Another week, another pair of NXT UK episodes – as the NXT UK Women’s title tournament completed its quarter finals.

We’re still in Birmingham at the Insomnia gaming festival – and once again, Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph will be in front of a green screen. I get why they’re doing it, but I’d like to see these tapings evolve so they can at least feign that they’re at the venue. Just not as badly as they tried with Nigel and JR for those Norwich shows last year…

NXT UK Women’s Championship Tournament – Quarter-Final: Xia Brookside vs. Rhea Ripley
There’s no handshake to start us off, as Ripley shoves away Brookside, who regains her composure before a waistlock attempt was easily shrugged off.

Ripley looks for a key lock, but Brookside escapes in the ropes and applies a wristlock…only to get thrown into the corner as the Aussie tried to fight back. An attempted ‘rana from Xia’s caught and turned into a bucklebomb for a two-count, as Ripley began to talk trash. It worked as Brookside looked to fight back, but she just gets dumped with a stalling suplex as Ripley picked up another near-fall.

A dropkick’s good for another two-count for Rhea, who follows up with an inverted cloverleaf as Xia was forced to try and hand-walk her way into the ropes. Eventually Xia rolls through to take Ripley into the corner, as the comeback began… jawbreakers, a flying facebuster, and a headscissors takedown all connect, but a crossbody is caught and Ripley’s right back with a pumphandle powerbomb for the win. This was fine for a TV match, but you got the sense that out of the two, Ripley was the more “ready”. **¾

Radzi’s backstage with James Drake and Zack Gibson. They address what happened last time out as Drake helped Gibson beat Trent Seven. Gibson says it’s not a case of Drake “trying to get into his good books”, as he and Drake are looking to claim the NXT tag titles. I sensed a lot of deep breathing and aborted eye rolls there!

They show footage from “after last week” when the Scotsmen threw Trent into some equipment boxes, injuring his knee again.

Jack Starz vs. Eddie Dennis
Holy crap, Starz is real?! I saw his name listed as an alternate for last year’s UK Championship tournament, but never heard anything about him since. He looks a LOT like a shrunken Mike Bird, for those looking for comparisons…

They play off the size difference, as Starz tries to be the scrappy underdog… but Eddie quickly grabs hold of him and suckerpunches him with a forearm in the ropes. Eddie roughs up Starz on the mat, before he caught a crossbody and turns it into a swinging backbreaker on the Leicester native, who was never really in it. There is a comeback from Starz, who lands uppercuts to take Eddie into the corner, but heading up top backfires as Eddie sidesteps his leap, before catching him with a Severn Bridge buckle bomb, with a Next Stop Driver finishing it off. SPLAT.

We see footage from after “last week” where Johnny Saint had to separate T-Bone and Dave Mastiff. That’ll be, erm, “next week”.

Mark Andrews vs. Wild Boar
The first time these two met one-on-one was in 2011 for the FWA. Think about how much water’s gone under the bridge since THAT was a thing!

Boar works over Andrews’ arm early, forcing an escape via the ropes, before Andrews made a comeback with armdrags of his own. A ‘rana takes the Boar outside, where he watches Andrews moonsault off the apron for some reason before scoring with a pop-up onto the apron and a back senton… again on the apron!

Back inside, a spinebuster drops Andrews for a near-fall, as Boar followed up with some Junkyard Dog-like diving headbutts, prompting Andrews to slap his way back into the match, sliding under a clothesline before connecting with an enziguiri. Boar heads outside for cover, but he gets clocked with a moonsault off the apron that brought back visions of Edge’s WWE debut against Jose Estrada. Google it.

