NXT UK – September 3, 2020

Date: September 3, 2020
Host: Andy Shepard

We are two weeks away from everything being back to normal around here and that is a good thing, assuming you haven’t been liking all of the different material this show has had. That means it is time to start setting up what is planned in the future, meaning today we are looking at Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov. Let’s get to it.

Andy welcomes us to the show and sends us to March 7, 2020, for a match from the most recent NXT UK TV tapings.

Walter vs. Ridge Holland

Non-title. They trade shots to the chest and running shoulders to start with no one going anywhere. Ridge slams him to the floor though and Walter looks shaken up. Back in and Walter grabs a top wristlock to take him down before stomping on the neck to keep Holland on the mat. A twist of the neck has him in more trouble and Walter gets in his own slam, setting up the pose.

Walter goes back to the arm and throws in some chops but Holland gets in a clothesline to put Walter down for a change. The sleeper goes on again but Holland muscles him up into a torture rack (dang), only to have the arm give out. There’s an overhead belly to belly for two but Walter slips out of Northern Grit twice in a row.

A powerbomb out of the corner gives Holland two and Northern Grit (with commentary not even calling it) gets the same. Walter grabs a swinging Rock Bottom for two and it’s time for some forearms to the chest. Holland reverses into some of his own but here is Alexander Wolfe for the distraction. That’s enough for Walter to get in a kick and the big clothesline for the pin at 9:02.

Rating: B-. Now that’s more like it as Holland looked like a threat out there. Walter gave him A LOT too and sold hard to make Holland look a lot better than he would have otherwise. Holland has a long way to go but this was far better than he looked over in regular NXT. As usual, Walter can do some amazing stuff in the ring.

Commentary talks about how Walter needed help to win. Nice job of building Holland up there too. Now if that had been the kind of debut he had in NXT, it would have worked far better.

Various people talk about how much of an impression Walter makes, plus how hard those chops are. Drew McIntyre doesn’t know who can stop Walter.

Video on the tag team division, including some looks at several of the teams on the roster. Mentioning where they are from is a nice touch.

Video on Ilja Dragunov. He and his family moved from Russia to Germany when he was five years old and his mother’s Russian teaching degree didn’t mean anything in Germany. His mother worked hard and went to school to become a teacher all over again while working to feed his family. That makes her his biggest role model because no one has worked that hard.

They were very poor growing up and didn’t have anything but he found some Pringles in a trashcan and it was the first taste of a better life. When he was ten, a bunch of teenagers beat him up for speaking Russian and told him to get out of their country or his family would be next. He had never felt so weak and promised to never feel like that again. Over the years he wanted to find a way to express himself and finally found that in wrestling. All of the uniqueness came out in the ring and it is real madness. His success is a celebration of everyone who doesn’t fit into the system.

This was GREAT and sold me on Dragunov in a way that I haven’t been with someone in a good while. NXT/NXT UK know how to do these things better than anyone right now and I have no idea why such a thing is never used on the main shows. They would do wonders for a lot of the wrestlers up there because, as it always has been, wrestling works better when you have a connection to the people you are watching.

Next week: a huge announcement and a look at the Women’s Title.

Walter knows that Dragunov has the same passion that he has for this sport. It will be the greatest fight of Dragunov’s career and Walter will destroy him.

From April 2.

Battle Royal

Ashton Smith, Ridge Holland, Kassius Ohno, Alexander Wolfe, Dave Mastiff, Oliver Carter, Travis Banks, Ligero, Saxton Huxley, Joe Coffey, Jordan Devlin, Ilja Dragunov, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Noam Dar, Kenny Williams, Tyson T-Bone, A-Kid, Amir Jordan, Flash Morgan Webster

The winner gets a UK Title shot at some point in the future. Ohno backs away from Holland and Mastiff to start and is promptly ganged for the early elimination. Huxley throws out Williams and it’s Webster and Kid throwing each other to the apron for no avail. Coffey gets rid of Webster and Jordan headscissors Huxley out. Kid is thrown onto Huxley’s back but chokes him out and climbs back in for a clever save.

T-Bone is out next and Coffey seems to be favoring his leg. A chokebomb plants Banks and Mastiff gets rid of him, meaning it’s time for everyone to fight near the ropes. Mastiff gets rid of Jordan (Nigel: “Jordan with a mere ten minutes in the match!”), followed by Holland powering out Carter (with a huge overhead belly to belly) and Smith back to back. Ligero is thrown onto the two of them, leaving Mastiff vs. Holland. As usual, Dar messes things up by interrupting the showdown but here’s Joseph Conners to distract Holland so Coffey and Dragunov can get rid of him as well.

Coffey and Dragunov have the big slugout for a double knockdown, leaving Moustache Mountain to hit stereo airplane spins on Dar and Kid. Seven drops Bate (with love of course) but Coffey tosses Seven from behind. Bate manages to get Mastiff on his shoulders but can’t keep him up so it’s time for everyone to pair off. Kid hits a springboard clothesline on Coffey but gets headbutted out by Devlin. A Rock Bottom puts Dragunov onto Coffey and Devlin moonsaults onto both of them, only to have Dar throw Devlin out.

Mastiff is waiting on Dar though and it’s a big backsplash to crush him hard. Everyone gets together to get rid of Mastiff though and we’re down to Coffey, Dar, Bate, Dragunov and Wolfe. Bate gets rid of Dar (the fans sound VERY pleased) and everyone takes a corner. Coffey swings Dragunov for a long time before crushing Bate in the corner. A running tackle crushes Bate and Dragunov at the same time but Wolfe sends him to the apron. Wolfe kicks Coffey out and we’re down to three.

Bate and Dragunov double team Wolfe but some heel miscommunication lets him take them both down, including a heck of a German suplex to drop Bate on his head. Bate staggers Wolfe though and Dragunov clotheslines him out, leaving Bate vs. Dragunov. They tease some eliminations until Bop and Bang drops Dragunov in a heap. A suplex plants Dragunov again but Bate walks into a hard clothesline.

The 6 1 Line plants Bate again and they’re both down for a bit. Bate unloads with rights and lefts until an enziguri takes him down again. They both go over the top and out to the apron so Bate loads up a rather illogical superplex. Dragunov throws him back in and hits a top rope backsplash but can’t hit Torpedo Moscow. Bate gets sent over the top but holds on with one hand, allowing Dragunov to hit Torpedo Moscow for the win at 28:40.

Rating: C+. The length was a bit of a problem but they kept things energized for a good chunk of the time. The ending was the best part and Dragunov is the best choice for the title shot. Odds are that was set for Dublin and they can go back to it whenever things are back to normal. A lot of people looked good in this though and that’s what matters in a match like this.

Overall Rating: B. This show did an excellent job of making me care not only about the title match but about Dragunov in particular. Ignoring the big layoff, there has not been a reason to care about him yet other than he has the crazy eyes. They let him tell his story and that made me want to see him in the ring, which is all you can ask for. Very well done here and the Holland match was a nice bonus.

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