It’s time for Day Two of the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, the first of its kind for WWE. Yesterday, sixteen men competed to see who would advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Now, eight men remain. We saw some late drama with Pete Dunne attacking his opponent today, Sam Gradwell, at the end of the show. In a social media post, Triple H and William Regal said the match will go on, and it will be the first match on this card. Who will emerge as the first United Kingdom Champion? Let’s find out!
Show Open, Live from the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, United Kingdom:
They open with a recap of yesterday’s action, including the show-closing angle between Pete Dunne and Sam Gradwell. They added in some footage of Regal telling Dunne that something is wrong with him.
Cole and McGuinness checked in for the call at ringside with the title belt on a podium between them. They talked about the tournament brackets, and recapped the first day highlights.
Match #1 – Pete Dunne vs. Sam Gradwell; Quarter Final Match
Winner: Pete Dunne
The Reax: Dunne smirked and offered a handshake but Gradwell didn’t comply. Gradwell got the early advantage, hitting a suicide dive that the crowd popped for. He played to them. Dunne started a comeback with a German suplex, but Gradwell no-sold it and popped up to hit a Michinoku Driver.
Late, Gradwell just beat a ten count after being dumped to the floor backward over the ropes. Dunne slammed Gradwell in the corner to get the victory. After, Dunne hit his finish move on Gradwell, which led to the fans chanting “Bruiserweight.”
This was solid. They did a good job of continuing the story from last night’s attack into this match, with Gradwell selling the back injury. They did a great job overall of establishing Dunne’s persona in just a couple of matches. Well done.
Charly interviewed Dunne, who cut her off when she said his actions were controversial last night. He said the whole world thought so, but he didn’t, nor did Triple H. “Two down, two to go.” Cole noted that Dunne would get the winner of Mark Andrews vs. Joseph Conners, next. They fed it into highlights of the first round matches for each man.
Match #2 – Mark Andrews vs. Joseph Conners; Quarter Final Match
Winner: Mark Andrews
The Reax: Andrews got a nice reaction and played to the fans, but Conners didn’t get much from them. They fought to the ringside area early, where Conners hit a drop toe hold that sent Andrews face-first to the steps. They fought back in where Conners shoved Andrews to the ropes then slammed him off the rebound for a near fall.
A bit later, Andrews hit a springboard cross body for two, then hit running double knees. He hit a Northern Lights suplex, but took too long setting up a standing moonsault and ate the knees of Conners. Conners came back with a version of his Don’t Look Down finish, but Andrews kicked out. The fans chanted “this is wrestling.” Andrews countered Conners’ attempt at DLD with a stunner, then hit his shooting star press for the win. They noted Andrews will get Pete Dunne in the semi-finals.
This was a great match that I really enjoyed. Conners came off looking strong, and Andrews worked well from underneath before he picked up the win. Andrews is a former TNA guy, and he has come off better in two matches than he ever did with that company. I think Dunne and Andrews will be a great semi-final matchup.
They showed an aerial shot of the city of Blackpool then showed Wolfgang warming up. They recapped his first round match against Tyson T-Bone. They then recapped Trent Seven’s victory in the first round, setting this match up.
Match #3 – Trent Seven vs. Wolfgang; Quarter Final Match
The Reax: There were a few signs in the crowd in support of Wolfgang. The two shook hands then tied up early. They traded palm strikes then Seven slammed Wolfgang. He came back with a suplex. They battled to ringside where Wolfgang hit a moonsault off the barrier, but sold injuring his knee.
A bit later, Wolfgang caught Seven with a big boot then hit Wasteland. He tried for the follow-up moonsault but Seven got the knees up. Seven hit a nice dragon suplex of his own for two. Later, Seven got his lariat and got a near fall out of it. The two battled on the ropes, with Wolfgang headbutting him off. He followed with “the Howling” (a swanton to the back) off the ropes for the win.
This was fun. I really am impressed with Wolfgang and his athleticism. The commentary team played up this as a big upset for Wolfgang. The styles are interesting to compare. This was a brawl with throws, strikes, and suplexes, whereas the first two matches were more technical or high flying work.
They recapped Jordan Devlin vs. Danny Burch from yesterday and the controversial finish in setting up for the final quarterfinal match. They then recapped Tyler Bate vs. Tucker as well in order to set up the quarterfinal match between Devlin and Bate.
Match #4 – Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin; Quarter Final Match
Winner: Tyler Bate
The Reax: Cole asked if the buzz around his performance last night would get inside Bate’s head as Bate made his entrance. Devlin got booed as he came out to the ring. Devlin attacked Bate right from the start when he turned his back as the fans got all over Devlin with chants. Bate came back with a suicide dive to the outside.
Devlin blocked an airplane spin, then went to the ropes but got caught and Bate hit the airplane spin to a good reaction. Devlin took back control with a kick then went top rope for a moonsault but landed on his feet when Bate moved.
