WWE NXT UK Review: Takeover Blackpool

January 12, 2019 – Blackpool, Lancashire

Zack Gibson & James Drake def. Trent Seven & Tyler Bate {NXT UK Tag Team Championship Match}
The Grizzled Young Veterans beat Mustache Mountain when they hit Seven with Ticket to Mayhem in 23:47. This match worked on a few basic levels; it got the crowd fired up and it served up the structurally satisfying elements of a big tag match (really good hot tags, a few good cheating heel moments, a strong finish). It also had a couple really innovative tag team maneuvers, including a suicide dive Doomsday Device followed by a blocked suicide dive spot the likes of which I can’t remember ever seeing before. That said I’m worried that the Grizzled Young Veterans were the wrong choice to go over here because Drake seemed to be having a hard time keeping up with everyone else. That and a couple indy nonsense moments held this back from being as good as it probably could have been. Your mileage may vary (I have a feeling the general consensus will be that the cool movez here carried this to greatness) but the seams were showing for me. ***¾

Earlier, Jordan Devlin attacked Travis Banks in the lobby of the building, injuring his leg. Banks has been cleared to wrestle but he’s clearly at a disadvantage now. Before their match can begin, Devlin takes out Banks so that he cannot compete. Devlin wants to cut a promo instead, but Sid Scala (standing next to a silent Johnny Saint, of course) tells him he’ll have a different opponent.

Finn Balor def. Jordan Devlin
Balor beat Devlin in 11:43 with the Coup de Gras. This is a pretty neat development that gave us a nice surprise here while leaving the door open for Devlin vs. Banks in the future. Devlin’s heel work here was just fantastic. As far as I’m considered this was his coming out party as a top guy for the brand. It would have been stronger if he’d gone over, but I can see why they’d be hesitant to have Balor do the job here. I loved the hell out of this. ****

Dave Mastiff def. Eddie Dennis {No Disqualification Match}
Mastiff beat Dennis in 10:40 with a cannonball through a table. I’m really impressed with the work these two did here given their limitations. It was a good stretch better than it had any right to be, owed not only to the stipulation but also to the hard work of Mastiff and the strong back of Dennis. Actually, extra credit to Dennis, who I hate on a lot but who did a lot of nice little things in this match like making his legs shake when he lifted up Mastiff. ***½

Toni Storm def. Rhea Ripley {NXT UK Women’s Championship Match}
Storm beat Ripley in 14:49 with the Storm Zero. This was all the evidence I needed to prove that these ladies got a bum deal when Storm got injured during their first match. They really delivered here, putting up a hard fought, back-and-forth bout that played into Ripley’s strength advantage, the fear that Storm could get injured again, and some really nice chemistry between the two. This was the right call, and I hope they can find something interesting for Ripley to do in the aftermath. Maybe a run in the States. ****

Pete Dunne def. Joe Coffey {WWE United Kingdom Championship Match}
Dunne beat Coffey in 35:14 some mean finger-pulling. I don’t know what to make of this thing. On the one hand its slow build really drew me in. It isn’t easy for two guys to build tension in a match as it goes over a long period of time, but these two did it. They peppered in a few insane spots and some of the nearfalls had my muscles seizing up. It’s very important to give all the credit in the world to these guys for building drama the way that they did. It was amazing. But it’s impossible to ignore the unfortunate finish, featuring awkward, on-the-fly cover-ups because what will inevitably become an infamous double-botched spot. That pair of falls is going to be used as an example of NXT UK being third-rate, and is especially embarrassing in light of the crowd only seconds earlier chanting, “Are you watching Vince McMahon?” Luckily, the conversation quickly shifts to Walter’s much anticipated debut, as he kicks Coffey off of the apron and has a respectful stare-down with Dunne. As for the match, I’m going to have to reserve the right to change my actual rating based on my mood, and right now it’s feeling like this. ***¾

I really enjoyed this show. It flew by super quickly, had no bad matches, and despite a bummer of a main event finish (which was quickly carpeted over with Walter’s debut) almost everything met or exceeded my expectations. It’s definitely a better all around show than NXT Arrival, so good on this crew for that! Plus, the Brits and their headbutts (in every single match) are a joyful thing.

Tags: , , , , ,