NXT UK rolled on this week with another two episodes. The Women’s Championship Tournament rolled on, while we also saw action from Jordan Devlin, Eddie Dennis, and Dave Mastiff, among other names. Coming out of this week’s episodes, there were some major developments aside from the finals of the aforementioned tournament being determined. Let’s take a look!
Women’s Championship Tournament Finals Revealed
Following the Women’s Championship Tournament kicking off last week, the last two quarterfinals took place on the first episode of the week. First off, Rhea Ripley defeated Xia Brookside following the Riptide (a pumphandle powerbomb). Despite Xia trying to outsmart Rhea with her quickness, the Australian native proved her dominance over her smaller opponent, knocking her down with ease. She was joined in the semifinals later in the night by Mae Young Classic winner Toni Storm, who defeated Isla Dawn in her own quarterfinal bout. Unlike the previous match, this was a more even contest as both women used their strike-based arsenals to cement their name in the WWE history books. A Storm Zero allowed Toni to move forward and in another contrast to the previous match, Toni showed respect to Isla afterwards.
The semifinals aired on the second episode of the week. First off, Rhea Ripley downed Dakota Kai in another showcase of her power over smaller opponents. Kai came much closer to defeating Ripley than Xia Brookside did, showing exactly why she’s the captain of Team Kick with a plethora of boots to the body of Rhea. Unfortunately for Dakota though, she missed a roundhouse kick later in the match and was planted with a Riptide, meaning Rhea Ripley moved on to the finals of the tournament. Then in the main event, Toni Storm defeated Jinny in a PROGRESS Wrestling showcase. The current PROGRESS Women’s Champion came close to putting away the inaugural champion with her signature Facelift finisher for a very close near fall. Toni eventually picked up the win with a Storm Zero to cement her place in the finals of another tournament under the WWE banner.
Despite Toni Storm having been a staple of the UK scene for the bulk of her career, it is a bit strange that the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion will be from either New Zealand or Australia. Nevertheless, we’re in for a banger when that match comes to air!
New Rivalries Flourish
Jordan Devlin has made it clear that his intentions in NXT UK are to rise to the top of the brand, no matter what it takes. One of the things it apparently takes to do so is stopping ‘fake luchadors from Leeds’, that of course being in the form of Ligero. Their match was, as expected, a spectacle of a match. Both men got in some of their trademark offence, including Ligero’s beautiful sunset flip powerbomb. The Irish Ace showed how he can mix hard-hitting strikes with devastating impact moves, as shown with his corner running knee/backdrop driver combination. As the match drew to a close, Devlin tripped Ligero up on the steel steps, followed with a running knee in the ring and finally, his signature Island’s Call for the victory. Although he wasn’t really one of the biggest names when the inaugural United Kingdom Championship Tournament, Jordan Devlin has cemented himself as one of the premier names in the entire division. If there’s ever a secondary championship brought in, expect to see the former OTT World Champion as a viable first champion.
Another rivalry set up last week was between Dave Mastiff and Tyson T-Bone and now, they’ve faced off. It was a different type of match for Mastiff, as he’s usually been against smaller opponents that he can launch across the ring. Tyson managed to get some strikes and rest holds in throughout the bout in a bid to wear down Dave to no avail. Mastiff fought back with a barrage of strikes, eventually ending the match with a release German suplex and a cannonball in the corner to pick up the three count and continue his dominance over the NXT UK roster. He’s being built up as one of the biggest threats on the entire brand, and could very well be a future WWE United Kingdom Champion somewhere down the line.
Some of the brand’s members are continuing to rise up through the ranks, notably Wales’ Eddie Dennis and Mark Andrews. The first of the two episodes featured both being victorious over Jack Starz and ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman, respectively. Dennis towered over the much smaller Starz but it didn’t stop the youngster from trying to fight back, using a series of European uppercuts to get The Pride of Wales down to one knee. An unfortunate missed dropkick however allowed Dennis to perform his Neckstop Driver to get another win in NXT UK. Meanwhile, Andrews found himself as the smaller performer against Hitchman, with The Wild Boar utilising an amateur-style attack during the match. After regaining the advantage thanks to a Stundog Millionaire, the match came to a close with a shooting star press, allowing the Impact British Boot Camp winner to put another check in the win column.
The second of the episodes saw two thrown-together tag teams fighting it out for momentum ahead of whenever the NXT UK Tag Team Championships are brought to TV – the Welsh duo of Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster taking on Joseph Conners and Saxon Huxley. Andrews and Webster picked up the three count after White Lightning landed on The Muscle Cat with a shooting star press, but that wasn’t the main talking point coming away from the contest. Following the match, Conners drilled Huxley into the mat with the Don’t Look Down facebuster, signalling the end of their alliance. Good news for all the other tag teams, there’s one tandem left to beat in the championship tournament.
Another two excellent episodes down the hatch. The two hours told us everything we needed to know – who the top dogs are in the women’s division, who to look out for when the NXT UK Tag Team Championships get brought to TV, and who the rising stars are within the brand. With the recent news of the first NXT UK TakeOver taking place in Blackpool at the start of January, now’s the time to buckle down and get invested with what’s on offer!