Date: May 28, 2020
Commentators: Andy Shepard, Tom Phillips
Host: Andy Shepard
It’s another Hidden Gems episode, meaning we have more dark matches from various NXT UK TV tapings. I had a good time with this last time around and hopefully that means we could still be in for some fun here. You never know what you might get out of these but their track record isn’t half bad. Let’s get to it.
Andy tells us what to expect.
From Coventry, England, March 7, 2020.
Finn Balor vs. Kenny Williams
Balor pulls him down into an early headlock but Williams jawbreaks his way to freedom. Williams takes him into an armbar and drops a leg on the arm, followed by a running knee to the chest. That’s not cool with Balor, who is back up to stomp away at the chest for two. Some running chops in the corner set up another kick to the chest for two more but the fans get behind Williams again.
Balor promises to kill Walter and the delay lets Williams get in some forearms. A rebound lariat gives Williams two and he sends Balor to the floor for the suicide dive. Balor is right back with the Eye of the Hurricane into the shotgun dropkick. The Coup de Grace sets up 1916 to finish Williams at 8:10.
Rating: C. This was a nice enough match with Balor having to break a bit of a sweat against someone who wasn’t all that much of a challenge. Having him call out Walter the entire time made it even better as Balor was focused on Walter, even if the masses weren’t going to be seeing this. Not a great match, but it worked well enough.
From Brentwood, England, October 5, 2019.
Rhea Ripley vs. Nina Samuels
Samuels can’t spin out of a top wristlock to start and a hiptoss is blocked as well. Rhea puts her on top and throws her down for daring to jump. Back up and Samuels kicks away and sends Rhea face first into the middle buckle for two. We hit the crossarm choke for a bit but Rhea is right back up with a basement dropkick for two more. Not that it matters as Riptide finishes Samuels at 4:51.
Rating: D+. This was Ripley’s last match in NXT UK and it makes sense to send her out with a fairly dominant win. Ripley was a much bigger star than Samuels could ever hope to be so just having Ripley on the show was a good idea. Let the fans feel like they got to see something special and send them home happy.
From Derby, England, June 16, 2019.
Killian Dain vs. Travis Banks
The much bigger Dain sends him into the corner but Banks starts kicking away. That just causes Dain to say bring it so Banks kicks him down and fires off some YES Kicks to the chest. Dain throws him down and limps around before sending Banks hard into the corner. Running knees to the chest give Dain two and we hit the chinlock with a knee in Banks’ back.
A seated abdominal stretch keeps Banks in trouble until he fights up with more kicks to the leg. The running dropkick in the corner connects to put Dain on the floor and there’s the suicide dive. A top rope double stomp gets two back inside but the Slice of Heaven misses. Dain gives him a fireman’s carry slam though and the Vader Bomb finishes Banks at 8:28.
Rating: C+. I had a good time with this as it was a fine power vs. speed/striking match. Banks continues to be someone with a lot of potential who never has gotten anywhere for some reason. Dain is fine for a midcard monster, but I’m not sure if he’s ever going to break through to the main event level. Still though, good little match here.
From Plymouth, England, July 19, 2019.
Here are the Grizzled Young Veterans (NXT UK Tag Team Champions) and Joseph Conners for a chat. Zack Gibson isn’t pleased with the SHOES OFF chant because he can see the webbed feet from here. After a break (and a Gallus video), Conners says he wants the best the world has to offer. Cue the Street Profits (NXT Tag Team Champions) to tell Drake to shut up. They’ve got a friend with them tonight too.
Street Profits/Matt Riddle vs. Grizzled Young Veterans/Joseph Conners
After an exchange of holding up titles, Riddle and Conners start things off but it’s Drake coming in before anything happens. Riddle grapples him down without much effort and then takes it to the mat with a headlock takeover. The kick to the chest misses so Riddle goes with the rolling gutwrench suplexes. Gibson comes in and is quickly pulled into a cross armbreaker so it’s right back to Drake, whose ankle is locked in a hurry. It’s off to Dawkins, who holds up both Veterans on the ropes so Ford (still in the hoodie) can jump onto their backs.
The hoodie comes off and Ford chops Drake so hard that he shivers a bit himself. A cheap shot sends Ford to the floor though and it’s the backbreaker/slingshot forearm to keep him in trouble. Back in and the stomping continues, followed by the chinlock from Gibson. That’s so thrilling that we go split screen for a highlight package on the match and Drake comes in for a neck crank. Drake’s snap suplex gets two and it’s off to another chinlock.
Gibson continues the chinlock parade but the fans get behind Ford to bring him back up. I mean it doesn’t actually get him to his feet, but they are at least cheering for it. Drake can’t get another chinlock as Ford rolls over for the tag to Dawkins for the house cleaning, followed by a Doomsday knee to the chest from Riddle. Everything breaks down and the Veterans hit a superkick/neckbreaker combination on Ford.
Everyone is down and it’s a double tag to bring in Ford and Drake. Ford superkicks him out of the air and small packages Gibson for two. A double dropkick takes down Gibson and Conners, who tagged himself in on the way. The Cash Out into the Bro Derek finishes Conners at 13:39.
Rating: C+. This is the kind of Riddle I like: the calm, cool, laid back version who can suddenly go beast mode with the suplexes and submissions. The Profits continue to have more charisma than they know what to do with and the fans absolutely hate the Veterans. Entertaining match here with the result never in any serious doubt.
Overall Rating: B-. This is how you do a Hidden Gems show, with a collection of entertaining matches with low stakes. It’s very much a sit back and enjoy some fun wrestling and that’s what they did here. I liked this more than I was expecting to and if you need something really easy to watch, this is a great choice.
Finn Balor b. Kenny Williams – 1916
Rhea Ripley b. Nina Samuels – Riptide
Killian Dain b. Travis Banks – Vader Bomb
Matt Riddle/Street Profits b. Grizzled Young Veterans/Joseph Conners – Bro Derek to Conners
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