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NXT in the UK (12/26/18): The NXT UK After Christmas



The final two episodes of NXT UK in 2018 not only ended the year with a bang(er) of an NXT UK Women's Championship match between reigning queen Rhea Ripley and everyone's favorite wonder woman Deonna Purrazzo but it also gave us all something amazing to look forward to in the next year: the first-ever NXT UK PPV, NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool.

Of course, if you're, like me, hooked on professional wrestling news and rumors online 24/7, then you'd have already heard that this was happening. Triple H even already announced this online. Still, GM Johnny Saint and his assistant Sid Scala made this week's announcement their own, with a little help from an Australian contender. 


The 2018 Mae Young Classic winner, Toni Storm, came out during the aforementioned announcement. Scala had opened the show by introducing GM Saint, and together, they hyped the entire arena for January 12, 2019, the day of NXT UK's first-ever PPV special. Storm revealed that because of her Mae Young Classic victory, she gets a title opportunity of her choosing, which she's cashing in on Rhea Ripley for the NXT UK Women's title match at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool. The crowd was 100% into the idea, as everyone obviously loves Toni Storm, and GM Saint granted her the match. 

In case anyone else fell down the same rabbit hole I did when Toni talked about her Mae Young Classic victory netting her a title opportunity: Nope, that NXT Women's Championship match she had with Shayna Baszler wasn't because of her Mae Young Classic victory. That was actually the reward for her winning the No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat match against Killer Kelly and Isla Dawn during the 2018 United Kingdom Championship Tournament. Close, but no cigar. Just like Storm during that tournament final to determine the inaugural NXT UK Women's Champion. 

Relax, she'll get another shot at TakeOver: Blackpool, which she'll probably lose because Tegan Nox versus Rhea Ripley is still the best potential title feud they have. Unless Nox costs Ripley that match? Hmm.


Speaking of unfinished business, the bad blood between the giant of a man Eddie Dennis and the mammoth of a man Dave Mastiff continued this week, with The Bomber first interfering in Dennis' match against Dan Moloney, causing a disqualification. Dennis had attacked Mastiff backstage last week and big ol' Dave did not appreciate that. The Bomber threw Eddie around with a suplex but Eddie managed to escape. 

For some reason, Moloney thought it was a good idea to confront a furious Dave, paying the price for his ignorance by getting his head bashed in with the corner cannonball, a clear message from Mastiff to Dennis. RIP, Dan.

Of course, not one to get one-upped, Dennis interfered in Mastiff's match on the succeeding episode, taking out his opponent in Josh Morrell. Dave could only look on as Eddie bodyslammed poor Morrell on stage, forcing a swarm of referees to get involved. What the heck are you doing, Eddie? Dave has already beaten you. He's just going to beat you again! Why do you continue to infuriate such a massive mammoth of a monstrous man? The answer's probably just pride, but I wouldn't say no to another round between these two bad boys. My money's still on Mastiff, though. Sorry, Eddie!


During the first episode of this week's two-for-one edition, Zack Gibson toured his Young Grizzled Veterans tag team partner James Drake around his beloved Liverpool. As you'd expect, Gibson’s guide to Liverpool wasn't an actual travel guide. It was basically just an excuse for everyone's most hated wrestler to express his contempt for the people he believed turned their backs on him and his belief that Liverpool needs him more than he needs Liverpool. This was an excellent promo from an excellent heel, and we should all thank NXT UK for this excellent Christmas gift. 

The Young Grizzled Veterans later faced "Wild Boar" Mike Hitchman and "Primate" Jay Melrose in a tag team match on the second episode of this week's two-for-one edition, with Gibson pinning Hitchman with Ticket to Ride. Surprisingly, this was a back-and-forth match that had me on the edge of my seat. I love the Wild Boar but I didn't actually expect him and new face Melrose to get as much offense and even defense against Gibson and Drake. Very well done. 

After the match, Gibson sang a Liverpool FC song, sharing that he may love the city but he most definitely hates the people. As with his "guide" on the previous episode, Liverpool's No. 1 stated his desire to become NXT UK Tag Team champions with Drake at TakeOver: Blackpool. Good luck with that, mate. You've got yourselves a mountain of a competition for that goal.


What the heck is Deonna Purrazzo doing in NXT UK?! This was mostly just surprising to me because I did not expect her to appear on this brand, but I suppose since Dakota Kai appears on both NXT and NXT UK, this was only inevitable.

