1/15 WWE UK Title Tournament Day Two live review: The first WWE UK Champion crowned

By Jason Powell

WWE UK Title Tournament Day Two
Blackpool, England at Empress Ballroom
Aired live on WWE Network

The second day of the tournament opened with a video that recapped Triple H’s introduction and the first-round matches. They also showed the day one closing angle with Pete Dunne attacking Sam Gradwell. It included new footage of William Regal telling Dunne that there’s something wrong with him, and a voiceover that had Dunne sending the message that he’ll do whatever it takes to win and doesn’t care how…

The broadcast team of Michael Cole and Nigel McGuinness introduced the show while standing at ringside with the WWE UK Title set up on a podium between them. They discussed the tournament brackets and recapped some day one highlights…

Powell’s POV: WWE aired a video online prior to the show with Triple H and William Regal stating that Gradwell wanted to settle his differences with Dunne in the ring, so that match would open the show.

1. Pete Dunne vs. Sam Gradwell in a quarter-final match. Dunne smirked and offered his hand as the referee called for the pre-match handshake. Gradwell did not comply given the attack he took the day before. Gradwell wore tape on his back to sell his injuries. Gradwell jumped out to the quick start and performed a suicide dive and then played to the excitable crowd.

Dunne came back with a great German suplex. Gradwell actuall no-sold it and popped right up and performed a Michinoku Driver for a two count. Gradwell went up top. Dunne fled to ringside. Gradwell dove onto him on the floor. Back in the ring, Dunne set Gradwell on the top rope and then shoved him over backward. Cole tried to tell the story that the small of Gradwell’s back hit the edge of the ring (even though it did not).

Gradwell got back to his feet and returned to the ring at the referee’s nine count. Dunne slammed Gradwell into the corner and then pinned him. After the match, Dunne slammed Gradwell again, leading to the crowd chanting his Bruiserweight nickname. Cole noted that Dunne would face the winner of Mark Andrews vs. Joseph Conners.

Pete Dunne pinned Sam Gradwell in 4:55 to advance in the tournament.

Charly Caruso interviewed Dunne on the stage and brought up his controversial actions. Dunne said the world seems to think his actions were controversial, but he didn’t and Triple H didn’t either. Dunne said he just made a name for himself. “Two down, two to go,” Dunne said…

Powell’s POV: A good match built around the angle from the night before. It’s hard to tell whether the tournament is built around Dunne winning or if he’s being set up as the fall guy for someone else. Either way, they have done a good job of establishing his persona in just a few appearances.

Highlights aired of Mark Andrews and Joseph Conners advancing in their first-round matches…

2. Mark Andrews vs. Joseph Conners in a quarterfinal match. Andrews received a big pop and played to the crowd during his entrance. Conners didn’t get much of a reaction. Conners didn’t get much of a reaction. They fought to ringside early. Conners performed a drop toehold that drove Andrews face first into the ring steps. Back inside the ring, Conners shoved Andrews into the bottom rope and then slammed him off the rebound and covered him for two. The crowd chanted for Andrews at 3:00.

Conners performed a nice short-arm clothesline coming out of the corner. Back at ringside, Andrews avoided a big boot near the ring steps. Andrews walked the barricade and flipped onto Conners. Conners returned to the ring, and Andrews performed a springboard cross body block for a two count. Andrews performed running double knees, a Northern Lights Suplex, and then went for a standing moonsault, but Conners put his knees up and rolled him up for a two count.

Conners performed a version of his DLD (Don’t Look Down) finisher, but Andrews kicked out of the pin. Conners showed frustration. Fans chanted “this is wrestling.” Andrews started to come back, but Conners cut him off with an elbow and then went for a suplex, but Andrews countered into a stunner and followed up with a shooting star press for the win. The wrestlers stood for the post match ceremony with the referee raising Andrews’ hand. Andrews vs. Dunne will meet in the semifinals…

Mark Andrews beat Joseph Conners in 8:20 to advance in the tournament.

Powell’s POV: A really nice match with Conners looking strong while on offense, and Andrews working nicely from underneath before getting the win. It’s amazing how much better Andrews has come off in two days than he did at any point during his TNA run. I’m really looking forward to Andrews vs. Dunne.

Footage aired of Wolfgang and Trent Seven winning their opening round matches… Fit Finlay was shown in the crowd as the fans around him cheered and he played to them and teased hopping the guardrail (please do!)…

3. Wolfgang vs. Trent Seven in a quarterfinal match. Seven wore a Mustache Mountain t-shirt to the ring. Cole noted that fans from Glasgow, Scotland were in the crowd with “Wolfie’s Gang” signs. There was a sign on the balcony that read “We Havin’ A Party When Wolfie Wins.” The wrestlers shook hands before the match.

