A new contender for Pete Dunne’s United Kingdom Championship was decided as history was made in the Royal Albert Hall.
The show opened with a video package of Johnny Saint looking around inside the Royal Albert Hall, a la the old Freddie Blassie packages of old. They segue into the modern age of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate, with words from Zack Gibson and Flash Morgan Webster… and now, we crash to inside the hall, with Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness on commentary.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarter-Final: Jack Gallagher vs. Zack Gibson
Huge roar for Gallagher to open the show, and we start off with technical stuff as Gibson gets serenaded with some familiar songs aimed his way.
Gallagher nearly snatches it with an early roll-up, before confusing Gibson as he rolled himself into a ball… but the Scouser’s right back in as he targeted Jack’s arm. An armbar suplex takes Gallagher into the corner as there’s been some slight tinkering to the crowd’s anti-Gibson chants, before Zack just whipped the Gentleman hard into the corners. Gibson stays with all of the chinholds, wearing down the neck of Gallagher, only for Jack to come back with elbow shots to send the Scouser into the ropes. A deadlift suplex keeps Gallagher in it, but Zack just charges him into the corner as he set up for the Ticket to Ride out of the corner. That’s enough for a near-fall, as Gibson manages to cut-off a comeback from Gallagher, catching a corner dropkick and turning it into a powerbomb.
Zack struggled to follow-up though and got caught in an arm triangle as Gallagher looked to catch him on the break (to use a football reference), scoring again with a nice slingshot into a sleeperhold. Gibson powders to the outside for respite, but gets dived on as Gallagher throws him back in for a dropkick… but it’s not enough! Gibson instantly retaliates as he throws Gallagher into the ring post… and in beating the count-out, Gallagher walks into a lariat and a tombstone lungblower as he’s seemingly on his last legs.
Gallagher had one last shout, but he just leaps into the legs of Gibson, who instantly locks in the Shankly Gates… and that’s Zack in the semis. Knowing very little about their heated rivalry in the north-west, these two brought the intensity and made it more than just a tournament. A hell of an opener… follow that! ****
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarter-Final: Joe Coffey vs. Dave Mastiff
They showed Joe’s brother Mark at ringside… foreshadowing!
Marc Parry’s your referee for this, and we start with shoulder tackles and a duel crossbody that winded both men… they get back to their feet on the outside and resume the shoulder barges on the floor, where Coffey’s leapfrog counted for nought as Mastiff bulled through him. Back inside, Coffey avoids a sit-down splash, but gets lifted onto the apron as he’s able to leap into Mastiff with a missile dropkick for a near-fall.
A double leg takedown from Coffey gets him some breathing space, but Mastiff’s back in with an elbow… and a forearm as he swats away a springboard crossbody from the Scotsman. Mastiff tries to restrain Coffey with a front headlock, but the Scotsman fights back, only to get hung up on the top rope by the other Big Dave. The comeback sees Coffey hoist up Dave with a belly-to-belly, but he can’t follow up quickly… he does manage a nice bridging German suplex out of the corner, only for the Black Coffey discus lariat to get blocked.
Mastiff gets a lariat and a bridging German suplex of his own in for a near-fall, as Coffey’s ribs were starting to cause issues… a shotgun dropkick into the corner doesn’t help, but Mastiff whiffs on a cannonball into the corner. That opened the door for Coffey’s double-jump crossbody, before the Black Coffey gets the win. A really good Big Lads’ Match, and one that kept the crowd hooked – cracking stuff. ***½
Cathy Kelley’s in the ring with Coffey afterwards, and he vows to win. That’s the aim!
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarter-Final: Flash Morgan Webster vs. Jordan Devlin
These two have only one prior meeting between them, at OTT three years ago…
Devlin’s not interested in the fan’s cheers, so Flash gets them all… and a slap to the face as Devlin refused to break cleanly in the corner. In fact, Jordan’s all about the cheapshots, but he gets caught with some armdrags as Webster tried to catch him off guard. A leg sweep led to the Special Brew Flip for just a one-count, before Devlin wallops him with a back elbow and a running Meteora.
