NXT UK: A Retrospective
The hottest rising brand in the WWE looks back on three years of amazing action! Join NXT UK as it looks back on its incredible journey.
- 1/15/17 – WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Tyler Bate VS Jordan Devlin; Bate wins and advances to the semifinals.
- 6/25/18 – WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament 2018 Quarterfinals: Zack Gibson VS Jack Gallagher; Gibson wins and advances to the semifinals.
- 10/17/18 – NXT UK Debut Episode: Mark Andrews VS Joe Coffey w/ Mark Coffey; Joe Coffey wins.
- 5/19/17 – WWE United Kingdom Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Pete Dunne VS Trent Seven; Dunne wins and will challenge Tyler Bate for the title.
PLAY BY PLAY
It all started in December, 2016.
Triple H arrived in London to announce the WWE’s newest brand. “We! Are! NXT!” HHH officially announced the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Championship two-night tournament. “It’s huge.” William Regal was also present to introduce the original field of 16. The best from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland would compete for the historic honor of being the very first.
Andy Shepherd welcomes us to a “very unique” NXT UK.
These are very unique times, of course. Hopefully everyone is safe, healthy and home. But don’t worry! The next hour will look back to the very early days of this brand. We will look as that time over three years ago when the seeds of NXT UK were planted in the town that is now synonymous with the brand: Blackpool!
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Tyler Bate VS Jordan Devlin!
Tyler Bate looks back on this day fondly, as he was just a 19 year old Big Strong Boy then. It was definitely the “deep end” but he will always be grateful for the opportunity, and will always cherish becoming the inaugural United Kingdom Champion. As for the Irish Ace, it was a significant weekend in history. Not just because it crowned the inaugural champion, but because it gave the world the first taste of Devlin. The sole Irish representative in that tournament got his start that night in Blackpool.
Devlin offers a handshake but Bate leaves him hanging to check the mustache. The bell rings and Devlin clobbers Bate! Devlin throws Bate into buckles then stomps and CHOPS! Fans troll him as “Big-Head Balor!” as Devlin stomps Bate in the corner. The ref backs Devlin off but Devlin goes after Bate. Bate reverses the whip and sends Devlin out hard! Fans cheer as Bate builds speed and DIVES! Direct hit at the ramp and Blackpool cheers even more. Bate brings Devlin up and into the ring and hurries after him. Bate goes after Devlin in the corner but the ref keeps him back. Devlin uses the distraction to poke Bate in the eye! Fans boo but Devlin wrenches and wrings Bate’s arm out. Devlin stands on the arm to stomp the hand!
Devlin throws clubbing forearms and then rains down hammering fists from all sides. Fans boo and the ref reprimands Devlin but Devlin brings Bate up to CLUB again. Devlin knuckle locks Bate to the mat for a cover, TWO as Bate brings a shoulder up. Fans sing for Bate as Devlin puts the shoulder back down, but TWO as Bate brings the other shoulder up. Devlin grows annoyed as he puts both shoulders down. TWO as Bate full bridges! Devlin hops on, TWO as Bate bridges even with Devlin! Devlin brings Bate up but Bate uses that to monkey flip him away! Fans are thunderous as Bate boots and KNEES Devlin back! Bate hops up and flies for a huge uppercut! Bate calls for it and fireman’s carries Devlin. Devlin denies the spin then springboards, but into Bate’s arms!
Bate brings Devlin up to start the AIRPLANE SPIN! Bate goes around again and again and again, and then both men stagger about. Devlin flops to the apron but stays in. Fans direct Bate but Devlin flicks the rope at him! Then enziguris him down! Bate is down and Devlin goes to the corner and climbs up. Devlin MOONSAULTS but rolls through as Bate moves. Bate uppercuts but Devlin KNEES! Cover, TWO!! Devlin grows frustrated but he goes back to the corner. Devlin climbs up again but hears the fan trolling. He MOONSAULTS but FLOPS! Bate brings Devlin in, underhooks and… NO! Huricanrana! Cover, TWO! Devlin hits the rolling roundhouse!
Bate goes down and the ref checks on him. That same move busted Danny Burch open but Bate is still alright. Bate blocks the knee, puts up Bop and hits BANG! Bate reels Devlin in, TYLER DRIVER ’97!! Cover, Bate wins!!
