Empress Ballroom, Blackpool

NXT UK returned to its spiritual home of Blackpool for a second Takeover event that showcased just how far the brand has come in such a small amount of time.

First appearing at Blackpool’s famous Ballroom for the inaugural UK Championship Tournament in 2017 and again in 2019 for the first Takeover, those in charge clearly feel the noise and history of this small venue resonates with the product.

Sold out in just two hours, with no confirmation of what matches would make up the card, the faith the UK chapter of WWE’s Universe showed in their own brand, is remarkable. The letters NXT or WWE will, of course, help sell tickets, but testament to everyone involved, NXT UK has been steadily building their own history and creating a future for themselves in the process.

As with any Takeover event, the card always follows the classic mantra of quality over quantity. Five hard hitting and eye-catching marquee matches showcased the very best of British from start to finish.

Still in its relevant infancy, NXT UK has previously had to rely on short build ups to one-off matches. But with a couple of years under their belts fully formed rivalries and storylines have become the focus.

Classic wrestling storylines of friends turned enemies dominated the first two bouts. Eddie Dennis brutally dispatched one of the brand’s founding fathers, Trent Seven, after a horrific looking crucifix powerbomb to the outside rail. Dennis needed the win, but the style it was achieved in made a major statement and foundation for him to build on in the coming months.

With the time afforded to build the triple threat between NXT UK Women’s champion Kay Lee Ray, Toni Storm and Piper Niven, the match could easily have headlined the night. Regardless of its position on the card the ladies certainly didn’t disappoint. Pulling out high risk manoeuvres, and numerous highlight reel moments, it was perhaps the ability to tell a compelling storyline throughout that was most impressive. Kay Lee Ray retained by stealing the win, further devolving her heel persona in a division that will continue to evolve in the coming weeks.

No time for rest, unarguably the night’s match of the night and early contender for Match Of The Year saw Tyler Bate take on Jordan Devlin: a grudge match of sorts, stretching back to the pair’s quarter final match in the first WWE UK tournament. As the inaugural UK champ, Bate has become somewhat of a household name even at 22 but his talent is matched all the way by Devlin. His argument of being constantly overlooked by the company will hold merit with many of the Brit Indie wrestling scene fans. Just ask OTT regulars and they will tell you that given the chance, Devlin can be the one to dethrone the behemoth that is Walter.

The pair somewhat predictably managed to steal the show, trading signature moves and skull-rattling headbutts throughout: the epitome of the new generation of UK wrestling. The biggest compliment that can be bestowed upon the match was captured by cameras as Triple H, Johnny Saint and William Regal led a standing ovation for the pair.

A fatal four-way tag team ladder match for the NXT UK Tag Championships ensured the frenetic pace of the night rumbled on. Ladder matches are traditionally a human demolition derby and this was no different. Tables, ladders and bodies alike were broken, as all four teams looked to push the status of the UK Tag division as high as possible. A tandem Swanton bomb-esque jump from Andrews and Webster from the top of a ladder to the floor, was just one of many wince inducing moments. Gallus ultimately prevailed in a match that fed nicely into the night’s main event.

Anyone expecting more high flying between UK Champion Walter and challenger Joe Coffey would be sorely let down. This was a straight up fight between two bulls looking to claim dominance over the other. Chops, stiff punches and elbows aplenty, both main demonstrated exactly why they are main eventers. Outside interference from Walter’s Imperium team mate, Alexander Wolfe, added an extra level of intrigue. It was Walter’s arm that was raised in victory at the end of the match. But not at the end of the night.

As the cameras began to fade with Imperium standing tall, NXT’s own dominant stable Undisputed Era surged to the ring and decimated their European counterparts. A build to Worlds Collide, where the two factions will face off on a night where NXT’s best will go head to head with NXT UK’s stars. The next couple of weeks looks set to ignite the war between two brands further and Rushonrock.com will bring you updates as we travel to York for the next round of TV tapings.

Wherever your allegiances lie, the mouthwatering prospect of the NXT banners battling it out can surely only have one winner….

Andy Spoors