After the conclusion of the first day of this event, you could cut the anticipation for more NXT UK with a knife! With matches that could have big implications for both the US and UK branches of NXT, this show was mandatory viewing for audiences worldwide.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match – Moustache Mountain vs. The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (c)
What better way to start a show, than with a slight remix of the best match from the night before. This was (again) a great way to light a fire under the crowd for the evening ahead.
These 4 men proved once more that any combination of British Strong Style versus The Undisputed Era has the potential to be the match of the night. Strong & O’Reilly continued to use traditionally villainous tag team tactics to isolate Trent and stay in control for large portions of the bout. This led to some incredibly hot tags, allowing Tyler to showcase his talent (including a standing Shooting Star Press).
Some of the greatest storytelling moments came from The Undisputed Era countering the Mustached Men’s signature offense, and learning from their previous encounter (the Bop and Bang fake out should never work two nights in a row). Eventually Moustache Mountain battled their way to victory with a 7 Stars Lariat-Burning Hammer combination, and became the new NXT Tag Team Champions. A fantastic feel good moment to open the event, and a hell of a good contest.
Next we were shown a brief interview with Johnny Saint, who announced that Mark Andrews, Travis Banks and Flash Morgan Webster would compete later tonight to decide the number one contender for the UK Championship. I can’t think of 3 men more deserving of a title opportunity.
Killer Kelly vs. Charlie Morgan
I really glad that we now officially have an NXT UK brand, so that an exhibition match can at least build towards potential feuds going forward.
I’m a big fan of both of these new members of the UK women’s division, but this matchup just didn’t click for me. The action was a little stilted and a few transitions were sloppy. Charlie Morgan scored the victory with a Straight Jacket reversal into a rollup. I’m hopeful that once we get regular NXT UK episodes, we can allow the women to have real characters and feuds.
WWE UK Championship Number One Contenders Match – Mark Andrews vs. Travis Banks vs. Flash Morgan Webster vs. Noam Dar
Before our next bout could begin, General Manager Johnny Saint had a quick announcement. The number one contendership would now be decided in an *ahem* “Four Man Fatal Match”. Enter the returning Noam Dar. This probably made the match much more exciting for everybody except me, the one person who has never seen the appeal of Dar.
This match really showcased 3 of the most agile and high impact wrestlers in the UK today, and I don’t think the crowd would have been disappointed in any of the competitors getting a title opportunity. It would be impossible (and probably a little boring) to list all of the jaw dropping moments in this contest, but a special mention must be given to the most brutal Reverse Hurricanrana I’ve ever seen – delivered by Mark Andrews to poor Flash Morgan. After a hard-fought contest, victory came to Noam Dar as he hit a kick to the shoulder to snatch the number one contendership from all of the men I would have preferred to win!
I’m intrigued to see if Dar can win me over as a fan on future NXT UK shows, and I’m always entirely open to changing my opinion on a talent enjoyed by many of my peers. I would however, be lying if I said I wouldn’t have preferred anyone else to have won the title opportunity.
After Noam’s arm was raised, Joe Coffey and his debuting brother Mark Coffey stormed the ring and attacked the three incapacitated losers. Dar thought about trying to help the men he’d just beaten, but (quite wisely) decided it wasn’t worth the risk of suffering the wrath of the Coffey brothers. A pair of big bullies, hell-bent on making a name for themselves will be a great addition to the NXT UK roster. And a potential immediate heel turn from the returning Noam, already has me more invested in him than I expected to be.
NXT North American Championship Match – Wolfgang vs. Adam Cole (c)
In the days before I truly became a fan of ICW, Wolfgang was the man who made me want to invest my time into watching their content. He was also the person I wanted to win last year’s UK tournament, so you can imagine how happy I was to hear that he had a match at this year’s event. I mention all of this to show my disdain for the London crowd who inexplicably hated him! I’m hopeful that this will lead to Wolfy turning his back on the fans, because as a dominant heel is where The Regulator shines.
