By Laurence Gibbons, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@Gibbonsgob)
NXT UK TV
Taped in London, England at BT Sport Studios
Streamed January 20, 2022 on WWE Network and Peacock
The broadcast team was Andy Shepherd and Nigel McGuinness… Pretty Deadly entered the BT Sport Studios to kick off the action…
We saw highlights of Sam Gradwell attempting to find a tag team partner to face Pretty Deadly. He failed to convince A-Kid or Nathan Frazer after previously insulting them. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Elon Musk ghosted him on Twitter and he even failed to convince his fast-food drive-thru operative to join him…
Saxton Huxley appeared backstage and told Gradwell he could ‘count on Huxley’… Huxley and Gradwell made their entrance …
1. “Pretty Deadly” Sam Stoker and Lewis Howley vs. Sam Gradwell and Saxon Huxley. Howley and Gradwell started the match. Howley struggled to gain the upper hand until he made a sly tag to Stoker which caught Gradwell off guard. Gradwell tagged Huxley in. Huxley took Stoker down with a shoulder tackle and hit multiple knees and the delayed elbow drop.
Howley came in and initially failed to swing things in his favor. Eventually Pretty Deadly utilized kick tags to keep Huxley in their corner. They performed a double suplex onto the ropes and then worked the gut of Huxley. Stoker put the abominable stretch on Huxley and leaned back to grab the hand of Howley on the apron to apply multiple pressure.
Huxley got the hot tag and Gradwell sent Stoker from pillar to post before hitting a backdrop and a double arm suplex. Stoker met Gradwell off the top rope with a forearm.
With both men down, Kenny Williams came to ringside and took out Huxley. Both legal men crawled to their corners. Stoker tagged Howley in but there was no Huxley for Gradwell to tag. Pretty Deadly hit Spilt Milk on Gradwell for the win.
“Pretty Deadly” Sam Stoker and Lewis Howley defeated Sam Gradwell and Saxon Huxley in 9:22.
Gibbons’ Opinion: This was a fun opener that had a level of unpredictability to it as Gradwell hadn’t found a tag partner. The videos Gradwell has been sharing on Twitter of his attempts to find a partner have been entertaining.
Kenny Williams has had a bit of beef with both Gradwell and Huxley in recent weeks. This resulted in being the deciding factor as Huxley was taken out and left Gradwell for the taking. This outcome gives us a couple of matches for Williams going forward. It also helps to build Pretty Deadly up for their eventual rematch with Moustache Mountain. Good booking all round…
Jinny cut a promo on Amale claiming that she was exploiting her past as an immigrant whilst omitting to mention all the success she had had…
A hype package aired ahead of the Die Familie vs. Gallus grudge match set for next week…
A vignette for Blair Davenport aired in which she celebrated her family lineage and claimed to only care about fellow Davenports. She said she was the rightful heir to the NXT UK Women’s Championship and was coming for Meiko Satomura …
Emilia McKenzie made her entrance. Isla Dawn made her entrance along with her trinket box containing the watch she had stolen from McKenzie…
2. Emilia McKenzie vs. Isla Dawn. McKenzie took Dawn down and immediately went for a pin. Dawn kicked out so McKenzie transitioned to a hammerlock on the canvas. McKenzie worked the wrist until Dawn countered into a side headlock. McKenzie worked out and hit a dropkick and swinging neckbreaker for another close pin attempt.
Dawn sent McKenzie to the outside and then stomped on her as she came back in. Dawn took control of the bout. She hit a big backdrop driver. Dawn dumped McKenzie on the top rope but McKenzie pushed her away. McKenzie hit a top rope sunset flip to get back into the match. She followed this with a high angle suplex and a spear but Dawn still refused to stay down.
McKenzie sent Dawn to the outside and hit the dive through the ropes. McKenzie missed the top rope crossbody. Dawn hit the fireman carry to swinging side slam for the victory.
Isla Dawn defeated Emilia McKenzie in 5:30.
After the bell, Dawn removed McKenzie’s watch from her trinket box and slid it to McKenzie…
Gibbons’ Opinion: We saw Dawn conducting witchcraft with McKenzie’s watch which she had stolen months ago. I had almost forgotten that this match was on the cards. It was a really enjoyable contest. Fast-paced action throughout and the momentum swung back and forth in each woman’s favor. The story with Dawn is that she steals something from someone, does a little spell and then beats them before returning the object. It worked in her match with Aleah James and worked again against McKenzie. Lock up your belongings, NXT women!
