Exactly a year to the day from his disappointing loss, Joe Coffey’s back in the main event as he took on WALTER.

The Empress Ballroom in Blackpool’s sold out again, and as usual every title’s on the line. We open with a Tyler Bate-voiced video package, with Pete Dunne popping up to tell people to grab hold of their destiny. The first thing we see in the arena? A fan flipping off on the ‘tron… Tom Phillips and Nigel McGuinness are on commentary… and I guess a John Cena cosplayer with a NXT title belt in the front row?

Trent Seven vs. Eddie Dennis
Eddie Dennis has a new mask, which looks… erm. Yeah.

Eddie tries to jump Trent with a boot at the bell, but gets caught with a powerbomb for a very early two-count. Eddie tries to fight back, ducking a chop but takes a DDT before he caught Trent in the corner with a Severn Bridge. From there, Eddie tries to keep up with a cravat before taking Trent into the ropes for a back elbow. A suplex is good for a two-count as I got distracted by how that side-tron photo of Trent looked like someone was going for “Misawa tribute photo” vibes. Trent tries to fake out Eddie for a DDT but instead hits a snap Dragon suplex to take Eddie outside, following up with a tope that seemed to catch out a security guard.

Back inside, Eddie ducks a ripcord lariat and hits a swinging side slam for a near-fall, before another Severn Bridge was called a Razor’s Edge. Branding, Tom! Trent slips out as Eddie hits a forearm, before Trent caught him with a side slam for a near-fall. A Birming-Hammer from Trent’s stopped as Eddie slips onto the apron… and from there he goes to remove a turnbuckle pad. The ref caught him, but the pad had been loosened enough as Eddie’s taken up top for a superplex, which lands for a two-count. Rather than fix the turnbuckle, the ref kicks the pad out of the ring as Trent was sent into the exposed corner. Cue VAR chants for a reference that won’t ever date, and now the ref tries to block Eddie from a Severn Bridge into the exposed corner. So instead, Eddie tosses Trent into a convenient body at ringside, then rolled him in for a near-fall, before the Next Stop Driver got the win. Quite a definitive win for Eddie, and one that’s more a statement… especially because it took out not one but two innocent bodies at ringside. ***

NXT UK Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs. Piper Niven vs. Kay Lee Ray (c)
Toni jumps the champion at the bell, forcing Kay Lee to powder…

But Toni gives chase and ends up getting hurled into the guard rails. Piper capitalised with a low-pe into Storm, before cannonballs trapped her opponents by the railings and ring steps. A trip from Kay Lee Ray stops Piper going back into the ring, but some ground and pound ends with Niven hitting a back senton into the pile for a near-fall. Toni punches out Niven so she could go for Kay Lee again, but a Storm Zero’s stopped as Niven charged in with a crossbody. Storm’s German suplex tosses Kay Lee into the corner, before a tornado DDT out of the corner almost led to the win.

Kay Lee Ray looks for a Gory bomb, but instead Niven gets superkicked into a Storm German suplex as a Parade of Moves broke out, ending with a Saito suplex from Niven on Ray. Storm and Niven squared off, trading forearms until Kay Lee shoved Niven into Storm from behind, before the champion went out for a chair. Ray chokes Storm with it, before she looked to Pillmanize Toni’s neck… but Piper makes a save, and ends up heading outside for a flip senton onto Ray. Kay Lee Ray one ups it with a senton off the top, but her leg cracks on the guard rails on the way down as that ringside area feels way too small to be doing those sorta dives.

Back in the ring they quickly rushed into a Tower of Doom, but Niven just powerbombs Storm as Kay Lee Ray went in with a senton and tempted fate again to break it up. Another powerbomb from Niven drops Kay Lee, before a Piper Driver nearly got the win. Niven went for it again, but gets caught with a Gory bomb… but Toni grabs the ref to stop the three-count from being made. Ray dives into Storm on the outside with a tope, before she ran into a Destroyer by Niven back inside… only for a Storm Zero from Toni to get the nearest of falls as Piper breaks it up. This crowd’s eating this up, as Toni proceeds to hit Storm Zero onto Niven’s back, before a third Storm Zero on Niven got turned into a… Pedigree?

