Before the fall brings us changing colours, colder breezes, and the dawn of the Wednesday Night Wrasslin Wars, the first battle of NXT vs AEW will actually take place this Saturday. AEW’s All Out and NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff take place on the same day! Now, thanks to our big, beautiful round planet and the existence of timezones, the shows will not run in direct opposition to one another. But, you can bet that every performer on both shows will be working their asses off to be the one that fans are talking about when the dust settles.
What does the UK wing of the NXT brand offer as an alternative to the mega-card that is All Out, which will feature the crowning of the first-ever AEW World Champion? NXT UK lacks some of the star power of its North American counterpart. But, what it lacks in names, it more than compensates with a loaded roster of gritty, hard-working European talents and the tried and true NXT TakeOver format to give them a solid foundation for an excellent show.
While I wouldn’t say all of the announced matches stand out as potential five-star classics, the pool of talent and always hot UK crowd should elevate the event to a tight, enjoyable wrestling show.
I am listing the matches in the order I believe they will appear based on the NXT TakeOver format of two undercard bouts with no championships on the line and three title matches. There is also the WWE.com announcement that the Swiss Superman himself, Cesaro will be attending the event and, if I can borrow a line from Aleister Black, looking to Pick. A. Fight.
Let’s get into it!
Tag Team Championships: Grizzled Young Veterans (C) vs Gallus vs “Flash” Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews
TakeOvers love to start with a mega pop. With hometown boys Andrews and Webster, a pair of undersized high flyers in this match, that’s exactly what we will get. From there, its the big boys of Gallus, Wolfgang and Mark Coffey, bringing their brand of barrel-chested brawling to clash with the technical skills of the champions, Gibson and Drake, the Grizzled Young Veterans.
This program escalated quickly and was carried on the back of the next level promo skills of Zack Gibson, drawing real heel heat from the UK fans. While the wrestling world seems to have embraced AEW star MJF as the emerging king of promos, I don’t think it’s fair to have that conversation without including Gibson, a guy genuinely hated by fans in all the right ways. Gibson talks trash, throws shade, and endures the thunderous chants of “If you hate Gibson stand up!” all the while putting himself and his partner over as top guys. All this, and he has a fantastic Liverpool accent, which I am an absolute sucker for.
Triple threat tag matches can get clunky, but I have really high hopes for this one. Andrews and Webster have fast, flippy offence that will make for some exciting moments in between them getting mauled by Wolfgang and Coffey. Gibson and Drake will work a heel match, trying to sneak in the win while avoiding the grip of the Scottish powerhouses in Gallus. Bodies will fly, hot tags will be made, and everybody will get in their best stuff.
I’m predicting a win for Andrews and Webster here to light up the home crowd and take the belts off of Drake and Gibson, who have worn them since winning them at TakeOver: Blackpool. The match will be fun, fast and a perfect starter for the card.
Travis Banks vs Noam Dar
As much as I love the UK brand, there are quite a few guys on the roster that I really have no interest in. This match features two of them. Noam Dar has been obnoxious since his 205 Live program with Alicia Foooooooxxxxxx and he still bugs me on the other side of the pond. He is a heel, so I know I’m not supposed to like him, but what I have for him is go away heat rather than heel heat. As for the “Kiwi Buzzsaw” Travis Banks, he’s a solid worker with great striking offence, but I have yet to find anything about the character that I really connect with.
All that said, these guys are going to be doing their best to prove they deserve a spot on the TakeOver card so I think the match itself will be quite good.
I see Banks going over here. He has had some start and stop due to injuries and he came up just short in an excellent match with WALTER on UK TV a few weeks ago.
“Bomber” Dave Mastiff vs Joe Coffey (Last Man Standing match)
Now this match, this match, I am 100 percent here for.
Dave Mastiff is one of my favourite UK talents. With a strong man build, Mastiff is a bear of a man who makes the Kevin Owens cannonball move look like murder. Joe Coffey, also a member of the Gallus faction, is no slouch in the size department, either. In fact, one of the things that makes this such an intriguing match is that both of these guys look like they can really fight. This contest could just as easily be a barroom brawl as it is a Last Man Standing match. However, the addition of that particular stipulation does mean we can expect some absolutely brutal offence from both these guys as they beat the crap out of one another for our amusement.
