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Soucek’s UK Championship Report
January 15, 2017
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Announcers: Michael Cole and Nigel McGuinness
-The show opened with highlights from last night’s event. They showed Pete Dunne’s attack on Gradwell, and featured a few of his soundbites.
-Inside the arena Cole stood by ringside next to Nigel with the new UK Title in-between them. They cut to the bracket to show the upcoming matches. Highlights were shown of Gradwell winning yesterday. Cole wondered if Gradwell could keep his emotions in check for the Dunne match. They went to a Tale of the Tape for the two. Another nice addition to capture the sports like feel. The matches in this round have a 20 minute time limit. Also of note is the great arena, enthusiastic fans in attendance.
(1) PETE DUNNE vs. SAM GRADWELL
Gradwell came out with his lower back taped due to the attack from yesterday. Dunne laughed at Gradwell and offered a mocking handshake. Dunne went for a cheap shot but Gradwell saw it coming. The two exchanged some strong clotheslines, and Gradwell followed up with a dive through the ropes. The two fought outside the ring for a bit. Dunne hit a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall at 2:45. Dunne bailed to ringside, and Gradwell dove off the top rope onto him. Gradwell was pushed out of the ring shortly after and took a hard bump on his back. He was nearly counted out. Gradwell got back in the ring, and was bodyslammed into the turnbuckle for the pin.
WINNER: Dunne in 4:50.
Dunne picked up Gradwell and gave him his Pumphandle Flatliner finisher for good measure.
Charley Caruso interviewed Dunne on the stage. He said he just made a name for himself. “Two down. Two to go.”
(Andrew’s Analysis. The short length was logical due to the beating Gradwell took yesterday. Dunne looked really strong here, and convincingly vicious. Gradwell has an out in case they want to keep using him. The crowd was hot throughout. Good start so far.)
-Highlights were aired of Joseph Conners’ win yesterday.
(2) MARK ANDREWS vs. JOSEPH CONNERS
Just judging by the reaction that Andrews received from the crowd, he made the right call by leaving TNA. The two shook hands. Andrews rolled up Conners multiple times to start, then hit a series of arm drags. Conners quickly recovered until Andrews reversed a sunset flip into a dropkick. Outside the ring, Andrews received a drop toe hold into the ring steps. He took over control and hit some clubbing blows to Andrews.
At 3:45 Andrews hit an Enziguri. Conners grabbed him outside the ring, and tried to kick his head into the ring steps but missed. Andrews climbed the barricade and hit a somersault senton. Back in the ring Andrews took over control with a Northern Lights Suplex. Conners soon responded with an impressive jumping Flatliner into the ring at 6:30 for a nearfall. “This is wrestling!” the crowd chanted. At 7:15 Andrews hit a top rope Hurricanrana. Conners set up Andrews for his finisher, but was reversed into a Stunner. Andrews hit his Shooting Star Press for the win.
WINNER: Andrews at 8:10.
(Andrew’s analysis: Amazing how much a change of scenery can do wonders for one’s career. Andrews looked like a star here, whereas in TNA he was just some guy in forgettable three minute X Division matches. The right call to have him go over to face Dunne in the semi-finals. Hopefully Andrews gets a shot in the Cruiserweight Division soon.)
-Highlights of Trent Seven’s match yesterday. Tale of the Tape for Wolfgang and Seven.
-Fit Finlay was shown in the crowd.
(3) TRENT SEVEN vs. WOLFGANG
Cole said he thinks Wolfgang can go on to win the tournament. The two shook hands. They locked up, with neither man coming out on top. Seven slapped Wolfgang. They went to ringside, and Wolfgang hit a Moonsault off the barricade. Wolfgang clutched his knee in pain. Seven took to the ring, and hit a suicide dive through the ropes. Seven took too long to climb the ropes, and Wolfgang recovered and hit a superplex. The two exchanged blows in the middle of the ring. Seven went for a lariat and was greeted with a big boot. Wolfgang hit The Wasteland, and attempted a Moonsault, but Seven had his knees up. Seven followed up with a somewhat scary Snapdragon suplex, as Wolfgang appeared to land on his neck. .
