Jordan Devlin returned to NXT UK action as he put his Cruiserweight title on the line against Travis Banks.
A lot’s changing around here – with world events meaning that NXT Takeover: Tampa and NXT UK Takeover: Dublin have been scrapped, the next few weeks of NXT UK will either need editing… or will remain in the rather defunct role of building up a show that’s not happening as-is. We open with a video package for tonight’s main event, and then it’s the usual credits, ballyhoo and whatnot as we stay in Coventry. Andy Shepherd and Nigel McGuinness remain on commentary…
Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) vs. Oliver Carter & Ashton Smith
There’s new music for Carter and Smith, but the crowd still wanna whoop, to the point where it sounds like they have night terrors. It sounds like they tried to find a clone of Carter’s banger of a wXw theme…
We start with Carter and Barthel, with Barthel working over the arm and wrist of the Ghanaian. Carter’s forced to the mat as Barthel made light work of a leg grapevine, rolling away from an attempted escape as this looked effortless. At least until Carter flipped out of a bow and arrow hold, only to get spun down for a PK to the back. The Oliver’s Twist rewind head kick connects, but Barthel tags out to Aichner who works an armbar, as we hear Nigel McGuinness suddenly in a wind tunnel. Obvious edit ahoy! Carter and Smith rebound as they hit Private Party’s Silly String, before Carter cleared house, log rolling Aichner ahead of another Oliver’s Twist.
Barthel’s back, tripping Carter in a springboard, and that’s Imperium back on top. Aichner tags back in as Carter’s trapped in the corner, leading to a sandwich of dropkicks in the corner that left Carter writhing on the apron. A head-and-arm clutch from Aichner restrains Carter some more, but eventually Carter gets free, slipping out of a suplex to tag in Smith. Ashton runs wild with dropkicks and back body drops, before a sit-out death valley driver almost upset Aichner. Smith goes for a suplex, but Aichner escapes… Carter tags back in for a back-body-drop assisted 450 onto Aichner for a near-fall. A ‘rana from Carter keeps the threat of an upset going as Smith pushed away Barthel to break up a European Bomb, but in the end Imperium quickly regain the upper hand with a spinebuster before the European Bomb got the win. Carter perhaps was on the defensive a little too long, but this was a solid little TV match. **¾
Gallus vignette – they’re playing cards as I get dizzy with the spinning camera. Still a more stable camera than some indies.
Trent Seven and Tyler Bate are dealing with low light as they too sweet each other… they’re doing the Royal Rumble “I’m gonna win!” segments to build up next week’s Battle Royal, as Alexander Wolfe gets his two cents in.
Smith and Carter are backstage icing up, as Pretty Deadly mock them from afar. They get hot, and that’s likely for down the line…
Nina Samuels vs. Aoife Valkyrie
Commentary weirdly spins this as a battle of attention and… entrance budgets? The hell?
From the opening lock-up, Valkyrie gets a headlock that Nina cartwheels out of with ease… so Aoife tries again, only to get shoved off. She keeps up with the headlock, taking down Samuels as they go back and forth, with Valkyrie kipping up out of some headscissors to do a pose. A wheelbarrow roll-up gets Valkyrie a near-fall, while Samuels went for a jack-knife roll-up… backslides too, but Nina gets her foot to the rope to stop a pin. Instead, Nina used a drop toe hold to stop Valkyrie, as the Irish newcomer suddenly was on the defensive, courtesy of a modified deathlock.
Valkyrie escapes and hits a springboard into some headscissors out of the corner, following up with a dropkick and a running Blockbuster for a near-fall. A through-the-ropes dropkick keeps Valkyrie ahead, but Samuels struck back with a slingshot corkscrew press back into the ring. Aoife tries her luck with a sunset flip, but Samuels slaps it away… only to get caught with a backfist and a leg lariat that damn near KO’s Nina. From there, the as-yet-unnamed Death Note flying legdrop lands, and that’s the win. Decent stuff here, and at least Valkyrie feels like she’s getting more ring time and exposure than say, a Ridge Holland when it comes to newcomers. **¾
They replay Piper Niven saving Dani Luna last week… then we cut to Josiah Williams interviewing Piper, who talks about how Kay Lee Ray’s “destroyed friends” in the past. Next week, we’re getting Dani and Piper vs. Kay Lee Ray and Jinny. If they get time, that should be good.
They replay the aftermath of Mark Andrews having been attacked last week… with no context, save for Flash Morgan Webster vowing to find who did it. But first, Flash has a battle royal to prepare for.
A-Kid vs. Noam Dar
This was built up in that interview segment last week, and we start with Dar trying to go for kicks.
