The build for this one has been all about the United Kingdom, and that’s reinforced with the pre-credit recap of Tyler Bate’s victory in the tournament to crown the first WWE UK champion.
Nigel McGuinness actually bothers to tell us the names of the two jamokes tag champs Authors of Pain will be squashing, but I didn’t catch them. It doesn’t matter, as Rezar throws them both around for a few seconds before tagging in Akam for The Last Chapter and a minute long pinfall victory. The hit them with Super Collider after that, too.
We get the same video introduction to Bate we got last week, and an update on former NXT champion Shinsuke Nakamura. The knee he “injured” in San Antonio will not require surgery, and he’s currently rehabbing it in an effort to get back and get his hands on Bobby Roode.
The women’s tag match set-up last week by Liv Morgan’s roll-up victory over Billie Kay is next, and Morgan’s mystery partner is none other than Ember Moon. Moon starts with Kay and gets the best of several early exchanges, but Peyton Royce gets involved. The Icons trip Ember up and then double team her with kicks and a foot choke. Billie works her over, but gets she gets free and reaches her corner. Liv and Peyton come in at the same time, with the young New Jerseyan taking Royce down with clotheslines, a drop kick and bulldog. After a STO, she covers, but Billie breaks it up. Ember comes in to even the score, but catches a Big Boot and takes a big bump to the floor. Outnumbered, Liv gets hit with the Aussies finisher, and is pinned by Kay at around the three minute mark.
- As someone who enjoys it when large men throw slightly less large men around, and into each other, in a mostly safe manner, I dug the opening couple of minutes of this episode.
- While I’m in favor of keeping a bit of the old “special attraction” feel working with Swagsuke, this injury angle feels pretty paint-by-numbers. Maybe even phoned in.
- Raise your hand if you were surprised by Liv’s mystery partner!
- They can always explain it later, I suppose - seeing as that’s how they handled our questions from last week about why Roderick Strong would come to Tye Dillinger’s aid - but some backstory on why Ember was revisiting a fight she’s already won would have helped me care about this one. As it was, we’ve got a tag feud we’ve already seen resolved featuring three people who’ve been outclassed by Asuka. How does this help Moon get noticed by the Women’s champ - even before her side lost?
- As for the match itself, nothing here changed my mind on the folks involved. Kay & Morgan had moments but were inconsistent, Ember made a splash with her last sell and I probably can’t make any kind of objective analysis when it comes to Peyton cause I just think she’s the dreamiest.
After catching us up on all of last week’s SAnitY-related happenings (except for the main event itself), we head to the Performance Center, where Andrea D’Marco asks No Way Jose & Roderick Strong why they intervened on Tye Dillinger’s behalf last week. Strong says he knows the kind of guy Eric Young is (he might even still be that kind of guy himself) but he couldn’t sit back and watch him bully Dillinger. It’s Roddy against the World, and that might as well start with SAnitY. Jose says Tye is the hottest act in sports entertainment and well-respected in the locker room, so they had to stand up for him against the numbers game.
Former tag champs #DIY are in the arena. Tommaso Ciampa is on the microphone first to discuss their journey from Toronto to San Antonio, saying the fans humbled them by voting their title win as Match of the Year in the 2016 awards. Johnny Gargano shares how disappointed they were to lose the belts, and says they want their rematch. Paul Ellering hits the stage with the Authors. He says they can have their rematch in two weeks, and #DIY should make peace with their loved ones before that. Johnny & Tommaso tell each other “I love you”, then Ciampa says they’ve made peace and are ready to do it now. While they’re taunting the champs, The Revival sneak in and toss Tommaso to the floor, then hit Gargano with Shatter Machine. Akam & Rezar run in, but Dash & Dawson bail, waving at the champs as AoP and their Hall of Fame manager fume.
- So, I’m taking Roddy’s “I might still be that guy” as a joke about them not knowing what his character is, as opposed to some cool foreshadowing stuff. Other than that, his answer was kind of all over the place. But bullying is bad.
- Maybe it would be better if Strong spoke less? I honestly don’t know what the answer is when it comes to establishing him in WWE, and I have a feeling we’re gonna be discussing it for however long he’s here.
- The tag scene continues to be the most interesting thing on the show. Solid babyface work from Ciampa & Gargano, the champs feel like a force of nature, and Dash & Dawson as mercenaries confounding them both makes me extremely happy.
