Monsters and Moments – “NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool II” Review

Welcome back to NXT UK. It’s time for the next TakeOver event. A return to the place that hosted the first TakeOver for the brand. It offered a five-match card of title opportunities, carnage and bitter rivalries. With all the titles on the line and Gallus vs Imperium taking the centre stage and a slew of personal feuds and rivalries to back it up. Now was time for the UK based brand to showcase it’s very best. Let’s get into the action.

Eddie Dennis defeated Trent Seven via Last Stop Driver

The show started with one of NXT UK’s founders, Trent Seven taking on his stalker, Eddie Dennis. Ever since Dennis resurfaced after suffering an injury, he has stalked and tormented Seven with almost a slasher movie killer level of detail. Now it was time to see if the returning monster could topple on of the brand’s favourites. He was even adorned with a dragon mask which when removed, revealed the dead eyed stare that has creeped out the NXT UK audience and especially Seven for weeks. Dennis tried to get the jump on Seven but instead found himself on his arse and forced to fight from below. He finally came back with a Crucifix Powerbomb out of the corner. He continued the offence, hitting a series of forearms and power moves on a weakened Seven. This would go on until Seven managed to hit a comeback of his own, involving a Snap Dragon Suplex on the floor. The pair continued the back and forth until Dennis went for the turnbuckle pad. However, his tampering left him open to a Superplex from Seven. In doing this, the pad fell off. When Seven went for the Seven Star Lariat, Dennis reversed it and pulled him headfirst into the exposed steel, almost prompting a referee stoppage. Dennis unleashed his sadistic streak by setting up to launch Seven into the exposed turnbuckle again with the Severn Bridge but the ref refused to let that happen and blocked the way. So out of spite and further sadism, Dennis through Seven out of the ring with the move. I will admit, I audibly gasped at Seven’s landing as he nearly flatted a crew member. Dennis finished the match by rolling Seven in the ring and ending it with the Last Stop Driver. It was a big victory for Dennis and a stab in the heart to the NXT UK universe. I enjoyed this and hope to see Dennis continue to become NXT UK’s tribute to Michael Myers.

Kay Lee Ray defeated Toni Storm and Piper Niven via Stolen Frog Splash

Next up was the triple threat for the NXT UK Women’s Title. Things had gotten personal as Toni Storm had not gotten over her loss to Kay Lee Ray and wanted Niven to step aside, prompting the hostilities between the two. In-ring, things were just as ugly as Storm instantly went for Ray. Niven tried to break it up and flattened Toni and Ray with a series of dives, sentons and cannonballs. She was the juggernaut of the early game. The match became more open and all three women started trading back and forth, all of them getting moments to shine. Since it was a no DQ match, Kay Lee Ray introduced a chair at one point which Storm couldn’t bring herself to use on Niven. There were several holy sh*t moments as Kay Lee Ray often threw herself out of the ring with reckless abandon. At one point she even collided with the barricade knee first which looked nasty. She also had to overcome the moments where Niven and Storm put aside their differences to work against the champ. The final act saw a trading of finishers as we saw Niven’s Michinoku Driver kicked out of, the Dirty Bomb broken out, a Glasgow Destroyer used on Ray that Storm tried to steal and finish it with Storm Zero. Niven broke it up and infuriated Storm who hit a second, dumping Ray onto the back on Niven. When she looked to finish things with a Frog Splash, Ray kicked Storm off and stole the win, managing to retain against two opponents who wanted to kill her. Once again, a very strong match here. All three women went out there and killed it. Ray once again craftily pulled one over on Storm and Niven, unfortunately, ate the pinfall. After that match though, any of them could have left champion and the crowd would have been happy.

Tyler Bate defeated Jordan Devlin via Spinal Tap Twisting Diving Senton

What happens when bitterness consumes you? A match like this. Jordan Devlin had a personal grudge against Tyler Bate and the idea that Bate has stolen all the opportunities he should be getting. He hates how much Bate gets, despite having a very strong win/loss record. Now it was time to see who was better, the Big Strong Boy or the Irish Ace. I was hedging my bets on the Ace. The crowd were much more in favour of Bate, which further pissed off Devlin. The pair started by trading technical holds and reversing everything the other threw at one another. Bate got the better with his strength but Devlin played it smart and started working over Bate’s midsection. He continued to grind Bate down whilst levelling insults at Bate. He cut down a Bate comeback too by reversing a Cross Body into a gut buster. He went one step further by locking Bate in one nasty looking Romero Special.

