NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool
By Big Red Machine
From January 12, 2019
OPENING VIDEO PACKAGE - WAY too long and self-indulgent.
NXT UK TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT FINALS:
Moustache Mountain vs. James Drake & Zack Gibson - 7.5/10
Don't' get me wrong: this was a really great match. But at the same time it often felt like they were going long solely for the sake of going long rather than because the match needed to, and there were definitely times where it felt like they were trying to be too cute. This was the sum of the individual parts of a classic match, but was missing that special something that makes a classic match truly classic. Also, everything about that Airplane Spin spot in the comeback was terrible.
JORDAN DEVLIN ATTACKS TRAVIS BANKS ON HIS WAY INTO THE ARENA - Banks' knee was injured, but he is apparently still cleared to compete.
TRAVIS BANKS vs. JORDAN DEVLIN - no rating, didn't like the segment
Banks dove onto Devlin on his way to the ring and they started brawling. The referee did not ring the bell to start the match because both men were never in the ring... but the referee didn't do much to stop them from fighting either, and no security or referees were sent out until Banks' knee was thoroughly injured.
Banks had to be helped to the back, so Devlin decided to cut a promo instead. He was interrupted by the authority figures, who said they "had a suspicion" that Devlin would try something after the initial attack, so they came up with a back-up plan, which was...FINN BALOR!
If Devlin had attacked Banks from behind on his way to the ring then maybe this would have worked, but it was actually Banks who started the fight that resulted in him being unable to compete. More importantly, though, I don't like this because it feels like the main reason this whole thing was done was to get the big surprise pop from the crowd and to try to get some attention from "main roster only" fans. The problem is that I think this made Banks feel very small by comparison... which, of course, he is... but there is no reason to go out of your way to point out to everyone that this babyface we're trying to push here in NXT UK is nowhere near as big of a deal as Finn Balor, who we almost certainly won't be seeing on this show on a regular basis.
That was one of the two major reasons I didn't like this. The other one I'm sure I'll have a chance to get to in discussing the match itself...
JORDAN DEVLIN vs. FINN BALOR - 7/10
This was a great babyface vs. heel match with a hot crowd, but I don't anybody ever thought Balor had a snowball's chance in hell of losing. And, of course, he didn't lose... so how did this help Jordan Devlin? I think you'd accomplish the same goals I mentioned above (getting the surprise pop for Balor and the attention that comes with it) for having Devlin cheat to beat Banks and try to beat him down after the match, too, but having Balor come out to make the save, then put Banks over as the future. You get the same surprise pop and attention, the feud still gets to continue with the babyface not having gotten a win and the heel having done something despicable, but this time with no loss of heat from the comeuppance of losing, no other sort of damage to the perception of Devlin due to a loss, gives us a match with a less predictable outcome, and something new for Devlin to complain about that boosts his ego (he can be angry that his fellow Irishman put Banks over even though Devlin won the match and thus claim that he is the "true Irishman" and therefore clearly the "Irish Ace" he claims to be) as opposed to have him lose to another Irishman, damaging his claim to being the "Irish Ace."
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH:
Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis - 6/10
They did stuff with weapons and bumps. Mastiff beat Dennis again. I'm really not thrilled by them showing us that this skinny Eddie Dennis guy is capable of repeatedly lifting up the biggest dude on the roster. It takes something away from Mastiff.
NXT UK WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Rhea Ripley(c) vs. Toni Storm - 8/10
An excellent "never say die" babyface vs. big mean heel match, with Toni now managing to overcome the woman who beat her in the tournament finals.
WWE UK TITLE MATCH:
Pete Dunne(c) vs. Joe Coffey - 8.25/10
This was basically doing everything right that the opener did wrong. This felt like it was going to be an all-time classic with two tough, determined competitors, one likable and the other not, fighting for a prize that felt truly prestigious... and then it just kept going and going and going and going and going and everything started to feel painfully repetitive. I can't say the match wasn't awesome (they told their story well, there were some scary bumps and some spots that felt pretty darn epic), but it could have been so much better if they had shaved off ten minutes, and I was well past the point where I was ready for the match to end when it finally did.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. WALTER made his NXT UK debut by confronting the winner. The loser got back into the ring but got booed by WALTER. WALTER and the winner exchanged their signature poses and WALTER left.
This was an odd kind of show. Nothing was bad- in fact, everything was great- and yet for some reason I can't say that I really liked it. While I could enjoy the matches from a technical standpoint, the only matches on this show where I actually cared about the outcome were the Women's Title match and Banks vs. Devlin (the latter of which got bait-and-switched away)... and, to a lesser extent, the main event. There is just something about NXT UK that hasn't been clicking with me. I'll try to write more about it this week, but for now I will tell you that you should still definitely watch this show, despite me saying that I didn't like it.