Welcome back to NXT UK. It is the first episode of the new year, nope scratch that, the new decade and it looks to be starting with a bang. This week’s episode saw clashes between Ligero and Kassius Ohno, Alexander Wolfe and Ilja Dragunov and we got to see Dave Mastiff administer a beatdown to Kona Reeves. There was all that and more to enjoy so let’s get into it, shall we?

Actually, we must pause the action as the show started with the announcement of two more matches for NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool II. The first was Trent Seven vs Eddie Dennis. Given how Dennis has conducted himself recently, this match really isn’t a surprise. The second was Jordan Devlin vs Tyler Bate, again not really a surprise. Both should be pretty awesome to watch.

Dave Mastiff defeated Kona Reeves via Into the Void

Things started terribly as Reeves came out with a mic and spouted a bunch of excuses about not being able to defeat Trent Seven. He then claimed he was a top tier superstar. Next joke Reeves. Once the match began, an angry Mastiff mercilessly pummelled Reeves until the fight went outside. Reeves used the ring apron and the steel steps to gain the upper hand and beat him down a bit. This advantage lasted about 3 minutes then Mastiff hit a German Suplex into the corner and flattened Reeves with the Into the Void Cannonball. It was as simple as that. Not quite a squash match but mostly a squash. I wonder what excuses Kona Reeves will come out with to explain this loss? Oh, and best of all, Dave Mastiff challenged Kassius Ohno to a match later in the show after taking umbrage with Ohno calling himself the best British wrestler. Now that I want to see.

Toni Storm Addressed the NXT UK Universe

Toni Storm took to the ring next to address some feelings about her upcoming Women’s Title match. She explained how Kay Lee Ray got into her head and expressed remorse for lashing out at Piper Niven. She brought Niven to the ring to apologise. She kind of did, then requested Niven step aside and give her the title match so she can best Kay Lee Ray. Niven obviously said no and refused to give up the chance she had been given. Storm went to grab Niven and got a headbutt for her troubles. Then as expected a brawl broke out and the pair were dragged apart. Kay Lee Ray looked on in glee.

Kassius Ohno defeated Ligero via Kassius Clutch

Next was a rematch between Kassius Ohno and Ligero. Ohno got the win last time after resorting to dirty tactics and going for Ligero’s mask. This was about vengeance. Ligero was determined to regain the win. This was Ohno’s first match since dropping the Knockout Artist title and rebranding himself the Wrestling Genius. He was going out there to show off his grappling and British style supremacy. Whenever Ligero went for a strike, Ohno would not retort with a receipt. Ligero ran circles around Ohno in the early game. Ohno went for the mask again and used this chance to hit a Chin breaker. The advantage didn’t last as Ohno’s reluctance to strike bit him in the ass. Ligero kicked out of a hold and went back to beating down Ohno. This continued with him hitting the Stunner but Ohno was able to weather the storm and trapped Ligero in the ropes, dropped him and then locked in the Kassius Clutch for the win. He had bested Ligero without resorting strikes and once again decreeing himself the best British style wrestler. He made sure to let everyone know this post-match. All in all, this was exceptional fun to watch and although he lost, Ligero looked great here. He had Ohno’s number most of the match and only lost because of more crafty tactics.

After that, we saw Joseph Conners interrupt an A-Kid interview to once again cite he was TakeOver worthy. He also threatened to make life hard for A-kid.

Ashton Smith & Oliver Carter defeated The Outliers (Riddick Moss & Dorian Mak) via Roll Up

Ah, how I had not missed the trash talk of the Outliers. The NXT imports were back in action looking for a win after losing their debut. This was going to be a case where one team got their first win. In this case, it was Carter and Smith. They were able to work together well and smash about the mouthy bad guys. Riddick and Dorian were continuously running their mouths but unfortunately were able to use their strength advantage to beatdown Carter. Every time he tried to fight back, they overpowered him. Thankfully, Carter’s speed allowed him to escape and tag in Smith, who went wild with strikes and kicks. He was clubbed in the back but was able to roll up Riddick whilst Mak was too busy celebrating. What a start to the year for Carter and Smith as they get their first win as a team. Meanwhile, the Outliers once again have egg on their faces because of their overconfidence.

Ilja Dragunov defeated Alexander Wolfe via Torpedo Moscow

No DQ rules between Alexander Wolfe and Ilja Dragunov. Imperium vs Gallus(ish) round two. Dragunov didn’t even wait for Wolfe to make his entrance, running up the ramp to lay a beating. It started fast with Dragunov beating the hell out of Wolfe. It also didn’t take long for the weapons to come out as Dragunov retrieved a kendo stick that he beckoned Wolfe to use. Wolfe masterfully used it on Dragunov, giving a flourish after each strike before ending his stick work with a Neckbreaker. Okay, I lied, Wolfe then tried to make Dragunov eat it. Dragunov got his revenge, retrieving the stick when Wolfe went for a kick. He returned the favour with a series of home-run swings. Dragunov then made the fans happy by going for a table. The pair fought over who would go through it, with neither man winning. Instead, Dragunov ate a chair to the face and a DVD onto the apron. Dragunov recovered and tossed the chair at Wolfe before going Coast to Coast. When this only got a 2 count, Dragunov went chair hunting.

A failed Superplex attempt later and Dragunov had been thrown onto a pile of chair and DDT’ed onto them. Much like the Coast to Coast, it only achieved a 2 count. Wolfe upped the brutality by using a chair to crush Dragunov’s windpipe then snapping his fingers (both hands) in the chair. Somehow, Dragunov hit a Lariat and a DVD through the forgotten about table. With Wolfe flattened, a Torpedo Moscow later put Wolfe down for good. This ended up being a bit more brutal than I expected. Wolfe’s chair antics were genuinely wince-inducing. No celebration was possible though as Barthel and Aichner of Imperium came to avenge the loss of their comrade and hit Dragunov with a European Bomb, all while WALTER looked on. Well, until Coffey sucker-punched WALTER and bolted, saving Dragunov from any punishment at the hands of Jolly Wally.

So, there you have it, the first NXT UK of 2020 reviewed for your reading pleasure. As you can tell, I was a fan of the episode with everything hitting its mark. Kona Reeves and the Outliers getting bitchslapped was fun to see and seeing Smith and Carter getting their first win was heart-warming. Ohno has become a threat to any grappler as he proved that he doesn’t need his strikes to win a match and he has Mastiff lurking over him now. Lastly, that main event was a whole load of fun as it tugged at my deathmatch heartstrings and was a dramatic spectacle between teacher and pupil with Dragunov finally getting his revenge. It was a strong start to the year and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Updated NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool II Card

  • UK Title Match: Joe Coffey vs WALTER (c)
  • NXT UK Women’s Title: Toni Storm vs Piper Niven vs Kay Lee Ray (c)
  • NXT UK Tag Titles Four-Way Ladder Match: Grizzled Young Veterans vs South Wales SubCulture vs Imperium vs Gallus (c)
  • Eddie Dennis vs Trent Seven
  • Jordan Devlin vs Tyler Bate

All pics and videos courtesy of WWE