Wrestling Review: NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool (2019)

Please note: There is one medium spoiler about a match that didn’t take place as advertised.

From the arena where the second annual UK Championship Tournament was concluded comes the first ever WWE Network Special from the newest brand, as NXT UK presents TakeOver: Blackpool. The Empress Ballroom plays host to a litany of grappling matchups, headlined by the longest reigning champion in modern WWE, Pete Dunne, defending his WWE United Kimgdom Championship against Joe Coffey, the leader of the dangerous trio known as Gallus. Will the Bruiserweight be able to defend his title in front of his home country, or will the Iron King lay siege to the throne? The NXT UK Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley, will defend her belt against Toni Storm, in what is becoming a recurring challenge for each woman, and the first ever NXT UK Tag Team Championships will be crowned when Moustache Mountain (the team of Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) do battle with the scoundrels known as James Drake and Zack Gibson. A no disqualification match between two big boys and a long-standing grudge will be settled in the final two matches, on the first ever live event from NXT UK, TakeOver: Blackpool.

+ Rhea Ripley (c) vs Toni Storm (NXT UK Women’s Championship): it makes me so happy to see Australians finally getting recognition in professional wrestling. Ripley is such a good shit-talking bad guy, and Storm has the looks, and more importantly wrestling ability, to be a beloved underdog in every match that it made for a great back and forth with the crowd. I’m also glad Storm’s personal issues as of late were not brought into it at all (and I hear you all say “why would it be?” but just remember you are watching pro-wrestling). This was really good
+ Eddie Dennis vs Dave Mastiff (No Disqualifications Match): this was two big boys, one tall big boi and one wide big boi, going HAM on each other with kendo sticks, tables, chairs and themselves. It was hardly the most technical match, and most certainly not the best match on the show, but overall I really enjoyed this
+ Jordan Devlin vs Finn Balor: as a teacher vs student battle, this was good, ad the fact that Devlin clearly models everything about his wrestling persona on his former teacher made for some interesting moments. The crowd’s (arguably) unwarranted hatred of Devlin was only increased when Balor made his entrance, which did make me feel a bit bad for Devlin, but it made the atmosphere that much more enjoyable
+ Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs Zack Gibson & James Drake (NXT UK Tag Team Championships): this was good. Gibson is an absolute heat magnet, and he could say nothing but nice things and everyone would still hate him. Both the Moustache Mountain boys are big and strong, as the crowd was making musically clear throughout, but it was Drake, in the end, that looked the most impressive. I really liked this match, and it set the tone for the show nicely

Pete Dunne (c) vs Joe Coffey (NXT UK Championship): disappointingly, this was the weakest match on the show. This went on too long, with it reaching several climactic moments… but just going on again. By the third time, even the live crowd was seemingly ready for it to be over. I don’t want to heap all the blame onto Coffey, because it does take two to tango, but Dunne has gone this long with the likes of Bate, and it wasn’t this plodding. Thankfully there were some post-match moments to keep things going strong
– throughout the whole show, everybody kicked out of everybody else’s finishers. I assume the intent was to show how tough these guys are, but it instead just made the finishing moves look weak. On this, the first Network Special for the brand, I think they should have really got over some of the finishers as definitive match enders

> Jordan Devlin versus Travis Banks didn’t take place as far as matches go, but the segment was seemingly designed to get Devlin more hated. It was fine, but it gave way to the Balor surprise, which was no doubt better for the live crowd.

Should you watch this event: Overall, this was really good. Despite the main event being a bit of a stinker, the Women’s title match and especially the tag team opener to crown the inaugural champions were both really good, and therefore make this a show well worth watching. If you’re so inclined, skip the main event to save yourself some time, and seek out the post-match on YouTube.

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