This past weekend saw the wrestling world set ablaze with three massive wrestling shows from three opposing promotions. All Elite Wrestling headlined Saturday night with All Out, NXT UK took their biggest stars into the heart of Wales at TakeOver: Cardiff and finally, New Japan Pro Wrestling brought their first-ever televised UK show to The Copper Box in London. That’s a hell of a lot of wrestling to have to catch up on, but believe me when I say there’s been some absolute gold in among all three shows.
We’re going to run down the best 5 matches from the weekend, looking for the very best from TakeOver, All Out and Royal Quest. Make sure you throw down your own personal highlights in the comments section below.
5. Jimmy Havoc vs Darby Allin vs Joey Janela – All Out
In a match that was coined ‘The Cracker Barrel Clash’, the triple threat between three hardcore combatants ended up being exactly what everyone anticipated – an absolute carwreck. Havoc, Allin and Janela have all made some great first impressions with the AEW fanbase, recently competing as a dysfunctional trio that ended up brawling out in the parking lot in front of Blink 182 at one point. Knowing that the three extremists would be doing battle in a No DQ brawl sent my hype skyrocketing heading into this match.
It was hard to take the match seriously while we had JR dropping Cracker Barrel plugs every few minutes, but all three men delivered an absolutely spectacular hardcore match that featured some crazy bumps and insane weapon spots. If you’re a big fan of the deathmatch style of wrestling, then you need to check this one out. These three guys are arguably some of the very best of all time, knowing that AEW has access to these guys on a weekly basis gets me thinking of those classic ECW days.
Allin once again stole the show with his ridiculous falls through flimsy barrels onto steel steps, but Jimmy Havoc ultimately walked away with his hand held high for the first time in All Elite Wrestling. A big win for ‘The King of the Goths’ as part of AEW’s first flavour of hardcore wrestling.
4. Cesaro vs Ilja Dragunov – NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff
A last minute addition to the TakeOver card featured NXT UK’s newest acquisition in Cesaro. ‘The Swiss Cyborg’ seemed right at home as he emerged in front of a very hot crowd; we’re all very pleased to see Cesaro return to form as part of this burgeoning roster. Cesaro’s opponent for the night was the undefeated Ilja Dragunov. Dragunov has been making waves on NXT UK TV in some great matches with the likes of Kassius Ohno and Joseph Conners, but it was this match that I think has finally put Ilja on the worldwide map.
Dragunov and Cesaro wrestled in a very physical contest that went the distance. Both men left it all in the ring and lit the crowd on fire in the second match of the card. Cesaro secured his first victory on the brand, which can only lead to huge things in the foreseeable future. NXT UK seem to have a great eye for cameos, having now both Cesaro and Finn Balor make some unexpected appearances on TakeOver cards. Who knows who might show up on an NXT UK show next?
Make sure you go check out some hard-hitting European wrestling from the big show in Cardiff.
3. Kenny Omega vs PAC – All Out
The unfortunate news of Jon Moxley having to pull out of his dream match with Kenny Omega hit us all hard. We sincerely hope that we see Mox back in an AEW ring very soon. Lucky for us though, AEW acted on their feet and managed to bring original signee PAC across to Chicago to sub in. ‘The Bastard’ has been a bit of a wild card for All Elite Wrestling, having not made his anticipated debut against Hangman Page at Double or Nothing, putting him into a high-profile attraction match against Omega was a huge nod to his star power.
The match absolutely delivered on all expectations, the two had such a chemistry together that you can only imagine whether or not this might have been a better match than Omega/Moxley. PAC and Kenny set a fantastic pace that kept the crowd invested in every spot. PAC managed to walk away with the big win over Omega, which is a great start for the English native.
I’d love to see a rematch between the two in the near future, especially since we were originally meant to be seeing a feud between the two to kick-start AEW.
2. Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki – Royal Quest
Being in attendance for Royal Quest made for a very special night of live wrestling. New Japan’s first ever televised UK show delivered in every single match, but one stands far above the rest of the card, and that was of course the IWGP title main event between Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki. Okada/Suzuki stands as one of those feuds that could sell out any arena, the fact that they achieved that overseas goes to show just how incredible these two are.
The main event was a typical New Japan style contest, spanning a total of 35 minutes that saw many twists and turns throughout. I’m not sure any of us are willing to deny that these two are absolute masters of wrestling psychology, so getting to see these two perform in a thrilling championship match was a pleasure. There were times where, for a moment, we genuinely believed that the 52 year old Suzuki might be taking his first IWGP Championship back home to Japan. But, of course, ‘The Rainmaker’ reigned supreme.
If you have any vested interest in NJPW, then definitely hunt down Royal Quest on NJPW World, this main event is one you don’t want to miss.
1. Walter vs Tyler Bate – NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff
What has been probably the most talked about main event from Saturday night was the WWE United Kingdom Championship match between Walter and ‘The Big Strong Boi’ Tyler Bate. I’d go as far as saying that this was the absolute best championship match we’ve seen since Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate shocked the world at TakeOver: Chicago in 2017 — it was everything you’d ever want from a main event.
Bate and Walter put together a thrilling 40 minute bout that kept everyone on the edge of their seats. What made this title fight really interesting for me was that Tyler Bate wasn’t playing the typical ‘smaller underdog’. In fact at certain times you could say that Walter was the one fighting an uphill battle. A lot of folks are claiming this match to be Tyler Bate’s star-making performance, and it’s hard to argue with that fact.
Walter walked away with the UK title after a gruelling title match. Nothing should be taken away from the big Austrian, he put in just as incredible of a performance as Bate, props to both men for knocking it out of the park. Everything from the action in the ring to the camerawork and commentary added to the hype of this big fight, a real achievement for NXT UK. If you’re planning on watching anything from this past weekend then make sure it’s Walter/Bate in Cardiff, this is one that fans are going to be talking about for years to come.
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