Since the start of 2017, WWE have been slowly building up their United Kingdom brand, with two UK Championship Tournaments being held, as well as featuring some of the more prominent roster members on Monday Night Raw, 205 Live, and NXT. Last week though came a new chapter as the very first episode of NXT UK made its way to the WWE Network as a new era of wrestling dawned upon the British scene.
British Strong Style
The inaugural episode featured a blockbuster main event as “The Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne made his 16th defence (if we’re not including the matches that are yet to air) of the United Kingdom Championship, with Noam Dar stepping up as the next challenger. This was Dar receiving his title opportunity as a result of winning a Fatal Four Way Match over Mark Andrews, Travis Banks, and Flash Morgan Webster on night two of the second annual UK Championship Tournament back in June.
Obviously, you wouldn’t be getting a bad match out of these two – after all, Dunne is one of the men who WWE built the brand around. It was mesmerizing to see the length both men were willing to go to leave the debut episode behind as the leading charge. A Bitter End would seal the fate however as Pete walked out with the UK Championship intact.
If there was ever a way to open a first episode of NXT UK, it was this. Since January of last year, the British Strong Style member has become a focal talking point in terms of leading the British wrestling scene forward. With his surprise appearance on Raw last year opposite Enzo Amore and inclusion in this year’s WWE 2K19 video game, more casual fans who just watch the main roster product have become aware of the talents the man possesses. Main events like this are a must for the show to succeed in amongst everything else WWE produces on a weekly basis.
Laying The Foundation
Up until NXT UK was announced as an official WWE-promoted brand, it was only the men who were being used. So when the announcement came, it was also revealed that there would be women’s and tag team divisions involved from that point forward. One of those women involved was 2017 Mae Young Classic semifinalist Toni Storm, who battled a resilient Nina Samuels last week.
Both women, especially in Toni’s case, are well established in the UK wrestling scene thanks to their work in PROGRESS Wrestling. There, Toni was the first ever Women’s Champion, while Nina has been a long-time associate of the current champ Jinny in her villainous House of Couture faction. Having these two women contest the first match on an NXT UK episode lays down what the future holds for the female athletes.
Toni picked up a hard-fought victory with a Storm Zero but, even in defeat, Nina came away from the match looking like just as big a star as her more well-known adversary. Props to both women!
Insane Fight Club
One of the signings to the NXT UK tag team division that got the brand off to a hot start was Joe and Mark, The Coffey Brothers. Despite Joe’s semifinal elimination from the UK Championship Tournament, the brothers made an immediate impact on night two as they ambushed Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster. This attack boiled over to the debut episode, where The Iron King would go one on one with Andrews.
“White Lightning” did all he could possibly do in order to avoid Joe’s onslaught. Hurricanranas, a corkscrew moonsault, a Stundog Millionaire, the lot. But still, the Coffey brother powered through, thanks in part to a distraction from Mark Coffey at ringside, and planted Andrews in to the mat with an All The Best For The Bells discus lariat. A post-match beatdown was soon halted by the arrival of Flash Morgan Webster, the other man who was assaulted by the duo in June.
This ties in very nicely with the recent announcement of the NXT UK Tag Team Championships. Clearly, Moustache Mountain are the odds-on favourites to be crowned the first set of champions. But with teams such as The Coffey Brothers and, by the looks of things, Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster rising up the ranks, it may not be all set in stone now.
Seeing as this writer is a Scot, here’s hoping The Coffey’s are the ones to lift the straps first!
NXT UK’s Wrecking Ball
Dave Mastiff is a large man. Sid Scala is not a large man. When you put two men like that in a ring, chances are the smaller one will get decimated from corner to corner.
Mastiff has been on the go for 16 years now. Throughout that time, he’s been an unstoppable force within the confines of a ring, never failing to use his size as an advantage. When you see him approach you, you’d probably think about him busting out powerbombs and lariats. But in this match with Sid Scala, he got the three count with one of his signature moves, the cannonball. Yes, a man of this size hurtling towards you with all his speed is something you won’t be getting up from any time soon. It’s why he’s considered as one of the best big men in the UK today, maybe even the world of wrestling as a whole.
More of this sort of thing in the future would be excellent to see. Big lads tossing small lads about the ring. It’s one of the best things about modern day professional wrestling in this writer’s humble opinion.
A New Arrival
A vignette aired on the debut episode also to promote the impending debut of ‘The Pride of Wales’, Eddie Dennis.
If you’re unfamiliar with the man’s work, you seriously need to seek out some matches of his. He’s insanely talented and deserves every inch of recognition he gets. Dennis left his job as a teacher to pursue his man goal of becoming a full-time professional wrestler. To say he’s succeeded would be an understatement, although injuries have plagued his progress up until recently.
One thing that we can all hope for from this is that he gets a program at some point opposite Mark Andrews. In fairness, the duo have just finished a lengthy story in PROGRESS that was exhilarating to watch all the way through, in particular their Ladder Match from the big Wembley show. However, it’s a good story that can be rinsed and repeated on a much bigger platform. Just don’t be expecting to see reverse brainbuster from atop a ladder in a WWE ring…
WWE have announced that the main event for this week’s installment to the NXT UK franchise will see one half of Moustache Mountain in Tyler Bate taking on Wolfgang. Elsewhere, more women’s action is coming our way just in time for Sunday’s Evolution pay-per-view as Dakota Kai faces Killer Kelly. Finally, the winner of this year’s United Kingdom Championship Tournament will compete as Zack Gibson makes his NXT UK debut.
You can catch the second episode of NXT UK on the WWE Network on Wednesday October 24th at 8pm BST.
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