In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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NXT UK TV REPORT (EP. 83)
FEBRUARY 20, 2020
STREAMED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY CHAD KOENIG, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Todd Phillip, Aiden English
-Show started with a nice video package reciting the history of the Ilja Dragunov/ Joe Connors feud.
(1) TYLER BATE (c) vs. JOSEPH CONNORS
They started the match with high energy and countering each others moves. Connors backed away and they locked back up. Bate proceeded with an impressive hurricanrana and dropkicks, sending Connors outside of the ring where he grabbed a steel chair to throw into the ring. The ref told him to lose the chair He dropped it and went back in. Bate grounded him quickly and started to work the arm. Bate jumped onto the turnbuckle and Connors hit him to make him fall outside of the ring. Connors ran out with him and hit him on the apron, then rolled him back in for a pinfall attempt. Connors had two more unsuccessful pinfalls afterward as he continued to work on Bate, and started to take the lead in the match.
Connors put Bate’s head on the rope and started to push his throat into the bottom rope. He then got Bate in the middle of the ring and had him in a neck crack that Bate countered and started to turn the match around. Connors attempted a backslide pin that Bate powered out of and reversed into a two-count again. Bate cornered Connors and turned around to run at him but Connors followed behind. Bate caught him however, hit a German suplex and a standing shooting star for two.
After a quick breather, Bate hoisted Connors up for an airplane spin, Connors countered with a sunset flip for two. Bate quickly escaped and got Connor’s shoulders down for a quick two. They finished that sequence with yet another quick pinfall attempt on Connors before they both took a rest on the mat to audience applause.
Bate was the first to get up and they exchanged counters. Connors twisted Bates neck in a unique aerial maneuver for a two. He went up to the ropes for a moonsault but Bate moved. Connors hit a tilt-a-whirl slam and then sent Bate outside. Connors with the obligatory through the top dive, and tossed Bate back in to the ring. He immediately hit a slingshot flatliner for two. After getting Bate back up, he sent him into the corner and started slugging away at the big, strong boy. Bate’s frustration started to come into fruition as he battled back, slugging away before bouncing off the ropes with a capo kick. Connors countered a Tyler Driver 97. The action went outside of the ring again where Connors got a toe hold that put Bate face-first into the chair that he dropped earlier, but didn’t count as a DQ (I’m glad the announcers brought up that fact). He sent Bate back into the ring for another near fall.
As Bate was on the mat, Connors lifted him and connected with a DDT. Bate, seemingly unscathed, rebounded off the ropes. He hit his Tyler Driver and put the match to bed.
WINNER: BATE at 11:44
(Koenig’s Analysis: The match was very good, don’t get me wrong. These are two of my favorites, and amongst the best in NXT UK, but this was the first time I’d have to say that I was turned of to a match on this brand for being a big spot fest. There were too many sickouts of too many finishers, and both wrestlers flew threw the ropes onto his opponent outside. That spot is overused on this brand heavily, and it is STILL used more conservatively than most other brands. And with Bate kicking out of a DDT THAT quickly… it makes it hard to suspend disbelief. Growing up watching Jake the Snake and seeing him hit the DDT… it felt deadly. I felt the pain of that move at home. And nowadays it’s seen about s harmful as a leg sweep. This nonsense of kicking out twenty times in match gets old and makes me feel more like i’m watching an aerial show than a wrestling match. I really hope NXT UK doesn’t continue down this path.)
-Another well-produced recap. This time hyping next week’s I Quit match for the UK Women’s Championship between Kay Lee Ray and Toni Storm.
-WWEShop.com commercial for NXT UK merchandise.
-WrestleMania 36 pirate ship commercial.
-Mastiff and Walter have a backstage sit down face-to-face with NXT UK management. They announce a championship match in two weeks between the two. I look forward to this one.
-Jinny arrives for the first time since her storyline with Jazzy Gabert, who left the company suddenly, and without explanation. She jumped onto the announce desk and brought it up by saying that “her previous associate” didn’t listen to her commands so she was “dismissed”. She said that “she gave her her 15 minutes of fame” and may do it again, if they prove their obedience towards her. She went on to say that she will never be disrespected again.
