WWE UK Championship Tournament Night 2
January 15, 2017
Empress Ballroom
Blackpool, Lancashire, England

Watch: WWE Network

I was supposed to review WWE UK Championship Touranment Night 2 live but ended up getting drunk with the lads after the PROGRESS show in Birmingham and buying Matt Riddle some birthday drinks. As you do.

Anyway, this will be the night we crown the first ever WWE UK Champion.

Hosts are Michael Cole and Nigel McGuinness. Cole was brilliant last night, having done his research and Nigel gelled well with him. Any shows where the announcers are not heavily produced are usually fantastic.

Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned there?

WWE UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final
Pete Dunne def. Sam Gradwell

Pete already beat Gradwell up after last night’s show so young Sam comes out with tape on his back and fire in his heart. He shows the kind of aggression that you need to have at this stage of a tournament, especially when you’re against the top star of the tournament. Dunne was a made man after last night and his interactions with Regal and Hunter. Dunne survives for long enough to re-injure Sam’s back and the crowd are really into Pete, partially because of his work in this tournament and also because of his graft in the UK Indies for the last two years. Dunne throws Gradwell into the buckles and pins him clean as a whistle. The focus on the back was solid storytelling and Dunne continues to be one of the main stars of this thing. **1/2

WWE UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final
Mark Andrews def. Joseph Connors

Connors had major heat in the Wetherspoons last night. Also the bar staff for telling us to shut up while singing Junior songs. These guys have solid chemistry from the start although expectations have been lowered by a relatively poor Andrews performance yesterday. Connors shows a degree of fire but it’s Andrews who’s most at home in taking heat. Connors targets the neck and manages to hit his trademark spots, which is occasionally an issue for him. Especially the slingshot Downward Spiral. His timing isn’t perfect but the finish works perfectly with Stundog Millionaire setting up the SSP and Andrews moves on. **1/4

WWE UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final
Wolfgang def. Trent Seven

In the front row is Fit Finlay. What a talent he was in his prime, and even in his comeback ten years ago. Trent was one of the faces of this tournament but his first round match was mediocre and Wolfgang isn’t a great opponent either. They’ve had matches for ICW where Wolfie has prevailed. Wolfgang being the ICW Champion gives him a certain weight. The I-C-Dub marks are out in force and the crowd gets into a fight with itself over the support of that promotion. These two have decent chemistry because they’re worked together before in ICW having the title match at Fear & Loathing back in November. Wolfgang is out to impress and hits a moonsault off the rail, like a complete lunatic. It’s a hard-hitting match, which works. Wolfgang’s timing causes issues, especially when he’s supposed to cut off Trent and is late doing so. Trent calls for a piledriver off the top, which I’m sure WWE wouldn’t allow. Wolfgang pushes him off and hits a swanton, called The Howling, for the win, managing to bust his nose open in the process. This was disappointing. Trent was capable of having a massive epic match and putting him out here stops that from happening. ***

WWE UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final
Tyler Bate def. Jordan Devlin

I had a sneaking suspicion that Devlin would win here, based on Wolfgang’s victory. WWE have a habit of booking people to win based on their regional affiliation. One from England, one from Wales, one from Scotland, one from Ireland? That said Tyler was outstanding on night one. Tyler is only 19 years old. 19. Devlin was a massive heel on night one, only slightly overshadowed by Dunne. Devlin works heel and Bate is fantastic at generating sympathy. Tyler is able to boss the match due to Devlin working such a boring style. It’s quite deliberate and I feel bad for Jordan having to be that guy. Tyler looks like a top star in surviving a beating and all his moves are sharp. I love that Devlin hits the Burchkiller kick and Tyler sells it like death. The crowd must sense the possibility of Devlin progressing and when Tyler beats him with the Tyler Driver ’97 it gets a huge pop. Good man. ***

WWE UK Championship Tournament Semi-Final
Pete Dunne def. Mark Andrews

These two have a chequered history in Attack! Pro Wrestling and have wrestled each other many, many times. They have wonderful chemistry because of that and Andrews lucha stuff is sold perfectly by Pete. It creates the illusion that Mark has a shot at winning. The rana off the ring steps is incredible. Everything is so fluid and well executed. Andrews looks excellent here, especially compared to his other tournament matches. Given the right opponent Mark looks like a genuine star. Pete looks at ease with everything that happens, from being in position for Mark’s spots and taking great bumps. Dunne is a guy who can make exciting wrestlers even more exciting and also reign them in a little. When Pete fires off spots he does so like his very life depends on it. The release suplex onto the apron is vicious as is the one on the floor. They have great teases and counters too. The Stundog out of a third release suplex is perfect. SSP gets knees as the match starts to hit a higher gear and at this point it’s the most epic match in the tournament, which is a good sign. Andrews flying counters of Dunne’s aggressive power moves are awesome. Pete avoids another SSP and finishes with the Drop Dead/Bitter End. This was fucking fantastic. ****

