Notes from an Exhibition match: NXT UK @ Download pt.1

For three days, while crowds of the great unwashed became the great-and-moshed, UK Rock, Metal & Punk Download Festival was also invaded, or you might say, taken over by the WWE as NXT UK taped five weeks worth of television. They also put on a lot of wrestling just for those of us lucky enough to be there. For the next five weeks, I’m going to be providing you with an alternative review of the action, separated from commentary, camera angles, editing and backstage promos. I would do it all at once but I don’t know what they will and won’t show and frankly, there’s some stuff I don’t want to spoil. Anyway, let’s get into it with night one:

For The Crowds:

Ligero def. Oliver Carter // I didn’t see this one.

Zack Gibson def. Rik Bugez // I didn’t see this one either.

NXT UK Women’s Championship: Toni Storm (c) def. Deonna Purrazzo // Nor this one. There was a lot on, OK?

For The Television:

Kassius Ohno def. Kenny Williams // Ohno pinned Williams with a Rolling Elbow

This was my first time seeing Williams live. On television he’s always come across as Mark Andrews-lite to me so, not really considering his opponent, to my surprise, this was a really fun singles encounter. It was exactly what you’d think: big bad boi vs flippy small boi, Williams used all his possible openings to fly about but eventually, the force of the Wrestling Genius was too much for him. A very enjoyable way to open proceedings.

Imperium Speaks

The full force of Imperium (or absolute power for Latin fans) descended on Donington here as Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner, Alexander Wolfe & WALTER made me want to get a gang together of Euro-friends and go around speaking menacingly but methodically while wearing matching tracksuits. Seriously those tracksuits are killer. Back in his Ringkampf days, Wolfe & WALTER went by the motto ‘die matte ist Heilig’. Because WWE is fine with Latin but not German, they’ve had to translate it to ‘the mat is sacred’. Anyway, good segment, got boos, everyone looked good, especially Barthel.

Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) def. The Hunt (Wild Boar & Primate) // I don’t really remember, a kick or something? Answers on a postcard, please?

Yeah sure, this was OK. It was all set-up as, after the match, the baddies would attack till they were run off by Dave Mastiff. Would you believe it if I said there’s a six-man tag of Gallus vs Mastiff & The Hunt in a few weeks time? You probably would and you’d be right to. Still, nothing more to say for this beyond somehow we got to the penultimate match without the crowds being annoying.

NXT UK Women’s Championship No.1 Contender’s Battle Royal: Kay Lee Ray def. Xia Brookside, Rhea Ripley, Piper Niven, Isla Dawn, Jazzy Gabert, Jinny, Killer Kelly, Kanji, Rhio, Candy Floss & Nina Samuels

So it was nice for everyone that they all got entrances, even Kanji and Rhio. I don’t know why Killer Kelly doesn’t even get a video. So, now I want to start talking about the crowd beginning to annoy. Chanting at Jazzy Gabert ‘she’s got bollocks’ is some real dirtbag 90s shit. I would understand if this were the 90s, people got away with being terrible back then, we tolerated Jerry Lawler for some reason but this is 2019, chanting things like that at wrestlers is just one of the reasons people have bad opinions of wrestling fans. Don’t perpetuate the stereotypes, be better. If you have to chant at a heel, don’t attack their physical attributes, just tell them they suck or wait till they get hit and throw in a ‘you deserve it’. I’ll even take “you’re a bitch” over this, another chant that female heel had to deal with over the weekend. Still, a good and fun match and a real start to what was a fantastic weekend of performances by Xia Brookside.

For The Crowds:

Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) def. Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) // Seven & Bate got the pin off the Dragon Suplex-rebound lariat combo.

This was another good, solid slice of tag-team action that threatened to again be ruined by the utterly toxic crowd. It started with chanting ‘WALTER’s bitches’, though maybe they meant ‘pitchers’ because WALTER values the two of them as integral parts of the team, equal to batters like WALTER and Wolfe. Then it became “WALTER’s nonces”, which is, pardon the pun, nonsensical and just frankly a bit rubbish. It’s not funny, it’s not clever and really when Barthel told the crowd they should be ashamed of themselves, they really should. Especially when this developed into Jimmy Saville jokes.

Despite this, I must admit, the in-ring action was good enough to make up for the crowd watching it. They worked a classic tag formula with both teams getting their shit in enough that those chants swapped to a classic “this is awesome.” I hope it comes across at home how much these fans were the dirt-worst because to enjoy these things, you must understand that frankly, you aren’t better than them. I’m not, I could’ve tried to shut them down but I’m didn’t because I’m a coward.

So that was Show one, a pretty solid piece of world-building overall but not necessarily a stunner in terms of in-ring action. It was great to get to see Kassius Ohno live finally after years of adoring his work & Moustache Mountain are always good value. Still, tune in next week to find out what matches I loved that you’ll never get to see and all the reasons that live wrestling is ruined by having to share it with other people.

All pics courtesy of WWE

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