Ladder Match Reviews 2020: #2

NXT-UK Takeover Blackpool 2 – 12/01/2020

WWE NXT UK Tag Team Title Ladder Match: Gallus (c) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. South Wales Subculture vs. Imperium

I’ve been putting off this review for a while due to the opening two minutes featuring fucking GALLUS and Mark Andrew’s cringe arm-waving entrance. I’ve seen every pop-punk band worth mentioning and even I don’t understand it. Crazy kids.

From the opening flurry it’s easy to see that GYV are the standout team. Imperium follows second, with the other two trailing behind. Still, it’s an entertaining opening flurry until Mark Andrews does the annoying *POINT UP* “LOOK MORGAN! THE BELTS! ITS A LADDER MATCH!” shtick.

Andrews and Webster sell a neck snap on the ropes for bloody ages whist waiting for GYV to grab some toys, and the hardcam panning out shows one of my big pet peeves of WWE ladder matches; GALLUS JUST CHILLING OUT AT RINGSIDE, SAT AROUND LIKE THEY’RE HAVING A PICNIC. I predict the action will be mainly two teams in at a time, as per usual.

There’s a weird spot where Imperium stop Gallus doing chair dropkicks to Drake just so they can do it themselves. Another thing I’m not a fan of; ladder matches where the weapons are stored under the ring. Not only do you miss out on the cool visual of the ringside area littered with weaponry, but there’s so much time wasted by guys looking for stuff under the ring. It halts the match completely. The crowd then gets on my tits by chanting for tables in a fucking ladder match. I’ve never understood it as ladder bumps look infinitely better than tables bumps, and usually to a bigger reaction too.

Imperium get the ring emptied and stop to pose and fuck about. Of course. The action and bumps are kicking up though and the lads do their best to work around the awful WWE production, agenting and structure. No one’s got a horse in the race though, so every climb is met by apathy as the crowd are only here for the highspots (and so am I to be honest). The Welsh boys then take control, and instead of grabbing the belts, Andrews decides to hit a Shooting Star Press off the middle rungs which prompts a “UK! WOOP WOOP! “chant. Well the Brits do have a tendency for celebrating stupid decisions…

Aichner hits a BEAUTIFUL springboard moonsault on a ladder, which is something I saw him do on the indies a while back;

WWE LOVE the image of all the ladders set up and everyone climbing as it’s in almost every multi-man ladder match and it makes it’s scheduled appearance here. It does nothing but slow the momentum down but some agent (probably HBK) obviously has a massive hard-on for it

Andrews of course thinks it best to create a ladder bridge at the same time. Christ, it’s so awkward. Everyone falls and flips off the ladders but I don’t care about any of it despite Morgan taking a nutty spill to the outside. Gibson climbs back down for no reason at all as one of the refs loudly directs him to start moving ladders around. Andrews and Drake battle up top and, again, it’s so awkward and it’s practically killed the match.

Drake does a very impressive 450 off the bridged ladder despite being in hand’s reach of the gold and Gibson being the only guy left standing. Stuff like that works well in fast-paced indyriffic ladder matches but just comes across as shit here. So now, every team but GYV is down, and Gibson had every chance to win but instead he has to get Drake back on his feet to do the Rhyno spot from TLC 2 with Drake on Gibson’s shoulders. I don’t know what this match is trying to achieve any more and the audience don’t give a fuck unless someone is getting hurt. It’s like it’s been put together by three separate people and none of them are talking to each other.

Imperium have the ring to themselves and decide that removing all the excess ladders is more important than winning the match. For fuck sake. The refs even help out on the outside which fucks me off even more to no end. Honestly, I am gone. They had me with the fast-paced opening action and they covered well for the WWE structure with nutty, innovative moves, but since the dualing ladders sequence this match has plummeted into the ground like a fucking dart.

Gallus then insert themselves, as the fans try to start chants again but it’s nowhere near as loud as the match is dead. In fact, the crowd come more alive when tables are pulled from under the ring. So cringe.

“Somewhere the Hardy’s, The Dudleys, Edge and Christian…their spines are tingling seeing this crowd react like this and chanting for TLC”. – Tom Phillips, commentator (apparently).

Yep, you’ve got it right there Tommy boy, these NXT-UK teams will be no where near as over as those legendary tag teams, and those original matches will stand the test of time unlike this. The crowd don’t have single fuck to give about any of these teams, hence why they’re reacting to tables and not reacting for when someone climbs for the belts.

Gallus get set up on tables only for Coffey’s to break under his weight. He goes on to sell this massive, dangerous fall to the floor whilst Andrews and Webster climb up a ladder and hit a brutal double swanton through Wolfgang and a table. It was a great save by the lads there and it fires the crowd up. Phillips makes references to Jeff Hardy which I’m sure Mark Andrews loved. And then the crowd start with that “ARE YOU WATCHING VINCE MCMAHON?!” shit. Get to fuck, the lot of you. These fucking NXT-UK Takeover crowds do my fucking nut in. There’s no chanting for Andrews and Webster as they climb the ladder in the ring because no one cares about the outcome or who wins. Yeah, let VKM watch this vapid excuse for pro wrestling and let him shut the whole operation down.

Andrews finds a kendo stick (for some reason) and he batters GYV with it, and the crowd finally get behind someone. He get’s swiftly taken out seconds later. There’s a decent finishing sequence that sees Aichner get speared through a ladder and the thing breaks in half which makes for a cool visual, and it sets-up Gallus to retain and the crowd is still going mad for the spear spot. They quickly quiet down though when they realise that Gasllus just fucking won despite some enthusiastic Scotts scattered about the venue.

The Verdict:
What can I say here? First, the negatives; the match structure, the layout, the WWE nuances, the crowd…. The eight guys tried their best to work around everything but it all fell apart once they dropped the WWE brand of fluid action for the heavy WWE ladder match template. This would’ve been better as 2 vs 2, but then one of those teams would still have to be fucking Gallus so scratch that. Maybe GYV vs Morgan/Webster would’ve faired better.

The positives; the first half(ish) was very good, and they were setting a decent tempo in a match that desperately needed it. The slowed down approach to a multi-man ladder match works when the crowd are invested in the teams, or any team for that matter, so once they got into that territory the match sunk. The highspots and bumps were peppered throughout and, although they looked good, they didn’t do anything to aid the match.

This was rough. Really rough. It was way too long and often heatless. It’s a shame as the lads put their necks on the line in some nutty stuff but they alone aren’t enough in a 25 minute match where the teams are an afterthought. *3/4.

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