Reviews

The John Report: WWE NXT UK Takeover Cardiff 08/31/19 Review

It’s time for WWE NXT UK Takeover Cardiff from Wales. I don’t review WWE NXT UK regularly, but this is a Takeover that aired on a Saturday afternoon here in Canada, so I figured I should check it out on WWE Network.

NXT Takeover Cardiff
From the Cardiff International Arena in Cardiff, Wales
August 31, 2019

The crowd was loud as soon as they were shown on camera and it was a nice building. The attendance was around 7,500 people, so that’s pretty good.

The announce team is Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness.

Noam Dar vs. Travis Banks

They locked up with some mat wrestling early on. The fans were supportive of Banks. Each guy went for moves, they avoided kicks and submission attempts leading to the two men having a staredown. Banks kicked the back of the left leg, he sent Dar out of the ring and Banks with a running kick while on the apron to knock down Dar on the floor. Dar sent Banks to the top rope, Dar to the turnbuckle and he jumped off with a clothesline for two. Dar sent Banks back first into the ropes with a snapmare, which was a cool looking move. Banks started his comeback with a bridging German Suplex. Banks with a running uppercut, Dar with several kicks to the upper body of Banks and he went for a submission move on the arm, but Banks rolled through. Banks took down Dar with a Crossface submission where he held onto the arm, but Dar got to the ropes. Dar with kicks to the legs followed by a Fisherman’s Buster suplex for a two count. Banks went for a jumping kick off the ropes, but Dar caught the leg and slapped on a leg lock submission. Banks fought out of it and they got into a slugfest to knock both guys down. Banks was on the apron, Dar kicked him in the leg, dropkick out of the ring and Dar sent Banks into the steel steps. Dar sent Banks back into the ring with Dar hitting a clothesline to the back of the head for two. McGuiness was rooting for Dar. Banks sent Dar across the ring and then Banks jumped off the ropes with a double stomp off the turnbuckle for a two count. That was a cool spot. Dar went to the floor, so Banks took him out with a suicide dive. Dar came back with a forearm to the face. Banks jumped off the barricade with a kick. Banks sent Dar into the ring, he went up top and hit a double foot stomp (like Finn Balor’s finisher) for a two count. Great nearfall. Dar with two uppercuts, but Banks came back with a rolling elbow to the jaw. Dar with a pump kick, Banks blocked an attack and hit a running knee attack. Banks to the ropes, Dar kicked the leg and Dar hit a jumping kick to the face called the Nova Roller for the pinfall win at around 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Noam Dar

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match that was very competitive with some believable nearfalls for both guys. The counter moves they did were really clever and it showed they worked hard to put together this match. Dar’s a talented young guy with a bright future. He’s a natural heel too.

A commercial aired for NXT moving to USA Network on Wednesday, September 18. Another commercial aired promoting WWEShop.

They showed Kay Lee Ray warming up backstage.

Cesaro was interviewed backstage. Cesaro issued an open challenge to anybody in the locker room. Cesaro said he didn’t care who answered the challenge – he’s just there for a fight. Ilja Dragunov walked by him. Cesaro just stared and Dragunov left.

Ilja Dragunov went to the ring, he called out Cesaro and said I’m waiting. That led to Cesaro’s entrance, which drew a big pop for the Swiss Superman. He certainly fits in well with the NXT UK crowd and there were “Cesaro” chants.

Analysis: This is just a one time thing for Cesaro. He has not moved from Raw to NXT UK. It’s just a way to put a talented guy like Cesaro in a different environment.

