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Top 5 NXT UK TV Matches So Far

January 18, 2019 | Posted by Jake Chambers
Pete Dunne NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool

NXT UK has been a nice little side universe of the WWE for the past four months. A compact show with a pure wrestling focus, some great ground-up character building, and a short-term goal of establishing new titles and working towards their own marquee “PPV” event. The NXT UK Takeover – Blackpool special was a cool conclusion to this show’s “Season One”, so before the next cycle starts I want to look back at the best matches we’ve seen so far.

This is just my humble opinion as a watcher of pro-wrestling for more than three decades, and a writer of wrestling opinion at this great website for over a decade. However, I don’t consider myself a match reviewer, or expert star-rater, but I gave it a shot last year for the second season of Mixed Match Challenge, and it turned out horribly. It would have served me much better to dip my toe onto the ring apron for NXT UK as it started right around the same time as the MMC and was exponentially superior. So as far as match ratings go, I’ll just say, nothing hit the 5-star range in my opinion on NXT UK TV, but all the matches below would be 4-stars. However, if you want an alternative opinion as you’re reading, I will provide links to the 411mania reviews of these episodes from the great Larry Csonka, so feel free to click and re-read his always awesome analysis.

#5 = Episode 13 – Mark Andrews vs. Fabian Aichner

Larry’s Review: Csonka’s NXT UK Review -12-05-18- Ep. 13

Mark “Mandrews” Andrews has been the best kept secret of the entire WWE UK expansion. Personally, he wasn’t much on my radar outside of his good appearances in TNA, but his matches at the inaugural UK Championship Tournament were great, including probably the match of the weekend against Tyler Bate. That then led to a pretty epic re-match and title challenge against Bate at the underrated UK Championship Special. He also had some good matches on 205 Live in 2017/18 as well, including a great match against Buddy Murphy. Then when NXT UK started, it was good to see him on the scene, but a bit sad that he was still generally being used as a B-level workhorse jobber.

Then again, that just shows how strong and interesting the undercard of the NXT UK shows have been. This was definitely a perfect example of the kind of match this show is great at supplying: gritty ring work, wonderful clashes of style, and building rivalries in the ring. The Italian Aichner was making his NXT UK debut here, and quickly received the respect of the crowd and his opponent by shaking hands with the much smaller, but fan-favourite Andrews. This note would nicely come back in the end, and establish the newcomer as a more of a heel when in frustration he will slam Andrews violently into the ring steps and try to win the match by count-out.

Throughout the match, Andrews uses his high-flying to try and neutralize the size and strength advantage of Aichner, including a dazzling reverse when he was caught prone in a vertical suplex position but switched it into a forward hurricanrana. Andrews even starts to get the upper hand by using some chops and strikes, further leading to the frustration that will burst out violently from Aichner in the end. And although he didn’t win by count-out, Aichner was victorious with a brutal spinning powerbomb, and a look of disgust now, rather than one of sportsmanship, for the honourable yet defeated Andrews.

#4 = Episode 15 – Joe Coffey vs. Trent Seven

Larry’s Review: Csonka’s NXT UK Review -12-12-18- Ep.15

An great theme of these early episodes of NXT UK was the creation of Gallus, a Scottish heel stable antithesis to the popular and local British Strong Style faction. While Dunne, Bate and Seven were the international darlings of the WWE’s UK expansion, getting matches on NXT proper and appearing in many WWE PR events, Wolfgang and the Coffey brothers were on the outside looking in, and once this series started they quickly planted their flag in the mat and declared that this was their time to shine.

Leader Joe Coffey certainly stepped up to provide the role of “big bad” for Season One, eventually challenging Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship in the main event of Takeover – Blackpool, in what I thought was a fantastic match. Here, about midway through the season, Coffey is looking for the big win against Dunne’s stablemate that would solidify his claim on that title shot. And as you would expect from two thick strategic bruisers, they started out with some heavy grappling and striking, leading to a stalemate. Then the surgically repaired knee of Seven familiarly played a part in him having to work from the bottom in order to try and get a victory.

A mid-match stand off between all three members of Gallus and Seven with his Moustache Mountain partner Bate, led to those teammates fighting their way away from ringside, and giving Seven some hope with a dive to the flood that surprised Coffey in the mayhem. However, Coffey quickly went back to work on the knee of Seven, giving Trent the opportunity as a great performer to play to this “weakness” and add a classic pro-wrestling touch to the heavy move-versus-move battle that would eventually wind down the end stretch of the match.

