The SmarK Rant for NXT UK Takeover Cardiff – 08.31.19
Going into this one mostly blind but I love me some WALTER and some Tyler Bate, so bring on the wrestling!
Live from Cardiff, Wales
Your hosts are Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
Noam Dar v. Travis Banks
Dar’s tights look like the same pattern as a Rick & Morty hoodie that I bought for $10 off Wish.com. They trade wristlocks to start and Dar tries for an anklelock right away, but Banks rolls out and they do some reversals for a stalemate. Banks hammers him down with kicks and Dar bails to the floor, so Banks hits him with a running kick from the apron. Back in, that gets two. Dar drops him on the top rope with an atomic drop, however, and follows with a clothesline off the middle rope for two. Dar snapmares him into the bottom rope for an awkward spot that gets two. Yikes, that could have gone badly. Dar goes to work on the arm, but Banks dropkicks him in the corner and follows with a german suplex for two. They fight for another suplex and Dar reverses him into a submission hold, but Banks rolls him over with a crucifix for two. Banks takes him down with a crossface but Dar makes the ropes and then gets a neckbreaker for two. Banks tries a springboard kick and Dar catches the leg for a kneebar and they slug it out on the mat to break that. They head to the floor and Dar tosses Banks into the stairs and back in for a clothesline that gets two. Dar with some Yes Kicks, but Banks springboards onto him with a double stomp for two. That was awkward as well and Dar looked out of position. Back to the floor and Dar tosses him into the railing, but Banks springboards off with his kick, which misses but Dar sells it anyway. Back in, Banks with a Coup De Grace for two. They slug it out and Banks misses a blind charge, but comes back with a Shining Wizard that looked terrible from the camera angle they chose. Noam comes out of the corner with his Nova Roller kick for the pin at 13:55, however. This was a pretty subpar opener, going way too long with a bunch of blown spots and awkwardness. Like, it was OK for the most part, but it seemed like something that would be going on while a bigger star did a promo in the back or ran down to beat up both guys or something. **
Meanwhile, Cesaro is here to follow up on his open challenge to NXT UK, which appears to have been answered.
Ilja Dragunov v. Cesaro
So does he moonlight as a Bond villain when he’s not working here? He mostly reminds me of Alex Wright but without the great hair. Cesaro gets a big star reaction, which leads me to believe he’s getting built up to challenge WALTER next. Dragunov runs in for the attack to start, but quickly gets overpowered, but then backs off and asks for it to be brought. So Cesaro brings it with forearms, but Dragunov gets a senton for two. So Cesaro hurls him to the floor and into the railing, and beats on him out there for a bit before they head back in for a legdrop that gets two. He goes for the Giant Swing, but Dragunov makes the ropes, so Cesaro goes to a chinlock. Dragunov tries a 619 of sorts, but gets caught in the Giant Swing for an incredible count of 40. Nigel notes that he was getting worried that the Welch audience couldn’t count that high. Cesaro puts him into a crossface off that, but Ilja rolls him over for two and follows with a rebound lariat. Another lariat and they fight over a backslide, but Dragunov deadlifts him into a teardrop suplex instead. Cesaro bails and Dragunov follows with a dive, then immediately tosses him back in and goes up with a coast to coast dropkick for two. They exchange chops and Dragunov gets the Kobashi chops to win that one, but Cesaro just hurks him up and drops him on a knee for two. Running uppercut gets two for a great near fall. Cesaro with another forearm, but Dragunov counters with a backslide for two and then drops him onto the turnbuckle with a death valley driver. Yikes. Dragunov gets all fired up, but charges into the Swiss Forearm and the Neutralizer finishes at 12:28. Bit too long but the finishing sequence was great and Dragunov showed me something. ***1/4 Probably should have been Cesaro steamrolling him a bit more, though.
