When Two Tribes Go To War- “NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff” Review

Welcome to Cardiff, Wales, the home to the next TakeOver from NXT’s UK counterpart. This show promised to be the crowning glory for Imperium as WALTER destroyed the final pillar in the British Strong Style, Tyler Bate. Kay Lee Ray looked set to dethrone Toni Storm as the NXT UK Women’s champ. The Grizzled Young Veterans had to battle the odds as Gallus and Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster gunned for their titles. Plus, Dave Mastiff and Joe Coffey were prepared to tear the building down to keep one another down for a ten count and we saw action from Noam Dar, Travis Banks and Cesaro. Let’s get into the shocks, surprises and twists for the next TakeOver event.

Noam Dar defeated Travis Banks via Nova Roller

Nothing starts a show quite like a nicely paced technical and striking bout between one of the hardest working men in NXT and its biggest piss taker. The cocky Dar started off with mockery and aping his opponent, trying to use technical acumen to stop Banks but the pair ended up trading and the momentum shifted continuously. Banks kept fighting back and getting himself back into the match, hitting a bunch of modified to moves to adapt to his situation. However, Dar’s targeting of the knee and continuous countering of the Slice of Heaven Kick left Banks open to a whole host of problems. It wasn’t a particularly long match but it packed in a lot and gave Dar another win in his I told you I’m the best series. He just keeps pulling them out no matter who he is against and, unfortunately, Banks is just another victim of that streak. Banks tried but was outsmarted by Dar.

Cesaro defeated Ilja Dragunov via Gotch Neutralizer

Hey guys, remember when Cesaro was good? Now you can with this knockdown, drag-out brawl as Cesaro’s NXT UK open challenge was answered by the Rasputin of Wrestling, Ilja Dragunov. These two went all out when it came to trying to break each other. The stiff strikes were accompanied by amazing feats of strength and submission speciality sections. This was a proper, good old wrestling match with some dives and high-flying action from Dragunov. The experience and strength of Cesaro were too much for Dragunov who ended up countered for the loss and suffered a 30+ rotating Cesaro Swing. It was an awesome sight to see Cesaro appreciated on a massive stage again and, hopefully, he makes NXT UK his home for a while as he would be welcomed with open arms. He took the scalp of one of the biggest indie darlings this night and could easily take more. Cesaro has been overlooked on the main roster for so long that this brand would be much better suited for him. He can put on matches like this all the time against a roster that shares his style and a crowd that properly appreciate him. He is still one of the strongest men on the planet and can prove it again against a whole new host of competitors. Dragunov may have lost but he brought the fight hard and got a proper challenge out of Cesaro. My biggest takeaway from this match is that I need more UK based Cesaro matches as he is perfectly suited for the brand.

Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster defeated Grizzled Young Veterans & Gallus via Fall to Pieces on Gibson

What a match. A four on two match for the ages as three times entered and one team left newly crowned champions. Alliances were made, alliances were broken, as were the bodies. The hometown heroes had an uphill battle as both Gallus and the GYV had no faith that either of the littler team. They made them both eat their words though as time and again they came back from hell to punish both the heelish teams. That being said, no one was a slouch in this match. Everyone shone, everyone got their moment and everyone looked like a thousand bucks as they say. Gallus were monsters, battering all in their way, the GYV worked smartly to pick their spots to use the numbers and stipulation to their advantage and nearly won on multiple occasions. In fact, every team nearly won on multiple occasions. This is how tag team wrestling should be in WWE. It should be this exciting, this respected and well-received. The hometown heroes getting the win was just the feel-good moment this show needed. The amount of chaos present in this match can’t accurately be described in words. Just watch the match and see for yourself why I am so happy with it.

