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    Friday, December 21, 2018

    NXT in the UK (12/19/18): Ripley's Believe it or Splat!

    NXT UK Women's Champion Rhea Ripley defended her title this week against the White Witch Isla Dawn, her first title defense since winning the championship in a tournament that featured the best of the best in the brand's women's division. Gallus' Joe Coffey took out the Kiwi Buzzsaw, Travis Banks, who was the very first thorn on Joe's side after eliminating him at the 2018 United Kingdom Championship Tournament. Four tag teams, one newly established in NXT UK, continue to fight to impress GM Johnny Saint and Toni Storm is back in action! With all and more, NXT UK once again delivered two stellar episodes for the price of one!

    There was no doubt in my mind that Toni Storm was winning her return match, and she inevitably did with a German suplex and Storm Zero, but Charlie Morgan did not make it easy for the woman Rhea Ripley beat to become the first-ever NXT UK Women's Champion. 

    Maybe it was just too much, wanting the 2018 Mae Young Classic winner to also be the first-ever NXT UK Women's Champion, but my fingers are still crossed that Storm gets that belt sooner than later. Toni is perhaps the biggest name in this brand's women's division, so her climb to title contention will be an interesting development to look out for. Morgan wasn't bad, either, and she will no doubt play an integral role in the future of the same division. As long as she doesn't get injured by Rhea, I mean. That's a Tegan Knox reference, by the way.

    Joseph Conners backstabbing Saxon Huxley is still fresh in my mind, so I was a little skeptical about Huxley teaming up with Tyson T-Bone here. Tyson recently crossed paths with Dave Mastiff who annihilated him, so I guess he's got nowhere else to go now. Both Tyson and Saxon are clearly tough as nails, but against a more experienced tag team in fan-favorite Moustache Mountain? They really had no chance. 

    I liked the part where Tyson "accidentally" took out Huxley with that elbow drop, allowing the Big Strong Bois to get the win with their tag team finisher. It seems like Saxon has terrible luck in tag team partners. I'm still not sure what Saxon's gimmick is, but that whole "Seventh Circle of Hell" line intrigued me. I've got my eye on him now.

    With Moustache Mountain going over Huxley and T-Bone in impressive faction, two more tag teams tried their best to catch up with the front runners for the tag gold. The Young Grizzled Veterans, Zack Gibson & James Drake, went head-to-head with Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster in a bid to be the better team this week. This to me was anybody's game. That was, until Fabian Aichner unexpectedly came out and attacked Webster outside the ring. I guess Aichner will be taking on both Webster and Andrews in the coming weeks? 

    The distraction proved very useful for the Vets, as even though Andrews managed to take out Drake, the latter wasn't the legal man anymore. Was this the first submission win in NXT UK? At the very least, I believe this was the first submission win in recent memory. Gibson's Shankly Gates is a pretty nice submission finisher. Aichner tried to continue his assault after the match but was chased off because there's two of them, man. Get some back-up and quick!

    Gallus' Joe Coffey and Travis Banks have faced each other before under the WWE banner. During the 2018 United Kingdom Championship Tournament, Banks eliminated Joe who snapped and attacked him. This time, though, Travis knew better than to turn his back on the Scotsman. Unfortunately, Travis' right shoulder was still not 100%. 

    Banks took Joe to the limit, but even without the other members of Gallus around, The Iron King could not be usurped. This match was pretty entertaining from start to finish. Travis played the heroic babyface perfectly well while Joe was intimidating as the massive hurdle he had to go through. In the end, Gallus continued to assert the idea that NXT UK was their kingdom and that Joe is the true threat to Pete Dunne's United Kingdom Championship reign. I am 100% down for that match.

    Last week, Isla Dawn made her intentions clear regarding Rhea Ripley's NXT UK Women's Championship. This week, the White Witch launched her assault on the queen. Rhea's built like a tank, so I did not like Isla's odds. Thankfully, Isla capitalized on her quicker reflexes, evading Ripley's onslaught, sending her charging right into the steel ring post shoulder-first. Still, Rhea wasn't going to lose her title on her first defense, kicking out of Isla's bridging suplex and eventually hitting the Riptide to come out victorious.

    I'm not going to lie: Just like Toni Storm's return match, I was mostly certain that the Australian would win this bout. I liked the tenacity from Dawn, though. Rhea, however, dominated this match, and I believe she'll keep dominating this division until Tegan Knox makes her return. That storyline needs some closure.

    FINAL DECREE: It was nice to see Toni Storm back in action but this week was all about the tag teams continuing to vie for GM Saint's favor. Rhea Ripley's first title defense was the icing on top, the true main event, that capped off another exciting week of British wrestling. Saxon Huxley is starting to come off as a man with a tag team curse, which could become an interesting development. Another thing that piqued my interest this week was Fabian Aichner versus Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster. Will he get himself a partner to deal with these two high-flyers? Or will he go at them alone? As Gallus remains dominant, so does NXT UK, getting another A from Shawarma J.   

    The Few Hunky-Dories:

    • Jordan Devlin tamed the "Wild Boar" Mike Hitchman in a hard-fought opening match that saw the latter unsuccessfully follow his pop-up powerbomb (Kevin Owens is not amused) with a corner cannonball (Dave Mastiff is not amused). Devlin capitalized on that opportunity and hit a backdrop driver into Island's Call for the victory post-title match loss. While I love the "Wild Boar," Devlin going over is the obvious right choice here. The Irish Ace will definitely have his time, and he will trump all.
    • Fabian Aichner wasn't just around this week to go after Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews, costing them their tag match against the Young Grizzled Veterans. He also faced hometown hero and highly-respected "English Lion" Eddie Ryan whom he destroyed with a spinning powerbomb after kneeing him against the ring steps, taking back a victory from his loss last week. This was Ryan's NXT UK debut and he was very impressive. That high-impact spinning uppercut off the second rope looked great. Aichner, on the other hand, is building himself up as a vicious aggressor, establishing a friendship with the ring steps like a detestable heel. 
    • Nina Samuels finally got herself a victory in NXT UK but it was at the expense of Killer Kelly. This wasn't just a match, though; it was war. Kelly's basement dropkick was beautiful but her follow-up fisherman buster was countered by Samuels who grabbed her pigtails and rammed her face into the turnbuckle. That wasn't fair, but Samuels might believe otherwise. All's fair in love and war, after all, and like I said, this was war.
    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. Shawarma J is not his rapper name.

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    Item Reviewed: NXT in the UK (12/19/18): Ripley's Believe it or Splat! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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