Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: January 12, 2019
Location: Empress Ballroom, Blackpool, England
Commentators: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness
I’m not sure what to think about this. First of all, it’s cool that NXT UK is starting to do something like this. You can only go so far with a TV show and nothing else so having a special like this helps. At the same time though, NXT was down in Full Sail for nearly two years before its first Network special. It hasn’t even been three months since NXT UK TV debuted. I hope they’re ready so let’s get to it.
The opening video looks at the path to this event, with the first event taking place in this very building. Each match gets a quick preview.
The announcers, actually in the arena for a change, run down the card.
Tag Team Titles: Moustache Mountain vs. Zack Gibson/James Drake
For the inaugural titles. Moustache Mountain have some British Bulldogs inspired tights for the very nice touch. We see the rather pretty belts for the first time, which is always a nice feeling. Gibson and Bate start things off and the fans are already singing for Bate. An early armbar takes Bate down and it’s time to take the shoes off in hatred of Gibson. Bate gets taken down in a test of strength and bridges up until he backflips out of it in a very unique escape.
Drake and Seven come in so it’s time to drum up a new song. A quick fireman’s carry slam sets up Bate’s middle rope cannonball so it’s back to Gibson, who bails to the floor. Back in and a hurricanrana keeps Gibson in trouble, followed by Seven hitting a crossbody for two. Drake comes in sans tag for a distraction and heads outside, where a suicide dive hurts Seven’s arm. The slowed down Seven gets taken down by a Gibson clothesline and the villains take over.
Drake grabs an arm trap chinlock (Seven: “OW MY ARM!”) and then hits a discus elbow, which actually busts the back of Seven’s head open. Gibson, who the fans still hate, grabs a chinlock of his own as Seven still can’t get out of trouble. Seven and Drake head outside where Seven’s chops don’t have much effect but once back inside, he’s able to drive into the corner for the tag to Bate in a hurry. That was a different kind of hot tag and that’s greatly appreciated.
Bate picks up the pace with a middle rope back elbow to Gibson, followed by an airplane spin to both of them AT THE SAME TIME. I know I say this every time but EGADS that’s impressive. Gibson and Drake head outside so Bate hits a shooting star off the apron for the double knockdown. Bop and Bang hit Gibson and it’s back to Seven for a suplex into the Swan Dive for two. Gibson kicks Seven in the knee and brings Drake back in for a pinfall reversal sequence.
Everything breaks down again and the dragon suplex/clothesline combination is broken up with Gibson’s Ticket To Ride. Helter Skelter into a 450 gets a very close two on Seven and the fans are back into it. Gibson gets the Shankley Gates on Seven and Drake puts another one on Bate at the same time. Just because he can, Bate powers up into a Death Valley Driver to sent Drake into Gibson and Seven for the save.
Bate comes back in and starts throwing the good looking boxing punches. The half dragon suplex/clothesline combination gets two on Drake and the fans aren’t sure what to do now. Bate gets knocked off the apron and onto Gibson’s shoulders, setting up a suicide dive Doomsday Device on the floor to knock Bate cold. Back in and Ticket to Mayhem gives Drake the pin and the titles at 23:52.
Rating: B+. Very good opener and exactly how the finish should have gone. Moustache Mountain are the most over people on the roster not named Pete Dunne and they don’t need to win here to keep that spot. Gibson and Drake are awesome together and it makes a lot more sense to give them the titles to bring them up to the next level. Therefore, when Moustache Mountain, or whoever it is, takes the titles from them, it means that much more. Really intense match here and an awesome opening match.
Johnny Saint and Sid Scala come out to congratulate the new champs.
Earlier today, Jordan Devlin attacked Travis Banks and injured his knee. Banks is still medically cleared.
Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin
Banks has a bad knee but he’s fine enough to dive onto Devlin before the bell. Devlin gets in a whip into the steps though and the knee is crushed into the steel over and over. Referees and Scala come out to break it up and it doesn’t look like there’s a match here. Devlin grabs the mic and says he’s the greatest Irish wrestler alive. Hang on though as Scala says there’s a backup plan as they thought Devlin might try something like this.
Finn Balor vs. Jordan Devlin
This is a special one as Balor trained Devlin. They stare each other down and the scared looking Devlin slaps him in the face, earning himself a Sling Blade. It’s way too early for the Coup de Grace as Devlin bails out to the floor. Devlin gets in a shot outside and hits his own jumping double stomp back inside.
