Taped at BT Sport Studios in London, England
Big Takeaways --
In what was the best NXT UK match of 2021 thus far, Kay Lee Ray retained her NXT UK Women's Championship against Meiko Satomura in a fantastic main event.
The story of Ilja Dragunov snapping and beating his opponents into oblivion continued as he defeated Sam Gradwell, while Kenny Williams & Amir Jordan returned as a team with a win over Ashton Smith & Oliver Carter. This was Williams' return from a knee injury -- and he played a little dirty to pick up the win. Tyler Bate also showed some of his zen on Noam Dar's Supernova Sessions talk show.
Full Rundown --
The show opened with a look at tonight's Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura NXT UK Women's Championship match. A number of women from the main roster and NXT -- including Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Bayley, and Sasha Banks -- weighed in.
Ilja Dragunov defeated Sam Gradwell by referee stoppage (8:06)
This further told the story of Dragunov snapping and beating his opponents into oblivion ever since losing to WALTER a few months back. Gradwell had been egging him on and even did so after being pummeled into la-la-land by Dragunov, so the transition of the Mad Russian to the dark side continues.
Gradwell slapped Dragunov early, but he quickly got taken down. They went back and forth and Gradwell ended up with a bloody mouth. Dragunov went to the top rope, but Gradwell stopped him and eventually slapped him, prompting Dragunov to topple to ringside. Gradwell was in control until he made the mistake of telling Dragunov that he let his family and his son down, which earned Gradwell a headbutt to the face. They traded chops and slaps until Dragunov hit two German suplexes, followed by a flying head kick.
Dragunov hit a top rope senton, but Gradwell evaded the Torpedo Moscow, sending Dragunov head-first into the turnbuckle. Gradwell hit a chop to the back of the neck, which infuriated Dragunov. Gradwell picked Dragunov up on his shoulders, but Dragunov hit elbow strikes and then transitioned to hit more elbow and knee strikes, prompting the referee to stop the match.
Dragunov proceeded to hit elbow and knee strikes on Gradwell until referees ran out to stop him. Dragunov started screaming in Russian, pushed one of the refs into the corner, and got close to hitting him but finally stopped and looked devastated at what he had done. Gradwell was smiling on the mat and taunted Dragunov by saying "well done, Ilja, well done." Dragunov (literally) beat himself up over what he had done on his way to the back.
- Kay Lee Ray prepared backstage ahead of her match.
- The second part of a video about the former Lucky Kid/Metehan aired. He talked about how he had been that "lucky kid" from his story but asked if we could believe that this kid was the same man standing in front of us right now. Metehan said his family was the most important thing to him and he would die for them. It was not about how rich or poor you grew up, but about how hard you fought to make people honor you, how hard you were going to strike to make people respect you, and how far you were willing to go to make people fear you.
Metehan announced that his new in-ring name is Teoman. In Turkish, Metehan can mean leader. Also in some sources, Teoman was the father of Metehan, which is his given name. Teoman will debut next week.
- Xia Brookside was sitting with Aleah James in a backstage area. They had scones and James noted that they were dry and could use some tea. As James was about to go get some, Brookside called out for Nina Samuels to make them two cups, which she reluctantly did. Samuels added salt to one of the cups, but James left and Brookside grabbed the unspoiled one as Samuels seethed some more.
Supernova Sessions with Tyler Bate
Noam Dar read some fan mail that was mostly complimentary, but one note called him a loser. He sulked and introduced Tyler Bate.
Dar was confused by the concept of "zen" and asked Bate "Who is Zen?" Bate told him it wasn't who is zen, but rather that he chose to be more in tune with his inner self, saying that mastery of oneself brought true power. Dar took that to mean that he could push Bate's buttons without him reacting. Dar asked Bate how old he was now, 14? Bate said he's 23.
