WWE UNITED KINGDOM CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT
AIRED JUNE 26, 2018
TAPED AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON, ENGLAND
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ALAN COUNIHAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Coming off a tournament which received reasonably high praise across the board, the second show from Royal Albert Hall had momentum on its side in terms of fan interest. With the announcement of NXT:UK the previous night, this was the first show officially under that banner. As such, it had the NXT TV intro video to kick things off and the NXT ring ropes and canvas were used.
(1) Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Moustache Mountain – NXT Tag Team Title match
These four picked up right where they left off the night before in their trios contest. They had a fantastic bout, arguably topping the match which also featured Adam Cole and Pete Dunne.
Tyler Bate was the standout. This was one of those performances from him where he seemed extra motivated and when he’s in the zone like that he is legitimately one of the most impressive wrestlers in the world. His execution with the snap and the fluidity that he has in every movement is right there with the likes of Dick Togo, Eddy Guerrero and AJ Styles. Roderick Strong is known as someone that few wrestlers can keep up with when he puts on the accelerator, and he was going to the max here with Bate keeping up with him every step of the way.
There was a crazy strike exchange involving all four guys right before the finish. Tyler hit a huge over the top dive and then combined with Trent to deliver their kneedrop/Argentine Rack double team to get the surprise win. The crowd exploded but sadly the weird audio editing here hurt it a lot. The visual was impressive as hell though with the whole crowd on their feet celebrating.
WINNERS: Moustache Mountain to capture the NXT Tag Team Titles.
Match Rating – 8/10
(2) Charlie Morgan vs. Killer Kelly
This was a very interesting match for a few reasons. Neither woman is particularly well known to a bigger crowd like we had here, and in a womens match that can be death. Also, both of them have only recently hit WWE’s radar and wouldn’t have spent much time in their ring (as noted in the previous review, this can cause problems with rope running etc.). It cannot be denied that they seemed noticeably out of place at times but they deserve massive credit because they actually worked the match in such a way that it overcame those issues to a degree.
For starters, a lot of it took place on the mat and all their holds and counters looked realistic, tight and intense (Kelly’s training under Timothy Thatcher at the wXw Academy certainly helped with this!). They both brought good aggression and this felt like a real scrappy fight. It was unlike anything else you’d see from WWE’s women but it made for an engaging viewing experience.
The highlight was an awesome Dragon Sleeper spot which Morgan countered out of well but then received a brutal kick for her troubles. The finish looked really good as Kelly attempted a suplex and Morgan rolled her up into a tight cradle for the three. They can be very proud of their effort here.
Match Rating – 5.5/10
(3) Noam Dar vs. Travis Banks vs. Flash Morgan Webster vs. Mark Andrews in a #1 Contenders Match
This was an all action four way with the focus very much on the returning Noam Dar. The former 205 Live wrestler looked reinvigorated from his time away and returned in the best shape of his life. Dar is someone who showed immense promise when he broke out as a teenager in 2011 but outside of occasional flashes, he’s never quite hit his potential. In winning this match it seems like they’re going to get behind him and give him that opportunity.
Andrews and Webster brought the athletic highlights throughout the match including a Poison Rana spot which looked amazing. Meanwhile Banks got enough shine to build on the good performance he had the night before.
Dar won with a flying kick that didn’t look all that impressive considering what had happened throughout the match. He might want to look for a stronger finish than that moving forwards.
After the match, Joe and Mark Coffey attack Banks, Flash and Andrews as Noam fled for higher ground. Clearly the NXT:UK tag division will feature them heavily.
WINNER: Noam Dar.
Match Rating – 6/10
(4) Adam Cole vs. Wolfgang for the NXT North American Title
Much like at the last Takeover, the crowd was 100% pro-Undisputed Era. Unlike on that show, here they rolled with it with Cole pretty much working as a total babyface and Wolfgang as a heel. Would be interesting to know if that was the plan or if they switched on the fly.
This was a good solid professional match. Cole is such a natural for the WWE style. He’s the type of guy you watch and just know he’ll be a stalwart of the roster for years and years. Wolfgang got to show off his athleticism with a springboard moonsault and a senton atomico before falling victim to a flurry of kicks and a running knee strike from Cole which the commentators called “The Last Shot.”
WINNER: Cole to retain the NXT North American Title.
