After winning the second annual United Kingdom Championship Tournament, the man who calls himself Liverpool’s Number One cashed in his title shot on another monumental night at Royal Albert Hall.
Unlike last night, we’ve got the full-on NXT branding: the black canvas, the turnbuckles and ring aprons and the entrance as well. We’ve a larger crowd present for the second night of the residency in South Kensington as it NXT vs. NXT UK tonight! Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness are back again for commentary, and after a recap of last night, we’re straight into the action… Hey, whatever happened to the Street Profits?
NXT Tag Team Championship: Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (c)
After winning in the six-man tag, British Strong Style get a tag title shot to kick us off here – which means one thing. Air-guitaring Kyle O’Reilly!
With a point to prove, Roderick Strong charges out at Tyler Bate to get us going, but it’s when Trent Seven tagged in that the champions thought they’d gotten the upper hand. It’s just a shame that Trent can throw chops… Tyler’s brought back in so he can flip off of Trent’s back in a senton onto Strong. The tide again turns when Seven’s taken outside, as Roderick Strong crashes into him with a dropkick through the ropes, which prompted the crowd to rail on Roddy’s boots again.
Unfortunately, that did little for Trent, who’s mercilessly beaten on from above by O’Reilly, and kept isolated in the wrong corner as the champions continued to wear down on the elder statesman of Moustache Mountain. Eventually Trent gets free… but by the time he gets to Tyler in the corner, Roderick Strong was back in to stop him… as Kyle had a plan B. Pull Tyler off the apron! Another dropkick dumps Seven for a near-fall, but Trent’s back with a DDT as Kyle tried to duck a chop… and now Tyler’s in! That hot tag clears the ring as Tyler’s all about the clotheslines and a back body drop that causes static! A standing shooting star press almost gets Bate the win.
Tyler tries for the airplane spin, but O’Reilly slips out into a rear naked choke that forced Bate to break in the corner… but when the hold’s reapplied, all we get is Tyler pulling Roderick Strong as he hit a German suplex and a back bump to squash the champions for a near-fall. A repeat of last night’s finish almost gave us new champions as a rebound-lariat-assisted Dragon suplex was only saved by Roderick Strong at the last moment, bringing the Hall to its feet!
O’Reilly’s back with a flurry of kicks to Bate, who replied with a punch, before Kyle’s sheer-drop brainbuster barely eked out a two-count on Tyler. Bate recovers after Strong accidentally clotheslines O’Reilly… and once Bate lays out the champions with Koppo kicks, we’ve a blind tag from Trent that allowed him to come in and drop Kyle with the Seven Stars lariat, before a double-stomp assisted Burning Hammer led to the unthinkable… NEW CHAMPIONS! Royal Albert Hall exploded for that one, and with good cause – a hell of an opening match, and a real “I was there” moment. ***¾
Hey, Glen Joseph’s a roving reporter… he’s interviewing Johnny Saint, who makes a triple threat match to decide the next contender to the WWE UK title. Flash Morgan Webster and Travis Banks are in it, as are Mark Andrews.
Killer Kelly vs. Charlie Morgan
After coming up short in the three-way to get a NXT Women’s title shot, Killer Kelly’s got Charlie Morgan tonight – a rematch from a bout I saw in some railway arches not too long ago…
Truth be told, this had a hard time following the tag title match, as we started with Kelly and Charlie locking up, going for wristlocks as the crowd chanted for the EVE champion. Kelly slaps out of the wristlock and applies one of her own, before getting tripped as we enter a spate of pinning attempts, ending with some kip-ups as the pair squared off again. A pump kick from Kelly’s avoided, as she turned around into a springboard crossbody from Charlie… Morgan’s corner dropkick misses as she’s hung up in the ropes, but Kelly drags her out of the corner in a torture rack before hitting a snap suplex for a near-fall. Kelly again takes Charlie into the ropes as she puts the boots to her again, before softening up Morgan for a Romero special… instead dragging her back into a Dragon sleeper.