Cesaro vs. Ilja Dragunov

They exchanged strikes early on. It was a hard-hitting match from the beginning. Dragunov with a clothesline against the corner, then he charged, Cesaro caught him and dumped him over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Cesaro with a body slam followed by a leg drop. Cesaro with a belly to back suplex. Cesaro drove Dragunov throat first to the bottom rope. Dragunov went for a move off the ropes, Cesaro caught him and gave him the Cesaro Swing with the crowd chanting along for 40 revolutions. I don’t know if they counted it the right way, but that’s when he let go. Nigel had a funny line about how he’s glad he stopped before 100 because some people can’t count that high. Cesaro slapped on a crossface submission, Dragunov nearly got to the ropes and then he rolled through for two. Dragunov avoided a Cesaro attack, flipped against the ropes and hit a clothesline. Dragunov with a lefty clothesline. Dragunov with a jumping kick to the ear, Dragunov grabbed Cesaro by around the waist and tossed him backwards like a suplex. Cesaro went to the floor, so Dragunov hit a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Dragunov up top and he hit a dropkick across the ring. Dragunov chopped Cesaro repeatedly, Cesaro with a headbutt and Cesaro with a press slam into a knee to the face. Cesaro with a running uppercut to the chest for a two count. Dragunov came back with a backslide pin, knee lift to the face and he gave Cesaro a Death Valley Driver into the turnbuckle. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them and I agree with that! Dragunov went up top and jumped off with a senton back splash onto Cesaro a for two count. He got a lot of height on that jump. Dragunov charged, Cesaro caught him, launched him in the air and hit him with an uppercut. Cesaro hit the Neutralizer for the pinfall win after about 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cesaro

Analysis: ***3/4 Great match. Cesaro is one of my favorite wrestlers in WWE while Dragunov isn’t somebody I was familiar with, but he ended up impressing me a lot. They started out hitting hard with forearms and uppercuts and they didn’t let up at all. Cesaro getting the win was the right call since he’s on the main roster while Dragunov is a younger guy on the rise. There were a lot of impressive moves from both guys. Dragunov nearly won a few times. If Cesaro won in ten minutes in easier way nobody would complain, but Cesaro gave him a lot of offense.

After the match, Cesaro walked down the aisle. Cesaro stopped before he reached the entrance and he went back into the ring. Dragunov was still down selling. Cesaro teased an uppercut, but instead he extended his hand and they shook hands. Cesaro talked to Dragunov likely to tell him he did a great job. The fans chanted “NXT” for them.

A commercial aired for the WWE 2K20 video game.

They showed Adrian Street and Miss Linda at ringside. There’s an Adrian Street on WWE Network that premiered recently.

Tyler Bate was shown getting ready backstage with his friend Trent Seven.

A video package aired for the NXT Tag Team Championships triple threat match.

The teams entered with Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster as babyfaces who were trying to be the first Welsh champions in WWE. The fans loved them. Wolfgang and Mark Coffey from Gallus entered. They were heels who didn’t get much of a reaction. The heel championship duo of Zack Gibson and James Drake were last.

NXT Tag Team Championships: Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) vs. Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster vs. Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang)

Two guys are in the ring while the others are on the apron. First fall wins. The Gibson/Drake duo have been champions since January and the fans were strongly behind Andrews/Webster. Andrews with a sunset flip on Gibson, then an arm drag and Gibson slapped on an armbar. Drake tagged in, Andrews with a kick to the ribs, Webster tagged in and they hit a double splash. Andrews back in with a running dropkick on Drake. Wolfgang tagged in, Gibson saved Drake and Drake tagged Webster to put him in. Webster with a dropkick, Wolfgang sat on top for two and all six guys went into the ring for a staredown. Webster with a headscissors on Coffey, dropkick on Gibson and the heels were on the floor. Webster and Andrews hit a moonsault as well as a headscissors takeover on two guys on the floor. Webster with a moonsault on Gibson for two because Wolfgang broke up the pin. Drake tagged in, jumped off Gibson’s back and hit a dropkick. Gibson held Webster outside the ring and Drake jumped over the top with an elbow. Gibson with a body slam for two. Drake with a backbreaker on Webster. Coffey worked over Webster a bit, Gibson tagged himself in and continued to work over Webster in the corner, but then Andrews got the hot tag. Andrews with a jumping kick to the head and a spinning DDT on Drake. Andrews with a jumping kick on both Gallus guys. Andrews and Webster hit somersault dives over the top onto Gallus on one side of the ring and they did the same to the champs as well. Andrews with a spinning 450 assist splash for a two count as Drake saved Gibson. Coffey was the legal man with a clothesline on Andrews. Wolfgang tagged in, Coffey with a Samoan Drop and Wolfgang got a two count. Webster with a cross body block on Coffey. Andrews on the shoulders of Wolfgang, Webster with a jumping knee into a Reverse Rana for two! Wow. That was a tremendous nearfall as fans chanted “NXT” for this. Andrews on the top rope, Gibson tripped him up, Coffey took out Gibson and Coffey tried a suplex onto the floor. Andrews punched Coffey to the floor onto Wolfgang. Andrews was on the top rope and he hit a Shooting Star Press onto three guys on the floor. That was very impressive. Back in the ring, Gibson with a clothesline. Gibson went for a suplex, but Andrews turned it into a Stunner. Webster up top and he hit a Swanton Bomb to the back of Gibson for a two count. Drake with a running dropkick on Andrews. Gibson with a spinning suplex and Drake up top with a 450 Splash for two because Andrews kicked out. That was an awesome move and the fans exploded for the kick out.

