I was looking at doing a match by match breakdown of the tournament, like I do for the other WWE programs but I decided instead to speak about both night as a whole. I wanted to look over the winners and loser,but wanted to look at the overall progress towards what, I thought, was a very well done build to the main event. Both nights built up characters for a lot of these relatively unknown wrestlers. So let’s start off with night one and a quick look at each match.
There was a lot of things going for this show for a week in, week out viewer of the WWE programming. First off the building and atmosphere of this show was very well done. The crowd was raucous and the building had the right amount of regal, old school feel to keep everything visually refreshing. On commentary we got to listen to one of my favorite announcers Nigel McGuinness. Nigel and Cole, while a little stiff to start off, ended up being a breathe of fresh air this program needed. Cole, when left to his own devices, is able to play off of others and put together very entertaining play-by-play commentary. He was able to work off of Nigel and use his knowledge to amplify the announcing allowing for better storytelling to happen in the match. This show allowed those men to help tell the story the wrestlers we trying to get across in the ring.
Matches for this show went from pretty good to dull and boring. Seven and Dyer got off to a good start putting together a pretty entertaining back and forth match, not doing too much and allowing the night to build. The Jordan Devlin vs. Danny Burch match was a bit sloppy but I think a lot of people thought it was worse due to the weird finish. I don’t know if it was planned the way it ended or not, but I know they needed to finish it due to Burch being busted open off of an enziguri. I think due to the blood the ref just got out of there, but it did play into Devlin being a heel, capitalized by Devlin kicking Burch after the match during their handshake.
The crowd seemed to retaliate to the weird finish of the Burch and Devlin match and hijacked the next one. The match between Saxon Huxley and Sam Gradwell wasn’t a bad match, it was more that they tried to have a “big” man match. The went slow to start out and worked moves and it just didn’t get over with the crowd, who grew bored, and started singing “Hey, hey Jesus, I want to know, if you’ll be my God”, and other Jesus chants throughout the show. Then we got to the Pete Dunne portion of the night. Pete Dunne comes out and the crowd instantly got back into the show. He is such a natural heel and what he does in the ring, and just his look to be honest, made me hate him much more than about anyone on the main roster. Match though took the crowd out of it as Dunne and Johnson just didn’t mesh too well throughout. Wolfgang and Tyson T-Bone did the big man match right by working the suplexes and slams slowly. This caused a pop from the crowd when Wolfgang did his moves from the top.
We went into the last portion of night one with a matchup between Joseph Conners and James Drake. Crowd was into it early but they seemed to lose them during the middle section. My man Mark Andrews, who already looked more like a star than he ever did in TNA, faced off against Dan Moloney. Andrews and Moloney did a pretty good job of mixing in some quick action, while allowing Moloney to look big and powerful. I still love Andrews but he still needs to be more vocal in the ring. He mimes too many things and when the WWE cameras can pick up vocals it is very noticeable. Crowd was super behind Mark Andrews and he is someone that I believe is ready to be on WWE’s main roster or NXT. We finished off the night with Tyler Bates vs. Tucker. I would like to note, Tyler Bates, with one interview, is one of my favorite guys ever in professional wrestling. I don’t know why, but he just captivated me with his overall package, and he is only 19 years old to boot. Good call on this match being last. They both got the crowd behind them and put on a match to get us all excited for night two. Overall, I liked night one, but I understood people coming out of this a bit disappointed.
