NXT UK

NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool Recap and Review

The UK Division of NXT presents it’s first ever TakeOver special! Tonight the first Tag Team Champions will be crowned when Mustache Mountain take on the Grizzled Young Veterans, Zack Gibson, and James Drake. Rhea Ripley defends the NXT UK Women’s Championship against Toni Storm. The longest reigning champion in WWE’s modern era Pete Dunne defends the NXT UK Championship against “The Iron King” Joe Coffey plus more action from Liverpool!

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Mustache Mountain vs. Zack Gibson & James Drake – NXT UK Tag Team Championship: Mustache Mountain come out wearing gear inspired by the British Bulldogs. NXT UK General Manager Johnny Saint and his assistant Sid Scala in the ring for the start with the new titles. The crowd is turned up to 100 to begin the show which is great to see. Fun chain wrestling from Gibson and Bate to start things off. Gibson and Drake drop Trent Seven on the outside of the ring and they take control of the match keeping Seven away from Bate. Gibson and Drake like doing a lot of damage from the outside of the ring rather than inside. They are doing a great job of mixing tags and using tandem offense. Seven is fighting hard to get the tag but Gibson and Drake are right on him. Seven looks as though he is bleeding from the back of his head. The strikes are getting stiff enough to wake Seven up to get the tag to Bate. Tyler comes in on fire completely taking over the match. Bate airplane spins Gibson and Drake at the same time! Mustache Mountain with an homage to the Bulldogs once again with a powerslam-headbutt combo. Incredible multiple close call pins. Gibson has Shankly Gates submission in deep. Gibson and Drake have been working Trent’s elbow all match so this is brilliant. Drake locks Bate in his own Shankly Gates that is only broken up when Bate dumps Drake on Gibson and Seven. Seven fighting with one arm, another close pin, this is wild. Drake ducks a Seven Star Lariat and suicide dives into Bate who was on the shoulders of Gibson, Doomsday Device style. Gibson and Drake enter the ring and hit Seven with the Ticket to Mayhem finisher. 1…2…3! Zack Gibson and James Drake are the first ever NXT UK Tag Team Champions! Absolutely perfect Tag Team match. Rating: *****

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Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin: While Banks was entering the arena earlier today he was attacked by Devlin. During the attack Banks injured his left knee so we’ll see how that plays out. As Devlin is introduced Banks goes right after him and a brawl begins on the outside. Devlin is able to get the upper hand by attacking the left knee. Officials come rushing down to the ring and I don’t think this match is happening.

Johnny Saint and Sid Scala had a hint Devlin would pull a stunt like this so they had a backup plan in place. The lights go out and when they come back up BALOR CLUB IS IN BLACKPOOL. That’s right, The student, Devlin will go one on one with his teacher, WWE’s Finn Balor!

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Jordan Devlin vs. Finn Balor: Balor starts the match dominant on offense but Devlin is able to weather the storm and keep pace. I think that is probably the best way to explain the story. There was no way Devlin could have prepared to face Balor, his teacher. Yet toward the middle, we’re at a stalemate. Balor kicks things into another gear. Balor plants Devlin with 1916 Reverse Brainbuster. Balor hits a Slingblade but is cut off going for a Shotgun Dropkick. Devlin targets the midsection while trash talking his mentor. Big mistake as Balor turns it up again hitting all of his signature moves. Balor finishes the onslaught with the Coupe de Grace to take the win. Great surprise and a solid match with a great story. Rating: ***3/4

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Eddie Dennis vs. “Bomber” Dave Mastiff – No Disqualification Match:  The action quickly moves to the outside of the ring. Mastiff disassembles the ring steps and throws them in the ring. Mastiff enters but Dennis attacks him with a Kendo Stick. Dennis removes the outside padding exposing the venue floor. Dennis continues to use the Kendo Stick to ground Mastiff. Dennis ends up in trouble when Mastiff gets a hold of the Kendo Stick. Bomber powerbombs Dennis but that doesn’t put him away. Dennis shows an incredible feat of strength by sidewalk slamming Mastiff onto the steps. Eddie continues to show off this freak strength. Dennis Jackknife powerbombs Mastiff! Insane. A table is introduced and Dennis thinks he’ll be able to powerbomb Mastiff through it. Mastiff is able to fight out. Mastiff has Dennis in prime position for a Cannonball Splash through the table. “Bomber” Dave Mastiff picks up the win and remains undefeated. This was a solid No DQ match. Eddie Dennis may be the most deceptively strong man in all of wrestling. Rating: ***