Dar asked Bate about being a vegan and said Bate couldn't enjoy the nice cupcakes or the "zen panda" he had prepared, but he had something for him. It was some broccoli (which Dar dropped and stepped on) and some leafy salad, which he dropped onto Bate's lap. Bate ate one of the leaves and said they were delicious.
Dar said last time Bate was on his show, he lost to Heritage Cup Champion A-Kid after, so zen didn't help him there. Bate replied by saying that he didn't feel bad about that loss, claiming that "we only lose what we cling to."
Dar brought up that Bate is facing Dave Mastiff next week and should be scared. Bate said that he's had his eyes set on the Heritage Cup ever since coming back, but that one bump in the road would not stop him. Bate said he had talked to NXT UK general manager Johnny Saint about his match against Mastiff being contested under Heritage Cup rules. Bate added that "where fear ends, life begins."
Bate got up and stared Dar down, then raised his arm to pose, which sent Dar scurrying away back on his couch. Bate said that he may be zen, but he's nobody's doormat. Bate concluded by saying this was our exclusive and added Dar's closing catchphrase of "play that funky music, please" as he posed. Dar was livid, threw the cushions off the couch, and smashed the panda cake on the table.
- Ben Carter trained with James Mason at the UK Performance Center. Carter said that since he started his career in the United States, he never got to learn the British style, so he loved working out with Mason and life is good.
- A highlight video on Aleah James aired, showing some of her training and athletic ability. James said she idolized Mickie James and Melina growing up and was hoping to bring her athletic and exciting style to the NXT UK roster.
- Isla Dawn was in a dark room with a Ouija board and some other paraphernalia. The words "chaos" and "sceleratus" (Latin for wicked/accursed) flashed across the screen or maybe her mind. Dawn looked into a crystal ball and the tarot card for The High Priestess appeared as the screen turned to black and white. Weird -- but somewhat intriguing too, as Dawn hasn't played a major role on NXT UK in the past and it may be time to change that.
- Meiko Satomura was shown warming up.
Kenny Williams & Amir Jordan defeated Ashton Smith & Oliver Carter after a pin reversal by Jordan on Carter (8:10)
The story here was that Williams cheated to allow his partner to score the pin in this babyface tag team match. They have very carefully teased Williams not being totally honest and a bit of a jerk over the past few months, so this could lead to something.
This was Williams' first match back since November of last year. Carter and Smith had new matching red/neon green gear.
Carter and Williams started out, with Carter getting the better of the early exchange before they countered and evaded each other. Smith fared better against the Luckian, bulldozing him with raw power. Williams tagged out and Jordan managed to hit a crossbody on Smith for a near-fall. Smith and Carter then took turns isolating and working over Jordan as Williams had to look on. Jordan finally managed to hit an enzuigiri on Smith and tagged out to Williams, who ran wild on Smith.
Smith and Carter went for their trademark move where Carter lands on Smith's back on the apron and gets catapulted back inside, but Williams kicked them both to ringside and Williams and Jordan hit stereo dives. Williams hit a wheelbarrow facebuster on Smith and Jordan followed with a top rope senton, but Carter narrowly made the save. Carter hit an assisted 450 for another near-fall, then Smith got taken out by Williams with a plancha to the outside.
Carter went for a bridging pin on Jordan, but Williams pulled his leg out, allowing Jordan to counter the move for the deciding pin. Carter called Williams out on his cheating after the match, but Williams first grinned at him, then feigned innocence.
- A video recapped the story leading up to the first-ever mixed tag match in NXT UK history taking place next Thursday. Piper Niven & Jack Starz will face Jinny & Joseph Conners. Starz and Niven said they hated nothing more than bullies and spoke about how Conners and Jinny had underestimated them. Jinny told Niven and Starz that she and Conners pity people like them. Jinny said that while she and Conners are worthy, Niven and Starz are trash.
- Williams & Jordan were interviewed about their win and were ecstatic. They will face Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster next week and were hopeful that they'll become contenders for the NXT UK Tag Team titles with a few more wins.