That’s not enough though as that’s not her move, and Toni heads up top for a frog splash… only to be kicked away as Kay Lee steals the pin to retain. This was all-action, with Niven in particular standing out… despite threatening to unravel halfway through was quite good. Kay Lee would be best served not trying to be a “Glaswegian Sabu” for the sake of any longevity though! ***¾

Backstage, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel are doing their tribute to Manabu Nakanishi… and we see Travis Banks gladhanding at ringside, having not made it onto the card.

Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin
We’re keeping up the trend of one-new-tron per match here, as Tyler Bate’s video begins to dated.

The pro-Bate crowd just pisses off Devlin before the bell, as they locked up and headed into the ropes as the crowd dug up three-year old chants against Jordan. They trade wristlocks and escapes, before a nice headlock takedown countered a Devlinside, as we worked towards some neat pinning attempts. Devlin headbutts away Bop & Bang, before he got monkey flipped into the ropes. A big back body drop follows, as does a gorilla press slam and a dropkick to take Devlin outside… but Tyler takes too long to follow up and gets caught with an Air Jordan back inside for a near-fall as the crowd was starting to shift. Devlin’s kitchen sink knee to the gut drops Bate for a near-fall, as the Irishman began to push ahead, booting Tyler in the head before a Devlinside was blocked.

An Irish whip from Bate launches Devlin to the outside, with a hard landing to boot, as Tyler followed with a sweet plancha. He rolls Devlin back inside, only for a delayed crossbody to get turned into a lungblower as Devlin caught Tyler unawares as more stomps to the back of the head followed. Jordan sets up Tyler for a Romero special, then pulled Tyler into a chinlock before popping the former champion free. The pair crash into each other as they went for crossbodies at the same time, but Bate’s back and in action first, hitting a diving uppercut off the middle rope before catching Devlin’s receipt, turning it into an Exploder. Another slingshot from Devlin’s caught and turned into a mighty airplane spin, as the crowd were lapping up Tyler’s greatest hits.

That airplane spin goes FOREVER, with Devlin finally being let go as he nearly lands on his head before a brainbuster made sure he did. It gets a near-fall, before a Tyler Driver’s turned into a ‘rana as near-falls lead to Devlin catching Bate with a half-nelson suplex for a near-fall. A slingshot cutter has Bate on the defensive, but he rolls onto the apron, where he’s caught with another one as both men went to the floor. A count-out tease almost saw Bate lose after he got kicked by the boards, but he dives in at 9, as Devlin again looked for a Devlinside, and ended up engaging in some short-range boxing, ending with a very un-boxing Koppo kick. Devlin counters a Tyler Driver with a headbutt before a Bate flips out of a Devlinside… but not a Destroyer as the pair traded more headbutts.

They head up top as Bate looked for a Spanish Fly… but Devlin switches around to hit his, then a Devlinside for a near-fall. Devlin looks to underscore things, trash-talking Tyler ahead of a punch of his own, before a Tyler Driver was a step too far as Bate flipped out, then came back with a headbutt off the apron. A flying DDT follows, before Bate came close with a Tyler Driver… then took the win with a Spiral Tap. Well, they lived up to the hype – and the danger was framing this as a “Match of the Year contender” was going to set expectations too high, but that was not the case. If you’ve handwaved NXT UK… well, this is a match you’re going to have to carve out time for. That. Damn. Good. Even if you’re not in agreement with who won… ****½

We see Triple H, Johnny Saint and William Regal applauding from the boxes. I guess Fit Finlay wasn’t around to sorta-reprise that moment from 2017?

Ladder Match for NXT UK Tag Team Championship: Gallus (Wolfgang & Mark Coffey) (c) vs. Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Andrews vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) vs. Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner)
We start with a mad dash as the ring eventually cleared with the Grizzled Young Veterans standing tall… briefly, until Wolfgang and Mark Coffey rushed the ring. Wash, rinse, repeat, and add Imperium.

The merry go round continues as Webster and Andrews hit standing moonsaults onto Aichner, before the Grizzled Young Veterans pulled them into the ropes and went for ladders. Well, they did, but Gibson’s got chairs instead, as Gallus used them to place in front of Drake in a Tree of Woe, before Imperium spoiled the party… so they could use low dropkicks to sandwich Drake with. Imperium looked for the ladders, but were dived into by Andrews and Webster, who set the ladders up in the ring and began to climb. Hey, Webster’s ladder climber at the gym helped him! They’re pulled down as Imperium went up, only for Gallus and another ladder to knock them down, as we begin to get a little spotty. Webster hits a moonsault press off a ladder, before he had a ladder dropkicked into his midsection as Imperium looked to steamroll through him.

