Last time in the Best and Worst of NXT UK: Brandon was here to cover Aoife Valkyrie’s debut and Trent Seven’s Steel Corner Street Fight against the giant Eddie Dennis. 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 February 20, 2020.
Worthy Of What Exactly?
Just to lay my cards on the table, I still don’t think Joseph Conners is going to be a thing. Nothing against the guy, but in terms of the UK roster he’s not as good as the best guys, he’s not as weird a character as the weirdest characters, and he’s know where near as charming as the most charismatic performers. He is, at best, a good hand.
But that’s not a bad thing, in the grand scheme. Tyler Bate can’t just cycle between WALTER, Jordan Devlin, and Noam Dar for recognizable heel opponents. You need guys like Conners so guys like Bate can have a little feud that leads to a decent match on a random Thursday, without needing it to be a TakeOver-worthy epic.
I’m literally explaining Wrestling Booking 101, and I apologize, but what I guess I’m getting to is that this is an excellent match and probably the best of Conners’ NXT UK career, but I don’t need it to lead to some big next step in the elevation of Joseph Conners. Everybody’s favorite Big Strong Boy Tyler Bate has a solid 12-minute showing against a creepy tall guy, and that’s plenty for now.
Although, while I’m here, maybe you don’t need quite so many camera cuts during matches? Just because this is one of the last pre-taped weekly WWE shows doesn’t mean you need to show off how much editing you have time for.
When former henchwoman Jazzy Gabert refused Jinny’s orders a weeks ago, we all expected to lead to a feud with Jinny and a babyface run for Jazzy. Instead, Jazzy just left the company. Jazzy seems to have five or six other careers in Germany and will be just fine, but it was a huge blow to Jinny. She basically spent 2019 with her wagon hitched to the Alpha Female, and now she has to rebrand as a solo heel without even an attention-grabbing feud leading out of the team-up.
That effort begins in this episode, with Jinny climbing atop the Commentary Table to talk about how she’s accustomed to being treated. When Jazzy came in it was sold as if Jinny had personally hired her, so it actually works perfectly now to have Jinny say that Jazzy was fired for insolence, and “her career is over.”
Jinny teases the idea that she might at some point hire another enforcer, but for right now she wants everything to be about her. We’ll see where that leads, but a feud with Aoife Valkyrie might be a good start. Eventually I’d love to see Jinny challenge KLR for the Women’s Championship, but I realize that’s a heel-vs-heel situation and not necessarily very likely.
With Aoife debuting, more new women’s roster members on deck, and the KLR/Toni Storm rivalry being (hopefully) resolved once and for all with their I Quit Match next week, this feels like the start of a new era for the NXT UK women’s division, and I’m excited to see where that leads.
The Tyranny Of Casual Dismissiveness
We’re used to seeing “Ring General” WALTER acting like a military leader in in-ring segments with the rest of Imperium, but I really love him as a polite but snobbish asshole heel on his own. The way he’s like “I get it, you’re doing your friend a favor” about Johnny Saint and Sid Scala giving Bomber Dave Mastiff a title shot against him is pretty funny, and I love the way he dismisses Mastiff’s talent in comparison to his own and Mastiff’s just kind of amused by the whole thing. Mastiff’s quiet confidence is a very likable part of him, and works for a character like his much better than being outspoken in his own defence ever would. It’s just kind of a shame that it can only lead directly to a defeat at WALTER’s chop-happy hands. Bomber Dave Mastiff is already at the top of my list of NXT UK guys I’d love to see hold a title but never actually expect it to happen, but I want them to prove me wrong. I know they won’t with this match, but there might be other chances down the road.
Is that Travis Banks? No, is it Kenny Williams? No, it’s Josh Morrell. Who’s Josh Morrell? He’s the other guy who looks like this, and he’s here today to lose to Noam Dar. It’s a little more than a squash match, in terms of Josh getting to show off his own abilities, but it’s not a whole lot more. Noam Dar is the most obnoxious guy in NXT UK (worse than Jordan Devlin, even), but he can’t just be dismissed or sent packing because he’s actually very good at wrestling. It’s important to remind us of that, so the next time he starts following somebody around with a megaphone, there’s a reason to see that resolved in the ring instead of the HR department.
The Dragon And Scots
This match is the fallout from the temporary alliance between Ilja Dragunov and Gallus, which led to Ilja accidentally injuring Joe Coffey during the latter’s match with WALTER, making it easier for WALTER to win (which everybody, probably including Joe, knows he would have done anyway).
Gallus are Scottish rednecks — you can tell they’re rednecks, among other reasons, because their social circle consists of two brothers and their bigger weirder friend — who are tweeners these days, and Ilja is a Russian supersoldier who’s somehow been a complete babyface since day one even though he has red eyes and looks/moves like a character from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
When Joe demanded this match against Ilja, I thought it would be a return to full heel status for Gallus in the wake of their feud with Imperium, but it didn’t go that way at all. After Ilja beats Joe with a well-timed Torpedo Moscow, it looks like Gallus is going to beat him up, but then Joe’s like “No, we’re cool.” It’s always shocking when somebody on a wrestling show is like, “No actually, let’s not fight,” and it opens up more opportunities to keep Gallus as tweener/faces instead of heels. And let’s be real, a brand with Imperium on it doesn’t really need a second heel faction, especially not with only an hour of TV a week.
That’s all for this installment. Join me next week when Toni Storm faces Kay Lee Ray in an I Quit Match for the NXT UK Women’s Championship, and the Hunt come out of their dark smelly cage to challenge the Grizzled Young Veterans.