Welcome back to NXT UK. For our next set of episodes, we’re in York, and for this episode specifically, Worlds Collide is looming overhead. It’s the go-home episode for the NXT brand battle ahead of the Royal Rumble. Imperium were on edge, Jordan Devlin clashed with Ligero and a UK contender was set for the Worlds Collide‘s Fatal Four-way match for the Cruiserweight Title. Let’s see what the next city could offer us and who was left standing tall before the battle of the brands.

A New Belt

The show opened with WALTER being given a new incarnation of the United Kingdom Title. WALTER graciously if a bit arrogantly accepted the new belt whilst running down the former champions. He bigged up the brand as the best in European wrestling then angrily went after The Undisputed Era for attacking Imperium at the end of NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool II. He threatened revenge and that they would be embarrassed by Imperium at Worlds Collide.

Jordan Devlin defeated Ligero via Devil Inside

Our first match saw one of the top villains of the brand, Jordan Devlin, take on one of the brands most beloved, Ligero. He was no less confident since his loss to Tyler Bate at TakeOver and looked to regain his momentum. He tried to get in Ligero’s face before the match but was sent reeling when Ligero slapped him. Ligero kept the pressure on with strikes and a series of power moves and pinfall attempts. Devlin survived this and went after Ligero’s mask whilst he took his jacket off. Devlin slowed Ligero down and was able to avoid being dived on. The pair traded on the outside, with Devlin punishing Ligero for being extravagant in his offence. Devlin kept grinding down Ligero by going for the arm and shoulder, taunting the whole time. Ligero finally broke free with a Jawbreaker, stuck down Devlin and managed to hit his Slingshot Cutter. He missed C4L and ended up eating a Spanish Fly. Both men had been slowed at this point and struggled to chain together attacks. The pair kept reversing each other with Ligero reversing The Devil Inside into a DDT. The pair had a slugfest on the floor with Devlin finally able to hit the Slingshot Cutter and pull Ligero off the ring canvas with the Devil Inside. He has now been entered into the Cruiserweight title match at Worlds Collide. What an opening contest, it was fast, dramatic and personal. Both men had a lot to lose and a big opportunity to win.

Ilja Dragunov defeated Josh Morrell via Torpedo Moscow

So, it seems if you’re going to be taking on Finn Balor in a big match the best way to prepare is to squash a local talent? That was what Ilja Dragunov did. He completely outpowered Morrell and dominated him with some brutal strikes, chain wrestling and ended it easily with Torpedo Moscow. Not much else to say really, Ilja looks ready for Balor. He called out Prince Balor but had his speech cut short by Gallus. Joe Coffey tried to blame Ilja for him losing to WALTER but wished him the best in dealing with NXT. Though once he comes back from battling Balor, the Iron King wants his head.

Travis Banks defeated The Brian Kendrick via Kiwi Crusher

Okay, I’ll admit my expectations for this match were rather low. Not because of the competitors involved, just that it seemed completely random. What we got was bloody brilliant. Kendrick started the match seeming uninterested and missing a step. He wasn’t able to keep up with Banks and was continuously outwrestled by Banks. This would continue until about the halfway point of the match when Kendrick damaged Banks’ hand in the ring steps. He then mercilessly targeted the broken limb with vicious efficiency. The Brian Kendrick is back and continued to keep working over Banks’ hand whilst peppering in KO blows and submissions. Banks would keep firing up but the hand kept getting him slapped back down. The pair kept reversing each other until Kendrick hit Sliced Bread number 2, which led to a two count, kicked the crap out of Banks then got caught with the Slice of Heaven and Kiwi Crusher from an adrenalized Banks. It was a very well-paced bout full of interesting reversals and character work from Kendrick. They managed to take a predictable result and build a very well-built match between two technical and striking masters. When the desperation of Kendrick was factored in, his erratic offence added another level to the match and yes, pushed it into good main event territory. In other words, Kendrick being a heelish dick made me enjoy this match a lot more. Banks and Devlin will now represent NXT UK in the cruiserweight title match.

So, there you have it, another episode of NXT UK reviewed for your reading pleasure. It was a solid episode for a new tapings starter and felt like it recapped everything it needed for Worlds Collide. Once that bogeyman is out of the picture, I imagine we’ll start getting more brand-centric stories. It’s interesting to see Joe Coffey come after Ilja Dragunov and I look forward to seeing Imperium come for Flash Morgan Webster, Mark Andrews, and their mystery partner. Let’s hope things keep escalating nicely. WALTER needs to put his newly minted title against someone at some point.

All images courtesy of wwe.com Video courtesy of WWE YouTube

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