It’s tough to pick a winner in this one. Coffey could use the win to keep his spot as a top heel. But, Mastiff is undefeated in singles competition and would make an excellent challenger for the UK title if things don’t go Tyler Bate’s way in the main event.
I’m going to load another babyface win onto my predictions with Mastiff going over here. I’ve been looking forward to this match since they started teasing it a few weeks back. I can’t see any way that I will be disappointed once these two monsters tear into each other.
Cesaro does a thing.
How great would it be if Cesaro got to make a permanent move to the UK brand? Look, I’m not a “Cesaro Section” guy, but it’s impossible not to respect the work he brings to each and every match that he ultimately loses. The guy is freakishly strong and would add some star power to the NXT UK roster. However, I believe this appearance will be a one-off, with Cesaro doing some heel stuff, talking crap about the UK talent, before facing some gatekeeper of the brand.
With no announced opponent and no match booked for Pete Dunne, my prediction is that The Bruiserweight answers the call and puts on an absolute banger of a match with Cesaro handing him yet another loss. But at least he’ll get a chance to showcase what he can do.
NXT UK Womens Championship: Toni Storm (C) vs Kay Lee Ray
I am a big fan of the NXT UK Women’s roster. The ladies in it are a diverse group with a variety of looks, styles and body types. There are no Mandy Roses here, with big brawlers like Piper Niven, Jazzy Gabert, and Rhea Ripley contrasting smaller ladies like Xia Brookside, Candy Floss and Jinny. This division feels competitive, fresh, and most importantly, all the women can go once the bell rings.
All that said… I’m pretty flat for this match.
Toni Storm is a really great talent with undeniable charisma. She was excellent in the second Mae Young Tournament and has done a solid job as champion. Her real-life back story with challenger Kay Lee Ray has made for some solid promo packages, but I still find myself hard-pressed to get excited about seeing the two square off.
Maybe it’s something about Kay Lee Ray. Her entrance pose seems like something you would get as a starter taunt in one of the WWE 2K games and I can’t say that I have really enjoyed any of her matches to any memorable degree.
I see Storm retaining here with possible foreshadowing of a challenge from Jazzy Gabert in the finale.
NXT UK Championship: WALTER (C) vs Tyler Bate
For my money, the build to this match as been about as good as it gets. WALTER and his squad, Imperium, have made their way through the British Strong Style trio of Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, and Tyler Bate, leaving all three beaten and broken in the ring. The drama has been really high and perfectly executed, particularly the savage beating of Bate with Seven handcuffed to the ring and forced to watch. The friendship between the lads in Mustache Mountain is real and their connection to the crowd is undeniable.
They also are presented as smart babyfaces who, rather than waiting around to take their lumps. took the fight to Imperium in the weeks leading up to the match using stealth and surprise (and chairs) to even the odds.
Bate, the inaugural UK champion, has grown leaps and bounds as a performer in the years since the tournament that kicked off this brand. The B I G S T R O N G B O I is small by WWE standards, but he is freakishly strong and amazingly athletic. He is coming into this match hot with some okay promo work, not his strong suit, and great babyface fire as he got his revenge on WALTER and the rest of Imperium.
WALTER, on the other hand, is just a beast. Time at the Performance Centre seems to agree with the big Austrian. He has trimmed body fat and toned up his already impressive physique. His run as champion has been dominant and the addition of Aichner, Barthel, and Wolfe as his back up has made him the top heel this brand needs. His faction has a one man numbers advantage over both Gallus and British Strong Style, giving him an unbeatable quality that makes for a dramatic match.
So, who goes over?
I have a bunch of babyface predictions at the bottom of the card, so I think that will balance out with the heel going over here. Bate would be exciting to see as a two-time champion. But, the UK booking team seems to really understand that the heat in wrestling lies with strong heels running over crowd-friendly babyfaces, building to a heroic victory further down the road. I believe WALTER will retain here, in an excellent match with plenty of false finishes building to a definitive ending. NXT tends to stay away from finishes that end with interference or other shenanigans on their TakeOver cards, but I wouldn’t rule out some kind of run-in or distraction in the dying minutes of this match to give the Ring General the advantage.
Overall, NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff promises to be a really solid wrestling card. The matches have stakes, the crowd will be hot, and the under three-hour run time makes for just enough wrasslin’ to fill you up while still leaving room for dessert.
Or, you know, 4 hours plus of All Out.
That’s it for me. So until we finally find out who was filming G-TV, I’ll see you marks around the loop.