A 20-man battle royal for a shot at WALTER’s NXT UK title headlines on this week’s show…

Of course, in the “real world”, our time line is a lot different to what everyone was expecting a month ago when these tapings were taking place. WrestleMania’s going to be a taped pay-per-view in front of no fans, NXT Takeover – both the Tampa and Dublin editions – have been cancelled or rearranged. Neither of those were mentioned on the show, but there was a fair amount of overdubbing. So this week’s main event, for a title shot against WALTER really is for a time to be confirmed…

We open with a montage of everyone doing their Royal Rumble-ish promos, including T-Bone. No offence, but that’d have been a Leicester City-ish upset. Jesus, they’re literally showing EVERYONE’S PROMO. Noam Dar, Kassius Ohno and Ligero got a lot more spotlight than you’d think.

Kay Lee Ray & Jinny vs. Piper Niven & Dani Luna
This was Jinny’s first NXT UK match in 2020 – her last outing being a win over Amale just before Christmas last year.

Niven has to restrain Dani from starting as Kay Lee Ray was across the ring… and of course, when Piper starts, Kay Lee just tags out to Jinny instead. Mind games. Niven opts to wait, so she tags in Luna, who leaps at Ray instead, as the bad guys tried to use Luna’s lack of experience against her. It sort of works, but Dani catches Jinny’s crossbody and turns it into a fallaway slam before Ray ran in and took a pump kick. Jinny ducks a line and tries some headscissors, only for it to be turned into a backbreaker. A Koppo kick from Jinny turns it around as Niven ends up distracting the referee, masking some two-on-one, as Ray hits a front suplex for a near-fall. Dubbed in Nigel hypes up the two-night ‘Mania, and this time he’s not in a wind tunnel, while Dani continued to be on the back foot.

An abdominal stretch from Jinny turns into an Octopus hold, but Luna powers out and manages to suplex her way free. Piper Niven gets the tag in and charges through Jinny, hitting a ripcord-ish clothesline and a twisting Fisherman buster, before Kay Lee Ray broke up a pin from a Michinoku Driver. Instead, Niven comes back with a bucklebomb and a cannonball to Jinny in the corner, before a Vader Bomb was broken up by Kay Lee Ray. Jinny dives out to tag in the champion, but Piper just headbutts Kay Lee… then age a superkick as Dani Luna tagged herself back in. Piper wasn’t happy, even though Luna scored with a German suplex as referee Chris Roberts lost control. Niven dispatches of Jinny, but it backfires as the Scotswoman gets hurled into the ring steps, meaning nobody could make the save as Dani ate a Gory Bomb. Decent enough until things threatened to fall apart at the end. Christ, Coventry, would making an audible reaction kill you? **¾

Next Week: We’re getting a best of show on the Rise of NXT UK. The well’s either dry, or they’re going to drip-feed the remaining matches from these tapings.

Hey, WWE’s actually talking about the coronavirus! It’s a CDC advert, but I’ll take this against the way they’ve been talking around it on their shows proper.

Vignette for Gallus. Yep.

Amale vs. Xia Brookside
Hey, Amale gets an entrance!

We open with Amale working the wrist of Brookside, but Xia flips free, only to get taken into the ropes. She’s back with a crossbody that lands for a two-count, before Xia works the arm, but Amale hits an arm whip to get herself free. A trapped-arm chinlock from Amale wears down Brookside some more, but Xia breaks the hold, only to get thrown down as Amale goes to a hammerlock. Xia snapmares her way free, then returns with a chinbreaker and some headscissors, following up with double knees and the Broken Wings – a back cracker with the feet instead of the knees – for the win. Not your usual Amale match, that’s for sure, and your template “good guy sells a lot and hits their move to win” sub-three minute TV match. It was there. **

Nigel McGuinness and Andy Shepherd run down the rules for the battle royal. At least they’re framing this for first time fans. The winner gets a shot at the NXT UK title…

Battle Royal
They give entrances to Trent Seven and Tyler Bate at first as everyone’s overdubbed… Joe Coffey’s next, then they go to a break to fit in WrestleMania ads. We’re back with Ilja Dragunov coming out, then Ridge Holland, followed by Alexander Wolfe, who was dubbed “Imperium’s insurance policy”. Poor Kassius Ohno, Ligero, Dave Mastiff, Jordan Devlin, Ashton Smith, Noam Dar, Tyson T-Bone, Flash Morgan Webster, Oliver Carter, Kenny Williams, Travis Banks, Saxon Huxley, A-Kid and Amir Jordan. They all got no spotlight.

Mastiff, Holland and Coffey squared off with Ohno, who tried to back away… but they all gang up on him and toss him out. Cue your usual battle royal anarchy, with Huxley ragdolling Williams to the outside with a choke throw, while Jordan Devlin almost got dumped by Mastiff. Flash Morgan Webster tries to suplex A-Kid from the ring to the floor, but to no avail as his bid to eliminate the Spaniard came to nought. In the end, Joe Coffey barges Flash out of the ring, before Amir Jordan took shots at Huxley… only to get caught as an attempt to lawn dart Jordan to the floor led to him ‘rana’ing Saxon out instead.