Balor is right back with a basement dropkick but a regular version breaks up another Coup de Grace attempt. Back in and Devlin pounds away so Balor chops the skin off his chest. 1916 is blocked with an enziguri so Balor hits him with the Pele for a double knockdown. Another attempt works just fine but Devlin gets up again.
The arm pull into the hard belly to back gives Devlin two of his own. Some shots to the ribs keep Balor in trouble until he knocks Devlin outside. That means the running kick to the chest but Devlin posts him for two with feet on the ropes. A moonsault hits raised knees though and it’s an inverted DDT to knock Devlin silly, followed by the running corner dropkick. Now the Coup de Grace connects to give Balor the pin at 11:46.
Rating: B. That’s exactly what it needed to be as you don’t have Devlin beat a former World Champion. At the same time, there’s no shame in losing to someone that far above you and Devlin got in a lot of offense. Balor was a great choice for the replacement and that’s one of the places where WWE shines. One of the wrestlers on your regional minor league show is hurt? Here’s a former World Champion, who happens to be the opponent’s trainer, as a replacement.
It’s a special surprise:
We recap Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis. They’re the two monsters of NXT and Mastiff beat Dennis in their first match. Dennis then attacked him to set up a rematch, which went to a double DQ. That’s kind of a weird way to set up a third match but it could be fun.
Eddie Dennis vs. Dave Mastiff
No DQ. They go straight for the slugout to start with Mastiff hitting a crossbody for the first knockdown. Since it’s anything goes they head outside with Mastiff running him over again and loading up the steps and sending them inside for some fun. Dennis finds a kendo stick though and cracks Mastiff over the back to take over. A Russian legsweep with the stick gets two and it’s time to choke with said stick.
Another big swing is blocked though and Mastiff hits a headbutt (CRACK) to rock Dennis. Mastiff powerbombs him down and loads up the steps but another crossbody is countered into a spinning Rock Bottom (with Dennis’ legs shaking) onto the steel for another two. Dennis brings in a chair but walks into a Regal Roll.
For some reason Dave goes up top though and that means the release Severn Bridge for a rather close near fall. A table is set up in the corner but Mastiff knocks him down and sits on Dennis’ chest. Another Regal Roll on the floor sets up a backsplash as Dennis is mostly dead. Back in and Dennis gets two off the reverse inverted DDT as reality is setting in. Severn Bridge through the table is broken up and Mastiff Cannonballs him through it instead for the pin at 11:53.
Rating: B-. Perfectly watchable power brawl with weapons, though it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. Mastiff remaining undefeated is the right call and you could put him forward for a one off title shot at some point. I still like Dennis a lot and that kind of look and imposing presence is going to keep him around for a good while.
Kay Lee Ray and Jazzy Gabert are here.
We recap Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm. Ripley won the inaugural Women’s Title by beating an injured Storm and there really isn’t any other real competition for her. Storm is healthy and focused now after winning the Mae Young Classic. They’re both prodigies and this could be a heck of a match, or at least a major preview of the future.
Women’s Title: Toni Storm vs. Rhea Ripley
Ripley is defending. Storm goes after her to start and starts firing off the forearms until a faceplant cuts her off. That’s fine with Storm who hammers away even more, setting up a suicide dive onto a bailing Ripley. They don’t head inside just yet though and Ripley kicks her back first into the barricade. Back in and Ripley stomps away as the loud fans continue to be split.
The bodyscissors stays on the weakened ribs and a delayed vertical suplex gets two. A pair of legdrops gives the champ two but the trash talking lets Storm headbutt her for a double knockdown. The slugout goes to Storm and she rolls some German suplexes but Storm Zero is countered. So is Riptide and they go into a pinfall reversal sequence for two each.
Ripley gets the standing Texas Cloverleaf but gets reversed into the hip attack in the corner. Storm gets frustrated at the kickout and gets caught with Riptide for two, giving us Ripley’s great stunned face. A headbutt lets Storm Zero connect for two and they’re both down again. Storm slugs away with forearms and another Storm Zero gives her the pin and the title at 14:49.
Rating: B-. Kind of a flat and out of nowhere finish as they didn’t really build off the near fall from the first Storm Zero. Storm winning the title so soon after Ripley won it for the first time is a bit of a surprise but you can’t go wrong with either of them as the champion. Tyler Bate winning the inaugural title and dropping it to Dunne has gone just fine and Storm is going to be perfectly fine with the title, as is Ripley without it.
