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NXT UK TAKEOVER: CARDIFF — THE REVIEW

Posted September 1st, 2019 by 1Wrestling News Team

NXT UK TAKEOVER: CARDIFF REVIEW

By AARON REICH

[Disclaimer: Do note that every match is graded on a curve compared to the card as well as to matches in general. The show grade is graded based on comparing it to other wrestling shows.]

August 31, 2019 has been a very exciting weekend for wrestling, with three incredibly hyped shows from different promotions putting on cards that sold out arenas and had fans excited by the buildup. With this in mind, and with the NXT Takeover label having acquired a reputation of putting on some of WWE’s most exciting shows, NXT UK Takeover: Cardiff had a lot of expectations to fulfill, but it put on a card that would satisfy anyone.

The first match of the night was Travis Banks taking on the ever-arrogant Noam Dar. The two are both incredibly talented performers – indeed, I maintain that Dar has been woefully underutilized, given his skill – and though the match didn’t have much buildup, their chemistry and charisma were enough to put on a decent match.

Dar played his role with an air of arrogance and a sense of entitlement, playing repeated mind games to get in the head of his opponent and catch them off guard. His work in the ring didn’t disappoint, however, and the active Cardiff crowd cheered for him as he hit the Nova Roller for the pin. (Grade: B)

Earlier, as part of the buildup to the show, main roster superstar Cesaro issued an open challenge to the NXT UK roster for his debut match. This challenged was answered by Ilja Dragunov, who entered the ring and called for him. This match was a true clinic and an entertainment marvel, something that would impress veteran wrestling fans and newcomers. Dragunov possess a wild and menacing appearance, with a magnetic charisma that captivates even the most inexperienced of viewers. Cesaro, long considered the most underused performer on WWE’s roster, entered to an excited pop, and his repertoire reminds the viewer just how talented he really is, and makes one wish he’d have more opportunities to showcase this. His ringwork is as impressive as ever, with his European Uppercut being able to impress even the most disinterested observer in its execution.

Cesaro picked up the win after hitting Dragunov with the Neutralizer for the pin, giving the Swiss Cyborg a win in his NXT UK debut. Following this, though he did tease attacking his fallen opponent, Cesaro extended a hand to Dragunov in a display of good sportsmanship, entering NXT UK showing strong ringwork and good character. (Grade: A-)

The third match had quite the buildup behind it. The triple-threat tag team match with the NXT UK Tag Team Championships had a classic story of the hometown underdogs beating the odds. Grizzled Young Veterans Zack Gibson and James Drake, the current champs, have dominated NXT UK with their ringwork and their verbal takedowns of both the roster and the fans, while Mark Coffey and Wolfgang of Gallus have been a consistent powerful force on the roster – and in Mark Coffey’s case, since the beginning of NXT UK’s existence. However, the hometown heroes Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster –both significantly less physically imposing than Gallus or the Grizzled Young Veterans –were determined to overcome the odds. The crowd was eagerly behind the hometown heroes the entire time, and the emotions transferred to viewers at home when Andrews hit Drake with the shooting star press to break up Drake’s pin on Webster, setting up Webster for the winning pin.

However, a notable, though not significant, detriment to the match was over the somewhat confusing stipulation of a triple threat tag team match, with the match itself a bit slow to fully overcoming the inherent awkwardness of having one team without any members in the ring. This is, however, a minor nitpick, and the competitors were more than skilled enough to put on a great performance in spite of the awkwardness. (Grade: B+)

While two members of Gallus were unsuccessful, their third member – Joe Coffey – managed to steal a victory in the fourth match of the night. The prospect of him and Dave Mastiff – both large, physically imposing brawlers – competing in a last man standing match was already tantalizing bait due to the carnage and brutality it promised, but the match itself didn’t fully live up to the hype. It had carnage to be sure, but parts of the match were slow and the finish itself seemed somewhat weak. (Grade: B-)

This somewhat decline in the night continued in the next match. The women’s title bout between champ Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray had an intense, emotional buildup in the feud between the former friends. Both women really sold the feud, and their story and fallout was relatable and played out vividly. The crowd was firmly behind Storm the entire time, but the match itself didn’t live up to the standards of one of her typical performances. The match was also surprisingly short compared to others on the card, with Ray picking up the win at the end. (Grade: C-)

But the last match of the night truly stole the show. Building up on the long feud between British Strong Style and Imperium, seeing WWE United Kingdom Champion WALTER going up against former champ Tyler Bate was already setting up to be match of the night in terms of the hype and emotional investment in the storyline and the noted ringwork of both men involved. Needless to say, the match lived up to the hype, putting on a performance that had the audience invested in every one of its 40+ minutes. Tyler was cheered enthusiastically as he entered the ring with his typical charisma and catchy music, expressing an aura of confidence, determination and a sort of calm joy. WALTER, by contrast, entered to his imposing, threatening symphony, the lighting bolstering his imposing stature and stern but calculating face, creating a sense of dominance.

In a hard-hitting and emotional match full of intense spots and near-falls, WALTER ultimately retained his title, and his reign as champion looks as strong and dominant as ever. However, Bate didn’t come out of this match looking any weaker. He struggled through the long match looking empty and finished, but kept pulling through over and over. And, in the end, show closed with the audience cheering Bate with applause. (Grade: A)

Overall, show was an excellent display from some of the top talents on the British independent scene. Its length was only three hours, which doesn’t make watching it ever turn into a chore and makes sure the matches could be appreciated more with better pacing. It may be remiss to call it the best NXT Takeover show so far, but it certainly more than lived up to the hype and anticipation that it had built up. (Overall show grade: A-)

Category: Wrestling.

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