Andrews hits the Pele kick and doesn’t land on his head as Gibson and Drake caught him in a ladder, charging him into the corner for another dropkick… but Drake seemed to catch himself on the way down. Mark Coffey chokeslams Gibson onto a ladder in the ropes, then hits a slingshot Samoan drop on Drake… and they’re using those ladders for pain, rather than gain. Gallus toss Imperium into the ring steps, then stop the Welsh lads as they were climbing the ladder… but Mark Andrews decides for a shooting star press off the ladder rather than climb for the belts. Because why win when you can be flashy?

Marcel Barthel’s back to hit a back suplex to Webster in the ladder, before Aichner BOUNCES Flash off of it with his springboard moonsault. Holy hell! Imperium and the Grizzled Young Veterans look to climb a pair of ladders next, before Gallus appeared with a third ladder. You know they’ll complete the set, but rather than climb one, Andrews sets it up as a bridge, so he can be flashy again. Flash, realising he’s got a dafty for a partner, gets a fifth ladder for climbing with, but he doesn’t open it up, and climbs on the back of Gibson as bodies began to fly… culminating with Flash taking a hard spill over the top to the floor before a Ticket to Ride off the ladder left Andrews in a heap.

Drake adds a 450 splash off the ladder bridge to Andrews, before Gibson helped Drake up the ladder… only for Aichner to make a save as Barthel helps with the European bomb. Imperium clear the ring of ladders, then looked to scale the remaining ladder as Gallus interrupt again, sandwiching Barthel with ladders for a bit. An enziguiri-assisted powerslam drops Drake, before Wolfgang aids Coffey into a dive outside… The action moves towards the aisle for… reasons, before Flash and Andrews hit double Stundog Millionaires on Gallus. More ladder teases, but Gallus take Webster and Andrews into the guard rails before they pull out some tables. That wakes up the crowd… and they conveniently bridge between the ring and the barrier. Uh oh.

Gallus look to slam the Welshmen through the wood, but they fight free as Mark Coffey’s rolled onto the table. It breaks instantly, so we don’t get the visual of Andrews and Webster doing duelling dives, as they instead improvise with a pair of side-by-side sentons that looked like it killed the Welsh lads. To their credit, they’re back up and climbing, but Drake and Gibson slide in to nearly sodomize Andrews with a ladder. Webster’s tossed out of the ring, but we’ve more plunder as Andrews got a Kendo stick. Which gets wrecked on Drake and Gibson. ALL THE PLUNDER.

Andrews goes back to climbing, but Imperium stop him with a pass-the-parcel brainbuster off the ladder, before Barthel went for the belts. Mark Coffey saves and goes for a German suplex off the ladder, which Aichner barely saved as Marcel instead watched Wolfgang spear Aichner through a ladder snapping it in two. Barthel’s pushed off the ladder to the floor… and that clears the way for Gallus to scale the ladder to secure their belts again. Well, they brought the plunder, the stunts and a LOT of bumps to these guys bump cards… a really good ladder match, save for that eggy bit in the middle before they found the other weapons. Now… can Joe Coffey complete the Gallus Gold? ***½

Ridge Holland’s at ringside… no new faces then?

WWE United Kingdom Championship: Joe Coffey vs. WALTER (c)
WALTER tried to boot Coffey at the bell, just like a year ago, as the challenger slapped the Austrian, then hit a spinning back suplex to force WALTER to the outside.

Another boot takes WALTER back to the outside as a shoulder tackle off the apron finds its mark, before WALTER lifted Coffey into the crowd… from where the Scotsman returns with another leaping shoulder tackle. Back in the ring, WALTER’s almost cowering in the corner, before a rebound belly-to-belly off the ropes almost went awry. Coffey looks for a regular suplex, but instead he batters WALTER with forearms before he hauled up the Austrian for a suplex. That’s good for a two-count, before Coffey just pissed off WALTER with a chop. You know what’s next. WALTER asks for more, gets more, then kills the Scotsman with his retort.