Kelly boots Charlie away though, and then kicks her through the ropes for a nasty landing on the outside, as the Cristiano PK followed on the apron. Back inside, more ground and pound from Kelly keeps Morgan at bay, only for a superkick out of nowhere and a springboard cannonball off the rope to turn things around. A German suplex from Kelly puts Morgan back into the corner for the Shibata-ish dropkick, but somehow Charlie’s able to kick out, as she’s forced to roll out from a strait-jacket German. Kelly again goes for a suplex, but Charlie counters into a small package… and out of nothing, Charlie Morgan snatches the win against the run of play. A really strong and intense showing for Kelly in spite of the result in what was a difficult spot for both women. ***
Christian’s in the crowd… another guy we want one more match out of.
Mark Andrews vs. Travis Banks vs. Flash Morgan Webster vs. Noam Dar
The returning (and chiselled) Dar was added to this match as it became a four-way… so Johnny Saint’s already indecisive in his match-making?
This one starts out hot, with Andrews nearly winning early with a standing moonsault after the Stundog Millionaire, but Noam Dar cuts him off as we’re into the revolving door offence stuff. Travis Banks takes Dar to the outside for a low-pe, aggravating his shoulder in the process as Flash uses the ringpost for some headscissors on the outside. A corkscrew moonsault from Andrews keeps the pile down on the outside, but Dar gets back into it as the crowd find their voice, as the original three men in the match went at it, with Banks cornering Andrews and Webster with running uppercuts… but Dar’s back with a roll-up out of nowhere for a near-fall! Dar goes for Banks’ injured shoulder with an armbar, ripping off the tape in the process, as another Parade of Moves broke out, ending with some knees from Webster.
Flash takes Andrews up top for a ‘rana… but Mark lands on his feet, much to Webster’s incredulity, before Andrews snapped him with a reverse ‘rana for a near-fall. Dar’s back in as he catches Andrews with the Champagne Super Knee-Bar… but Travis Banks runs in and grabs Andrews’ arm to stop him from tapping! Dar tries to kick away Banks, but to no avail as Webster joins in the party, punching away at Banks to break up the hold, before succeeding with a stomp to the shoulder.
Banks recovers to wipe out Webster with a Slice of Heaven, only for his Kiwi Krusher to get countered with a Stundog… Andrews heads up for a shooting star press, but Banks rolled away, only for Dar to come back and hang up the Kiwi’s arm in the ropes, as the Scotsman set up for a kick to the shoulder… and that’s the win on his first match back! A hell of a four-way – starting hot and keeping the pace going throughout. Good stuff from the (largely) British-based guys! ***½
Post-match, Joe Coffey and Mark Coffey hit the ring and laid out everyone but Noam Dar, putting the exclamation mark on as Banks was left laying by Joe with All the Best for the Bells (the discus lariat). Hmmm…
NXT North American Championship: Wolfgang vs. Adam Cole (c)
You’ll be shocked, but Adam Cole was massively over here. I still don’t get it.
What up, gangstaz!? pic.twitter.com/lQNdAx3MIp
— JJ Williams (@JJWilliamsWON) June 26, 2018
Wolfgang suckers Cole with a forearm early on as the crowd, that was already sort-of on the fence for him, slowly turned. Cole’s back in with a neckbreaker and the most over part of his act (bay bay), only for Wolfgang to return fire with a nice fireman’s carry gutbuster for a near-fall. The Scotsman keeps Cole on the mat with waistlock takedowns, but when Cole was sent to the outside, that was the opening for a surprise comeback as Cole hits Wolfgang with a kick from the floor.
Back inside, it’s back to business as a crossbody from Cole’s turned into a gutbuster, as Wolfgang’s now got a target to aim for… but the crowd remain solidly behind the North American champion, serenading him with a timely football-themed song. Wolfgang heads up top to finish off Cole, but whatever he was doing, he just lands into the path of a superkick. Cole keeps on top of him with a kick, then a backcracker, and an enziguiri… before an ushigoroshi dumps Wolfgang for a near-fall. Again, Wolfgang fired back with a Wasteland-like takedown, but he misses a moonsault after a brief stall, before recovering with a lariat as Cole was starting to pepper him with kicks.
