NXT UK’s second Takeover saw the brand head to Wales as WALTER looked to fight off a familiar challenger.
No screenshots because the new-look WWE Network really doesn’t like hiding it’s playback controls. That’s not going to be annoying. We’re from the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff as Vic Joseph’s bigging up the “big strong boi”. I’ve got Wembley flashbacks. At least the Prime Target special didn’t have Tyler with the bins! Nigel McGuinness is on commentary as well…
Noam Dar vs. Travis Banks
Built in the last few weeks of NXT UK TV, this all stemmed from Noam Dar’s belief that he was guaranteed a match on every Takeover, and Travis Banks wanting to show him wrong. By giving him the match he was guaranteed. Still, at least Banks made it to Takeover this time, after Jordan Devlin attacked him in Blackpool…
Dar starts by taking Banks into the corner and busting out a “no pinkie” for those who remember that… Banks returned the favour, but Dar’s all smug about it as he began to work over Banks, pulling down a leapfrog before be evaded the Kiwi’s kicks, tripping him up before they reached an odd standoff. From the restart, Banks goes after Dar’s legs, which led to the Scotsman teasing an injury as Banks shrugged it off and caught him with an apron PK. Back inside, Dar lifts Banks into the ropes then clotheslined him off the top for a near-fall, before he snapmared the Kiwi into the ropes for another two-count. That seemed to target Banks’ previously-injured shoulder, and that was the body part that Dar looked to focus on… but Banks was able to fight back, ultimately landing a German suplex for a near-fall. Off the top rope, Banks leapt for something, but aborts as Dar rolls away before he caught Banks wit a series of kicks from the bottom.
Dar couldn’t follow up though, as Banks countered a submission into a Lion’s Clutch attempt, only for Dar to roll to the ropes for a save. Spinning Banks around, Dar catches him unawares for a Fisherman suplex for a near-fall, before he countered a Slice of Heaven into a Champagne Super Knee Bar that made Nigel break out into sing-song. After getting to the ropes, Banks ends up on the apron and dropkicked to the floor, where he gets snapmared into the ring steps for good measure, with Dar looking to end it… but a clothesline to the back of the head only draws a two-count.
Dar tries to get too cute but gets caught with a shotgun dropkick and a springboard stomp as Banks got back in it. A low-pe to the outside’s next, where he followed up with a Slice of Heaven off the barriers before rolling Dar back in for another stomp, which still wasn’t enough. Back-and-forth strikes reset things as a pump kick in the corner from Dar drew a Lionheart shout-out from Nigel, before Dar kicked away Banks’ leg in the middle of a Slice of Heaven attempt, allowing him to quickly put him away with a Nova Roller kick. A decent enough opener, with Noam Dar backing up his words… but man, that’s another big L for Banks here. ***¼
Backstage, Radzi’s beaming because he gets to interview “WWE superstar” Cesaro. He’s here because he has an open challenge, which Ilja Dragunov seems to answer by turning up and snarling. Ilja heads to the ring to tell the crowd the same, and we have our unexpected addition…
Ilja Dragunov vs. Cesaro
It’s not a shock, but the generic Soviet theme Ilja has lacks anything resembling a punch – and it’s really exposed in situations like this. Not that Cesaro’s is much better, and it shows how long it’s been since I’ve seen main roster WWE… how long has his entrance video been a flip book?
Dragunov charges into Cesaro at the bell, but the Swiss native was more than even to it, chopping Ilja before they hit a stalemate, as it turned out the hand sign for “just bring it” was universal. Ilja built up a head of steam, chopping Cesaro down ahead of a back senton that barely got a one-count… not that it mattered, as Cesaro put paid to Ilja, tossing him outside as the Russian looked for an uppercut in the corner.
On the outside, Cesaro drops Ilja into the barriers, before he looked to keep on top of him back in the ring. A slingshot drives Ilja into the bottom rope, before he flipped out of a back suplex and landed on Cesaro for a near-fall. The Konstantin-Spezial’s blocked in the ropes as Cesaro transitions into a Giant Swing, which gave the Welsh crowd a lesson in counting, all the way up to 40 as Ilja was left dazed.