A sequence later and the pair were both down following both me colliding. Bate got up first and started to work his way back into the match levelling Devlin with kicks and a running Shooting Star Press. He continued by trapping Devlin in the worlds longest Airplane Spin followed by a Brainbuster. Devlin managed to survive and reversed the Tyler Driver into a Dragonrana and dropped Bate with two brutal slingshot cutters. One of which was to the outside. Once inside, the pair started trading forearms and punching, turning the ring into a giant game of Rockem Sockem Robots. The pair continued to reverse and strike until both of them were down again. Devlin planting Bate with a Spanish Fly. Then a second one off the top rope. He followed that up with the Devil Inside but only got a two count. When that failed, Devlin used Bop and Bang whilst Bate used a headbutt. He hit a springboard DDT and tried to finish Devlin with the Tyler Driver 97. That only got two so he hit a Spinal Tap for the three-count. This was an insane match and totally worth watching the show alone. Both men are absolutely top class and proved it here. Devlin may have lost but he definitely left his mark on Bate.

Gallus (Wolfgang & Mark Coffey) defeated Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake), Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) and South Wales Subculture (Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster) via retrieving the titles.

Now it was time to make NXT UK history. It was time for the four-way Tag Title ladder match. It was going to be a mix of faction warfare and lost title pride thrown into a chaotic mess of violence and ladders. Are you ready for me to try and describe this spotfest? The match started with both pairs of rivalries boiling to a head as Imperium and Gallus locked up which The Veterans went after Andrews and Webster. This stopped fast and everyone started going for everyone. Drake and Gibson armed themselves with chairs but were quickly flattened by Gallus. Imperium took it one step further by Dropkicking chairs into the face of an incapacitated James Drake. At last, the ladders came out with Gallus breaking one over the bodies of Aichner and Barthel. Imperium got the advantage as Barthel smashed a ladder into the face of Aichner. Flash Morgan Webster tried to involve himself and hit a moonsault off a ladder but ended up going midsection first into a ladder. Andrews nearly suffered the same fate at the hands of the GYV but Gallus came in and took out both Gibson and Drake with a Chokeslam and Samoan Drop onto a ladder. Gallus and Imperium continued to go to war whilst Webster and Andrews tried to take the titles. When Mark Coffey tried to stop Andrews, he ate the Fall to Pieces of the ladder. Webster was then taken out of the equation with a double springboard moonsault courtesy of Aichner. Every team retrieved a ladder and all started fighting on their respective ladders. Webster and Andrews craftily used their ladders to create extra leverage. The bodies started to fall, with Andrews the sole survivor. However, he quickly suffered a Ticket to Ride from Zack Gibson and a ladder 450 Splash from James Drake.

The GYV tried to work together to retrieve the belts but Imperium returned and dumped Drake with the European Bomb. They started chucking out the ladders until only one remained. They took to long to climb, allowing Gallus to come back and create a car compactor with two ladders. They continued to keep the punishment but an attack on the ramp left Wolfgang limping. Webster and Andrews finally returned, dropping Gallus with double Stundog Millionaires. They picked up the largest ladder and tried to set it up. It ended up set up on the outside and a massive brawl broke out. Gallus popped the crowd by retrieving tables and set them up on the outside too. They had Webster and Andrews set up to take a fall. Instead, they ate double headbutts. Coffey went through a table and Wolfgang was hit by a double moonsault from the South Wales Subculture off the top of a ladder. The GYV made their way back into the ring to stop the Welshmen from claiming the titles. Andrews was given a kendo stick and unleashed it onto the GYV. Imperium finally found the strength to get back into it and got a hand on the titles but Gallus were back. Aichner was speared through a ladder and Barthel was knocked off into the remaining teams, giving Gallus time to climb up and retrieve their titles. This was absolute carnage. It was exactly what I wanted from a ladder match with this many moving parts. A deliciously delirious ladder match that might have suffered some set-up problems but delivered in a sheer volume of shocking moments. Gallus went through hell to retain their titles.

