Wrestling Review: WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament (Night 1) (2018)

[Please note: the first eight matches, aka the entire first round of the tournament, have already happened at this point. I am sure they’re online somewhere, perhaps even the WWE Network, but I just don’t have the time to watch them, so I am sticking with the specials over two nights.]

Under the watchful eye of UK Wrestling legend Johnny Saint, the WWE returns to The Royal Albert Hall for the first time in many, many years as it presents the second WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament. The entire quarter-finals, semi-final and final match of the single elimination tournament are on offer, wit the winner receiving a match against current United Kingdom Champion, Pete Dunne, on the following night. Competitors such as Zack Gibson, Travis Banks, Dave Mastiff and Flash Morgan Webster will do battle with competitors well known to the WWE Universe, including Jordan Devlin, who made a solid run in the first UK Championship Tournament and 205 Live mainstay Gentleman Jack Gallagher. Also on the card, current NXT Tag Team Champions and NXT North American Champion, The Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole, respectively) will do battle with the trio known as British Strong Style (Tyler Bate, Trent Seven and current WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne) in a huge six man tag team match. The number one contender for Shayna Baszler’s NXT Women’s Championship will be determined, as Toni Storm, Killer Kelly and Isla Dawn face off in a triple threat match.

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[Also please note: unlike most of my other wrestling reviews, there will be FULL SPOILERS for this whole show. I’ll also do the results in the order they happen, so as not to give away earlier winners by putting the main event on first. I’m also going to be a pain and put it over two pages.]

Zack Gibson def. Jack Gallagher (UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match):
Gibson was serenaded by some raucous boos befor ethe bell even rang, and he made the most of it by playing the maligned bad guy against (surprising?) crowd favourite Gallagher. Gallagher has long been the underrated workhorse of the 205 Live division, and he got to show it all off here against the Liverpool native Zack Gibson. The crowd was wild for this whole contest, and it made the in-ring action that much more fun to watch. This was easily the best tournament match on the show, which doesn’t bode particularly well considering it was also the first.

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The eyes of Zack Gibson show what he thinks of Jack Gallagher’s extended hand.

Joe Coffey def. Dave Mastiff (UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match):
Ooh, lordy, you best believe it’s big boi season. This was obviously not going to be the technical masterclass the opening contest was, but if you are into big slabs of meat crashing against each other, then this is the match for you. As much as I love Mastiff, Coffey winning was the right choice, because I think there is more you can do with him in his semi final match.

Flash Morgan Webster def. Jordan Devlin (UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match):
To be frank, I don’t like Jordan Devlin. I don’t have much knowledge of FMW outside of the common knowledge stuff, but he really impressed me here with his in-ring charisma. A series of three dives, going low, middle and high from Webster got the crowd perked up, before a huge combination, started by an avalanche Spanish Fly from Devlin brought them to their feet. I don’t know if Webster winning would be considered an upset, but the audience certainly seemed surprised when it happened. I enjoyed this match.

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Dave Mastiff (left) and Joe Coffey in a true BIG BOI battle

Travis Banks def. Ashton Smith (UK Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match):
This was, sad to say, a whole lot of nothing. Nothing against Ashton Smith, but his spot is where someone like Ligero could have been, to throw in at least one masked competitor who has a different sort of style. The WWE is trying to push this narrative (and has been, for years if not decades) that because a few great technical workers come from the UK, that is the main style that everyone uses (including that cringe-worthy “British Strong Style” tag).

Toni Storm def. Killer Kelly & Isla Dawn (Triple Threat Match for the No. 1 Contendership for the NXT Womens’ Championship):
I understand there were some behind the scenes issues we didn’t get to see on TV (originally, this was a fatal four way, but the fourth participant, Jinny, was injured early in the match so it was restarted as a triple threat), but damn if this wasn’t essentially useless. I think we all knew Storm was going to win, as she was easily the most recognisable participant (though I know and thoroughly enjoy Killer Kelly from wXw, where perhaps not coincidentally, Toni Storm is the reigning wXw Women’s Champion, after defeating KIller Kelly.) Off the top of my head, I don’t think I could tell you anything about Isla Dawn or the would-be fourth participant, Jinny. Nonetheless, Storm won in a boring match, but at least Storm vs Shayna Baszler tomorrow should be alright.

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