Zack Gibson and James Drake def. Moustache Mountain – NXT UK Tag Team Championships
Watching matches with Moustache Moutnain never ceases to amuse me. It’s funny, because I also associate Moustache Mountain matches with Undisputed Era. So when I saw Gibson and Drake, I just pretended that they were actually Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly.
Overall, this was a fabulous match to open the night that gave me NXT vibes. Trent Seven never fails to make a great face in peril. He just has a tremendous sense of what to do and how to make it seem like he’s in actual trouble. Gibson and Drake also seem to have tremendous chemistry with each other, completing a variety of original moves.
I especially liked when they absolutely destroyed Bate in mid-air, Seven saw what happened and got pissed, only to get dropkicked in mid-air himself, costing them the match. And Bate continues to amaze with his tremendous energy and strength. He’s unbelievably polished for someone his age.
Overall, a wonderful match, the right team won and a great start to the night. ****1/2
Finn Balor def. Jordan Devlin
I did get the impression that for their first ever Takeover, WWE would want to call in the heavy artillery. Balor was of course the only logical surprise here. Since this match had no story behind it, I couldn’t get emotionally invested, save for the master/student dynamic. However, I can say that it was a very physical and well-worked match.
The finish was never in question, but I think this will be good for Devlin as he tries to establish himself as a heel. He had a great showing here and kept up with Balor’s pace. No complaints here. ***1/2
Dave Mastiff def. Eddie Dennis – No Disqualification
I am certainly they just cut through the gimmicks and for straight to the No DQ portion right out of the gate. Some of the spots were well timed, Dennis’ handling of Mastiff on certain spots was impressive, and it didn’t overstay it’s welcome. Obviously, if a match comprises of just hitting each other with weapons, there’s only so much the match can do. But it was a fun 10 minute little brawl. ***1/4
Toni Storm def. Rhea Ripley (C) – NXT UK Women’s Championship
There’s nothing like a good old fashioned battle of attrition. I certainly liked the clash of styles between the two. It seemed like Ripley was a ground and pound kind of character while Storm looked to pick up the pace. I’ve been a fan of Storm’s style watching her from the Mae Young Classic, and her ability to adapt to any person’s style is certainly uncanny.
I can’t tell you specifically, but I felt like the match was missing something. I felt like I should have been a bit more emotionally invested in the match, and I guess there was a storyline dynamic I missed. But hard-worked from start to finish. ***1/2
Pete Dunne (C) def. Joe Coffey – NXT UK Championship
This match is kind of hard to grade for me. Let’s get this out of the way first, at least. I loved the sheer physicality of the match. When I’m watching Pete Dunne in the ring, I’m preparing myself for a straight up fight and some bones to be broken. Coffey seemed to accentuate the physicality of Dunne and that made it into an all-out brawl.
Whether it was powerbombs onto the apron, tossing each other to the floor from the top rope, or all of their hard hitting headbutts, I got the impression they weren’t pulling their punches. They told a solid story, and stuck to it until the end. Dunne needing three Bitter Ends and his submission to end things was a sign of the intense battle he was in. I dug all of that.
However, I did feel that it was a tad long, and I think there was things out in there just to pad time. For example, there was a sequence where Dunne and Coffey were on the top rope, and Coffey was shoved to the outside and Dunne was shoved in the ring. Moments later, they go back to the top rope, and Coffey slammed Dunne in the ring. I don’t know, I just think that this kind of match can benefit from the “less is more” philosophy.
By my count, this match was almost 35 minutes. I can understand if this was Gargano/Ciampa in New Orleans. I just didn’t think it should have ran that long. Despite that, this is was still a very physical and hard worked main event. Dunne’s long reign continues and Coffey got a chance to sell himself. ****1/4
Takeover:Blackpool was an overall very good show, and they made a solid first impression on me for their first Takeover event, ever. Was this enough to get me to watch them weekly? Probably not. However, I didn’t start to watch NXT weekly until I watched their Takeover events, so there’s no reason why the UK brand can’t do the same.
The brand unfortunately suffers from being placed in such close proximity with RAW, Smackdown, NXT and 205 Live, and my fear is that UK may be the odd brand out due to general lack of familiarity and content overload. Most of the characters that haven’t been featured on NXT don’t really resonate with me, but this can be subject to change.
As for now, this was a rock solid wrestling show and if you want something different, I’d give it a try. Thumbs up.