NXT UK “Takeover: Blackpool” Review: The Future is Now… And in the UK

How do you take your new wrestling brand and put it on the map? With a show of this quality. NXT UK sold out and blew the roof off with 5 top tier matches with shocking moments and sentimental wins galore. It was a mad-paced show from start to finish and refused to slow down for anything. With that out of the way let’s dive deeper into what made this show so amazing.

Zack Gibson & James Drake defeat Moustache Mountain via Ticket to Mayhem

The first official NXT UK Takeover match was a match between fan favourite team Moustache Mountain and their heel challengers Zack Gibson and James Drake for the NXT UK Tag Team Titles. Liverpool’s Number One and the Man of Mayhem were out to cause an upset by beating the crowd’s favourite and cementing their legacy. What started out as a slow burn tag team bout turned into a manic struggle to keep someone down for a three count. There were a bunch of shocking spots and kick outs that not only riled the crowd up but also earned their sympathy. There was a Double Shankley Gates spot that saw this effect which saw Tyler Bate power through and break up the hold on his partner. Bate also had another show of strength as he had both members of the heel team in an Air plane Spin. Both teams hit their finishers and Bate was wiped out by a Suicide Dive from Drake whilst he was on the shoulders of Gibson. Seven was bleeding through the match and was the victim of limb targeting, as his arm was abused throughout. He eventually ate the Ticket to Mayhem and conceded the titles to (what people on the indies know as) the Grizzled Young Veterans. It was a slightly shocking win to start the show. It provided the perfect opener as it started slow and there brought the crowd out in force. There were plenty of vicious spots and some genuine moments where both teams could have been injured. There was so much to enjoy and both teams are reaction magnets.

Finn Balor defeats Jordan Devlin via Coup De Grace

So Jordan Devlin vs Travis Banks didn’t happen. Devlin struck Banks before the show and then once again as the match was scheduled to begin. He went after the injured knee of Banks and basically put him out of action. He was going to brag in the ring about being the best in Ireland but Saint and Scalla were prepared for this and had a plan B… Finn Balor. The Irish Ace was justifiably shocked and a match between student and mentor for supremacy. Balor started strong but was overcome by Devlin’s sneakiness an eventually on the receiving end of a long stretch of offence. He would attempt to hit both 1916 and Coup De Grace multiple times throughout the match but would be cut off and punished by Devlin. There were so many new falls and close calls the fans were run ragged. Both men were booked strong and the eventual Coup De Grace knocked the last bit of fight out of Devlin and gave the Mentor the win. This was another fast paced match to keep momentum going and gave the fans a shock appearance. Balor vs Devlin is considered a dream match so the fact it was on this show just made the whole Takeover feel even more important. Devlin looks incredibly strong in defeat and Balor gets to put on another classic match for WWE.

Dave Mastiff defeats Eddie Dennis via Cannonball

After the shocking match change, we got a no DQ war. Mastiff and Dennis have been feuding over who is the best big man in NXT UK with Mastiff’s lack of killer instinct being the forefront of attacks. This started as a series of strength contests and back and forth before Dennis introduced a kendo stick and the ringside mat was pulled up. Mastiff throws in the ring steps and both men continue fighting. They use weapons to knock the other down and we get a spot where Eddie Dennis manages to hit the Severn Bridge on Mastiff. Dennis also manages to hit the East River Crossing across the steel steps only for Mastiff to kick out. The finish saw Mastiff put Dennis through a table with a Cannonball and put Dennis away. This was a spot fest of a match that used the no DQ stipulation to provide ways out of moves and additions to moves to keep thing interesting. Mastiff got just as nasty with the furniture and kicked out of Dennis’ finisher much to everyone’s surprise.  This felt like the perfect match to put between the shocks the audience had just faced and the emotional match set to follow. It was fun, not too flashy and perfectly showcased both men.

Toni Storm defeats Rhea Ripley via Storm Zero

The emotional moment of the show came from this match. Toni Storm completes her journey from the first Mae Young Classic tournament to the NXT UK Women’s Champion. Both women made this feel like a fight. It was personal, it was sloppy at times and it felt like Storm had to give everything to overpower Ripley. Ripley was in full on bully mode and looked to torture Storm. There were several back and forth moments where submissions were reversed, finishers were reversed and both women kicked out of moments that would have put down lesser performers. The finisher saw both ladies spent and Ripley going for another Riptide to put Storm away. Storm reverses it into a Second Storm Zero and wins the match. Emotions were high as Toni Storm finally gets the belt. She is the fan favourite woman in NXT UK and her journey has been so full of ups and downs that she thoroughly deserves the title. The crowd were heavily invested and celebrated with Storm as she left ringside.

Also during this match fans were introduced to two women who look to be part of NXT UK now. Kay Lee Ray and Jazzy Gabert were both shown at ringside and waved for the camera. This is often the indicator of new competitors coming to NXT. Both Kay Lee Ray and Gabert have been in the Mae Young Classic tournament and are adored in their home nations. They are excellent additions to the roster, if this is their reveal.

Pete Dunne defeats Joe Coffey via Wishbone Submission

What a match! This was a brutal, forty-minute slug fest that must have hurt both competitors. Coffey was the monster opponent and Dunne the underdog. Both men started slow and well-paced, feeling the other out. Coffey was no selling forearms and overpowering Dunne. There were plenty of shocking spots and near finished to keep in line with the rest of the show. Coffey was able to hit a Power slam on the apron and hit a Sit Out Power bomb on Dunne. Dunne would keep kicking out and keep on fighting. He saw Coffey kick out of the Bitter End and had to kick out of Coffey’s finisher. There were also two unfortunate spots that saw Coffey and Dunne fall from the top rope. They powered through the botches and kept going. There is a lot of merit in watching this match as it is an early Match of the Year contender. Coffey eventually had to tap as Dunne had him trapped in a Triangle and was working over his fingers. This was the perfect main event to top off a show full of excellent matches. It was long, brutal and exhausting. Both men left it all in the ring and we saw Dunne pushed to limits he has never been pushed to before. Both men looked unbelievably strong and both earned the crowd’s respect.

This victory also happened to catch another wrestler’s attention. Just as Dunne was prepared to leave, the audience heard a very familiar ring theme. Der Ring General Walter is officially NXT UK and he made his presence known my marching up the ring and standing across from Dunne. We clearly have our next title feud and the crowd exhausted it’s last bit of energy cheering for Walter. He mainly posed across from Dunne but also delivered a boot to the unfortunate challenger as Coffey tried to get back into the ring. Walter is here and his introduction was the cherry on top of the highly delicious cake that was NXT UK Takeover.

Overall, this was an amazing show that offered a bit of everything their roster was capable of. We got first-ever NXT UK Tag Team Champions in Grizzled Young Veterans and new Women’s Champion in Toni Storm. We got wars in the form of Dennis vs Mastiff and Coffey vs Dunne and, lastly, we got a glimpse of the future as Walter, Ray and Gabert all look set to take their place. It was a very hopeful show and provided the perfect introduction to NXT UK and the rabid UK fan base. Here’s to the future and the next Takeover.

All images courtesy of WWE.com

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