Webster with a jumping knee, then a double headbutt and four guys were down in the ring while Coffey and Wolfgang were on the floor. They cleared the ring. Coffey ran the ropes, Wolfgang picked him up and launched Coffey over the top onto the four guys on the floor. Wolfgang with a powerslam on Andrews and then Webster saved his partner. Wolfgang launched Webster, who hit a Canadian Destroyer on Coffey. Gibson held up Wolfgang on the floor and Drake hit a clothesline after doing a suicide dive, which drew “holy shit” chants. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Webster and Andrews stood in the ring wanting a fight. Drake tagged Coffey to make himself legal while Coffey was down against the turnbuckle. It turned into a slugfest, Andrews with a double stunner on both guys and Webster got the tag. Webster hit a 630 Splash on Drake for one…two…and Gibson pulled the referee out of the ring. Webster with a forearm on Drake, Gibson with a blind tag and Drake lifted up Webster for the Ticket to Mayhem double team move. Drake hit a suicide dive on Coffey/Wolfgang on the floor. While Gibson went for a cover, Andrews hit the Shooting Star Press called the Fall to Pieces and Webster covered Gibson for the pinfall win. The fans EXPLODED in cheers for their fellow Welshmen. The match went 21 minutes.

Winner and New NXT UK Tag Team Champions: Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster

Analysis: ****1/2 This was an outstanding match with so many nearfalls and big moves. The match broke down a lot towards the end without a tag by anybody, but it’s not like the crowd hated it since they loved this match. I thought Andrews was the star of the match. His offense was incredible. The result was pretty obvious considering they’re from Wales and it was a feel good moment.

Webster and Andrews celebrated with the fans. The crowd was going wild for them. It was a fun celebration that lasted for a few minutes, which was deserved for two local guys from Cardiff.

Toni Storm, the NXT UK Women’s Champion, was shown getting ready backstage.

The video package aired to set up Dave Mastiff vs. Joe Coffey in a Last Man Standing Match. The entrances followed. Coffey’s the heel and Mastiff is the face although he didn’t get a big pop.