The wrestlers tied up early on and Wolfgang backed Seven into the ropes. They traded palm faces and then Seven slammed Wolfgang, who responded with a suplex. They fought to ringisde. Wolfgang performed a moonsault off the barricade and came up holding his knee. Wolfgang rolled Seven inside the ring, played to the crowd, turned around and ate a suicide dive from Seven.

At 4:15, Wolfgang caught Seven with a big boot and followed up with Wasteland. Wolfgang went for a moonsault, but Seven put his knees up. Seven performed a wicked dragon suplex and got a two count. Later, Seven turned Wolfgang inside out with a lariat and covered him for a two count. Seven sold his surprise when Wolfgang kicked out. They fought on the ropes and Wolfgang headbutted him off. A short time later, Wolfgang hit a Swanton Bomb onto the back of Seven and then pinned him clean. Wolfgang, whose face was bloody afterward, will face the winner of the next match in the semifinals…

Wolfgang defeated Trent Seven in 6:45 to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Powell’s POV: Another fun match. The broadcast team played up the outcome as the biggest upset of the tournament. I like the differences between the styles so far with this match being more of a brawl and featuring wicked suplexes compared to what we saw in the first two matches.

A British television personality named named Radzi was shown in the crowd… The broadcast team narrated highlights of Tyler Bate and Jordan Devlin winning their first round matches…

4. Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin in a quarterfinal match. Bate waved to fans as he made his entrance and received a favorable reaction. Devlin was booed, which is the reaction they were going for coming out of day one. Bate blew off the handshake in favor of twirling his mustache. The bell rang and Devlin attacked him. Devlin targeted the left arm of Bate early on. The fans were all over Bate, though it was tough to make out what they were chanting at him (I believe one was “Jordan’s stupid”).

Bate went for an airplane spin, but Devlin blocked it with elbows. Devlin went to the ropes and leapt, only to be caught and then Bate performed the airplane spin for a nice reaction. Both men sold the effects of the airplane spin. Devlin caught Bate with a kick to regain control. Devlin went up top and went for a moonsault and then landed on his feet when Bate moved. Devlin caught him with a really nice knee and then covered him for two at 4:35.

Bate went for a powerbomb a short time later, but Devlin countered into a rollup for a good near fall. Devlin caught Bate with a kick, which Bate sold by holding the back of his head, playing on the bloody finish of Devlin’s opening round match. Devlin recovered and hit a sit-out powerbomb for the win. Bate and Devlin both stood for the arm raising, and the broadcast team gushed over the 19 year-old advancing to another round of the tournament…

Tyler Bate beat Jordan Devlin in 6:00 to advance in the tournament.

Powell’s POV: The story told with Devlin vs. Danny Burch yesterday paid off nicely, as he was clearly the heel of the match. I love the way they managed to establish some of the personalities yesterday. It’s not an easy thing to make that click in just one match and one video package, but they pulled it off so well. Meanwhile, the broadcast team continues to do a nice job of delivering plenty of great background information and calling the matches as if this is a legit competition rather than sports entertainment fun.

The broadcast team split on their picks. McGuinness said Dunne is too much, and Cole said he liked Andrews… A video package aired on the final four participants… NXT trainer and longtime wrestler Robbie Brookside was shown sitting in the crowd…

5. Mark Andrews vs. Pete Dunne in a semifinal match. Andrews offered his hand. Dunne slapped it away. Andrews performed an early flip over the top that actually overshot Dunne, but Dunne sold it anyway. Dunne returned to the ring and stomped Andrews fingers as he tried to follow. Dunn placed the bad hand on the apron and tried to stomp it, but Andrews avoided it and performed a huracanrana on the floor.

Dunne took offensive control back inside the ring, but Andrews came back with a double stomp. He also performed a wild backflip into a senton splash (an extra half rotation rather than the standing moonsault) for a two count. Cole said Dunne seemed to be hurt for the first time in the tournament. Andrews performed a standing shooting star press for two. Dunne went to ringside. Andrews dove onto him, but Dunne caught him and performed an suplex onto the ropes and apron.

Cole said Dunne was as nasty and mean as they come. Dunne performed another neck plex on the ring steps. Dunne returned to the ring and was hoping to win by count-out, but Andrews barely beat the count. Dunne went for his suplex again, but Andrews countered into a stunner and covered him for two. The fans had dueling chants for the wrestlers.

Dunne caught Andrews on the ropes and went for a superplex. Andrews fought him off and went for a shooting star press, but Dunne put his knees up and covered him for a good near fall. Dunne went for a pump-handle move, but Andrews countered with an arm drag. Moments later, Andrews went for a springboard move and was blasted with a forearm.

