WWE UK Championship Tournament Round 1
After the success of the Cruiserweight Championship, and fear over ITV's World of Sport revival, WWE decided to do another tournament, this time to crown the WWE UK Champion, and possibly start a weekly show from the UK. So, it starts out with WWE blowing themselves over "expanding" into the UK, when they've been running shows there for 30 years.
HHH starts the show to continue to suck up to the fans. It's all about YOU. YOUR EMPIRE starts here. "Greetings, grapple fans." Michael Cole introduces us to the newest member of the WWE family, Nigel McGuinness. We get a run down of the tournament and a few of the men involved. Basically none of the names that people think about when you think about "Britwres" are involved in this tournament. It's a neat building, at least.
Trent Seven vs H.C. Dyer
Trent is from Mustache Mountain. He has a mustache. And a beard, but they only focus on the mustache for some reason. HC is a heel, I guess. He punches people and is ambiguously brown. Fans chant some stuff, but I can't understand any of it. Trent's "British strong style" comes back to haunt him when he chopped the ring post. He follows that with...Kobashi/Kojima machine gun chops with his bad hand. And then goofy chops and mustache twirling. I don't like this guy at all. Neither guy is impressive, but Seven is 35 and has like 15 years experience and looks so shitty, so I'm going to give Dyer the nod since he's 20 and only has a couple of years in the ring. He at least has an excuse. Dyer hits his big punch that we're told is an instant KO and match ender, but it wasn't and it didn't. Instead, Seven wins with the 7 Star Lariat, which is the Rainmaker, something Nigel claimed was a move Seven picked up from him.
Danny Burch vs Jordan Devlin
Danny Burch spent about 2 years in NXT, although I don't recall him doing much of anything. Devlin, on the other hand, was trained by Finn Balor, and claims that he's a strong style wrestler. He's 150 pounds. Where are your traps, breh? Fans are again chanting/singing, and I again have no idea what they're saying. Burch at least looks like he'd give you a right bang in the mash. Devlin is everything shitty about Balor, but smaller, less attractive, and less polished. Trash. God, those elbows are terrible. Call yourself a strong style wrestler and throw dog shit elbows, breh. Fans start chanting, "You're not Balor". Lol. Cole has called him "Neville" or "Nevlin" multiple times in this match. Devlin controls way too much of the match for being as tiny as he is with strikes as bad as they are. Burch hits a big flurry of offense, and then Devlin hits an enzuigiri that somehow busted Burch open. Devlin made a cover, Burch totally kicked out, but the ref counted three and ended the match anyway. Fans boo, both because of the shitty finish, and because no one seems to like Balor Jr. "BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT." Devlin superkicked Burch after the postmatch hand shake.
Saxon Huxley vs Sam Gradwell
Huxley is...a hippy, I guess. He meditates twice a day! He has the mental edge! His tights reference Timothy Leary! Gradwell had a bad childhood and is grumpy. Both guys have terrible gear, and both were trained by Marty Jones. More singing that I can't understand. LET'S GO JESUS! JESUS SUCKS! Well, I think wrestling chants have gone about as far as they can go. This is VERY dull. Gradwell won with a diving headbutt.
This show is not good.
Pete Dunne vs Roy Johnson
I am at least aware of Pete Dunne. He looks and seems like a real piece of shit, so that's nice. As for Roy: "I am the most wavy guy in sports entertainment." He's a strong man, and wavy. Kind of hard to take Dunne too seriously what with his acne. Dunne is directly compared to Finlay and Daniel Bryan. You can't say shit like that and then have the guy not be incredible. He's the current PROGRESS champion heading into the tournament. Pete uses the apron, steps, and floor to fuck up the hand/arm of Roy. I guess I can see the comparisons, but it kind of feels like Pete is very conscious of making sure he comes off as a Finlay/Bryan hybrid as opposed to it coming naturally. This wavy dude isn't good. He's only been wrestling for 2 years, so I'm not sure why he is in this at all. Not the greatest representatives of the area. Pete wins with the Bitter End, an incredibly stupid looking pumphandle flatliner.
