Welcome to part one of the WWE UK Tournament Review. Without further ado, live from Blackpool, England, here we go….
There was a video package showing the competitors and snippets of what was on the Tournament Preview show on the WWE Network.
Triple H appeared on stage and asked the crowd one question: “Are. You. Ready?” Big cheers from those in attendance.
Michael Cole and Nigel McGuinness are our hosts from the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. The venue was old out and the crowd were already rowdy. The tournament brackets were displayed listing the sixteen participants.
Before every match, there were small video packages with brief interviews with each competitor. This was a nice touch as it gave a little glimpse into their characters and personalities, as well as their thoughts on the competition.
Trent Seven vs HC Dyer
Trent Seven basked in the ‘Moustache Mountain’ chants from the crowd, twirling his facial hair as he listened. From the outset this tournament was going to be fought in a strong style. Heavy loud chops from Seven and a good back & forth with Dyer. Dyer is fifteen years younger than Seven, and showed it through his agility. Seven’s experience shone thorough however and after Dyer missed a frog splash, Seven delivered his ‘Seven Stars’ clothesline for the win.
Winner by pinfall – Trent Seven (advances to next round)
Analysis – A good introduction into what style of wrestling the audience was going to be experiencing. Dyer handled himself well against the more experienced Seven, but the right man won and Seven looked a threat all match. An early crowd favourite.
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) January 14, 2017
Danny Burch vs Jordan Devlin
All the talk before the match was on Devlin and how he was trained by Finn Balor, who was sat at ringside.
This match focused on grappling and had a very technical aspect with holds being countered by both men. Burch began on top with heavy hitting blows before Devlin took over. Baying to the crowd, he drew good heat and had them cheering for Burch. A funny “You’re not Balor” chant took hold of the audience. Big clothesline by Burch to get back into the match to which Devlin just managed to kick out. A crossface by Burch had Devlin fighting to barely reach the rope to escape. A double stomp by Devlin followed by a roundhouse kick on Burch. A pin in the corner looked like Burch kicked out, but after review the announcers were sure the ref hit three first. Burch’s head was busted open at the back and there was blood on the mat.
Winner by pinfall – Jordan Devlin (advances to next round)
Analysis – A bit of a confusing ending, and I think the crowd were too. Perhaps it was called short due to the blood or perhaps Burch didn’t get his shoulder up in time. Whatever the reason, Devlin advances in the tournament.
Post-match – Devlin talked up his chances of winning the tournament.
Saxon Huxley vs Sam Gradwell
Gradwell was one of two Blackpool natives in the tournament, so received a good reaction from the crowd. The audience took over this match, due to Huxley’s uncanny resemblance to Jesus. “Are you Jesus in disguise?” and “Heeeeyyyyy Heeeeeyyyy Jesus” were very loud. The match itself was full of physicality and power moves. Lovely butterfly suplex by Gradwell. With a little fightback from Huxley, Gradwell managed to power through with a flying head-butt to take the win.
Winner by pinfall – Sam Gradwell (advances to next round)
Analysis – I’ll remember this match more for the crowd chants rather than the wrestling, which is a shame because they were both very good. Gradwell gave off a good intensity and determination. Huxley did look like Jesus though.
— WWE UK Championship (@WWEUKCT) January 14, 2017
Pete Dunne vs Roy Johnson
Slower pace to this match and a more methodical approach by both men. Plenty of locks and holds, but no holding back in hard-hitting strikes. Dunne took Johnson out of the ring and stomped his hand into the steps, focusing on it all the way through. Dunne played the heel excellently; pulling Johnson’s fingers, pinching his nose and grimacing throughout. Johnson fought back with a flying tackle, but caught a jumping elbow by Dunne. An enziguiri by Dunne, a countered suplex by Johnson but Dunne’s powerful Pumphandle Flatliner ended the match.
Winner by pinfall – Pete Dunne (advances to next round)
Analysis – Very impressed by Dunne and his angry persona and style. He’s a well-travelled wrestler and you can tell by his wide arsenal of moves and in-ring presence. Considering Johnson has only been wrestling for two years, he did really well. The ‘Bruiserweight’ Dunne was just too much for him. I liked it a lot.
Wolfgang vs Tyson T Bone
Two proper wrestling names right there. I thought this would be a match between two big brawlers, but was proved wrong. T Bone started off with a head-butt at the obligatory handshake before the match. T Bone’s offence was heavy and vicious, but Wolfgang, for all his size, was incredibly athletic. A big vertical suplex by Wolfgang turned the tide, followed by a Wasteland and Moonsault by the big scot. A German suplex by T Bone almost stole it for him, but an impressive Swanton from the top rope by Wolfgang won the match.
