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    Friday, January 18, 2019

    NXT in the UK (1/16/19): The European Union's Make-It or Brexit

    First of all, I'm not apologizing for that pun of a title. I spent a few hours thinking of a way to incorporate a Brexit reference into this week's review, considering that The European Union—Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel—main-evented this week's lone episode. Yes, you read that right: This week, NXT UK only had one episode, and it was more or less a respite from the lingering hype of the brand's successful first-ever PPV, NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool. Man, that was a bloody great PPV, wasn't it? 

    Opening this week's episode was Ligero taking on Jesus-impersonator Saxon Huxley who previously tried his luck in the tag team division but failed miserably. He didn't fare any better in this singles match, too, as Ligero pinned him with the C4L spingboard tornado DDT after a devastating modified stunner. 

    I'm not quite sure if this was intentional but Ligero's gear sure made him look like the perfect opponent to Saxon's Jesus cosplay. It was like watching buff Jesus fend off a low-budget devil—because obviously fake horns and no real tail—with the alignments interchanged. This was a fun match but nothing special. It did its job as a great opener, though. Ligero's always fun to watch and Saxon brings a dastardly feel to his attacks.

    Speaking of attacks, remember when The Fashionista Jinny sneak-attacked The White Witch Isla Dawn last week? Before that, several weeks ago, Jinny mocked Dawn after the latter lost to then-NXT UK Women's Champion Rhea Ripley, calling her a "failure." This match was simply inevitable. 

    Isla brought her strength and desire, going on an impressive start with power moves and submission holds, while Jinny fought with viciousness and the tenacity to back it up, getting the win after catching her opponent on the turnbuckle and planting her face-first into the canvas with a middle-rope X-Factor. Prior to the finish, Jinny was close to getting the victory much earlier, especially with that corner flatliner and those two submission holds. It was clear in this bout that both women were jockeying for position in the women's division. 

    With the NXT UK Women's Championship currently around Toni Storm's waist, Jinny could be the perfect opponent to test her mettle in her first title defense. That is, of course, if Rhea Ripley doesn't just march her way in that ring and take her title back by force. I doubt Rhea's finished with Toni and vice versa. Regardless, Jinny inching closer to lay her claim for the queen's crown is an exciting prospect. Isla will have her day some other time. The Fashionista was the final UK-born competitor eliminated from the tournament that decided the first NXT UK Women's Champion, and she's bound to try and reclaim what is essentially her birthright.

    The main event tag team match between Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster versus The European Union in Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner actually serves as somewhat of a conclusion to a storyline of its own. Andrews and Webster might have already been occasionally teaming together since Webster saved Andrews from an attack by the Coffeys, but each still found themselves facing the then-fresh addition to the NXT UK roster in Fabian Aichner in separate, well, occasions. Aichner first beat Andrews in a rather brutal fashion, but the very next week was defeated by Webster with Andrews at ringside to foil Aichner's ringside antics. I suppose it was only logical for Aichner to get himself a partner, and he won the lottery when Marcel Barthel joined forces with him. 

    Although the pair beat Amir Jordan and Kenny Williams, they weren't given the opportunity to fight for the NXT UK Tag Team Championships on account of being new, so they crossed the ocean over to NXT to try and prove that they were ready, only to fall to Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan despite their impressive effort. On the other hand, Andrews and Webster received the opportunity to qualify for the NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool match to determine the first-ever NXT UK Tag Team Champions but were eliminated by Grizzled Young Veterans—James Drake and Zack Gibson—who eventually became the first-ever NXT UK Tag Team Champions after beating Moustache Mountain at the same PPV.

    With the opportunity to become the brand's first-ever tag team champions now off the table, both teams finally had time to deal with each other, and they did so, taking each other to the limit, in this back-and-forth main event. Although Barthel almost got the win much earlier after hitting a brainbuster on Andrews, it was Aichner who got the pin for their team with The European Union's spinning powerbomb/diving European uppercut combo on Webster. Aichner had taken out Andrews prior to the finish with that controversial knee against the ringside barricade, the same move he used to take him out in their first singles match in NXT UK. What a match.

    FINAL DECREE: This week's only NXT UK episode featured only three matches, with two of them developing storylines. Isla Dawn tried to make Jinny pay for her sneak attack and insults but ultimately failed, allowing The Fashionista to inch closer to title contention. Meanwhile, The European Union of Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel triumphed against rivals Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster, forcing the latter to make a painful Brexit out of their ring. Ah, two Brexit references... I'm giving myself a thumbs-up for those and this week's NXT UK a B.

    The Few Hunky-Dories:

    • A video package recapping last weekend's NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool actually opened the show, and man, I'm still feeling the awesomeness of that PPV. It wasn't perfect, but it was definitely one of the greatest PPVs of recent memory. I can't bloody wait for the next one.
    • Travis Banks was supposed to battle Jordan Devlin at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool but he was ultimately replaced by Devlin's mentor Finn Bálor after a heinous attack by his opponent rendered him unable to compete. A video was played this week featuring Banks who talked about the events that unfolded, blamed Devlin for taking from him an opportunity born from a decade's worth of hard work, and revealed that they would be facing each other one-on-one next week. I'm 100% stoked for that showdown.
    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. Brexit, stage left.

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    Item Reviewed: NXT in the UK (1/16/19): The European Union's Make-It or Brexit Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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