Last time in the Best and Worst of NXT UK: Ilja Dragunov defeated Joe Coffey, and Gallus was cool about it. 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 27, 2020.
Best of the Worst: Hunting the Hunt
Tag team divisions are complicated. You want to have enough teams that the main event scene can rotate as opposed to being the same three or four teams all the time. But then you have to have an undercard, which leads to a bunch of random matches between teams with few stakes and nothing really on the line, especially when no amount of wins leads to a definite title shot.
So you get the Grizzled Young Veterans, NXT UK’s inaugural tag champs, opening the show in a match against a warthog guy and an ape guy. This is exactly how things are supposed to work, and the match is fine, but it sort of feels like, this is what the GYV have got to do these days: beat guys like this.
Honestly, I’m just being grizzled myself. These are all fun guys, and they’re clearly having fun doings spots like the dual suplex seen above. This is a perfectly cromulent wrestling match.
Worst: Endless Struggle
This match, on the other hand, is ridiculous. I was sure these guys had fought before. I actually went on Cagematch and looked for it, because I was so convinced I’d already seen it. But no, apparently I’ve just watched Jack Starz lose to every other guy in NXT UK, and I’ve seen Kassius Ohno lose to everybody at the top of the card and beat everybody at the bottom, so my brain stitched this match together before it even happened.
And when it did happen, I didn’t really see any surprises. Jack showed some babyface pluck, but Ohno dominated the smaller man like you know he would. I like Kassius Ohno a lot, and I think he works well in the midcard gatekeeper role NXT UK has given him, but I don’t need to see him beat the jobber who everyone beats. There’s no excitement in that, especially when I already remembered it before it happened.
It’s not Isla Dawn’s fault that she can’t talk. I mean yeah part of it is that she has a strong Glasgow accent, which at least ought to be less of a hindrance in the UK brand, but she also has a noticeable lisp and just generally sounds marble mouthed most of the time. And again, that’s not her fault. She’s got a lot of potential in the ring and a great look. The witch gimmick can even work if they define it a little more. But they must know talking isn’t her strong suit, so why do they keep asking her to do it? I feel like you could have set up a match between her and Aoife Valkyrie without Isla giving a little speech about how excited she is to face Aoife Valkyrie. Or give Isla a mouthpiece so she doesn’t have to say as much. If I had the book, I’d have Jinny recruit her, manipulating the socially awkward Isla so she can have a witch on her side Jinny can talk well enough for three or four people, honestly.
Worst: Go Home Kendrick
You know what makes Kassius Ohno, veteran American heel wrestler, work so well on NXT UK? There’s only one of him. I refuse to care about the Brian Kendrick. I just refuse.
Best (Mostly): Here’s the Drama
If I seem more annoyed than usual at everything going on on this episode, it’s only because I was impatiently waiting for the Main Event, an “I Quit” Match between Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray for the NXT UK Women’s Championship, with the added stipulation that if Toni loses she can never challenge KLR for the belt again. This is the kind of match that I feel like ought to have a little extra time (it should take longer to get somebody to verbally quit than to hold them down for a three-count), and they didn’t really give it that.
The match was great for the ten minutes or so it went on, but I’d have been perfectly happy to get into it right after the tag match, and see how much more brutal Toni and Kay Lee could get with 20 more minutes. Maybe that’s a bad impulse and it would have gotten boring, but I’d be up for the experiment all the same. And the finish might have worked better if they’d had longer to wear each other down.
So KLR tapes Toni’s hands behind her back, rendering her former best friend basically helpless while she beats the hell out of her. Then she puts Toni’s head through a folding chair, which is a thing that seems to be happening an awful lot in pro wrestling lately. 2020 is a big year for putting heads through folding chairs, I guess.
But then came the part where KLR climbed the ropes while Toni was threaded through a chair, on her back, and also noticeably awake. Why can’t you sit up, Toni? Or roll over, or crawl away, or move in literally any direction? Toni wasn’t paralyzed, unconscious, or tied to the mat, but she just didn’t seem able to get out of the way, so she quit. It’s a weird finish.
Then Piper Niven came in to take care of Toni and physically carried her to get medical care (which is the opposite of what you’d do if you really though her neck might be injured, but whatever). So it looks like the tension between Toni and Piper, and the hint of Toni turning heel, are probably over. For now, it looks likely she’ll be off TV for a little while. Is Toni done in NXT UK after this, or will she take some time off and return down the road? Time will tell, but right now the thing I’m looking forward to is Piper coming after Kay Lee Ray with a new level of fury.
That’s all for this installment. Join me next week when Bomber Dave Mastiff faces WALTER for the NXT UK Championship.