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Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Toni Storm – NXT UK Women’s Championship: Toni Storm starting the match with a blitz of offense that is catching Ripley off guard. Storm not giving Ripley a chance to catch her bearings. Ripley finds an opening and begins to beat down Storm. Ripley keeping Storm grounded with body scissors working the midsection and lower back of Storm. When Storm is able to fight out Ripley just stays on her. It looks like Ripley has done some damage to Toni’s back. Rhea keeps Toni grounded with pins but Toni keeps kicking out. Rhea comes running in for an attack but Storm catches Rhea with a sick headbutt. Both women just begin to wail away on each other. Storm reverses Ripley’s Riptide finisher in to cover for two. Back and forth pins for near falls. Brilliant move by Rhea as she applies an Inverted Cloverleaf putting pressure on the weak back of Storm. Toni reverses the hold into an Ankle Lock which Rhea breaks by getting to the bottom rope. Rhea hits the Riptide for 2 and 3/4. Rhea begins to clobber Storm with short arm Clotheslines. Storm ducks one and hits Storm Zero for two. Both women to their feet in the middle of the ring. Storm slips out of the Riptide, grabs Ripley by the hair, and plants her with a Storm Zero powerbomb. Storm gets the win and becomes the NEW NXT UK Women’s Champion. I appreciate the all-out fight these ladies had. It was a back and forth battle and each woman gave it everything they had. Ripley was a great champion, Storm just has the resume that shows she deserves to be on the top of the mountain. Rating: ***1/2

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Pete Dunne (c) vs. Joe Coffey – NXT UK Championship: The match starts off with chain wrestling and Dunne grounding Coffey tying him up by the legs. Coffey breaks the hold with a side headlock. Dunne is a genius, always making sure he has control of Coffey’s wrist. Coffey has a brief moment but gets locked in a Regal Stretch from Dunne. No matter what Coffey attempts Dunne has an answer with a submission.  Strike battle ends with Dunne getting dumped to the outside by Coffey. When Coffey goes for the attack he is met by an enziguiri from Dunne. The champion runs in for an attack but Coffey drops in with a popup power slam. Coffey is now finally able to take over the match on offense. Great bearhug spot from Coffey. Dunne fights out by grabbing the nose. A back and forth ends with Coffey on the outside and Dunne landing a beautiful Caprada Moonssault. We’re back in the ring where Dunne hits an Ex Plex for two. Coffey turns on the jets and hits Dunne with a blitzkrieg of offense. Coffey has Dunne rocked and keeps the pressure on the back thanks to a Boston Crab. Before Dunne gets to the bottom rope Coffey begins stomping on the skull of Dunne. With the last gasp of effort Dunne makes it to the bottom rope. Both men to their feet begin to battle with brutal headbutts. Dunne keeps trapping Coffey in submissions. Coffey gets vertical and drops Dunne with a snap German suplex. Dunne counters a dive from Coffey and hits Bitter End for just two! Coffey blocks Dunne in the corner on the apron and hits a brutal sit-out powerbomb. Ouch. Coffey is standing tall and begins to rain down haymakers on Dunne who returns with brutal stomps. We are at a back and forth. Both men end up in the top corner and Coffey breaks an armbar powerbombing Dunne to the canvas. What a fight. This turns into a boxing match and both men are spent. Coffey drops Dunne with a popup German. Coffey took too long to capitalize and gets dropped with a DDT then a Bitter End. Dunne is too slow to get the pin as Coffey rolls to the outside. Both men once again battle up top when Coffey loses his balance and takes the sickest fall to the outside. Moments later they revisit the same position, this time both men take the wicked tumble! Dunne rolls Coffey into the ring and hits the Bitter End! 1..2..Coffey kicks out! Dunne locks Coffey in a triangle and shifts to a mounted position. Dunne grabs at the fingers of Coffey and begins to snap them one by one. After about the third digit Coffey taps and this one is over. There is really only one way to look at this match, it was an all-out war. This could easily be looked at as Dunne’s toughest challenge in his 600+ day reign. Rating: ****1/2

As Dunne is celebrating his impressive win Dvořák – Symphony No. 9 IV blares over the speakers. OH MY GOD WALTER IS HERE. Walter and Dunne have an epic staredown before Walter exits. Walter vs. Pete Dunne is coming. This elevates NXT UK in a huge way.

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Going into this TakeOver special I didn’t know what to think. The card was more than solid on paper but I didn’t know if NXT UK had the same momentum it’s American counterpart did. NXT UK talent knocked this out of the park. The Tag match was a pristine display of British wrestling and great Tag Team Wrestling as a whole. Some may think I shafted the main event with less than five stars but the miscues at the top brought down an otherwise beautiful main event that was definitely out of the WWE norm. I cannot stress the importance of watching NXT UK from here on out. If Walter is the Walter we’ve seen and he doesn’t have to tone down his brutality, the game has changed.

 

 

 

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