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NXT in the UK (3/6/19): Devlin, Get the Tables!



Apologies for the late review, my fellow NXT UK fanboys. I've been having a wee bit of a hard time with new responsibilities involving work, life, and tables—that is, making sure Jordan Devlin and Travis Banks won't put each other through them.

For the first time ever, NXT UK had a Falls Count Anywhere match this week, and it was breathtaking. Also this week, we saw the return of the European Union, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel, to the brand after unsuccessfully participating in the 2019 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Plus, Ligero, Joseph Conners, Nina Samuels, and Charlie Morgan. That's pretty much it.


There really is no doubt in my mind that the European Union, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel, could be NXT UK Tag Team Champions in the future. Maybe even NXT Tag Team Champions. If they stay long enough in the WWE, they could probably even go further as RAW or SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions. They are just that damn good as a unit. In my opinion, they may very well be the most impressive pure tag team under the NXT and UK brand since The Revival. That is very debatable, though, and mostly inspired by the fact that so far, none of their matches has been a letdown.

This week, the duo dominated the debuting Sam Stoker and Lewis Howley, with Aichner showing off his strength on Stoker (nice name, by the way, Dracula would be proud) in the early goings of the match. Howley (is it a full moon?) did manage to rally for a bit against Marcel Barthel but Aichner took control once more when he got back in the match, punching me in the gut with that unbelievable stalling suplex slam on Howley. There was a bit of confusion on who the legal man was after the European Union hit their double-team uppercut from the top rope but it didn't really distract from the overall match.

NXT UK has some pretty great tag teams in their division and so far they've managed to utilize them well, even with the dangers of focusing too much on the uber-hyped Moustache Mountain (for good reason) and the current NXT UK Tag Team Champions Zack Gibson and James Drake, the Grizzled Young Veterans. With the Coffeys fighting elsewhere and the European Union getting some good matches in, the future, as well as the present of this tag team division, is nowhere near any signs of trouble. I do hope Kenny Williams and Amir Jordan get some wins, too, as a team because they could be pretty entertaining.


After months of brawling that involved the cancellation of their NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool bout on the same night when Jordan Devlin injured Travis Banks before the actual match, a double count-out finish to their January NXT UK meeting that was supposed to make up for that, and last week's UK Performance Center sneak attack from Devlin on Travis, The Irish Ace and The Kiwi Buzzsaw finally settled their out-of-control rivalry in the brand's first-ever Falls Count Anywhere match in this week's main event. Or so we think.

With Jeff Jarrett watching at ringside, this brilliant addition to NXT UK's series of superb main events showcased how a long-term story, an unpredictable result, and a tiny bit of controversy could come together and be utilized really well to give us a definitely TakeOver-worthy battle. Despite his loss, Banks could use the fact that the referee was out during his 12-count pin on Jordan to further extend this rivalry, which is by far the best rivalry in the brand at the moment. 

Travis is a great wrestler and him leaping from the top of a 12 foot-high (probably, I'm terrible at math) area in the stand to take out another great wrestler in Jordan on the floor was amazing. Devlin countering Banks's dive through the ropes with a chair shot to the shoulder was both cunning and brutal. I don't know how to feel about the crowd mocking Devlin for his head size, so I just narrowed my eyes and ignored it.

After setting up a ringside table that made me drool (because I like seeing people driven through tables) Banks inadvertently dropkicked Devlin into the referee who fell out of the ring. This actually led to Banks's karmic comeuppance because while the referee was out, he had Devlin pinned for a 12-count. A 12-count! He would've won that match already if the fate didn't turn heel on him. The referee only came to after Devlin hit a moonsault on Banks for a two-count. Damn you, Fates! Or maybe Devlin was just bringing a ton of Irish luck with him in this match? 

To be fair, Devlin did suffer some karma on his own when Banks found the opportunity to repeatedly stomp The Irish Ace's left knee against the steel steps. Despite being caught in an ankle lock with a beaten and bruised left knee, Devlin managed to escape the torture and—yes! someone got driven through a table!—Spanish Fly'd Banks through that table for the win. This week, Jordan came out as the better man, but chances are, this feud is far from over.

FINAL DECREE: When I started watching this week's episode, I almost wanted to give it a C. The Ligero and Conners opening match had great action but I found myself distracted by even the simplest of things while the Samuels squash match was a bit too short and predictable for even my liking. Rest assured that neither of those matches disappointed when it came to the wrestling, as all four talents are pretty great wrestlers, but it might just be because the opener doesn't really give me anything to invest in and the squash was an obvious squash. Still, the European Union tag match—probably because their opponents had interesting names and the European Union has a pretty good track record of pretty good matches so far—and the explosive main event were enough to keep this week's NXT UK on the B train.

The Few Hunky-Dories:

  • The rematch between Ligero and Joseph Conners was pretty good—Ligero made it 2-0 this week between the two of them—but I wasn't really into this because both wrestlers don't actually have anything unique, so to speak, going for them at the moment. Ligero is a luchador, so Conners went after his mask. That was a pretty standard heel move, I think. Conners really wanted to prove himself to be the better competitor, so he punished Ligero with his non-righteous fury, while Ligero, being the luchador that he is, flew all over the ring. You could say that the post-match shenanigans, with Ligero offering a sportsman handshake but Conners refusing it outright, was pretty interesting but by all accounts, it wasn't really that interesting to accentuate this budding rivalry. These two are definitely great wrestlers, so the action speaks for itself, but there is little to no investment from the fans at the moment, especially those outside of the UK who may be wondering why the fourth member of Lucha House Party is in NXT UK. Ugh, I hate myself for making that reference.
  • The Nina Samuels Show, which has been hyped by multiple vignettes, could not be denied by one Charlie Morgan. Morgan was game and showed great hardiness and determination in this pretty short match but Nina quelled her rebellion with a lengthy submission before a pretty painful finisher that saw Samuels plant Charlie neck-first across her knee. Ushigor-ouchie. Even that kick to the head from Morgan wasn't enough to take out Nina. The entire thing was obviously designed to give Samuels a victory, perhaps paving her way to a title opportunity down the road. 
  • Through a pretty interesting backstage segment, we found out who might be next in line to challenge NXT UK Women's Champion Toni Storm for her title. After successfully defending her throne against Rhea Ripley in Phoenix, Toni appears to be getting stalked by none other than Jinny, the Fashionista who could give Cruella de Vil a run for her money and was the last UK-born wrestler eliminated from the inaugural tournament for the same title. Will Storm's hold on the kingdom be as strong as a tempest? Or will UK blood prove to be stronger than Australian waters? That should be an interesting feud.
  • Next week, the Coffey Brothers will apparently face United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne and scary chest chopper WALTER in the main event. Joe Coffey had accused Dunne and Walter of "taking food off our table," which was a pretty noice line, and once again stated that NXT UK is Gallus's kingdom. I think, at this point, that claim is a bit embarrassing, considering the kingdom's champion isn't part of Gallus and WALTER has been humiliating the stable since his arrival. The Coffeys better protect their massive chests, though that might not be an issue for them. Can Dunne and WALTER coexist as tag team partners? That I gotta see.
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. European Union for NXT/UK Tag Team Champions!

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