Winner by pinfall – Wolfgang (advances to next round)
Analysis – I really enjoyed this match and was surprised by the athleticism from both men, but especially Wolfgang. Great high-risk moves and a top finish. T Bone came across as a character rather than a wrestler, which I enjoyed. Props to Wolfgang on a well-earned victory.
— WWE UK Championship (@WWEUKCT) January 14, 2017
James Drake vs Joseph Connors
Two equally-matched smaller guys, similar to the 205, this didn’t let up on the physicality. From the aggressive tie up and dragging of one another at the start, it shifted between each man who looked equally likely to win as the other. Drake focussed on Connor’s damaged ear, which was angrily reciprocated later in the match. Hard forearms and slaps all over, the to and fro was broken by a very loud flying forearm by Drake. Connors kicked out of the following rollup. Great elbow into a backbreaker by Connors. He followed this up with his DLD (Don’t Look Down) Flatliner for the win.
Winner by pinfall – Joseph Connors (advances to the next round)
Analysis – Innovate moves throughout. This one could’ve gone either way and I wouldn’t have complained about the winner. Lovely offence by both men.
Mark Andrews vs Dan Moloney
Moloney at 19 years old is one of the youngest competitors in the tournament. Andrews is representing Wales as their only participant.
A fast start to this match with both men doing armdrags to one another. Michael Cole called Andrews “The purest high flyer” and he wasn’t wrong. Andrews flew all over the ring while Moloney ground him down when he could. Andrews’ attacks were brief due to Moloney keeping him down. As the match wore on, Andrews began hitting more and more. He was so fluid in the ring. Wonderful to watch, whether it be stomps to Moloney, standing moonsaults or moonsaults from the apron. The finish was very innovative; a suplex into a stunner, followed by a shooting star press from the top rope.
Winner by pinfall – Mark Andrews (advances to the next round)
Analysis – A really fun match to watch. Moloney looked better than his years and held his own well with Andrews. Andrews was tremendous. Great high-flying moves that entertained everyone and a worthy winner.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 14, 2017
Tyler Bate vs Tucker
Our final match saw the other 19 year old Bate go against Tucker. Even though the crowd had seen nearly two hours of action, they were still in fine voice. Great match with lots of counters and athleticism. Bate played a villain throughout, entertaining with cheap shots to Tucker. Loud “British Wrestling” chants. Bate took control with a springboard uppercut, so Tucker tossed Bate out of the ring. A suicide dive by Tucker was countered by a Bate forearm. Heavy head scissors onto the ramp on Bate by Tucker. Tucker went for a cross-body but was caught. Bate did an airplane spin until he got dizzy, then did another, much to the audience’s amusement. Tucker with an incredible ‘Superduper Kick’ that drew gasps from the crowd. Bate was knocked out of the ring, but kicked out when rolled back in and pinned . A Swanton by Tucker was blocked by Bate’s knees. Bate then hit a Wheelhouse kick then ‘Tyler Driver’ for the win.
Winner by pinfall – Tyler Bate
Analysis – Great finish to the night. Wonderful back and forth, variety of moves, strikes and near falls.
Matches for Round Two tomorrow:
Tyler Bate vs Jordan Devlin
Trent Seven vs Wolfgang
Pete Dunne vs Sam Gradwell
Mark Andrews vs Joseph Connors
At the end of the show, William Regal and Nigel McGuinness told us who would be facing who in the next round. There were brief face-offs with the remaining competitors. Dunne couldn’t resist a shove on Gradwell, so Regal had to intervene, chastising Dunne for his actions.
Here are the brackets posted on WWE.com:
The partnership of Cole & McGuinness was great. Cole was so much better without someone in the back telling him to talk about PPVs or upcoming matches. He had the chance to just talk about what was going on in the ring. McGuinness was very insightful and his knowledge of moves and the participants shone through. Excellent job by both men.
The vignettes before each match were well done; clear, concise and informative. Gave the watching audience a little idea of what to expect.
Each match had its own distinctive style, while keeping a true British feel. The hard-hitting style and physicality was excellent throughout. Wonderful stuff.
A neat and tidy two hour show. No fluff, no filler, no waffling by the hosts. Great production that didn’t allow me the opportunity to change channel or walk away.
The crowd were incredible and took the show to another level. Big well done to all in attendance. They didn’t hijack it by any means, they enhanced it. Proud to be a Brit watching.
Hope you enjoyed this review and the tournament. Thanks for reading.