Saturday, June 30, 2018
After a great night one, the United Kingdom Tournament returns for night two. It’s a little weird to call this show a tournament show, as the tournament ended on night one. Here, the winner, Zack Gibson, gets a UK Title shot, while Toni Storm and Mustache Mountain have shots at NXT Titles.
WWE spoiled the result of this all over social media during the tapings, but I’m still hyped for it. Especially after the six man tag on night one. Though Mustache Mountain got off to a strong start, Trent Seven saw his arm get targeted. It allowed the champions to take control and wear him down. The false hot tag setups were done so well, with fans buying into them and believing it was time for Tyler Bate to come in and do his STRONG BOI thing. When he finally did, the place came unglued. HE DID THE STRONG BOI THING AS HE HAD KYLE ON HIS BACK AND DEADLIFT GERMAN SUPLEXED STRONG AT THE SAME TIME. They teased the finish from night one, but Strong saved O’Reilly and the titles. Miscommunication by the champs opened the door for Mustache Mountain. Bate took out Roddy with a tope, Trent hit Kyle with the Seven Star Lariat and a combination knee drop/burning hammer gave us new champs after 11:35. Great opener. A slight notch below the six man tag, but still a banger. The tag formula worked well in the early stages, before it just got wild in the final few minutes. The UK guys winning the titles in this venue was a fantastic feel good moment.
Backstage, Johnny Saint was asked about who he was impressed with from the tournament. He said everyone, but added a top contender’s match for the UK Title tonight featuring Mark Andrews, Travis Banks, and Flash Morgan Webster.
I dig Morgan, so I’m all for her getting some singles shine. This was played to show that the women were pretty evenly matched. Some of their early exchanges came off awkwardly and led to some spots that looked super fake and planned out. If what you’re doing takes me out of the action, it’s not good. Things got better as the match went on, but it never really threatened to fully get me invested. Morgan countered a suplex into an inside cradle to win in 7:03. A clunky match that didn’t get the crowd too invested.
CHRISTIAN was in the front row. ONE MORE MATCH!
Before the next match, Johnny Saint came out to change this to a “Four Man Fatal” match. He brought out the returning Noam Dar.
Dar’s been out for six months and has never been any good in my opinion. However, I’m more than open to give a guy like him another chance. Prove me wrong. Positive reaction for him here. Right from the start, this felt like a match that wouldn’t get a lot of time, but would be packed with action. From bell to bell, everyone got a bit of shine and showcased what works best for them. Dar had a sweet enziguri counter that led into a knee bar. Banks interrupted by adding a submission on top of it. Though I thought it would be a five or so minute sprint, it went longer and the pace still never slowed. Dar beat Banks with a running kick at 8:53 that felt like a lackluster finish to a fun bout.
Post-match, Noam Dar watched as Joe and Mark Coffey hit the ring to jump Mark Andrews and Travis Banks. Dar decided against doing anything about it.
There’s some backstory here. According to Nigel (I don’t recall this), Wolfgang got attacked by Cole and co. after his UK Title shot last year. Cole was the clear crowd favorite, BAYBAY. This was an interesting match, because the babyface had the clear size upper hand. That meant that he wasn’t fighting from behind. Instead, Cole was getting his ass handed to him and it looked to be a rough night for the Undisputed Era. It kind of worked since the crowd was so pro-Cole. When it looked like Wolfgang might pull it off, Cole got his knees up on a swanton bomb. He followed with an impressive brainbuster and the Last Shot to retain in 10:15. This felt similar to most Wolfgang matches I’ve seen. It was good, just not great. I liked the change of seeing Cole work from beneath.
The fans demanded we get “ADAM COLE BAYBAY” two more times, leading to a great shot of the crowd doing it.
Backstage, the new NXT Tag Team Champions were interviewed about how proud they were of the win.
A star studded NXT tag. The antics of Dream and EC3 at ringside during the entrances of their opponent were great and didn’t detract from it. We nearly got Ricochet/Dream to start, but Dream demanded Black to reignite their awesome 2017 feud. Unfortunately, Dream tagged out. We got a highlight shortly into the match as Ricochet and Black delivered stereo cross legged sitting spots. As expected, Ricochet eventually became the face in peril. You can’t really have your dominant champion in that role. Ricochet’s desperation spots to get free for the hot tag were tremendous. Dream seemed to bang up his knee late. The closing stretch was dynamite and some of the best stuff on either night. When EC3 was in trouble, Dream’s knee injury caused him to get off the apron and walk away. That left a furious EC3 alone to eat Black Mass at 15:51. That was a hell of a lot of fun. So many strong moments sprinkled in throughout and blended in with top notch character work. It also set up potential matches between EC3/Dream and Ricochet/Black.
Ricochet looked at the NXT Title for a few moments before handing it to Black.
I came in excited for this one and it delivered. Toni showed no fear of Shayna, standing right up to her before the bell. In the early stages, it was a case of her being even with the champion in terms of mat work. Sure, Shayna was an MMA star, but Toni more than held her own. When Shayna started in with the strikes and brutality she’s known for, Toni suffered. Shayna destroyed her leg. Toni sold it tremendously. There was only one spot where she used it more than she probably should have (for a German suplex), but even that could be brushed off as adrenaline. She fell on an Irish whip and could barely climb the turnbuckles. Her comeback spots were great. The fans bought into her pulling off the upset, especially with the European Clutch pin. Shayna slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch, which has ended everyone so far. Toni surprised many by fighting and making it to the ropes. A pissed Shayna took Toni outside and put the choke on there, before getting inside and winning via countout in 12:07. Fantastic. They told a wonderful story and both women played their roles expertly. Shayna was a vicious bully, Toni was the babyface with so much heart, and the finish was brilliant. It protected both women, made Toni look great, and set up a potential rematch. I’m all for that.
After the match, Shayna choked out Toni again.
This is what the entire tournament on night one led to. Crowd was obviously completely behind Dunne in this one. We got some awesome chants, such as, “IF YOU HATE GIBSON, SHOES OFF,” which led to most of the crowd removing their shoes. Awesome. Gibson remained his aggressive self, since it worked during the tournament. Dunne never backed down and even after taking a beating, threw his hands up for more of a fight. That was when the match really picked up, as they went into a headbutt battle. Gibson survived the Bitter End, which was surprising. Dunne survived an avalanche Helter Skelter, but got trapped in Shankly Gates. It’s been put over so well that the fans believed it as the finish. Though Dunne survived, he seemed way out of it. However, Gibson made a mistake and took too long to capitalize. Dunne snapped his fingers, hit a forearm and retained with the Bitter End in 17:45. Great main event. Dunne was awesome as the babyface (I’m still not used to that), while Gibson was an excellent heel. Dunne had to fight from behind and it made for some dramatic moments. Add in a hot crowd and you’ve got a winner.
Overall: Another UK show, another night of greatness. Three absolute bangers in the Tag, Women’s, and UK Title matches, with everything else on the show being at least pretty good. They set up things going forward (Toni/Shayna, a Tag Title change, Coffey brothers, and Gibson in general), while giving us an entertaining show.