#3 = Episode 3 – Zack Gibson vs. Noam Dar

Larry’s Review: Csonka’s NXT UK Review -10-31-18- Ep. 3

This early match in the season played off Noam Dar’s hot comeback from injury in the first episode where he challenged Pete Dunne for the UK Championship in a match that just was just barely left off this list. As well, it continued the heat-building for Gibson that started when he viciously worked through the competition at the second UK Championship Tournament special, and really gave the fans something to lovingly hate.

Early on, Dar was playing nicely to the “If you hate Gibson shoes off” crowd chant, which I’ve got to admit is one UK chant I appreciate (those ’80s song chants can bugger off). Gibson, paradoxically attacks arms in preparation for his Shankly Gates arm-bar submission finisher, and started early by holding on and focusing on the arm. Meanwhile, Dar not only comedically spotlights Gibson’s feet, but also attacks them expertly, making for a strategic limb battle for advantage in the first half of the match.

Gibson is such a tight, grinding wrestler, and NXT UK gives him such a great stage to showcase that style of wrestling that we’d never see on the main roster or even NXT proper. His surgical twists and joint torques are some of the closest we get in this series to the old British style you’d see from guys like William Regal or Johnny Saint. Dar on the other hand, only appeared on NXT UK for this and the Dunne match, as a kind of bridge for the fringe Network fans looking for a familiar face, and his selling of Gibson’s offense was spectacular, while always a threat to break out with some 205 Live level of high flying and quick attacks.

After being on the receiving end of a brutal jumping power-bomb onto the stage, Dar slipped back into the ring a split second before being counted out. He then escaped a submission attempt, leading to some verbal berating by Gibson, which seemingly brought Dar back to life and started going back to brutalizing Gibson’s knee. This lead to a phenomenal sequence of strikes and submissions targeting the other’s weakened appendages, until Gibson abandons the submissions attempts and finally is able to score the win with a surprising high impact twisting brain-buster

#2 = Episode 24 – Wolfgang, Joe & Mark Coffey vs. Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate

This was the very last TV match before the Takeover event, and unfortunately we don’t have a review from Larry on this one, but you can guarantee he would have considered this a certified banger before the bell even rung, and wouldn’t have been disappointed with what occurred.

Everything about this match felt like one of those balls-to-the-wall Korakuen Hall, New Japan Road to the Tokyo Dome tag team main events that sees many of the stars involved in the top WrestleKingdom matches face off before the big show. This was both a culmination of the tensions between these two factions throughout the series so far and a breathing advertisement to check out the Takeover event. What you end up with is some real modern-day indie/NXT style main event multi-man mayhem. It started with the semblance of tag teaming, and then just spun out into a car crash of finisher spamming and last second pin-fall saves. For all those who might have checked out the Takeover special but don’t regularly watch the show, this is a match you need to add to your watch list this week.

#1 – Episode 5 – WWE UK Championship Match: Pete Dunne vs. Danny Burch

Larry’s Review: Csonka’s NXT UK Review -11-07-18- Ep. 5

This is the kind of professional wrestling I’m here for: a methodical pace where everything you see has meaning. Both wrestlers put in every effort to demonstrate tactical wrestling that looks like it hurts and executed with the intention of trying to win an athletic contest.

I love the early stage of strikes where wear-down holds being used in an inter-locking sequence of logic, along with clever commentary that provides just the right amount of insight and colour to lead you along the path of physical storytelling you’re seeing in the ring.

I like long, slow matches with a patient audience, and I’m happy there’s a place in modern WWE for this kind of match to main event a weekly television show they produce and actually feel important. This match might not appeal to the attention span of a RAW fan who enjoys multi-man brawls with big move layered on top of move, 205 Live’s more frantic and dangerously delightful thrillers, or NXT’s epic marathons. Not to be cliche, but this is the kind of match I can sit back, relax with a cup of tea and enjoy like it’s day three of a cricket match.

Pete Dunne is a uniquely un-WWE guy to be spearheading the NXT UK brand, and this match showcases why it’s really pretty cool that he is; thus, kind of symbolic of the existence of this series at all. NXT UK is not the prettiest or the most cutting edge, it’s definitely catering to old school sensibilities while also giving you some surprising innovative twists every once in a while. The way Dunne ends this match even foreshadows the end of the main event the Blackpool Takeover event, which is much appreciated, much enjoyed by me, and the best TV match produced by this great show so far.

article topics :

NXT UK, Jake Chambers