I’m not what you would call your usual wrestling fan. It’s my job to watch wrestling and keep track of what is going on, which means I am going to be watching quite a bit more content than most fans during any given week. That means there is going to be a lot of stuff that I see which isn’t on a lot of other fans’ radar, and this week I was sad to see that one of the shows I have grown to like a fair bit over the years is going to be coming to an end pretty soon.
The biggest wrestling story of the week was the official announcement of the end of NXT UK, which will be replaced by NXT Europe at some point next year. After a few years of NXT UK, the show is going to be expanded in a huge way, which means several more options for the roster and all kinds of new locations for the show. That could mean a brighter future and new worlds for NXT, but that doesn’t mean NXT UK needed to be dropped as harshly as it was this week.
Now, I’ve been a fan of NXT UK since it debuted as a regular series back in 2018. While the show took a LONG time to find its footing and some of the earlier shows are hard to get through, it eventually figured things out and became possibly the most consistent WWE show of the week. Once it started following the old NXT formula, everything became gravy and the show was downright pleasant, but there was a little problem with what it was presenting every week.
As I watched the show, one thing became more and more obvious as the weeks went by: NXT UK meant absolutely nothing in WWE’s big picture. When you factor in that aside from the original title win, the NXT UK/United Kingdom Title did not change hands in THE UNITED KINGDOM for about five and a half years (out of the five years and seven months the title has been around), it was pretty clear that NXT UK was a one note brand on its best day. The show might have been good, but if no one (especially WWE) cares, then what difference does it make?
In other words, it was clear that things were in trouble around NXT UK and that it was unlikely to ever get better. One thing WWE rarely likes to do is resurrect something when the option is there to just blow the thing up and start fresh. That meant the options for NXT UK were either to scrap the thing or just let it wither. Then the NXT starts started coming over and even won the Tag Team Titles, meaning the bad news that started to come wasn’t much of a surprise.
So how did we get to this week? Earlier this month, NXT UK’s future got its first bad sign as the show’s future television tapings were canceled and the major NXT UK stars were going to be coming to NXT in Orlando, Florida. That wasn’t exactly a great sign, but there was the chance that NXT UK would be taped in the United States. While that wouldn’t be the biggest stretch given the United Kingdom Title’s history, it seemed more likely that NXT UK’s days were numbered, much like the number of taped in advance episodes left.
Then came this week’s NXT, which featured appearances from Gallus, Blair Davenport and Tyler Bate, five of the bigger NXT UK stars. That opened the door of a possible NXT vs. NXT UK show, which wound up being announced a few days later. Granted it came with the announcement that NXT UK was going away after the September 1 show, so call it a mixed bag. At least there were a few more editions of NXT UK to go and the United Kingdom Title tournament should add some intrigue. That’s only in theory at least, as WWE did something that seemed to be even too far for them.
When Bate came out to confront NXT Champion Bron Breakker, Bate was holding the United Kingdom Title, which he apparently won in a tournament for the vacant championship. I say apparently because not only is the tournament ongoing on NXT UK TV, but when the show aired, BATE HADN’T EVEN HAD HIS FIRST ROUND MATCH YET! So yeah, if you like NXT UK, enjoy the massive spoiler, which WWE just dropped on you without seeming to mind in the slightest.
While I’m aware that I’m one of roughly 18 people who still watches NXT UK, the lack of respect for the show’s fans astounded me. The show hadn’t been canceled when Bate came out there, but WWE more or less said “oh well, don’t worry about the big story for the next three weeks”. They have a show to set up for the future, but there was no better way to set up the title match?
You couldn’t have Bate come out for the challenge sans belt? Or just set up the match and then have it be champion vs. champion? Why not have Bate vs. Breakker set up with just Breakker as a champion and THEN add in the United Kingdom Title for a bonus? Instead, the solution is to say “eh, it’s not like it matters anyway so here’s the result of what we’ve asked you to watch over the last few weeks”. I get that it’s a very lowly watched show, but my goodness that felt completely out of character for WWE, even on the developmental show’s developmental show (more or less).
Two days later, I watched NXT UK and the show just didn’t feel that important. Two of the matches out of four involved the tournament and while it was bad enough that I knew the show was going to be ending after three more episodes, any drama that could have been included was gone. There was no reason to care about a tournament when you knew the winner in advance, and now you can figure out everything that is going to take place if you think about it for more than a few seconds. There are two episodes of NXT UK left and while I’ll watch them, something is going to be missing and that’s rather annoying.
So that’s probably it for NXT UK. I’ve liked the show for the four or so years that it has been around and it had gotten better in recent months, but it is the definition of a nice fish in across a big pond. The wrestling and angles were simple and easy to understand without having the WWE main roster (or even the regular NXT style these days) holding them down and it made for an enjoyable show. It had come so far and turned into a fun hour every week, but it was also the show that I would have put on the top of the list of things for WWE to drop.
All in all, I’m going to be a bit sad that NXT UK is gone, but it meant so little to WWE that I’ll probably be happier with having one hour less of content to cover in a given week. The top stars will still be around and I’m sure that some of the others will be around for NXT Europe when it launches next year. What we got was a usually good show though and in the current WWE, that can be hard to come by.
NXT UK was not some great show or anything groundbreaking. It had some solid angles and moments, plus a division unique from the rest of WWE with the Heritage Cup Title. That isn’t enough to make it special though and at the end of the day, it’s going to be another entry on a long list of shows that WWE has started and then dropped over the years. While I’m annoyed at the spoiler, I get the decision, and I want to see what’s n(e)xt for the UK stars.
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