Wolfgang again heads up top, but his Howling senton bomb gets nothing but knees as Cole wrecks him with the Last Shot, then a Shining Wizard to the back of the head as Adam Cole retained the title. In spite of Wolfgang having a lot of offence, I don’t think anyone gave him much shot here… ***
Moustache Mountain are backstage celebrating their title win – Trent points out that Tyler Bate’s won gold at both UK Championship Tournament double-headers, as they hug it out.
Velveteen Dream & EC3 vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black
Everyone but Ricochet had a singable theme here… with everyone in this match being over. Heels, who needs them?
We start with a throwback to Takeover as Ricochet and Velveteen Dream start… or so we thought, as Dream ripped off his t-shirt to reveal an Aleister Black tee, as that’s the feud we’re going back to. Except once Dream throws his t-shirt at the NXT champion, he tags out to EC3. Just do a wrestle! An early kick from EC3’s turned into a roll-up by Black as we got going… but EC3 just takes Aleister into the corner and brings in Dream as there’s some early double-teaming. Ricochet’s in to dazzle us all with his flips, taking EC3 out with some headscissors, before a handspring leads to a pose as the crowd roared their approval.
Ricochet sends himself onto the apron as he went after EC3, but Dream just pulls him to the floor as the tables turn, with EC3 throwing Ricochet into the barrier and ring apron for good measure. Dream keeps up on Ricochet, throwing him outside as he threatened to leap onto him… but that’s not Velveteen’s MO! Back inside, EC3 gets a near-fall out of a suplex, only for Ricochet to come back with a dropkick… prompting Dream to grab a chair to distract the referee, stopping him from seeing the tag made by Ricochet.
Cue VAR chants, because World Cup…
Ricochet’s forced to fend off more double-teaming, before sending EC3 and Dream into a neckbreaker/DDT combo… and now here comes Aleister Black! A series of kicks from the NXT champion sees him leave both opponents laying… only for Dream to come back out of nowhere with a spinebuster… but he slips off the top rope and tweaks his ankle in the process. EC3 tags back in and almost loses to a small package, while Dream started to feel his ankle… Dream’s brought back in to help with a suplex, then a superkick-assisted headlock driver as Dream hesitated a little before making the cover. A superkick nearly lays out EC3 as a brief Parade of Kicks leaves everyone down bar the crowd…
We quickly come back into dives as a Sasuke Special from Ricochet left Dream down, but a quick turnaround almost has Dream winning with a DDT. Ricochet’s back as he springboards into a roll-up for a near-fall, before a rolling death valley driver from Dream came next… but he tags out as his ankle’s causing more and more pain. EC3 tries to capitalise, but the TKO’s escaped as Ricochet mounts another comeback. After missing a moonsault, EC3 hits a STO driver, but rather than make a pin, he tries to tag out to Dream… who walks away in agony?!
Watching his partner hobble away, EC3 doesn’t know Aleister Black’s tagged in… and he’s left prey for the Black Mass for the elementary win. A really solid tag match, one that perhaps felt a little long in the tooth for my liking. Plenty of your usual tropes, and it’s nice to see the walk-out among the mismatched bad guys for a change. It’s really telling how much the crowd reacted to this for the NXT stars as opposed to the NXT UK-only matches. ***½
NXT Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs. Shayna Baszler (c)
We’ve got a measured start here as Toni tries to take down Baszler in a headlock… only to get caught in a waistlock as Shayna was keeping her at bay.
There’s some nice duelling chants here, despite Baszler being the one you’re meant to boo, but again the champion stayed on top as she outwrestled Storm, almost to the point of being a little too arrogant here. Storm manages to hit back with some kicks, taking Shayna outside for a low-pe, before missing a kick by the guard rails as Toni got all hung up. Back in the ring, Toni’s swinging at thin air as Baszler chops her knee, before taking Storm into the corner for a running knee that gets the champion just a one-count.
Baszler works over Toni’s heel in a bid to force a submission, eventually stomping on Toni’s ankle, causing so much pain that Toni crumbled to the mat as she was sent corner-to-corner. Still, Toni’s able to slap her way back into it and catch Shayna with a German suplex out of nothing, only for Baszler to get right back in it with more ground and pound, before pulling Toni into a kneebar. Storm again escapes, but she can’t keep standing for a German suplex… so she headbutts Baszler instead before going for the Strong Zero neckbreaker slam. She gets it, but she can’t make the cover immediately, and it costs her as Shayna gets up at two. After weathering another storm (sorry), Toni nearly nicks the win with a Euro clutch, before a second Strong Zero was countered with a Kirifuda Clutch… only for Toni to make it to the ropes!
