Following on from the incredible Cruiserweight Classic, which itself led to the WWE Network series 205 Live, the WWE heads across the pond with the first ever UK Championship Tournament. Emanating live from Blackpool, from the Empress Ballroom, the first day of the 16-man tournament will feature well known UK and American independent names such as Mark “Mandrews” Andrews, Pete Dunne and, perhaps the favourite to win the whole thing, Trent Seven, all competing for the chance to be the first ever United Kingdom Champion. With commentary from WWE mainstay Michael Cole, and former indie legend Nigel McGuiness, the two day tournament is not to be missed.
+ Wolfgang vs Tyson T-Bone: Wolfgang, the only Scotsman in the tournament and T-Bone had what could only be considered a fight between two big boys. Equal parts brawling and surprising strength and agility, this was my favourite match of the opening round
+ Trent Seven vs H.C. Dyer: the opening match of the night, Dyer was always going to be the defacto bad guy, going against crowd favourite Trent Seven. In this regard, the match was exactly as you’d expect, with a few hard hits to really get the crown pumped up.
+ Tyler Bate vs Tucker: at only 19, Tyler Bate is going to be a star, I can guarantee it, and Tucker showed so much good in this match that it really could have gone either way. Both hit some monstrous movies, but one in particular from Bate is one of my personal favourites, so I have to admit he became one of my favourites from the whole first round
+ Saxon Huxley vs Sam Gradwell: Huxley’s holier-than-thou gimmick, and Gradwell’s more unique look made for a very interesting contest, especially following on from the Devlin/Burch match up. The fans were well and truly behind Huxley (though they were calling him ‘Jesus’…) which made for an electric fighting atmosphere
+ Pete Dunne vs Roy Johnson: Dunne’s intensity made for a good fight again Johnson’s incredible power. The match was a little bit slower than the rest, but that didn’t hurt the overall quality. Dunne also definitely had the best theme music
+ Mark Andrews vs Dan Moloney: Mandrews was the only competitor who you would consider a high-flyer, and seemed to have the support of the crowd more than most. Moloney’s gimmick was a standout from the other competitors, and I am looking forward to seeing some more of him in the future
– Jordan Devlin vs Danny Burch: this battle between a Finn Balor protoge and a mainstay on NXT was probably a bit longer than it needed to be, and I’ll admit the alignments were opposite to what I was expecting. With a somewhat confusing ending (which was admittedly played off well, afterwards), this was not quite up to the standard the first match had set
– James Drake vs Joseph Conners: predicted by commentator Michael Cole to be the match of the night, it certainly had the potential but was simply too short to stand out, especially following the Wolfgang/T-Bone brawl
> in a more general sense, it was great for every match to have a video package for each competitor. I am not overly familiar with the UK scene, outside the few mentioned at the top, so this helped me with what to expect from a few matches.
> it is still incredibly jarring to not see Triple H on the main roster, just to have him come out at the beginning of these network specials. I don’t see why WIlliam Regal, Finn Balor, Sheamus, Becky Lynch, or even former stars such Wade Barrett couldn’t have done the introduction to the United Kingdom crowd
Should you watch this event: Of the opening eight matches, only two of them could be considered bad, as noted above, and the top three, also above, were definitely worth seeing. With the weaker links mostly weeded out, hopefully tomorrow’s Part 2 will boost the tournament from good to great.