Tomorrow night live on the WWE Network, the NXT UK brand its first ever Takeover event. Judging by the card, on paper, the event should be expected to stand up tall beside the Takeovers of old.
A big reason why NXT has been put so heavily on the map is because the brand’s Takeover events have delivered some of the best examples of professional wrestling that the sport has to offer.
Whenever someone wants to try and claim that the talent on NXT is superior to that of WWE’s main roster, that someone is most likely to point out one of the 22 Takeover events.
For the past five years that these Takeover events have been running live on the WWE Network, each Takeover event has provided fans with a special moment or match that remains unforgettable to this day in our minds.
Somehow, each Takeover has managed to be better than the last, and kept audiences glued to their screens with jaws on the ground at the spectacle unfolding in front of them.
Now, the brand’s spinoff series – NXT UK – is looking to make its first foray into the Takeover business when the brand arrives to the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, Lancashire, England on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019.
With this show being the brand’s first ever Takeover event, there is a lot riding on the success of Takeover: Blackpool. Depending on how many people go out of their way to see it and how many people end up praising it, this Takeover could make or break the brand as a whole.
However, even though the brand is still in its infancy, NXT UK programming has delivered some consistent, engrossing bits of WWE television since first airing back in October. Judging by what we have seen on the past 24 episodes of NXT UK programming, we should expect the show’s first Takeover event to be a true blue slobberknocker.
Headlining the event will be WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne as he defends his record setting reign against ‘The Iron King of Gallus’, Joe Coffey.
After he’s held the WWE United Kingdom Championship for over 600 days, most of us should be familiar with ‘The Bruiserweight’ by now. For those unfamiliar with his opponent, Joe Coffey is the de facto leader of resident heel stable Gallus, which also consists of his brother Mark Coffey and fellow Scot, Wolfgang.
Coffey was first introduced to WWE audiences during this past summer’s UK Tournament, ‘The Iron King’ made it to the semi-finals of the tournament before losing to Travis Banks. After the match, Coffey would turn heel by attacking ‘The Kiwi Buzzsaw’, leading to Banks’s loss in the finals.
Shortly afterwards, since winning the very first match in NXT UK history, Joe Coffey would remain undefeated on the brand. He has showcased his remarkable skills in fantastic matches against the likes of Banks and El Ligero, but this Saturday isn’t about having a five star match.
This Saturday, after months of his stable feuding with British Strong Style, Joe Coffey is gunning to take Dunne’s championship and claim his kingdom.
The crazy part is that Coffey has enough momentum going into this show that he poses a legitimate threat to the championship. Granted, Dunne has held the title long enough where we can see him losing it on any given night, but Coffey has developed into such a well-rounded superstar that he’s believable as someone who could take the title off Dunne.
Then again, with Dunne being the prime face of the NXT UK division, could he really lose the title at the brand’s first ever Takeover? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? This one could really go either way.
Speaking of contests that could go either way, Moustache Mountain is set to take on Grizzled Young Veterans in a match where the winning team will become NXT UK’s inaugural Tag Team Champions.
This past summer, Zack Gibson won this year’s UK Tournament and the next day was nearly inches away from dethroning Pete Dunne of his championship.
Taking a step back from his loss, ‘Liverpool’s #1’ aligned himself with James Drake – who Gibson won the Progress Tag Team Championships with – in hopes of finding success in the tag team division. The Grizzled Young Veterans could find the ultimate success this Saturday if they become the first NXT UK Tag Team Champions.
This won’t be an easy task considering their opponents will be former NXT Tag Team Champions Moustache Mountain. Since winning those titles in Royal Albert Hall last summer, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate have helped define NXT UK’s tag team division.
Granted, 2/3rds of British Strong Style walk into their big match battered, bruised and with a chunk of momentum lost after losing a Six-Man Tag Team Match to Gallus on NXT UK’s go-home show last Wednesday.
This another match where we struggle to figure out a possible winner, but if one thing is for sure, it is that this match has potential to steal the show.