Bate tried a powerbomb a bit later but Devlin countered to a roll-up. Devlin threw a kick to the back of the head, and Bate sold by holding his head like Burch did in the first round. Bate recovered and hit his Tiger Driver 97 for the victory. Bate played to the fans, who waved back at him.
WWE did a good job of telling the Devlin/Burch story forward into this match because he definitely came off as the heel here. They definitely did a good job of establishing personalities throughout the tournament so far, impressive with the limited time they had here. Just one video package and one or two matches to build these guys. Bate is so impressive and he’s only 19. Also, the commentary team is doing a great job with giving history, background information, and calling the matches like a sporting event.
They recap the final four men in the tournament, with short video promos overlaid with action so far in the tournament. They showed Robbie Brookside in the crowd.
Match #5 – Mark Andrews vs. Pete Dunne; Semi-Final #1
Winner: Pete Dunne
The Reax: As each man made their entrance, they recapped their quarterfinal victories. Dunne sold an early flip from Andrews that he overshot, then back in the ring Dunne stomped on Andrews’ fingers as Andrews tried to come in. Dunne tried to stomp the hand again but Andrews avoided it then hit a huracanrana.
Dunne took over in the ring but Andrews cut him off with a double stomp. He hit a wild backflip into a senton splash for two. Cole hyped that Dunne was hurt for the first time in the tournament. Andrews hit a standing shooting star press for two then followed with a dive to ringside on Dunne, but Dunne caught him and hit a suplex on the ropes and apron.
Cole put over Dunne’s mean streak and hit a neck plex on the steps. Andrews beat the count and Dunne tried again but Andrews hit a stunner. Dueling chants from the fans. Dunne caught Andrews and tried a superplex, but Andrews fought him off and tried a shooting star press. Dunne put the knees up and covered for two. Good near fall. Dunne tried his Bitter End finish, but Andrews countered with an arm drag.
Andrews went with a springboard move but ate a forearm shot. Dunne tried his neckplex but Andrews rolled him up, then went for his shooting star press. No good, and Andrews landed on his feet. Dunne hit the German into the corner then followed with the Bitter End for the win.
This was amazing. These guys killed it, there’s no other way to say it. Great near falls, good suspense throughout. Dunne is definitely someone who is interesting to watch, and they’ve got a good setup for a babyface/heel dynamic when whoever wins the final has to work a second match back-to-back. I think he ends up being the guy they go all the way with.
Cole and Nigel talked about the show and the media tour they have done for the tournament. They put over Blackpool for the hospitality. They moved on to hype the second semi-final of the night, saying Wolfgang has the advantage in almost every category.
Match #6 – Wolfgang vs. Tyler Bate; Semi-Final #2
Winner: Tyler Bate
The Reax: They recapped both men’s earlier matches on the show as they made their entrances. They shook hands as the commentary team played up the size advantage for Wolfgang. Cole noted that Wolfgang may have broken his nose in the earlier match. Wolfgang tossed Bate across the ring, and Bate came back with a punch.
Later, Bate hit Wolfgang with a kick to the nose. Wolfgang continued with the power offense and scored a near fall off a pop up into a powerslam in a nice spot. He tried for his Howling again, but Bate avoided. Bate got to his feet but took a shoulder block for a good near fall. Wolfgang tried for his finish, but Bate slipped out and hit his Tiger Driver 97 for the win. He backed away, looking shocked. The two shook hands afterward.
After the match, Dunne jumped the ring and attacked Bate. Dunne roughed him up in the corner, then threw him into the opposite corner post. Bate sold by laying on the apron while Dunne left. William Regal grabbed Dunne at the stage and chased him backstage. Officials checked on Bate while Nigel and Cole sold disgust at commentary. Nigel noted that Dunne uses a wristlock, and with Bate being run into the post shoulder first it would “give him carte blanche.” Officials helped Bate backstage.
The match was fantastic, which played up the dynamic of the big man vs. the little man. I thought the post match attack was done well to put the face in peril and protect Bate if he loses. I’m mixed on Regal coming out and getting involved, but I’d rather see Dunne play the sadistic heel and just ignore Regal’s instructions. Though, it could be the case of the heel playing along just to get what it is he wants.
Match #7 – Neville vs. Tommy End; Non-Tournament Match
The Reax: The fans gave Neville a great reaction when he came to the ring, chanting his name. He cut a promo and said it seems someone has been forgotten again. “First it was the Cruiserweight Classic, then it was 205 Live, now it’s the United Kingdom Championship Tournament. I should be the UK Champion by default!” Fans cheered and chanted for him.
He said the powers that be didn’t want him in the tournament because they wanted a competitive tournament. He said if he were in the tournament would not have been competitive – it would have been a no contest. He put himself over as the greatest talent that this country had produced and said there’s no one who deserves to be standing across the ring from him. Solid promo from Neville here – why did WWE never work with him as a babyface?
Tommy End made his entrance to a good reaction. Cole called him the anti-hero and recounted him saying that he came to NXT to burn it down. Worth saying that they’re letting End work as his name he is known for in the UK, rather than Aliester Black which is the name that he used in his initial NXT appearances.
