Previously on the Best and Worst of NXT UK: Oney and Twoey returned to the United Kingdom, Toni Storm continued to be the Avril Lavigne version of Charlotte Flair and think everything should be handed to her but also everyone should cheer her, and Bomber Dave Mastiff continued to pick a fight with the Enormous Austrian Murder Baby at the top of the card.
If you’d like to read previous installments of the Best and Worst of NXT UK, you can do that here. You can watch the first episode on WWE Network here, and the second here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter, where everything and everyone is terrible.
Note: Hi, I’m not your normal author! Elle usually writes these, but they needed a break, so I’m stepping in. Not everybody can write 60,000 of these show recaps and still be like, “no, it’s fine, let me watch more wrestling.”
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT UK for both February 6 and February 13, 2020.
NXT UK: February 6, 2020
Best, Minus The Real-Life Consequences: Trent Seven, Giant Slayer
The big moment from the February 6 episode is the Steel Corners Street Fight between routinely fridged veteran Trent Seven and his former friend turned blood rival, 6-foot-5 giant Eddie Dennis. Ol’ Slender Man here defeated NXT UK’s daddiest daddy with help from an exposed turnbuckle at TakeOver: Blackpool II, so now they’re having a match with zero turnbuckle pads, and nothing but exposed steel corners. Hence the name. Make sure not to confuse this for a Steel CITY Street Fight, which is when you wrestle while wearing jeans in Pittsburgh.
I really enjoyed this one as it played up the melodrama of the big spots, and worked kind of like Dominik Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee if they were both smaller and not as strong. I know that sounds backhanded, but I honestly do mean it as a compliment. There’s some good NO YOU’LL NEVER SLAM MY HEAD INTO HIS EXPOSED TURNBUCKLE I SIMPLY WON’T ALLOW IT gritty facial expressions at play, and some plunder spots that looked legitimately dangerous. That’s probably because they were legitimately dangerous, like the Burminghammer off the announce table through a different, unrelated table that unfortunately wrecked Dennis’ shoulder. If you watch the GIF, you can see him try to protect his head on the way down and end up jamming his bent arm into the table (and ground) at the elbow.
Incredibly it could’ve been even worse, as the announce table started giving way while they were in the middle of the move. If Seven hadn’t put his foot on the sturdiest part of it before he jumped off, it could’ve gone out under them and sent them both smashing shoulders and faces-first into the concrete. Not that there’s a silver lining to somebody separating their shoulder and getting put on the shelf again, but whew. Dennis is a damn soldier for continuing the match, eating lariats, and getting dumped on his head and shoulder again for the finish. Respect to the world’s tallest man.
Best: Elsewhere In Moustaches
There’s also a very good mentor vs. mentee (I hate that word) match between Tyler Bate and A-Kid, seen here backflipping so high they can barely get him and his opponent in the shot at the same time. My favorite thing about this? It’s understated. It’s telling a story without sacrificing logic for a bunch of dramatic kick-outs. A-Kid is an impressive newcomer, but he’s still got a lot to learn and prove. Tyler Bate is young, but he’s also the first-ever United Kingdom Champion and went 42 minutes with WALTER. The match is competitive, but when it’s time for Bate to shut A-Kid down, he shuts him down. Dropkick counter, big Matt Cross feint lariat, Tyler Driver ’97. Boom boom boom. That’s how this stuff’s supposed to work sometimes. Loved it. Not every single “good” match needs the wrestlers to be superhuman and take absurd levels of damage before there’s a winner and a loser!
Oh, and speaking of losers, Joseph Conners shows up after the match to be like, “actually *I* am the one who is good!” This is roughly akin to me walking onto the court in the middle of an NBA game and announcing, “I AM THE BEST AT BASKETBALL.” Bate needs to flip this guy upside down and throw him at the ground sooner rather than later.
Best, But Also Worst: Toni Storm
I like Toni Storm a lot as a performer, but her character is … something else right now. She keeps showing up and demanding title matches, to the point of destroying personal relationships with people she cares about because she feels entitled to leapfrog them for opportunities, and moping around backstage by herself if things don’t go her way.
Meanwhile you’ve got confident United Kingdom Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray out here being charismatic and winning matches. At TakeOver Blackpool II, she defeated Storm and Piper Niven, her top two challengers, at the same time. She didn’t cheat to get it done, either. Storm hit Storm Zero on her, but Niven broke it up, and Storm scream-cried about it. When Storm got her shit together and hit a frog splash on Niven, KLR kicked her in the face, knocked her out of the ring, and took the pin. That’s how you win triple threat matches. Especially if you’ve ever played a WWE video game.
Toni wants another shot, despite losing two title matches at two straight TakeOvers, and apparently she’s getting it. KLR wants it to be an I Quit match, though, so Storm can’t just get upset and ask for another one. They play it up like it’s going to be a big decision, but of course Toni Storm’s character is based solely on instant gratification, so she immediately signs it without even paying lip service to Johnny Saint and Assistant To The GM Pete Campbell. The nerve. Team KLR, no doubt.