Results at a Glance:
Trent Seven Def. H.C. Dyer via Rainmaker
Jordan Devlin Def. Danny Burch via Enziguri
Sam Bradwell Def. Saxon Huxley via Flying Headbutt
Pete Dunne Def. Roy Johnson via The Bitter End
Wolfgang Def. Tyson T-Bone via Swanton Bomb
Joseph Conners Def. James Drake via Ura Nage Flatliner
Mark Andrews Def. Dan Moloney via Shooting Star Press
Tyler Bate Def. Tucker via Tyler Driver ‘97
This night had a much better overall show. However, in a tournament if the final rounds aren’t better than the first round then you didn’t book the tournament right. The first round should have lesser talent facing off against better talent, while your second round and beyond should see the better talent start showcasing a better matches/longer matches. Again the WWE did a good job exposing these wrestlers to a new audience and did a good job showing off who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. They made damn sure that we left night one knowing that Pete Dunne was scum. Him taking out his opponent at the end of night one and having Regal get into his face backstage threatening him, shows that they have some big ideas for this man, and rightfully so. You book this man as an absolutely heel and I think he can easily be the most hated man on the main roster or NXT in no time. Gradwell went right for Dunne and got the crowd super into this match early. Story of this match was Pete capitalizing off of Gradwell’s injury suffered at the hands of Dunne last night. Mark Andrews and Joseph Conners saw both put on a pretty energetic and entertaining match. Again, Andrews has the most WWE ready arsenal of anyone in the tournament. That isn’t an insult to anyone else in the tournament, nor is it a statement that Mark Andrews is the best worker in this tournament, rather a testament to Mark Andrews’ experience on US national television.
Trent Seven and Wolfgang squared off and put on a pretty good match. Outside action saw Wolfgang come off the barricade with a moonsault. We also got to see an aggressive suicide dive by Seven. Good back and forth match between these two. Jordan Devlin and Tyler Bate faced off. They both did a good job working a fast pace match allowing both to still look good and build Devlin as a heel and Bate as a super-face. Also, we see the return of the airplane spin by Bate, who sells being dizzy!
We start the Semifinals off with Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews. Match saw a lot of throwback to both men’s matches in this tournament. We got to see Andrews hurricanrana Pete off of the steps, as a reversal to the finger stomp attempt by Dunne. Also, seeing Andrews come off a missed standing moonsault and then checking Dunne to make sure he was down and then hitting a standing moonsault into a senton was amazing! These two put on one hell of a match and in the end we got over both guys and left people hating Dunne for picking up the victory. A fantastic match between these men. Bate and Wolfgang are out next. They put on a big man/little man match and it did get over with the crowd. It took a little while to get going but in the end the crowd was firmly behind Bate. Wolfgang hit a nice powerslam but he took too long going for the Swanton allowing Tyler to get out of the way. Wolfgang hit a devastating spear but couldn’t put Tyler way and we see Bate prevail with the Tyler Driver ‘97. After the match we saw Tyler thrown shoulder first into the ringpost by Pete Dunne putting into question the fate of the finals. Dunne gets to the top of the ramp and we get to see a furious William Regal come out and shove Dunne backstage. Finally, before the finals, we saw a non-tournament match between Neville and Tommy End. They had a basic WWE cooldown match to allow the audience to reload for the main event.
It’s time for YOUR MAAAAAIIIIIN EVENT!
All of this led up to our main event between Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate. This match was a great culmination to this whole tournament. These two went out and told a hell of a story, while allowing their bodies to show the story of their previous matches. Dunne played the asshole heel and allowed Tyler to build on his babyface reputation he established these past two night. We get a lot of back and forth with a lot of false finishes at the end. We ultimately see Dunne be thwarted with the Tyler Driver ‘97 and the crowd showering Tyler with cheers while he gets to celebrate a hard fought victory with his newly won belt! Awesome night of action with the right call on the winner as I feel Tyler is going to be a hell of a champion however they choose to showcase him with said championship.
Results at a Glance:
Pete Dunn Def. Sam Gradwell via Body Slam into the corner
Mark Andrews Def. Joseph Conners via Shooting Star Press
Wolfgang Def. Trent Seven via Swanton Bomb
Tyler Bate Def. Jordan Devlin via Tyler Driver ‘97
Pete Dunne Def. Mandrews via The Bitter End
Tyler Bate Def. Wolfgang via Tyler Driver ‘97
Neville Def. Tommy End via Red Arrow
Tyler Bate Def. Pete Dunne via Tyler Driver ‘97 to become the NEW WWE United Kingdom Champion