It was this disparity in the expected reaction for the Scotsman, that stopped this match from really clicking for me. The man who has had to wait a year to get his revenge on the Undisputed Era, really should have been a great story point. Wolfgang dominated the smaller man for the majority of the match, countering the offense of Cole with his superior strength. Eventually this would change – as after avoiding The Howling – Adam Cole hit an incredibly impactful knee to the back of Wolfy’s head to retain the title. Despite my complaints, this wasn’t a bad match.
The Velveteen Dream & EC3 vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black
Continuing the action, we had a battle of unlikely tag teams. Despite the unusual pairings, this combination of eccentric entertainers had a lot of backstory going into the match. Three of the men were a part of the incredible Takeover ladder match for the NXT North American Championship, and The Velveteen Dream has been a part of phenomenal feuds with both members of the opposing team.
This tag contest had something for everyone – and on any other card, would almost definitely have been the best tag team match of the night. Ricochet was as acrobatic as ever, Black was intense and terrifying, EC3 took arrogance to a whole new level; and The Velveteen Dream tied the whole piece together with his expert level of storytelling. Dream played the perfect villain, distracting the referee for his partner and eventually even abandoning EC3 when defeat seemed likely. Once the bout became a handicap affair, it was only a matter of time before Aleister’s Black Mass kick scored the good guys the win. A must watch for everyone, especially NXT US fans.
NXT Women’s Championship Match – Toni Storm vs. Shayna Baszler (c)
We had another NXT title up for grabs in our penultimate contest. This unusual matchup was frankly not a bout I was particularly anticipating going into night two, so let me tell you how wrong I was…
As you may expect from a former MMA fighter, this match was technical wrestling showcase. After a brief burst of early offense from Storm, Baszler took control and locked in brutal submission after brutal submission. Between holds, Shayna continued applying pain with her signature stomps to the already weakened knee. Toni’s shrieks of pain coupled with the realism of the Queen of Spades’ offense made this hard to watch. I cannot recall feeling more uncomfortable watching wrestling. Ignoring the punishment, Toni continued valiantly and hit a Storm Zero. This would have won the match if she wasn’t in so much pain that she couldn’t immediately get the cover. Despite these courageous attempts to win the gold, Baszler got the last laugh – locking in a kneebar on the outside of the ring and winning by count out. Even this wasn’t enough for the heartless champion, and a post match attack followed. An utterly breathtaking battle, and my match of the weekend.
WWE UK Championship Match – Zack Gibson vs. Pete Dunne (c)
The main event of this amazing two-day extravaganza could only be for the WWE UK title. After his winning streak propelled him to triumph over 15 other competitors, Zack Gibson had all the momentum behind him. We heard briefly from both men before the match, and the WWE audience got to witness a glimpse of Gibson’s talent on the mic.
This was not just a match, this was a war! Since Pete was facing a much bigger man, his style was much more fast paced (and at times high-flying) than your standard Bruiserweight. After enduring the offense of the champion (including a lovely Moonsault to the outside of the ring) Zack began his strategy of injuring the wrist of Dunne by launching him into the ring steps while maintaining a Hammerlock. The physicality continued to ramp, with some classic joint manipulation and stiff strikes from Pete.
There were so many near falls (which I bit for entirely) in this contest. There were two separate occasions where I was certain Gibson was going to cause the injured Bruiserweight to tap out to the Shankly Gates! Zack was able to kick out of one Bitter End earlier in the match, but a second finisher from Dunne dispatched the Liverpudlian.
I was really rooting for Zack Gibson to become the champion of this new brand, but both men are so talented that I’ll enjoy either one of them as the face of the division. This was the perfect way to end a near perfect weekend.
With yet another phenomenal night of sports entertainment airing from the Royal Albert Hall, WWE have done an incredible job of demonstrating to the world the quality of the new NXT UK brand. Not only was the wrestling fantastic, but the seeds of potential future storylines were planted ready for a more regular NXT UK show. I personally (very slightly) preferred the previous night’s event, as I am just more invested in the UK talent. After this incredible weekend, one thing is certain. NXT UK has arrived.
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