WWE's first-ever NXT UK TakeOver special takes place at 2 p.m. Eastern time (7 p.m. GMT/8 p.m. CET for those in Europe) in Blackpool, England today.
In the main event, Pete Dunne is looking to defend his WWE UK Championship and carry on his 603-day reign against Joe Coffey. The feud between these two has been brewing for months now, with both men's respective groups, British Strong Style and Gallus, getting involved.
Dunne snapped Coffey's fingers during a contract signing a few weeks ago and got powerbombed through a table for his troubles. Most recently, Gallus were victorious over British Strong Style in a six-man tag team match during the go-home show for this TakeOver special. This should be a hard-hitting match with both men wanting to prove they can carry the main event of the brand.
On the undercard, Dunne's BSS brethren, Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven), are facing Zack Gibson & James Drake in the finals of a tournament for the NXT UK Tag Team Championship in what should be a strong match. Bate and Seven beat Gallus in the semifinals, while Gibson & Drake defeated Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster.
In a rematch of the finals from another tournament, NXT UK Women's Champion Rhea Ripley will defend her title against Toni Storm. These two had a great match back in August, when Ripley first won the title and Storm legitimately injured her back during the match and was out of action for about a month. Both women have looked strong in recent matches on NXT UK, so I expect another good match between them.
Dave Mastiff will take on fellow monster Eddie Dennis in a no DQ match. Mastiff initially beat Dennis a few months ago in their first match and the feud has been brewing ever since, with both men attacking the other and a second match ending in a double disqualification. This is a modern take on an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable object and will be a proper mean guy match.
Jordan Devlin also will face Travis Banks in what will be a great platform for both men to showcase their in-ring prowess. The story here is a simple one, in that the patriotic Irishman is blaming his opponent from New Zealand of not loving his home country as much as Devlin loves his.
There will also be a pre-show on the WWE Network starting at 1:30 p.m. Eastern (6.30 GMT/7.30 CET).
Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness opened the show with shots of the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool and ran down the card. A number of recap videos summarized the stories behind the individual matches.
A video on the new WWE UK Performance Center aired, with highlights of Paul Levesque's speech and sound bits by Charlotte Flair, Finn Balor and Pete Dunne.
Radzi Chinyanganya had breaking news from backstage and they showed a video of Travis Banks the arena and getting attacked by Jordan Devlin, throwing him into a stack of backstage ramps and a wall, looking to injure Banks' left knee. Radzi stated that Banks had been medically cleared for his match with Devlin though.
A video recapped the history of NXT UK talent, starting with the original UK Championship tournament from Blackpool in January of 2017 leading to this first NXT UK TakeOver.
1. NXT UK Tag Team Championship tournament finals: James Drake & Zack Gibson beat Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) in 23:46 after hitting Ticket to Mayhem on Seven
This was a great opener, showcasing the strengths of all four men. Story of the match was Seven first injuring his left arm on a dive, then also getting his knee attacked and eventually succumbing to the heels.
Bate and Seven were wearing red and black tights, in a tribute to the British Bulldogs. Johnny Saint presented the NXT UK tag team titles in the ring.
The fans were crazy right from the get-go, cheering on Tyler Bate and taking off their shoes to show their disdain for Gibson. Early story was Bate countering Gibson's offense, including impressively flipping backwards through a bridge on his neck on a pinning attempt. Moustache Mountain were on offense in the first few minutes, including Bate cat and mousing his way around Drake in a way that I'm sure made Johnny Saint proud.The heels finally took over around the 7 minute mark by outsmarting Seven outside the ring, and Gibson nailing him in the throat.
Gibson and Drake hit their move where Gibson picked up Seven for a backbreaker on the outside and Drake dove over the top rope onto him. Seven bled from the back of the head, courtesy of a stiff elbow by Drake. Seven was in trouble for a few minutes until he finally managed a hot tag to Bate, who managed to pick up first Drake and eventually both Drake and Gibson for an airplane spin to massive "Big Strong Boi" chants. He also gave Drake and exploder from the apron onto Gibson on the outside, following by a running shooting star from the apron on both on the outside. In another hommage to the Bulldogs, Seven hit a running power slam, followed by a diving headbutt by Bate.
Gibson foiled a snap dragon/lariat combo by hitting a Ticket to Ride on Seven, then Helter Skelter, followed by a 450 by Drake for a close near fall. Gibson then locked in Shankly Gates on Seven and Drake managed to lock in the same move to Bate as he tried to make the save, until Bate managed to pick Drake up and slam him into Gibson as we entered the home stretch of the match. Moustache Mountain finalls hit the snbapdragon/lariat, but Seven's arm was injured so the move didn't it with full force and Drake kicked out. Gibson pulled Bate off the apron on his shoulders and Drake speared him on a dive in a "holy shit" kind of moment. Gibson and Drake finally hit Ticket to Mayhem on Seven to become the NXT UK tag team champions.
