The preview for tonight’s show featured Tyler Bate’s WWE UK Championship defence against ‘Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher as the main headline. WWE are using NXT to place-hold the UK Championship until they get their own weekly show, but at least they’ll be main eventing. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas versus Drew McIntrye is previewed for tonight’s card as well. Almas is being portrayed as partying too much and not training, unlike McIntyre who has reportedly been keeping his head down and working hard since his return to NXT. This was crow-barred in by WWE.com as a potential reason for Almas challenging Galloway to a match last week, but whatever the storyline the match will take place this week. Aleister Black is also advertised as returning to action but with no named opponent. Looks like a good show.
Drew McIntyre def Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Aleister Black def Kona Reeves
Nikki Cross vs Ruby Riot – never got underway so no contest I guess
Tyler Bate def ‘Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher
Nikki Cross started the show, crawling into the centre of the ring without her SAnitY stablemates. She went to ringside to talk into the announcer’s mic, without picking taking it from her, and called Ruby Riot to ‘come out and play’. Riot answered the challenge and the two faced off in the ring. Cross leapt at her, but Ruby Riot was ready and the brawl quickly spilled to ringside. The two fought with slightly unhinged aggression until separated by officials. They were so desperate to keep the fight going it took three officials each to keep them apart.
Next up was a recap of Hideo Itami’s confrontation with Bobby Roode last week, followed by an interview with Roode. He said it was a cowardly and unprovoked attack. Things have changed since Itami was last in NXT and, while he could challenge Roode at any time, if he wanted a shot at the title, he’d have to earn it.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Drew McIntyre
Please move Almas to the main roster to see if he can make the crowd there care about him, because it’s not going to happen with the NXT crowd. He came out to general disinterest, and a smattering of boos. McIntyre is a familiar figure to most, but not all, of the crowd. But at least he has a presence that makes them pay attention.
Almas started the match with his usual showmanship, which McIntyre dealt with like he was indulging a small child before kicking Almas out of the ring. It seemed McIntyre may have been taking Almas too lightly, when he got bounced of the steps and allowed him to get the upper hand for a while. From there they got some good back and forth exchanges going and it was starting to look like an interesting match-up. Then Drew McIntyre kicked Almas in the head and that was the end of that. Short and sweet, but that’s the way it goes when you’ve only got an hour.
William Regal announced that, as Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot had some difference they needed to work out, they would have a match later in the show.
We were given an in-depth look at the life story of Roderick Strong next. After a brief introduction to who he is as a wrestler, he presented a powerful story of childhood trauma and finding meaning through wrestling which I won’t try to recreate here. The second part is next week, I’d highly recommend going and checking out the first part for yourself before then.
Kona Reeves vs Aleister Black
The last match Aleister Black had featured a single kick from Black to Corey Hollis. Kona Reeves wasn’t planning on succumbing to the same fate, so he went straight for Black on the bell. It didn’t do him much good. Black regained the momentum quickly and never really lost it. Reeves did try to stage a comeback, but it wasn’t going to be his night. Black was focused, calm, and efficient in dispatching his opponent. The Black Mass ended the fight after a very short time.
Ruby Riot was interviewed backstage about her repeated clashes with Nikki Cross, ahead of their match. Riot said her problem with SAnitY is that, while they say they don’t conform to society, they try to push everyone else to conform to their way of doing things. But when she’s pushed she pushes back. Tonight ,she was going to push Nikki Cross out of her way, on the way to the NXT women’s championship.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas was seen getting into a vehicle with several women while the interviewer tried to get a comment, pushing the party boy narrative.
Ruby Riot vs Nikki Cross
This one kicked off before the entrances were even done. Ruby Riot was making her entrance when she was jumped by Cross, and the two brawled on and around the ramp before the match could be started. Officials piled in to separate them, and dragged them apart far enough to give Riot a run up to take a dive off the stage onto Cross and an official.
Nikki Cross was carried away from the fight kicking and screaming while Riot was held back, and the match never took place. It’s a shame, especially as this was the only women’s division action this week, but this is clearly far from over.
Asuka was shown with William Regal in his office. He said that next week there will be a Battle Royal next week to decide who her number one contender will be for NXT TakeOver Chicago. Asuka looked unimpressed, and walked away after snorting derisively.
Tyler Bate (C) vs ‘Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher – WWE UK Championship match
After the chaos of the women’s non-match brawl, the start of this match was genteel and beautifully technical. As a British wrestling fan it’s tough not to feel a little bias, and a whole lot of pride, at these two displaying just how good the British wrestling scene is right now.
They took a slow and deliberate approach to the early portion of the match, with lots of submission based, joint manipulation techniques and clever reversals.
The crowd shots of Trent Seven and Mark Andrews looking on, happy and proud, while Pete Dunne snarled and seethed like a sullen child denied the spotlight, were perfect. Wolfgang was also in shot, and it’s good that they’re being shown, familiarising the WWE universe with the faces ahead of the promised UK weekly show.
I loved this match. The pace never picked up particularly, but they kept the crowd invested with a beautiful mix of skill and personality.
On a side note: This new thing of crowds calling out ‘sweet’ after every two count needs to die right now.
The Tyler Driver 97 finished the match for Tyler Bate to retain the WWE UK Championship.
I was impressed by this week’s show. I’ve been complaining recently about the lack of investment in the character building on NXT, but this week started to address that.
Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross are two of my favourite things about NXT at the moment. In a women’s division which has lacked direction and personality for quite a while now, these two are bringing some intensity and much needed aggression. I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s taste, nothing in wrestling is universally appreciated, but it’s nice to see a different type of character and a feud that feels like it has some venom behind it.
I loved the in-depth look at Roderick Strong’s early life, and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of his story next week. Give us more of these please. I also love how strongly Aleister Black is being built, he’s one of my favourite wrestlers and it’s fantastic to see him being given the respect he deserves.
On the subject of the UK Championship being defended in the main event, I think it’s great. Obviously, until the UK roster get their own show NXT is the only platform available to them, but it makes a huge amount of sense for them to appear anyway. Recent reports suggest that 205 live is struggling to capture the interest of WWE viewers, and the worry is that the UK show may potentially suffer the same fate. Boosting interest in the characters by keeping some level of interaction with the main NXT roster can only help to get people invested.
Excellent show, and I’m already looking forward to seeing what next week brings.