At 5:25 Seven hit an impressive lariat that spun Wolfgang inside out for a believable nearfall. At 6:20 Seven teased a top rope powerbomb. He was pushed to the mat and Wolfgang hit a Swanton (The Howling) onto his back for the pin.
WINNER: Wolfgang in 6:35.
Nigel called it the biggest upset of the tournament so far. Wolfgang was a bit bloody afterwards as he climbed the ropes.
(Andrew’s Analysis: Another solid match. Nothing spectacular so far, but that’s to be expected as the longer matches are still yet to come. Everyone is fighting as if they really want to win, which makes things feel a lot more important than your typical match on Raw. As an aside, it’s so refreshing to see Cole in this environment where he doesn’t have to constantly plug things, and fake laugh at WWE’s humor. He genuinely seems interested in the action, which doesn’t always seem to be the case.)
(4) TYLER BATE vs. JORDAN DEVLIN
Devlin went for a handshake, but Bate pulled away at the last second to fix his mustache. This enraged Devlin who went on the attack. Bate recovered, and soon hit a suicide dive through the ropes (that’s three so far tonight…and there’s only been four matches!). At 1:15, Devlin hit a thumb to the eye. Devlin hit a series of forearm shots. Bate his a springboard uppercut at 3:00, and got back in control. He went for his airplane spin, but Devlin got out of it. He went for a springboard, but Bate caught him and gave him an extra fast airplane spin. Nigel said that’s the worst feeling in the world. “It’s about the same as having 17 pints.”
Devlin recovered with a kick to the face. He attempted a Moonsault but missed. Devlin played to the antagonistic crowd, and missed another Moonsault. Bate attempted a Tiger Driver, but Devlin reversed it for a close nearfall. Devlin hit a kick, and Bate checked the back of his head to see if he was bleeding (like what happened yesterday to Devlin’s opponent). Bate realized he was fine, hit a stiff punch, then followed up with a Tiger Driver for the win.
WINNER: Bate at 6:05.
(Andrew’s Analysis: The crowd seems to love Bate, so he seems like the right guy to go over. He’s really impressive for a 19-year-old. A good match that probably could have used a couple more minutes. Still, it was an enjoyable bout that got a lot of great crowd heat. With the upcoming matches likely being much longer, we should start seeing some great stuff.
-Tale of the Tape for Andrews and Dunne.
-Robbie Brookside was shown at ringside.
-The semi finals have begun! There are now 30 minute time limits.
(5) MARK ANDREWS vs. PETE DUNNE
Andrews came out selling his neck from his prior match. Dunne slapped away the handshake attempt. Dunne immediately hit a big bodyslam, and locked in a chinlock. Andrews soon reversed out, and hit a somersault dive over the top rope. Cole compared Dunne to a young Fit Finlay. Dunne went to stomp on Andrews’ hand on the ring steps, but Andrews quickly hit a hurricanrana in a cool spot. Back in the ring Dunne was in control. He attempted his bodyslam into the turnbuckle, but Andrews fought out and hit a double stomp. Andrews hit a double knees, followed by a Northern Lights, then hit a standing Moonsault with an extra rotation. Not sure I’ve seen that before! Cole noted that for the first time in the tournament that Dunne is hurt.
Andrews hit a running shooting star at 4:50. He attempted to hit a Moonsault to the outside of the ring, but Dunne caught him and tossed him into the ring apron. Dunne picked up Andrews for a the X-plex, and released him on the ring entrance. Andrews was almost counted out. Dunne stomped away at Andrews head. Dunne went for another X-plex and Andrews reversed it into a Stunner. Andrews climbed the turnbuckle, but Dunne stopped him. Andrews fought him off, and went for a Shooting Star Press. Dunne got his knees up, and went for the cover for a close nearfall.