WWE UK Championship Tournament Semi-Final
Tyler Bate vs. Wolfgang

Tyler’s Sledgehammer knock-off music is actually really good. It captures the beats of the tune beautifully. The crowd get massively fired up and Wolfgang, who’s been a face all tournament, finds himself on the outs. Tyler Bate is just so good that he turns Wolfgang heel. No one wants to see a 19 year old kid get beaten up by a giant sweaty Scottish man, even if he does have a broken nose. Tyler’s punches in this are fantastic. He’s nailed them down over the past couple of months. Wolfgang looked impressive during this tournament but I’m pleased he’s here losing in six minutes rather than Trent. If you want to see Trent-Tyler then build up to it. There’s already Andrews-Dunne and the final to focus on here. Wolfgang spends too long setting stuff up, especially his Swanton.

Tyler Driver ’97 puts Wolfgang away and Tyler advances to the finals. The crowd love this and Tyler has organically become the most over guy in the tournament through his work. The way he sells his shock at winning here is brilliant. **1/2

Post Match: Peter ambushes his BSS buddy and beats Tyler down. William Regal rushes out here to stop that and the way he shoves Pete backstage is great. Dad’s mad, Peter. You behave yourself, you rapscallion. Tyler stays down for a long time selling his shoulder.

Neville def. Tommy End

Neville is over huge but he’s angry because WWE have done a cruiserweight tournament and a UK tournament and left him on the shelf. Tommy had a busy day and also seems to have not switched his name to Alistair Black on TV as yet. Shoot Neville fact: I once paid him £20 to wrestle on a show in Birmingham. He’s done alright for himself eh? End’s presence in a wrestling ring is one of his main attributes. He’s also one of the best strikers in the business. The match is interrupted by Charly Caruso’s voice, which is intended for the announcers only. The crowd, who love a technical botch, cheer and chant “Botchamania” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning.”

End’s kicks are spectacular here and his triangle moonsault is wonderful. This is pretty surreal when you think about it. 2017: Neville vs. Tommy End on the Network. Followed by Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne. The match is fine and Neville wins inside ten minutes. A typical Tommy sprint. They’re all decent matches. ***

WWE UK Championship Tournament – Final & WWE UK Championship
Tyler Bate def. Pete Dunne

Tyler has a few issues with selling his shoulder and his trepidation of the forthcoming contest mixed in with his waving entrance. The two don’t work together. It’s the first sign that Tyler is actually only 19 years old. He is human after all. The crowd are into Tyler huge and it’s so nice to see how he’s been received and how WWE have switched gears from Bate being a guy who was way off on the right side of group shots when the wrestlers were revealed to him being the crowd favourite in the final match. Pete dominates by working the arm and Tyler brings incredible fire in response. Dunne’s aggression towards that shoulder is stunning stuff. It looks ruthless and sadistic and has Nigel marking out. Tyler does fine work in selling the arm to prevent him from hitting spots. Likewise Dunne does good work in recognising Bate’s trademark spots. They both pull out great counters in that respect. Bate getting all fired up and doing the airplane spin, showing off that leg power, gets the crowd going. The dynamic of the match is all about Dunne’s working the body part and Tyler firing back from underneath. The atmosphere is electric and Tyler pulls out all the stops. The Fosbury Flop and the 450 Stomp back to back are just incredible. Tyler’s kick out of the Bitter End gets the crowd standing and Bate survives the kimura too. I love the logic of Dunne going back to that arm after abusing it all night. Tyler powers out of that and hits the Tyler Driver ’97 to win the title. My God. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier for someone winning a tournament. Titles, yes, but not tournaments. So pleased for the lad. He’s a lovely guy and he deserves this. Pete was great too, having the two best matches on the show by some distance. Hunter was impressed. ****1/4

Post Match: Tyler is presented with the belt by a smiling Triple H in a surreal moment.

Final Thoughts: 

One of the best shows of the year so far, albeit only two weeks old at this point. Yesterday set the bar quite low but this was a far superior show with higher highs. The last two Dunne matches are both essential viewing and the finish is one of the feel-good moments of the year.