6/25 WWE UK Championship Tournament 2018 Day One live review: A tournament for a shot at the WWE UK Championship, Undisputed Era vs. Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, and Tyler Bate, Triple Threat for a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE UK Championship Tournament 2018
Taped on June 18 in London, England at Royal Albert Hall
Aired on WWE Network

A video package focussing on Johnny Saint and British Wrestling history and today’s WWE UK product aired… The broadcast team of Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness checked in and discussed the brackets for what started as a 16-man tournament and is now down to eight men… Andy Shepherd was the ring announcer…

1. Jack Gallagher vs. Zack Gibson in a quarterfinal tournament match. The match was announced as having a 20-minute time limit. The crowd cheered for Gallagher and against Gibson during the entrances. Gibson blew off the handshake. Gibson targeted the left arm/shoulder of Gallagher. Eventually, Gallagher started to come back only to be cut off with a nice double knee lung blower from the second rope for a two count.

Gibson performed what Ranallo called a Liger Bomb. Gallagher went for a triangle after taking the move, but Gibson powered him up and performed a buckle bomb. Gallagher applied the triangle while hanging over the ropes and had to release the hold. In the ring, Gallagher applied a sleeper only to have Gibson reached the ropes with his foot. Gallagher performed a suicide dive and then raced back to the ring where he hit a running dropkick for a two count.

Gibson ran Gallagher through the ropes and shoulder first into the post. Gallagher returned to the ring to beat the count, but immediately took a lariat and an inverted belly to back lung blower for a good near fall. Gallagher came back with a dropkick on a kneeling Gibson. Gallagher went up top for a headbutt. Gibson lifted his feet and hit the shoulder of Gallagher, then applied an armlock to the bad shoulder and got the submission win…

Zack Gibson defeated Jack Gallagher in 13:30 to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.

Powell’s POV: A strong opening match. A meaningful win for Gibson in that Gallagher is well known to the entire WWE audience. The crowd is hot and the venue looks good on television. It’s a really fun atmosphere thus far.

A video package showcased the wrestlers in the next quarterfinal match. Mastiff said everyone has to fight and what makes him different is that he wants to. Footage aired from Progress Wrestling of his impressive big man offense. He said he’s the best heavyweight in the world and no one can touch him…

2. Joe Coffey vs. Dave Mastiff in a quarterfinal tournament match. The wrestlers shook hands prior to the match. They did the big men shoulder blocks to start and they both tumbled to ringside. Back in the ring, Cofeey performed a missile dropkick for a two count. Coffey performed a big suplex on Mastiff that got a reaction. He sold it like the move took a lot out of him, but he was able to follow it up with a belly to belly suplex. Coffey held his ribs afterward. McGuinness said whenever Coffey hit an offensive move he was doing more damage to himself.

Coffey performed a nice German suplex into a bridge for a two count around 6:00. Mastiff came back with a lariat attempt that Coffey ducked. Mastiff hit him with the move from behind and then performed a German suplex of his own for a two count. Mastiff went for a cannonball in the corner, but Coffey avoided it. “That was a gutter ball for Dave Mastiff,” Ranallo said. Coffey came right back with a discus lariat and scored the pin. Joe’s wrestler brother Mark Coffey was shown clapping afterward…

Joe Coffey defeated Dave Mastiff in 7:30 to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.

After the match, Cathy Kelley entered the ring and asked Coffey what his mindset was heading into the semifinals. Coffey said he came to win the tournament and he would take on Pete Dunne and win the WWE UK Championship. He said he was there to make an impact and would show no mercy and would win by any means necessary…

Powell’s POV: Mastiff may be the lovechild of longtime AWA jobber Jake Milliman and MMA fighter Roy Nelson. Bad jokes aside, he does some impressive things for a man his size. I enjoy the little things about the tournament such as time limits and even the post match bit with the referee bringing both men together and raising the winner’s hand. It’s astonishing to me that WWE got rid of time limits on the main roster when it eliminates stories they could tell.

