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The NXT brand have been competing in their second ever UK tour this week and I was there on hand in Liverpool. I won the tickets, so you can imagine how much of a mad dash in terms of booking accommodation and travel arrangements at such sort notice. This marks my 3rd NXT show, having attended their first ever UK live event back in Newcastle, last year, and Takeover: Dallas in April.
I was at a William Regal Q&A session in 2014 in Liverpool where Regal suggested that NXT could end up doing their own UK tours, so coming back for a show in Liverpool brings my NXT experience full circle.
The arena was full up. There were some empty seats in the nosebleeds, but all in all it was a strong turnout. Dasha Fuentes is our ring announcer. She really is a stunning lass! Sure I seen her at Axcess.
Hugo Knox def. Wesley Blake via pinfall
Just like for Buddy Murphy, Wesley Blake has his first name back again. Strong support for the Englishman Knox from the get go. One section of the crowd began chanting ‘Hugo Knoxy, Baby’ in tune to ‘do you want me, baby’. The crowd chants will set the tone for the rest of the night. A chant directed towards Wesley Blake dubbing him a ‘shit Robbie Savage’. I’m impressed by Hugo Knox. He has a huge upper body, making you expect someone lumbering like Ryback or Mason Ryan. But his athleticism was a joy to watch. Dropkicks, spin-kicks, and headscissors were in the arsenal. It was a decent match designed to warm the crowd up and they did just that. Knox went for his Springboard Moonsault finisher, but slipped off the top rope. He recovered and got the victory. You could tell he was bothered about messing up his finisher. Botch aside, it was a good opener.
American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) def. Alexander Wolfe and Sawyer Fulton via submission
For a solid 13 minutes the crowd never stopped chanting for American Alpha. These guys have a massive cult following. They did the Yaya Toure/ Kolo Toure chant. My favourite was when they chanted ‘Jordan, giz a wave’. At first he didn’t respond, then all of a sudden, he just jumped on the top rope and began waving like crazy. You can tell Jordan loves the UK crowds, I just wish American audiences would adopt the same energy. Fulton has been in NXT for some time now and has been floating around doing nothing, so putting him in a tag team is a way of keeping him relevant, plus NXT needs more tag teams after the departures of Enzo & Cass and The Vaudevillians. Alpha won via submission after both Jordan and Gable locked on ankle locks on their opponents.
After the match, The Revival came out and teased putting the titles on the line against Jordan & Gable. Dash Wilder cut this heavy Beatles pun promo which made the crowd groan just because of how awful if was. It was just supposed to be intentionally bad. After teasing a title match, they changed their minds. That seemed to be the end of it, but Revival tried to attack Alpha from behind, but Jordan and Gable got the better of them. They finished Wilder off with their double team finisher to end the segment.
Bobby Roode def. No Way Jose via pinfall
Good God this match was a full on laugh riot! There was this one moment in the match where Jose asked for his entrance music to be played, and both he and Roode broke out in a dance. I’ve always viewed Robert Roode as a serious competitor, and someone I rank very highly, so that reason alone made this even more hilarious then it was! Those sarcastic ‘this is wrestling’ were well deserved here. There was also a ‘Bobby Roode’ chant in tune to ‘Daddy Cool’. Roode attacked Jose mid dance and finished him off with a spine buster. Had this been on TV the ICW would be venting their rage out with their keyboards. This was a match designed to entertain the kids but ended up entertained the adults, too.
Bayley & Carmella def. Peyton Royce & Nikki Glencross via pinfall
It was Bayley’s birthday, so everyone sang happy birthday to her. The crowd followed up with a rendition of ‘she’s a jolly good fella’. She was proper loving it. Some ‘ICW’ chants directed towards Glencross. There were a few guys near where I was sitting singing the theme tune to ‘Home & Away’ for Peyton, I wish that caught on, but what did catch fire was ‘stand up if you love Bayley’ where the entire arena stood up in support of the former NXT women’s champion. Not a bad match with both teams were evenly booked. Bayley picked up the win for her team, after connecting with the Bayley to Belly on Glencross. I enjoyed how Bayley and Carmella looked to be having the time of their lives – it’s great for crowds to see wrestlers really enjoying themselves. It makes a refreshing change from the norm.
