WWE created history in Blackpool over the past two nights as they presented the first ever WWE United Kingdom Championship, which saw them crown an inaugural Champion this side of the Atlantic.
Obviously, the UK already has representation over in America with the likes of Neville, Paige and Jack Gallagher currently tearing it up in the Cruiserweight and Women’s Division, whilst Ireland’s Sheamus is currently a Raw Tag Team Champion, Blackpool’s William Regal is the General Manager of NXT and Finn Balor is a former Universal Champion.
That being said, many American fans are unaware that the British Wrestling circuit has become a hotbed of talent over the past few years and finally this was their chance to prove that they could compete with the heavyweights of WWE.
Triple H made the announcement back in December and since then there have been many switches when it comes to the 16 competitors, but there was a feeling that WWE did choose some strong talent.
The opening rounds took place on Saturday night with one of the matches of the night seeing Tucker take on Tyler Bate in the closing bout. Tyler Bate was one of the shocks of the round and had a fantastic match with Tucker who fell victim to the Tyler Driver to allow the 19-year-old through to the quarter-final.
Other opening round matches included a win for Jordan Devlin over NXT regular and London hardman Danny Burch. The ending was controversial, though, since Devlin super-kicked Burch after the pinfall. The Irish star was one of the favourites heading into the competition, given that he was trained by Finn Balor and came from the same part of Ireland. I felt like Devlin was too similar to Balor for anyone’s liking, though, the accent, the leather jacket, even the way he held himself, I thought it was very Finn and we already have a Finn, so why do we need Devlin?
Pete Dunne versus Roy Johnson was another standout match as The Bruiserweight showed why he is one of the best wrestlers in the UK and poor Johnson has nothing to combat British Strong Style as Bitter End took Johnson out of the competition and allowed Dunne to progress.
Going into the competition, Pete Dunne was my favourite, Progress World Champion, Progress Tag Team Champion along with Trent Seven, he was without a doubt one of the picks and all four of his matches proved it.
Trent Seven’s match with HC Dyer opened the show on Saturday night, it was a fantastic match for Trent and Seven Stars saw him through to the Quarters as well. Mark Andrews was one of the final names announced for the Tournament when it was made apparent that he had left TNA and joined WWE, Andrews just oozes confidence, he didn’t have to do anything and he was already a crowd favourite, he outshined Dan Maloney throughout their match and it was a fantastic stundog millionaire that got him the win out of nowhere.
Tyson T-Bone and The King of Scotland also went at it in the first round with Wolfgang walking out victorious, whilst Joseph Conners came out on top over James Drake after a DLD and Blackpool’s own Sam Gradwell came through after a hard fought win over Saxon Huxley.
The quarter finals saw some incredible matches between Pete Dunn and Sam Gradwell after Dunne attacked Gradwell at the end of night one. The brawlers put on a fantastic technical match but it was a Bitter end for Gradwell as Dunne booked his place in the semi-finals.
Mark Andrews also booked his place in the semi-final after a hard fought win over Nottingham’s Joe Conners whilst Tyler Bate’s Tyler Driver saw him past Jordan Devlin in one of the shocks of the night, whilst an even bigger shock saw Wolfgang pin one of the Kings of Moustache Mountain, in Trent Seven.
The second night also saw perhaps one of the matches of the year already between Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews, it was near fall after near fall as both men through everything they had at each other. Dunne hit the Bitter End and Andrews hit Stundog Millionaire, but in the end, it was Pete who came out on top and moved on to the final.
The other semi-final match between Tyler Bate and Wolfgang saw Tyler shocking life more than 200 pounds of Wolfgang to hit the Tyler Driver once and again and make it Birmingham vs Dudley in the final.
After the match, Dunne ran into the ring and threw Tyler into the ring post, which put their final match up in the air as fans watched Tyler being helped to the back by medics.
During the break, Neville made his way to the ring to belittle the UK and the fact that he wasn’t part of the Tournament before he was interrupted by WWE newcomer Tommy End, the two fought through an incredible match that saw Neville pull out the Red Arrow to claim victory.
Finn Balor then made his way to the ring to thank the fans and everyone who had allowed him to play his part before William Regal made his way down with the title and everything was set for the final to get underway.
Tyler was cleared to compete despite partially tearing a muscle in his shoulder, whilst Pete looked rather proud of himself for inflicting this injury. Throughout the tournament, Pete was made to look like such a villain that there wasn’t a lot of people left chanting for him in the final, which meant that Tyler had the proverbial 6th man behind him.
Much like Dunne versus Andrews from the round before, there was a lot of near falls as Tylers injured arm seemed to play a huge part in many of Dunne’s submission attempts, Dunne even his Bitter End but Tyler shockingly kicked out and the match continued, Tyler even lifted Dunne’s entire weight at one point as he fought to become the Inaugural WWE UK Champion. It was the Tyler Driver that finally sealed Dunne’s fate though as the 19-year-old from Dudley was the one to have his hand raised by both Regal and Triple H.
It was a fantastic two days of wrestling action, one that will hopefully lead to a regular WWE Network show and a new way of showcasing some of the best talent that the UK has to offer. WWE gambled on this tournament and it was a success by a longshot and hopefully something they will be able to recreate now in other countries and find many more talented wrestlers all around the world.
Listen to The Brass Ring on Thursday night form 11-12am on 6Towns Radio as we pick apart the first ever UK WWE Tournament and decide which stars we think could make it on WWE’s main roster.