Cesaro keeps up with a crossface, rolling him back into the middle of the ring for extra peril… but Ilja rolled back to nearly pin him from the hold. The Konstantin-Spezial followed as Ilja again looked to build momentum, struggling with a backslide as Cesaro blocked it. Instead, Ilja found his way through with a Coast to Coast dropkick for a near-fall, only for Cesaro to respond with a… Go 2 Sleep? Somehow, Ilja kicks out, only to eat a diving uppercut for another near-fall, which led to the “are you watching Vince McMahon?” chants. You can watch but not take notice, you know…
Ilja comes back with a death valley driver into the corner, but he can’t follow up, taking his time before a Torpedo Moscau attempt was turned into a pop-up uppercut, then a Neutraliser as Cesaro took the win. A good effort from Ilja, but much like Finn Balor/Jordan Devlin in Blackpool, I’m not a fan of these surprise appearances from main roster guys leading to defeats for the folks sticking around. ***¾
After the match, Ilja and Cesaro hugged as Cesaro exited stage left… and we fade to black for a video game ad… Tyler Bate’s having his arms massaged by Trent Seven backstage…
NXT UK Tag Team Title Championship: Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Andrews vs. Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) vs.Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson) (c)
They’ve stopped themselves from officially using the “South Wales Sub Culture” moniker that got mocked by many – and needless to say, Flash and Andrews were the strong favourites in their homeland.
Gibson and Andrews start us off as the crowd started to take off their shoes… not to worry though, Zack ignores it all as he went to work on Andrews’ left arm. We’ve a quick tag as Flash and Drake comes in, combining his Special Brew Flip and a standing Andrews moonsault for a two-count, with the Welshmen looking to build up some steam… only for Flash to get blind-tagged out by Wolfgang.
Gibson tries to slow the pace by pulling his partner outside, before Drake returned and blind-tagged out so Flash could take some shots. It didn’t quite work like that as he got the upper hand of Wolfgang before all three teams hit the ring for a stand-off… and surprise surprise, Chris Roberts struggled with handling tag team stuff. Flash looked to force the issue, working over Gibson with a round-the-post headscissors but the tide changes back in the ring as Drake’s step-up dropkick off Gibson took Flash down. A slingshot backbreaker on the outside keeps the champions ahead, while Drake tried his best to keep that going… only for Mark Coffey to blind tag himself in. The villainous teams seemed to do that a lot, but lost sight of Flash, who dove out to tag in Andrews, who merged a wheelbarrow roll-through into a DDT before Gallus came in and took a backflip kick too.
Flash is back as an assisted 450 splash on Gibson nearly led to a title change, but Drake makes a save before Flash just cannonballed off the top into the champions. Gallus came in and were apparently legal, with Wolfgang slingshotting Andrews into a death valley driver for a near-fall, before Flash returned to become a nuisance again, helping with a bicycle knee to spark a reverse ‘rana from Andrews for another near-fall. Andrews and Coffey end up on the top rope, with the Scotsman teasing a suplex to the floor, but instead Coffey’s pushed into the pile below as a shooting star press to the floor proved to be the exclamation mark. Back in the ring, Gibson’s caught with a Stundog Millionaire, before Webster’s Shadows Over Malice senton bomb almost led to the win… Gibson kicks out, and quickly took Andrews into the corner for a Drake dropkick, following up with a Helter Skelter and an Organ Crusher 450 splash for another near-fall.
Gallus blind-tag themselves back in as Wolfgang threw Coffey to the outside into the pile, but they take too long to follow-up as Flash easily comes in to break up a cover on Andrews. That led to a six-way brawl among everyone, clearing out with the Scots and the Welsh… Flash’s slingshot into a Destroyer before Wolfgang ate a Doomsday tope on the outside, which left us with the champions and the Welshmen. They have a staredown as another brawl erupts, leading to a double Stundog from Andrews, leaving Drake laying as Flash returned with a 630?!
That should have won it, but Gibson pulls out the ref (apparently risking disqualification in a three-way…). Flash tries to keep up the momentum, but he misses a blind tag and eats a Ticket to Mayhem before Drake wiped out Gallus with a tope. Gibson’s pin’s broken up by a shooting star press from Andrews, who puts Webster on top straight away… and we have new champions! A heck of a match, as the team that’s been ravaged by injury leave Wales with the gold. A nice feel good moment for Cardiff. ****
Last Man Standing: Dave Mastiff vs. Joe Coffey
After their double count-out on NXT UK TV a few weeks back, this was made a Last Man Standing match by Sid Scala and Kindly Uncle GM Johnny Saint.
Mastiff charged at Coffey in the aisle as the Scotsman ran down with a chain… that got thrown aside as the match started with Coffey boxing away on Mastiff, before Big Dave whipped Coffey into the corner so hard it blew up the top rope. Of course, it drew “ECW” chants, which is relevant in 2019. If you’re Impact. Mastiff uses the turnbuckle iron to try and choke Coffey with, before a turnaround led to Joe slipping as he tried to springboard off the middle rope. He crashes and burns as Mastiff took over… at least until the match spilled outside, where Joe picked up a… snooker cue? Okay, that’s slightly outside the realm of weaponry I’d expect at a wrestling show.