-As the announcers were trying to gather themselves after that, they were interrupted by the start of the match. I liked this interlude because it paid attention to the little details like the fact that they were actually in the middle of something and got interrupted, leaving the announcers disarrayed.
(2) NOAM DAR vs. JOSH MORRELL
Dar heeled out on Morrell at the start of the match by arrogantly taunting him. He slapped Morrell around a little and asked for a test of strength. They broke it up and exchanged slaps in the face. Dar tossed him off the ropes a bit and worked his arm. He failed a standing moonsault and Morrell took control and had a couple of near pinfalls. Dar hoisted Morrell up in a standing suplex that was countered and gave Morrell a roll-up pin for two. Dar sent Morrell over the ring and hurt Morrell leg. Dar tripped Morrell who got face planted onto the apron when Dar tripped him. Dar brought him back into the ring for a two-count. Dar just started clubbing Morrell and attempted to choke him out but Morrell touched the ropes. They got up, exchanged strikes, and Dar took control. He connected with a Nova roller for the win.
WINNER: Dar at 5:29
(Koenig’s Analysis: This was dull. Not a lot of action. Morrell is very young and green. It was used as a semi-squash for Dar.)
-The Hunt challenged Grizzled Young Veterans to a match next week.
-Another promo for next week’s championship match between Ray and Storm.
-Blood Money V commercial.
-Promo for NXT UK Takeover Dublin on Sunday, April 26th.
– Jordan Devlin in a backstage promo. He said that he is in high demand as NXT Cruiserweight champion and that he “will be back eventually”.
(3) ILJA DRAGUNOV vs. JOE COFFEY
They circle and shadow box from the start. They lightly push before Coffey grounded him. The two do some 50/50 holds and counters. Back upright they hit the ropes and Coffey landed a couple of shoulders in. Dragunov got in his face and did his patented ‘bring the fight’ hand gesture. they hit the ropes a little and Dragunov countered being caught in a cross-body, and got the first near-fall of the match. Dragunov kept striking him immediately and kicked Coffey in the head and sent him over the top rope. Dragunov went to the top rope and jumped onto Coffey. He tossed Coffey back into the ring and went to back to the top. Coffey rolled out of the way and connected with a Glasgow sendoff kick to Dragunov while he was in the corner and he fell onto the floor. Coffey rolled out and continued striking into his ribs. Dragunov returned the blows back and continued fighting onto the apron. Coffey damaged Dragunov’s knee before rolling him back into the ring. Coffey continued to hurt the damaged knee as he crawled into a corner. Coffey followed him and sent him to the second rope for a shinbreaker. When they hit the mat, Coffey got up and forced a Boston crab on him in the center fo the ring.
They got to their feet and battled quickly before Coffey grounded Dragunov and picked the leg. They traded swings and finally Dragunov connected, giving him a chance to rest for a moment. Both wrestlers crawled to opposite corners but Dragunov ran and hit Connors with his weakened knee. They test power and Dragunov landed an enziguri before holding Coffey up and getting a two count following a Russian suplex. He slowly climbed to the top rope and landed a senton for darn close to a three-count. The two were exhausted while they laid in the ring.
Dragunov again worked his way to the top rope but his leg went out. As he was caught, Coffey took advantage and landed uppercuts before the two battled on the top rope, resulting in a belly-to-belly which tired the two men out again. Both slowly make it to opposing corners once again. They charged at each other but it was Dragunov who connected with a knee strike, followed by strikes. Coffey went to spear him into the corner but Dragunov dodged and sent Coffey’s shoulder into the post. Dragunov got him up and sent Coffey into the turnbuckle with a death city driver. Coffey was still on the mat as Dragunov made his way to top rope once again. He hit Coffey with a coast-to-coast. Dragunov then connected with a Torpedo Moscow for the hard-fought victory.
WINNER: Dragunov @ 14:50
-Post match, the rest of Gallus came to the ring. Dragunov put his fists up ready to battle all three, but Coffey said “we are all square”, and they walked off to applause.
(Koenig’s Analysis: This was tremendous. Unlike my previous “spot fest” rant, this match was full of big moves, but told a story with them. They didn’t seem as choreographed. There was grit and passion. The angle after the match was great and looks like it might put Gallus in more of a face position, which I think would work well. A wonderful match and story.)