NXT UK tag titles: James Drake & Zack Gibson v. Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) v. Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Andrews
I’m not familiar with Gallus as a team so much, but they have the same name as one of my favorite albums of all time, so they’ve got that going for them. Gibson and Andrews trade some matwork to start and Zack goes for the arm as the crowd takes their shoes off for some reason. I’m gonna chalk that one up to “British people are weird” and carry on. FMW and Andrews hit Gibson with double-team sentons, and Drake comes in and is out to get double-teamed by Gallus before running away. So Drake tags out to Webster and he tries a sunset flip on Wolfgang, but gets sat upon for two. Coffey comes in and gets sent to the floor, so Andrews and Webster hit dives on the outside, and back in Webster moonsaults Gibson for two. Drake comes back in with a springboard off Gibson’s back into a dropkick on Webster, and they double-team him on the floor off that. Back in, Gibson with a slam for two. Drake with a backbreaker for two. Coffey tries to tag himself in, but he gets caught in the wrong corner and Gibson tags himself in again right away. Webster finally fights over and gives the hot tag to Andrews, and he runs wild on the other two teams, setting up a stereo dive onto Gallus outside and then on the champions on the other side of the ring. Back in, Andrews with a standing 450 on Gibson for two, but Drake saves. Coffey apparently gets a tag and Gallus beats on the babyfaces with a Wolfgang samoan drop for two. Andrews keeps fighting and Webster hits a knee strike on Wolfgang into an Andrews rana for two, however. Coffey and Andrews fight to the top and Andrews sends him to the floor and follows with a shooting star onto the pile outside. Back in, Andrews with the stunner on Gibson and Webster follows with the swanton for two. Gibson rolls up Andrews for two and hits a jackhammer, and Drake follows with a 450, but that gets two. OK that’s a little silly. Webster saves with kicks on the champions and everyone is out, but Gallus suddenly reappears and kills everyone. Wolfgang throws Coffey at the pile outside and they toss Andrews back in to finish him, but that gets two. Everyone slugs it out and Webster manages a Destroyer on Coffey, but then Gibson and Drake hit a doomsday device off the apron on Wolfgang. So that mostly leaves the champions and the babyfaces for the big showdown, and they slug it out, but Andrews hits the stunner on Drake, into the Webster 450, but Gibson pulls out the ref to save. That leaves Flash alone and they double-team him with their finisher, but Andrews hits the shooting star on Gibson and puts Webster on top for the pin and the titles at 20:14. Bit of a messy spotfest for the most part and it really didn’t need three teams all doing stuf, but once they figured out the storyline at the end it got pretty good, and the finish was great. And everyone was working really hard, obviously. ***1/2
Last Man Standing: Joe Coffey v. Dave Mastiff
They immediately slug it out on the floor and Castiff uses a chain for fun. Back in, Coffey beats him down, but Mastiff whips him into the corner and BREAKS THE TOP ROPE. Wait, aren’t you supposed to put the guy in a chinlock and yell at the ref when that happens? So Mastiff uses the bolt and chokes Coffey out, but Joe fights back with a lariat and a backdrop suplex…which Mastiff no-sells and then fires back with a german suplex to put Coffey on the floor. Coffey finds a pool cue under the ring because apparently he left it there, and also finds a table. However, Mastiff counters with a CRICKET BAT as this may be the most British garbage brawl ever. Coffey spears him through the table and we get the count, but Mastiff is up at 8 and recovers his chain for more abuse with that. He’s WORKING THE LIVER. Coffey fires up and struggles to get the chain, so Mastiff casually lets go and then spears Coffey again. Coffey breaks the count at 9 and retreats into the crowd, but Mastiff follows him out there and beats on him with a chair until Coffey chooses to punch the chair to block. That’s an odd counter. Coffey gets the chain again and we get a showdown, but then they both grab chairs and charge at each other like bulls with those. And both guys are down, of course. I don’t even know what the strategy was supposed to be there, but it reminded me of the various Homers running at each other with pots on their heads, so I’ll allow it. Over to the announce table in the corner and they slug it out there, as Mastiff hits a Regal roll on the table and somehow fails to break the table with it. So then they move up a level and fight on a stage before both guys fall through a table in mutually assured destruction. They both try to get up, but Coffey kicks a travel case that Mastiff is using to pull himself up, at the last second, and gets up to win at 16:00. All that for a weak-ass finish where the other guy literally slips and falls to lose? Again, way too long for the relatively small amount of content to the match, and it was pretty dull outside of a couple of creatively stupid spots. A terrible ending really killed it, though. **1/2
NXT UK Women’s title: Toni Storm v. Kay Lee Ray
Kay Lee decides to stall outside for a bit and Toni charges her with a dive and slugs away on the floor. Back in, Toni beats her down in the corner and kicks her to the apron, but Ray kicks back from the apron and chokes her out on the ropes. Ray works the arm for a bit and follows with a front suplex for two. Storm fights back with a head kick and german suplex, but Ray escapes Storm Zero and Storm hits a Code Red instead for two. Ray with a small package for two, but Toni hits Storm Zero for two. Ray fires back with superkicks and follows with a Gory Bomb for two. Not sure why everyone else got 15 minutes and these two are doing finisher kickouts at 5 minutes in. They fight to the top and Storm brings her down with a german suplex for two. At this point Nigel is talking about “This late in the match…” and I’m like “It’s only eight minutes in, what’s he talking about?” They head to the floor and Ray hits her with a dive from the top, and back in for a necksnap and another Gory Bomb for the pin and the title at 10:00. Whatever this was, it did NOT work. Perhaps Toni’s arm injury was worse than she let on. ** Crowd was dead throughout as well.