Johnny Saint and Sid Scala were out to congratulate the new champs.
"The Irish Ace" Jordan Devlin vs. "The Kiwi Buzzsaw" Travis Banks never took place
The scene of Devlin attacking Banks as he arrived at the building aired again before the match. Banks came out slightly limping, wincing as he crouched down during his entrance, slapping his knee repeatedly. Banks immediately attacked Devlin before the bell as he came down the ramp. Devlin threw Banks into the steps knee first before they kept brawling around ringside. Devlin repeatedly attacked Banks' knee, kicking it on the steel steps. NXT UK Assistant GM Sid Scala came out with a number of referees to break things up. They eventually took Banks backstage as Devlin cut a promo in the ring. Johnny Saint came out and talked to Scala, and stated they had a backup plan as they were afraid Devlin might try something like that.
Finn Balor then came out as a replacement and the place exploded. Balor of course, is Devlin's original trainer.
2. Finn Balor beat "The Irish Ace" Jordan Devlin in 11:45 after hitting Coup de Grâces
The gist of the match here was Devlin taking his former trainer to the limit, thwarting Coup de Grâces three times before finally succumbing to the move. They had a fast-paced, technical match with lots of hard hits and often countering or mirroring each other's offense.
They went face to face when Devlin slapped Balor, who responded with a striking combination. He went for Coupe de Grâces right away, but Devlin rolled out of the ring, thwarted Balor's comeback and worked him over around ringside, before mocking Balor's pose in the ring. Balor eventually took back over and went to the top for Coup de Grâces again but Devlin dropkicked him off the rope and to the outside, where he almost was counted out.
They traded chops until Devlin quickly hit his uranage/standing moonsault combo for a two count. Both men traded abdominal stretches and the story was that neither could get a real advantage over the other, as they knew each other's moves so well. Devlin eventually hit a head butt and his pull up high angle back drop driver for a near fall.
Balor hit a penalty kick from the apron on Devlin and went up for Coup de Grâces a third time but again got thwarted. Devlin hit a beautiful moonsault but Balor got his knees up. Fourth time was the charm, as Balor finally hit Coup de Grâces for the win.
- Luke Menzies, a rugby player from 2007-2017, was shown in the crowd. Menzies signed in May of 2018 and has been on NXT but not NXT UK television yet.
3. No Disqualification: "Bomber" Dave Mastiff beat Eddie Dennis in 10:43 after hitting a rolling cannonball senton through a propped up table
This was the hard-hitting weapons match most people expected. Dennis was dominant throughout the match, using a cane, chair and table to beat down Mastiff and also exposed the floor on the outside. Mastiff fought back throughout the match and eventually managed to smash Dennis through a table for the win.
They started trading strikes, ending with Mastiff hitting a running cross body. They ended up outside and Dennis ended up being thrown in the steps. Mastiff waisted little time and pushed the steps into the ring, but Dennis got a Singapore cane from under the ring and clanked Mastiff in the skull with it, then hit a Russian leg sweep with the aid of his newly found weapon.
Mastiff took a number of licks with welts visibly building up, until he got hold of the weapon and used is against his nemesis. Dennis finally caught Mastiff off another cross body and hit a Black Hole Slam onto the steel steps for a near fall. After a chair got introduced, Dennis used a mistake by Mastiff and picked him off the ropes for the Severn Bridge, which looked impressive. Dennis got a table, which prompted a loud "tables, tables, tables" song by the fans, to the tune of "No Limit", the 1990's Eurodance hit.
Mastiff hit a rolling fireman's carry on the exposed arena floor, followed by a senton. Dennis came back with the Next Stop Driver, which also was an impressive feat of strength. He tried another Severn Bridge, looking to smash Mastiff into a table propped up in the corner but he managed to escape, hit a release German and his rolling cannonball senton through the table for the victory.
- they showed Kay Lee Ray from Scotland and "Alpha Female" Jazzy Gabert from Germany in the audience. Both were in the 2017 Mae Young Classic. Ray was reported to be signing with WWE in recent weeks while Gabert was offered a deal back in 2017 but didn't clear medicals due to herniated discs. She had surgery to fix that problem and was part of the recent WWE tryouts in Cologne, Germany as a spectator.
4. NXT UK Women's Championship: Toni Storm beat Rhea Ripley (c) in 14:49 with Storm Zero to win the title
This was a hard-hitting strong style match with both women looking good. Toni was in trouble for most of the match as Rhea was dominating her for minutes at a time. This was a redemption story for Toni who won the Mae Young Classic before challenging for this title and eventually overcoming the odds against her bigger and stronger opponent.
They circled each other for a while, then Rhea attacked but neither woman could get an early advantage. Rhea fled from Toni but got wiped out by a dive from the challenger. Rhea started working over Toni's back, trying to capitalize off her old injury and locked in some body scissors to put pressure on her lower back and hips. Rhea kept being the dominant force of the match with repeated suplexes, slams and legdrops, then rag dolled Toni around the ring.