Coffey goes under the ring for something more conventional: a canvas Gallus bag of goodies. Oh, and a table, which gets propped against the ringside area, only for him to get back body dropped into a roasting tray as we got sight of a wacky hashtag – PepIsBald. Guardiola? More LOCAL BRITISH SPORTS come into play as they swing a cricket bat, before Coffey snaps the pool cue on the back of Mastiff, who responded by whacking the cricket bat on Coffey.
That table’s still live, with Coffey charging Mastiff through it… but Big Dave is back, whipping Joe with the chain he brought out earlier, before he dragged out a second table. Right as Joe was trying to answer the standing ten-count. They have a tug of war with the chain, but Mastiff just lets go before he cannonballed Coffey through the second table. The pair brawl through the crowd, with Coffey taking chairshots, before he chose to punch it away with a chain ahead of a discus lariat left both men laying on the floor. Mastiff grabs a second chair so they could have a duel, as they just charge into each other. Coffey barely beats the ten-count, but ends up sidestepping as Mastiff charged into the railings by commentary desk – right as they went to a replay.
A clothesline takes them closer to the table, which Mastiff politely clears up, sending scripts flying before he bounced Coffey off it with a Finlay roll. That table was reinforced, clearly! Coffey pulls himself up using a gear case, but they end up on the stage behind the commentary desk to keep on their scrap, as I had flashbacks to Shane McMahon at WrestleMania. There’d best be no golf cart… as instead they flung each other off the stage, crashing through a table below.
There’s a bunch of poles nearby as the pair get to their feet… but Coffey kicks away Mastiff’s hand at the count of 9 as he barely escaped with the win. I’m not sure if the arena had this shown on the big screen, because there was hardly a reaction to the finish, but this was alright for what it was. I got the feeling that top rope went a bit sooner than intended, but this match yielded plenty of moments for video packages down the line. ***
WALTER’s doing squats and push-ups in what looked like a lock-up… and hey, there’s Tegan Nox at ringside.
NXT UK Women’s Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Toni Storm (c)
Whomever did the captions here was having a nightmare, calling out the Twitters of “Key Lee Ray” and “Toni Sorm”. Before the bell even sounded, commentary was pointing out how “gotten to” Toni’d been… and she starts by charging at Kay Lee Ray, who just powders outside to try and dictate the pace.
Playing keep-away, Kay Lee ends up getting caught with a tope as Storm leapt outside, before she looked to batter Kay Lee in the corner. There’s a turnaround as Kay Lee tried to stretch the champion on the mat, but Toni – apparently in tears – fought back with a superkick and a diving clothesline. Another clothesline drops Kay Lee, who tried to respond with a Gory bomb, only for Toni to counter with a Code Red.
A Storm Zero’s next for a near-fall, but Kay Lee’s back with a superkick and a Gory Bomb… but Toni barely kicks out in time, then headed up top for an avalanche Storm Zero… but instead she’s got to make do with a German suplex. A delayed cover led to a two-count as Kay Lee got her foot on the rope, with Toni following in with a low-pe as she stayed on top of her challenger. Kay Lee comes back in with a knee before a step-up senton to the floor almost went awry. Back inside, Kay Lee hits two more Gory Bombs – including one into the ropes – and that’s all. This felt a little flat, but with Toni reportedly carrying an injury, I guess this was expected to some level. Hopefully Kay Lee Ray’ll be able to grow into the title, because judging by the lack of reaction, the bad guy character hasn’t quite established itself with this fanbase. **½
WWE United Kingdom Championship: Tyler Bate vs. WALTER (c)
We started off with WALTER getting peppered with kicks as Tyler Bate tried to force the issue early on. A Test of Strength from WALTER led to him pushing Bate to the mat, before he broke the neck bridge… which just gave Tyler a chance to live up to his nickname.
More kicks from Bate end with WALTER ragdolling him to the mat with a headlock takedown, as Cardiff discovered the delights of alliteration. Tyler goes for a Tyler Driver early, but he’s countered with a back body drop before he tried… and managed to Andre slam WALTER on the first attempt. That’s not how that usually goes!
WALTER’s sent packing to the outside but Tyler doesn’t follow out, rather, waiting for WALTER to return as the champion looked for some slams… with Tyler clinging to the arm to save himself. Not seen THAT before! A ‘rana takes WALTER outside again, with Tyler this time following out with a tope, only to get caught and chopped. An apron powerbomb’s next, as was a boot through the ropes as WALTER quickly took the upper hand, nearly booting Tyler into the crowd before he just threw him into the ring post with a powerbomb.
