Tyler Bate has experienced much success in his pro-wrestling career but nothing quite like the litany of achievements he has accomplished in WWE’s British brand, NXT UK, and NXT in America. Not only was he the first NXT United Kingdom Champion, but he has also held the NXT Tag Team titles with Trent Seven as well as winning the 2018 NXT Tag Team Invitational, and the match of the year award in the 2017 NXT Year-End Awards.
He obviously isn’t looking to rest on his laurels just yet as, on the May 20th edition of NXT UK, Tyler Bate added to his trophy cabinet by defeating A-Kid to become only the second person to hold the NXT UK Heritage Cup in an exciting, hard-hitting main event that thrilled and exhilarated.
The match was fought under British Round Rules, which thankfully Wikipedia has done me the favour of explaining concisely:
- Matches consist of six three-minute rounds with 20-second breaks between each round.
- Matches are 2-out-of-3-falls.
- Falls can be won by pinfall, submission, or count-out.
- Once a fall occurs, the round ends.
- The match ends once a wrestler has won two falls.
- In the event of a disqualification or knockout, the match instantly ends without the need for two falls.
- If all six rounds are completed, whoever is ahead on falls wins the match.
The good thing about using British Round Rules in a modern setting is that a modern storytelling wrestler can use the time limits and the number of rounds to skillfully carve out a compelling, dramatic arc over the course of the match. Things can ramp up more, for example, in the third round because both men realise they are nearly halfway through the match and so have to wrestle more urgently if they want to force their opponent to concede a fall.
Or you can make a wrestler, especially one who might be losing, look strong by having them nail a killer move, only for the round to end as they make the cover. This protects both men; the wrestler who landed the killer move by making it look like time cheated them out of victory, plus the opponent who took the move, as they can come back strong after the break and win.
With the stage (well, ring) set then for a main event of sheer athletic drama, how did Tyler Bate find his way to lifting the Heritage Trophy?
How It Went Down
The pace was quick from the off, with both using the first round to feel each other out. An extremely fluid and impressive set of counters and reversals saw each man jockeying for the advantage over the other, with things appearing to be a stalemate by the end of the round.
The second round saw A-Kid dominate the majority, refusing to let go of Tyler Bate as he struggled and manoeuvred to free himself of A-Kid’s grasp. A surfboard stretch from A-Kid seemed to be the final straw, Bate kicking his way out before sending Kid into the ropes, Kid holding on to end the round. Was this a hint that Bate was getting frustrated?
Bate picked the pace up further to start the third round, disorientating A-Kid for a moment with a series of leaps and feints before A-Kid slapped on a sleeper, possibly to keep Bate in one place. While you might have expected Tyler to be the one to lose his temper and hit the strikes first, it was A-Kid who decided to take things in a more physical direction, coming out a backslide and landing an absolutely sickening forearm to the face of Bate. Tyler will be feeling that one today, I’m sure.
A second vicious forearm followed so Bate answered back with a hard shot of his own. Not to be outdone or outmatched, A-Kid followed through on a kip up with a blow that echoed through the studio. Ouch! That one was a beast. As the round drew to an end, A-Kid sent himself and Bate over the ropes, perhaps hoping to hurt his opponent substantially on the landing. The round ended with both men in pain on the studio floor.
Round four saw Bate start with a fury as he ran across the ring and smashed A-Kid with a massive forearm. More strikes followed, knocking Kid to the mat, but he came back from the mat with hard boots to Bate’s face. A-Kid focussed on bringing things down to the mat, taking Bate down with a fisherman’s suplex as well as catching Bate in a backslide as he came off the top with a leaping elbow. Bate was able to escape an armbar attempt and went for an airplane spin but A-Kid slipped a sleeper on before kicking him right in the head and reapplying the sleeper. A-Kid made the mistake of going upstairs as Tyler caught him with a hard elbow to the head when he leapt off the turnbuckles. A-Kid countered a brainbuster attempt by leg-scissoring the waist and applying a guillotine choke. In an incredible feat of strength, Bate was able to pick Kid up and finally dropped him with the brainbuster, the referee’s count of one, unfortunately, coinciding with the bell for the end of the round.
Things took a slightly more cagey feel at the start of round five as both men tried to assert dominance over the other with a knuckle lock, Bate being able to push Kid to the mat for a two count. A-Kid springboarded off the ropes but Bate was able to catch him with a back suplex and bridged up for another two count. Bate though made a similar mistake to A-Kid in the last round, taking to the top rope. A-Kid caught him in an armbar as Bate missed a somersault dive off the top. Although Bate was able to punch his way out, A-Kid locked in the armbar again, staring at Trent Seven who he beat with the same hold to win the Heritage Cup in the first place. It looked like Bate was going to tap but he just made it to the bell for the end of the round, Trent Seven looking like he was going to have a heart attack.
In between round five and six, Tyler Bate sat in the corner, clearly hurt with his arm, and begged Trent Seven not throw in the towel. There was only one round left: could Bate make it through without getting seriously hurt?
A-Kid leapt into action straight away as Bate avoided a couple of dropkick attempts to the arm before springing off the ropes with a big forearm to catch A-Kid off guard. A Tyler Driver 97 attempt saw A-Kid counter with a hurricarana, catching the legs at the bottom to hook Tyler for a close two count. Both men avoided strike attempts before landing a forearm and a hard superkick respectively. A-Kid went to roll Tyler up off the back of the superkick but Tyler somehow swivelled around and hooked the legs; 1…2…3! Tyler had won. Although there were still two minutes left in the final round, I assume it was felt two minutes wasn’t enough for A-Kid to even the score. I would have liked to have seen A-Kid’s frenzied attempt at trying to do so, but when we got such a great match, it feels churlish to complain about that.
A-Kid did the gentlemanly thing, after he got over the shock, and handed over the trophy to a clearly ecstatic Bate. Sometimes, a sporting contest between two men simply trying to prove who is the better wrestler is all you need. This match was proof.
What’s Next For Tyler Bate?
This is a good move for Tyler Bate. He’s felt a little lost since NXT UK returned from their pandemic break. He’s already lost to WALTER previously, so I couldn’t see him in the main event again. Where could he have realistically gone? This gives Tyler some real focus and purpose and makes use of his talents well. The Heritage Cup is effectively the company’s secondary title and it makes sense that Tyler has a run with it. Ultimately, I still think he has a run with the UK title in him but I think he’ll be the one to beat whoever finally unseats WALTER unless they decide to build to a rematch In any case, a run with the cup keeps him hot. I’d love to see him have a feud over the cup with Ilya Dragunov or Noam Dar.
But whatever happens, it’s sure to be exciting.