Last Man Standing Match: Dave Mastiff vs. Joe Coffey

Coffey had a chain, Mastiff attacked him in the aisle and sent Coffey into the barricade. They went into the ring where Mastiff hit a slam. Mastiff whipped Coffey into the turnbuckle and the turnbuckle broke, so Mastiff used it as a weapon. That’s obviously a planned spot to break the turnbuckle. Coffey went for an attack off the middle ropes, but he collapsed to the mat and Mastiff used the steel from the turnbuckle against the face of Coffey. Clotheslines from Coffey followed by a belly to back suplex. Mastiff came back with a German Suplex that sent Coffey bouncing out of the ring. They were outside the ring where Coffey whipped Mastiff into the barricade and hit him with a pool cue. Coffey pulled up the apron and brought out a table from under the ring. The fans popped for that. Mastiff knocked Coffey down, he grabbed a cricket bat, but Coffey fought him off and hit him with the pool cue again. Mastiff with the cricket bat and he hit Coffey in the back with it. Mastiff tossed Coffey down and a running attack missed, so Coffey tackled him through the table. Mastiff came back with a German Suplex on the floor. Mastiff with the chain to the back of Coffey three times. There was another table set up on the floor, so Mastiff did a cannonball attack that sent Coffey through the table. Coffey got up at 9 and jumped the barricade to go into the crowd. Mastiff followed him with a chair to the back two times. Coffey blocked a chair shot with a punch because he had the chain on his hand and then Coffey hit a discus lariat. Both guys were up at 8 to break the count. Mastiff tossed Coffey a chair, Mastiff also had a chair and they went down the aisle. They ran into eachother while holding the chairs, so there was a collision with the chairs. Both guys were down for an 8 count. They continued to fight in the crowd with Mastiff hitting a hip toss over the barricade. They went over to Vic and Nigel’s announce table, which was to the right of the stage. Mastiff put Coffey on his shoulders and hit a rolling senton. It did not break the table. They went up a platform above where the announcers were seated, so it was a staging area about ten feet high. Mastiff tried a suplex, Coffey fought him off, Mastiff with a headbutt and they went falling off the stage onto a well placed table below them. They were both down for about nine seconds until Coffey managed to get back up to his feet, then he kicked a box away that Mastiff was using to get up, so Coffey won the match after 16 minutes.

Winner: Joe Coffey

Analysis: *** It was a unique match where they barely spent any time in the ring due to the spot where they broke the top rope. I think some of the spots they did took too long to set up, but it was an enjoyable match for the most part. The spots they did on the floor where they broke the tables were well done. I didn’t like the spots in the crowd as much, but they need to do something to get them to the staging area for that final spot in the match. Coffey getting the win should give him some momentum going forward. I think Mastiff was tired very early in the match. He’s a big dude. He managed to get through it, but I think he had trouble towards the end of the match.

There was a commercial for WWE Shop.

Walter was shown getting ready for his main event match.

They showed Tegan Nox at ringside. She has a very bright future in WWE.

A video package aired for the NXT UK Women’s Title match with Toni Storm as the babyface champion defending against Kay Lee Ray. The story was that they were close friends, but now the babyface Storm doesn’t know why Ray has changed her ways.

Kay Lee Ray entered first as the heel challenger. She’s from Scotland. Toni Storm, who is the top face woman in NXT UK, made her entrance with the NXT UK Championship. Storm’s Australian and was born in New Zealand. Storm’s very good already at just 23 years old.

NXT UK Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs. Kay Lee Ray

They left the ring early on with Storm working over Ray with punches. Storm whipped Ray into the barricade. They went back in the ring, exchanged strikes and Ray took over after a kick to the face. Ray grounded Storm with an armbar followed by a front suplex. Storm came back with punches to the face, punches to the back and Ray missed an attack, so Storm with a kick followed by a clothesline. Storm with a German Suplex and another clothesline. Ray put Storm on her back, Storm countered into a Sunset Driver for a two count. Ray got an inside cradle for a two count. Storm with a headbutt and Storm hit the Storm Zero for a two count. That’s her finisher, but it wasn’t enough to win. Ray came back with a Gory Bomb for a two count. They went to the turnbuckle, battled on the top rope and Storm teased her finisher off the top, but it didn’t work. Storm hit a German Suplex off the ropes for a two count. Ray went to the floor, so Storm hit a suicide dive to knock her down on the floor. Ray came back with a big move of her own as she went up top and hit a dive onto Storm on the floor. That did not look good. It looked like Ray’s head hit the mat, but she was fine. Ray put Storm on her back, sent her to the ropes and Ray set up Storm on her back for the Gory Bomb for the pinfall win. New champion. It went about ten minutes.

Winner and New NXT UK Champion: Kay Lee Ray

Analysis: **1/2 It was a decent match, but it never got going to that next gear like you might expect for a title match. Each woman had some big moves during the match. It just didn’t feel like a big match to me. I liked the finish just because Ray did the same move twice, but the first time she did it, she used to ropes to stun Storm to set up for the Gory Bomb again. The fans didn’t want a title change, that’s for sure.

