Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT UK: Jordan Devlin and Travis Banks fought all over the arena in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.
Click here to watch the show on WWE Network. 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 March 13, 2019.
Best: Dire Wolf
One of my favorite things about Gallus is that they have this incredibly Celtic-sounding faction name and a logo to match, but their entrance music is very much Southern American roots rock, in which the only lyrics seem to be “Hey yeah, whoa huh.” As a Southern American myself, that tells me immediately who Wolfgang and the Coffey Brothers are. They’re bikers, basically, and probably not the kind with their own cooking brand.
This was a really important match for establishing Wolfgang, a babyfaced giant with comic book tattoos, as an actual threat. Flash Morgan Webster is a babyface who more than makes up for what he lacks in dominance with energy and charisma, not to mention a solid, easy to read gimmick. So this whole match was basically high-energy Webster bouncing around the ring, while Wolfgang proved immune to bouncing as an offense. Literally Flash would jump onto Wolfgang, and the big Scot no-sold it like Morgan’s bodyweight was nothing to him. Then when he could get the Modfather to stop moving for even a moment, he’d just pound on him.
After he pinned Webster with a Caber Toss, Wolfgang kept beating him up until he was sent packing by the ref, who he also threatened on the way out. Seeing Wolfgang be brutal all on his own while the Coffeys are busy elsewhere made him seem more like a threat than he ever has before. And yeah, I know the goal was to make Wolfgang look strong for the sake of other opponents, but I also wouldn’t object to seeing Flash Morgan Webster get his revenge sooner or later.
Best: Character Collection
I’m not sure either of these tag teams really go together in a traditional sense, but I like all four of these guys enough to just enjoy them as an odd assembly of British wrestling characters. Amir Jordan is a Bollywood guy who still does the dance that the Singh Brothers abandoned when they became Jinder Mahal’s henchmen. Kenny Williams is a fun cool guy who wears 3D glasses to the ring for some reason. Tyson T-Bone is a super-tough bareknuckle-boxing Traveler (think Brad Pitt in Snatch), and Saxton Huxley is some kind of psychedelic British occultist, as far as I can tell. Basically they’re like the halves of four separate tag teams from Impact Wrestling, but English, and on this show.
Tyson T-Bone is a particular favorite of mine because he doesn’t so much move like a boxer as he moves like a cartoon of a boxer. He does that Henry Cavill in Mission Impossible “reloading his fists” thing a lot, and when T-Bone does it, it looks like it does something. Both he and Huxley are big, powerful guys, especially compared to Williams and Jordan, but unlike Wolfgang their size and strength fails to quite give them an upper hand over their cruisery opponents.
For quite a while Jordan plays the face in peril, and it looks like T-Bone in particular might be too much for him. Once he manages to give Williams that hot tag, however, they take down the big guys with stereo suicide dives out either end of the ring, and the tide turns. It’s not long after that when Kenny plants Saxton Huxley on the mat just in time for Amir’s swanton bomb, and the babyfaces manage to pull out another lucky victory.
Neutral: And Now, Here’s This Guy
Remember when I said I had a hard time buying Noam Dar as a babyface? Apparently I wasn’t the only one, because he uses this in-ring promo to turn on the crowd and talk up Scotland as better than anywhere else in the UK. That’s relevant because this show is heading to Glasgow soon, but it also turns out to be a really good way to get heat from English people. Mark Andrews comes out and attacks Dar (which means he was backstage when Wolfgang was beating up his tag team partner and sat on his hands, but let’s not dwell on that), to set up a feud.
We also get a backstage promo from Jinny, in which she’s basically frothing with jealousy of Toni Storm, and one from Eddie Dennis that shows how good he is at making “British schoolteacher as wrestling monster” work somehow. Moustache Mountain also get a chance to call out the Grizzled Young Veterans, and Xia Brookside talks about legacy in wrestling can cut both ways.
Best: Bitter, Sweet
Candy Floss was absolutely the right choice for Kay Lee Ray’s debut opponent. Candy’s carefully cultivated cuteness and sweet babyface demeanor contrasts perfectly with Kay Lee’s brutal strikes and generally witchy vibe. Almost immediately when the bell rings, Ray turns the initial lockup into a standing armbar, and only takes things to more painful places from there. Floss makes painful noises through most of the match, while Ray just silently takes her apart. Kay Lee Ray doesn’t even come off as a mean person, necessarily. She’s just here to do this thing, and she’s going to do it to this adorable sugar creature, because that’s who she’s been given to do it to.
The match ends before too long when Kay Lee hits Candy with a chop that reverberates through the room, setting her up for a kick to the face and a backwards slam onto the mat. I hope NXT UK can pull off that rare trick of having more than one women’s feud, because while I’m excited for Jinny versus Toni, I’m also impatient to see Kay Lee get involved in a real storyline. I’d love to see her feud with the even witchier Scotswoman, Isla Dawn, for example.
Best: With Babyfaces Like These…
The whole “these rivals have to be a tag team, but can they co-exist?” narrative is overdone in WWE, but it works with Pete Dunne and Walter, because they’re two babyfaces, but they both act more like heels. Dunne of course is a classic tweener — an amoral dirtbag who you can’t help rooting for. Meanwhile Walter is like the Frankenstein monster of wrestling. He rarely speaks, you can’t tell what he’s thinking, but he’s bigger and tougher than everyone else. So when the match stars, Pete Dunne is doing all his classic stuff like working the arm and fingers of Mark Coffey, but Walter is just standing on the apron watching with no expression, and it’s easy to imagine that he’s already contemplating how he’ll take down Pete when the time comes.
There’s more than one moment in this match where Dunne and Walter get caught in a staredown, but the Coffey Brothers always interrupt to remind them that this is a tag match and Mark and Joe are the bad guys here. Nevertheless, this match is really all about the contrast between Pete Dunne, whose brutality in the ring has a nervous, sometimes even desperate energy to it, and Walter, who always seems perfectly calm. When Joe Coffey manages to get a near-fall on Dunne, Walter continues to just stare with great interest but little emotion. Then Walter gets the tag and tags on both Coffeys at once.
The symbolism is obvious when the NXT UK belt ends up in the ring, but it works. As Walter and Pete are having another loaded staredown, Mark Coffey stars sneaking up behind Pete to attack him with the title, but Walter doesn’t just stop him, he pins him with a powerbomb. But most telling is the moment when Pete Dunne thinks Walter is about to attack him instead of the unseen Coffey. It’s not just that he’s unsurprised that Walter is coming for him. It’s that Pete looks scared, and Pete doesn’t scare easily. This is about to be the roughest title defense Pete Dunne has ever faced, and I’m excited to see what it means for his future and the future of the brand.
That’s all for this week. Join me next time, when Grizzled Young Veteran James Drake faces Moustache Mountain’s Tyler Bate in the main event.