The broadcast team set up a video package for the next match. Flash Morgan Webster spoke about how he likes to be flashy and charismatic. He said his fighting style is no different and he likes to give fans something they’ve never seen before. He said a lot of wrestlers want this, but he needs this. Jordan Devlin said losing to Tyler Bate in last year’s tournament lit a fire in him. He said he’s beaten everyone they’ve put in front of him since the tournament. He said he can hit harder and jump higher…

3. Flash Morgan Webster vs. Jordan Devlin in a quarterfinal tournament match. The fans popped big for Webster. Ranallo noted that Webster’s nickname is the Modfather. McGuinness explained that he’s into the style of the band from the ’60s. Devlin received some boos during his entrance and immediately got in the face of Webster once he entered the ring. Devlin blew off Morgan’s handshake offer.

Devlin was on the offensive early and performed a Meteora. Morgan came back with a nice huracanrana and connected with a high knee in the corner for a two count. Webster took Devlin to the floor and then performed a three dives that got a rise out of the crowd and a two count once they were back in the ring. Devlin cut off Webster on the top rope and hit a Spanish Fly for a near fall. He followed up with a superkick for another two count at 6:30. Morgan avoided a moonsault and picked up the win shortly thereafter…

Flash Morgan Webster beat Jordan Devlin in 7:05 to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.

Powell’s POV: A fun match. They crammed a lot into seven minutes and both wrestlers made a good impression. Devlin looked less like a Finn Balor clone than he did last year, but he does look similar to his pro wrestling trainer.

A video package set up the Travis Banks vs. Ashton Smith match. Banks spoke about his training and being from New Zealand. He said winning the tournament would be everything to him. Smith said his in-ring style is pure aggression and fire. He said he has more fight in him than anyone else. He said he would do whatever it takes to get to where he needs to be.

4. Travis Banks vs. Ashton Smith in a quarterfinal tournament match. The wrestlers shook hands before the match. Ranallo and McGuinness had a brief debate over whether football should be called soccer. Smith hit a couple of flashy moves and a superkick for a near fall.

Banks came back with a dropkick and a German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Banks yelled when he struck, causing Ranallo to quip that he might have a future as a heavy metal singer. Banks hit Smith with forearms. Smith called for more. Banks hit a kick in the corner and ended up putting him away with a sit-out fisherman’s buster suplex. The wrestlers shook hands and hugged afterward…

Travis Banks defeated Ashton Smith in 6:20 to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.

Powell’s POV: Another good match to close the quarterfinal round. The crowd seemed to view Banks as the heavy favorite and didn’t buy into Smith’s near falls.

The broadcast team hyped the final four and then set up the women’s Triple Threat match…

5. Toni Storm vs. Killer Kelly vs. Isla Dawn in a Triple Threat for a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship. Storm was the big fan favorite of the trio. Ranallo noted that Dawn did some training with NXT Champion Aleister Black. Storm was dumped to ringside early, allowing Kelly and Dawn to work in the ring together for a stretch. Storm eventually returned and hit a neckbreaker she calls Storm Zero for the win. NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler was shown smirking in the crowd while Storm looked down at her from the ring…

Toni Storm defeated Killer Kelly and Isla Dawn in 4:20 to earn a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship.

Powell’s POV: Dot Net staffer Haydn Gleed noted that this match originally started as a four-way with Jinny, but she suffered a legitimate injury in the match so it was restarted as a three-way. Even so, I wish they would have shot a video package to set this up as a Triple Threat. They obviously had the capability since this show was taped a week ago, and it would have helped establish the personalities. That said, the injury may help explain why the match was quick. Storm really shined in the Mae Young Classic and I’m looking forward to seeing her match with Baszler on tomorrow’s show.

Triple H made his entrance and shook hands with fans at ringside while the fans sang along with his “Bow Down To The King” theme song. The broadcast team said Hunter was there to make a special announcement. Hunter said it was a cool building. He said he first went there in 1996 and he’d been dying to get back there. Hunter spoke about the previous special from the UK and said it changed what it meant to be a UK wrestler. He said they said at the time there would be more. He ran through a lit of some of the UK talent and said they turned themselves into names all around the globe.

Hunter said they were going to give them more. He introduced Johnny Saint to help him tell the fans about it. Saint came out to a respectful response from the crowd. The fans chanted “Johnny” once he entered the ring. Saint announced the commencement of the NXT UK brand, which received a big pop from the live crowd and a “Mamma Mia” from Ranallo. Hunter announced they would have a men’s division, a women’s division, and a tag division. He announced up coming dates for tapings for the NXT UK television show. Hunter closed with the “Are You Ready?” routine and the fans cheered…

Powell’s POV: Triple H was the most over guy in the building so far and the announcement regarding NXT UK was well received by the live crowd.

