Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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Soucek’s UK Championship Report
January 14, 2017
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Announcers: Michael Cole and Nigel McGuinness
-Hey everyone, I’ll be doing the live review of the UK Championship tournament. I’m excited to watch the action, but I’ll admit I’m not overly familiar with the UK wrestling scene, so a lot of these guys are new to me. So my apologies in advance if I botch any of their moves. If this is anything like the CWC, we’re in for a good time. Let’s get started.
-A video package of past events set in the UK opened the show. This was followed up by press footage from Hunter on how the tournament was set up.
-Inside the arena the lights are off. Triple H came out to greet the loud crowd (nice of him to do that, though it would be nice if he could show up on Raw to explain why he screwed over Seth Rollins. Anyway.) “Every night has a beginning. Tonight you build yours. There’s only one question to ask. Are you ready?” And we’re off.
Cole and Nigel greeted us, and ran through the tournament brackets.
A video package of Trent Seven aired. He’s in the tag team known as Mustache Mountain.
-A Video package for H.C. Dyer aired. Dressed up in a suit he put over his fists, and how he can take a man out with one strike. “I’m the best in the UK. No one can match me.”
-Announcer Andy Shepard opened up the show. We got an overall shot of the venue. Cool, distinct look.
(1) TRENT SEVEN vs. H.C. DYER
Cole put over Seven, saying how he’s one of the favorites to win the tournament. Dyer came out, and had an overly mean look on his face. Guessing he’s the heel here. Crowd was very supportive for Seven, and immediately began singing. A “Mustache Mountain” chant broke out. The two locked up, and Seven was dropkicked out of the ring. They took to ringside, and started to brawl. Back inside Seven hit a flurry of chops in the corner, then a comical running chop into the opposite corner. At 3:45, Dyer hit a big fist, which nearly earned him the win. He looked shocked that it wasn’t enough. Dyer then hit a Blue Thunder Bomb, and Dyer kicked out again. Seven looked increasingly frustrated. He ascended the top rope, and missed a frogsplash. Dyer hit a spinning back fist, then followed it up with a discus lariat for the win.
WINNER: Seven in 5:25
(Andrew’s Analysis: The match was fine, but a bit of an odd way to start the tournament. It seems they’d want something longer and more memorable than that. A bit strange. Still, the crowd is exceptionally hot, so the match was more fun that your typical 5 minute WWE match.)
-A video for Danny Burch aired. They played some of his NXT highlights.
-A video package for Jordan Devlin. They had a shot of Finn Balor at ringside watching the match. He had a hand in training Devlin.
(2) DANNY BURCH vs. JORDAN DEVLIN
The two shook hands to start the match. They exchanged a series of wrist locks, and counters. The crowd sang some more! Couldn’t make out what the tune was this time. Burch landed a shoulder tackle and took over control. Devlin took down Burch as he tried to attempt to climb the turnbuckle, and then seemed to act a bit cocky. Devlin locked in a headlock as the announcers put him over as the only Irish wrestler in the tournament. At 3:00 Burch tried to fight out of the headlock but was shut down. Cole said that Devlin has a “mean streak” as his facial expressions and strikes became more aggressive. Another loud song broke out during the headlock! Devlin locked in another headlock at 4:00. He started jawing at the crowd a bit. At 5:00, Burch began making a comeback, but Devlin gave him an eye rake and went back to Headlock City. Burch eventually hit a top rope dropkick, and both men were on the mat. Burch hit an exceptionally nice looking kip up, then hit his opponent with a series of blows followed up with a nice looking clothesline for a nearfall.
At 7:30, Burch locked in a Crossface, and Devlin fought to the ropes. The crowd booed, then broke out in another tune. Burch went for a German Suplex, but Devlin landed on his feet in a cool spot. In the end, Devlin hit a spinning fist and Burch was knocked down. His head was busted open. It looked like Burch kicked out of the pinfall. They showed a replay of it. Quite the surprise finish. Crowd changed “bull—t”
WINNER: Jordan Devlin in 8:55
As they went to shake hands, Devlin kicked his opponent in the head. Ruthless!
(Andrew’s Analysis. Yikes. Quite the finish. Not only was Burch busted open hardway, but he clearly kicked out. Still, a much better bout than the first one. A bit sloppy at points, but an athletic, hard hitting content that satisfied the quite excitable crowd.)
-Charley Caruso caught up with Devlin, and he bragged about his clean win. The crowd was all over him.
-Saxon Huxley got his video package. He put over that he meditates and reads books. Yes, but what kind of books? We demand answers!
-Sam Gradwell’s video was up next. He said the only thing he shares with the competitors is the ring. He claimed everyone will know his name by the end of the tournament.
(3) SAXON HUXLEY vs. SAM GRADWELL
Gradwell came across as the heel in the videos, but the crowd greeted him with a hero’s welcome, as he grew up close to the area. The two shook hands. They locked up. The crowd dual chanted “Let’s go Jesus!”,”Jesus sucks!” due to Huxley’s long beard look. Yikes! A chant to the tune of “Hey Jude” broke out, with the punchline being “Jesus” instead of “Hey Jude” broke out. This is bonkers.
