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NXT UK Recap & Reactions (June 3, 2021): Crazy Ilja

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Welcome back to the BT Sport Studios!

We get a couple of really good matches in this one, a Pretty Deadly tag title defense, and the emergence of my favorite to challenge WALTER for the NXT UK Championship.

Ilja Dragunov versus Noam Dar

This came about out of Dragunov’s appearance on Supernova Session two weeks ago. We get a cagey start to this one as both men start with exchanges of lockups and takedowns -- classic wrestling stuff. The action picks up as Dar tries to play some mind games after dodging Ilja’s lariat. Don’t wake the bear Dar!

Ilja got Dar into a modified head scissors where Ilja was able to just lay into Dar with elbows to the head but Dar was able to escape after about four big shots. Ilja tries to do a tiger feint kick but lands awkwardly on his left knee and Dar takes advantage by kicking Ilja out of the ring to the floor. When the action gets back in the ring Dar does a snapmare into the ropes that looks pretty nasty but eventually Ilja lands a very loud lariat on Dar and gets back on offense.

Ilja’s knee is the big story of this match as Dar keeps targeting it. We get a really fun sequence where Ilja keeps trying to establish an ankle lock but Dar boots him in the face to break it then Ilja just goes right back for it and gets booted in the face again. Crazy Ilja is starting to show again! He fights through these kicks to the face to execute a german suplex, holds on to the waist lock for another suplex and then just keeps holding on. At this point Dar finally halts some of this but Ilja is able to counter Dar’s attack into a wrist lock then picks him up in a Gotch lift!

Later on Dar tries for a clothesline with momentum off the ropes but Ilja avoids it by just bending over backwards and then flips that into an enzuigiri! Ilja can’t capitalize because of his knee unfortunately. Ilja is able to successfully execute another tiger feint kick after Dar throws him to the ropes and combos this into a massive clothesline but Dar is able to kick out of the pin attempt.

Ilja goes to the top rope and boots Dar in the face as Dar runs in to try and stop him. But Ilja misses the knee drop doing further damage to himself. Dar quickly goes for a pin and combos the kick out into a knee bar on Ilja’s injured knee. Ilja’s getting very worked up by this point and just fights through the pain and starts hammering his fists on Dar to escape the knee bar. Dar chops down Ilja who struggles to get up due to his knee. Naturally Dar start giving him taunting kicks which just winds up Ilja who goes full crazy. From a kneeling position Ilja picks up Dar in a fireman’s carry but Dar wiggles out. Ilja gets Dar with a knee drop then picks him up for a suplex and a near fall. Dar is able to halt Ilja momentarily with a big back elbow to knock Ilya down. Dar then goes to the corner for a running attack but Ilja counters with the Torpedo Moscow and the pin fall victory! Afterwards Ilja is yelling at him to get off his mat!

This was an amazing match to start the show. There was a fun candid moment as both were lying on the mat right after the 3 count where Dar had a big small on his face and said something to Ilja which was presumably "hot damn did we put on a good show!" Ilja is really getting built up for a rematch with WALTER and keeps racking up big, tough wins over the other top guys. But more on that later.

Some Promos

We get another Aoife Valkyrie promo. She talks about how you can’t break through your limits if you don’t know what they are. She’s working hard to overcome the limits she learned during her match with Meiko Satomura. The loss is her fuel and she’ll return reforged.

We then get a clip from the UK Performance Centre earlier in the week. Sid Scala is in the front entrance awaiting the arrival of the returning Jordan Devlin. Devlin immediately starts taking Sid to task about his emailed list of demands. Devlin demands his own private dressing room each show, when he was in the US travel gave him a mustang so he needs a better ride in UK, and finally he needs a Supernova Sessions appearance as soon as possible so he can get some things off his chest. Sid then invites him in for training and Devlin just walks off saying he doesn’t train.

Pretty Deadly versus Jack Starz and a Mystery Partner

At the start of the show Andy Shepherd let us know that if Jack Starz could find a tag partner before the match then this would be for the tag team titles. Both myself and Nigel McGuiness assumed his partner would be Piper McNiven but then Nathan Frazer’s music hit! This was a pretty standard tag team match with the announce crew highlighting that Frazer doesn’t have much experience in tag wrestling so that puts them at a big disadvantage. The big disadvantage that stood out to me was just how small Jack Starz is compared to Howley and Stoker.

That being said Starz was able to show off his big guy in a little package strength with some big spots especially after he gets the hot tag from babyface-in-peril Frazer. Frazer did his usual gymnastics stuff but the shine I had earlier in the year is starting to wear off a bit (thanks for breaking the illusion Sha Samuels you jerk). In the final moments Starz hit Stoker with a big elbow and picks him up for a slam but he hadn’t noticed that Howley had tagged in and who promptly nailed Starz with a dead leg. This allowed Howley to immediately tag in Stoker again for the Spilt Milk and the pin fall.

Meditations from the Garden

We get a panning shot of what I assume to be the backyard of the UK Performance Centre where Tyler Bate has set up a little zen garden. He is meditating on his Heritage Cup Championship and performing some katas. He tells us that mental turmoil needs to be cleared out and to let go of what you used to be so that you can become what you need to be.

Flash Morgan Webster versus Joseph Conners

Okay confession time. There were two things that motivated me to start recapping NXT UK. The biggest one was to have a place for fellow fans to react and discuss without getting buried in NXT US. The other one was personal which is that it would force me to watch wrestlers I’m having trouble getting into. Flash Morgan’s been injured so he hasn’t wrestled since I started watching (back when Jinny was fighting with Piper Niven for the number 1 contender position) and I just have not been interested in Jinny’s shopping sherpa.

