The NXT UK brand may only be a few months old, but it had a noticeable presence at the Royal Rumble event this past Sunday. Entering the men’s Royal Rumble match at 18 was United Kingdom Champion, Pete Dunne. Lasting a little over 11 minutes, Dunne brought his brand of unique brutality to the match, targeting the limbs and fingers of any competitor that stood in his way. Former UK Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley, who entered the women’s Royal Rumble match at 24, was particularly dominant. Alongside Ruby Riott, Nia Jax, and Bayley, Ripley was one of the few women to score three eliminations in the match.
What does the first episode of NXT UK have to offer following one of the most anticipated pay-per-view events of the year? Read on, as we go in detail in the inaugural installment of the NXT UK review!
Pete Dunne successfully retained his UK Championship against Joe Coffey at NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool. As Dunne celebrated, however, the man known simply as Walter made his debut. Regarded as one of the most dominant wrestlers in the region, Walter attacked Coffey and stood face-to-face with Dunne, making it clear that he was vying for the promotion’s top championship. On this week’s show, he makes his in-ring debut.
Match 1: “Bomber” Dave Mastiff vs. “Primate” Jay Melrose
The match begins with a lock-up, both men showcasing their strength. With a running cross-body, Mastiff gets the best of the exchange. Melrose eventually takes control, cornering Mastiff with mudhole stomps. Melrose follows up with a series of headbutts, fists, and forearms, before going for the cover, only receiving a two-count. Melrose cinches in an armbar, but Mastiff powers out of it, both men exchanging stiff forearms. Mastiff attempts a suplex, but after unsuccessfully doing so, he returns to the armbar. Mastiff soon regains control, landing two sentons on the back of his opponent. Mastiff follows up with a German suplex, sending Melrose in the corner. Mastiff executes his cannonball in the corner, called Into the Void, to pick up the three-count.
Winner: “Bomber” Dave Mastiff
The show cuts to our commentary team, Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness, who discuss the NXT UK Tag Team Championship victory of Zack Gibson and James Drake, becoming the inaugural champions at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool. We are also treated to a video package featuring Xia Brookside, who made her debut at last year’s Mae Young Classic. She will return to NXT UK action next week!
Zack Gibson and James Drake make their way to the ring to an unfavorable reaction from the crowd. Gibson takes the mic, hyping themselves as the current NXT UK Tag Team Champions. While every other team on the brand was busy brainstorming fancy nicknames, they were focused on one goal that they would accomplish “soon.” This goal became a reality, as they stole the show UK TakeOver: Blackpool and became the first tag team champions on the brand. The fans would call them what they are and always been: grizzled young veterans and NXT UK Tag Team Champions, which will be christened the most important title on the brand.
Cue Sid Scala, assistant to NXT UK General Manager Johnny Saint, who appears on the stage to congratulate Gibson and Drake. He informs them that they would not be short on challengers, as NXT UK would travel to Phoenix, where they would show why their brand is the hottest in sports entertainment. Scala tells the champions that Saint decided their next challengers: Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch! Scala tells them that this match will take place “soon.”
Next week, Ligero and Mark Andrews will face off in one-on-one action!
Match 2: Jack Starz vs. Walter
The match begins with a standoff, Jack Starz firing off with a series of strikes, though to little effect on Walter. Walter drops the smaller Starz with a stiff chop to the chest. The action spills to the outside, where Walter backdrops Starz on the apron. Rolling Starz back into the ring, Walter stalks his fallen opponent, taunting him in the process. Starz continues to fight, but once again, Walter floors him. Starz tries to get some offense in but is knocked down by a shotgun dropkick from his larger opponent. Walter finishes the match with a devastating powerbomb and a three-count.
We are treated to a video package from two weeks ago, showing Jinny scoring a victory over Isla Dawn. Jinny will be in action next! As we return from break, we see Walter being approached by Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel, expressing interest in joining forces. Seemingly uninterested, Walter walks away.
Match 3: Jinny vs. Kasey Owens
The match begins with Jinny taking down Kasey Owens with an armbar, Jinny dragging her fingernails down her opponent’s forearm. Owens whips Jinny into the ropes, but Jinny takes her down again, following up with several stomps. Jinny cinches in an Achilles heel lock, but Owens is able to reach the ropes. Owens performs a double knee strike in the corner before following up with a crossbody. Jinny hits Owens with a flatliner into the turnbuckle, dragging her around ringside to slam her into the barricade. Jinny locks in an abdominal stretch, but Owens is able to counter with a fireman’s carry. Jinny hooks in the heel lock again, but Owens reaches the ropes. Jinny finishes the match with The MakeOver, scoring the three-count.
Earlier, former NXT UK Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley stormed into the office of Saint and Scala, demanding a rematch against Toni Storm for the championship in question she lost at UK TakeOver: Blackpool. Saint would make the match official: in three weeks, Ripley will challenge Storm for the NXT UK Women’s Championship in Phoenix! Additionally, Mark Coffey, defending the honor of his brother Joe, will challenge Walter in next week’s main event!
Match 4: Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) vs. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel
The match begins with Tyler Bate and Marcel Barthel as the legal competitors. They lock up, with Bate and Barthel exchanging technical holds. Barthel focuses on the ankle of Bate, wrenching it, though the younger member of Moustache Mountain counters numerous times. Bate shoots Barthel into the ropes, hitting a dropkick and following up with an arm drag. Bate tags in Trent Seven, who maintains wrist control on Barthel. Barthel is able to escape and tags in Fabian Aicher, who takes control. Aicher shoots Seven into the corner, but Seven counters with a hip toss. Seven tags in Bate, who nails Aichner with a rolling senton. Bate goes for a cover, but Aichner kicks out at two.
Aicher strikes Bate across the chest with a stiff chop. Aichner and Barthel begin to take control of the match again, overpowering Bate and keeping him away from his partner’s corner. Bate tries to fight off his opponents in the corner but is floored again. Barthel goes for the cover but it was only good for a two-count. Aicher hits a high-angle suplex on Bate and goes to the mat with a body scissors, the crowd trying to will Bate on. Slowly, Bate lifts up Aicher and drops him to the mat. Aicher is able to make the tag to Barthel, as Bate finally does to Seven.
Seven, now the legal man, drops Barthel with a DDT. He strikes Barthel with a chop to the chest, hits a powerbomb on Aichner, and a snapdragon suplex on Barthel. Seven follows up with a cover on Barthel, but only for a two-count. Seven tags in Bate and Barthel tags in Aichner. Aicher attempts a schoolboy on Bate, but once again, it is only good for a two-count. Bate performs a plancha onto Barthel from the outside, while Seven hits a big clothesline on Aichner. Seven goes for the cover, but Aichner kicks out at two!
Seven hoists Aichner upon his shoulders, but he is able to make a tag to Barthel. They perform a spinebuster followed by a penalty kick, and Seven kicks out at two! Barthel attempts a back suplex, but Seven escapes, tagging in Bate. Barthel launches Bate into the grasp of Aicher, who hoists him up for a brainbuster. Aichner makes the cover, but Seven breaks up the count at two! Aicher tags in Barthel. Bate reaches his corner, tagging in Seven again. With a lariat assisted dragon suplex, Seven covers Barthel for the three-count!
Winners: Moustache Mountain
Thank you for reading! Tune in next week, as we cover another action-packed week on NXT UK, including Xia Brookside, Ligero taking on Mark Andrews, and Mark Coffey challenging Walter.
Originally written by Robbie Sutter