Winner: Tyler Bate, by pinfall (advances to the semifinals)
Only 19 years old but he’s on a roll unlike any other!
Shepherd recaps the rest of that inaugural tournament.
The Big Strong Boy bested the Last King of Scotland, Wolfgang, in the semifinals, much to the surprise of even himself. On the other side, friends turned rivals in the Bruiserweight and Welsh Rockstar met in their own semifinals match, but it wasn’t friendly after that. Pete Dunne beat Mark Andrews and joined his other friendly rival in the finals. Bate VS Dunne was an incredible match and just the first of many. After 15 furious minutes and a little extra, the Big Strong Boy became that inaugural WWE United Kingdom Champion, and the revolution was born. But it was still a long road before this division felt like a brand.
Shepherd welcomes us back to the show.
“It’s pretty amazing to think that it was just three years ago when the roots of NXT UK began to take hold.” The reaction to the resurgence was undeniable. That original tournament set the table for so many in this new generation of UK wrestling, to an audience that continued to beg for more. It got to the point where British Wrestling couldn’t be held back any longer.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament 2018 Quarterfinals: Zack Gibson VS Jack Gallagher!
The former Gentleman says “What you’re about to witness is a historic event.” It took place in the Royal Albert Hall, in the first match of the quarterfinals. He battled a decade-old rival in Liverpool’s Number One, for bragging rights and prestige. “This was one for the books.” Gibson adds that in 2018, he was invited to participate in the second United Kingdom Championship Tournament. This was the biggest opportunity in his career, and not even his “old pal” Jack was going to get in the way of showing the world he is what he says he is: SOON to be recognized as the world’s number one.
This 20 minute time limit match begins with Gallagher offering but Gibson declining a show of respect. Fans boo and jeer Gibson as the two circle. They tie up, Gibson gets a waistlock but Gallagher quickly reverses. Gibson reverses back, but has to spin again to shovel Gallagher over. Gallagher is up and wrings Gibson out, but Gibson headscissors. Gallagher finds his way out, then stands off with Gibson. Fans are already rowdy for Gallagher and he embraces it. The two circle again and tie up. Gibson arm-drags into an armlock and even tells fans to shut up. Gallagher gets up, whips but Gibson arm-drags him again. Fans boo at the sneering and cocky Gibson. They rally for Gallagher, and Gallagher stands to flip and headlock.
Gibson powers out but Gallagher gets under to an armlock then leap frog to a roll up, TWO. Gallagher tells Gibson just how close that was. The two stand up again, Gallagher ducks the clothesline to become a pretzel! Gibson has seen this before, but he still falls for it. Cover, TWO, so Gallagher gets a chinlock. Gallagher adds a chinbar, but Gibson stands to pull hair. Gallagher hits a European Uppercut, then another. Gibson powers Gallagher to the ropes, but dirties the break and hotshots the arm. He dropkicks Gallagher down then hammers away. Cover, TWO, and Gibson grows frustrated. Gibson stalks Gallagher to the ropes, then reels him into a lariat. Fans keep taunting Gibson but he dropkicks Gallagher again. Cover, TWO, so he wraps Gallagher in a half-nelson.
Gallagher endures, fans rally, and Gallagher gets up to fight back with body shots. Gibson knees low then whips Gallagher, but Gallagher sunset flips. Gibson stops that and yanks on the arm. He goes after the wrist, but Gallagher gets up and snapmares. Gibson still has the wrist! He brings Gallagher down but fans rally up again. Gallagher stands, throws hands, but Gibson elbows Gallagher. Gibson throws Gallagher with the straight-arm suplex! He blows a kiss to the fans before going back to Gallagher with punches and EuroUppers of his own. Fans love taunting Gibson as he whips Gallagher corner to corner hard! Gallagher hits buckles and then mat, but Gibson is right on that arm. The ropebreak is barely honored, then Gibson whips Gallagher hard again.