Wolfgang vs Tyson T-Bone
Seriously? Wolfgang and TYSON T-BONE? Tyson is a gypsy! You can't understand a fucking word he says. T-Bone attacks before the blel, because gypsies are fighters, you see. This is the "big man" match of the show, but it's not good at all. Wow. I'm genuinely shocked at how poor this show has been. Wolfgang won with a shitty swanton bomb in a short match.
Joseph Connors vs James Drake
I swear, these are some of the most nondescript guys possible for this tournament. Cole is very, very high on Connors. Connors lost half of his ear in a mugging or something, and he frequently touches it. Drake goes after it right away, and things are heated from the start. That's a nice change of pace for this show, which so far has felt like a Raw from 1993. It's heated, but there's nothing really going on. Connors reminds me an awful lot of Leo Kruger. Too much, really. It's very back and forth, but again, nothing is HAPPENING. Connors won with another flatliner variant. Cole said this guy could be a "legitimate main eventer". If you say so, man.
Mark Andrews vs Dan Moloeny
I know of Mark Andrews from being in TNA and riding a skateboard. Dan seems like a dick. Andrews is TINY, shit. At least this means there is good potential for a big man/small man match type, which will be a nice change of pace from the milequtoast sludge on the show so far. This show has been so bland that I'm excited for nonsense flippy shit. This Moloney dude sucks, god damn. How long has he been wrestling? He seems like another guy not nearly ready enough for this kind of exposure. Andrews won with a shooting star press in a match where neither man was particularly impressive. Moloney? MORE LIKE BALOGNA.
Tucker vs Tyler Bate
Tucker. TUCKER. That's the name for a toddler. Tucker was born 8 weeks premature. Tyler Bate is 19 and comes out to a Jimmy Hart version of Sledgehammer, which is nice. Great, another mustache twirler. Bate is like a less entertaining, but slightly bigger version of Jack Gallagher. Considering he's only 19, he's pretty polished, and in much better shape than a 19 year old should be. Much more filled out than the average 19 year old. Tucker is not polished. At all. Oh my god. If you want to feel old and like you're wasting your life: Tyler's finisher is called the Tyler Driver '97. Because he was born in 1997. Speaking of tiger drivers, Tucker pretty much gave himself a tiger driver '91 trying a rana off the steps. Tucker hits an insane looking super kick. What the fuck was that? Holy shit, Bate did a koppo kick. OUTTA NOWHERE! Bate won with a tiger driver, in what was definitely the match of the night, and the only one worth even mentioning ever again.
The show ends with the competitors in the next round having face offs. As the show was going off the air, Dunne attacked his opponent, and Regal got all up in his face. WWE released a video of Nigel, Regal, and HHH confronting Dunne on his actions. HHH didn't seem bothered at all. In fact, he seemed kind of impressed. Regal, however, was pissed. Regal wanted him out of the tournament. HHH showed up to calm him down.
Very, very unimpressive show. It's amazing with the UK scene as hot as it is that it has WWE and WoS angling for weekly TV shows from the area, yet neither promotion can get the top names associated with the UK wrestling scene. I swear every match had at least one guy who they said had only been wrestling for a year or two. Way too many guys who were not at all ready for this kind of spotlight.
The attempts at character work were poor (this guy was a preme, this guy lost part of his ear and constantly touches it, this guy has a mustache, etc), and the ring work was about as bland and uninteresting as the WOS pilot. I liked the setting, couldn't understand any of the chants besides the Jesus and You're not Balor ones, Nigel and Cole were inoffensive. Bate/Tucker was the only stand out match of the show, and it wasn't anything special, but Bate is shockingly polished for being 19. He won me over by the end when I had written him off as a slightly bigger Jack Gallagher.
I think WWE made a mistake not putting their UK talent into this, since they weren't going to have any of the top indie guys from the area. Having someone beat Sheamus or Neville could make the whole thing seem way bigger and make a star out of whoever got the win. Dunne being compared directly to Finlay/Bryan, then not being particularly impressive, then getting into an angle with Regal/HHH is hard to take seriously when he still has acne and is a foot shorter than both. Certainly did nothing to make me watch the next rounds, or a weekly show with this group of talent. I say put Dunne and Bate in NXT and Andrews on 205 Live and pretend this whole thing never happened like the Kuwaiti Cup.