Andrade Cien Almas def. Tye Dilinger via pinfall
Dilinger did a pre-match promo talking about how he’s a perfect 10, and all that. The cheers from the crowd were not what he wanted, so he removed his shirt to unveil a Manchester United shirt. Classic heel move #32. Aside from reaction to the Man Utd shirt, the crowd wasn’t really into to this. I guess that’s because Almas is still new to the company and has yet to build a rapport with the audience. The effort was there, but it wasn’t anything noteworthy. Tye Dillinger’s “10” gimmick is totally over with this crowd, and they did not want to boo him, although some persevered. His opponent, Andrade Cien Almas, is not yet established enough as a character for the crowd to embrace him. They just need to give him time, that’s all.
NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka © def. Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss via submission
Excellent match. What impressed me most was the hard hitting style they all worked with. Jax power bombed Asuka so hard that it made the entire crowd groan. There were some silly moments where Nia Jax went to do the People’s Elbow on Asuka, only to be stopped by Bliss at the last second. Bliss grabbed Jax by the throat and Jax just looked at her as if to say, ‘the fuck you doing?’. Watching this match made me realise just how far both Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss have come since their debuts. They’ve improved massively. Don’t be surprised if either one of those two wins the most improved diva award for this year’s Rif Awards. The other thing I noticed was how strong the chemistry was between the three girls, perhaps a triple threat match at the next Takeover show? Asuka is the best women’s wrestler on the roster today. Everything she does looks so effortlessly. It’s going to be interesting to see how they’ll go about booking her first loss in the company.
On a side note, I missed out on meeting Nia Jax, Carmella and No Way Jose at the Carven Club. Gutted. My quest to getting Jose’s autograph continues……
Finn Balor & Shinsuke Nakamura def. Samoa Joe & Austin Aries via pinfall
A great way to end the show. The crowd asked Joe for a wave but he gave us the figure instead. Oh, you big meanie! Watching Nakamura live is something else. His entrance is a work of art, and one of the best I’ve ever seen in person. Balor oozes not just star power but confidence. He looks totally comfortable in his own skin and his position: a totally safe pair of hands. Nakamura is perhaps the most charismatic man walking (strutting) the earth, and the two blended well. Aries and Joe, old pros, played their part in helping to shine the spotlight on the two babyfaces, while getting enough in for themselves. Nakamura and Balor each hitting their finishers on Aries for the victory.
Best match: Asuka vs. Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss – Solid work from all three women. Expect all three to appear on the main roster, someday
Worst match: Tye Dillinger vs. Andrade Cien Almas – Saying that it’s the worst match is perhaps too strong, but compared to other matches on the card it was average.
Highlight of the night: Jason Jordan giving us a wave!
Overall show rating (out of 10): 8
There were 21 wrestlers on this show, with ten countries represented: England (Knox), Ireland (Balor), Scotland (Glencross) Japan (Asuka & Nakamura), Australia (Royce), Canada (Roode & Dillinger), Germany (Fulton & Wolfe), Mexico (Cien), Dominican Republic (NYJ), and USA (everyone else). If you want to make a nod towards Joe & Nia’s Samoan heritage, you can make 11, although both were born in the U.S. A truly global feel to this brand. You do get the sense that with the main roster having a roster split, meaning more call ups are expected from NXT, a new era is also happening down in NXT. New gimmicks and stars were being introduced here with the intention of replacing the likes of American Alpha and Bayley, once they get their expected call ups to the main roster.
All in all, this was a good show. Roll on the next time NXT comes to the UK.