Storm finally came back with a big head butt of a whip that put both women down. They traded strikes and transitioned into the Frye-Takayama spot. Storm got the better of it and hit tow Germans, but couldn't get Storm Zero. Rhea tried for Riptide as well, but Toni thwarted that attempt as well. They traded submission holds with Ripley's inverted clover leaf and Storm going for an ankle lock, then hitting a hip attack and a German suplex hold for a near fall.
Ripley hit Riptide around the 12 minute mark for a very close near fall. Ripley continued to beat her down with short arm clotheslines, but Toni escaped on the third attempt and hit Storm Zero for a near fall of her own. Storm then escaped another Riptide attempt and hit Storm Zero to win the NXT UK Championship for the first time. Toni went and celebrated with the fans in the crowd.
- Charlotte Flair was shown watching the show in the crowd.
5. WWE UK Championship: "The Bruiserweight" Pete Dunne (c) beat "The Iron King" Joe Coffey in 34:15 by submission from a sitting triangle and joint manipulation
This was a tremendous, highly dramatic match with both guys giving everything they had, taking a few brutal bumps and a number of near falls. Both were exhausted by the end and both hit thier finishers numerous times to no avail until Dunne finally managed to make The Iron King submit.
Coffey came out with the rest of Gallus. but they did not accompany him down the ramp while Dunne came out on his own. Coffey stood with his arms folded in the ring while Dunne looked on disgusted.
They traded arm and wrist locks early until Dunne briefly took over with some of his sadistic joint manipulation and submission attempts. Coffey tried for his discus lariat early but Dunne avoided it. Dunne kept going for moves that would weaken Coffey's arms and hands. Coffey impressively transitioned a double wrist lock into a deadlift vertical suplex, but Dunne managed to swing back down and lock the move in again until Coffey finally hit a suplex to escape.
Dunne took a nasty spill on his face on a throw to the outside but quickly hit a back flip over Coffey off the steps and an enzuigiri to stun his challenger, but found himself on the receiving end of a high angle slam onto the rampway. Coffey took over the match at that point, primarily working over Dunne's back until the Bruiserweight managed to stage a comeback with a number of hard strikes and hitting a moonsault quebrada to the outside and an X-Plex back in the ring but it was obvious his back was hurt. This led to Coffey hitting a big powerbomb for a close near fall, then locked in a Boston crab. It briefly looked like Dunne actually had passed out but he finally managed to make the ropes in dramatic fashion.
In a unique spot, they traded head butts to the shoulders and eventually, went both down. Dunne avoided the lariat, then hit an STO and locked in the Koji Clutch. Dunne then transitioned into an ankle lock off a deadlift into a tombstone by Coffey. Both men went for their finishers but neither could hit it, until Dunne finally managed to hit the Bitter End but Coffey kicked out at 2.9. They fought on the apron and Coffey hit a sit-down powerbomb onto the apron as both men fell to ringside and just made it back inside by 10.
Coffey rained down blows and stomps on the champion but the champ got his second win and came back with stomps of his own. In the melee that followed, Coffey hit the lariat, but Dunne again kicked out just barely as the crowd started going crazy. Dunne locked in an armbar which he managed to keep on even when Coffey lifted him onto the top rope and finally managed to slam him down with one arm.
Both men looked exhausted as the match went into what appeared to be its home stretch. They traded blows once more and Dunne had Coffey in the ropes but Coffey managed a come back with a Mount Everest German suplex for another near fall. Coffey then went for the Bitter End, but Dunne escaped and hit a Bitter End of his own but couldn't get the pin as Coffey rolled out of the way. Coffey finally hit the discus lariat from the apron but it looked like he didn't catch Dunne with full force.
They battled on the top rope and both fell down, with Coffey taking a nasty spill to the outside, then a few minutes later the same spot led to both tumbling to the outside and into the barrier but somehow made it back into the ring. Dunne hit a discus lariat and Bitter End but still couldn't get the win. Dunne then locked in an arm bar and bent the fingers to finally make Coffey tap out.
- As it looked like the show was about to go off the air, the familiar tune of "Aus der Neuen Welt", Antonín Dvořáks' 9th symphony hit and The Ring General WALTER made his way down to the ring as Pete Dunne looked shocked. He entered the ring and stared down the champ. Joe Coffey tried to get back in the ring but the Austrian powerhouse nonchalantly kicked him in the head and hit the Ringkampf pose while Dunne stood there with the WWE UK Championship dangling from his mouth. WALTER then left and slowly walked down the ramp again, having made his intentions clear to dethroned the Bruiserweight after more than 600 days.
- For those so inclined, there also is a Live Q&A with Triple H coming up on social media after the show