WWE UK CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT 2018 [Review]: What up, Dunne!

“Monsignor” Travis Omega

– UK Title Tournament Quarterfinal: Zack Gibson v Jack Gallagher – 3.5/5 – A very enjoyable hard-hitting opener. These old 205 Live guys are becoming an afterthought, now, ain’t they?

–  UK Title Tournament Quarterfinal: Joe Coffey v Dave Mastiff – 2.75/5 – A nothing special, nothing bad big man match.

–  UK Title Tournament Quarterfinal: Flash Morgan Webster v Jordan Devlin – 3.5/5 – Such a tease. 1.) I know both of these guys could have an epic if it went longer than 7 minutes, 2.) I was quite surprised one of my finals picks, Jordan Devlin, didn’t even make it out of this round. 3.) Flash is OVER, man!

–  UK Title Tournament Quarterfinal: Travis Banks v Ashton Smith – 2.5/5 – Pretty forgettable match. Banks looked good though.

–  NXT Women’s #1 Contender: Toni Storm v Killer Kelly v Isla Dawn – 2.25/5 – This was a weird squash. Toni was getting double-teamed by 2 ladies I’m not familiar of and then quickly put them both away…

–  UK Title Tournament Semifinal: Zack Gibson v Flash Morgan Webster – 3.5/5 – A great 4-minute match! With Bate going all the way last year, there was no room for an underdog story with FMW here.

–  UK Title Tournament Semifinal: Travis Banks v Joe Coffey – 3.25/5 – I love cofee; but not sure I love Coffey. Glad my pick to win it all, Moody Banks, is going to the finals though!

– British Strong Style v The Undisputed Era – 4.25/5 – This was awesome! This was awesome! If you only got time to watch a couple matches, please seek this one out.

–  UK Title Tournament Finals: Zack Gibson v Travis Banks – 3.75/5 Very good main event. I think it lacked some of the heat having to follow Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Both of these guys present a hard-hitting, gritty style.. and the usual hard-edged Banks had to play whitemeat baby. I never gave a shit about Gibson in all these PROGRESS and EVOLVE tags he was in, but he def has something as a singles in NXT.

Overall = 3.25/5

While not nearly as hot as the UK tourney as last year, there was a good collection of solid matt work and breakout performances.. with a great 6-man tag for the cherry on top.

***Night 2***

–  NXT Tag Team Title: Tyler Bate & Trent Seven v Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly – 4/5 – Another incredible match between these 2 factions, this time for the straps. A couple tiny nitpicky miscommunicative spots at the climax prevented this from a 4.25 or more, but it was the ultimate hot opener in the UK. The live crowd pop for the new champs gave me goosebumps!

– Charlie Morgan v Killer Kelly – 2.25/5 – Not any better or worse than most women’s matches on WWE tv.

–  UK Title #1 Contender’s: Noam Dar v Flash Morgan Webster v Travis Banks v Mark Andrews – 3.5/5 – Excellent Fatal 4way, complete with surprise return entrant and winner. Everyone looked sharp here.. there were some fantastic spots, including a snap-reverse frankensteiner from Andrews on FMW — who carried himself like a star. Dar was excellent in his return. Banks was strong throughout but needs to lay off those topes. Hell, everyone but Dragon Lee does.

–  NXT North American Title: Adam Cole v Wolfgang – 3/5 – This was just alright. I thought Cole looked good, but not a fan of Wolfgang. He was far too methodical and slow in this match.. crowd pretty much hated him too.

– Aleister Black & Ricochet v EC3 & The Velveteen Dream – 3.5/5 – A frantic, dream tag match that allowed each guy to get their shit in. This was of a “this is happening!” thing than natural crowd heat. Def seek this out.

–  NXT Women’s Title: Shayna Baszler v Toni Storm – 3.25/5 – I imagined this being better for whatever reason, but still believe these two can and will steal the show. Maybe being sandwiched between the 2 matches it was hurt it just a tad.

–  WWE UK Title: Pete Dunne v Zack Gibson – 4.25/5 – I’m walking out of this 2-day event a fan of Gibson after hating this guy. Seriously. This may have been the best match of the weekend, too. Dunne is the UK Triple H.. so no surprise he went over and over as a face despite being as devious and dangerous as any. That said, Zack was the clear heel and drew enough heat throughout the tourney, punishing guys with the same submission finish. While this tournament may not have been as star-heavy as its debut last year, it showed that NXT UK has a chance to be as serious a brand in the realm of PROGRESS for hardcore marks, yet still pack a presentation the more WWE casuals can enjoy.

Overall = 3.5/5 Bibles.

With 2 less matched and matches that earned more substantial time, Night 2 proved to be a slightly stronger night overall. The tournament definitely missed the huge Cinderella story that was Tyler Bate last year (love Banks, but his style is less sexy than Tyler’s.. which sometimes diminishes match quality), but had a breakout villain instead.. which, going by the very minute UK roster last year, was smart. They def needed some bad guys and I think they found a few here. And I can watch Mustache Mountain wrestle the Undisputed Era forever. The addition of NXT UK should only beefen up an already strong brand; the closer knit between the two (rather than WWE UK, which is goofy.. seeing how a guy like Bate will never beat someone like Roman.. etc..) was indeed a smart move and this weekend was proof.

-Travis Moody

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