NXT UK rounded off a big week for British wrestling after the announcement of a UK Performance Centre with their first ever NXT UK TakeOver show in the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. With new tag team champions set to be crowned, a no disqualification battle of the monsters and Pete Dunne’s battle to keep his record-breaking reign in tact, did it takeover or underwhelm?
Moustache Mountain vs Grizzled Young Veterans- NXT UK Tag Team Championship Match
Result: Gibson and Drake win via pinfall- New Champs Crowned
Thoughts: Right…I certainly thought this was great- which is no surprise considering the four men involved- but I, evidently, didn’t think it was as great as many people seem to think it was? As I say, I definitely don’t think it was bad and, when WWE’s tag division-especially on RAW- is in the toilet, you’d be hard fought to find better tag matches within the company. Apart from…NXT. I just feel that all three of Moustache Mountain vs Undisputed Era matches in the latter half of 2018 were much better than this. The double Shankly Gate spot was great, reminiscent of DIY vs Revival, but without a doubt- the standout star was Tyler Bate. He, in my opinion, truly has the brightest future of any young wrestler in the world right now. Having Gibson and Drake win is the right move in my opinion; they’ll be fantastic heel champs. A very strong start to the show, nonetheless.
Jordan Devlin vs Finn Balor
Result: Balor wins via pinfall
Thoughts: Well this was a bloody lovely surprise eh! After Banks tried to attack Devlin, he tweaked his match and was unable to compete. However, Johnny Saint had a replacement in the form of Finn Balor. Balor was brought out to face the man he trained and also, his doppelganger. The result was to be expected; Finn Balor isn’t exactly going to lose but still Devlin put up a great fight. Exciting surprise and a fun match.
Eddie Dennis vs Dave Mastiff- No DQ match
Thoughts: Certainly a change of pace; a brutal, rough and tumble affair that was fun but a bit slow for my liking. Eddie Dennis, for my money, has been the stand out of NXT UK as he’s one of the few, if only, wrestler on the roster with a defined character. The main spot everyone will be talking about is the absolutely ridiculous attempt for Eddie’s finish before eventually realising he couldn’t make it across the thing so; he hit a modified Razor’s Edge; taking a few steps and dropping him from an obscene height. I feel, however, that the result was the wrong one. Dennis should be winning here as, due to my previous point, I feel he’s been the star of the brand. It will be interesting to see where both men go from here.
Rhea Ripley (c) vs Rhea Ripley- NXT UK Woman’s Championship Match
Result: Storm wins via pinfall- New Champion Crowned
Thoughts: Absolutely get in. What a fantastic decision to put the strap on Toni as, for my money, she’s the best woman’s wrestler in WWE that isn’t named Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch or Asuka. Toni is exactly the right choice to build the woman’s brand around as she’s a fantastic ambassador, insanely good in-ring as either the dominant force or the valiant underdog and also just really, really likeable. Rhea Ripley shouldn’t be forgotten either; she has the look and feel of a star and I can’t wait to see where she goes from here- I’d put her in the Rumble and straight onto the main roster honestly but we’ll see.
Pete Dunne (c) vs Joe Coffey- NXT UK Championship Match
Result: Dunne retains via pinfall
Thoughts: I have no qualms saying this; over the past few months I’ve been…not bored but disappointed with Dunne’s recent reign. I’ve felt his matches feel near-formulaic at times and very predictable. This match completely made me remember why I love the guy so much and, from the halfway point in the match, I was desperate for him to retain. The story-telling both guys executed throughout the bout was electric; Coffey had an answer for near-enough everything Pete threw at him whilst Dunne consistently kept his head above water. The two-top rope spots towards the end that botched were absolutely terrifying but through no fault of either man; wrestling ropes get very slippery! Dunne winning I feel is the right result due to his next opponent…which was revealed to be the debuting WALTER. If you hadn’t seen WALTER before tonight; the reception he received tells you everything you need to know about him. One of the best wrestlers in the world today and I cannot wait to see him square off against Dunne.
Overall Thoughts: Whilst I, clearly, didn’t think it was as strong a show as many others did; I feel NXT Takeover Blackpool is a good reset button on, until this point, a stagnant brand. The new champions will bring further gold for challengers to aspire to and with the introduction of WALTER, the brand essentially became must-see for him alone.
Overall Grade: B