The big story going into this show in Coventry was that we have a new United Kingdom Champion in WALTER, having dethroned Pete Dunne at TakeOver: New York. Otherwise, the main draw for this edition was Toni Storm defending the NXT Women’s Championship against Jinny, with clips of their past battles in PROGRESS alongside recent confrontations on the WWE brand shown to promote it.
Travis Banks vs. Kassius Ohno
I like the use of Ohno in NXT UK, with his vast experience and high credibility adding weight to the British arm of the overall NXT brand. This bout was actually a rare instance of the UK show hosting a match between two non-Brits. Some early technical exchanges (for an extended period, actually) led to Kassius mocking Travis’ size, which soon gave way to the stronger strikes flying. Ohno dominated until he missed a moonsault, and Banks attempted a valiant comeback, until Ohno aggravated Travis’ recent shoulder injury by targeting the weak point. The Kiwi Buzzsaw managed to stave off some vicious shots from Kassius, though, and eventually hit a suicide dive through the middle and bottom ropes to the floor, and a running knee with a run-up from the ramp. Each man exchanged some big moves to very close calls, including the very dangerous Rubik’s Cube by Ohno, which led to the fans standing and an “NXT!” chant. In the end, Travis attempted several roll-ups, with the last one (obviously) getting the three-count. This was an excellent TV match, boasting some strong psychology and selling, making it a bout that is well worth checking out.
Footage aired of Piper Niven arriving on the scene during a Rhea Ripley promo two weeks ago, setting up her official debut match next. We also had a video recap of WALTER ending Pete Dunne’s UK Championship reign at a historic 685 days last week in Brooklyn. Despite being the larger of the two, WALTER has some very big shoes to fill in replacing Dunne as top dog.
Backstage, Jordan Devlin said that he didn’t want to see a WALTER-Pete rematch, insisting that he was a winner and that he deserved a title opportunity.
Piper Niven vs. Killer Kelly
As noted, this was the first match on the NXT UK brand for Piper Niven. This meant that the chances of securing a victory were low for the Portuguese Kelly, who Nigel McGuinness described as having “better kicks than Eusebio!” Killer gave it her best shot, and actually had the newcomer in jeopardy more than once. That being said, this was a clear showcase for Niven, who towered over her opponent while demonstrating some fine agility. A variation of the Michinoku Driver earned the win for Piper; afterwards, Rhea Ripley tried to sneak into the ring, but once Niven caught her in sight, Ripley backed off. A future confrontation is inevitable.
We had a pre-taped promo with Zack Gibson and James Drake. Gibson humorously said that he wasn’t happy about being taken to the United States for the WrestleMania weekend festivities because he wanted to see Liverpool matches during their Premier League title challenge. Speaking of which, Gibson laid out an open challenge for their NXT UK Tag Team Championships.
Jack Starz vs. Joseph Connors
Starz is the guy whose chest was almost caved in by WALTER (more so than anyone else at least) a little while back. The fans in Coventry seemed a little less interested in this match, partly because neither of these performers are a major part of the show right now. Nevertheless, both still proved the skills that earned them their spot on the brand, with Starz being more flashy while Connors focused on strength and impact. A top rope shoulder tackle by Joseph set the tone for what was to come, and after controlling the bulk of the match and surviving Jack’s attempt at a comeback, Connors wrapped it up with an inverted front neckbreaker.
NXT UK Women’s Championship Match
Toni Storm (C) vs. Jinny
After a vignette aired for Dave Mastiff, and confirmation of the Grizzled Young Veterans being in action next week, it was time for our main event. This was undoubtedly the biggest match in Jinny’s career so far against Storm, who is a familiar foe from days gone by as noted earlier, with Jinny having ended Toni’s reign as PROGRESS Women’s Champion at one point. All of this meant that her odds of winning the title here were higher than they might be for another challenger. An immediate exchange of punches led to a range of back-and-forth strikes with each enjoying their share of the early advantage, with Storm locking in a single-leg Boston crab and then an STF of sorts. Jinny then took over with some submission attempts of her own. A Flatliner into the middle turnbuckle and a single-arm hiptoss into the opposite turnbuckles represented realistic chances of capturing the title, while a brutal X-Factor from the ropes came very close to crowning a new champion; only a foot on the bottom rope saved Toni. In the end, though, Toni lived to fight another day as the face of the brand’s female division, and after a triple back German suplex sequence, and multiple attempts by both women at a Storm Zero, Toni reversed a hurricanrana into a powerbomb and finally executed the Storm Zero to retain.
With a strong main event and a very impressive opener, along with productive developments elsewhere, this was a really good episode of NXT UK. In the wake of WALTER dethroning Pete Dunne (for which we await the full fall-out), some fans may be more willing to give the British brand a try, and if they began with this edition, they will not have been disappointed. Good stuff.