At 9:20, Dunne went for his finisher, but was kicked in the head. Andrews jumped off the ropes, but Dunne caught him with his fist. A couple of reversals went down, with some close nearfalls. The crowd gave them a standing ovation. Andrews attempted a Shooting Star once more and was suplexed into the turnbuckle. Dunne hit an X-Plex, then hit the Bitter End for the win.
WINNER: Dunne in 10:33
(Andrew’s Analysis: Great match! Best of the tournament so far. The final minute was superb, and filled with multiple believable nearfalls. Andrews played the role of the underdog babyface exceptionally well, but he was unable to overcome the dominant bully in Dunne. Still, he gave it a hell of a shot, which only will endear him further with the crowd.)
(6) TYLER BATE vs. WOLFGANG
Good luck to these guys, as that’s going to be a tough one to follow. Wolfgang sold a shoulder injury on the way out. It’s a small thing, but I love the consistency of wrestlers selling the “added damage” of the prior matches. The two had a handshake without any animosity. Nigel put over that the two are feeling nervous now, realizing how close they are to the belt. Good observation. The crowd was ecstatic as the two men shaped each other up. They finally locked up at 1:00.
Wolfgang tossed down Bate after a lockup. Cole noted that Wolfgang may have broken his nose in the last match. Bate hit a series of body blows, but was overpowered again. Bate hit a springboard elbow, and went for a fireman’s carry, but was fought off once more. The announcers noted that Wolfgang is no longer a fan favorite, as Bate was receiving the overwhelming amount of cheers. Wolfgang hit a nice looking pop up powerslam. He was growing increasingly cocky, and took his sweet time climbing the ropes. He missed the Swanton. Nigel noted “He missed it by a country mile.”
At 5:00, the crowd cheered for Bate to rise to his feet. He was immediately greeted with a spear. Bate kicked out. Wolfgang hoisted Bate up on his shoulders, but he slipped out. Bate landed and hit a Tiger Driver on his much bigger opponent for the win.
WINNER: Bate in 5:55.
(Andrew’s Analysis: Not as good as the last match, but it didn’t need to be. The story was Bate overcoming the odds, and beating his bigger and much more experienced opponent. In that aspect it worked out fantastically, as the crowd continued to treat Bate as a big star.)
-Post match Dunne attacked Bate and rammed him into the ring post. “He’s going to ruin this damn tournament!” yelled Cole. Regal grabbed Dunne near the entrance ramp and pushed him backstage.
-Cole and Nigel talked about how disgusted they were with Dunne (which has become a lost art with the announcers somehow), and really put over how awful it was that he was potentially ruining a tournament six months in the making.
-Neville came out to the crowd and received a huge pop. Huh…I may have missed that, but didn’t know there was going to be a non-tournament match. He took the mic and said that he’d been forgotten “yet again.” He was upset he was overlooked to be in the tournament. He said he should be the champ by default, which the crowd agreed with. He claimed to be the greatest competitor the country had ever produced. Some new music played, and Tommy End came out. The announcers noted he had recently signed with NXT.
(7) NEVILLE vs. TOMMY END
End took over control with a wrist lock, until Neville flipped out of it. End sat on the mat to confuse Neville. End fought back with a kick to the chest. Neville bailed to ringside at 2:00. He apprehensively got back in the ring, and took over control. At 4:40 Neville climbed the ropes, but was greeted with a kick to the head when he jumped off. The two exchanged shots, which End got the better of. Neville bailed to ringside once more, and End hit a Moonsault (is there a quota on those tonight that must be met?).
At 6:30 they were back in the ring, and End hit a flurry of strikes. At 7:30 he hit an impressive kick to the face and followed up with a German Suplex for a nearfall. End climbed the turnbuckle, but was cut short with a kick. Neville hit a jumping hurricanrana, and followed up with the Red Arrow for the win.
WINNER: Neville in 8:40
(Andrew’s Analysis. Huh. Not sure this was necessary. End was impressive, but it seemed strange to have him lose in his debut match. Also of note is that Neville busted out the Red Arrow, which is a big crowd pleaser, but it seemed he was doing away with that to get over his heel run. They needed something to break up the final match, but this was a bit of an odd choice. A pretty good match that probably should have been saved for the live crowd off-air.)
