Just under three months after WWE NXT UK debuted on the WWE Network, the brand will be premiering its first TakeOver event on Jan. 12, NXT Takeover: Blackpool. WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne will be challenged by the de facto leader of Gallus, Joe Coffey.
The latest episode of WWE NXT UK saw Dunne and Coffey trade verbal jabs over a contract signing that ended with Coffey powerbombing the UK Champion through a table. Seeing The Iron King stand defiant in the face of the United Kingdom Champion brought to light just how much Joe Coffey has brought his A-game as the top heel on NXT UK.
Those few who have seen Joe Coffey’s independent work overseas – particularly that in Insane Championship Wrestling during his 2nd reign as ICW World Heavyweight Champion – would know he’s perfectly capable of performing heel work, but it’s a whole new ball game when one steps into a WWE ring.
With all due respect to promotions like ICW, the indies are small leagues compared to the juggernaut that is the WWE system. It’s not hard for a wrestler to appear as a big fish within a small pond, whereas their career in WWE can be – essentially – make or break. Several stars have come and gone from being hot stuff on the indies to being yesterday’s news in WWE. Joe Coffey will not have to worry about that problem in the slightest.
Since joining the NXT UK brand, Joe Coffey has become the brand’s most dominant WWE Superstar not named Pete Dunne.
He went as far as the semi-finals of the 2018 UK Tournament. After losing to Travis Banks, he would turn heel and align himself with his younger brother, Mark Coffey. This would provide immediate success for the eldest Coffey brother as he would win the very first NXT UK match on the show’s debut episode. The Coffeys would continue their winning streak, which would progress even further once they brought Wolfgang into the mix to form Gallus.
In all of that time, The Iron Man has stepped up his game in a way that goes beyond anything we’ve seen from him on the independent circuit. In his newfound push as the top heel of NXT UK, Coffey was forced to evolve with time. In his evolution, his promos are now more sharp and confident than they’ve ever been.
Keep the aforementioned contract signing in mind as a prime example. His eyes boil hotter than a thousand suns and his words spew more venom than a sea of snakes. His eyes and body motions in such a way that provides weight to every word he utter, making each of his sentences more important than the last. It’s a performance lathered in subtle cadences that Coffey had yet to implement before arriving to WWE.
Joe Coffey went from being a big fish in a small pond to a Kraken in shark-infested waters.
Simply put, when his stage got bigger and brighter, Joe Coffey evolved along with his setting. Joe Coffey has managed to shape himself into a believable threat to the United Kingdom Championship. Granted, Dunne has held the title long enough that we can imagine his title shockingly change hands on any given night, but in Coffey’s case, its a different kind of jeopardy for Dunne.
Anyone one the NXT UK roster can – and has – lay claim to being the one destined to end The Bruiserweight’s historic title reign, but due to his character work alone, we actually believe it coming from Coffey.
His words invoke a prophetic diction as he somehow manages to hit harder than he implies he’s capable of doing. He makes us buy into the idea that the only reason Dunne has been champion for nearly 600 days is because he’s never crossed paths with The Iron King. He makes us believe that if Coffey wanted to, he can take that strap off of Dunne’s shoulder with a snap of his fingers.
Joe Coffey has promised within a week’s time that he will win NXT UK’s first TakeOver main event and walk out as NXT United Kingdom Champion. Due to the stellar work he’s put in for the past 22 episodes of NXT UK, we can see a future where that is a strong possibility.
Coffey has done what few indie darlings are able to do and that’s make the successful transition into a bonafide WWE main eventer that fits right at home in the big leagues.