Gibson taunts Gallagher now, he wants Gallagher to “show me something!” Gallagher hits back with forearms, but Gibson trips him up and clobbers him. Cover, TWO, so it’s back to the arm. Gallagher stands again, but Gibson brings him down to another take on the arm and chinbar. Gallagher endures so Gibson shifts back to his half-nelson. Fans rally for Gallagher, and Gallagher feeds off that energy. Gibson knees low, then whips, but he runs into Gallagher’s forearm and elbow. Gallagher keeps going, backing Gibson down! Gallagher fires off all sorts of strikes. Gibson whips and kicks low, then goes to suplex, but it’s Gallagher who lifts Gibson! Fans fire up as Gallagher slams Gibson down. Gallagher stands first, then runs to Penalty Kick Gibson! Cover, TWO!
Gibson clutches his head, but Gallagher is right on him. They scrap on the mat, and Gallagher brings Gibson up. Gibson powers Gallagher to a corner, but Gallagher clubs back. Gallagher goes up, clubs more, but Gibson trips him up to hit a draping code breaker! Cover, TWO! Gallagher rolls to the apron while Gibson is in disbelief. Fans are strongly behind Gallagher while Gibson suplexes him in. Gallagher breaks free and dropkicks Gibson. Gallagher back elbows Gibson off the wristlock, then runs in for- The dropkick is countered to a Liger Bomb! But Gallagher gets him in a triangle hold! Gibson endures, powers up to deadlift, buckle bomb! Gallagher hops up, hanging triangle! Gallagher lets go at 4, then comes back up to slingshot in to put on a sleeper and body scissors!!
Gibson reaches and gets a ropebreak. Gallagher lets go, but both men are slow to standing. Gallagher is up first, and runs in, but his dropkick misses again. He lands on his feet to DIVE! Gallagher puts Gibson in, and with no hesitation, Gentleman’s Dropkick! Cover, TWO!? Gibson survives, but Gallagher is too tired to be frustrated. Gallagher drags Gibson up, but Gibson throat chops! Gibson throws Gallagher into a post, and Gallagher falls to the floor. Gibson catches his breath and leaves Gallagher to the mercy of the count. Gallagher returns at 9, but Gibson clobbers him! Then, Ticket to Ride gut buster! Cover, TWO!! Gallagher survives, and now Gibson is too tired to be frustrated.
Fans declare “This is Awesome!” Gallagher endures a new hold, but fights back, snapmare to dropkick! But Gallagher isn’t finished. He gets himself to the top rope! Gallagher aims, leaps, but into boots! And SHANKLY GATES! Gallagher taps, Gibson wins!
Winner: Zack Gibson, by submission (advances to the semifinals)
Liverpool’s Number One has won again. Whether he was tougher than Gallagher, he was at least smarter to reverse that situation.
Shepherd recaps the rest of the 2018 tournament.
Gibson made quick work of Flash Morgan Webster in the semifinals and met Travis Banks in the finals. The Kiwi Buzzsaw was already banged up after facing Joe Coffey, but he gave Gibson a hell of a match. Gibson won the tournament to earn his shot at Pete Dunne on the third and final night of the huge UK Championship event. That same night, Moustache Mountain, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven, shocked the Undisputed Era and took the NXT Tag Team Championships! But that was only the start of the excitement. That was the same night HHH officially announced THE NXT UK Brand!! A men’s division, a women’s division and a tag team division! “Are you ready?!” Things finally started taking shape, but it would get even better as the brand started to take over.
10/17/18 – NXT UK Debut Episode: Mark Andrews VS Joe Coffey w/ Mark Coffey!
#MAndrews says that after almost two years, the United Kingdom Championship and its Division traveling the world along with NXT, they finally came home! Andrews remembers being nervous but excited that he got to be the first thing everyone saw. He took an extra lap to soak up all that energy from the fans. Andrews is still psyched he got to be part of that historic moment. As for the Iron King, “the birth of a new brand” and the famous fighting firm, Gallus. Since day one, NXT UK has been Gallus’ Kingdom, and they made a statement in the Royal Albert Hall. One of the casualties happened to be Andrews on the premiere episode as Joe left his mark.