Dunne went for the neckplex, but Andrews countered into a rollup for two. Andrews went for a shooting star press, but Dunne avoided it and then performed a German suplex into the corner. Dunne followed up with the neckplex again, then performed the pump-handle slam called The Bitter End and scored the clean pin…

Pete Dunne defeated Mark Andrews in 10:40 to advance to the finals.

Powell’s POV: A really fun match with some excellent suspense via the near falls. Dunne is the most interesting character in the tournament and I hope they go all the way with him over Bate or Wolfgang. Either way, I like that the babyface opponent is set up for sympathy in that they will have to work back-to-back matches.

The broadcast team recapped the match and spoke about the excitement the tournament created in the UK…

6. Tyler Bate vs. Wolfgang in a semifinal match. The wrestlers shook hands before the match. The broadcast team played up Wolfgang’s size advantage. Cole said he just received word that Wolfgang may have broken his nose in the previous match. Wolfgang hip-tossed Bate across the ring. Bate punched Wolfgang’s nose almost on cue. Bate tried to hoist Wolfgang onto his shoulders and couldn’t do it.

Later, Bate caught Wolfgang with a kick to the nose. Wolfgang continued to perform power moves and scored a near fall off a popup into a power slam. Wolfgang went to the ropes and howled, then Bate avoided his Swanton Bomb attempt. The crowd sang as Bate got back to his feet, but Wolfgang shoulder blocked him for another good near fall. Wolfgang went for his Tiger Driver finisher, but Bate slipped out, double hooked the arms, and powerbombed him for the win. Afterward, Bate acted surprised by his win. Wolfgang stuck around the for the ref’s decision, then shook Bate’s hand and pointed at him.

Tyler Bate defeated Wolfgang in 6:00 to advance to the finals.

As the highlights of the match aired, Dunne ran out and attacked Bate. “Somebody get out here and do something about this maniac,” Cole yelled. Cole added that Dunne was going to ruin the tournament. Dunne went up to the stage. William Regal came out and shoved him. Dunne stumbled down, and then Regal pushed him backstage…

Powell’s POV: I didn’t mind Dunne backing down yesterday, but as much as I love Regal, I’m not a fan of the sadistic heel backing down to the retired legend at this point. Perhaps they can establish it as more of an Eddie Haskell routine (yeah, super dated reference) in that he’s not really fearful of Regal as much as he’s not afraid to kiss the ass of authority to get what he wants.

The broadcast team spoke about the attack. Nigel said Bate uses the double wristlock and now that may be out due to the injuries he suffered. Nigel said they have the best medical personnel in the world and if there’s any way Bate can work then he will… Earl Crabtree (grandson of Big Daddy) and soccer player Darren Fletcher were shown in the crowd…

Neville made his entrance to a huge ovation. Neville said it seems as if he’s been forgotten again. Neville said he should be the UK Champion by default. He said the powers that be didn’t want him in the tournament because they wanted a competitive tournament, and it would have been a no-contest had he been involved. Neville said he is the greatest talent the country has ever produced and there’s no one in the company or country that deserves to stand across from him.

Tommy End made his entrance and the crowd popped. Cole noted that End is the “Anti-Hero” who recently signed with NXT and said he is there to burn it down.

Powell’s POV: End worked as Aleister Black during his initial appearances in NXT, but it’s cool that they are using the name the UK fans know him by for this unadvertised match. By the way, Neville has quickly proven to be a good talker as a heel. It still amazes me that WWE did nothing with him as a babyface.

7. Neville vs. Tommy End in a non-tournament match. Some fans chanted “Tommy’s Gonna Kill You” early in the match. End caught Neville some kicks. End ran the ropes, but Neville took an early powder to ringside to avoid whatever he was setting up. End went out to get him, but Neville dodged him and kicked him to take offensive control.

During the match, Cole threw to Caruso, who was backstage checking on Bate and promised more information as it was available. Neville caught End with a running kick and got a two count. Neville went up top and leapt into a kick from End. A short time later, End performed a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle onto Neville on the floor.

Later, End teased a strike, and Neville covered up. End waited for Neville to uncover and then caught him with a cool high kick to the head. End followed up with a suplex into a bridge for a two count. End went up top, but Neville cut him off. Neville performed a huracanrana off the top rope, then followed up with the Red Arrow for the win…

Neville beat Tommy End in 8:40.

Powell’s POV: As excited as the crowd was to see Neville, they didn’t seem as thrilled about seeing him beat End. Neville is the main roster guy and is challenging for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, so it was logical that he would go over here. That said, I look forward to following End’s work in NXT.

