Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool: NXT UK was barely finding it’s feet, with WALTER making his debut after Pete Dunne’s successful WWE UK Championship defense against Joe Coffey, as well as Toni Storm winning the NXT UK Women’s Championship from Rhea Ripley. If you’d like to read previous installments of the Best and Worst of NXT UK, click right here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter if you want.
And now, the Best and Worst of NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool II:
Best: The Tall Bloke
Okay, I guess Eddie Dennis might be pretty cool. I said in my preview of the show that if he beat Trent Seven, it had to be a sign that he’s getting a big push, and beat Trent he did. I was a little iffy when he entered in an overly complicated black dragon mask, looking like some sort of stretched out Ultramantis Black. Once the match got going, however, Eddie displayed a ruthlessness that overcame his “former schoolteacher who still kind of looks like a schoolteacher” vibe and set him up as a believably brutal heel.
Of course he couldn’t have done it without Trent Seven, the beloved daddy of NXT UK, who came into the match with confidence, reminded us why he’s a hero we all want to cheer for, and then sold the hell out of his own demolition at Eddie’s hands. I’m not sure if Trent’s going to get another run at Dennis, or if the big guy will go after someone else now, but either way I’m interested in what Eddie Dennis does next, and considering my previous attitude that’s the biggest win of all.
Best: Drama Bomb
The weekly show did a great job setting up this match as a clash between three former friends who don’t like each other at all anymore. That gave the whole match a solid foundation of storytelling and emotion, on top of which these three incredibly talented women get to do cool flips and throw each other around.
There was a moment in the match when it really seemed like Toni Storm was finally going to make a full heel turn and attack Piper Niven with a chair, immediately after Piper had saved Toni from having her neck broken with that same chair by Kay Lee Ray. That didn’t happen, and it was rewarding in the moment when she dropped the chair and they both attacked Kay Lee instead. But later, Niven stopped Storm from pinning KLR, and Storm straight up threw a fit. So that turn may still be coming.
That’s actually my one criticism of this angle, and this match’s place within it: It kind of seems like Toni Storm is in stasis right now, halfway through a heel turn. I keep wondering if there’s backstage talk of moving her to one of the US shows on cable, and that’s what has her spinning her wheels on NXT UK. If that’s going to happen, good for her. If it’s not, her character needs to reach some sort of conclusion so that we can get used to whatever the new Toni is.
That said, this match was a lot of fun, and probably the only one on the card that I would have been happy to see go longer than it did. It also sets up at least three singles matches for the near future, with plenty of emotional stakes. So that’s a definite plus.
Best: The Devlin Mister Bate
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but these handsome young men are very, very good at wrestling. We all kind of knew this would be the match of the night, at least technically, and it didn’t disappoint in that regard.
As fun as it is to watch Tyler Bate hold his own against much bigger guys, there’s a real magic to seeing him with somebody about his size and skill level, and watching them just go at it and be evenly matched for 20+ minutes. For all that Tyler and Jordan hate each other as characters, it’s clear that as performers they’re always on the same page and have great in-ring chemistry. These guys could be the UK Cena/Orton and just fight each other for a decade, and I’m not sure I’d get bored of it.
I was glad Tyler won this match, although I don’t think it would have hurt him to lose to Jordan. With all the champions retaining and the heel winning the other non-title match on the card, we needed a chance to cheer for the Big Strong Boy and be happy about something. But as a consolation prize, Jordan kicked out of the Tyler Driver 97, cementing him as Bate’s greatest rival.
Best: Super Ladder Party
Eight guys is a lot of guys for one match, no matter how many ladders are involved. This match was occasionally hard to keep up with, but the nice thing about ladder matches is that at the very least you’re going to see who makes it up the ladder, and whether or not they manage to reach the title belts before some asshole grabs an ankle and pulls them down.
These four teams represent everyone who matters in the NXT UK tag division, and I’d like to see that change in the near future. It already feels like they’ve faced each other in every configuration, and now they’ve also all faced each other all at once in a big mass of chaos. As great as these teams are, I’d like to see Kenny Williams and Amir Jordan get more of a push, or some development for Oliver Carter and Ashton Smith. Either of those options might also lead to the next TakeOver not being 100% white like this one, which would be an added benefit.
This match still delivers all the thrills and young men making dumb choices with their bodies that you want from a ladder match. There was even a bit when at least six guys were on top of three ladders all at once slapping each other. Great stuff! I’m not sure about the finish, though. This kind of felt like the time to give Imperium several belts, especially with the way this show ended and Worlds Collide coming up. Until those aforementioned other tag teams become credible threats, I’m not sure what there is for Gallus to do next. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.
Best: Cup Of Coffey In The Bigtime
I’ve seen some people objecting to the shenanigans in this match, but I enjoyed that aspect. Watching WALTER obliterate opponent after opponent with only his big baby hands can get samey after awhile. Considering Joe Coffey is also supposed to be a bit of big scary guy, I liked that it took a ref bump and an Alexander Wolfe attack and a botched save from Ilja Dragunov for WALTER to win this one. Plus I’m pretty sure Ilja, previously a friend of Gallus, is going to face some consequences for accidentally hurting Joe’s leg. There’s nothing wrong with matches that set up future matches, as long as those matches are also matches.
Nobody really thought Joe Coffey was going to become WWE UK Champion on this show, so it was worthwhile to tell a story about exactly how he failed to do so It’s a little weird that Joe main-evented both TakeOver Blackpools, despite not exactly being one of NXT UK’s brightest shining stars, but it can’t be Tyler Bate every time (maybe next time it can be Dave Mastiff). I had no beef with this match.
Worst: Some Dispute
I did have some beef with what happened after the main event, when Undisputed Era ran in to attack Imperium, in advance of their match at Worlds Collide. There’s no way to make Imperium, with their fascist trappings and wrestling snobbery, seem like sympathetic babyfaces, so are we supposed to cheer for the jerks who showed up just for a sneak attack? I’m probably biased here, because I’ve never quite gotten the Undisputed Era hype in the first place, but I could have lived without this. I’d rather see Imperium do the opposite to UE, but I guess the difference is that UK was the brand with a well-timed TakeOver.
And that’s everything from Blackpool! Join me later this week for the fallout show!