotsmen want a scrap, but next week.

Ligero vs. Noam Dar
This was built up over off-screen comments as Noam Dar continues to annoy.

Ligero’s riled up from the off, but Dar used that aggression in his favour as he worked the arm, before grabbing a handful of horn. Euphemisms. Dar tries to trip Ligero, but Ligero’s smart and stomps on him before missing a charge into the corner, allowing Dar to take over with a dropkick that knocked the Leeds lad off the apron. Dar keeps up the pressure with some ground and pound, before Dar again grabbed Ligero’s horn en route to kicking out his legs. Ligero charges Dar away to take him outside, then followed up with a pescado to the outside before some clotheslines back inside dumped Dar. A reverse DDT’s next for a near-fall, before Ligero tried for a handspring… only to get pulledd into an armbar.

Dar loses it as Ligero goes for a backslide, but again Noam goes for the horn before he ate a pop-up forearm. Kicks to the leg of Ligero put him in the corner before a pump kick and a kick to the leg had Ligero on the deck, with a Nova Roller doing the job. This was fine, but wasn’t anything special. This crowd is going to bug me for the next few weeks, I can tell… **½

Backstage, we’ve a new interviewer (who isn’t named). He’s with Travis Banks, talking about the Cruiserweight title shot he’s got in two weeks. Banks brings up their history in Coventry, and promises that he’s going to be the first Kiwi champion in NXT history.

Amale vs. Dani Luna
Hey, Amale actually gets an entrance this time! Amale starts off working over Luna’s wrist, but a headlock’s quickly fought out of as a waistlock takedown had the current wXw women’s champion down. Wash, rinse, repeat, as Amale kept going for the wrist, and she manages to get a hammerlock on. They go back-and-forth around holds, before Amale’s posing almost backfired.

Luna comes back with a right hand and a fallaway slam, before Kay Lee Ray hit the ring and attacked Dani. There’s a boot to Amale too to make sure this is a no-contest, and this… was a waste of our time. Dany tries to fight back, but she’s superkicked and dumped with a Gory Bomb, as Amale smartly stayed away.

Kay Lee Ray declares that the division belongs to her. Yep.

Vignette time for Aoife Valkyrie… this’d be the kind of stuff we should have had to build up her debut, but alas, that’s not how the game’s played these days.

Next week: Mastiff, Andrews and Webster vs. Gallus. Whoo.

Alexander Wolfe vs. Finn Balor
Balor starts on top, taking Wolfe down into a hammerlock early on, before countering a sunset flip from Wolfe with a low dropkick.

A grounded chinlock has Wolfe in trouble, before Balor took Wolfe from corner-to-corner with chops for a near-fall. Wolfe fought back with an uppercut to the back, before he raked the eyes of Balor ahead of a grounded bear hug. The rest of Imperium come out to watch as Wolfe pulls Balor into a backbreaker for a one-count, following up with another bear hug. Balor gets free and mounted a comeback with some elbows, taking Wolfe into the ropes for a low dropkick. A series of stomps on Wolfe looked to be Balor sending a message to WALTER, before a Slingblade took down Wolfe.

That’s the cue for Imperium to interfere, but they just provide a distraction as Balor gets clotheslined. Of course, the referee ejects Imperium because of that, and Balor’s quickly ahead with a double stomp to Wolfe’s chest. Another Slingblade’s countered with a roll-up for a near-fall, as a bridging German suplex keeps Wolfe’s momentum up. Balor fought back with a Final Cut on Wolfe (or… a Slop Drop?!), before a shotgun dropkick took Wolfe into the corner. From there, the Coup de Grace followed, then the 1916 DDT, and that’s all. It served its purpose building up to WALTER/Balor, but as a match, it did nothing for me I’m afraid. **¾

When I saw the photos floating around social media last week of the low crowd for this show, I was thinking “ah, it’s been taken at a bad angle, it’ll be fine”. Nope. We had a dead crowd here, save for when the star Balor appeared, and this was show ONE of the tapings. Of course, compared to what’s going on in the world today, this is nothing, but for those who use wrestling as an escape of the wall-to-wall grimness of the real world, I dread to think what the later shows in these tapings will be like.