Also On This Week’s Episode
Speaking of Piper Niven, she gets a relatively easy win over Dani Luna, a bad hombre with a bad ombré who is built like a truck and looks like should probably do a hundred squats with Niven on her shoulders if she wasn’t on enhancement duty. I feel like I like Piper Niven more than I like any Piper Niven matches, but I hope my rampant fandom for Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair is an indicator that I’m all in on all WWE women’s divisions incorporating as many powerhouse hosses as possible.
I swear to God when I saw this I thought Oliver Carter was going to win his tag match against Pretty Deadly with a One-Winged Angel, but he just turned it into a neckbreaker. I can no longer see a move like this performed in wrestling, especially on NXT TV, without hearing Mauro Ranallo scream USHIGOROSHI AAAH WOOOWWWWWW.
As a quick side note, Pretty Deadly looks like somebody tried to face swap the Young Bucks and it didn’t quite work. Or you tried to make the Bucks in No Mercy and had to use the faces that were already in the game. They’re the early Hardy Boyz reimagined as the Wild and Crazy Guys, and I love them.
NXT UK: February 13, 2020
Best: Aoife Valkyrie, The Mythological Norse Being Who Loves To Vogue
I’m so excited that Elle let me write up this episode so I could talk about Aoife Valkyrie, a new character I once teamed up with Atreus to defeat and behead in the Hidden Chamber of Odin. It’s pronounced “Ee-fa,” if you’re unfamiliar with Irish names. She’s essentially a female Finn Bálor with wings who can literally fly, Lucha Underground style, but is constantly trapped in a box. Aoife Valkyrie LOVES to Vogue. No idea. It immediately replaced Isla Dawn’s presentation hands on my list of NXT UK taunts that make me go, “LOL why do they keep doing that?”
Valkyrie wins an uneven debut against Amale, pronounced “a male” and not “Amélie,” depriving this column of some really solid Jean-Pierre Jeunet jokes. A-Valk’s finishing move is a top rope leg drop to a bent over opponent, John Cena style, except she kinda sorta does the splits in the middle.
Tom Phillips calls it the, “kick to the back of the neck,” but I prefer it’s original name, “one day I’m not gonna get that back leg up fast enough and then it’s goodbye groin muscles and knee cartilage.”
Best: Bomber Dave Makes A Mastiff Mistake
Dave Mastiff wants to “send a message” to WALTER, presumably because he has a death wish, and defeats Saxon Huxley using most of WALTER’s moveset. He also poses like WALTER after the match. Someone please get this man a Network password so he can watch Worlds Collide.
My most important critical note here is that I realized Saxon Huxley in his entrance blouse and trunks looks like Alfred Molina’s character in Boogie Nights, so now that’s all I’m ever going to see.
Best: Down With GYV? Yeah, You Know Me
A real highlight from these episodes (as it is on any episode that contains it) is Zack Gibson’s promo about the Grizzled Young Veterans being underappreciated and mistreated, and how they’re clearly the best tag team in the world despite all their recent title opportunities being triple threats and four-team ladder matches. If Zack Gibson has a point, shoes on. He also identifies Breezango as the, “sexy policemen” (also true) and insists that William Regal is the best general manager in wrestling and the only guy around here who knows how to recognize talent and run a show. Again, all of this, extremely accurate.
He also drags the locals in one of the most damning statements in the history of the brand:
“There is nothing to say about York. Geographically you are to the U.K. what The Hunt are to tag team wrestling; you exist, you’re here, but if you didn’t exist, nobody would even notice.”
Best: Gallus Renegades
The main story of this episode is the establishment of Gallus as an exclusive club with undying loyalty to one another — “Gallus boys on top” is the slogan — despite the fact that objectively the group is one guy, his brother, and their weird friend. I’m sure that will prove superior to the dominant United Kingdom Champion and his cult of mat-worshipping tracksuit enthusiasts.
Anyway, Joe Coffey dominates Amir Jordan and calls out Ilja Dragunov, who he hates because Dragunov had a malfunction at the junction trying to help Coffey fight off Imperium at TakeOver Blackpool II and inadvertantly Moscow Torpedoed Alexander Wolfe into Coffey’s knee. Coffey believes that cost him the match, so he closed the borders on Gallus and is looking to “collect a debt.” Dragunov, who just wants to be a good friend and sometimes hit tires with sledgehammers, doesn’t get it, because he was just trying to help.
Later in the night, Mark Coffey and Wolfgang defeat Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, because apparently Lorcan and Burch peaked during those Undisputed Era matches and are never getting a push again. I love them as a team so much, and cannot for the life of me understand why they’re getting dunked on by Wolfgang.
Regardless, Gallus wins and Dragunov, being a WWE babyface, wanders out like, “there are three guys in the ring without anything stopping or distracting them, NOW would be a good time to try to get into a fight with one of them. Of course this leads to Dragunov getting beaten down and Gallus standing tall, because they are Gallus, and Dragunov is clearly Goofus.
That’s what you get for always Russian into things, Ilja.
Elle returns to save you from my terrible jokes, just in time to watch Tyler Bate stuff Joseph Conners into a trash can and dropkick him into the sun. See you then!