At 2:45, Gradwell hit a dropkick, but was thrown into the corner. Gradwell got control again, and Huxley bailed to ringside for a breather. The “Hey Baby” (done as “Hey Bayley” in NXT and in UK events) broke out with “Hey Jesus”. At 5:00, Gradwell landed a series of clubbing forearms in the corner. At 6:00, Gradwell hit the Chris Benoit Memorial Headbutt for the win.
WINNER: Gradwell in 6:00
(Andrew’s Analysis: We took a step back here in terms of match quality. This may just be me, but it’s hard to get invested when the crowd has non-stop “Jesus” chants! I mean, it’s mildly amusing at first, but at some point it would be nice for the focus to be on the wrestlers.)
-Dave Taylor was shown at ringside.
-Pete Dunne’s video payed. They showed video from Progress Wrestling.
-Roy Johnson was up next. Footage from him in Progress played. They showed off his impressive strength. “They don’t know half of what I’m capable of.”
(4) ROY JOHNSON vs. PETE DUNNE
Cole said Dunne is known as “The Bruiserweight”, both Cole and Nigel said they’ve never seen the guy smile. The crowd was really into him. Dunne slapped away Johnson’s attempt at a handshake. Dunne took down Johnson and went to work on pulling back his fingers. Cole put over Dunne’s work in Progress, and the championships he’s held. Johnson broke out of the submissions, and did some light dancing. “Waving” as he calls it. Dunne locked in a front facelock, which Johnson powered out of in a nice spot. They two went to outside, and Dunne stomped on Johnson’s fingers. He then stomped on his wrist. Back in the ring Dunne continued to work over the arm and hand. At 4:00, Dunne hit a clothesline. He went for another, but Johnson reversed it and took control. Johnson hit a shoulder tackle off the ropes. He attempted a follow-up clothesline, and was greeted from a boot from Dunne. They exchanged blows, with the announcers putting over how impressed they were by Johnson for lasting so long. At 6:20 Dunne hit an Enziguri. He went to work on Johnson, who kept trying to stay in the match. Eventually Dunne hit The Bitter End (a pumphandle Flatliner) for the pinfall.
WINNER: Dunne in 7:30
(Andrew’s Analysis: A pretty good 7 minute match here. Nothing overly memorable, but I enjoy this kind of style where it really seems like the guys are going all out in trying to win. Dunne showed a lot of aggression, and Johnson looked strong for lasting as long as he did. Still waiting on a great first round tournament match.)
-Video time for Wolfgang. He expressed frustration on being overlooked for so long, but said this was his big opportunity and he’d take advantage of it.
-Tyson T-Bone’s video package aired. He vowed to win the tournament.
-A live promo with Charley Caruso interviewing T-Bone aired. He said he’s been travelling the country for 10 years and winning matches with his fists.
-Jon Briley and Jim Smallman from Progress Wrestling were shown at ringside. Cole put them over for making the tournament possible.
(5) WOLFGANG vs. T-BONE
The announcers noted Wolfgang is the only Scottish wrestler in the tournament, and that he works in a pub in his free time. Nigel said he had a win over Finn Balor back in 2012. His nickname is “Wolfgang”, because of Eddie Munster. It was his favorite show growing up. T-Bone walked to the ring in pants, a dress shirt and a vest. He took off the shirt and vest to wrestle in a grey sleeveless shirt. T-Bone connected with a cheapshot to start the match. Wolfgang recovered, and hit a splash in the corner. T-Bone quickly took over control again after kicking Wolfgang in the knee. Announcers said T-Bone is one of the oldest in the tournament at 35. They played the Brian Kendrick CWC angle, by saying this may be his last shot. At 2:00, T-Bone locked in a headlock. He went for a suplex on Wolfgang, who reversed it after a couple of attempts. At 3:30 the two exchanged punches in the middle of the ring until T-Bone hit a rake of the eyes. Wolfgang sold it for roughly a second before hitting The Wasteland, followed up by a second rope moonsault. T-Bone sold that for a few seconds before taking control. He threw Wolfgang to ringside, then threw him into the ring post for good measure. T-Bone attempted to pick up a countout victory. Wolfgang beat the count. At 6:00 T-Bone attempted a superplex, but failed. Wolfgang took advantage of the situation by hitting a Swanton Bomb for the win.
WINNER: Wolfgang in 6:20
(Andrew’s Analysis. A pretty good brawl. A bit of a lack of selling on both men’s part, but they weren’t given a lot of time, so they probably tried to get in as many of their spots as they could. A bit surprising that Wolfgang picked up the win, as T-Bone was the one with the pre-match promo.)
-Wolfgang is facing Trent Seven tomorrow. Charley Caruso asked him about his thoughts on the match. He vowed that he would be winning the tournament and bringing the belt to Scotland.
-Joseph Conners’ promo video aired. He described his style as hard-hitting and physical. He declared this is his world, and that the other 15 competitors were “just visitors.”
-James Drake’s promo was up. More Progress footage aired. He said that him winning the tournament was “inevitable.”