The bell rings and the fans are on Andrews’ side. Andrews and Joe circle and Andrews gets around. Joe standing switches and throws Andrews down to then get the arm. Fans rally while Joe wrenches Andrews’ arm. Andrews rolls and handsprings to get up but he can’t get Joe down. He kips up and gets into a Greco-Roman wristlock battle with Joe, only to get brought down again. Joe covers, TWO as Andrews gets a shoulder up. Joe pushes that shoulder back down, TWO as Andrews gets the other shoulder up. That shoulder goes down, but then Andrews bridges! Joe goes to put his full weight on Andrews but gets caught into a wheelbarrow arm-drag! Andrews tries another arm-drag but Joe reverses to a whip. Andrews comes back with a huricanrana!
Joe ends up in a corner and Andrews runs in, but is put on the apron. He swing kicks Joe away, then springboards, for a flying huricanrana! Andrews handsprings and the fans fire up while Joe gets to ropes. Fans rally behind Andrews as he tries to whip, but Joe holds ropes. Joe breaks free and chops Andrews stiff across the chest. Joe gives body shots and European Uppercuts, but Andrews ducks the discus, only to run into a Pounce! Fans boo while Andrews writhes but Joe just stalks behind Andrews to a corner. Joe throws more hands then brings Andrews out for the butterfly swing! Around and around the go, and then Joe throws Andrews with a butterfly suplex! Cover, TWO! But Joe is right on Andrews with a half straitjacket, to a full!
Fans rally up as Andrews endures, but Joe drives in a knee. Andrews feeds off the fan energy but Joe bends him back. Andrews stands up and arm-drags Joe off. He runs but into an elbow. Joe throws Andrews out of the ring, then distracts the ref. Mark comes around but the ref spots him in time. So Joe gets the sneak attack instead! Joe declares this is “My Kingdom! MY Kingdom!” Joe puts Andrews in, then pulls off the elbow pad. He brings Andrews up, but Andrews blocks the elbow to fire off chops and forearms. Joe shoves him away but Andrews comes back with furious palm strikes! Fans fire up as Andrews mule kicks and front kicks Joe. Andrews whips but Joe reverses. Andrews slides under to enziguri!
Joe gets to a corner and Andrews grits his teeth. Andrews runs in for meteora then runs to victory roll and double stomp! To standing corkscrew moonsault! Cover, TWO! Fans rally up as Andrews brings Joe up. Joe shoves Andrews but runs into another enziguri. Andrews runs but into a pop-up EuroUpper, and then Joe gives a running headbutt! Joe says “No mercy!” but fans boo. Joe runs in for a corner splash, then whips for the pop-up powerslam! Cover, TWO!! Andrews survives and Joe is furious. Joe drags Andrews as fans rally up again. Joe suplexes but gets Stun-Dog Millionaire! Andrews heads to a corner with Joe in a drop zone, but Mark saves his brother. So Andrews SUPER ASAIS on them both!
Andrews hits both Coffey Brothers and the fans are all fired up. Andrews puts Joe in, climbs up again, but Mark gets up to go after him. Mark gets kicked away but Joe hops up for a SUPER Belly2Belly! Then All the Best for the Bells! The spinning lariat hits, Joe covers, Joe wins!
Winner: Joe Coffey, by pinfall
Joe should give some credit to his brother, Mark, for giving him the opening. NXT UK’s first match was Gallus’ win, and nothing can take that from them. But it seems they’re not done with Andrews just yet! Both Coffey Brothers stomp away on Andrews, and fans boo and jeer the entire time. Here comes Flash Morgan Webster for the save! Flash uses his pilot’s helmet to even the odds, and the Coffey Boys are in retreat!
Shepherd recaps the following days of NXT UK.
“And we were off and running!” From Cambridge to Birmingham to Plymouth to Liverpool, NXT UK was on the map! But the story of this brand is incomplete without the legacy of the Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne!
Next week, the NXT UK nostalgia continues!
We’ve relived the rise of the brand, but next week will be all about the #SuperstarPicks! What matches and moments will be among the roster’s favorites? Will they be the same as yours?
Shepherd begins the tale of Pete Dunne, the Bruiserweight!
Between the first and second WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournaments, the Division headed to Norwich for a very special event. Among the great matches, many of which were crossovers between US and UK rosters, was a powerful #1 contender’s match. Pete Dunne lost the finals match in 2017 and was looking for redemption. He would have to do so against another British Strong Style friend in Trent Seven.