A punt to the back leaves Coffey down, as more gunshot-like chops rang around the Ballroom on the outside. A big boot nearly took Coffey’s face into the crowd, before the Austrian grounded Coffey with a STF back in the ring. There’s another chop as WALTER gets free, before Coffey forced an opening and went for a missile dropkick… which is nonchalantly turned into a Boston crab. They’re trying to get Coffey across as a heroic good guy, but the crowd just isn’t buying what’s on offer, as WALTER rolled in for a Kassius Ohno-like inverted cravat… then a chicken wing that ended in the ropes. WALTER gets the crowd again with a chop, before Coffey ducked one and hit a clothesline instead. From there, they upgrade to the shoulder charges, before WALTER’s big boot looked to go awry, as he eventually settled for a suplex for a two-count.

A mounted sleeper’s broken as Coffey falls back, before Coffey lifted WALTER into an electric chair position before shoving him into the buckles. Coffey pushes on with a bridging German for a near-fall, before a double-jump moonsault off the top gets another near-fall. They’re back to chops though, before Coffey charges WALTER into the corner… and the crowd wakes up again when ref Chris Sharpe’s killed with a shotgun dropkick. With no ref, Coffey goes for a powerbomb, which gets a visual pin… my favourite babyface spot ever. Out comes Alexander Wolfe to boot Coffey, before Ilja Dragunov came out to neutralise things. Except his Torpedo Moscau sent Wolfe into Coffey, who tweaked his knee it seemed, and WALTER’s right in with a clothesline to Ilja. That had better lead somewhere down the road…

On the outside, WALTER hurls Coffey into the ring steps, then went for an apron powerbomb. That led to a visual pin for WALTER as Joel Allen came out to make a delayed near-fall count, while Ilja and Wolfe brawled to the back. WALTER makes a rare trip up top and gets caught, but those Blackpool ropes are cursed for Coffey, who slips before he’s chopped down, before he returned to land an uppercut. A belly-to-belly superplex just about comes off, but Coffey has to crawl over to WALTER, and by the time he does, they’re back to striking. Coffey threw a forearm to avoid a chop as he boxed WALTER into the corner. Just like Prime Target. WALTER kicks out the knee though, then… YES! HE KICKED HIS LEG OUT OF HIS LEG! A big splash off the top rope follows as WALTER’s barely up there long enough to get a nose bleed, but Coffey kicks out again!

Coffey hits back with Awra Best for the Bells, then goes for it again… but WALTER ducks and takes him down with a side headlock, before switching into a grounded Gojira. A kick to the back rocks Coffey, before another Gojira led to a sleeper suplex. WALTER adds a powerbomb and more chops, before a powerbomb and a crossface looked to force a stoppage… and it does, because Coffey taps. That felt a little abrupt, but this was beginning to spin its wheels as a match. It didn’t feel as arduous a match as last year’s main event, but man… if Joe Coffey went off the rails after losing last year, does he turn into Frank Grimes for 2021?! ***¼

The rest of Imperium come out after the match to celebrate with WALTER, which gave us the sight of Fabian Aichner with ice TAPED TO HIS TRACKSUIT as the show goes off the air… or does it? The crowd roars as the Undisputed Era rush through the crowd to attack Imperium. WALTER and Cole have a staredown, but Undisputed Era mug WALTER as we now go off the air for reals with chants of “Undisputed”. Where was the rest of the NXT UK roster in their bid for this brand supremacy bollocks in two weeks?! There’s your build for Worlds Collide… it’s just a little tropey as this is the “go to” way of show-closing surprises.

NXT UK – justifiably – gets a lot of stick for it’s week-to-week TV, which veers from great to bang-average depending on the week you watch it. When it comes to the Takeovers, they’ve not let us down yet in their short history, but I would say this was perhaps the weakest of the three cards too, which highlighted the lack of roster progression in the past year. The women’s match was good, if not a little spotty, as was the ladder match, while the much-vaunted Devlin/Bate match picked up the universal “match of the night” honours. As expected. We had no new faces at ringside on this show, perhaps highlighting the slowdown of signings to the brand, and with Worlds Collide clearly the bigger thing on the menu coming out of this show, I guess we’ll have to wait until next week’s tapings from York before we see what changes, if any, are made for NXT UK’s first days on proper TV in the UK with BT Sport…