A-Kid checks them and went for a waistlock takedown, before Dar used a knucklelock to take down the Spaniard. A side headlock and a noogie keeps A-Kid down, but they separate as A-Kid looked for an enziguiri in the ropes. A-Kid switches around into a headlock on the mat, before switching tack into an Octopus hold that Dar tries to escape. Eventually a log roll rips A-Kid, but he’s back with a roll-up, before throwing in a sunset flip and some back-and-forth crucifix pins for some ref-trolling one-counts. All that seemed to annoy Dar, who caught A-Kid and sent him through the ropes, bringing him back in as he teased a draping DDT… instead punting A-Kid instead.
Dar keeps going with an elbow drop and strikes, before A-Kid fought free of an armbar. A dropkick turns the tide as Dar’s sent outside, but the Scotsman returns to avoid a moonsault, instead sidestepping another dive as A-Kid fell into an armbar. He reverses it as a triangle armbar has Dar in bother, as the pair go back and forth on submission attempts. Dar’s roll-up led to nought before a low blow was missed by the ref… leading to a Nova Roller kick for the win. This was fine, but my GOD, this crowd didn’t give a damn. **½
Post-match, Dar gets the mic and talks up the battle royal next week. Hey, someone knew Dar’s catchphrase!
Video package for WALTER. All the chops.
Dave Mastiff bigs up his chances for next week. This may be their Takeover. Kassius Ohno and Ilja Dragunov do too. At least they’re making the battle royal feel important.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin (c)
A little over a year ago, these two were in the same room and had a pretty good Falls Count Anywhere match by this show’s standards. I doubt they’ll be going into the crowd this time…
Wow, even the belt getting held up got nary a cheer. Tough crowd. Devlin’s got his elbow taped up as he was dealing with a bout of bursitis… the opening exchanges with Banks led to a stand-off, before Banks worked his way into a headlock takedown. The leg of Devlin was the next target, but Jordan effortlessly escaped… only to get caught in an armbar before Banks went for pinning attempts.
A trip from Banks led to a leg clutch pin for a near-fall as Devlin rolled outside for cover… and man, I swear those no fan shows were louder than this. Banks pulls Devlin back up by the hair, but Jordan hotshots his way free before an Air Jordan uranage was countered with an armdrag. Devlin’s taken outside as Banks CRASHES AND BURNS with a low-pe. Holy christ. That was scary fast in a tigher-than-usual ringside area. That was the turnaround, as Devlin builds up momentum when Banks returned, crashing into him with a knee to the gut before an armbar wore down the Kiwi. Banks threatened a comeback, but ran into a standing Spanish Fly as Devlin turned it around in a heartbeat and nearly ended the match…
Devlin pulls down the knee pad to wallop Banks, before a boot choke had Banks through the corner. Banks has another comeback, using chops to take Devlin into the corner before a jawbreaker stemmed the tide, before he looked for a Devlinside… but Banks shrugs off Devlin’s kicks and fought back with forearms. Until he’s caught with the Air Jordan uranage… the standing moonsault’s blocked with knees as Banks runs in with forearms to trap Devlin into the corner, following in with a trip and a cannonball. A German suplex follows out of the corner for a near-fall, before more kicks from Banks looked to wear down the Irishman.
Eventually, one of those kicks get caught, but he’s back with a low dropkick and a rolling forearm… before a pump kick sent Devlin awkwardly to the outside. Banks connects with a low-pe that didn’t look as violent as the first, before a flying stomp back inside almost led to the title change. A Slice of Heaven’s ducked as Devlin tries for a Devlinside, but it’s countered into a sunset flip before more pinning attempts led to a rear spin kick from Devlin. The pair trade headbutts, which led to Devlin falling on top of Banks – and that’s what gets the crowd going. Another stomp from Banks out of the corner gets him closer to the upset, but Devlin catches Banks on the top rope with a gamengiri, bringing him down with a slingshot cutter. A moonsault off the top misses as Banks found a Slice of Heaven, but a Kiwi Krusher led to nought as Devlin countered out with a Zack Sabre Jr.-ish Euro clutch… grabbing the rope at the last moment to snatch the win. A “skin of the teeth” win for Devlin in a really good match, but one that was dragged down by an indifferent crowd. ***¼
A decent week “between the bells” on NXT UK then, but the evergreen issues that plague this show continue with flat crowds that struggle to give a damn. Save for Devlin yelling “WALTER” at the end, there was no mention of either Takeover: Tampa or Takeover: Dublin – and I’d guess next week – the show that was meant to be part of kickstarting WrestleMania weekend – will be the test to see how they handle the cancelled shows, especially given they’re doing a battle royal for a title shot on a show that’s not going to be happening…