After two weeks of glorified “best of” shows the best brand is back this week! While stateside NXT has been very timely with their yearly Halloween Havoc, New Year’s Evil and Great American Bash specials their counterparts across the pond missed their shot to bring back Insurrection for this January 6th episode. I’ll forgive that though because this was a fun show per usual. So let’s jump into this week’s rankings.
Honorable Mention: Sha Samuels and Xia Brookside. Samuels makes the list for another one of his great odds boards, this time regarding Dar v. A-Kid for the Heritage Cup. They agreed to bet on Dar winning in the 4th which had the 2nd best odds at 11/1. The best odds? A-Kid to win “via divine intervention” at 100/1. Brookside makes it for getting a win and having awesome tantrum like stomps on Myla Grace. Morw wrestlers need moves that fit their character as well as those stomps fit the entitled Daddy’s girl Brookside.
5. WALTER. I’d say he isn’t my cup if tea but it all depends on his opponents. I’ve really enjoyed him against smaller or more fragile seeming opponents like Dragunov and Ciampa but hated his clashes with guys like Dunne and Coffey. But it’s clear the Ring General is the most valuable, proven act in NXT UK today and as he has his “last stand” next week against Nathan Frazer I think he’s owed a spot on this list. Since I love to fantasy book if we can get Imperium v. New Day on SmackDown after the Rumble and WALTER v. Big E on Raw and culminate it all in a 6 man tag at WrestleMania I’d be a very happy man.
4. Ilja Dragunov. The NXT UK production team was showing yet again why they’re some of the best in the business as we saw Ilja at home with his wife and son. Aside from Dragunov’s wife’s very cute looking fruit person she made we learned that they’ve been together for 8 years and when he asks his son Constantin “Why do we fall?” he answers “To get back up!” This footage was interspliced with footage of Ilja training and running. He took a great shot at the challenger for the UK Title Jordam Devlin when he said he doesn’t need a fancy car or a penthouse apartment or to buy people because he is enough. He is real. And he is a real champion. The way NXT UK makes packages that feel like they’re the build-up in a Rocky movie is such a welcome change from the main roster stuff WWE does.
3. Ashton Smith and Oliver Carter. “The Hottest Tag Team Under The Sun” (I’d have thought that was Pretty Deadly but to each their own) got the win in the semi-final of the 4 team #1 Contender’s tournament with their springboard twisting doomsday cutter from Carter on to Primate. They had another cool move early in the match when Carter hit a “Silly String” type splash on T-Bone. Their upcoming contest against what I can only assume will be Die Familia should be a hoot!
2. Blair Davenport. “Ichiban Gaijin” lost the battle but showed she just might win the war when she attacked Meiko after the loss and punished her with 3 straight V-trigger like knees. Davenport stood tall holding the title to chants of “That’s not yours!” and as she left up the ramp she shouted “I will see you very soon Meiko!” This match didn’t quite get to that next gear to make it the match of the year contender I’d hoped it might be with the build but it was fun regardless. Davenport clearly did her H.W. for this match turning an STF attempt from Meiko into a Fujiwara armbar, dodging a Scorpio Rising and kicking out of 2 Death Valley Drivers. Davenport had some strong offense too with an Orton-like draping DDT off the apron to the floor, a running dropkick to Satomura crawling near the ropes that nearly sent her outside and a double stomp to Meiko’s back while Meiko was bent over standing on the apron. This was a case of somebodies stock being elevated in a loss as Davenport showed she can hang with “The Final Boss” and given 1 more life she just might win the game.
1. Meiko Satomura. While “The Final Boss” may have been left laying to end the show she also left with the pinfall victory and her 6th successful title defense. This was a hard fought back and forth match that saw “The Final Boss” down to her last hit point multiple times but the veteran’s savviness got her the win. Davenport rolled through Meiko’s attempt to hit a 3rd Death Valley Driver on the night but Satomura rolled her back and barely escaped with the win. This is clearly not the last meeting between these two and I hope the next one is a desperately needed UK TakeOver.