NXT UK’s first TakeOver has come and gone, and needless to say, it did not disappoint.
There was everything from title changes, surprise appearances, and everything in between. The success of the show almost guarantees that there will be more NXT UK TakeOvers held in the future.
Everything that happened Saturday night left plenty for us to talk about. So here are 5 things we learned from NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool!
THAT’S the real Finn Balor!
Jordan Devlin was originally supposed to face Travis Banks, but The Irish Ace’s pre-match attacks rendered his opponent unable to compete. However, General Manager Johnny Saint and his assistant, Sid Scala, had a backup plan. That plan was none other than Devlin’s teacher, Finn Balor.
In a hard-fought battle, it was Balor who showed that he was still Ireland’s best fighter (not named Becky Lynch). But more importantly, he was able to be the performer we all know he’s capable of being.
WWE, I hope you’re listening. THIS is the Balor we want, not the one who’s repeatedly lumped into meaningless storylines and not given a chance to shine. He hasn’t been anywhere near the main event scene, and it’s a complete waste of his talent. This past week’s Monday Night RAW was a step in the right direction, but we want him to consistently be a top star on the main roster.
It’s indeed Toni Time
It was only a matter of time before Toni Storm became the NXT UK Women’s Champion, but who knew it would be this soon?
She had already defeated Rhea Ripley on her way to winning the 2018 Mae Young Classic, while Ripley got her revenge by becoming the inaugural champion at Storm’s expense. It was only a matter of time before these two clashed again in another high-stakes match.
While their TakeOver: Blackpool contest wasn’t as good as their previous bouts, it still showed that both women are top stars on the brand and will be future stars on the main roster. I feel bad for Ripley having a short title reign, but Storm becoming champion was all but inevitable.
Since making her debut in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, Storm has been poised to be one of WWE’s top women’s wrestlers. She consistently goes out and gives quality matches, all while looking like she’s having the time of her life. That energy is what makes her a special performer, and one the company should be lucky to have.
The sky’s the limit for her, and after TakeOver: Blackpool, the NXT UK women’s division should brace itself for the storm that’s coming its way.
UK crowds are fun
This one might not come as a surprise to some, but UK wrestling crowds are pretty entertaining.
Being a wrestling fan in the United States, I’m used to a certain type of crowd that fills most arenas around the country. However, the crowds across the pond are a completely different breed, with TakeOver: Blackpool being the perfect example. From start to finish, the crowd in the Empress Ballroom was fully invested and never let up once. They were loud, energetic, and passionate about what was unfolding in front of them.
The chants were something else; they weren’t generic like “This is awesome” or “You suck”, they were unique and tailored to almost every match. Even though I didn’t get the reference on some—such as the “shoe” chant directed at Zack Gibson—it was still cool to see the crowd so interested in what was going on.
There’s now a legitimate threat to Pete Dunne’s title
The Bruiserweight has been NXT UK Champion for over 600 days, and it’s easy to see why.
Time after time, he has found ways to retain his title against numerous opponents. Not only that, but he’s also been able to put on fantastic matches with them all. His technical efficiency and ability to adapt to his challenger’s styles are second to none.
I said in my predictions article that if he beat Joe Coffey, who would be left to challenge him? Well, my question was answered after the main event match concluded. WALTER made his presence known, much to the delight of the crowd and indifference of Dunne.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing over 300 pounds, WALTER is a pretty intimidating guy to look at. But after doing a little research, I realized he’s just as terrifying in the ring as well. After facing guys who never really seemed like a threat, Dunne might want to hold onto that title a little tighter this time. I think we’ve finally found a guy who could dethrone the champion.
NXT UK is capable of putting on TakeOvers
After NXT UK started to air on the WWE Network, people were skeptical on how successful the brand was going to be. The same could have been said about TakeOver: Blackpool, with any hope of future events riding on how well the show went.
It obviously did not disappoint in the slightest. The entire card showcased the best of what the European wrestling scene has to offer. It also threw in a few surprises to keep things fresh and interesting throughout.