NXT UK Power Rankings: Chaos

Business is about to pick up across the pond as we found out tonight there will be a tournament for the newly vacated NXT UK Championship where one side of the bracket will see Trent Seven face Wolfgang and Oliver Carter meeting Charlie Dempsey and the other will see Mark Andrews square off with Joe Coffey and Tyler Bate battling Kenny Williams. But before the tournament starts next week there was plenty to talk about this week including a surprise at number 1. So let’s get to ranking! 

Honorable Mention: Sam Gradwell. After the opener we saw Die Famile celebrating in the back. The camera person-person asked why they were celebrating a loss and Teoman sends Dempsey and Raja away before saying it wasn’t a loss. The eye always has a plan. “The Thunderstorm” walking behind then approached and said if he ever stood across the ring from Teoman the eye wouldn’t have a plan for him. This was a short segment but another example of Gradwell having no fear and being willing to fight anyone. I’ve probably said this before but the same way I want Corbin and Sha Samuels interacting I also want Gradwell either in a match against or teaming with Sheamus.

5. Eliza Alexander. In a precursor to the main event segment Alexander interupted Thea Hail who was being interviewed about coming to the UK. Hail was saying she could have gone to Yale, Cambridge or Oxford but she chose Chase U. Alexander borrowing from everyone’s Uncle on facebook, said she went to the school of hard knocks and she was tired of these Americans coming over and cutting the line and she should be the #1 Contender. She starts to bad-mouth Chase U but Thea says that’s too far. I thought this was a mostly meaningless interaction to set up a match between the 2 but then when the main event happened it clicked that it was actually a little more than that.

4. Sha Samuels. There was a fun segment where we saw Chase U touring a few of London’s landmarks including an unnamed educational institution that’s “less prestigious” than Chase U which got a laugh out of me. Chase eventually took the students to the NXT UK Performance Center where they came across Sha Samules slumped against the side of the building looking as sad, broke and hopeless as ever. Bodhi Hayward tried to lift his spirits but Sha was having none of it and said he may have lost everything but he still had (his gear) which led to a match between the 2. Sha was his typical comedy gold self coming down to the ring in mismatched knee pads, a torn, stained and torn tank top (which is extra funny to me because he usually wrestles shirtless) and single suspender strap carrying all his stuff in an old school hobo style bag tied on a stick. He took a cap from the bag and tried to panhandle to the crowd but nobody gave a dime. The highlight though, which I didn’t catch until commentary brought it up, was duct tape holding his boots together. Sha was startled by Thea Hail yelling into a Chase U cheerleader looking megaphone on the stairs when he tumbled outside. Bodhi is still a very raw character, down to just wearing the New Japan young lion-esque all black trunks but like Briggs and Jensen he looked so much larger in the UK ring. He physically looks like a mix of Billy Gunn and young Steve Austin. Bodhi’s highlight was catching a diving axe handle attempt into an Orton like spinning powerslam followed by some really fast running chop blocks to Sha’s leg and a standing frog splash. Bodhi back body dropped Sha and as he went to follow up with a corner attack Sha dodged and hit a spinebuster for the win. After the match Sha celebrated with the ref like he just won the lottery because he gets a trip to the pay window! Everything with Sha is so entertaining but also feels a bit rushed. But I’m hoping next week we see him cashing in his winnings and immediately having to pay even more unpaid Coffey tickets and this cycle of down on his luck Sha getting false hope can continue because I’m not ready for Happy Sha Samuels. And I will continue to die on the hill that there was such an opportunity missed not having any interaction with him and Corbin at any point.

