NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff just happened, and oh my god, do we have a lot to talk about. And while I know what's on your mind (and mine, too), we have to talk about the rest of the card first.
I will rate every match with a 5 star system.
Noam Dar vs Travis Banks
This match was not bad per see, but it was not very good either. I just didn't really buy into it, I guess. However, again, it was not a "bad match" by any means. Dar wins here by pinfall.
Cesaro vs Ilja Dragunov
This is the real opener for me. Very good physical match with Ilja showing great strength but ultimately coming short to the much more experienced Cesaro. Ilja looked really good in defeat, though, and I really liked what happened after the match, too. You think Cesaro is going for a move on Ilja, to punish him some more, but instead he offers the hand and pays respect for his fierce competitor.
Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) (c) vs Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster vs Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang)
Holy moly, this was a wonderful match. Classic multi-team non-ladder action at its finest, with lots of great spots and lots of near-falls. This was just a great, great multi-team match, and with an emotional victory, no less, with Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster, the hometown boys, picking up the victory and the NXT UK Tag Team Championships.
Joe Coffey vs Dave Mastiff
If Cesaro vs Dragunov was a very physical wrestling match, this was an all-out brawl, with both men willing to destroy themselves to destroy the other. Great match, with many cool spots. I loved it. I do have mixed feelings about the finish, though. On one hand, I really like clever finishes, and this was definitely one. But on the other hand, it kind of undermined the whole theme of the match. The entire story was that both men were just looking to batter each other and punish each other's bodies more and more and more, but the finish was the exact opposite of that. Joe Coffey kicked the box Dave Mastiff was using to get up, thus winning by strategic prowess, and not by resilience. It isn't the worst thing in the world, it's still a great match, but it did knock the rating down a little bit for me.
Toni Storm (c) vs Kay Lee Ray
This is the lowest point in the show, no question. The crowd was burned out from the Mastiff-Coffey match, and it was also miles slower than the Last Man Standing encounter. Also, I was quite perplexed by the way they told the story, and especially the result. It just looked weird when Toni slapped Ray, quite weakly, as well, over and over again, and then Ray won? Clean, too? I guess they were trying to do the whole "her emotions cost her the match" thing, but I think Storm didn't do it that well.
Walter (c) vs Tyler Bate
What the hell was this match? I can't even start to put into words how amazing this match was!! It's just so goddamn incredible! I know it sounds cartoonish and hard to believe, but after the bell rang, I legit couldn't say a word for like 2 minutes straight. I was just in complete shock and disbelief.
This was probably the best wrestling match I have ever seen in my entire life! And I'm not exaggerating one bit! The slow, perfectly-crafted build-up, with Tyler slowly and slowly staring to show resilience and resistence and strength and agility and spirit! Tyler kicking out again, and again, and again and again and again and again. And these were real near-falls, too. I was sure so many times that that was it, the match was over, but it continued on and on and on.
The finish was genius, too. Tyler kicking out of the powerbomb at one, but then Walter hits him with the giant clothesline and finally, mercifully wins the match. At first, I was confused by the fact that the Austrian won, despite all the resilience shown by Tyler, but then I realized it. By having everything that happened throughout the match, but then having Walter win, you show that not only did Tyler show his incredible resilience, but so did Walter. You show how much of a war this was, and how it could've gone either way. This was amazing.
I also think the crowd contributed so much to this match. They were invested in this match from the start to the very end, and didn't stop cheering Tyler on. They made the atmosphere so incredible, and I have to thank them for that.
But you know what? I don't thank just them. I thank Tyler Bate. I thank Walter. I thank Triple H, and I thank everyone in NXT UK that worked to make this match what it turned out to be. Thank you, NXT UK. I have been blessed.
NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff is an absolutely unbelievable show. It was one of the best wrestling shows I've ever watched, if not the best. So many great matches, and such incredible story-telling throughout the entire show.
Overall rating for TakeOver: Cardiff: A