The Wheel of Formats for NXT UK landed on another director’s commentary-like show, with the women’s title match from January’s Takeover getting the spotlight.
Writer’s note: This is the first NXT UK since Monday’s news on the passing of Larry Csonka. Both of us would watch this at the same time on Thursday evenings – usually with matching thoughts on what was going on. Watching a lot of these shows as they happen won’t ever be the same again without that friend at the other end to bounce off of… but we’ve come this far, and stopping isn’t an option. As a writer and a human being, Larry was an inspiration. Rest well my friend. We all miss you, and there’ll never be another like you. A GoFundMe has been set up for Larry’s family, if you’d like to donate to it at https://www.gofundme.com/f/larrymania-living-on-in-his-girls
From NXT UK #38 – WWE NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm pinned Jinny in 10:30 (***)
From NXT UK #50 – Piper Niven pinned Rhea Ripley in 9:00 (***½)
From NXT UK Takeover Blackpool 2 – WWE NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray defended over Piper Niven and Toni Storm in 13:10 (***¾)
After a tribute graphic for Shad Gaspard, it’s in with the titles as Andy Shepherd’s back in his living room.
We get a profile piece on Toni Storm, starting with her 2018 Mae Young Classic appearance – which she won at Evolution later that year. She parlayed that into a shot at the NXT UK Women’s title, which she won, as clips then show us her rivalry with Jinny… which bleeds into this match from about a year ago…
WWE NXT UK Women’s Championship: Jinny vs. Toni Storm (c)
A rematch from the early days of NXT UK – throughout their careers, Toni just about holds the edge when it comes to singles encounters… and I doubt that’ll change here.
It’s a strong start with a hockey fight, but Jinny’s quickly having to fight out of submissions as Toni looked to end this early. Jinny got free and replied with a Dragon screw that segues into a seated surfboard… then a camel clutch… but Toni slips free and caught Jinny with a seated surfboard of her own! Jinny manages to get an arm free as she dragged herself to the bottom rope… and she fights back with an armdrag, only to miss a charge into the corner. Jinny recovers with a Flatliner into the buckles, getting herself a near-fall, before she looked to hit a rebound elbow to the back of Storm. It doesn’t come off, but Jinny’s backbreaker did, landing a near-fall, before she went back to a chinlock to try and squeeze Toni dry. Storm elbows herself free, then whipped Jinny into the corner, but a Japanese armdrag put Toni in the buckles for a near-fall.
Another chinlock keeps Toni on the mat, despite the champion briefly getting to the ropes. Toni finally manages to get free and comes back with rolling Germans, then with a hip attack, but an attempt at Storm Zero was countered with a charge into the corner. Jinny ties up Toni in the corner and spikes her with an X-Factor for a near-fall, before Jinny looked to beat Toni with her own move. It didn’t happen, as Storm came back with a headbutt for a near-fall… a leg sweep from Jinny took Toni into her knee, before a bunch of switches led to Jinny going for a ‘rana. It’s caught and turned into a powerbomb, before a Storm Zero got the win. Decent, but very WWE-style in that it was a “hit your finish and win”, which in theory works… but not when Jinny had been on offence for a long spell prior. They’ve had many better. ***
After a break, we’re given a recap on the arrival of Kay Lee Ray and Piper Niven into NXT UK… which takes us to this next match from the Download Festival tapings.
Rhea Ripley vs. Piper Niven
Piper charges to the ring as we got going with Ripley eating some forearms before she struck back, taking Niven into the corner… only to get caught with a running crossbody out of it.
Niven clotheslines Ripley to the outside, with Rhea taking a bad spill on her way down. Eventually Niven follows her outside, only to get charged into the apron as the Aussie kept on clubbering. After posting Niven, Ripley throws her back inside, but barely gets a one-count as she probably should have took the count-out. Ripley stomps a mudhole in Niven in the corner, before some bodyscissors on the mat led to a submission attempt. Rhea got a little too arrogant though, and began playing to the crowd… which opened the door for Niven to land a shotgun dropkick. But she too took her time with a Vader bomb, as Ripley pulled her down into the turnbuckles for a near-fall, before an inverted Cloverleaf ended when Piper hand-walked her way to the ropes.
Some trash talking ended when Ripley slapped Niven… you know what’s next. Piper resists an Irish whip and instead dropped her with a Saito suplex, before sidestepping a shoulder charge as Ripley ate the post. From there, a Piper Driver follows, and that’s enough for the win as Niven found her week wasn’t all too bad against wrestlers named Rhea. I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch, as both women brought their A-game here, and even managed to get a reaction from the usually muted crowd. Takeover, perhaps? ***½
More video packages of Toni Storm’s falling out with Kay Lee Ray, and briefly touch on Kay Lee Ray winning the NXT UK women’s title over Toni in Cardiff. Funny, given the general feeling, how they didn’t spotlight THAT match well.
Next week, we’ve more NXT UK hidden gems, featuring Matt Riddle, Finn Balor and the Street Profits. That’s gotta be the Plymouth tapings (he says again).
Back to video packages, we’ve got the package that built up to the Takeover 3-way, which was notable for Piper Niven saying that what should have been a three-way between friends wasn’t, because she “doesn’t know who they are anymore.”
We then get the three-way from Takeover: Blackpool 2 in full, with the “through their eyes” comments throughout.
NXT UK Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs. Piper Niven vs. Kay Lee Ray (c)
Picture-in-picture Kay Lee Ray tells us that this was her first defence of the title because a) she’d had surgery and b) she’d wanted to be 100% for it, given the mooted opponents. Toni jumps the champion at the bell, forcing Kay Lee to powder… Picture-in-picture Toni tells us she didn’t want to waste time, as she “obviously” was going to go for KLR.
Back to the match, as 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. Niven’s in picture-in-picture, telling us how she felt put out being the “third woman” in the match, and which means she was looking to take this opportunity to prove them both wrong for overlooking her.
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. Through picture-in-picture, Kay Lee says that it was only a matter of time before weapons came into play, as she was willing to do anything to not lose the belt. 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. Piper’s picture-in-picture tells us she saved Toni “because (she’d) not let that happen to a friend”, before musing how things would have gone had she’d let that happen. Toni’s rebuttal saw her thank Piper for “saving her career”, as we got the dives in the background.
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. Picture-in-picture Kay Lee breathed a sigh of relief that that dive didn’t do damage… 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 Kay Lee slips out and hits a Gory bomb… but Toni grabs the ref’s arm to stop the three-count from being made. Picture-in-picture Toni explains that away, but doesn’t say why she caught the ref’s arm rather than break up the pin. Kay Lee takes over the commentary, saying that she knew the crowd here wanted her to lose, so she knew what to do to spite them all…
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 knocked Toni to the outside, then stole 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
Picture-in-picture Piper tells us she didn’t realise how high the stakes were, and was hoping that Kay Lee Ray and Toni would see sense and things would be different. Instead, she took the fall, losing friends as well, while Kay Lee bragged about crushing dreams as the show came to an end.
So, a slightly different take on the “Most Brilliant” format, as we had matches spotlighting each person in the three-way feud, before the “main event” with some director’s commentary. They didn’t go as overboard on the picture-in-picture as they did with WALTER vs. Ilja, which made for a more natural feeling to the format. Next week, it’s more unaired matches, as we continue to wait for news on any potential restart…