WALTER returns to the ring as someone came to audibly check on Tyler. My speakers may have been a little low, which is why I was openly asking myself “wha’ you sayin’”. If you know, you know! Nevertheless, Tyler rolls back in before the count of ten, but WALTER sticks on top of him… with Bate reducing to some desperation attacks. Using a neck crank, WALTER wears down Bate some more, before a rear naked choke ended with a rope break… and somehow a comeback from Tyler, who unwisely tried to lift up WALTER for an airplane spin, only to fall flat on his face and into a crossface. Some clubbing forearms in the ropes send Tyler spilling outside, was WALTER continued to pick his shots, bullying Bate.
Back inside again, WALTER stretches Bate, before he began to toy with his challenger… who just looked to be spent at this early juncture. Right on cue, Bate tries to fight back with chops, but a clubbing forearm drops him as WALTER took him into the corner and stretched him over the turnbuckles. Somehow, Tyler lands on the apron and found a way back through, dumping WALTER to the floor with an Exploder suplex, and that seemed to be the cue for more of a fightback as Bate lands some legdrops and JYD-esque headbutts.
Close-range uppercuts follow, only for a chop from WALTER to snuff it all out as a Boston crab has Tyler on the deck again. After getting free, Tyler tries a suplex, but WALTER’s size allowed him to block and chop his way free before Tyler somehow got the move off in the end. Uppercuts help Bate build momentum, as did a Koppo kick, before Bate tried for a German suplex… then an Exploder. Only the Exploder paid off. Tyler tried to build up into a Tyler Driver, but again WALTER back body drops free before a shotgun dropkick to the back sent Tyler careering… only for the challenger to somehow rebound with a Code Red out of nowhere for a near-fall. Bate heads up top next, but WALTER rolls onto the apron to save himself… except he charges at Tyler in the corner, which led to Bate teasing a superplex to the floor, which gets blocked with a chop as WALTER tried to follow-up, only to get caught on the top rope with another Exploder!
Bate keeps up with some boxing on his knees, allowing him to keep WALTER down as he tried to work over the Austrian’s legs… but it’s not enough as the champion still was able to swat him away with ease. Somehow, Bate’s able to offer resistance, punching out WALTER… who lands on top of Tyler for a Kamala-style pin. A rotten piece of luck.
WALTER’s back to his feet and lands a flurry of palm strikes, but Bate goes back with low dropkicks before a rebound lariat’s caught and turned into an Exploder for a near-fall. Somehow, Bate has enough left in him for an airplane spin, but WALTER gets his way to the ropes… but gets caught in the corner as Tyler pulled him out into a Burning Hammer.
WALTER rolls outside, where he’s caught with a tope to the back from Bate that turned into a bulldog, following in with another tope and a deadlift German suplex that almost led to the title change. They keep going, with Bate somehow working his way into a Tyler Driver, but WALTER’s able to kick out as commentary was losing their collective minds. A Spiral Tap forces Bate nearer, but he then went back to the striking game, and quickly found himself right back on the defensive as a big boot had him down and in WALTER’s clutches. A rear naked choke has Tyler fading away, but he gets to his feet and climbs the ropes to escape… only to find himself back in danger with another rear naked choke over the ropes, that he broke by pulling WALTER over the top rope… only to get chopped in the back.
WALTER ups the ante with a sleeper suplex on the apron, dropping Tyler down to the floor before he went up top for a big splash… but unlike Pete Dunne, Tyler kicks out! Another sleeper suplex followed for a two-count… then a powerbomb, which Tyler manages to kick out of at one?! That’s the worst thing he could have done though, as WALTER stares on in disbelief, before a big lariat spun Tyler inside out for the win. By God, they went one better than Wembley – helped by a clearly defined good guy and an obvious bully, the crowd were roaring behind Tyler every step of the way… but in the end, with no outside help or interference of any kind, WALTER proved his superiority in the end. ****½
The show ended with Trent Seven and Pete Dunne coming out to console Tyler – in an image that felt like the polar opposite of when Tyler won his first UK title, with Trent in the Triple H spot and Pete in the William Regal, as the show faded to black with Tyler getting cheered in defeat.
Much like pretty much every Takeover-branded show, this was a really good evening of wrestling – and one that only serves to anger me more at just how bland and uninspiring the weekly product is. Yeah, every week of NXT UK can’t be balls-to-the-wall, but there has to be a middle ground between that and this. Two of the three titles on the brand changed hands, and it’s telling that there was no Pete Dunne (until the post-show bit where he and Trent consoled Tyler), or Rhea Ripley on the card, with their full-on NXT call-ups supposedly in the works. So, that’s it for a rather Scots-heavy Takeover: Cardiff – and with nothing obvious in the pipeline, I guess that’s it until AEW has another huge show… or until someone else happens in the UK?