A standing uranage and a moonsault gets a near-fall for the Irishman, who started to get the big head chants as he kept Webster at bay. Flash is right back in as he took Devlin into the corner for a bicycle knee, before tripping Devlin on the outside ahead of a tope! Another one follows, as does a tope con giro, but Flash can only get a near-fall before he gets crotched on the top rope by Devlin. Jordan heads up with him, and brings Flash down with a Spanish Fly for a near-fall, before rushing back in with a superkick for another two-count. Devlin crashes and burns as he went for a top rope moonsault, allowing Flash to hit back with the Eton Rifle to secure his destiny of a spot in the semis! Another cracking quarter-final – perhaps a little too short, but definitely not the best match Devlin’d have that week! ***½
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarter-Final: Travis Banks vs. Ashton Smith
Let’s be honest, next to nobody gave Ashton Smith a chance here. There’s some sound editing here as “Travis (bleeping) Banks” gets looped to just “Travis”, as the Kiwi Buzzsaw’s all over Smith in the early going.
It’s all about them kicks, with Ashton coming back with a bicycle kick and a lariat, before missing a knee into the corner as Banks turned things back around, tripping Smith into the corner for a shotgun dropkick. The chants didn’t get edited second time around, as Banks went for a Slice of Heaven, but Smith ducks it as they edit around a leg lariat that sent Banks to the outside. Smith followed him outside with a carpet-disturbing tope con giro, before returning to the ring… where he superkicked Banks for a near-fall. Banks comes right back in with a shotgun dropkick and a bridging German suplex for a near-fall, before decking Ashton with a series of forearms… which just fired up the Birmingham native even more. In the end though, a Slice of Heaven and a Kiwi Crusher’s enough as Banks sealed a rather easy spot in the final four. ***
Toni Storm vs. Killer Kelly vs. Isla Dawn
If you’re wondering how they edited around the abandoned four-way… they used the entrances from match one with the second match’s audio. Charlie Morgan and Nina Samuels were shown at ringside before this one as well…
We started with Kelly and Isla double-teaming Toni, who tried to fight back… only to get caught with a wheelbarrow DDT. Kelly and Isla’s alliance broke up as they went after each other, with Dawn getting a running knee for a near-fall. The cravat knees are next from Kelly though, as is the Shibata-ish dropkick, but Toni rushes back in with a German suplex to put an end to that as all three women were left laying.
All three get back to their feet as Isla tried to win with a snap suplex on Toni, but Kelly breaks that up and low bridges the Scotswoman to the outside… where she meets her with the Ronaldo PK off the apron! Isla’s back in, but Toni gets rid of Kelly and finishes off Dawn with the Strong Zero neckbreaker slam for the win. That felt a lot shorter on tape than live, but it was well-paced and everyone came off looking good. Toni gets a shot at Shayna Baszler for the NXT women’s title tomorrow night… good luck! ***¼
Triple H’s Big Announcement
Out comes Triple H to a hero’s welcome, and he’s got news. No, it’s not that Royal Albert Hall like singing his theme music… or that this was a “cool building”.
Of course they edit away Triple H’s reference to Jinny’s injury, or that the women’s match we just saw was going to be restarted. What we did get, was Triple H building up to the announcement of NXT UK, with the help of General Manager Johnny Saint. They revealed there’d be a women’s division and a tag team championship, along with TV tapings starting in July in Cambridge (of all places), August in Birmingham, October in Plymouth and November in Liverpool.
EVERYONE. IS. WALKING. Backstage, that is…
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Flash Morgan Webster vs. Zack Gibson
There’s a surprise handshake form Gibson before the bell, but Flash rockets out of the bell as he tried to get an, ahem, flash win over Zack, who’s forced to powder to the outside amid a flurry of shots.
