Noam Dar def. Travis Banks
It was nice to see Banks get a match on a TakeOver special after getting bumped from the last one, even if this didn't have much of a story and was added to the card at the last minute. From an in-ring standpoint, this was very well wrestled and was the perfect opener for the event. The crowd was into the action and both guys looked great. It's a shame Banks can never seem to catch a break, though.
Cesaro def. Ilja Dragunov
Fingers crossed Cesaro is here to stay in NXT UK for a little while and that this wasn't just a one-off. I doubt that's the case, but hey, a man can dream. I was selfishly hoping Kassius Ohno would answer Cesaro's open challenge given their history (or at least come out afterward), but I figured he wouldn't after already competing before the show in a match taped for next week's episode of NXT UK. In fact, Dragunov was probably the better choice, because although the up-and-comer didn't win, he had a strong showing in defeat. This was a very fun and hard-hitting affair that the crowd ate up. Like I said, more of Cesaro in NXT UK, please. He came across like a total star, and it's not like WWE has any major plans for him on the main roster.
Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster def. The Grizzled Young Veterans and Gallus in a Triple Threat Tag Team Match to Win the NXT UK Tag Team Championship
Tag team wrestling may not be a priority to WWE on Raw and SmackDown Live, but it's certainly alive and well in NXT and NXT UK if this three-way tag title match was any indication of how high they view it. This was another outing that didn't have a ton of build, but it was entertaining enough that I didn't really mind. Andrews and Webster were beloved in this bout and the fans wanted nothing more than to see them emerge victorious as the new champions. Sure enough, that was exactly what happened and the audience exploded with elation. The nearfalls were masterfully done and everyone played their part perfectly. Gallus was a bit of an afterthought, but that just means Andrews and Webster vs. Grizzled Young Veterans are primed to feud going forward.
Joe Coffey def. "Bomber" Dave Mastiff in a Last Man Standing Match
Last Man Standing matches have a tendency to be either very exciting or very boring, but I liked this a lot. They made excellent use of the stipulation, took their fight into the audience, pulled off some cool spots, and worked around the broken rope (planned spot or botch?) nicely. Mastiff has been completely dominant since arriving in NXT UK and I believe he was one of the few stars who was still undefeated in singles competition on the brand. I assumed he was being built up for a match with WWE United Kingdom Champion WALTER, but apparently not (at least not right now). Then again, Coffey needed a big victory after losing to Pete Dunne earlier this year at TakeOver: Blackpool and not doing anything of note since then.
Kay Lee Ray def. Toni Storm to Win the NXT UK Women's Championship
These are two of the top ladies in NXT UK's women's division, so I had high hopes for this. Unfortunately, it fell short of my lofty expectations. They weren't given nearly enough time (which is a bit ridiculous when you consider the main event went over 40 minutes) and it just never reached that next gear. I'm sure their chemistry (or possibly lack thereof) isn't the problem, but this was easily the weakest match on the show. Ray winning the title felt abrupt and like it came out of nowhere. I don't mind the decision to put the belt on her, but it should have meant more. Either way, I'm happy the rivalry doesn't appear to be over yet.
WWE United Kingdom Champion WALTER def. Tyler Bate
I knew this was going to be a blast based off the talent involved, but I had no clue it would end up being an instant classic. I realize 40+ minutes sounds like a long time, but similar to Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole from NXT TakeOver: Toronto II, it didn't feel like it at all. They told an outstanding story with WALTER brutalizing Bate (and taking pleasure in doing so) and Bate battling back like the brilliant babyface he is. Better yet, this had an electric atmosphere thanks to the hot crowd. I figured Bate wasn't winning, yet they made me buy into the idea that he could with every suspenseful nearfall. My only nitpick of it was that WALTER winning on a clothesline was slightly anticlimactic. Other than that, this was an exceptional encounter and a certified Match of the Year contender. The crowd giving British Strong Style a standing ovation to close the show felt like a farewell for them, though we'll see if that ends up being the case.
I will be the first one to tell you that NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff had minimal buzz surrounding it going in, and obviously, AEW All Out happening a little later on in the day was undoubtedly a factor in that. Despite that, this was a spectacular show. Not every match was amazing (Storm vs. Ray was disappointing for example), but the two title changes and the top-notch main event made this a newsworthy night and a total treat to watch. If you haven't been keeping up with the NXT UK product, you are doing yourself a disservice. If nothing else, check out this show. The three hours flew by and the crowd was phenomenal. Maybe it'll make you want to watch the weekly show in the future.
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