Andrews keeps up with a springboard flip senton back into the ring for a near-fall, before he got caught with a half nelson suplex. Boar takes him into the suplex for a cannonball, but Andrews kicks out at two… so Boar heads up top and whiffs on a frog splash. A Stundog Millionaire from Andrews followed, which left Boar in place for a shooting star press as Andrews got the win. A solid TV bout – although it’s far from their best outing. Perfectly decent wrestling. ***

Radzi’s backstage again, this time getting a sore neck as he looks up to Eddie Dennis. Eddie takes exception at the opponents he’s been getting here… and in comes Ashton Smith who seemed to offer himself up. Eddie vows to destroy Smith, and storms off. The lighting on these backstage segments is very weird and not WWE-like…

NXT UK Women’s Championship Tournament – Quarter-Final: Isla Dawn vs. Toni Storm
Oh hey, it’s matching themes time for Isla! Meanwhile it’s old music and video for Toni Storm since we’re massively on tape.

Dawn charges into Storm at the bell, sending her into the corner with a dropkick before Toni blocked an Irish whip. It just meant she got a back suplex instead, before a running Meteora almost got Isla the massive upset. The offence keeps coming from Dawn, as a double stomp keeps Storm down, but the inevitable comeback began after Toni was kicked into the ropes, but Dawn pulls her into a Rings of Saturn that’s on for an age before Toni got to the ropes.

The entitled Dawn mouths off and ends up taking a running boot from Toni, who followed up with a hip attack in the corner… only to get caught with a head kick. She’s right back as she ducks another kick and lands a German suplex, before the Storm Zero Tiger Driver gets the win. Huh. I’m not sure how I feel about that – Dawn took most of the match but lost, which I guess makes this an anti-squash? We’ve got Toni vs. Jinny in the semis now – a rematch of a lot of places, including this year’s Mae Young Classic. **

Ligero vs. Jordan Devlin
I’m not too sure if the line “Ligero is living out his dream” was meant to be an insult, given that Jordan Devlin’d already called him a fake luchador last week.

Ligero stormed out of the gates as he used his lucha stylings to roll up Devlin early on, but the Irishman’s back as he lifts Ligero onto the apron, only for Ligero to respond with a dropkick for a one-count. Forearms follow, but Devlin cuts him off with a uranage and a standing moonsault for a near-fall as neither man could grab an advantage.

A neck crank followed as Ligero was kept on the mat, with Devlin coming close again with a running back elbow. Clubbing blows from Devlin keep the pace slow, as he looked methodical in his offence, lifting up Ligero… only for the luchador to escape and land a tiltawhirl slam. Ligero followed up eventually with a Code Red for a near-fall, but Devlin responds by taking Ligero into the corner for a running boot, before hauling him out for a ragdoll-like backdrop suplex. Christ, that looked nasty!

Ligero kicked out at two from that, and is able to block a slingshot cutter as he looked to capitalise… only for Devlin to roll outside. He follows him outside, eventually scoring a rebound DDT after he was lifted into the ropes, but Devlin catches him up top with a gamengiri and eventually a Spanish fly attempt… but Ligero shoves away the irony and leaps in with a Mexican wave, only to land in Devlin’s knees.

A roll-up from that’s good for a near-fall, as the pair trade forearms back-and-forth. There’s a Spanish Fly from Devlin for another near-fall as the crowd began to wake up, before Ligero countered the fireman’s carry slam into a Victory roll of all things. That comeback’s stopped with a boot, but Ligero catches Devlin up top again, eventually bringing him down with a spider German suplex!

Ligero repositions himself and connects with the Mexican Wave, but Devlin’s up at two, and we are back on the apron as the pair trade more right hands. They walk towards the ring steps, where Devlin knocks off Ligero as the masked man eats the steel, then an Orihara moonsault from Devlin, who turns up the pace as he hurried into the fireman’s carry slam… and that’s the win! A really good main event, albeit in front of a hushed crowd… and that’s more steam underneath Jordan Devlin! ***¾

This wasn’t a bad week, but it’s clear we’ll be waiting a while for any format changes. Five matches this week, with some backstage clips to break it up. For some reason, Birmingham’s been a quiet crowd, especially compared to the first set of tapings in Cambridge, which has hurt these matches.

Since the early weeks’ promo pieces, we’ve gotten rather devoid of any kind of character work outside of matches. NXT UK’s a functional product, but until they have something to build towards, it’s all very rudderless. I know we’ve said that before – hopefully the “big news” expected to drop at this weekend’s tapings in Liverpool will change that!