An around-the-ringpost ‘rana keeps Gibson down, but back inside Flash goes for the Eton Rifle too soon, as Gibson blocks it before laying into him with stomps. Cue more anti-Gibson chants, which seemed to get to him… but he looks for the Shankly Gates, only for Flash to wriggle free. Flash nails the Rude Boy moonsault out of the corner for a near-fall, before he went outside for some dives… only for his second one to get caught and turned into a nasty Helter Skelter on the ramp! Webster narrowly beats the count-out, but gets pulled into the Shankly Gates… and there’s the submission. Again, this felt shorter than it did live, but this was a really fun sprint for the time they had here… ***½
Aleister Black and Ricochet are ringside…
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Travis Banks vs. Joe Coffey
Coffey was coming into this with sore ribs from his earlier efforts against Dave Mastiff, so much so he couldn’t do his usual war cry-ish entrance.
Coffey tries to keep things grounded early, wrestling down Banks with a wristlock, but it’s quickly escaped, and he’s quickly taken into the corner as they trade bodyblows. Banks recovers and trips Coffey, before a mini Pounce puts down the Kiwi, before a Giant Swing front facelock gives us plenty of opportunity for camera cuts! Banks begins to fight back with chops, but a sunset flip’s rolled through and turned into a single-leg crab from Coffey. The Kiwi Buzzsaw gets to the rope, but he’s quickly caught in a Japanese strangle hold, with some leaping knees to the back as Coffey dragged Banks down to his knees. A forearm to the kidneys helps some more, but Banks manages to turn things around with a PK on the outside and a diving knee back inside as the two started to look like they were running on fumes.
A pop-up uppercut from Coffey and a spear takes Banks into the corner, with a pop-up powerslam of all things almost getting the Scotsman the win. Coffey keeps up with a deadlift bridging German for a near-fall, before his Black Coffey was cut-off with a shotgun dropkick as Banks exploded back into life! The springboard stomp barely gets a near-fall though as the Kiwi kept on, ducking Coffey’s double-jump crossbody, only to get chopped by the Scotsman. Another Black Coffey’s kicked away, and just like that, a wheelbarrow roll-up gets Banks the win! It’s Banks/Gibson in the final, and you’ve got to think that Banks has it all to do as he’s worn down. ***½
…but not as worn down as he was after Coffey snapped and laid a beating on him, finishing off with a discus lariat as Banks was left down and out.
British Strong Style (Tyler Bate, Trent Seven & Pete Dunne) vs. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong)
The off-shoot of several weeks of NXT TV, from Strong turning on Pete Dunne at Takeover New Orleans… and the Undisputed Era had a rather mixed reaction here. Not entirely negative…
We started with Tyler and Kyle trading shoulder charges, before an early cross armbreaker attempt was turned into a roll-up as Bate nearly ended it early. In response, Tyler’s dragged into the corner as Roderick Strong (and his questionable boots) tried to take advantage… but he’s dragged into the corner too as Pete Dunne’s tagged in to put the boots to Strong! A clothesline dumps Strong as Dunne goes for the fingers, before he decided to just stomp Strong’s knees into the mat.
Roderick’s kept isolates as Trent tags in to work over a toe-hold, but Seven’s instantly taken into the corner as Adam Cole comes in to do his catchphrase. Cole’s chops are pretty much laughed off by Trent, who hits back in kind, fighting off some attempted cheating before DDTing Cole… who rolled outside and clocks Trent in the ropes with an enziguiri. Strong uses the guard rails for an impromptu backbreaker before going back inside as Seven’s worn down in the wrong corner some more.
O’Reilly tried to save a tag, but he’s dumped with a suplex as Trent gets the tag… and now we get Strong/Dunne again. An enziguiri clocks Strong in the corner, whose attempt to hit back with a German suplex gets stuffed as Adam Cole runs in… and gets dumped onto Strong with an X-Plex for a near-fall. The British Strong Style resurgence continues with Tyler Bate taking Cole for an airplane spin, before he added a Giant Swing on Strong to the mix, as an assisted Tyler Driver almost wins it. Roderick Strong dropkicks away a leaping Dunne as Adam Cole comes in to dump Dunne with the Last Shot for a near-fall. O’Reilly’s back with a triangle armbar, which Dunne rolled out of before a snap German suplex sparked a brief exchange of moves, ending with Dunne’s Bitter End getting countered into a guillotine! Another Parade of Moves beckons as all six men were in the ring, ending with Bate powerbombing his way free from a triangle armbar as the crowd rose to their feet.