NXT UK title: WALTER v. Tyler Bate
Tyler tries some leg kicks while the crowd sings songs, and they do a test of strength so Bate can show off his core strength with a bridge. I’ve heard he’s a Big Strong Boi. They slug it out, but WALTER takes him down with a headlock to regain control and cranks on that. Bate powers up and tries the Tyler Driver, but WALTER rolls out, so Bate slams him to the floor and wisely decides not to dive. Back in, WALTER swats away Bate’s dropkick attempts, but Tyler takes him down with a rana and WALTER hits the floor again. This time he does dive, and that proves very, very bad for him, as WALTER catches him and powerbombs him on the apron. WALTER boots him off the apron and sends him into the post for a nasty bump, but the trainer seems confident he can continue. Man, I wouldn’t be. Back in, the fans express their displeasure with WALTER in song form. See, that’s too much pressure for me as a fan. I don’t even like singing “Happy Birthday”. WALTER stomps him down and goes to a sleeper, but Bate manages to fight out and tries to deadlift WALTER, which again does badly for him. WALTER with the crossface and he beats on Bate with forearms to put him on the floor and then just lets the ref count. You do not rush WALTER.
Back in, WALTER with the surfboard as he just punishes the neck, and then cuts off a Bate comeback and drops knees on him for two. WALTER beats him down with chops and Bate just flies into the corner like a ragdoll. But then he fights back and WALTER is unconcerned by pain and runs Bate into the turnbuckles and STEPS ON HIS FACE after bending him on the top rope. Oh man. I feel like WALTER v. Suzuki would be interesting. WALTER tries a powerbomb on the apron, but Bate manages an exploder to the floor to escape that. Back in, Bate somehow makes a comeback with legdrops bordering on sentons, and he throws forearms to put WALTER in the corner, but he tries a springboard and gets CHOPPED in mid-air. WALTER with the Boston crab and into a crossface while cranking on the neck, but Bate makes the ropes. WALTER tries a suplex and Bate manages to fight him off and tries his own. So WALTER chops him down, but Bate keeps trying that suplex and finally does hit it for a big pop. Keep it simple, I like it.
Bate makes the comeback hits a rolling kick and an exploder, and a standing shooting star gets two. He tries the Tyler Driver, but WALTER escapes that with a backdrop and Bate’s back gives out again. WALTER tries to kill him via powerbomb, but Bate somehow reverses into a Code Red for two. Bate goes up and WALTER rolls to the apron to escape, but they slug it out and Bate loses that battle. This allows WALTER to go up for the big splash attempt, but Bate headbutts him down to block and uses SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION to set up a top rope exploder for two. That was pretty much his one shot, I think. WALTER slugs him down again with chops but Bate keeps fighting up, so WALTER throws more until Bate manages to throw Bang and WALTER collapses on top of Bate’s back. Well that’s unfortunate. Anyone remember Godzilla v. Bambi? Bate again fights back, but WALTER kills him with a uranage for two. Powerbomb, but Bate kicks out of it this time and powers WALTER into an airplane spin and puts WALTER on the top rope. This sets up a torture rack into the Burning Hammer, but Bate is unable to cover soon enough and WALTER rolls out to escape again. Bate follows with another dive but can’t quite get all of it, and then hits a second one to send WALTER crawling back into the ring. Deadlift german gets two. Tyler Driver is blocked by WALTER, but Tyler bridges into another one for two. Amazing near fall there. Tyler to the top with a corkscrew dive, but that again only gets two.
So Bate loads up Bang and Bob and fires away on WALTER with the punches in the corner as WALTER covers up, but then fires back with his own and puts Tyler in the choke and hangs on tight. But then Bate somehow powers up and out of it, and WALTER traps him in the choke right away again. Bate powers up again and walks the ropes, so WALTER dumps him to the apron and goes back to it while Bate tries to fight away unsuccessfully. And then WALTER hits a goddamn suplex on the apron, and back in with the flying splash FOR TWO. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. Another suplex gets two. WALTER has had enough of this Boi and slaps him around to set up the powerbomb, but that only gets ONE. And Bate is HULKING UP on WALTER, but walks into a lariat and that does it at 42:14. GODDAMN YOU WALTER! I was wanting Bate to win so bad by the end. What else can this get? ***** This was a magnificent piece of business and one of the best matches of the year, hands down. Those false finishes with Bate kicking out were heart attack inducing.
Most of the show felt very “not ready for prime time” and not up to the level of the main NXT brand, but DAMN that main event was incredible and made the show a pretty easy thumbs up by itself. Everything was pretty watchable and I’ve give this one a solid WATCH IT, but nothing you need to go out of your way to see outside of the main event.