Footage aired of the four remaining tournament entrants backstage…

6. Flash Morgan Webster vs. Zack Gibson in a semifinal tournament match. Gibson once again received loud boos from the crowd while Webster was cheered. Webster went right at Gibson to start and was in offensive control early. Gibson came back briefly. Webster went for his three dives to the floor, but Gibson caught him on the second one and dumped him on the floor with a suplex, which the broadcast team noted is called Helter Skelter. Webster returned to the ring to beat the ref’s count, but Gibson applied the wrist lock submission hold he won the first match with and got another submission…

Zack Gibson beat Flash Morgan Webster in 4:20 to advance to the finals of the tournament.

Powell’s POV: Fun while it lasted, but I was actually hoping we would get a longer match from these two. I hope we hear more from Gibson. It’s obvious that the live crowd views him as the heel, but it’s not as obvious as to why as it was last year when Pete Dunne was showcased as the top heel of the tournament.

NXT stars Aleister Black and Ricochet were shown standing in the crowd together. The fans chanted NXT…

7. Travis Banks vs. Joe Coffey in a semifinal tournament match. The second round matches have 25-minute time limits. Coffey controlled the slow paced offense early on. Both men acted weary at 7:30 and struggled to get back to their feet. Coffey went for his discus lariat, but ended up being dropkicked by Banks, who picked up a near fall moments later. Coffey went for a springboard cross body block that Banks avoided. Coffey went for his finisher again and ran into a boot. Banks ended up rolling him up for the win…

Travis Banks beat Joe Coffey in 9:20 to advance to the finals of the tournament.

After the match, the ref brought the wrestlers together and raised the arm of Banks. Coffey hit him from behind and then ran him shoulder first through the ropes and into the ring post. Coffey blasted him with his discus lariat and held up his own arm in the ring while the fans booed…

Powell’s POV: A good, physical match that made Coffey look good in defeat and Banks weakened going into the finals. The post match attack cemented that’s what they are going for with Banks. They already told the story of Gibson having the most time between matches so all of this should be part of the story they tell in the finals.

The broadcast team hyped the Banks vs. Gibson finals, then shifted to setting up the six-man tag match…

8. “The Undisputed Era” Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong vs. “British Strong Style” Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, and Trent Seven. Ranallo noted that Dunne and Bate battled over the WWE UK Championship, which Dunne held with his teeth during the entrances. The British trio was on the offensive early and cleared the ring. The crowd erupted and gave them a standing ovation and then chanted their team name.

The Undisputed Era isolated Seven for a stretch. Later, Dunne performed a wicked German suplex on O’Reilly, who stood right up and clotheslined him. O’Reilly wrapped around Dunne in a submission hold, but Dunne remained on his feet and made a tag. There were rapid fire spots that culminated with O’Reilly going for the armbar on Bate, who powered him up and slammed him down. The fans popped big and another NXT chant broke out.

At 11:30, Dunne performed a moonsault onto Cole and Strong. In the ring, O’Reilly hit Seven with a couple of kicks. Seven came back and made a tag to Bate while still holding onto O’Reilly. Bate ran the ropes and performed a dragon sleeper on O’Reilly and pinned him….

British Strong Style defeated Undisputed Era in 12:20.

Powell’s POV: The highlight of the show thus far and it’s not even close. It will be tough for the main event to top it, but I look forward to seeing how they do. I still miss Dunne as a heel. He’s good in his current role too, but I thought he was an exceptionally strong heel.

Separate shots aired of Banks and Gibson preparing for the tournament finals backstage…

Shawn Michaels made his entrance. The live crowd continued to sing his entrance music after it stopped playing, then they stopped and chanted HBK. Michaels said it was still a pretty snappy tune. Shawn said he was never afraid to follow anything, but he’s scared now that he has to follow that six-man tag match. He spoke about wrestling the first match in Royal Albert Hall in 1991 and noted that it was before a lot of the fans in the building were even born. The fans cheered and chanted HBK again.