Amale cut a promo claiming Jinny had misinterpreted her message of hope…
A hype package aired ahead of Ilja Dragunov’s NXT UK Championship defense against Jordan Devlin. Devlin claimed that Dragunov couldn’t win without the support of the fans, so challenged him to an Empty Arena match. Dragunov said he relied on what was inside him so accepted. The match happens next week…
Gibbons’ Opinion: The latest NXT UK tapings happened just before the omicron COVID variant had a massive impact on the UK. Practically everyone in London seemed to get it. I wonder if Dragunov vs. Devlin wasn’t shot during those tapings and this Empty Arena match is NXT UK’s way of dealing with a delay in live tapings. I think it probably is.
A-Kid made his entrance ahead of his shot for the NXT UK Heritage Cup Championship. The champion Noam Dar made his entrance with Sha Samuels carrying his cup…
3. Noam Dar (w/Sha Samuels) vs. A-Kid in a Heritage Rules match for the Heritage Cup Championship.
Round One: The two locked up by hand as each man tried to prove their strength. A-Kid put the headlock on but Dar countered into the head scissors. A-Kid countered into a pin. Dar hit a hip toss for a close fall. The round ended with the men on a lock up.
Round Two: Dar took A-Kid straight to the mat but the Spaniard rolled into an arm bar and then transitioned into a cravat. Dar racked the nose and grounded A-Kid with a headlock. Dar attacked the heavily taped midsection of A-Kid. A-Kid rolled up Dar, who kicked out and rolled to the outside for a break. The round ended with Dar attempting a kick but A-Kid moved to send him over the top rope and to the outside.
Round Three: The tempo kicked up a gear as both men came out kicking and swinging. Dar hung A-Kid on the rope and hit a lethal kick to the jaw. Dar dissected A-Kid with a number of kicks. Dar hit the Nova Roller to win the fist fall and go one up.
In the break between the rounds, Samuels reminded Dar that they had a lot of money riding on his 11/1 bet that Dar would win in the fourth round.
Round Four: Dar rolled A-Kid up with a handful of tights but A-Kid kicked out. Dar pinned him and put his legs on the rope. The referee was about to count three but noticed the legs. A-Kid dove at Dar by the ropes but Samuels pulled Dar out the way. A-Kid went crashing through the ropes to the outside. A-Kid made it back into the ring before the count of 10, but was met with a back elbow.
A-Kid fought back and hit the rope-assisted moonsault to DDT to win the round.
After the round, Samuels pulled all the losing betting slips out of his pocket in despair that he had lost the bet.
Round Five: A-Kid came flying out the traps. Dar managed to lock on the Champagne Super Knee Bar but A-Kid reversed into the arm bar. The two grappled on the mat as they both looked to lock their respective submissions on. A-Kid riggled out of Dar’s sleeper hold and hit a penalty kick but the seconds of the round ticked away.
Round Six: A-Kid went for the roll up. The two shifted their weight for successive two counts. A-Kid dove through the ropes to take Samuels out on the outside. A-Kid locked the heel hook on Dar but the champion got to the rope. Dar struggled to stand but just about managed to hit the back elbow. A-Kid kicked out at two. Dar went for another elbow but A-Kid hit the flying super kick.With 10 seconds left, A-Kid finally locked on his double-arm submission but Dar held on until the round ended.
Noam Dar retained the Heritage Rules Cup Championship after he fought to a 1-1 draw with A-Kid.
Gibbons’ Opinion: This was a really fun match. Opening two rounds of feeling out process followed by two chaotic rounds and then the final all or nothing two rounds. The added jeopardy of Sha Samuels having ‘a lot of money and his house’ riding on Dar winning in the fourth round was fun and gave the middle of the match a focus. We haven’t seen the champion retain his Heritage Cup after a draw before so it was enjoyable to see something different. A-Kid said he has struggled for identity after losing the Cup and failing to win the NXT UK Championship. I’m not sure where he goes from here … maybe NXT 2.0. Place your bets with Sha Samuels on what new name he’ll get if he does go to the U.S.
Dar was heavily cheered by the crowd as he has become one of those heels that is too entertaining not to root for. His act with Samuels is very entertaining and they have great chemistry. I’d imagine we will see Dar see off a longline of opponents and hold the Cup for a while now. It’s a massive show next week with the six-man Gallus vs. Die Familie war and the NXT UK Championship match between Dragunov and Devlin.