Last week I wrote about my trip to the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool to watch NXT UK Takeover Blackpool. I mentioned that three matches were held priot to the event taking place. I mused whether the matches would see the light of television, and I can confirm that they were taped and were added to the WWE Network last week. Therefore, I decided to review the episode for this week’s article, mainly because I particular enjoyed the tag team main event and the women’s battle between Isla Dawn and Jinny live, so I’d like to see how they translated to television.
The event is emanating (On tape) from the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on the 12th of January 2019
Calling the action are Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
We start out with a video recap of what happened at Takeover, an event that saw James Drake and Zack Gibson being crowned as the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions, Finn Balor making a surprise appearance to face Jordan Devlin, Dave Mastiff squishing Eddie Dennis in a No DQ match, Toni Storm winning the women’s title from Rhea Ripley and Pete Dunne successfully retaining the WWE UK Title, only for Walter to show up afterwards and stare him down.
El Ligero Vs Saxon Huxley
Ligero is a talented high flyer with an excellent physique and Luchadore inspired outfit, whilst Huxley is your generic tall bloke doing a Bruiser Brody knock off. The fans are behind Ligero in the early going, as he uses his pace to evade Huxley’s attacks. However, Huxley manages to catch him on a cross body attempt and hits a big body slam to cut his opponent off.
Ligero tries punching his way back into things, but Huxley shrugs him off and replies with some big Takayama like knees to the gut for a two count. Huxley clearly likes him some All Japan and NOAH based on his appearance and move set. Huxley goes to modified chin lock to wear Ligero down, but Ligero starts fighting up to his feet, so he lets go and clobbers him.
Ligero mounts a comeback with an enziguri and a dropkick to Huxley’s face. Ligero heads up top with a big missile dropkick, but Huxley is able to kick out at two. Ligero tries a bulldog, but Huxley blocks it by shoving him into the corner and goes for a powerbomb. Ligero slips out however and hits a nice springboard stunner, followed by a big DDT off the ropes for the win.
WINNER: EL LIGERO
This was your standard formula WWE TV match. Huxley looked a bit bland in all honesty but I thought Ligero wrestled well and did a good job getting a reaction from the crowd. It’s always nice to see Ligero, because he worked so hard to get this sort of opportunity and he always puts the effort in.
Prior to the next match, we get a commercial for a Mean Gene Okerlund feature on the Network. I’ll have to give that a look I think.
Isla Dawn Vs Jinny
So Isla Dawn is “The White Witch” of NXT UK. Now normally you’d think someone doing a witch gimmick would be a heel, especially as Dawn comes out in dark attire to moody evil music, but no she’s actually a face here. I guess “Fashionista” Jinny models really evil dresses on her day off which is why we’re supposed to boo her in this situation? I guess “Charmed” showed you could have good witches I guess, but it also butchered one of my favourite songs for its intro, so it can go knit socks in Hull for all I care.
Jinny attacked Isla Dawn following a match to set this one up, so there’s some actual backstory to it. Jinny has a great heel sneer, it must be said. I can definitely see why she’s getting a push here; she has a real presence that other wrestlers don’t. Jinny hammers away to start, but Dawn counters an Irish Whip with a gut wrench suplex and delivers a double knee strike to a grounded Jinny for two.
Dawn cinches in a hammer lock, going straight back to it when Jinny manages to get out briefly. Jinny throws a forearm strike at Dawn, who shrugs it off and replies with some of her own to send Jinny bailing to the floor. Dawn tries to bring Jinny back in the hard way, but Jinny drops her throat first over the top rope with a hot shot and then hits a rana back inside for the cut off.
Jinny talks trash to Dawn whilst working her over and locks in an abdominal stretch. Dawn hip tosses her way out and gets a seated dropkick for two. Jinny replies with a Complete Shot into the second turnbuckle for two, before locking in a Cobra Clutch. Dawn gets out of the hold and hits a nice back suplex for two. Dawn really is deceptively powerful, it’s pretty cool.
