Greg DeMarco is here with his match ratings for the UK’s first Takeover, WWE NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool!
The WWE’s NXT UK brand presented their first ever Takeover on Saturday, from the place it all started, The Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. The
- Zack Gibson & James Drake defeated Mustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) in 23:43 to become the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions – ****3/4
This match was fantastic. I can’t speak enough to it. It built to the third act, which delivered in a big way. All four men had their strengths highlighted, and their weaknesses used against them. Zack Gibson and Trent Seven did an amazing job directing traffic, and all four sold like champs in this match.
I noticed one thing that sets this match apart. The tag team offense came as a result of communication. It wasn’t automatic. This felt real, and is the type of thing that could reinvent tag team wrestling again for WWE. Kudos to everyone involved.
- Finn Balor pinned Jordan Devlin in 11:51 with the Coup De Grace – ***1/2
The rating here is for the entire story, including Travis Banks’ pre-match attack on Jordan Devlin that led him being helped to the back, and Finn Balor being introduced as “Plan B.”
Balor and Devlin put on a storytelling classic, with Balor taking the early advantage, and Devlin being at his cheating best to steal that advantage back. The match itself was “shorter” than you’d expect, but Balor is a former Universal Champion and is poised for a big 2019. Devlin still looked great in the loss, and this could be a thread in NXT UK over the next year.
By the way, Devlin’s Yanking Backdrop Driver is amazing.
- Eddie Dennis beat Dave Mastiff in a No Disqualification Match at 10:48 – **1/2
The shortest match on the card, and it only took a few minutes for the stairs to end up in the ring, a Kendo Stick to be wielded, and the mats to be removed from the floor. Maybe it’s the over-used stipulation, but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t offensive, but compared to other matches of this style we’ve seen over the past year, this one fell short.
- Toni Storm pinned Rhea Ripley to win the NXT UK Women’s Championship in 14:48 – ***
A good match, yes. But it was lacking in some areas, sloppy in others, and slow still in others. That showed in the crowd, too, as they were lowest for this match (unless people were kicking out of finishers). Even the applause seemed to be more polite than passionate.
They still popped huge for the finish, as Toni Storm is one of the most likable people around. Not in the business, but in the entire world. I also think the right person won, on this night, but Rhea Ripley (who was possibly champion due to injuries to others) has the potential to be a legendary WWE performer.
- Pete Dunne forced Joe Coffey to submit to retain the WWE United Kingdom Championship in 34:13 – ***1/2
Joe Coffey has always looked like an ultra-talented Jim Neidhart, but damn is he good. I kinda wish he won this match, because he would make one hell of a heel champion. Sadly, it’s Pete Dunne’s time in NXT UK.
This match was decidedly equal. Coffey looked like a star, and the two botches actually worked for this match. Dunne won via submission, which he’s done a few times recently. After the finish we saw the NXT UK debut of WALTER, and I half worry that he’ll be given the championship right away. Not that he won’t make a great champion, but I’d like to see more of a build.
Overall this was a great first Takeover outing for NXT UK. It wasn’t perfect, but it set the table for this great brand. I think it’s my favorite brand at the moment, and I can’t wait for what they do next.