Welcome to another edition of eWN Round Table, where we gather some of the most active writers here on eWrestlingNews and share the platform to answer some questions surrounding a centralized topic, upcoming event, etc.
This is meant to showcase the potential for both a wide range of perspectives as well as how sometimes, there can be a group consensus no matter what your viewpoint is, so we also invite all of you to join in on the discussion by answering these questions yourself in the comments section below.
For this particular volume, we’ll be focusing on NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool II coming up this Sunday night.
Participants for this round = Anthony Mango, Kyle Dunning, David Varnes, and Richard Staple.
1) “Which match are you most excited to see on this pay-per-view?”
MANGO: The tag team title match has the most potential to be a lot of fun. Some of the others could be good, but none of them are doing much for me. At least with the Fatal 4-Way, it could be a car crash in the best way.
DUNNING: Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin will easily steal the show because they’re both incredible workers. Bate is the ultimate face, and Devlin is the best heel NXT UK has, so put them together and they’ll always steal the show. It’s an injustice Devlin still hasn’t had a title shot, but it’s never happening so long as Walter is the UK Champion.
VARNES: Ray v. Storm v. Piper. Not so much for the action (I’ll admit I only occasionally catch a NXT UK match, and even more rarely watch a whole episode), but to see how WWE feels about Toni Storm. Are they prepping her to represent the brand at World’s Collide? A move to the main NXT? Or some other cheeky move? After this past week’s NXT it seems they see her as a great asset for the brand, but I have to see it to believe it anymore.
STAPLE: The main event intrigues me because of the physical potential, and just because WALTER is awesome, but it’s hard to screw up a ladder match with a lot of people. That will be fun for sure.
2) “It’s been one year since NXT UK had its first TakeOver. Has that changed your perception of the brand in any way?”
MANGO: For me, it has greatly upgraded the brand’s value. One of the reasons I feel people don’t bother with 205 Live is because WWE never bothered to give that division its own special event. After years of only being on the kickoff, it gave people the impression it was superfluous, like Main Event. With NXT UK not having as much of the spotlight as NXT, without a TakeOver, it felt like it was 100% subordinate. While it still does come off that way (because, well, it is) it no longer seems like that is its entire purpose. With TakeOver events like Blackpool and Cardiff, it shows there is actual room to grow.
DUNNING: Not really. As a UK fan it’s just nice to have a brand for us Brits in general. We were always going to be less of a priority compared to other WWE shows, but despite that… I think they’ve done a great job showcasing British and other talent.
VARNES: Not so much. It still seems like the most generic brand in WWE. A bunch of pale, bearded white guys. I’ve yet to hear or see anything in the men’s division at least that has me wanting to give up one of my few days of non-wrestling watching to watch NXT UK.
STAPLE: Not really. The problem that UK had back then is that it had to compete with 205 Live and NXT just to get noticed, and it’s still experiencing some of the same problems, although 205 Live is on the brink of extinction. With NXT being on live television now, it’s going to become increasingly difficult for people to want to pay attention to UK if they don’t live in the region. And considering that you have UK talents such as Storm, Kay Lee Ray, Imperium and others making frequent appearances on NXT, UK may be barren with talent soon.
3) “Do you think Piper Niven’s recent bout with Bell’s Palsy will influence who wins the NXT UK Women’s Championship match? If so, how?”
MANGO: I hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’m still sticking to my original idea that Niven is the one who will win the title as I don’t think Kay Lee Ray is a noteworthy champion and going back to Toni Storm would just reset everything. However, WWE may be hesitant to give her the belt if she has health issues going on.
DUNNING: No, not really. If she’s medically cleared then there’s no issue. She wasn’t involved on this week’s NXT when Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray were out to challenge Rhea Ripley, so if anything’s an indication of who will win? It’s that.
VARNES: Definitely. With Worlds Collide coming up, WWE wants to put their best face forward for NXT UK. Ouch, that was cringeworthy in re-reading. But Piper’s just not that. Besides the size issue, which WWE has traditionally been poor dealing with, the Bell’s Palsy makes her less likely to win. WWE seems to want to push Rhea Ripley as the new face of the women’s division, at least NXT wise if not in the top echelon of all of WWE. And I get it, she’s athletic, she’s rock, and she’s not too hard on the eyes. So the only way she’d lose at Worlds Collide is via outside chicanery. But seeing her putting that engineer boot of hers in the face of a Bell’s Palsy would make it impossible to put her over as a face in the match. So expect Kay Lee to retain, or for Toni Storm to win and take on Rhea at Worlds Collide.
STAPLE: A major win out of sympathy for one’s struggles? It certainly isn’t unheard of. After Eddie Guerrerro’s death, WWE gifted Rey Mysterio with the 2006 Royal Rumble victory and gave him his WrestleMania moment as a result. I don’t think it’s guaranteed, but if you needed a reason, there’s that.
4) “Joseph Conners has been on a mission saying he is TakeOver-worthy. Do you agree or disagree?”
MANGO: Disagree. What has he done that deserves a spot on such a tiny card like this? He hasn’t had a solid feud with anyone worth getting deeply invested in, he isn’t particularly amazing to watch and it isn’t as though the audience is seething about any of this. Pass.