Before the Holidays in the last Best and Worst of NXT UK: Tyler Bate fought Jordan Devlin, and Jazzy Gabert stopped taking orders from Jinny. 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 from January 2, 2020.
Best: The Cream Rises
This episode of NXT UK starts with noted American Kona Reeves cutting a promo with is the last thing I need to see on the UK show. But on the other hand, Kona going on about how great he is when he has absolutely nothing to back that up works as long as he’s a delusional heel. Also, he’s up against Dave Mastiff here, and Dave actually is the finest. The only thing Kona has over Dave is a tightly muscled body, but as we all know (and as opponents of Bomber Dave know better than most), perfectly defined abs don’t actually make you stronger than a big thick bruiser.
So once the match gets underway, Mastiff kicks Reeves’ ass good and proper. And it’s particularly satisfying after the way Kona acted before the match, which I supposed makes him a good heel, although not as good as Dave Mastiff is at being a face.
The second match on the show is also a cocky American heel versus a British babyface, but the dynamic is otherwise reversed. Kassius Ohno is the big thick strong guy who’s better at wrestling, and Ligero is the guy I continue to find kind of annoying. And once again the match goes as it should, with Ohno kicking the masked man’s ass like he’s barely worth his time. Ohno’s still upset about losing to Tyler Bate recently, but this win is an important step toward healing his ego. But then everyting comes together into a story.
Backstage, Bomber Dave Mastiff strolls up to Kassius Ohno and challenges him to a match. We just watched both of these guys defeat opponents who weren’t quite worthy of them, but it set them both up as worthy of each other. It reinforced why this match ought to be pretty exciting. And even better, Kassius is visibly a bit scared about the process of fighting Dave, which is a fun position to see a cocky character like his in.
Best: Turni Time
Toni Storm hasn’t really been herself since she lost the NXT UK Women’s Championship to Kay Lee Ray. She disappeared for ages, and came back in a mood. She hasn’t precisely had a definitive heel turn yet, but you can see it on the horizon without a telescope. In this segment, she just invites Piper Niven to the ring and politely asks her to remove herself from the Triple Threat for the title at Blackpool, so that Toni can resolve her issues with Kay Lee without somebody who just wants to be champion to prove she’s the best getting in the way.
Naturally Piper says no, Toni’s clearly about to attack her for that, but Piper headbutts her first and they brawl. That’s what makes things interesting and complicated. If Toni had just attacked and beaten down Piper, this segment absolutely would have read as a heel turn. But Piper got the first shot in and their brawl was pretty even, so it’s not so cut and dried.
Even better, Kay Lee Ray comes out on the stage to watch her two opponents fighting and laughs her ass off. She’s clearly expecting the TakeOver match to be a piece of cake with two opponents who hate each other, but she still has the disadvantage since she could lose if one of them pins the other. On the other hand, KLR might just be laughing because she’s been proven right about Toni Storm being bad at having friends.
Best: The OA Gets Uncanceled
Finally, a solid victory for Oliver Carter and Ashton Smith. It wasn’t a very exciting match, largely because Riddick Moss and Dorian Mack aren’t very exciting opponents, but on the other hand I kind of think it helps Carter and Smith to not just win but be the more charismatic team in the match.
The Tag Team Championship ladder match at TakeOver Blackpool is going to rule, but those eight white guys don’t need to be the only NXT UK tag teams that matter forever, and I honestly think that once these guys get a few more wins to cement their credibility, they could be a valuable addition to that scene.
Best: The Wolf And The Dragon
This No DQ Match wasn’t as intense as the “blood and guts” stuff that goes on in AEW, but it was great all the same. Ilja Dragunov is a wonderful weirdo, and Alexander Wolfe is the only Chaotic Evil member of a Lawful Evil faction. In other words, both of these guys we perfectly suited for DDTs onto piles of chairs, DVDs into tables set up in the corner, and all that other violent nonsense that happens in matches like this.
When Ilja wins the match with a Moscow Torpedo that Wolfe sells like his head my snap off against the floor, it really feels like a big victory that establishes Dragunov as a formidable guy who will matter, even though it was just like a year ago that Wolfe was a forgotten Sanity member on the Main Roster. As much as I might sometimes complain about them trying to convince me to care about Joseph Connors or whoever, this show is actually really good at building people up.
And of course after Dragunov’s victory, he gets attacked by the rest of Imperium, but Joe Coffey puts an end to it by attacking WALTER, who he’ll face for the UK Championship in less than two weeks. I was wondering if this loss will cause problems for Alexander in Imperium, but they don’t seem to be pointing that way, which is probably for the best.
That’s all for this installment. Join me next week for the TakeOver Blackpool go-home show!