Date: August 27, 2020
Host: Andy Shepard
It’s time to crack open the vault again and that’s a very nice thing to hear. Granted it won’t be that way for long as the regular shows are back on September 17 but I’ll take what I can get while it lasts. The previous show was a lot of fun and I’m curious to see what we get here a second time around. Let’s get to it.
Andy reminds us that they are back on September 17. With that out of the way, it’s time to send us to our first match.
William Regal picks the only WWE match of the recently passed away Rollerball Rocco’s career. Now this is the kind of thing that could make this show (or another show) must see. From MSG, December 28, 1984.
Junior Heavyweight Title: The Cobra vs. Black Tiger
The title is vacant coming in and Tiger is Rocco. Cobra works on the arm to start but Tiger snapmares him down for a knee and elbow. Back up and Cobra grabs the arm again and they head to the mat for the exchange of holds. Cobra is out of a chinlock in a hurry so Tiger hits a running clothesline. A backdrop lets Cobra grab his own chinlock, only to miss a middle rope ax handle. Instead it’s a crucifix into a headscissors to keep Tiger down as Gorilla Monsoon talks about the one time he tried to wear a mask.
An airplane spin into a faceplant sets up a Boston crab but Tiger is out in a hurry. The surfboard goes on but Tiger falls into the ropes. Tiger gets up for a kick to the head into a legdrop for two before hitting Cobra in the mask a few times. The chinlock goes on again and it’s off to a leglock, allowing Gorilla to praise the WWF as much as he can. Tiger grabs a headlock on the mat but misses something like a Vader Bomb, allowing Cobra to hit a quick backsplash for two.
Cobra dropkicks him to the floor and slams Tiger off the top. Gene Okerlund rejoins commentary and this could be quite the interesting description. Cobra grabs a figure four necklock as Gene talks about how whoever wins this title could easily go buy a half a million dollar house with a garage full of cars. As I can’t help but smile at Gene trying to hype things up, Tiger gets two off a suplex and plants him with a piledriver.
A middle rope falling elbow misses though and they’re both down. Back up and Cobra gets two off a spinwheel kick and a dropkick sends Tiger to the floor. That means a suicide dive, which was unthinkable around these parts. Tiger hits a suplex and floats over for two before grabbing a Tombstone. The second attempt is reversed into a Tombstone from Cobra, setting up the top rope backsplash for the pin and the title at 12:32.
Rating: B-. The big thing to remember here is the timing. Tombstones, top rope backsplash and a suicide dive three months before Wrestlemania? This was completely out of the norm for this audience and yet these guys looked completely natural. Yes it was done better later on, but dang this was out of nowhere and the kind of hidden gem that I could go for a lot more often.
Toni Storm sends us to Evolution.
Mae Young Classic Finals: Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai
They trade headlocks to start as we hear about Toni being the first Progress Women’s Champion. Toni slips out of a headscissors but Io picks things up with a fast dropkick. A handstand into a double knee drop sets up a Rings of Saturn (which Beth calls a version of a full nelson) to keep Toni grounded. Toni gets a foot on the ropes and snaps off a hard German suplex, only to get dropkicked off the top.
Shirai pops up and scores with a moonsault to the floor but Storm is right back with a German suplex on the apron. Back in and Shirai unloads on her with forearms, only to have Storm pop up with the Storm Zero for a close two. Shirai hits a 619 and a springboard sunset flip for two of her own. The moonsault hits raised knees and Storm Zero is good for the pin at 10:05.
Rating: B-. Well that was sudden. I was expecting this to be nearly twice as long and the match is just over that fast? Storm winning makes more sense as Shirai comes in with all the hype and Storm already lost once late in the tournament last year. The match was good, but I was expecting a lot more.
NXT UK is coming to London.
Next week: a special look at Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov.
Video on the NXT UK tag team division, capped off by the champions, Gallus.
Ilja Dragunov sends us back to a time before Takeover existed. From Arrival.
Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro
No real story here other than they had a great match before and it’s time for a big rematch for the sake of having another great match. It’s rather odd to see Sami come out without his much bouncier theme. The fans are chanting MATCH OF THE YEAR before the bell even rings. Cesaro shoves him down with ease and it seems that they have a lot of time to work with here. A fast armdrag and dropkick have Sami in more trouble as this is all Cesaro in the very early going.
Sami’s hurricanrana is easily countered but he flips out of the Swing attempt and sends Cesaro outside for the flip dive. They head inside again and Sami’s high cross body is countered into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Sami is sent outside as the beating continues, including an uppercut to break up the diving tornado DDT in a nice call back to their classic.
Back in and Cesaro starts in on the knee with a quick leglock and a shot to the bad wheel. Sami tries to kick him away so Cesaro returns the favor with some kicks to the knee. Some dragon screw leg whips set up a half crab, sending Sami crawling over the ropes as fast as he can. Cesaro is sent outside and Sami’s knee is good enough for a springboard moonsault (fair enough here as it’s just bouncing off the ropes instead of jumping) but Cesaro catches him in midair for a tilt-a-whirl powerslam onto the ramp.
Sami dives back in to beat the count and hits the exploder into the corner for two. The Blue Thunder Bomb (ok that’s too much on the bad knee) gets the same for Sami but Cesaro pops back up and grabs an old Brock Lock to stay on the leg. The rope is grabbed again so it’s time for the Cesaro Swing with Sami trying to sit up and get to Cesaro while being swung around.
A hard European uppercut in the corner and a jumping double stomp onto the head of all things get two each for Cesaro and both guys look stunned. Cesaro gets caught on top into a super hurricanrana, followed by the Helluva Kick for a VERY near fall. Sami can barely stand so Cesaro keeps popping him with uppercuts and telling him to stay down. As usual, Sami’s selling is just amazing here as he can make you believe that he’s dead and makes every move look like he just got hit by a bus.
Back up and they slug it out with Sami grabbing a German suplex to send Cesaro into the corner, only to eat a running boot to the face. Cesaro tries the Neutralizer but Sami climbs over the back into a great looking sunset bomb for two. Both guys are down until Cesaro grabs Swiss Death (the pop up uppercut, or pop up grazing forearm here) for one. That just ticks Cesaro off though and it’s a wicked spinning uppercut, followed by the Neutralizer to put Sami away at 22:55.
Rating: A. Sami’s selling issues aside, this was about two guys beating the tar out of each other until one guy couldn’t get up. The ending sequence was perfect with Sami giving it everything he had but Cesaro having that one extra gear that was just too much for Zayn to survive. This should have been the launching pad to bring Cesaro up to the next level but how many times has that been said over the years.
Sami is crushed but Cesaro comes back and hugs him.
Overall Rating: A-. Yeah this worked, as you kind of knew it would. At the same time though, it will be nice to get back to original stuff. You can only do greatest hits and the like for so long and having something fresh is going to be a good change. WWE has the resources to do whatever they want, but at some point you have to run shows to function as a promotion. It has been long overdue for NXT UK to do that, but at least we’ve had some awesome stuff like this to get us through. Skip the women’s match, but check out the other two for sure.
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