Match rating – 6/10
(5) Ricochet & Aleister Black vs. The Velveteen Dream & EC3
A showcase tag match for four of the biggest stars of the NXT US brand. This was a nice addition to the show and a good way to make these four come off as important stars who were on the show as a special attraction.
As always, Dream was sensational from a charisma point of view. He is certainly a scene stealer. He and Ricochet picked up right where they left off in Chicago, and of course Black is someone who he had great chemistry with in the latter part of 2017.
EC3 is very much taking the Bobby Roode spot on the NXT roster. He’s completely unspectacular and his offence is pretty lame but he gets by on star power and some big bumps mixed with just a little stooging.
The finish was fun with Dream bailing on EC3, leaving the former Derrick Bateman to chew out his partner and then come to the slow realisation that a Black Mass awaited him as soon as he turned around. Black connected on the kick and got the three for his team. Very subtle tease for Ricochet eying the champ’s title after the bout.
WINNERS: Aleister & Ricochet.
Match Rating – 6.5/10
(6) Shayna Baszler vs. Toni Storm for the NXT Women’s Title
Shayna and Toni wrestled before in Stardom, which was brought up by the commentators. They had a very good match then, and with Baszler having improved a ton under in the WWE umbrella, this had a lot of potential. They told a simple and effective story with Storm showing her credibility on the mat early, being able to hang with the champ. However once Baszler turned up the heat, she was dominant and totally destroyed Toni’s leg (including a vicious joint stomp).
The crowd rallied behind Storm who draws really powerful sympathy with her selling and natural likeability. She showed guts and heart which got her over even though she was guzzled for most of the contest. Baszler comes off like such a dominant champion and did a great job controlling the match from a pacing point of view.
A few exciting sparks of a comeback from the challenger were cut off in the closing minutes of the match. Toni came close to victory with a European Clutch but Shayna locked her into the Kirifuda Clutch which signalled the end was near. Storm did manage to make the ropes and roll to the floor but in what was a unique finish, Baszler followed her out, locked the choke back in, and then left her on the floor for a count-out. Storm didn’t lose anything because she was so valiant trying to get back into the ring.
Baszler attacked again after the match, choking Toni out one more time.
WINNER: Baszler via countout to retain the NXT Women’s Title.
Match rating – 7.5/10
(7) Pete Dunne vs. Zack Gibson for the WWE UK Title
This was absolutely sublime. Much like how the final of last year’s UK tournament between Dunne and Bate put the whole presentation over the top, this match took these back to back shows from being good to great. Dunne vs. Gibson was the peak allowed the shows to end on the highest note, leaving you with a great taste in your mouth and likely to come back for more whenever NXT UK returns to the WWE Network.
Not since the matches between Chris Benoit, William Regal and Fit Finlay in the mid 2000s has there been such a physical, bare bones wrestling contest in a WWE ring. Nigel McGuinness talked about Gibson being a flag-bearer for the British Heavyweight style made famous by the likes of Regal 25 years ago and his performance here was a testament of that.
The story of the match, like with all Zack’s matches over the course of the two shows, was him targeting the arm in an effort to apply and win with Shankly Gates. The twist here was that Pete also went after an arm and we got to see both guys selling their limitations from these attacks superbly.
On tope of the tenacious and vicious limb work, there were a couple of key big spots in the bout which took it to another level. Dunne’s X-Plex on the floor (which was sold like death) and Gibson’s top rope Helter Skelter were jaw-dropping moments in the context of the match. In another match with a million things happening, those two moves might not stand out as much but with the way they worked this, they absolutely got the most out of them. Bret Hart would have been so proud of this match if he had it!
The finishing scenes were full of drama. In a fantastic touch Gibson, who had pretty much no promo time even though that’s his biggest strength, started cutting his signature promo on Dunne in a way that the mics could pick it up. This, however, was his downfall. Pete grabbed Zack’s finger, snapped it and put him away with The Bitter End. A great finish to a great match.
Match rating – 9/10
After the main event, Triple H carried the whole cast of characters up on the stage with Dunne front and centre as the flag-bearing ace of the NXT: UK brand. They had every right to bask in the appreciation of the Royal Albert Hall crowd and commend themselves on a job well done.
NOW CHECK OUT THE REPORT ON NIGHT ONE: 6/25 WWE UK Championship Tournament: Alan4L’s detailed report and analysis of Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, Final, Women’s Match, Undisputed Era vs. British Strong Style