- Positively can not wait for what I’m assuming will be a TakeOver Triple Threat, but a rematch of the baller #DIY vs. Authors affair from San Antonio will help.
The vignette shown on the previous episode to introduce us to Trent Seven is aired, followed by a teaser for the return of Kassius Ohno. General Manager William Regal announces a Triple Threat for next week to determine the #1 contender for the Women’s title: Peyton Royce vs. Liv Morgan vs. Ember Moon. Then it’s main event time!
After introductions from Mike Rome, 19 year old Tyler Bate’s first ever defense of the UK Championship against his mentor Trent Seven begins. The Moustache Mountain tag partners start off with tests of strength and mind games, like twirling each others moustaches on referee breaks. A battle of shoulder blocks ends when Seven finally flattens the champ. He gets a nearfall off a running chop and brainbuster, but Bate reverses out of an arm submission and drop kicks the bigger man to the floor.
After trading a shots on the floor, Tyler brings Seven back in to work the neck then - after a commercial - the arm (Tom Phillips also informed us around this point that Pete Dunne & Mark Andrews will face each other next week). Trent fires up after taking several uppercuts and goes for a backslide, which Bate resists until he’s eventually held down for two. The challenger tries for another running chop, but is met with a knee. He’s then knocked to the floor by a flying uppercut, and the champ flies over the top rope and leaves them both wiped out on the ramp.
Seven is immediately back in control when we get back in the ring, however. After another nearfall, Bate blocks the Seven-Star Lariat and transitions into his airplane spin spot - including running out of steam and powering back up to go the other direction. The champ tries to deadlift suplex his opponent, but Trent turns that into a dragon suplex of his own. After powerbombing the champ, he holds him down for a two count before transitioning into a half-crab submission. Bate battles out of the hold, and returns fire with a kick, then slaps and strikes. Seven does hit his finisher for a great nearfall, but when he leaps from the top rope as a follow-up, he jumps right into a drop kick.
Each man manages to block a suplex, then the champ finally hits an exploder. That gets him a two count, and then Moustache Mountain erupts as they trade strikes in the middle of the ring. Bate bounces off the ropes to connect with a rolling kick, then follows that with Tyler Driver 97 for the win after almost thirteen minutes of action.
The champ lays down his belt and offers his hand. Seven accepts it and then pulls his partner in for a hug and a kiss on the forehead before rolling out so Tyler can take in Full Sail’s adulation.
- Welcome back, KO 1.0.
- Gonna go nitpicking smark on the Women’s scene... how does this #1 contender Triple Threat make sense as anything other than a way to kill time? Liv’s done little to show she’d have a chance against Asuka. Peyton couldn’t beat her in essentially a two-on-one handicap match just a couple weeks ago (and why is she in this instead of Billie?). What justification would the GM have for not giving the undefeated wrestler the champ has yet to face a title shot?
- Of course, I’m willing to admit I may be salty about the whole thing because it’s distracting from the Nikki Cross vs. Asuka feud I want.
- Really enjoyed the main, but also really think they have some work to do to convince a larger audience to invest time in watching matches like this. I can just imagine a main roster audience sitting silently for something like it, or my boss, Geno Mrosko, telling me how no one cares.
- One of the things I was most disappointed by tonight is that they didn’t, in any way, address how/why the UK wrestlers fit into NXT. Because if these are simply “showcase” matches, they’re gonna be a tough sell, even for fans who are open to styles outside the norms of WWE. With so much product to choose from, even just on the Network, people are going to need more in terms of stakes and stories.
- Encouragingly, we did get an online exclusive video which indicates “Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne’s issues with Regal from the tournament will continue with his appearance next week. I’m willing to give them time, but don’t think they should take too much.
- And speaking of giving things time, I’m still witholding judgement on the new announce team, but I still don’t like it. Percy Watson still isn’t adding anything, and when he and Nigel started to bicker during Bate/Seven it felt really forced.
- This probably goes without saying, but the UK champ is really, really good. And that he’s this good at this age is ridiculous. If he stays healthy, he could be an all-time great... although I do wonder if his size won’t require him to exit WWE at some point to break through to the top of the card.
There wasn’t a lot to this episode. The last match rocked, and the tag scene continues to impress - even without a match. But otherwise it felt like so much filler, as even an angle with title implications like the Women’s #1 contender story is a stop gap until it’s time to build to TakeOver.
What say you, Cagesiders?