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NXT UK special: The Rise of NXT UK

nxt uk 4 9 2020

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WWE had to cancel plans for the NXT UK brand for the upcoming months.

NXT UK usually tapes at Axxess over WrestleMania weekend, which obviously did not take place this year.

Today they announced that both their May tapings following the scheduled NXT UK TakeOver in Ireland, as well as the Download Festival tapings had been canceled.

So it looks like we will be getting a series of specials looking back at the history of NXT UK, as announced by NXT UK Assistant GM Sid Scala.

What is weird about this decision is that during the last set of tapings in March, they taped at least six more matches which haven't aired yet, including pretty major bouts like WALTER vs. Ridge Holland, Ilja Dragunov vs. A-Kid, Finn Bálor vs. Kenny Williams and Toni Storm vs. Isla Dawn as reported here and here on this site.


The show opened with clips of Triple H announcing the original UK Tournament and the establishment of a WWE UK championship in late 2016.

After the opening, Andy Sheperd is our host and he isn't allowed to address the pandemic or the virus by name either, and keeps calling it "unique times". Well, I guess that makes Vince McMahon  a unique individual.

WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match: Tyler Bate beat Jordan Devlin (6:06; January 15, 2017, WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament 2017 - Day 2, Blackpool/England)

Odd choice, as this was voted worst match of that particular night on the Observer poll for the show.

Bate looked very young and very deer in the headlights coming out. Both men taped brief, current cell phone videos talking about it but neither said anything of particular note and it was more sound bites like "The people got their first glimpse of the Irish Ace." 

Here's Dave's original recap of the match from that week's Observer:

Bate hit a tope right away. He also did a power spot where he pressed Devlin overhead and followed with an airplane spin.

They played off the injury to Burch the night before when they put over Devlin’s enziguri on Bate. Bate won with a quick left jab and a Tyler driver 97. This match was sloppier than most but still got a good reaction and was all action. **½


They then recapped the rest of the tournament, including Bate beating Pete Dunne in the finals.


Next up was a look at the second WWE UK Championship tournament in June of 2018 in Royal Albert Hall.

WWE United Kingdom Championship #1 Contendership Tournament Quarter Final Match: Zack Gibson beat Gentleman Jack Gallagher (13:37; June 19, 2018, WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament 2018 - Day 2, London/England)

Dave, at the time wrote: 

In the first of the quarterfinals of the U.K.. tournament, Zack Gibson beat Jack Gallagher with the Shankly Gates arm submission. It was notable that they used a newcomer to advance over a main roster wrestler, but Gibson should be a top heel on the new television show.


After that, they recapped Zack Gibson winning the tournament, Moustache Mountain winning the NXT tag team titles over Undisputed Era and Triple H announcing the NXT UK brand.

Mark Andrews vs. Joe Coffey w/ Mark Coffey (7:38; NXT UK #1, aired October 17, 2018, Cambridge/England)

Here's my original report on the match:

Coffey tried to use his strength to immobilize the smaller Andrews, but he managed to repeatedly flip out of some armlocks until Coffey overpowered him.

Andrews is back with some armdrags and a great-looking springboard huricanrana. Coffey hit a mean pounce, a seemingly very European kind of body check, as it's also a popular tool for other Euro big men such as Avalanche and Dante (the former tag team partner of Aleister Black).

Coffey continued to show his brute strength by grabbing Mandrews by the neck, spinning him around a few times just for the heck of it and hitting a butterfly suplex.  Nigel mentions that Joe Coffey actually was Kurt Angle's opponent at the latter's last singles match for ICW back in 2016.

While Mark Coffey distracted the ref, Joe takes Andrews out with a stiff clothesline, forcing Andrews out of the ring.

Back in the ring, Mandrews channeled his best inner football player and slid under a clothesline attempt on his knees and hit a quick enziguri. He followed with a very cool combination of some double knees in the corner, a lucha roll-up, double foot stomp and a standing, twisting moonsault for a near-fall.

Coffey quickly recovered and launched himself at Andrews with a running/diving headbutt into the corner, followed by a quick power slam that almost got him the win.

He went for a vertical suplex, but Andrews countered it into the Stuntdog Millionaire, before hitting he top rope.

Mark pulled his brother to ringside and assumed safety, but Andrews hit a big moonsault on both of them.

Andrews, grasping at victory went to the top again but Mark Coffey once more proved to be a major distraction as he grabbed at hs leg, leading to a Joe Coffey overhead belly-to-belly from the middle rope and a brutal lariat for the pin in 7:38.

Post-match, the Coffey Bros. once more went to attack Andrews but Flash Morgan Webster came out with his helmet in hand for the save.

A very fun mean guy/quick guy match that showcased the strengths of both guys.


Up next, a look at Pete Dunne.

WWE United Kingdom Championship #1 Contenders Match: Pete Dunne beat Trent Seven (14:45; WWE United Kingdom Championship Special, May 7, 2017, Norwich/England)

Here's the report on the match from this site:

They went back and forth off a collar-and-elbow tie-up before Dunne circled around to try and gain a good position on the damaged right arm of Seven.

Dunne took him down and tortured him for a bit, but Seven escaped and landed a series of chops. Dunne was pulled off the second rope and ate a left arm lariat to the gut for 1.

Dunne went behind, but Trent's rope escape left the arm open for a hard shot to the arm. They brawled to the floor and Dunne landed a nasty forearm strike to the jaw. This allowed him to trap the arm in the steps and kick the arm into the post.

Dunne talked smack on the apron and ate a slap before kicking away, but opened himself up to a Dragon suplex on the apron! They were both down for a 9.5 count before rocketing back in. This got a well-deserved "this is awesome" chant and it's easily the best match on TV in at least a month.

Trent went up top for a superplex, but Dunne attacked the hand. Trent still went for a Dragon suplex off the top, but Dunne flipped to his feet and landed a forearm before eating a backfist and then landing an enziguri.

Dunne ran off the rope, but ate a lariat for 2.5.

Trent tried for a Seven Star lariat, but a bodyscissors counter opened the door for the Kimura. Seven recovered and hit a Dragon suplex and a backfist.

Dunne avoided a wrist clutch burning hammer and landed the Bitter End to win it


They next looked at Dunne winning the championship from Tyler Bate at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, then defending it against Joe Coffey at the first ever NXT UK TakeOver in Blackpool.

The show ended just as that show did, with WALTER coming out and facing off with Dunne.

In an in-set video, Dunne said that he knew the match needed to happen.


Next week:

NXT UK Superstars look at their favorite matches.