In a week that made a lot of Americans wish we could borrow more from the UK than just their wrestlers it was nice to have NXT UK as a very temporary, minor distraction from the real world. So let’s get to this week’s rankings.
Honorable Mention: Sam Gradwell and Kenny Williams. Gradwell and Wagner broke down film of each other but Gradwell said “There’s not a speck of exaggeration in my eyes when I say I’m not scared of ya!” despite jumping up and gasping at a shot of Wagner tossing Ikeman Jiro into the crowd at NXT. I stress this each time he’s on the show but Gradwell has probably grown on me more than anything from this bran except Heritage Cup Rules matches. Williams makes it for having his Charlie Day-like board set-up in the back talking to Sid Scala with all his suspects on it trying to figure out “Who’s stalking Kenny!” including his “Masked bozo” fliers only to be cut off by Mark Andrews telling him to be worried about their match in 2 weeks. Paranoid Kenny is great!
5. Tie- Moustache Mountain, Die Famile and Smith & Carter. All 3 teams hyped up their upcoming title match. Ashton Smith had my favorite piece when he said “I fight for him like I fight for my children! And one day when my daughter is writing my eulogy she’s going to be able to say my father and his partner Oliver Carter became NXT UK Tag Team Champions!” Carter responded “Likewise and forever brother!” Rohan Raja pointed out that Seven and Bate aren’t even on the same page which we got spliced with a shot of Seven patting a hesitant looking Bate on the shoulder while saying “A win is a win” Raja said Seven is a desperate man and desperate men make mistakes and that the other teams being so worried about each other will help them get the win. Seven had a funny jab too when he said “Have you heard? Die (pronounced dye) family slowly” and that the eye is going to go back to the bottom of the telescope and look up at the summit of Moustache Mountain in the distance! They did a great job making this match feel big with comments and highlights from all 3 teams as NXT UK typically does with these things.
4. Mark Coffey. Gallus is definitely more tolerable as individuals than as a group and Joe is definitely the worst member but Mark still isn’t great either. He had an entirely forgettable match with one of my favorites Saxon Huxley to open the show. He got the win with a sliding forearm to the side of a seated Huxley’s face for 3. After the match he looked in the camera and told his brother Joe that the win was for him and to come back whenever he wants because it’s still their kingdom and Gallus is still on top. As much as I bash the hooligan Coffey brothers a story where Mark starts to really fire on all cylinders and Joe comes back only to either worry that he might or outright intentionally hold Mark back could be interesting and some of that more modern NXT UK story telling that they do really well.
3. Lash Legend. I don’t like using smarky terms. I’d hate to call anyone green when I myself quit wrestling school before I even had a match. But Lash Legend has a long way to go to be good and it shows. She’s still very stilted in her movement in the ring and it looks like she’s thinking over every step. Nothing about her feels natural or comfortable right now. But she did beat Meiko Satomura’s top student Emilia McKenzie with a pump kick and she’s not a member of Gallus so she still squeaks out a top 3 spot this week. She has the size, build and background to become something really good but she need a lot more reps before she gets to that level.
2. Sha Samuels. Everyone’s favorite bookie managed to cash in tonight without even lifting the suspenders on his trunks with what UK fans would likely dub a major upset (despite Sha declaring himself the favorite) win over Diamond Mine’s newest member; Damon Kemp. Dar joined Sha at ringside dressed like Sha in a track suit and newsboy cap and comically downed Sha’s flask early on when Kemp had Samuels in trouble. Despite Kemp going to work on Sha with a bunch of suplexes and Sha not being able to rehydrate thanks to the empty flask he still got the win when Dar used Sha’s scarf to grab Kemp’s foot and distract him so Samuels could hit a spine buster. Kemp looked solid here with a very modern Brock Lesnar type move-set (I guess that’s what they teach in Minnesota) and even hitting his rolling senton but it wasn’t enough for the win. Later on in the night we saw Wolfgang talking to Kemp backstage and he said while Kemp came to learn the British style he’ll need to learn the Glasgow way to take on Dar and Sha.
1. Charlie Dempsey. Pittsburgh is known as the “City of Bridges” with 446 of them. Charlie Dempsey matches have an average of 447. Columbia University says graphene is the strongest material ever measured but I’d challenge them to measure whatever Charlie Dempsey’s neck is made out of because it surely doesn’t come from this planet. He took down A-Kid tonight in Kid’s own signature match; a Heritage Cup rules match with Die Famile barred from ringside. Despite Kid being the inaugural Heritage Cup Champion Dempsey managed to outsmart him and get the win in the 6th round when he pulled the towel from his corner into the ring. As the ref was dealing with the towel Dempsey tossed brass knuckles to A-Kid. While A-Kid was pleading his case to the ref an opportunistic Dempsey clocked the “Spanish Sensation” with a shot to the side of the face and followed up with a bridging cradle suplex for the deciding fall. The first two rounds saw a ton of bridging holds and transitions as these 2 went heavy on the grappling aspect because of their respect for each other. In round 3 things got more heated and Dempsey started to lock in his signature modified bow and arrow but A-Kid quickly gave up the first fall by tapping right away to save himself more punishment. In round 4 Kid nearly tied it up by catching a jumping uppercut attempt from Dempsey into a rear choke of his own that he then switched into a guillotine but in one of many impressive shows of strength Dempsey muscled through and without Kid’s feet touching the floor was able to land a butterfly suplex. Kid kicked out and landed a half and half suplex and jumping superkick to tie the score at 2. Round 5 nearly saw Kid get the win following another phenomenal exchange as Dempsey was forced to the mat while in a knuckle lock and Kid put his knees on his shoulders only for Dempsey to kick out without ever breaking the lock. Dempsey bridged up and Kid jumped off the ropes still in the lock and hit his flipping DDT but the round ended before the pin could be counted. This was an unsurprisingly great match between these 2 and I’ll never stop being caught off guard by how much I love Heritage Cup rules matches. I highly suggest you watch this match between 2 future stars!
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