(6) JAMES DRAKE vs. JOSEPH CONNERS
Michael Cole said he thinks this is going to be the match of the first round. Nigel agreed. He said that Conners is like “an abused dog” as he can’t trust anybody. Drake went after the half-ear of Conners (Nigel said he lost it in a nightclub and was left for dead). The two exchanged a series of lock ups for the first minute until Drake landed a forearm. He followed it up with a series of shots, and knocked Conners down with a clothesline. Drake remained in control, and mockingly slapped away and Conners when he had his boot on his opponent’s hand. When Conners got up, Drake attacked the ear again. At 3:20, Conners took over on offense. Cole noted that Cedric Alexander has picked Conners to win the tournament due to his experience of facing big names like Kevin Owens. At 4:50, Conners turned the table and went after Drake’s ear. Drake got back into things with a nice looking clubbing forearm. He hit an Enziguri and nearly got the pin. At 7:00, Conners hit a cool looking clothesline into a backbreaker, and then hit his DDT finisher for the win.
WINNER: Joseph Conners in 7:12
(Andrew’s Analysis: Probably the best match so far, as the two were intense throughout. Still, it seemed like it should have gone on another five minutes, as it felt like they cut things off just as they were really getting started. It would be nice for one match to go at least 10 minutes!)
-Mark Andrew’s video aired. He didn’t mention his recent work in TNA in Team X Gold. That’s probably for the best.
-Dan Moloney was up next. He said he’s seen things that he probably shouldn’t have. He has no friends. This tournament is his ticket to the big time.
-Mandrews had an interview with Charley Caruso. He wasn’t holding a skateboard. Another good call by him. He said never to underestimate him.
(7) MARK ANDREWS vs. DAN MOLONEY
When Andrews came out, Cole said it was “party time!” Please don’t say that Cole. Moloney took control right away with an armbar. Andrews reversed out of it, and hit a couple of arm drags. He did a backflip, followed by another backflip then hit a dropkick. Moloney kicked out of the pinfall attempt. Moloney wrestled a more power-based style, while Andrews was attacking with speed. At 3:00, Andrews nearly won with a roll-up, then hit a double stomp. The crowd chanted for Andrews. He hit a standing moonsault at 3:30 for another near fall. At 5:00, Moloney took control, and kicked Andrews in the face while he was on the mat. He couldn’t believe that didn’t earn him the victory. Moloney attempted a suplex, but was revered into a Stunner. Andrews took to the top rope and hit a Shooting Star Press for the win.
WINNER: Andrews in 5:35.
(Andrew’s Analysis: It’s cool to see Andrews get such a strong reaction. He was 100 times more over with this audience than he ever was in TNA. Still, it was another short, largely forgettable match that never really moved into another gear. Seven matches in, and the tournament has been a bit of a downer so far. The crowd is pumped, which is keeping things fun to watch, but the matches just aren’t producing anything that won’t be forgotten by Monday.)
-Video packages for Tyler Bate and Tucker aired.
(8) Tucker vs. Tyler Bate
Bate is only 19. Dang. He could pass for at least 25. It’s probably the mustache. Cole noted that Bate was also trained by Finn Balor. Loud crowd song broke out. Not sure what it was! Bate connected with a slap at 2:00 that knocked his opponent down. Tucker quickly got back up and hit a top rope elbow. At 4:00, Tucker hit a nice kick to the head, and both men were on the mat. The crowd chanted “This is wrestling!” Tucker hit a hurricanrana, and a jumping Flatliner for a nearfall. He missed a top rope attaack, and Bate took over control. At 6:50, Tucker attempted to dive through the ropes to the outside and was greeted with an uppercut. He quickly recovered, and hitting a jumping hurricanrana off the steps onto his opponent. It looked like Tucker landed a bit awkwardly as the ref had to check on him quickly. At 8:00 they were back in the ring and Tucker attempted a crossbody, but Bate reversed him into a fireman’s carry into an airplane spin. Bate got himself dizzy, or so it appeared. He slowed down, but picked right back up. Tucker somehow recovered and hit a stiff kick on Bate to knock him out of the ring. Tucker brought his opponent back into the ring, attempted a Swanton, but Bate’s knees were up. They traded blows with Bate hitting a nice wheelhouse kick followed up by a Tiger Bomb.
WINNER: Bate in 10:34
-Michael Cole introduced a series of highlights from the show, and put over the continuation tomorrow.
-On the entrance ramp, Nigel and Regal put over the event. They had the knew UK belt in-between them. A loud “Regal” chant broke out. Nigel introduced the competitors for the quarter finals. The opponents met up face-to-face. A nice touch, as it made it feel more sports-like. Pete Dunne attacked Gradwell as the show went off the air. Regal was very displeased by this.
(Andrew’s Analysis: Best match of the night…day? Crowd was hot throughout, and the two worked well together. Bate looked really good here, and came across as the star of the show. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him either head to NXT soon, or become one of the featured names in the UK promotion. This was a nice way to end the event. Overall, it was an entertaining show to watch, but none of the matches besides the main event were particularly noteworthy. Nothing was a dud, but it didn’t seem to deliver at the level of the CWC. Still, there’s quite a few matches left to go, so this may still end up as a memorable tournament. Thanks for following along!)