Trading wrestlers between the two brands should be done sparingly, though, even if the clamor is intense, considering that they need to have their separate identities. Having everyone just appear everywhere else could taint their respective mystique. Plus, it's way better to get surprised by such appearances every now and then. Right, Tyler Breeze?

NXT's Virtuosa took the Mosh Pit Kid, that's Rhea's nickname strangely, to the limit, unleashing an awe-inspiring assault that sent the queen reeling in this intense tooth-and-nail showdown. Purrazzo pulled out a somersault off the ring apron from out of her sleeves while Ripley responded with a modified standing cloverleaf submission as well as a good old-fashioned slamming of the challenger face-first onto the apron at ringside. That's a classic heel move right there.

Despite Deonna's spirited efforts, Rhea retained with her Riptide finisher. Post-match, Rhea continued to attack Deonna, prompting her TakeOver: Blackpool opponent Toni Storm to make the save.

FINAL DECREE: If this was NXT UK's Christmas present to all of us, then we should all be thankful. This week was yet another impressive show, brilliantly utilizing the best of British wrestling without overexposing or exhausting their identities and characters. Deonna Purrazzo challenging Rhea Ripley for the NXT UK Women's Championship match was a well-received surprise while Zack Gibson getting more promo time is a great move.

Extending the Eddie Dennis versus Dave Mastiff feud isn't a bad way to give these two guys something to do outside of continuously beating other direction-less guys. Can Eddie survive another loss to Mastiff, though? That's something to think about. For ending the year with a bang and making me look forward to the next year, specifically to their first-ever TakeOver PPV special, I'm giving this week's NXT UK an A. Happy holidays, everyone!   

The Few Hunky-Dories:

  • Joe Coffey versus Ligero was the main event of the first episode of this week's two-for-one edition. Joe came out with Gallus, naturally, but faced Ligero alone because, let's face it, Ligero is not winning this match. Ligero's high-flying ability is impressive, but Joe Coffey is massive and his power alone can put a damper to any lucha aerial assault. At one point, Coffey reversed a top-rope huracanrana into a powerbomb that he then turned into a Boston Crab but Ligero persevered. Ligero tried to hit his tornado DDT from the middle rope but Joe destroyed him with a massive clothesline. This was a great, fun match that capitalized on the contrast of styles between two great performers. Coffey's on a streak and it's only a matter of time before he gets his hands on United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne.
  • Marcel Barthel, who I keep thinking is a Frenchman when he's actually a German, is apparently Fabian Aichner's new best friend. Because they're both Germans. Oh, and they probably both hate Mark Andrews? Barthel dominated Andrews in their match, using his unique technical ability to escape an early submission, until the popular Andrews made a comeback with chops and an enzuigiri. That was when Aichner appeared at ringside like a wild Pokémon, first distracting and then eventually attacking Andrews when the referee was distracted, allowing Barthel to get the impressive victory with a pretty cool fisherman release belly-to-back suplex. Barthel and Aichner as a duo could be awesome but they would first need to overcome Andrews and his bestie Flash Morgan Webster. If they could.
  • Despite last week's interesting development between Saxon Huxley and Tyson T-Bone, it seems like they fixed their relationship problems and got back on the same page. Not like they had been before this match. Tucker and Jack Starz (I hate that last name) did their best, but Huxley and T-Bone were just too much for them, getting dominated through the match and Starz's rally denied by a double team. T-Bone finished the match with a heavy right hand to Starz's face, allowing Huxley to get the win. I'm interested where this leads Huxley and T-Bone, but if they really want to make an impact in the tag team division, they need to do more than beat two guys who just started tagging together in NXT UK
  • It looks like Amir Jordan and Kenny Williams are taking their tag team partnership seriously, as the former accompanied the latter for his match against Irish Ace, Jordan Devlin. Williams almost got the upset victory after reversing Devlin's standing moonsault with an inside cradle, so Jordan made him pay by dropping him on his neck with a high-angle half-nelson suplex. That was scary. Jordan inevitably got the win with Ireland's Call, and after the match, got on the mic to brag about his victory and announce his next target, someone he dubbed an embarrassment to "his country." Jordan Devlin versus Finn Bálor/Sheamus/Becky Lynch confirmed?! Both Williams and Devlin are impressive athletes, but Kenny needs to start winning matches soon to stay on the right track.
Images from WWE
*****

Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoereviews WWE RAW & NXT UK for Smark Henry. He has been an avid professional wrestling fan since grade school. These reviews are as close to professional wrestling as he can get. To him, it's always Toni time.

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