Royal Rumble weekend is now officially over, and the past few days have been quite the emotional roller coaster.
It all started Saturday night when NXT and NXT UK battled for brand supremacy in WWE Worlds Collide. People were sceptical of the concept, especially with NXT UK not getting over as well with fans and NXT’s immense popularity.
Many probably expected a complete landslide, with NXT wiping the floor with its sister brand from across the pond. However, it turned out to be a competitive night that blew everyone away and once again became a tough act to follow.
Each match had its shining moments, starting with a battle of friends-turned-bitter-enemies on the pre-show.
Pre-Show: Mia Yim vs. Kay Lee Ray
It was clear from the get-go that Yim was out for retribution, not forgetting what Ray did to her on NXT TV back in November. She came out swinging right away and gained the early advantage.
The NXT UK Women’s Champion fought back, however, and got in some offence of her own before Yim once again turned the tide. A wild cannonball dive off the top rope looked to put the momentum back in Ray’s favour, but The HBIC would not be denied.
Just as it looked like Yim was going to put the match away, Ray reversed a rollup into one of her own and used the ropes to pick up the victory.
Overall, it was a solid way to kick the night off. Yim continued to display her tenacity and grit, while Ray stole the win right out from under her. I expect these two to continue to do great things this year and show why they are some of the best the NXT and NXT UK women’s divisions have to offer.
Finn Balor vs. Ilja Dragunov
After that came the opening match on the main card. I expected this one to be a hard-hitting affair and I was not disappointed in the slightest. The two went back and forth throughout the entire contest, exchanging stiff strikes and giving each other their best shot time after time.
Dragunov did all he could to put away his adversary but to no avail. Balor finally got the upper hand and hit the Russian with a shotgun dropkick and the Coup de Grace. He then added a 1916 for good measure to walk out of Houston victorious.
While I would have liked to see Dragunov pick up the upset, I had no problem with Balor winning. His performances so far in NXT have continued to prove why they wasted his talent on RAW and SmackDown.
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Angel Garza vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks
Up next was the first title match of the night: a fatal four-way for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
This one was crazy and fast-paced throughout, but each guy was given plenty of time to shine. Just when you thought one of them was going to gain the upper hand, someone else came in and swung the momentum in their favour.
Garza looked like he was going to retain the title after hitting Scott with the Wing Clipper. But Devlin had other ideas, hitting him with a headbutt and then hitting Scott with his own finisher to become the new champion.
The ending was an absolute shocker but in a good way. Out of anyone on the NXT UK roster, Devlin absolutely deserves to hold that belt. He’s easily one of the best talents out there and that match proved it.
If he’s going to be on NXT from now on, the potential match-ups he could have is something people should get excited about. The Irish Ace will finally get the chance to showcase his talents to a much wider audience.
#DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
Then came the tag team bout that many were expecting to be the match of the night. Needless to say, they were absolutely right. Both teams proved why they are two of the best in both NXT and NXT UK.
They went back and forth, leaving it all in the ring and coming within inches of picking up the victory several times. #DIY were about to hit Bate with Meeting in the Middle, but Seven got in the way to protect his friend. All it did was delay the inevitable, with Seven being on the receiving end of it instead to secure the win for Gargano and Ciampa. Once the match was over, all four men shook hands and hugged out of respect for one another.
The chemistry these teams have is incredible; this was a tag team clinic in every sense of the word. If you can plug either of these two teams into a match and almost always guarantee it’s going to be great, that just shows you how talented these men truly are.
NXT Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm
Next was a battle for dominance within the NXT and NXT UK women’s divisions.
Both women wasted little time going after one another, trying to gain the upper hand early on. Storm took control for a little while, but Ripley didn’t stay down for long. The two exchanged momentum before it looked as if Storm was ready to end the champion’s reign. She attempted a frog splash from the top rope, but Ripley got out of the way and was able to hit the Riptide to retain the title.
The history these two had was apparent throughout the entire match. Each woman wanted to prove why she was the dominant female, but when it was all said and done The Nightmare stood tall once again.
The only thing that kind of took away from the bout was the crowd. They just weren’t as into it as they could have been, but it was hard to follow up after the tag team match.
The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, & Bobby Fish) vs. Imperium (Walter, Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel, & Alexander Wolfe)
Finally, the main event was upon us. Ending the night was a clash between the most dominant factions in NXT and NXT UK.
Right from the start, it was apparent that it was going to be a hard-hitting affair. Several minutes in, Wolfe looked like he got legitimately knocked out by a strike from Strong. The medical staff checked on him and he never returned, making this one a four-on-three handicap match.
But when you have a man like Walter on your team, are you really at a disadvantage? The Undisputed Era knew this and did everything in their power to take him out of the equation. They even put him through one of the announce tables, but that didn’t keep him down for long.
The raw power of Walter and Imperium was just too much to handle, and they walked away victorious once the dust settled.
Everyone knew this one was going to be an all-out war, and it was just that. These two teams beat the hell out of each other and capped off the night with another great match.
Overall, WWE Worlds Collide was a fantastic show that showed off the best that both brands had to offer. NXT UK proved it could rise to the occasion and go toe-to-toe with NXT on any given night.
Hopefully we’ll get to see this more often, because if it’s like this every time then sign me up!
Overall Grade: A-
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Shalenehixon21. Thanks for reading!