3. Ilja Dragunov. We opened with Ilja Dragunov’s music and him on the Jimmy from South Park like forearm crutches with his foot in a boot. The crowd bombarded him with loud “unbesiegbar” chants. He says last week he suffered a severe ankle injury and we see the slow motion footage of him getting thrown into the corner with his ankle sideways under him. Medical won’t clear him and they think it’s in his best interest to relinquish because they’re unsure of what the time table for his return is. He won’t talk about his hard work or past struggles because everyone back there works hard and everyone has their own battles. He has no regrets about how he wrestles. He sees bits of his soul laying everywhere on the canvas. He wanted to show you can overcome anything if you fight with your soul and he did just that. No one beats him except himself. He vows to come back. If you think he was strong holding the championship you’d be surprised at how strong he’ll be getting it back. He ends with “Long live the czar” And the crowd again chants “unbesiegbar” as he lays the title down followed by chants of “undefeated” His reign has been magical, his defenses have been memorable and everything about Dragunov as NXT UK Champ has felt big. I hope he’s back soon either via a call-up/over or just returning to face the tournament winner in a match. Because Lord knows, without spoiling anything, he and the winner can tear the house down and produce one of the best matches this brand has ever seen!

2. Oliver Carter. Despite Ashton Smith still being on the shelf Carter was ready to move forward again and as always, forward he moved. This week he took out his second member of Die Famile; Rohan Raja. Raja took advantage of the numbers game early. When Carter clotheslined him to the floor Charlie Dempsey distracted the ref so Teoman could help Raja drag Carter into the apron where he worked over a caught up Carter. Carter hit a springboard moonsault on to Raja and tried to follow it up with Raja leaning on the ropes but instead Raja vaulted him up and over on to the 2 Die Famile members on the floor. Raja tried to baseball slide Carter after he took out Dempsey and Teoman but the tables were turned as Carter now caught him in the apron and hammered him with shots. Carter followed up with his flying spinning heel kick to Raja in the corner for 3 to move to 2-0 against Die Famile. After the match Die Famile got the jump on him with Dempsey clipping his leg and locking him in the single leg crab. Despite being beaten up Carter got the win and had spirits lifted when later in the show Sid Scala said he’d be in the tournament for the vacant NXT UK Championship and his first round match-up would be next week. Carter initially seemed hesitant about having to wrestle next week with a bad leg but he said it’s fine and an injury won’t take another title from him. When the brackets were revealed we saw he’d be facing Charlie Dempsey and I am very excited not just for this match but for the stakes attached. I had the winner of the tournament spoiled but nothing else so I’m hoping he overcomes Dempsey but has his leg mangled even worse in the process so he can then face Seven in the match I had hoped would be the tournament final prior to seeing the bracket and winner.

1. Emilia McKenzie. “What? She wasn’t even on the show? How could that be?!” Well for the first time that I can recall in my near year of ranking this show NXT UK pulled a bait-and-switch with their main event. The advertised title match between Sarray and Meiko Satomura was called off when Blair Davenport’s music hit and she let everyone know that Meiko and Sarry won’t be making it because earlier today they met with something unexpected; her. She talked about how if she hadn’t been injured during their last match she’d be the champ right now. This brought out Amale then Eliza Alexander and finally Isla Dawn who all had something to say on the matter. But Dawn was the only other person besides Blair in their ring gear so Sid Scala made a 1 on 1 match between the 2 for the #1 Contendership. Nigel McGuinness wisely questioned why Scala would reward Davenport but Andy Shepherd reminded us that she attacked Sid before so he may still be afraid. The match was nothing special. Dawn worked over the bad ankle of Davenport a bit and there were a lot of failed pinfall attempts but just as things were picking up it all went to hell. Dawn hit a meteora off the top to Davenport but as she went for the cover Eluza Alexander ran down to pull her off causing the ref to throw the match out. Amale ran down and the 4 women had a big pull apart brawl to send us off the air. Now, “Why McKenzie?” Simple. Because the way I see it this is just another chance that she didn’t get to qualify to face his trainer. If I had my way McKenzie, either before or after she turns on Satomura would bring up how she missed this chance because she was too busy tending to a wounded Satomura. That her caring for Meiko keeps costing her in her career. I’d even have Meiko insist on giving Sarray another match which only pushes McKenzie further back in line and adds more fuel to her fire. If this goes that way this is brilliant. If it doesn’t, if the McKenzie turn never happens this whole thing was dumb. But either way I’m holding out hope and giving Emilia McKenzie the #1 spot this week.

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