Saxon hangs around as A-Kid’s knocked onto him… an impromptu piggy back saves A-Kid, who gets back inside. T-Bone’s eliminated by Banks, while Ilja Dragunov has to use bodyscissors to stop Coffey throwing him out. Bate’s almost got Wolfe out, but the German slips back inside as a choke bomb from Mastiff splats Banks on the way to the Kiwi’s elimination. Mastiff focuses on Coffey next, taking him away from A-Kid as the pair looked to claim a scalp, while Ashton Smith went for Moustache Mountain. It doesn’t go too well. Amir Jordan’s dumped out by Mastiff, as Coventry tried to dub Mastiff “Davey Wrestling”. I think someone already made that a shirt.

Mastiff’s list of scalps was almost added to with Ligero, as Ridge Holland made Smith and Carter do the Silly String… before eliminating the pair of them. Coffey drops Ridge with a backbreaker, before Mastiff tosses Ligero outside… and it’s clear they’re having the big lads rack up the eliminations. Speaking of big lads, Ridge and Mastiff square off, but Dar kicks away Mastiff’s knee… then went after Ridge’s. Dar gets caught with an Exploder, as Joseph Conners appears at ringside to taunt Ridge with his club… and that allows Coffey and Ilja to eliminate Holland. Ilja and Coffey get into a shoving match, then a brawl, before a teardrop suplex from Ilja had Coffey down.

Meanwhile, Bate and Seven catch A-Kid and Devlin in duelling airplane spins, but it dizzies them before Trent ends up suckering Tyler with a rebound clothesline. Joe Coffey throws out Trent before that can escalate. Bate tries to airplane spin Mastiff, but to no avail, as the crowd fell silent. A-Kid’s still in… but not for long as Devlin lifts him onto the apron…. A-Kid takes Devlin with him as he has to block a German suplex off the apron, before Devlin just headbutts the Spaniard to the floor. Devlin returns to hit a quebrada/Air Jordan onto Coffey and Dragunov, then a slingshot cutter on Wolfe as the Irishman finally shone. A Spanish fly squashes Tyler, but Dar’s back from being the trope of “not eliminated” to throw out Devlin from behind. Oh God, they were teasing that, weren’t they?

Mastiff is angry and squashes Dar with a Finlay roll and a back senton… before a cannonball left Dar down. Dave doesn’t instantly pick up Dar for the elimination though, and by the time he did, Dar ended up playing the Chris Benoit to Mastiff’s Big Show, as the 2004 Rumble finish took out the big guy. Albeit with some help from the rest of the field. Dar’s still in then, clocking Bate from behind, but Tyler’s back with another airplane spin before he Koppo kicks Dar off the apron for the elimination. Our final four’s Wolfe, Coffey, Bate and Dragunov… who run into each other to zero reaction. Good job. It breaks into a slugfest, before a Giant Swing headlock from Coffey ragdolls Ilja around the ring.

YET ANOTHER AIRPLANE SPIN from Tyler’s teased, but he goes for a rebound lariat instead before Coffey’s double-jump crossbody took down the first NXT UK champ. A charge from Coffey sends Dragunov and Bate crashing into the corner, but Wolfe saves Ilja from an elimination before Ilja got used to eliminate Coffey. To golf claps. Wolfe gets peppered by Bate and Dragunov… he recovers to DDT Ilja, before a German suplex on Tyler was flipped out of. Wolfe hits that German anyway, before he tried to launch Tyler to the outside, only for Bate to recover and hit a rebound lariat. Ilja sparks up to clothesline Wolfe to the outside – so it’s Tyler and Dragunov for a shot at WALTER then…

Dragunov takes down Ilja for a back senton, but had to block a clothesline as he took Tyler to the ropes for some chops to the neck wearing down Bate. Bop and Bang surprise Ilja, but Dragunov is back as he leaps into Tyler… who counters with an Exploder, then a standing shooting star press, before YET ANOTHER AIRPLANE SPIN is escaped. A clothesline from Ilja has Tyler rocked, but a rebound lariat brings Bate back before a Konstantin-Spezial puts us back to square one. More back-and-forth leads Ilja into lifting Tyler onto the apron, before Tyler lifted Ilja across the corner. They’re both fighting by a suspiciously loose turnbuckle pad, as Tyler climbs the ropes to try and suplex Ilja to the floor. He’s hoping NXT UK has some stellar freeze-frame technology, eh? Ilja just throws Tyler back inside before a super back senton lands flush… a Torpedo Moscau’s countered with a Koppo kick, before a Tyler Driver’s met with Ilja lifting Tyler over the ropes, as a Torpedo Moscau stopped Tyler in the middle of skinning the cat… and Ilja wins!

So, this was perhaps the last proper battle royal you’ll see under the era of social distancing… and it was pretty forgettable until the end. At least they did something with it to spark storylines, but all I’ll say is that a flat crowd for large parts of this, and a roster whose “move set” or “arsenal” was sorely exposed (how many airplane spins, was it?) kinda made those “this is awesome” chants look as forced as the epic closing stretch they tried to have at the end. ***

They replay the closing stretch as we close with Ilja celebrating his win… and no word of what’ll happen to that. Next week, of course, it’s a NXT UK special, and cue the questions about what the plans are for filling the airtime here. Still, at least that “best of” show will have hot crowds, something that yet again was sorely lacking with this Coventry crowd sitting on their hands for large stretches of this show. A theme.