Some fans chanted “Tommy’s gonna kill you” early on. End hit some kicks then ran the ropes but Neville slipped to ringside to avoid the offense. End went after him, but Neville dodged and kicked him to take over the control. Cole threw to Charly for an update on Bate backstage, who said she would get more information as it was available.
Neville hit a running kick for two, then leaped into a kick from End. Neville hit a huracanrana off the top, but a short time later End hit a moonsault from the middle buckle to the floor on Neville.
Late, End hit a nice high kick to the head then hit a suplex into a bridge. End went top rope, but Neville cut him off and hit a huracanrana off the top then hit the Red Arrow to win.
The fans were into Neville, but didn’t seem to be as much into End. Logical to have Neville go over here, as he is on a path to challenge for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at the Rumble. End though has a lot of promise and I look forward to what he brings to NXT.
Backstage, Caruso said that Bate suffered a partially separated AC joint in his shoulder but he will be cleared to compete. Nigel said that it would take one submission from Dunne to end the match. He said he’s praying for Bate.
The lights went down and Finn Balor made his entrance to a great reaction. He acknowledge the reaction with “wow” before cutting his promo. He put the night over and said he was proud to play a small part in the tournament. He said it happened because of the fans and their passion. “You people have made this happen.” The fans chanted “We deserve it,” and Balor said that was true. He said it was time to find out who would be the new WWE UK Champion.
Cole talked about the fans and how great they have been, then he and Nigel recapped each man’s path to the finals. Cole talked about Dunne’s tactics and was frustrated, saying Dunne is one of the best and asked why he would have to stoop to that level. Where is this Cole week to week on Raw, Vince McMahon?
Match #8 – Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne; WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Final
Winner: Tyler Bate to become the first WWE United Kingdom Champion
The Reax: Dunne got booed by some during his entrance for his earlier actions. Regal stood in the ring with the title belt. Bate wasn’t smiling this time as he came out, kinisiology tape on his shoulder. Formal in-ring intros were given for both men, and Dunne pointed as the belt was raised between them.
McGuinness noted that this match had no time limit, so Dunne could pick Bate apart. As expected, Dunne went right at Bate’s shoulder. Bate came back with a drop kick that got the crowd going. The two fought to ringside where they traded punches, with Bate getting the better of Dunne.
Dunne went back to the bad shoulder as they got back in the ring. He hit a double stomp on it at one point, but Bate used an inside cradle for two. Bate hit his airplane spin, slowed down and got wobbly, then reversed direction, then stopped and did a squat with Dunne on his shoulders before doing a third. He got two out of it.
Dunne locked in a triangle as Bate reached down. Dunne worked punches on the bad arm, but Bate powered him up and slammed him for a big reaction. Dunne powdered to ringside but took a Fosbury flop from Bate. Bate threw him in and hit a 450 double stomp for a good near fall.
Dunne grabbed Bate’s fingers, then took out his mouthguard. Dunne hit his Bitter End finish for a good near fall. Everyone’s standing by this point. Dunne locked in what Nigel referred to as a Kimura. The fans chanted for Tyler, and in a great sequence Bate fought to his feet only to have Dunne lock in a standing body scissor. Bate countered the hold into a brainbuster for another good near fall.
Bate hit two spinning wheel kicks in a row a bit later, then hit his Tyler Driver 97 to score the pinfall victory. He acted shocked again as Dunne left the ring. Triple H, William Regal, Fit Finlay and Finn Balor came to the ring to present the championship belt to him. Each shook his hand as Hunter put the belt on him, then raised his arm. The fans chanted “you deserve it” as Hunter raised his arm to the crowd on all four sides of the ring. They left Bate in the ring to play to the fans and confetti rained down as Cole closed the show out.
This was a fantastic main event. The crowd was into it throughout, and they did a great job telling the story of Bate’s injured shoulder leaving him as the face in peril. Bate was a surprise to go over for me personally as I felt they’d go all in with Dunne, but none the less the final, and most of the matches throughout, were solid to great and there’s definitely future storytelling opportunities with however this title gets used with most of these men.
Bill’s Final Thoughts:
Some might say the true best of the UK were not on this card, but for my money I really enjoyed the talent they had in the show. This was my first real introduction to the UK scene, and these guys were for the most part impressive. I thought they used the talent well, they introduced them to viewers and built their personas well, and most of these guys delivered to the best of their ability.
I thought WWE also did a good job on focusing on a few men and really developing their personalities and did a good job of developing storylines that made sense and were simple to follow. They didn’t pick all of the same type of guy either. They didn’t just go for body guys. The talents were of all different shapes and sizes, and their wrestling styles all varied too. It made for good action and it was presented well. They had a hot crowd too, which really helped. This show probably doesn’t come off the same way in front of a dull crowd. They were behind their talent that they support on the independent scene and they were excited for the event.
Overall, it was a great event. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t.