Following Toni outside, Baszler reapplies the Kirifuda Clutch and saps Toni’s energy some more… leaving her for dead on the floor as Toni was barely able to get to her feet before the count-out was called. Not a popular finish, but Storm put up a brave fight – and had her foot/ankle not been worked over, it could have been a much more different result. ***½
After the match, with a little nudging from the referee, Shayna Baszler returned to the ring to choke out Toni with another Kirifuda clutch…
WWE United Kingdom Championship: Zack Gibson vs. Pete Dunne (c)
Main event time, and that means it’s time to boo a Scouser!
We start with a tie-up as Dunne looked for the upper hand with a wristlock, eventually wrenching Zack to the mat as the crowd stood up to show their (lack of) support for Zack. Dunne stays on top of him with a clothesline, taking Zack onto the apron, where a vicious kick to the arm sent Gibson flailing to the floor… but not before Zack hits back with a hammerlock throw into the guard rails!
Returning to the ring, Gibson went after the weakened arm of Dunne, but Pete still had one good arm, happily using it to slap back… but a diving clothesline from Gibson keeps him ahead as the brawling-but-technical style of the Scouser was serving him well… until the crowd took their shoes off en-masse. That was the cue for Dunne to come back into the match, as he escaped a Helter Skelter and stomped on Gibson’s head for good measure.
Dunne grabs hold of Gibson’s boot to torque the knee, but Zack escapes and throws Peter into the ring steps. Gibson tries for a Helter Skelter, but instead it’s turned into an X-Plex on the ramp as Gibson was left screaming in agony, like he’d just watched Liverpool lose in the Champions’ League final again. In the ring again, Gibson’s able to make the first move, catching Dunne with a forearm and some body blows, knocking out Dunne’s gumshield in the process.
Steadying himself, Dunne retaliates with some clubbering of his own, before shrugging off a Ticket to Ride and a lariat as he left Gibson laying with a clothesline of his own. Dunne tries to headbutt away from a knuckle lock, but instead they all fall down as Gibson retained control of Dunne’s wrist… which was a bad idea as it allowed Peter to tweak away again and work his way into a snap German suplex. The Bitter End quickly follows for a near-fall, before Gibson retaliated with a Ticket To Ride for a near-fall of his own. The Shankly Gates follow as Nigel McGuinness loses his mind on commentary, but they’re way too close to the ropes as Dunne gets the break. Gibson decides to up the ante with an avalanche Helter Skelter, but it’s still not enough… so he goes back to the Shankly Gates once more, holding on as Dunne tried to roll through, but again we get a rope break! Some stomps looked to leave Dunne down and out in the ropes, but Dunne’s back in with a finger snap and a forearm as Gibson tried to fly, before one more Bitter End sealed the win! Easily the best match of the double-header, and a marvelous advert for the UK scene as a whole. If you’ve skipped these shows… watch this match! ****½
The show ends with the entire roster on the stage celebrating with Pete Dunne, as Triple H declared that this was the next chapter of the UK scene – and I’ll let you spot the familiar faces in the crowd!
On the whole, night two of the WWE’s stay at Royal Albert Hall had its real bright moments, but overall it struggled to hold a candle to the first night. The one thing I noticed live – as well as on the VOD – was the difference in reactions between the NXT guys, the “indy stars” and the guys who’ve crossed between the two. Having the “NXT UK” guys eat a bunch of losses against their NXT counterparts, regardless of their showings, is going to raise some eyebrows, particularly as some will see it as slotting NXT UK in the WWE pyramid from the off – but we’re not even at day one proper for NXT UK, so we’ll see how the portrayals go after that.
As a prelude to NXT UK, just about everyone on these two shows established themselves without necessarily pigeon-holing themselves for the launch of the TV show. Those start taping in a month or so… and it’ll be interesting to see the longer-term direction – and whom else is brought aboard as the UK division builds out their tag team and women’s division in the coming weeks.