Joe Coffey defeated Dave Mastiff via Travel Case Kickout

Ahoy mateys I hope yar be ready for some plunder as what we had here is what I can only call a plunder match. In the first two minutes, the top turnbuckle had come off and the ring was broken. Mastiff used the turnbuckle as a dental item for Coffey and the match spilled outside. From there it was a mess of brutal weapons spots with pool cues, cricket bats, chairs and chains with not one but two finisher spots through tables too. This was a chaos of the highest calibre and exceptional in its brutality. Both men kept getting up from ridiculous spots only to get hit with more of them. Coffey ended up winning with smarts instead of brawn as he kicked away a travel case Mastiff was using for leverage as he tried to beat the 10-count. At 9/10, Coffey struck and the big Bomber failed to make the count. It should be mentioned that the two had just taken a tumble through two tables from a height as well just to make things worse. This will no doubt be one of the matches people choose to ignore but, to me, it was a messy amount of fun on display as two big b*stards tried to knock ten shades of sh*t out of each other. It was ugly but if that’s what it takes to win then so be it. A must watch for fans of the nastier side of wrestling.

Kay Lee Ray defeated Toni Storm via Dirty Bomb

Toni Time as run out as a new and dangerous challenger swaggered into the Women’s title scene. Kay Lee Ray had worked for weeks to ensure that Toni Storm would not be in the right headspace to deal with their title match. This plan was only half successful as she still had to fight an incredibly game Toni Storm. Despite the overwhelming level of emotion she was dealing with, Storm fought with viciousness and nearly put Ray away on multiple occasions. Both women traded finishers, shock moments and Kay Lee Ray hit one of the most dangerous-looking dives of the night as she practically landed right on her head. Despite this, she shook it off, hit a Gory Bomb onto the ropes and hit one final Dirty Bomb variant of the move to put Storm down and win. This was exceptional as both women were overwhelmed by the other at times, being caught out by some surprising offence including top rope Germans and surprise Finishers. It is a match where the action will speak louder than my words so much like the tag team match, I implore you to watch it if you can. That will be the real proof that the match lives up to my rating.

WALTER defeated Tyler Bate via Clothesline from Hell

Holy sh*t this match was something else. Forty-plus minutes of sheer, sadistic brutality and unbelievable feats of strength, athleticism and fighting spirit to put on a match that exceeds the quality of most other matches on this card. it saw WALTER act like a calculated, unflinching and merciless destroyer of Bate whilst Bate kept coming back, kicking out and kicking off, pulling off moves that she be undoable against someone the size of WALTER and the condition he was in. He was able to slam, Suplex and even Airplane Spin WALTER despite excessive amounts of abuse from the Austrian giant he was in the ring with, WALTER may have struggled against Bate but he still came out on top and made Bate’s chest look like mincemeat in the process. He could have killed Bate with half the moves he hit him with. Many men would have crumbled before the arsenal of offence WALTER unleashed upon Bate but the fighting spirit and pure adrenaline kept the big strong boi going until he could take no more. He avoided passing out, tapping out and cheated death so many times that it was a shock when the Clothesline was the move to put him down.

With this, the final pillar of British Strong Style has fallen to Imperium and from the reunion and sad goodbye from the faction at the end, I feel this may be the birth of the Imperium era for NXT UK. If this really is the end for British Strong Style in NXT UK then I thank you for raising the prestige of the brand and leaving a legacy of amazing matches against some of the biggest foes on the brand.

So, there you have it, the second NXT UK TakeOver reviewed for your reading pleasure. It was another immense success full of excellent matches, moments and title changes. The stories going in needed compelling endings or interesting ways to carry on and we got both as Joe Coffey got one over on Dave Mastiff, WALTER destroyed the last pillar of the old guard and Kay Lee Ray broke the clock for Toni time. Plus the local heroes of Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster were able to wrestle the tag belts from insurmountable odds.

We are at the dawn of a new era for NXT as Imperium looks set to dominate the title scene. Kay Lee Ray has proven she was able to get into the head of a champion and I expect Gallus will be looking to get another shot at those tag titles since they were not pinned during the match. All eyes should be glued to the screen this Wednesday when NXT UK airs again (providing they actually air it right this time…)

All images courtesy of wwe.com

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