Dawn goes to a Gory Special, but Jinny counters out, only for Dawn to catch her victory roll attempt with a cover of her own for two. Jinny goes to a nasty looking surfboard, but Dawn powers out and bulls Jinny into the corner. Dawn heads up to the second rope for a move of some kind, but Jinny dropkicks her to stop that, leaving her tied up between the second and third ropes. Jinny lays some smack talk on Dawn before driving her down to the mat with an X-Factor for the win. That looked much better on TV than it did in person, thanks to a good use of camera switching.
This was a decent TV match, with Dawn looking strong in defeat, whilst Jinny looked resourceful in victory. I wouldn’t mind seeing them in a rematch actually, as there was a good dynamic based around Dawn’s power being matched up to Jinny’s speed and deceitfulness. I still think they should probably turn Dawn at some point, because that look and entrance just scream heel.
We get a video promo from Travis Banks, where he challenges Jordan Devlin for next week. They were supposed to match up at Takeover, but Devlin jumped Banks before the match, meaning that it had to be cancelled. Following on from Banks’ promo, we get confirmation that the match will take place next week. I’m there Mon frère!
Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster Vs Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner
Andrews and Webster are a high flying tag team whilst Barthel and Aichner are your stereotypical evil foreigners who are much bigger than their babyface opponents. Aichner is fantastic, like a slightly shorter version of The Warlord, but one who can actually wrestle. Aichner easily bullies Andrews around the ring to start, but he gets cocky, which allows Andrews to use his speed to put him down before bringing in the Quadrophonenia inspired Webster.
Barthel comes in next, but also finds the pace of his opponent a problem, as Webster keeps him on his toes, and even dropkicks Aichner off the apron. Aichner is soon back in however and lays out Webster with a big tilt a whirl back breaker, which allows his team to take control of the bout. Webster gets worked over by the heels for a bit, but is able to land on his feet following a Barthel back suplex attempt and makes the tag to Andrews.
Andrews runs wild on both heels and gets a fantastic bulldog to floor Aichner. Webster comes in to stop Barthel interfering and then helps Andrews perform a standing 450 splash for two. However, Barthel strikes Andrews from the apron, which allows the heels to cut him off. A spine buster and penalty kick combo look to be the end for Andrews, but Webster breaks the count at two and then low bridges Barthel out of the ring.
In an amazing spot, Aichner tries to suplex Andrews but he somehow counters it into a rana for a big reaction from the crowd. That was really awesome to be fair; I remember reacting big to it at the show live. Andrews and Webster hit big stereo dives onto the heels for another great reaction, before putting Aichner back in. Aichner runs them into each other however and hits Andrews with a big brain buster, which gets two for Barthel and an “NXT” chant from the crowd.
Andrews tries fighting off both heels and hits them with a double Pele kick, before hitting a big DDT onto Aichner. Webster comes in with a senton bomb onto Aichner, but Barthel breaks the count up at two. This has turned into a really enjoyable tag match! Barthel tries to suplex Andrews, but he turns it into a stunner and tries for a dive, but Aichner trips him up before dragging him outside for a running knee strike into the barricades. Webster is now left alone with the heels and succumbs to powerbomb/European uppercut combination for the pin.
WINNERS: FABIAN AICHNER AND MARCEL BARTHEL
This was an excellent TV main event. The crowd were into it by the end and it was a good showing from both teams.
All three of the matches were perfect for their spot on the show and featured clean finishes, with some good angle development to set up Travis Banks Vs Jordan Devlin next week, which has all the potential of being a good match. All in all, this show was an easy thumbs up and even easier recommendation. If you’ve been thinking of watching NXT UK and want to know a good jumping on point, I would suggest watching Takeover Blackpool and then following it up with this. Chances are you’ll be intrigued to stick with it, I know I will.
Thanks for reading and take care till next time!