- A graphic plugged the Heritage Cup rules match between Tyler Bate and Dave Mastiff for next week.
NXT UK Women's Championship match: Kay Lee Ray retained against Meiko Satomura after a Gory Bomb (16:46)
This was a fantastic, TakeOver-worthy match, with the champion going toe-to-toe with one of the best in the world and eventually overcoming her. The story was that they kicked out of each other's finishers and other big moves and that KLR hurt her knee down the line, forcing her to overcome the odds even more, which she eventually did.
A tale of the tape compared champion and challenger. It was interesting that Satomura's accolades included being a former Stardom champion. She also was noted to have wrestled on WCW Nitro at age 17.
KLR backed Satomura into the ropes early before getting her arm worked over. She came back briefly but quickly got thrown to ringside. Members of the NXT UK women's roster were seen watching on the screens in the background as Satomura worked over KLR.
The champ came back with a dropkick and a roll-through snapmare, then followed with a stiff kick to the chest of Satomura. Satomura locked in an STF and KLR barely made it to the ropes to break the hold. Satomura worked over KLR's legs, but she managed to come back with a face-first suplex and a Koji Clutch. KLR then followed with a kneeling abdominal stretch. After enduring some kicks in the corner, KLR reached a turning point in the match as she managed to take out Satomura's legs, then hit a draping DDT off the apron onto the mats at ringside.
KLR went for the Gory Bomb on the apron, but Satomura escaped and instead hit a Death Valley Bomb onto the apron. KLR barely made it back into the ring at nine.
Satomura hit a cartwheel knee drop on KLR's back, then hit a Saito suplex for a close near fall. KLR managed to come back with a tornado DDT out of the corner and then locked in the Koji Clutch once more, but Satomura turned the hold into a pinning attempt for two. KLR held on to the hold until Satomura got her foot on the bottom rope.
Satomura managed to kick KLR's head as she headed to the top rope, then wrenched her up for another Death Valley Bomb for a very close near fall. After a brief struggle on the top rope, Satomura went for a frog splash from the top -- but KLR got her knees up, which looked to also hurt KLR's knee. KLR hit the Gory Bomb, but she was slow to make the cover and Satomura kicked out.
KLR looked to pick Satomura up, but her knees buckled under the stress. KLR literally dragged herself to the top, hurt knee and all, for a somersault senton, but Satomura evaded. KLR blocked Satomura's Scorpion Kick and went for another Gory Bomb, but Satomura countered into a Destroyer powerbomb for another near-fall.
KLR escaped from another Death Valley Bomb. She hit a superkick but got wiped out with a Pele kick from Satomura a split second later. KLR turned another Death Valley Bomb attempt into a crucifix for a two count, then managed to hoist Satomura up into the powerbomb position, which she used to transition into a final Gory Bomb for the pinfall victory.
KLR helped Satomura to her feet, where the two women bowed to each other and hugged. Satomura was in tears over her loss.
Final Thoughts --
Go out of your way to watch the main event, which was a fantastic strong style joshi battle. Kay Lee Ray is in the upper echelon of female talent in WWE and basically has to turn babyface now as the fighting champion who beat all challengers, including the "Best in the World," even overcoming injuries. The logical path for her next challenger seems to be undefeated Aoife Valkyrie, but we'll see.
The rest of the show was mostly used to progress storylines, with Ilja Dragunov snapping getting more and more out of control. Kenny Williams is showing more and more heelish tendencies, with the question being if Amir Jordan is in on it or will eventually disagree with his partner's methods. I'm still split on Tyler Bate's zen/Jedi Master gimmick, but as long as he delivers in the ring, he can take the gimmick into a more wacky direction.
Next Week --
- Heritage Cup rules match: Tyler Bate vs. Dave Mastiff
- Mixed tag team match: Piper Niven & Jack Starz vs. Jinny & Joseph Conners
- Kenny Williams & Amir Jordan vs. Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster
- The debut of Teoman (formerly known as Lucky Kid/Metehan)