WWE United Kingdom Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Pete Dunne VS Trent Seven!
The then Progress World Champion was fighting to become a double champion, but the Man from Moustache Mountain just wanted to have one belt to call his own. Dunne says that it’s safe to say the trio of British Strong Style are “the pillars of NXT UK.” They became great friends and a great team, but a huge part of their history was fighting each other. This was a crucial point in time in order for Dunne to get back to the top of this brand new brand. Seven adds that this trip down memory lane goes so far back. British Strong Style was riding high with Bate as the UK Champion, and so this match to determine his challenger at TakeOver: Chicago was massive.
The two friendly rivals stare down as the bell rings. Fans are divided as they duel with chants. Dunne offers a handshake but Seven leaves him hanging. They circle and fans settle for cheering for British Strong Style. Seven rushes Dunne but Dunne gets back to a corner. Dunne uses the ropes as defense and Seven backs away. They circle again, and they tie up. Dunne pushes Seven towards a corner but Seven turns it around. The ref counts and Seven lets up at 4. Dunne again uses the ropes as defense and Seven backs away. They circle again and fans sing for “Trent Seven Army~!” Dunne knuckle locks and wrenches Seven around. Dunne gets Seven on the mat and twists the elbow. Seven fights his way up and breaks free. Seven backs away to a corner and Dunne gives him space.
Dunne and Seven circle again. They knuckle lock but Seven CHOPS Dunne down! Fans “WOO~” as Seven runs in to CHOP Dunne again! Dunne reels from the stinging in his chest. Dunne boots Seven away in the corner then hops up, but Seven throws a body shot with his left hand. Seven brings Dunne down then to a cover, ONE! Seven clamps on with a chinlock but Dunne endures. Fans duel again as Dunne fights his way up. Dunne waistlocks but Seven gets ropes. Dunne CLUBS Seven on the back then he goes after the bad arm. He hammerlocks the arm to the mat, then KICKS it! Seven bails out but Dunne pursues. Dunne brings Seven around the way but Seven resists. Dunne ROCKS Seven with a right, then puts the bad arm between steps and post. He BOOTS the steps and it crushes the elbow!
Dunne knocks Seven down then goes up the steps to the apron. Dunne goes into the ring as the count climbs. Seven is in at 7 but Dunne is after the bad arm again. Dunne rains down fists then hooks the arm for a deathlock snap! Dunne doesn’t let Seven away as he fish hooks and chinbars Seven on the mat. Fans rally and duel again as Dunne pulls on the elbow tape. Dunne exposes the bad elbow and bends Seven’s arm way back! Seven endures as Dunne digs in his own elbow. Dunne makes it a cover, ONE! Seven pushes Dunne but Dunne twists the fingers to JAM them into the mat! Dunne kicks Seven around then traps the good arm. Dunne hammers the elbow over and over then clamps on with a high keylock. But Seven reaches out with his feet for the ropebreak!
Dunne lets go, just to DOUBLE STOMP the arm! And BOOT Seven at the ropes! Cover, TWO! Seven still lives but Dunne keeps his cool. Dunne is after the arm again and bends the fingers back. Fans duel as Seven stands. Seven CHOPS but Dunne wants after the arm. Seven CHOPS again! Dunne grabs Seven by the beard but Seven breaks free. Seven fakes Dunne out, and hits the DDT! Fans cheer as Dunne rolls away to ropes. Seven grits his teeth and fires himself up as Dunne bails out. Seven builds speed and DIVES! The LOW-PE hits into the barriers! Fans fire up as Seven drags Dunne up with one good arm. Seven puts Dunne in the ring and hurries after, but Dunne KICKS the arm again! Dunne drags Seven around and kicks him in the face over and over.