Honestly both these guys were pretty good. Neither really surprised me but this was an above average mid-card bout. Conners is much larger than Flash so the match naturally focused on the former’s size advantage and the latter’s aerial ability. Around the midpoint of the match Flash hit a pretty cool springboard moonsault and followed it up with a springboard dropkick when Conners stood back up.

Subculture had come out with Flash but gone backstage after his entrance. Naturally Jinny stayed ringside and naturally The Fashionista got involved. She grabbed Flash’s motorbike helmet and threw it to Conners. Credit to the referee that he spots this and takes it away. Flash takes advantage and kicks Conners then heads for the top rope. But then the world’s slowest referee was still busy getting the helmet out of the ring so Jinny shoved Flash off the top rope letting Conners hit what I think is the Righteous Kill. Subculture then came out to protect their friend and for both groups to shout at one another.

Some Championship Updates

Promo from WALTER! One thing that will never change is he is the NXT UK Champion. He returns next week! Hopefully we find out who his challenger will be.

The only other Women’s action for the week is a Kay Lee Ray and Meiko Satomura promo package. KLR asked for the best in the world and NXT UK delivered on that by bring her Satomura. Satomura lost their first match but she will definitely be champion next time. She will break KLR’s dominance so be prepared. Title match next week.

Rampage Brown versus Joe Coffey

On to the main event! This is a rematch from when Rampage broke Coffey’s wrist. It starts out with some good old fashioned wrestling with the highlight of the early going being Coffey catching Rampage with a crossbody after building momentum off the ropes. The action transitions to the apron where these two huge men exchange strikes. Rampage goes for a big kick but Coffey jumps to the floor resulting in Rampage kicking the ring post. It was so hard you actually heard the metal ringing on the broadcast!

Back in the ring Coffey hoists Rampage up for a back drop onto the top rope and holy hell does Rampage look huge in his arms. Couple of monsters are going at it here. I’d love to see if Coffey could do this with the Colossal Bronson Reed -- make it happen WWE! A whole bunch of more awesome wrestling happens (seriously this one’s worth a watch) when Coffey gets Rampage in a prone bear hug. At this point we start seeing Rampage really sell the damage to his ribs and midsection. Rampage is still able to brute force power his way out but can’t capitalize off the reversal.

In the middle of the ring we get Coffey trying to punch Rampage but Rampage keeps blocking and hitting him back. After a couple of these Rampage charges at Coffey but Coffey gives him an "Ole!" and then pulls off a belly to belly suplex. After some more targeting of the ribs Coffey gets Rampage laying near the corner and Coffey jumps to the second rope, hops up again to the top rope and then does a reverse splash (not sure the exact term her but it was a splash where Coffey was facing towards the post).

We have a replay break then some more wrestling until we transition to the top rope. Rampage is able to block Coffey’s attempt at a superplex and then nails him with a flying shoulder tackle from the second rope. Rampage charges at Coffey who just stood up in the corner but Coffey counters with a kick which sends Rampage to the mat. Coffey tries to go to the top rope for his crossbody but Rampage had it scouted and gets out of the way. Coffey lands awkwardly and starts selling a knee injury.

Towards the end of the match both men ended up outside and facing towards each other from across the ring. Both men charge at each other like angry bulls multiple times until Rampage side steps one. Coffey is able to arrest his momentum before hitting the ring steps then turns around and gets Rampage with a Glasgow Send Off sending him into the ring steps. Both men get back in by the 8 count. Coffey eventually gets up to the top rope and hits a missile drop kick then latches on with a waist lock. Rampage almost fights out of this but Coffey headbutts him in the back and reapplies it. Coffey lays Rampage out near the corner and is able to hit a splash then a suplex with a bridge combo for a 2 count and well deserved rest break.

As both men are kneeling in the middle of the ring Coffey gets in Rampage’s face and yells at him. Rampage hits a shoulder toss then goes for a power bomb but Coffey wriggles out and sends Rampage to the corner. Coffey then hits back to back Glasgow Send Offs then a spinning lariat for the pin fall victory!

Afterwards both men stare each other down in the ring and eventually shake hands. Rampage holds up 2 fingers indicating he wants a rubber stamp match when suddenly Ilja Dragunov’s music hits and out comes the Crazy Russian. They all point and shout and stare and then the broadcast ends.

Overall: A-

Quick reminder/introduction: A+ is a near perfect show, B+ is a really good show, C+ is entertaining but nothing memorable and anything less is not really watchable.

Alright so I said last week that I needed to deduct grades for not having a Women’s Division match and sadly that also applies here. If we’d had one that was at least above average I feel this would have been an A+ show. I’d have preferred the Conners versus Flash segment to be a women’s match but then those two were there to build up Jinny/Conners versus SubCulture so I’m hoping that means the next step in the feud is Jinny versus Dani Luna.

With how stale things are on RAW particularly with Drew McIntyre is anyone else wondering how a "Who’s the best wrestler from Ayr, Scotland?" feud between him and Noam Dar would go?

In my opinion Ilja Dragunov is hands down the number one contender for the NXT UK Championship. He’s got recent wins over Gradwell, Bomber Dave Mastiff, and Noam Dar. It looks like he’s facing one or both of Rampage Brown and Joe Coffey next. And importantly in a lot of these matches he’s taken an absolute beating and shown that he has the physical and mental fortitude needed to beat WALTER. I also think telling Dar to "get off his mat" was an intentional dig at Imperium that WALTER won’t be able to ignore. Hopefully WATLER’s appearance next week will clarify things.

Alright Cagesiders let everyone know what you think about this week’s show in the comments below.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.