Ricky Steamboat versus Randy ‘Machoman’ Savage at WrestleMania 3. Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat at WrestleWar 1989. Shawn Michaels versus Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X. Kazuchika Okada versus Kenny Omega at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom XI. The Undertaker versus Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin versus the Rock at WrestleMania 17. Bret Hart versus British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992. The list goes on and on.
You can now add Tyler Bate versus Walter at NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff to the list of greatest wrestling matches of all time.
In a match that rates up there with any mat classic, the 22-year-old Tyler Bate and 32-year-old Walter wrestled with the spirit, skill and emotion of any veteran of the squared circle in a match that will be remembered long after their careers are over. Those in attendance at the Motorpoint Arena crowd in Cardiff, Wales, witnessed wrestling history.
With Walter overshadowing the smaller Bate it was more than your typical David versus Goliath match-up. It was a battle of wills, desire and endurance that wrestling fans rarely see on display.
Like Hulk Hogan slamming Andre all those years ago or Cena picking up The Big Show for an Attitude Adjustment, Bate performed feat after feat of unqualified strength that baffled and impressed even though we all know how professional wrestling moves are orchestrated, how the professionals help and protect each other as they put on a match. Still, there are things you cannot fake and holding up almost three hundred pounds on your back is one of them.
With tonight’s match Tyler Bate has cemented his place alongside Will Ospreay, Pete Dunne, Dragon Lee, Tessa Blanchard, Fénix, Robbie Eagles, ELP, Kazuchika Okada, Ricochet and others as one the best of his generation.
Like all legendary heroes Tyler Bate fought the good fight against the NXT UK juggernaut who is Walter but it wasn’t enough. At the end of the match Bate was so exhausted he had to be helped to his feet by his British Strong Style pals Trent Seven and Pete Dunne.
The giant from Vienna, Austria, would not hand over his WWE United Kingdom Championship so easily despite the enthusiastic and unapologetic Cardiff crowd chanting “F—k off, Walter!” and “F—k ‘em Tyler, F—k ‘em up!”.
As the match reached the 30 minute mark, Bate, whose chest was already scraped, sore and bleeding from Walter’s clotheslines and chops, took more devastating chops before landing his haymaker combination knocking Walter out. Walter though, fell atop of on him so Bate could not immediately pin him.
Walter’s machine gun palm strikes drove a weary Bate back into the ropes. Walter caught Bate bouncing off the ropes for a suplex and a two count. Bate picked up Walter for his signature airplane spin and a burning hammer slam. Bate rolled over to cover Walter, however, Walter wasn’t there. The self-titled Ring General had already rolled out of the ring.
Bate was almost out on his feet when he dove through the ropes at Walter clipping him in the back of the head instead of bulldogging him. Bate heaved Walter up for the Tyler Driver ’97 finisher. Walter kicked out as the crowd lost their minds.
A corkscrew moonsault off the top rope that brought the crowd to their feet didn’t pin Walter either. A stymied Bate sat in a corner ripping the athletic tape from off of his wrists and hands, tossing it aside. He motioned for Walter to get to his feet and fight him man to man. Bate hammered on Walter who covered up in corner. A big boot from Walter set up Bate for a smothering sleeper hold. From lying prone on the mat, Bate lifted up Walter, stood back on his feet, slamming Walter backwards onto the mat.
Walter suplexed Bate off the ring apron to the floor. Using the move that won him the title in the first place, Walter splashed Bate from the top rope. Bate kicked out enraging Walter. A thunderous running clothesline that flipped Bate head over heels in the air won the match for Walter.
The NXT UK Women’s Championship match was the only disappointing match on the card with neither Kay Lee Ray nor Toni Storm putting on memorable performances. Particularly dreadful was the supposed bad ass Storm actually sobbing instead of getting fired up after Ray repeatedly slapped her. Ray took the title with a Gory Bomb off the ropes that guillotined Storm and another to the mat for the three count.
Welshmen Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster were incredible putting on the match of their young careers thus far as the hometown boys won NXT UK tag team gold defeating both the champions Zack Gibson and James Drake as well as Mark Coffey and Wolfgang in triple threat match which was one of the best matches of 2019, tag team or otherwise.
Noam Dar versus Travis Banks
Dar offers to shake Banks’ hand. Banks just punches him in the face. Dar crotches Banks on the top ropes then clotheslines him from the second rope. Banks bobbles but pulls off a Slice of Heaven off of the security railing. Dar puts Banks away with the Nova Roller.
Winner: Noam Dar at 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
Match Rating: 7 / 10
Ilja Dragunov versus Cesaro
The young Russian is full of fury shouting: “Cesaro, I am waiting” from the middle of the ring. Although he definitely needs better trunks that don’t ripple so much, Dragunov fares well against the veteran hitting a superb coast to coast on the Swiss Cyborg. Dragunov looks to seal the deal with his Torpedo Headbutt. Cesaro counters by hurling him into the stratosphere, hitting him with a forearm and a Neuralyzer to win the match. Cesaro thinks about clobbering Dragunov with a running forearm for good measure. He shakes Dragunov’s hand instead.
Winner: Cesaro at 12 minutes even.
Match Rating: 7.5 / 10
Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster versus Zack Gibson and James Drake (champions) versus Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang)
Winners: …and new NXT UK Tag Team Champions, Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster at 20 minutes and 10 seconds.
Match Rating: 9 / 10
Joe Coffey versus Dave Mastiff – Last Man Standing match
I sincerely hope this feud between Gallus and The Hunt continues as this match is just all sorts of crazy fun with the two bulls just beating the tar out of one another for our pleasure. Early on Mastiff whips Coffey into a corner and the entire top buckle and the ropes break apart. Mastiff seizes the opportunity to wail on Coffey with the metal hooks that hold up the buckles. On the floor, Coffey removes a Gallus branded bag of plunder from under the ring with pool cues, metal trays and all sorts of other goodies in it. Coffey breaks a pool cue over Mastiff’s back. Mastiff swats Coffey with a cricket bat…twice. Mastiff throws Coffey a chair. Both men charge at each other with the expected results. The bruisers brawl over to the announce table where Mastiff politely clears it off before slamming Coffey on it with a rolling fireman’s carry slam. Mastiff and Coffey climb to an upper area and it isn’t long before they come tumbling down through a table below. As they try to beat the count, Coffey kicks away a metal crate Mastiff is leaning on so he stumbles and doesn’t make the 10 count back to his feet.
Winner: Joe Coffey at 16 minutes and 3 seconds.
Match Rating: 8 / 10
Kay Lee Ray versus Toni Storm (champion)- match for the NXT UK Women’s Championship
Winner: …and new NXT UK Women’s Champion, Kay Lee Ray at 10 minutes and 2 seconds.
Match Rating: 6 / 10
Walter (champion) versus Tyler Bate – match for the WWE United Kingdom Championship
Winner: …and still WWE United Kingdom Champion, Walter at 42 minutes and 10 seconds.
Match Rating: 9.5 / 10
Overall Event Rating: 9 / 10