Dunne brings Seven around and pump handles, but Seven slips free! Seven wristlocks and ripcords but Dunne breaks free to ROCK him with a right! Seven comes back with a LEFT HAND LARIAT! Cover, TWO!! Dunne survives but both men are down. Seven shakes out the bad arm while Dunne gets to ropes. Seven doesn’t want the ref to end this, and he runs at Dunne. Dunne sidesteps to REBOUND GERMAN! Dunne lifts Seven but Seven suplexes for a SLAM! Cover, TWO!! Dunne survives and both men are down again. Fans again cheer for “British Strong Style!” as both men go to corners. Seven runs at Dunne but Dunne sends him into the post! Dunne SAIDO SUPLEXES! Then he drags Seven up for an X PLEX! Cover, TWO!! Dunne goes after the arm with a mounted wristlock!
Seven flails and gets the ropebreak with his legs! Dunne lets go and Seven gets to the apron. Dunne goes out after Seven and whips him into barriers! Seven hits hard and falls but Dunne is after his bad arm. Dunne SNAPS the fingers! Dunne refreshes the count and puts Seven on the apron. He gives toying kicks to Seven over and over, but Seven SLAPS back! Dunne KICKS the leg and throws a forearm! Seven throws one back, but Dunne facelocks him. Seven fights him off and full nelsons, APRON DRAGON SUPLEX!! Both men fall and fans lose their minds! Seven and Dunne stir as the ring count climbs. The count passes 5 as both men stand. The count hits 9, and both men are in at 9.9! Fans cheer as the match continues because “This is Awesome!”
Dunne goes to a corner and climbs up top. Seven CHOPS Dunne and climbs up to join him. Dunne throws elbow after elbow to fight Seven back. Dunne twists the arm and clubs the bad elbow. Seven hops down but CHOPS again! Seven has Dunne backwards as he climbs up. He wants the full nelson again, SUPER DRAGON SUPLEX! But Dunne lands on his feet!! Dunne ROCKS Seven, Seven BACK HANDS, but Dunne enziguris! Dunne runs into a LARIAT!! Cover, TWO!! Seven almost had Dunne but both men are still in this. Fans are loving this great example of “British Wrestling!” Seven drags Dunne up, wristlocks and ripcords, but Dunne hops on! Dunne has a Hoverboard Kimura!
Seven stays up and wags his finger, “No, no.” He powers up and SNAP DRAGONS Dunne again! Dunne flounders up, into a BACK HAND! Seven wristlocks to torture rack, but Dunne fights out. Dunne pump handles, for the BITTER END! Cover, Dunne wins!!
Winner: Pete Dunne, by pinfall (NEW #1 Contender to the WWE UK Championship)
The Bruiserweight is headed for Chicago for a rematch with Tyler Bate!
Fast-forward to NXT TakeOver: Chicago!
The Big Strong Boy and the Bruiserweight met again after only four months from the original tournament. Dunne says that being #1 contender and going to TakeOver: Chicago was his chance to prove himself. And it was the perfect place to prove the greatness of British wrestling. Dunne wouldn’t have had it any other way than against Tyler Bate. Hearing the fans cheer for the UK as he won the title, that was the most important day of his career.
Of course, that win was just the first of many! Pete Dunne is still the longest reigning WWE/NXT United Kingdom Champion at 685 days. “Being able to travel the world defending that UK title changed my life.” Dunne was able to be part of both UK and US halves of NXT, defending against Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet, Noam Dar, Danny Burch, Jordan Devlin, Joe Coffey, the best of the best around the world. “That title really elevated me, and I took a lot of pride using that platform to elevate the UK scene.” It meant so much to him to main event the first-ever NXT UK TakeOver, and returning to Blackpool brought everything full circle.
But then, one of the best in Europe came to NXT UK. It was inevitable for Walter to come for the title, and Dunne himself knew that match needed to happen. However, that chapter of NXT UK is for another time. Three years have gone by in a flash, make sure not to blink or you’ll miss the next three!
This was a pretty good retrospective episode for NXT UK. It would’ve been easier to do the coverage if I still had material from early 2017. But at the same time, it was great to watch those early matches back and write new Play By Play for them. It was literally years since I watched those matches, and doing them now was great because I’m pretty sure I’ve improved in some way in how I do this. Don’t comment to that if I haven’t. But this was a nice hour just to share in some nostalgia during these times. And as I said last week, this is because WWE can’t do new material for NXT UK while everything is in lockdown. Next week’s Superstar Picks will be a nice hour of content, too, I can’t wait to relive whatever moments they choose.
My Score: 8/10