It’s another big night for NXT UK. The show tonight would feature some serious implications for Imperium and their ongoing war with Ilja Dragunov. There would be a slew of new stars in action, an NXT import and the debut of Ridge Holland. The tapings had come to Hull, let’s see how they chose to kick them off. There’s another hour-long show to dissect, so let’s stop stalling and get into it.
Trent Seven defeated Kona Reeves via Burning Hammer
This match had become a joke before it even begun as Kona Reeves claimed he was more talented than the NXT UK roster. Kona Reeves, the NXT jobber, thinks he’s better than the likes of Trent Seven, WALTER and more? Keep dreaming Reeves. Okay, enough being mean, onto the match. Reeves tried to rush Seven off the bell but Seven was ready, countered and smacked him about. Through some apron-based trickery, Reeves managed to have a small amount of control but was soon battered back into place. Reeves surprised everyone by kicking out of the Seven Stars Lariat but couldn’t make use of the kick-out and was flattened with a Burning Hammer. Reeves flew all the way from the US to Hull just to be squashed quite dominantly. Still think NXT UK needs stars like you?
Post-match, we saw Eddie Dennis in the crowd who creepily latched himself onto Seven’s arm. This has the makings of a returning bout for Dennis, someone who’s been out for a while with an injury. A programme with Seven would insanely fun to watch on NXT UK TV.
A-Kid defeated Jack Starz via Arm Bar
Everyone’s favourite crash test dummy was back as Jack Starz returned to an NXT UK. The diminutive star has gained somewhat of a cult appreciation for the beatings he takes and the underdog nature he brings to his matches. This was his time to shine as he had an updated style and a new training style based around British style wrestling. He was facing A-Kid, who was also in need of a strong win following his count out over Kassius Ohno. The Tyler Bate-recommended wrestler was out to prove himself once again and gave Starz an exceedingly technical bout. The pair traded locks, escapes and Starz got a mini star moment by hitting a one-armed PowerBomb to escape out of a Triangle hold. He would not be able to turn that into a win though and was soon trapped in an Arm Bar forcing a tap out. It was a fun little bout that gave both “Starz” the chance to show off a bit more. It was nice to see A-Kid get his first proper win and a glimpse into the improvements from Jack Starz. Later in the show, A-Kid was called out by Jordan Devlin. It looks like we’ll get A-Kid vs Ace next week.
Grizzled Young Veterans Complained
It’s always a treat to see Zack Gibson armed with a mic. Liverpool’s Number One is probably NXT UK’s best promo artist and took great care in detailing how his team had been screwed in recent weeks. He talked about losing their titles and then how they lost they contender’s match following the interference of Gallus and Imperium. He also made his anger known about the fact that neither interfering team had suffered any repercussions for getting the match thrown out. Gibson pleaded with Johnny Saint to do the right thing and add the Grizzled Young Veterans to a TakeOver Tag Title bout to “make the people happy.”
Ridge Holland defeated Oliver Carter via Northern Grit
Ridge Holland is a very big guy. The former rugby star trained by Marty Jones looked set to make a massive splash in NXT UK by taking out one of the more likeable if unlucky guys Oliver Carter. The Yorkshire native had the home territory advantage as the crowd loved cheering for Holland even if his demeanour didn’t exactly warrant it. He hit hard and used his size and strength advantage to bully Carter. He threw him around with ease and dragged him around like a paper doll choking him out with a Half Straight Jacket. Carter tried to use his speed and striking ability to overcome Holland but it didn’t get him very far as the Tip of the Cap headbutt knocked him out and Holland dropped him headfirst with Northern Grit. The Peaky Blinder inspired star looks like he could make a big name for himself in NXT UK if he keeps putting on performances like that. I feel we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with Holland. He has a great style and a feel that the baton is more than just for show.
Ashton Smith came to check on Carter and the pair found themselves being mocked by Noam Dar. Ashton Smith had enough of Dar’s jabs and challenged him to a match next week. I have a horrible feeling Noam Dar is going to make Ashton Smith look like a dafty.
Alexander Wolfe defeated Ilja Dragunov via Sit Out PowerBomb
The main event presented the chance for a very physical and very personal bout. Wolfe and Dragunov go back a long way and Dragunov had mentioned earlier in the show that he turned down the Imperium invitation as he wanted to get out of Wolfe’s shadow. He also mentioned the fact that Wolfe had helped train him, so we can assume he had knowledge of Dragunov’s weaknesses. The pair had a staredown that gave Dragunov and upper hand that was lost once Wolfe drove Dragunov into a barricade. The pair continued to fight on the outside with Dragunov returning the favour. Wolfe played it smart and dirty, using a referee distraction to hit Dragunov in the balls with the middle rope. The match got stiffer as Wolfe punished Dragunov for his insolence with a volley of devastating strikes. The pair continues to trade, nearly knocking each other out on several occasions. Following some top rope offence, Dragunov showed some immense strength with a Gotch-Style PowerBomb and a Bridging Teardrop Suplex. The pair started another round of trading until Dragunov set up for the Torpedo Moscow, prompting Imperium to run interference and gift Wolfe the win. They swarmed after the match but Gallus aided Dragunov and sent Imperium packing once again. This was an excellent match with a potentially predictable end. The in-ring action was amazing, the strikes stiff, the story engrossing and the tension could have been cut with a knife. I doubt this match is for everyone but man, if you want a brutal slugfest, this match may as well have been gift wrapped for you.
So, there you have it, another episode of NXT UK reviewed for your reading pleasure. As you can see, I loved this episode. Bar the weird opening match, that I should clarify was still entertaining, it was a strong show full of excellent story threads, strong matches and intrigue for upcoming weeks. Ridge Holland looks like he can be an interesting prospect, Imperium have been put on blast by Gallus once again and Jinny has her sights set on Piper Niven. I look forward to seeing Jordan Devlin vs A-Kid next week and can’t wait to see if Ashton Smith knocks the sh*t eating grin off Noam Dar’s face. It should all be good fun.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE