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    Friday, October 26, 2018

    NXT in the UK (10/24/18): Shoes Off, Big Bois

    This week's NXT UK was headlined by a 2017 WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Semi-Finals rematch between that tournament's eventual winner, the first-ever WWE United Kindom Champion Tyler Bate, and the Last King of Scotland, Wolfgang.

    In that tournament, Bate had to go through Tucker, who was also in action this week, before facing current United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne while Wolfgang had his hands full with Tyson T-Bone and then Bate's Moustache Mountain tag team partner, Trent Seven. Along with appearances by Ligero, Dakota Kai, and Zack Gibson, this week was hyped, and it did not disappoint. Not one bit. Can you believe this is just its second episode?

    Ligero has been dubbed as the closest thing to a luchador to come from the UK. He's got the gear down and the style, too, so I'm pretty sure he's as much a luchador as El Generico was in that regard. Mike Hitchman, apparently dubbed as the Wild Boar, is as vicious and as powerful as they get. If Rhyno and Mankind somehow made a child, Hitchman would be that child. 

    In this WWE UK Championship Tournament Special Digital Exclusive rematch, the formerly prestigious luchador showcased all 17 years of experience and a perfect mix of lucha libre and British Strong Style that has come to define him as a wrestler. Hitchman didn't give him a free pass, however, as the Wild Boar met Ligero with explosive unpredictability, charging him in the corner and eventually grounding the high-flyer. 

    That just goes to show that the Wild Boar isn't just a rabid animal; he's also pretty smart. Despite Hitchman crushing Ligero with a back senton and a pop-up powerbomb, the UK's homegrown luchador still managed to get the win, taking out the Wild Boar with a pretty decent tornado DDT. Now that's what you call an entertaining opener.

    There's something very likable about Dakota Kai. When I first encountered her in the first Mae Young Classic, I thought she was going to be just another Bayley clone, but that quickly changed when I witnessed her kick the living hell out of her opponents. I wasn't even that mad when she eliminated Rhea Ripley in that tournament. Ripley, next to Toni Storm, was my pick to win that one. Sorry, Sane. Killer Kelly, of course, appeared in the second Mae Young Classic, facing Meiko Satomura in a losing effort. I remember her being intense during that match, and to say that that intensity was also present here would be an understatement.

    While Kai turned to her devastating kicks to punish Kelly, the latter pulled out a torturous dragon sleeper and an earth-shattering German suplex. Those weren't enough to deter the determined Dakota, however, and the captain of Team Kick ended up victorious after a series of unique strikes and an equally unique Kai-Ropractor (front-flip double knee backbreaker). That said, Dakota's definitely someone to watch. I guess that means I just joined Team Kick.   

    Zack Gibson might've won the second WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament, but he ended up losing the title opportunity he earned from that tournament after United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne successfully retained the title against him at the second night's amazing main event. Throughout his participation in that tournament, he was booed extensively by the live crowd, and judging from their reception of Gibson this week, it seems that he really is the most hated man this side of the Atlantic. It didn't help that Zack reciprocated the hate.

    Liverpool's No. 1 masterfully laid the blame for that title loss to having competed in three matchesbeating Jack Gallagher, beating Flash Morgan Webster, beating Travis Banksin the same night, which was definitely a good point. Zack could've just stopped right there, though, but no. He had to heel it up some more by dragging Noam Dar's name into this promo, bashing the Scottish Supernova for his title loss just last week. Dar predictably got upset at Gibson's statements. 

    Fortunately, or unfortunately, if you actually wanted to see them come to blows this week, GM Johnny Saint came out just in time to keep both men away from each other, scheduling them for next week's main event instead. Well done. Properly well done, gents.

    It's interesting to note that both of these men have challenged Pete Dunne for the United Kingdom Championship and both failed. The Big Strong Boi was of course the man Dunne dethroned to become champion. Bate, with Seven, also saved Wolfgang from an Undisputed Era beat down at one point in NXT, though I'm not sure if that act of heroism could stave off Wolfgang's bitterness towards the man that eliminated him from the first United Kingdom Championship Tournament and ended up becoming the first-ever United Kingdom Champion

    Wolfgang had the clear 80-pound weight advantage here, but it mattered little to Bate who challenged him to a test of strength and survived. That was either very brave or very stupid, considering the obvious weight difference. That might've been more of the former, though, as Bate did resort to a cheap dropkick to better Wolfgang during that test. Bate's a face, I know, but that surprise dropkick was technically a suckerpunch (or suckerkick) if you really think about it.  

    As expected, though, Bate went for that airplane spin but Wolfgang wasn't up for such ridiculous antics. I have never seen such a believable bear hug in recent memory. Still, Tyler went on a heroic comeback but it did take him three clotheslines to take Wolfgang down. Another airplane spin and an impressive standing star press couldn't keep Wolfgang down for long, as the massive mammoth of a man threw Bate over his head before murdering him with a spear. I honestly thought that was it. How was that not it? 

    In the end, it was Bate who emerged triumphant with an awe-inspiring Tyler Driver '97 after Wolfgang missed an equally awe-inspiring flying senton. Close but no cigar. Insert sad, disappointed howling here. 

    I loved this match from start to finish, even though it was a little odd since last week, Tyler and Trent cut that promo challenging the entire tag team division to prove they were deserving of tag titles. I thought both men would be focusing on Moustache Mountain matches for quite a while after that, but of course, they could still compete individually. What was I even thinking? 

    Unlike last week, this match was harder to predict, all things considered. Bate and Wolfgang make for interesting competitors in the long run and Bate also has that tag team title hunt going for him. Bate might've won this bout, but no doubt Wolfgang will turn into a key player in NXT UK in the next coming weeks.

    FINAL DECREE: I'm all for Dakota Kai going after the NXT UK Women's Championship, so thanks, "little birdie"! I'd love to see more of her killer kicksno offense, Killer Kelly. To be fair, Kelly's pretty interesting as well, and I'd love to see more of her and the rest of NXT UK's women's division. Although it's still a tad early to tell, and I might be jumping the gun here, but to me, this women's division is shaping up to be one of this brand's best parts. Speaking of best parts, Zack Gibson is an awesome heel. Make sure to watch him, especially his promos. Everyone just really hates him, showering him with no less than nuclear heat. As expected, the in-ring action on this second episode was bloody fantastic. This week's NXT UK gets another A.

    The Few Hunky-Dories:

    • Ashton Smith was obviously taller than Tucker but that didn't mean he was less athletic. Tucker had his toughness going for him as well, not to mention his craftiness, so there was no real advantage to anyone in this match. It was simply just two different fighting styles colliding. In the end, though, Smith "collided" his feet and his knees against Tucker's head before finishing him off with a beautiful ripcord DDT. The Athletic Redneckyep, that's actually Smith's monikeris going to be hard to ignore moving forward. The live crowd would agree.
    • We have another Eddie Dennis promo this week. Building from last week's reveal of his friendship with Mark Andrews and United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, Dennis addressed the age difference between those guys and himself. He also talked about going from a teacher and then the principal of an elite private school while Andrews and Dunne were still living in their parents' houses and flying to America for bookings. Is he going to be British Kevin Owens? Watch your backs, Andrews and Dunne, especially when Eddie finally debuts in that ring.
    • The Kiwi Buzzsaw, Travis Banks, appeared backstage and vowed vengeance on the Coffey Brothers for attacking him during the second United Kingdom Championship Tournament. So that's Banks, Flash Morgan Webster, and maybe Mark Andrews gunning for the Coffeys now? Man, those brothers made the wrong decision, attacking all three competitors after that Fatal Four-way No. 1 Contender's match during that event. Bloody hell.
    • NXT's Danny Burch cut a vignette promo and apparently, he's coming home next week. Burch wants to win the title so he can tell London he's one of their own? I'm not sure he needs to win the title for that, but I guess being champion adds emphasis to the statement. Too bad his tag team partner Oney Lorcan isn't coming with him. Or is he? Hey, if Moustache Mountain, Dakota Kai, United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, and company can appear on NXT North America (or just NXT, for you, hardcore nerds), why can't Oney Lorcan appear on NXT UK? Bollocks.
    • Who will be Pete Dunne's next title defense? Who? Who? Who? No, it's not going to be a member of the New Day. They're too busy fighting The Bar and Big Show over on SmackDown Live. I wouldn't mind Sheamus flying out to NXT UK for a one-off title match, though. That could be brutal. Or maybe even Drew McIntyre. Book it, Saint! ...please?
    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. According to him, Kevin Owens is his best friend in the whole wide world. He is a self-proclaimed honorary member of Team Kick. 
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    Item Reviewed: NXT in the UK (10/24/18): Shoes Off, Big Bois Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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