Ray celebrated with the title. The fans didn’t react much to the title change since Ray’s a heel. Storm was sad about the loss as she cried by the barricade. Ray celebrated with the title.

There was another commercial for NXT moving to USA Network on September 18.

A commercial aired for “The Day of SummerSlam” that premieres on WWE Network after this show.

The announcers reminded us about Triple H talking about NXT Takeover Cardiff on his Facebook page.

The video package aired for the WWE Championship match between champion Walter and challenger Tyler Bate. Walter has a NXT UK stable called Imperium and they had issues with British Strong Style. Walter attacked Bate with several Powerbombs on the ring apron that looked brutal. Bate came back and said he’s going to take back the title because Bate was the first WWE UK Champion.

Tyler Bate got a nice ovation from the crowd. I’ve been very impressed by him especially considering he’s only 22 years old. I think it’s fair to see he is one of the most promising young stars in all of WWE. He’s from England.

Walter is undefeated in NXT and he’s from Vienna, Austria. Walter is 32 years old. I think he’d be a great star on the main roster, but apparently, he only wants to work in NXT UK while continuing to train at his wrestling school. His name is written as WALTER a lot of the time, but I’m not going to capitalize. You’ll know who I’m referring to. They stood in the ring for championship introductions.

WWE UK Championship: Walter vs. Tyler Bate

Walter was in control early after a doing a test of strength, Walter took him down, Bate bridged back to his feet and Bate hit a forearm. They exchanged strikes until Walter slowed it down with a headlock. Walter with a shoulder tackle, Bate avoided a move, he rolled through and Bate connected with a body slam with the crowd cheering loudly for it. Bate knocked Walter out of the ring. Walter came back with Powerbomb on the edge of the ring apron. When Bate got to the apron, Walter kicked him down. Walter whipped Bate into the barricade followed by a boot to the face. Walter picked up Bate and gave him a Powerbomb into the ring post. That looked like a rough landing for Bate as the referee checked on him. The referee held up a fist in the air as a trainer (likely an indy wrestler) went over to Bate to check on him. The referee delayed the count to let Bate get checked out and Bate rolled back in the ring. The fans chanted things all night. This time, they were chanting for Bate. Walter kicked at Bate to keep him down. They spent a few minutes with Walter continuing to dominate with kicks. Walter with a sleeper hold, Bate got to the ropes to break free and punched him with the left hand. Bate tried to lift up Walter, so Walter fell on him and elbowed him in the head. Walter with a crossface attempt, Bate to the ropes and Walter worked him over with forearms to the chest. Walter pulled back on the arms of Bate and put his knee into the back. Walter with a running splash on Bate for a two count. Bate tried to come back with punches, but Walter slammed him against the turnbuckle. Walter put his boot to the throat of Bate. Walter wanted a Powerbomb on the apron, Bate held onto the ropes and Bate hit an Exploder Suplex off the apron with both guys crashing to the floor. That was a big move. Bate sent Walter into the side of the apron and into the barricade.