Trent tries to get the win with the Seven Stars lariat, but Adam Cole involves himself with a title belt… Trent stops that, but has to fight off some three-on-one offence, and needs Pete Dunne to save the pin as the ring’s full again. Dunne’s forearm takes Cole to the outside, as the Orihara moonsault wipes out Strong and Cole, leaving O’Reilly in the ring to get lariat’d to death by Trent, who looked for a Burning Hammer… Kyle escapes it, but a blind tag to Tyler brings him in for a rebound lariat to help Trent’s Dragon Suplex, and that’s the win! A fun trios match, like most of them are, and in what was probably match of the night, this was a monumental win over NXT’s leading faction… but there may be more to come! ****¼
Backstage… Travis Banks is getting taped up, while Zack Gibson is warming up…
Shawn Michaels is out next to gladhand the crowd, who respond by singing his song… and begging him for one more match. Not sure why they left this crowd filler in, but hey, it gives us a chance to sing again.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Final: Travis Banks vs. Zack Gibson
Travis Banks was out at less than 100% here with the taped shoulder… and hey, guess what Zack Gibson’s going to work over here?
Gibson refuses a handshake, which gets the crowd instantly on his back, but he starts by taking Banks into the ropes while focusing on the arm. Banks gets free and throws a chop with his good arm, then kicks with his legs as Gibson was reeling into the corner. Another kick sent Zack powdering to the outside, where he and Banks exchanged uppercuts before Zack took the Kiwi shoulder-first into the ring steps. I swear Travis dropped a bomb there…
Back inside, Gibson mounts Banks with some right hands, before wearing down Banks with a chinlock variant. A series of forearms keeps Banks at bay, only for Travis to rebound by tripping Zack into the corner for a dropkick to the back of the head. Gibson again rolls outside, where he’s met with a tope from Banks, who can’t have done his shoulder any favours, before a diving knee back inside almost ended the match. Gibson quickly turns things around with a kick to the injured arm and a tombstone lungblower, almost winning with that. They’re back outside as Banks misses a PK and gets a cross-chop to the throat… he counters a throw into the guard railings by leaping onto it and hitting Gibson with a cheeky Slice of Heaven, which almost led to the double count-out… as both men returned at the count of nine. More duelling strikes inside the ring follow as they are damn near windmilling each other, but Gibson gets in a killer blow to take Banks down!
We’re back to the back-and-forth strikes, with Banks looking to edge ahead with some kicks to the chest, following up with a barrage of stomps… but an arm whip curtails all that as Gibson looked for the Shankly Gates. That’s fought out of, but reapplied seconds later as Banks misses a Slice of Heaven… but Banks manages to get to the ropes! They’re outside and back in again as Banks connects with the Slice of Heaven for a near-fall… then nearly loses as Gibson tried to cheat with a roll-up with his feet on the ropes. Luckily, referee Drake Wuertz spotted it!
One more flurry from Banks sees him hit the Kiwi Crusher, but Gibson’s able to kick out as the crowd were on fire! Sorry, Mauro’s commentating, so I have to say “en fuego”, and even more so as Banks kicked out of a Helter Skelter, before getting caught with the Shankly Gates in the middle of the ring… and that was a bridge too far as the Kiwi Buzzsaw was forced to tap. My God, that was a hell of a main event to close out the show… and as much as Zack hates the asterisks, but this pushed that six-man for those match-of-the-night tags. If you’ve skipped the rest of this show… WATCH THIS. ****¼
Post-match, Gibson celebrates, and tries to cut a promo, but he’s cut-off by Pete Dunne as we have a staredown to close the show…
So, that’s Zack Gibson vs. Pete Dunne on night two – and that’s going to have to be a hell of a show to come close to this. Sure, we had the usual “tournament fade”, but with the first round starting out so hot, it wasn’t like this even threatened to be a bad show. Everyone on this card did themselves proud, and regardless of your thoughts on the project as a whole, if this was the first chapter in NXT UK, it’s definitely been the right foot for the brand to start off on.