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NXT UK Review: Feb 20

Before we get into this week’s NXT review, a little housekeeping is needed.

If you’ve been following my musings here on 25YL, you may have noticed that I’ve implemented a brand new rating system for each show.

The idea is that at the end of each show, I give my final thoughts and then a grade to let you know what I thought of it overall.

Good idea, right?

Well, it would be except, I hate it.

Instead, I’ve decided to go another way, with a brand brand new rating system.

It’s called the 10 Count Rating and is as follows.

1: I’d rather watch Sycho Sid
2: I’d rather watch James Ellsworth
3: I’d rather watch Dana Brooke
4: I’d rather watch Nia Jax
5: Meh
6: Pretty Solid
7: Pretty Damn Good
8: This Is Awesome
9: Holy Shit! Holy Shit!
10: Oh My God! They’ve broken him in half!

As I go through my review I’ll be grading every bout this way and take an overall average, as I feel that this is the fairest way to decide how good whatever program I’ve been watching is.

Will it work?

Well, there’s only one way to find out, it’s time to lace up our boots and head to the ring for the NXT Review for Feb 19.

Tyler Bate vs. Joseph Conners

Tyler Bate vs. Joseph Conners

10 Count Rating: 7

Straight out of the blocks, Tyler Bate and Joseph Conners kicked off the show with a damn good match.

The Man from the Mountain of Mustache is one of the best wrestlers on the NXT UK roster and if you need someone to get out there and rile the crowd up, he’s your go-to guy. A highly talented athlete with a very unique look, I can’t think of one time where I’ve finished watching Bate in action and felt let down or disappointed.

And considering he now plies his trade in the WWE, that really is saying something.

As for his opponent, I’ll be honest here, I know very little about Joseph Conners outside of the fact he’s one of the wrestler’s I follow on Twitter, but after this showing that is something I aim to rectify as soon as I’ve finished writing this and hopped onto YouTube.

I honestly expected this to be a case of Tyler Bate coming out, trading a few obligatory blows with Conners, before squashing him, what I didn’t expect was a hugely competitive bout that had me wondering if the Nottingham native might pull off the impossible and get the biggest win of his career to date.

In the end, it wasn’t to be, to no one’s surprise really if you think about it, but he came out of this looking a lot stronger than he did going in and as I’ve said about a million times by now, that’s what losing a match should do for a wrestler.

Winner: Tyler Bate

Noam Dar vs Josh Morrell

Noam Dar vs Josh Morrell

10 Count Rating: 6

I have a problem with WWE’s use of Cruiserweights.

I’m a fan of these types of wrestlers, or as Jim Cornette would call them “Flippy Shit Lil Bastards” as he’s an asshole, because of the pure skill and athleticism it takes to be able to pull off even one of the spots that make up their arsenal, but I’m not convinced that the company is.

Or, to be more precise, I’m definitely convinced that Big Vinny isn’t.

That would explain why 205 Live exists, so he has somewhere to dump them after they get called up from both branches of NXT, and this is a shame as a lot of excellent talent has just been given the shovel treatment over the past few years because Vince can’t figure out why people would rather watch jaw-dropping moves instead of big, sweaty men lumbering around the ring for the five hours a week RAW and SmackDown take to watch.

This is a shame as both Noam Dar and Josh Morell would bring something to those brands that they are currently lacking, entertainment.

No, this wasn’t Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet levels of brilliance, but it was a solid match that had some “Holy Shit!” moments, such as Morell going for the Corkscrew Body press and landing on his feet when Dar moves out of the way.

I expect Dar to carry on carrying on within the confines of the WWE and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a push sooner rather than later, at least on NXT UK, but I feel that if they’re not going to use Morell in any other capacity than enhancement talent, they should cut him loose.

This hoarding of wrestlers to stop them working for “other” promotions is starting to become a problem, WWE, and one we may need to have an intervention for.

Winner: Noam Dar

Ilja Dragunov vs. Joe Coffey

Ilja Dragunov vs. Joe Coffey

10 Count Rating: 8

Joe Coffey isn’t the kind of person you’d want to owe a debt to in any way, shape, or form, but unfortunately for Ilja Dragunov, this is the situation he found himself in.

After he’d tried to do the honorable thing and help the leader of Gallus out during NXT: TakeOver Blackpool II, he’d accidentally injured him and Coffey was pissed as hell.

This, in turn, led to this week’s Main Event and it was glorious.

I said in my review of AEW Dynamite yesterday that it’d take a lot for any match to get higher than a seven on the 10 Count Rating, and then proceeded to give Omega/Page/Lucha Bros. an eight, but even though Dragunov vs. Coffey wasn’t as NJPW as that bout, it was a knock-down-drag-out fight of epic proportions that saw both men leave it all in the ring.

As we entered the final stretch I was convinced that Coffey was going to pick up the 1-2-3, so when they faced off across the ring and went for their finishing moves, it had to be the Iron King who came out on top.

Well, if this didn’t prove I know nothing about wrestling then I don’t know what will as llja drew first and leveled the Glaswegian native with the Torpedo Moscow.

This is a huge move on WWE’s part as it shows they have a lot of faith in Dragunov and must have him marked out as a future face of the NXT UK brand, probably after Walter moves on, and this was shown even more by the fact that when Gallus hit the ring, Coffey held them back and told the Mad Russian (seriously, who comes up with these nicknames?) that his debt was now paid.

Winner: IIja Dragunov

NXT UK Happy

Final Thoughts

I said in my review last week that I treat NXT UK differently to any other wrestling promotion I watch, and trust me, there’s a lot of ’em.

There are two reasons for this.

One: It’s far more developmental than its yellow and black elder sibling and at times it shows. Not this week, as all three matches on offer were worth my time, but every so often you’ll see a bout that is obviously between two professionals who are clearly learning the WWE way of life, if not their trade on a whole.

Two: It’s a shorter format, clocking in at an hour, but if I’m being honest I prefer it this way. I love how they use vignettes to move stories along. For example, the Toni Storm/Kay Lee Ray one on offer was well thought through, concise and to the point, and got me hyped up for their I Quit match in seven days more than anything the overblown and over-produced garbage that RAW and SmackDown pumps out ever could.

Like some of its performers, NXT UK is still learning the ropes but it’s learning them quickly and now that NXT is a standalone product, it’s time for the British Invasion to take over the WWE Network.

10 Count Overall Rating: 7

Neil Gray

Written by Neil Gray

The Undisputed Sports Obsessive One Man Wrestling Writing Machine. He is The Gray and he is 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 damn good.

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