They went back into the ring with Bate hitting three leg drops. Bate was selling the back injury. Bate with a running elbow against the turnbuckle, but when Bate went for an attack off the middle ropes, Walter chopped him down. Walter slapped on the Boston Crab submission, which he turned into a Crossface. Walter pulled back on the neck of Bate with Bate getting to the bottom rope with his foot. Walter wanted a suplex, Bate blocked, Walter chopped him, Bate blocked with a knee and they battled over a suplex spot with Bate connecting with a basic suplex on the much bigger man. The fans popped big for it even though it was just a typical suplex. It drew a pop because of how they set it up. Bate worked over Walter with repeated forearms to the face, a clothesline, a clothesline to the back, another clothesline and Walter came back with a forearm. Bate with a rolling kick to the head and an Exploder Suplex across the ring. Bate with a running Shooting Star Press for a two count. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Bate went for a backslide, Walter to his feet and a back body drop. Bate sold the back injury, Walter with a dropkick to the back into the ropes and Bate hit a Sunset Driver into a pinfall attempt for two. They went to the middle ropes, Bate teased a suplex to the floor, which was never going to happen and Walter hit a big chop to the chest to knock Bate down. Bate came back with a finger breaking spot to pay homage to his buddy Pete Dunne and Bate hit an Exploder Suplex off the top rope for a two count. Great nearfalls The fans chanted for Bate again. There were more chops exchanged with Bate going for punches, but every time he did, Walter came back with hard chops to knock him down. Bate finally got some momentum back with a lefty punch to the jaw and then Walter fell on the back of Bate. They were both down selling for about a minute. Bate with a kick to the knee. Bate off the ropes, Walter caught him and hit an overhead suplex. Bate picked up Walter, the fans stood up, he spun Walter around and Walter got to the ropes. Bate put Walter on his shoulders and gave him a Burning Hammer slam in the middle of the ring. Bat was selling the back injury, so he was slow to cover and Walter went to the apron as fans chanted “fight forever” for them. Bate kicked Walter to knock him down and Bate followed up with two dives onto Walter on the floor. The second dive looked better. Bate hit a delayed, bridging German Suplex for a two count. Walter blocked the Tiger Driver attempt at first, but then Bate hit the Tiger Driver ’97 for a two count with Walter getting his shoulder up. Bate up top again and he hit a corkscrew moonsault for a two count. Another “this is awesome” chant. Bate worked over Walter with punches, the referee made him go back, so Walter hit two chops and a kick to the head. Walter slapped on a sleeper hold. Bate put Walter on his back and dropped him back to the mat. Walter got back up quickly with another sleeper hold. Bate to the apron, Walter with two forearms to the chest and Walter hit a head/arm suplex onto Bate on the ring apron. Holy shit! That was brutal. Walter went up top and he jumped off with a splash. Walter covered, but Bate kicked out at two with the crowd giving him a huge ovation. Walter with another head/arm suplex for two. Walter with a Powerbomb, but Bate kicked out at one and the fans exploded again! Bate showed that babyface fighting spirit in getting back to his feet, but then Walter bounced off the ropes and hit a huge clothesline. Bate did a flip bump and Walter covered for the pinfall win. The match went 42 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Walter

Analysis: ****3/4 Wow! What a f’n great match! It was slow-paced for the first half of the match because that’s the style of a Walter match. It’s not for every kind of wrestling fan, but I like it because of how well they built up the final few minutes in the match. Bate took a beating for most of the match and he did an excellent job of showing babyface heart leading to the big comeback. Some of those Exploder Suplex spots they did were cool especially because the smaller Bate was throwing the big man Walter around like it was nothing. Bate hitting the Burning Hammer on Walter was also incredible. I continue to be amazed by Bate because of how great he is so early in his career. The last ten minutes were absolutely incredible. Bate’s comeback was exactly as it should have been. Walter was able to come back and continue his dominance as the champion. Whenever somebody is able to beat Walter it’s going to be a big deal and that’s the way you want to book your heel champion. This was one of the best matches of the year in WWE. I enjoyed it a lot. Since I know people will ask why it’s not five stars, my simple answer is that maybe it went a bit too long and the first half of the match wasn’t nearly as interesting as the second half. I still loved it.

Walter celebrated with the WWE UK Title. The announcers put over how awesome the match was. Replays aired of the big spots in the match. Walter posed with his Imperium buddies on the stage.

Tyler Bate got a standing ovation from the fans. That led to his British Strong Style buddies Pete Dunne and Trent Seven to greet him with hugs.

This show had a run time of 3:00:36 on WWE Network.

 

Final Thoughts

I’ll give it a 8.5 out of 10.

It was an excellent wrestling show. They went just under three hours and put on six matches that were all given plenty of time. I think the UK Title match with Walter and Bate absolutely lived up to the immense hype they had going into it. It was one of the best matches of the year in WWE. The Tag Team Title match also stood out. I enjoyed Cesaro’s match as well.

This was a nice showing by WWE’s NXT UK brand. I was impressed.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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