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The Scout Report – WWE UK Championship Tournament Preview by Steve Cobble

Good morning one and all! Last week I started a preview on some of the confirmed entrants in tonight’s WWE UK Championship Tournament, which was scheduled to be part 1 of 3. I may have over-stretched myself a touch there, as the following day I left to go on holiday to Rome (gorgeous, obviously) and I also quickly realized that it was rather difficult to find reliable information on these guys.

However, not to be deterred, I’ve decided to do an overall preview instead, focusing on the product itself and what to expect from the weekend tournament itself as well as going forwards. Quick digression – If you haven’t watched Okada vs Omega yet, then at some point today, grab a beer and allow yourself to be whisked away into an hour of wrestling so good that even Mike ‘his name is Jeff Harvey’ Adamle commentating wouldn’t ruin it. Heh. That’s a lie. He was awful.

I’m going to break this article down into different categories to focus on, which shall be made up as I go, like a vintage Chris Jericho match.

What? You think these are planned?

Location: Blackpool

If you squint hard enough, it could ‘almost’ be Santa Monica Pier.

Ah, Blackpool. The home of William Regal, and the upgraded version of Skegness – a joke there for the UK crowd. Home to Blackpool Tower, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the famous Tower Ballroom (which itself is home to -ahem- Danny Mac’s perfect 10 Charleston. Tye would be proud!). The UKCT itself is being held at the Empress Gardens, formerly known as ‘The Stardust Room’, it can hold about 3,000 fans, though this will obviously be affected by how WWE sets up their stage.

 

Commentators: Michael Cole and Nigel McGuinness

Hmm. I’m not going to lie, when I heard these two were commentating on the tournament, my head went into my hands. Commentary can make or break a show for me, and I truly believe the passion of Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo during the CWC was a huge part of its appeal.

Love him or hate him, this could be a revelation for Michael Cole. There won’t be the same pressure that there is when producing RAW, so he can just focus on commentating and helping to tell the story. Hopefully. McGuinness is an interesting choice. A British wrestling hero who never got the chance to wrestle on the big stage for WWE, he has previously done colour commentary for ROH. Having said that, for me personally, I just don’t think he has the ‘sound’ of a true commentator. I’m willing to be won over though, so we shall see. Both have a lot to prove in my eyes.

 

The Crowd:

English fans are certainly unique. Passionate, loud, probably drunk, and we will damn sure make you aware we are here. Wrestling shows with UK crowds are often identified through the ‘soccer’ chants that have been adapted for wrestling, as seen above. We’re also fiercely proud of our boys, and the next two nights, I can guarantee, will be one of the best atmospheres you will see all year.

 

The Competitors & Ones to Watch:

My immediate prediction? The semifinals will be Jordan Devlin Vs Trent Seven and Joseph Connors Vs Pete Dunne. I am also predicting that Mark Andrews Vs Joseph Connors in the Quarter Final will be one of the best matches of the tournament. However, there are about six guys who all have a genuine great shot at winning this.

I have already spoken about the ‘British Strong Style’ trio in my previous post. They’re going to be fantastic, though it will be interesting to see how much freedom they get in putting together these matches. Watching the Omega match from Wrestle Kingdom 11 recently made me realise how much people like Nakamura must have to adapt from the legitimate strong style to the WWE style, and it could be similar here. Will they hold back? Ha, don’t bet on it. These guys are putting themselves in the shop window here, and will do everything possible to increase their value by going all out.

I mentioned my six main contenders, as well as the trio above (Seven, Bate and Dunne). Also, keep a close eye on Joseph Connors, Mark Andrews and Jordan Devlin;

Mark Andrews is a high-flying Welsh Wizard, probably best known from his time in TNA as Mandrews. Watch out for a gorgeous Shooting Star Press, this boy can fly, but he can also sing! He’s a vocalist and bassist in a pop-punk band called ‘Junior’. Make of that what you will.

Joseph Connors is perhaps more of a dark-horse, but I’ve seen many a fan and fellow wrestler tipping him for big things in this tournament. He claims to be in the shape of his life (if you look on his twitter, it’s difficult to argue) and although not my outright favourite to win, he’s going to be a big name going forward.

Jordan Devlin met Finn Balor at 12 years old and was then trained by our very first Universal Champion. He’s got a lot of experience, including prior experience in Japan, so expect a solid all round game from this 26 year old.

 

The Legacy:

No, nothing to do with Randy, Ted and Cody, but more the question of ‘what’s next’? All the guys competing are being allowed to work for other promotions in the mean time, but I can’t imagine it will be long until we start to see some of them popping up in NXT or even 205 Live. However, there is also talk about WWE having a British Network show, similar to 205 Live, which would make sense seeing as there will be a champion with a belt to defend. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure on what the best outcome is. I would’ve preferred to see some of the guys heading over to NXT, rather than have a new show built. If there’s a new show, there’s the risk that it bombs (through bad management not the talent) like 205 Live itself did.

What is great is that WWE is recognising the British wrestling boom, and that these guys are going to have the opportunity of a lifetime here. Make no mistake about it, WWE isn’t necessarily the only game in town anymore, but WWE is playing nice with other companies now and maybe some of these guys will show up in ROH or NJPW at some point as well.

Either way, tonight at 8pm GMT, I shall be sitting down with a cuppa tea and a biscuit and cheering on all the guys involved in this fantastic tournament.

Until next time, stay safe, grow a moustache, and don’t tombstone your siblings.

 

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