-Finn Balor’s heartbeat theme noise played, followed up by his entrance song. Cole said “We heard he was going to be here…” Well…yeah he was in the crowd front row yesterday, and he was shown on camera. Would’ve been a bit odd had he left. Anyway! Balor got a huge pop from the crowd when he took the mic. He said he was proud to be there. He said it’s time to find out who the first UK Champion will be.
-Footage of earlier matches was shown.
-Tale of the Tape for Bate and Dunne was displayed. The announcers focused on Bate’s injured shoulder.
-In the ring William Regal was holding the UK Championship.
(8) PETE DUNNE vs. TYLER BATE
Bate came out with his shoulder taped up. Dunne beckoned for him to come in the ring. The lights dimmed, and the announcer introduced both competitors. Nice touch to give it a big fight feel. The crowd was very much in the corner of Bate. A classic hopeful babyface going up against a cruel heel who already has an advantage, and the audience is fully on board. Perfect.
The two locked up, and Bate was pushed into the corner. They sized each other up for a bit. Dunne pushed Bate again into the corner then slapped him. Bate gained control with a wristlock, but was pushed down. Dunne went to work on the injured shoulder. Bate maneuvered out of the hold and hit a dropkick. He was fired up. The crowd sang in support of Bate. Cole put over the atmosphere in the arena. Bate landed a takedown, and began working over Dunne’s ankle. At 4:00 the two broke away. They locked up, and went to ringside. Dunne attacked the shoulder, but Bate fought back with a punch. They exchanged some punches with Bate getting the better of the encounter.
Back in the ring Dunne went for the shoulder again, and threw Bate into the turnbuckle. At 6:00 Dunne was thrown into the ringpost, which gave Bate some time to recover. At 7:30 he attempted the Tiger Driver 97. Dunne fought out of it, and stomped on Bate’s arm. He went for The Bitter End, but Bate rolled up up for a nearfall. Bate hit the airplane, and spun his opponent around for a bit. He slowed down, but picked it right back up multiple times to the delight of the crowd.
At 9:30, Dunne caught Bate in a Triangle Choke. Bate got back to his feet and hit a powerbomb out of it. Crowd loved it. Dunne rolled outside the ring. Bate hit an impressive flip over the top rope. He gained his second wind, climbed the rope and hit a 450 splash. Dunne kicked out in a nice nearfall. “This is awesome!” chanted the crowd. Dunne removed his mouth guard, and went to bite his opponent’s hand. He tricked Bate, and hit him with the Bitter End. Cole said he was going to win the tournament…so you know what that means. Bate kicked out.
At 12:30, Dunne had a Kimura Lock cinched in. Bate tried to roll out, but Dunne didn’t let up. Bate got to his feet, fought out and hit a brainbuster. Another close nearfall. At 14:30 Bate attempted a German Suplex, but Dunne landed on his feet. They had a slugfest in the middle of the ring until Bate hit a pair of wheelhouse kicks. At 15:00 he hit the Tiger Driver 97 for the pinfall.
WINNER: Tyler Bate in 15:10.
Bate looked shocked.
In the ring Triple H handed Bate the belt. What a pleasant guy. Just wait until he screws him out of that title! Run Bate! William Regal, Finn Balor and Fit Finlay put the championship around Bate’s waist. Confetti fell from the ceiling as Cole and Nigel signed off and thanked everyone for watching.
(Andrew’s Analysis: A very good ending to a fun tournament. Either Bate or Dunne was a solid choice to go with for the victory here. If there is an upcoming UK show, then this was a great “pilot” for it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Now, if I may nitpick a bit, it just annoys me to no end that Hunter shows up for these feel-good moments as the ultimate good guy gifting us with our wrestling, when he’s still the ultimate heel on Raw whenever he decides to show up. It’s just maddening from a consistency standpoint. But I’ll try to look past that for my own sanity. An exciting tournament, with a couple really good matches to close things out. Thanks for following along!)