Michaels said he was honored to be just a small part of the new history. A “one more match” chant interrupted Michaels. “You guys, you gotta, you gotta stop that,” Michaels said. He turned the attention to NXT UK and said “it is especially for you.” Michaels said it was time for the final match. He told the fans to have a wonderful evening and to get ready for the finals of the tournament…

Powell’s POV: I never thought I’d see Shawn Michaels serve as a buffer, but it just happened. It was a wise move to give the crowd a chance to catch their breath after the hot six-man tag match. The UK fans loved Michaels and it was fun to see him play it straight rather than go into DX silly mode.

Ring entrances for the main event took place while the broadcast team spoke about how the winner of the tournament would challenge Pete Dunne for the NXT Championship on tomorrow’s show…

9. Travis Banks vs. Zack Gibson in the WWE UK Tournament finals. Banks had his shoulder heavily taped. McGuinness said it was the worst type of injury you could have while going into a match against Gibson. Andy Shepherd delivered in-ring introductions for the finals and noted that there was no time limit. The wrestlers glared at one another and Gibson jawed at Banks. Gibson blew off Banks offering a handshake.

Gibson went after the injured shoulder. Banks chopped him down at one point. They went to ringside and Gibson ran Banks’s bad shoulder into the ring steps. Gibson smiled as he looked down at Banks. At 9:30, Gibson ran Banks toward the barricade. Banks leapt onto the barricade and delivered a cool kick coming off it. Both men rushed back to the ring to beat the count.

Back in the ring, the wrestlers traded open palm strikes. At 13:00, Gibson applied the same hold that won his first two matches, but Banks reached the ropes. McGuinness noted that both of Gibson’s previous opponents tapped out instantly, whereas the injured Banks was able to hang on long enough to reach the ropes.

Banks came back with a diving double stomp onto Gibson at ringside. Back in the ring, Banks hit a Slice of Heaven kick for a two count. A short time later, Gibson went for a pin while using the ropes for leverage, but the referee caught him. Banks hit a falcon arrow for a good near fall. Gibson shook his head no and then rolled to ringside.

Banks performed a dive. Gibson held p his arms and blocked the dive, then rolled Banks back inside the ring and performed his Helter Skelter move for a two count. Gibson applied his submission finisher to the bad left arm. Banks nearly reached the ropes, but Gibson pulled him away and got the submission win…

Zack Gibson defeated Travis Banks in 17:05 to win the WWE UK Championship Tournament.

The referee brought them together and raised the arm of the winner. Gibson then smiled and offered a handshake to Banks while Ranallo noted that he wanted a handshake only after he won. Banks looked like he was going to shake his hand, but Gibson pulled his hand away.

Triple H, Johnny Saint, and Shawn Michaels came out. Hunter raised Banks’s good arm and then the trio headed to the ring where Gibson was waiting. They shook his hand and raised his arm. Gibson took the mic and was booed. “I am Liverpool’s…” Gibson was interrupted by the entrance music of WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne, who walked to the ring with the title belt draped over his shoulder. Dunne entered the ring and held up his title belt while glaring at Gibson, who jawed and pointed at him while Ranallo hyped night two to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A good main event with a pretty basic post match scene. They put over the heel Gibson going into a title match against Pete Dunne. Banks was made to look like he had tremendous heart by surviving as long as he did despite being injured going into the match. It was entertaining, but it was not as hot or anywhere close to being as memorable as last year’s tournament final.

In fact, I enjoyed last year’s tournament a lot more. WWE did a better job of spotlighting the personalities last time. Again, Gibson was clearly a heel to the crowd, but as someone who doesn’t follow the UK scene closely I never came away with a good understanding as to why. It would have been nice if he had been given promo time throughout the night to help establish his personality, but that didn’t happen. The matches were also quicker than I remember last year’s matches being. It didn’t help the cause that last year’s standouts Bate and Dunne were in the six-man tag match rather than the tournament.

This was an entertaining show that just didn’t measure up to the original. The six-man tag match stole the show. The time flew by and the tournament was solid and is worth taking the time to watch. Night two looks really fun on paper. I will be covering that event as it airs on Tuesday at 2CT/3ET. Dot Net’s British Invasion duo of Haydn Gleed and Darren Gutteridge will be teaming up to discuss the tournament for members later this week.



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