Speaking of potential show stealers, this next contest – announced mere days before Saturday’s event – serves as a dark horse candidate for Match of the Night. We will see ‘The Kiwi Buzzsaw’ Travis Banks taking on the self-proclaimed ‘Ace of NXT UK’, Jordan Devlin.
Trained under the tutelage of Finn Balor, Devlin has had a rousing showing under NXT UK since debuting for the brand. Apart from a losing effort against Pete Dunne for his United Kingdom Championship, Devlin has been virtually undefeated. Banks, on the other hand, has not been so lucky.
Since this past summer’s UK Tournament, Banks has been embroiled on the losing end of a feud with Gallus. Banks has continued to consistently give impressive performances in matches only to lose almost every time. Perhaps his luck will change this Saturday, or perhaps Devlin will merely remind us again why he’s ‘The Ace of NXT UK.’
The feud between Banks and Devlin is a simple one that quickly escalated. Devlin basically accused Banks of being a sellout of his country that’s forgotten where he’s come from. There’s little given to the match in terms of storyline, but in terms of in-ring acumen, this match gives us two of the best athletes that the NXT UK brand have to offer.
Devlin vs Banks has potential to be a masterclass in technical wrestling.
Staying on the subject of bad blood, resident mastodon’s Dave Mastiff and Eddie Dennis hope to grind out their own issues when they duke it out in a No Disqualification Match.
Standing at a height of 6’6, Eddie Dennis has taken residence in NXT UK by decimating everyone in his path. The giant has gone as far as to proclaim himself as NXT UK’s biggest and baddest monster.
The claim was challenged by the presence of Dave Mastiff. Weighing it at 322 lbs, ‘The Bomber’ steam rolled through every single one of his opponents. Like Dennis, Mastiff is undefeated in NXT UK.
Dennis and Mastiff wrestled on a Jan. 2nd episode of NXT UK for rights to the name of NXT UK’s best monster. Unfortunately, that match would end in a no contest after they brawled hard enough to shove the ref out of their way.
The two continued to trade blows after the bell until NXT UK General Manager Johnny Saint would book a rematch between these two at Takeover in a No DQ Match.
Their NXT UK bout gave us a small taste of what a dynamic between Mastiff and Dennis can achieve. Add in the No DQ elements of no restraints and all the weapons at their disposal, this match could divulge into chaos. Which is exactly the kind of match we should want to see from these two huge, barbaric gentlemen.
Mastiff vs Dennis is set to be an unrelenting hoss fight. Coming from somebody who loves his hoss fights, this should be a fun match.
Last, but certainly not least, Toni Storm will challenge Rhea Ripley for her NXT UK Women’s Championship.
Months ago, Ripley shocked the world when she became the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion after defeating Toni Storm in the finals of the Championship Tournament.
In the process, Storm sustained a back injury, but now she’s back vowing to vanquish Ripley for her title. This won’t be an easy task considering Ripley is a cocky young champion with something to prove.
In a sense, both women have something to prove going into this. The Mae Young Classic winner needs to prove that she’s capable of beating ‘The Moshpit Kid’ and becoming NXT UK Women’s Champion. Meanwhile, Ripley needs to prove that her title win was anything but a fluke.
In many regards, both women have everything to win coming out of this match, but neither can afford to lose.
Ripley and Storm had a solid tournament final some months back, but the rematch has potential to be even better thanks to some newfound aggression between the champion and challenger, as well as the higher stakes on the line.
This match has all the elements to be an early Match of the Year contender and perhaps a bonafide classic.
What to Expect
From top to bottom, this looks like a superb card for NXT UK’s debut Takeover event. Stacked against a mountain of expectations in comparison to five years worth of Takeover events, Takeover: Blackpool has potential to exceed expectations.
This Saturday, NXT UK hopes to implement its own British flavor into the Takeover franchise and hopefully be viewed just as strongly as the Takeovers of old.