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Monday, July 19, 2021

NXT UK Worth Watching: Coffey vs. Mastiff! Noam Dar vs. Ashton Smith!

Noam Dar vs. Ashton Smith NXT UK 7/19 (Aired 8/7/19) (Ep. #54)

ER: I had no clue how they were going to work this match, as Dar is the more pushed guy but Smith is much larger physically, and it turns out the best way to work something like that is to throw nothing but stiff strikes and not settle into any predictable movements and patterns. Every kick and elbow looked really great, and I kept expecting it to devolve into trading and it never once did. They found interesting ways to keep hitting each other, shift momentum, create openings, and swing things towards either guy. This felt like anybody's match, regardless of push. Dar was great at leaning into Smith's high dropkick and flying knees, and I loved how Dar would get back into the match by faking an eye injury or playing possum. Any time it felt like someone was taking too long to set up a running attack or flying move, it would always leave to the move missing or getting reversed, so the structure never felt like it was favoring either of them. 

The cut off spots all looked good, every time one of them ran into a kick it looked buckling. Dar is good at doing theatrical standing selling without looking like a dope, staggering into position for complicated sequences impressively. There are too many wrestlers who only know how to sell on their feet like they're waiting for a Mortal Kombat Fatality, just wobbling at the waist with feet planted, and here's Dar buckling his legs on his way to taking a knee to the face. Smith's superkick hit well enough that I thought it was leading directly to the finish, so I liked the extra wrinkle of Dar dropping out of the way for the leg lariat and then hitting a great looking Nova Roller to win. I've said this many times, but NXT UK is so good at delivering these tight 6 minute matches, really the biggest strength of the brand. 

Joe Coffey vs. Dave Mastiff NXT UK 7/19 (Aired 8/7/19) (Ep. #54)

ER: This started out looking like it was going to be a big timing mess, and then it grew into this great EVENT match. I love matches that end up getting completely centered around an Event, and I think most wrestlers are much better when they have something prominent in a match to focus on. The event here happens early, as Mastiff hits a German suplex while Coffey is hanging onto the corner trying to prevent it, and winds up ripping off the middle turnbuckle pad when he gets thrown. Coffey spears Mastiff into the exposed buckle and Mastiff gets several minutes to sell his back and ribs in cool ways while Coffey throws body shots. Mastiff's selling was really great, and Joe kept going after the clearly injured areas with a backbreaker and elbowdrop, with Mastiff trying to ignore the pain and hurting too much. His only chance is with close range attacks, and he's able to get a headbutt and use his size to drop Coffey, making sure that every time Coffey went to the mat he'd be right there to fall on him with an elbow or senton. 

Coffey gets run into the post and gets his ear busted open, and Mastiff starts targeting the ear with strikes while Nigel starts pointing out that Coffey's equilibrium is thrown off. So we have Mastiff selling his body and Coffey selling his dizziness and in between we have both of them hitting each other. There's a great spot where Coffey climbs the ropes too quick and loses his balance, getting thrown off and flattened with another Mastiff senton. They end this by fighting to a double count out, but it totally worked for what they were doing. They had brawled to the edge of the ring and Coffey hit this great spear/running shove on Mastiff, running him down the apron and into the ringpost. Brutal. Nice pull apart to end it, with Mastiff sounding and looking threatening as hell as he's being held back. I really loved this and am excited to see where they take this next. 


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that Coffey-Mastiff match was a real hidden gem and was curious what you'd think when you got up to it.

I thought it was great and very creatively worked. It really felt like a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of crap that you see these days.

While the finish absolutely worked and made perfect sense, I think if it ended a bit more decisively they could have had something pretty tremendous.

8:36 AM  
Blogger EricR said...

I thought the finish worked great for the match and angle, but it's a shame as I doubt their TakeOver match (which is the next thing on my list to watch) will come close to being as good as this TV match. So they did the schmozz finish to build to TakeOver, but with an actual finish this would be one of my highest ranked NXT UK matches.

It felt very different than most matches in the style, much closer to something Ohno would come in and do. It started off so shaky but I really bought into Mastiff's selling and once they got into what the match was, it really hummed.

4:49 PM  

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