The stakes have never been higher at NXT UK, with what felt like an eternity in remission, the European produced programme is back airing on the WWE Network. One drawback to this however is because of the pandemic’s current standing in London, no fans or any kind of viewing personnel are permitted to act as a crowd. There’s also no ThunderDome/Capitol Wrestling Centre style viewing screens, this is worth mentioning as it can be slightly jarring going from one show to the next. Even with these set backs it hasn’t stopped the more adept workers under the WWE banner from executing some highly entertaining matches. It’s the “Unbesiegbar” Russian Ilja Dragunov teaming up with a returning “Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne, together they’re facing half of the mighty Imperium, comprising of “The Dresden Hatchet Man” Alexander Wolfe and the NXT UK Champion the Austrian “Ring General” WALTER who have going rampant on NXT UK since 2019.
WALTER has been running roughshod over NXT UK for so long now, that he has never been pinned or submitted in NXT or NXT UK since his debut and has held his title for over 550 days. He is just a mammoth of a man and Dragunov will need to really lay it all on the table, if he wants to even come close to beating this man in their scheduled title match happening somewhere in the future. A win here would be a massive statement for Ilja and one that would definitely put some doubt in the mind of the Austrian brute. One of the biggest draws in this match is the always reliable Pete Dunne returning to action after six months spent on the shelf, and man… he has truly never looked better. Dunne comes out to his main event level song sporting a new, more cut and defined physique probably most noticeable by observing his toned biceps and more defined pecs. Not only is he looking much more athletic but he also has a nice tan going to compliment the physical change.
Fast forward and Dunne and Wolfe begin this tag team match with Dunne going after Wolfe’s fingers to the surprise of no one. Dunne did few to many kip ups in this sequence I thought but WALTER managed to tag in and in true WALTER form brought Dunne down to the mat with ease almost immediately, WALTER threw the ring rust lacking Dunne around with ease. WALTER works like a giant logically should, he doesn’t do any unnecessary flips, he prefers to grind down his opponents and make use of his ginormous frame’s leverage to cause pain. At one point Dunne even managed to lock in an arm bar, but of course the final boss WALTER simply hoisted him up into the air and slammed him back down onto the mat. WALTER and Dunne also have a tonne of history in WWE going back to their confrontation at TakeOver Blackpool or their classic match at TakeOver New York, they’re a pair you could just sit back and watch for hours and remain entertained by.
Eventually Dunne tagged Dragunov and the mean beast WALTER again engaged him in a classic lock up. Once again WALTER took him right down to the mat with a vicious headlock takeover, they threw some strikes which you really don’t want to do with WALTER, as even his open palm strikes are just like giant bear paws hitting you. WALTER threw Dragunov down yet again with a headlock takeover before simply kicking him hard in the middle of his spine. To me Dragunov is one of the most entertaining sellers in the business, it can’t be hard when you’re facing WALTER, but he truely looks like he is in the fight of his life with an agonising but passionate expression of grimace and bravado. Wolfe comes in fast and furious after being tagged in by WALTER, with a flurry of uppercuts before going into a tight and painful submission hold. Wolfe then showed just how sadistic he can be by deciding to throw Dragunov several times into the mat shoulder first by simply wrenching and directionally pulling on the Russian’s arm.
Wolfe then held back Dragunov’s arms as WALTER tagged in and administered a brutal signature knife edge chop to Dragunov’s chest now radiating red with welts. Wolfe was then brought back in as he unleashed an impressive german suplex on Dragunov who had just failed to sway the momentum, but Dunne eventually tagged in as Wolfe tagged WATLER. Dunne made a valiant comeback, trading strikes with the megalodon before being hit with one of the most high impact shotgun drop kicks you will ever see, sending Dunne straight into the ring corner. Dragunov and Wolfe were tagged in and furious back and forth striking ensued, but sometimes the questionably high usage of forearm, chop and open palm strikes does make you miss the days of working punches mastered by the likes of Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler. Regardless the match has reached a very high pace at this point and this was maximised when Dragunov spun around the ropes like a Mysterio hitting Wolfe with a spectacularly quick lariat.
Dunno tagged in and combined his X-Plex with a beautiful senton from Dragunov, WALTER tagged back in after grounding Dunne and went to the top rope attempting an uncharacteristic frog splash which resulted in Dunne catching WALTER in a triangle choke. This may not have been as smooth as when Kushida does it but hey WALTER isn’t exactly a cruiserweight. There was several hot tags and even stereo submissions which resulted in Dunne being lifted and dumped onto the core of Dragunov. The big story of this match was that Dragunov will not die, WALTER hit him with an insane german suplex before opting to simply chop Dragunov’s chest until it resembled a jig saw puzzle. Draugnov’s previously mentioned selling ability was back in full force at this point and adding so much to every match he’s in.
Dragunov knocked WALTER down and collapsed into the cover with Wolfe making the save at the very last second, Dunne then came and delivered his complicated finishing move with ease before having his head taken off by the boot of WALTER and powdering to the outside. The 90 KG Dragunov unleashed some Kobashi influenced chops to the colossal neck and ears of the 135 KG Austrian before somehow executing a stalling Gotch Lift Suplex. WALTER then attempted to lock in a sleeper hold which turned into a snap sleeper suplex that saw Dragunov driven vertically head first into the mat. But Dragunov got right back up, which was a bit strange as it was a pretty devastating move to no sell, alas Dragunov bounced off the ropes and nailed his Torpedo Moscow pinning WALTER 1-2-3. This was a huge feat and Dragunov looked emotional as his celebrated his victory bearing a chest ripped to shreds, the show then quickly went off the air which was slightly disappointing as the commentators could have been much more shocked by the result and they definitely could’ve dragged out Dragunov’s celebration to WALTER’s dismay. Nonetheless during the match the commentary team did a great job and NXT UK are privileged to have the best commentators in the entire WWE right now, you should watch this if you missed it. I’m looking forward to the future of NXT UK and of course Dragunov Vs. WALTER.