Backstage, Caruso said Bate suffered a partially separated AC joint in his shoulder, but he has been cleared to compete. Nigel said the damage is done and it’s only going to take one submission from Dunne and then Bate is done for. Nigel said he’s praying for Bate.

The broadcast team was interrupted by Finn Balor’s music. Balor headed to the ring dressed in a suit to a big ovation. Balor praised the tournament and said he’s proud to play a small part in the weekend. Balor said the tournament happened because of the fans and their passion. “You people have made this happen,” Balor said. The fans applauded and chanted, “We deserve it.” Balor said that’s true, they do deserve it. Balor said it was time to find out who would be the first WWE UK Champion…

Cole spoke about how great the fans had been, and then he and McGuinness recapped how Dunne and Bate made it to the finals…

William Regal stood in the ring with the WWE UK Championship. Dunne made his entrance. Cole expressed frustration over Dunne resorting to the tactics he did because he’s considered one of the best in the world already. Bate came out with his left shoulder heavily taped. The broadcast team noted that he won every match with a Tyler Driver and now may not be able to perform it due to his injury…

Powell’s POV: What a difference between Cole calling the WWE main roster and calling this show. How many times have we heard Cole shrug off or even endorse the antics of heels over the years? On this show, he actually acts outraged by Dunne’s actions. Why can’t we get this Cole on the main shows, Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn?

The ring announcer delivered in-ring introductions before the match while Regal stood by with the title belt. Dunne was booed, and Bate was applauded. Cole noted that Dunne trained Bate early in his career and has teamed and fought with him over the years, but never with the stakes so high…

8. Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate to become the first WWE UK Champion. McGuinness noted that there was no time limit, so Dunne could really pick apart the shoulder of Bate. Dunne targeted the shoulder. Bate got to his feet and performed a dropkick that popped the crowd, which burst into a song. The wrestlers ended up at ringside and traded punches with Bate getting the better of it.

Dunne returned to the ring and grabbed Bate’s arm and ran his bad shoulder into the turnbuckle. Bate fought back, but Dunne ended up double stomping his bad shoulder. Bate came back with an inside cradle for a two count. Bate hoisted up Dunne and performed the airplane spin. Bate slowed way down and acted wobbly, then spun him around in the other direction, and then repeated that sequence before slamming him down and getting a two count.

Dunne caught Bate in a triangle as he reached down to grab him. Dunne punched the bad shoulder in the process. Bate picked up Dunne with his bad arm and slammed him down to a big ovation from the crowd. Dunne ended up at ringside, and Bate performed a big Fosbury Flop dive onto him. Bate rolled Dunne back inside the ring and performed a flip into a double stomp and got a good near fall.

Dunne grabbed Bate’s fingers and ditched his own mouthguard before performing his finisher for another near fall. Nigel correctly pointed out that the fans were on their feet. Dunne came back with a shoulder lock. The fans chanted “Let’s go Tyler.” Dunne held the move as they got to their feet, but Bate countered him into a brainbuster for another good near fall at 14:00.

At 14:45, Bate hit a spinning wheel kick and then performed another kick out of the corner. Bate hit the Tyler Driver and scored the clean pin to win the tournament and become the first WWE UK Champion…

Tyler Bate defeated Pete Dunne in 15:20 to become the first WWE United Kingdom Champion.

After the match, Triple H, William, Regal, Fit Finlay, and Finn Balor stood in the ring with Bate. Hunter raised Bate’s arm with the title belt, and the ring announcer named Bate the winner. Hunter put the title around the waist of the new champion, who shook hands with Balor, Finlay, and Regal while the fans chanted “you deserve it.” Hunter raised Bate’s hand one more time and they played to all four sides of the building. Bate was left alone in the ring and then confetti fell from the rafters as he celebrated and Cole closed the show…

Powell’s POV: A strong main event with great drama from the near falls. The crowd was completely engaged and it seemed like nearly everyone who was pulling for Dunne earlier had shifted to pulling for Bate to win by the end. Overall, this tournament was a big success in my book. While some viewers will nitpick about UK talent that was not in the tournament or the lack of world class matches, they made very good use out of the talent they had, and most of those guys worked to the best of their abilities.

The WWE crew also managed to establish several personalities, and the storytelling was terrific in that it was logical and easy to follow. I also loved that the wrestlers came in all different shapes and sizes, and that there were plenty of different styles on display. The live crowd’s enthusiasm was key. Put these same shows in front of a flat crowd and obviously it wouldn’t be the same. The UK fans were clearly thrilled to have this tournament and were very supportive of the guys they have watched on the independent scene. Dot Net’s UK staffers Haydn Gleed and Darren Gutteridge will be by on Monday with an All Access review of the UK Title tournament, so be sure to check back for that.


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