We recap Pete Dunne vs. Joe Coffey. Dunne has been champion for over 600 days, having won the title back in May 2017. He’s beaten everyone who has come close to him though Coffey is a big strong guy who could knock Dunne’s head off. Coffey isn’t the biggest star but he’s been built up well over the last few weeks.
United Kingdom Title: Joe Coffey vs. Pete Dunne
Dunne is defending and Mark Coffey and Wolfgang head to the back in a bit of a surprise. During the entrances, Vic says Dunne’s 603 day reign is the longest since the beginning of Hulkamania. Not even close but we’ll go with that for a better story than the Glamour Girls holding the WWF Women’s Team Titles for 906 days. Aggressive feeling out process to start with Coffey shrugging off a forearm to the face. Some finger bending has Coffey in trouble but he knocks Dunne away without much effort.
The discus lariat misses so Dunne runs him over and tries a not great looking Regal Stretch. Dunne switches to an armbar and, after hitting five straight knees to get out of a vertical suplex, switches to another armbar on the other arm. That’s broken up as well so Coffey throws him outside with Dunne hitting his face on the apron. Dunne enziguris him but gets slammed onto the ramp for the double knockdown. Back in and Coffey gets two off a sidewalk slam We hit the bearhug on Dunne with an overhead belly to belly keeping him down.
Dunne is fine enough for another enziguri and he flips out of a German suplex for a little showing off. Coffey gets sent outside for a middle rope moonsault and they’re both down again. Back in and the X Plex gives Dunne two but a running headbutt to the back sends him into the cover. A powerbomb gets two on the champ and the fans didn’t exactly react to the kickout. Coffey goes with the Boston crab and Dunne, after nearly looking out, dives for the rope for a break.
Back up and they trade headbutts for yet another double knockdown. Coffey shrugs off a German suplex so Dunne takes him down into a Koji Clutch. That’s broken up with raw power so Dunne knees him in the head and punches him out of the air on another spinning crossbody attempt. The Bitter End gets two so Coffey takes him to the apron for a Batista Bomb and they’re both dead on the floor. Dunne gets back in but looks a bit scared so they go with an exchange of kicks to the head.
The stomps to the fingers have Coffey in trouble but the discus lariat takes Dunne down for two more. Coffey tries it again but gets pulled down into the finger spreading. That’s lifted into a buckle bomb which doesn’t break the hold, so it’s a swinging superbomb to really break things up. Coffey can’t cover though and they both pull themselves up in the corners. The slugout is on again with Dunne getting the better of it and Coffey being out on his feet against the ropes.
Coffey snaps off a German suplex out of the corner for two more and just unloads with right hands to the back of the head. For some reason Coffey tries his own Bitter End but gets countered into another DDT. Dunne hits another one of his own but Coffey rolls away before the delayed cover. Coffey takes him to the top and brings Dunne up with him, only to fall back to the floor in what I think was a botch. Whether it was or not, I don’t remember the last time I saw a spot that made me gasp like that.
He’s fine though and snaps off a reverse slam for two more back inside. They head up top again and this time dive off and into the barricade for what I’m assuming they were trying to do the first time. Back in and another Bitter End gives Dunne two so he grabs a triangle and cranks on the fingers for the tap at 34:48.
Rating: A-. They got a little ridiculous with the kickouts at the end but this felt epic for the most part. At one point the fans were chanting ARE YOU WATCHING VINCE MCMAHON, which sums up how the match should be treated. It was a big time match and while I wasn’t quite sold on Coffey as a serious challenger, there were a few times where they had me believing that they would pull the trigger on an upset. That takes some special work and it was an awesome match. A bit too long with a few too many kickouts, but still an excellent main event for the first Takeover. But who in the heck is supposed to beat Dunne?
Dunne poses…..and here’s Walter (a massive Austrian with some crazy hard chops). So that’s who beats Dunne. Coffey tries to get back in and is kicked square in the face for his efforts. The big staredown ends the show. They had to bring in someone new as there’s no one on the show who is beating Dunne and Walter is as perfect of a choice as they could have made. Yeah Dunne has beaten everyone, but imagine the monster that he can’t beat. That’s where Walter comes in and he’s rather awesome for something like this.
Overall Rating: A. As usual the show is good and in this case they have the classic main event to put it over the top. Nothing on here was anywhere close to bad and they had some historic moments, with Walter’s debut being the highlight. He just comes off like a great monster and that’s the kind of person who needs to take Dunne down. It’s a great show and worth seeing, with the one hour a week of the show being a much better choice than what they’ve been doing. Check this one out as it’s an awesome time.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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