WALTER defeated Joe Coffey via Grounded Head and Arms Clutch

Part two of faction warfare came next as we went into our main event. WALTER, the unkillable leader of Imperium vs Joe Coffey, the brash and outspoken leader of Gallus. The winner here would determine who is the top faction in NXT UK. No matter who won, they would come away bruised and battered as both were going to get physical. There was also a personal edge to the match as WALTER disrespected Coffey when he appeared in the company the last time NXT UK came to Blackpool. Coffey started strong, overpowering WALTER and assaulting him on the outside. WALTER struck back and heading back into the ring. The pair brawled on the outside again as Coffey launched himself over the barricade into WALTER. The beatdown continued as Coffey was all over WALTER. The crescendo coming with a second rope tornado DDT on the big man. The pair battled for a Suplex with Coffey winning and hitting a stalling Suplex on the champion. Coffey made the mistake of powering up WALTER by going for a chop. WALTER beckoned on some more before he levelled Coffey with a series of his own. He hit a couple more on the outside and left Coffey on the outside after a big boot. Coffey got back in the ring and got flattened again. WALTER held Coffey down on the mat and converted into a Single Leg Crab then a Face Lock. The pair traded with WALTER winning with a Hangman’s Chop. The pair continued the back and forth and Coffey went through another round in an STF and a Three-Quarter Nelson, all the while screaming in pain. The pair traded further with WALTER hitting more wince-inducing chops and then going full-on hoss mode as the paired battered at each other. WALTER ended the sequence with a Brainbuster. A Sleeper Hold attempt failed and gave Coffey a way back into the match as he dropped WALTER back first and drove him into the Turnbuckle with the Glasgow Send-off. We got another slow down with Coffey going for All the Best for the Bells and getting levelled with a PowerBomb. It didn’t get the win and WALTER tried to hit a Shotgun Dropkick which missed Coffey and launched the referee into space.

Coffey hit a surprised WALTER with a PowerBomb that would have won the match had the ref been alive. Alexander Wolfe came to the aid of his leader since the ref was gone. Before he could do anything, Ilja Dragunov came out to stop Wolfe. He destroyed Wolfe with a Torpedo Moscow but this drove Wolfe into Coffey, damaging his knee. WALTER took out Dragunov and went to work on Coffey again, introducing him into the steel steps and PowerBombing him onto the apron. WALTER hit a Clothesline that would have won the match had the ref been alive. A second referee came to the ring so the match could actually have a winner. WALTER look to finish things with a Splash but was intercepted by Coffey. However, the knee damage made it hard to find leverage so he was swatted down. He went up a second time and threw WALTER off the top rope. The injured knee prevented him from capitalising on this though. By some miracle, Coffey got to his feet and started raining in punches on WALTER. The big man was forced to cover up and relied on a kick to the knee to bring Coffey down. He hit the Splash but only got a two count. Coffey managed to avoid getting hit with another PowerBomb and hit All the Best for the Bells for a two count. Coffey went for another but WALTER caught him in the Reverse Chin Lock into a Sleeper Hold. When Coffey made the ropes, WALTER destroyed Coffey with a Sleeper Suplex. WALTER hit two more PowerBombs, separating them with a ferocious chop to the back before he made Coffey tap out with a final Head and Arms Clutch. WALTER had survived his encounter with the king of Gallus and once again gave NXT UK an unbelievable main event. I love the fact that Coffey gave WALTER heel and really felt like he could match him in terms of strength and raw power. As Imperium stood tall to celebrate WALTER’s victory, a familiar face appeared. The Undisputed Era ambushed Imperium, laying them out and all piling on WALTER. They stood tall to end the TakeOver ahead of Worlds Collide.

So, there you have it, NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool II reviewed for your reading pleasure. It was another high-class show full of excellent matches, gripping stories and some big shocks near the end there. It is slightly disappointing that very little changed here as all the titles were retained by their current champions but hey the battles were fun right? I really hope that Eddie Dennis continues being a horror movie killer, Toni Storm and Piper Niven go to war and Imperium get revenge on the Undisputed Era in a couple of weeks’ time. If nothing else, it once again proved that NXT UK is a brand loaded with talent. Bate vs Devlin stole the show and the ladder match certainly presented some gif worthy moments. I want to see the brand I review each week get even bigger thanks to shows like this.

All images courtesy of wwe.com  

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