NXT announce new UK Division, Zack Gibson wins UK Tournament.
History was made for British wrestling last night as WWE NXT took over the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London last night for Day One of the United Kingdom Championship Tournament II. Established NXT stars such as The Undisputed Era and Shayna Basler appeared, as well as top UK stars such as United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven and many more.
Match 1: ‘Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher vs ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ Zack Gibson.
The match started out quite slow with some technical holds as well as some showboating from Gallagher. Gibson did well to draw heat from the crowd with some heel tactics such as stomps to the limps and mocking the crowd. The crowd were electric with a flurry of inventive chants against Gibson. Towards the end of the match, there were some stiff kicks and headbutts by Gallagher, as well as Gibson showing off what he calls ‘Scouse Style’ with a double knee gut-buster, which he calls the ‘Ticket to Ride.’ One spot where Gallagher did a Senton into the ring and transition into a sleeper hold was impressive. The match ended with Gallagher going for a headbutt from the top rope but was caught with kick to the face, and then Gibson applied the ‘Shankly Gates’ submission hold for the win.
Match Rating: 3 Stars
Match 2: ‘Iron King’ Joe Coffey vs Dave Mastiff
The former two-time ICW Champion, Joe Coffey took on the ‘Black Country Bruiser,’ 300 plus pound, Dave Mastiff. This match started with some stiff shoulder tackles between the pair to show off their strength. Coffey took control early on showing him to be the more agile of the pair but then Mastiff used his strength and size to get back in the match. Mastiff then proceeded to dominate the match, focusing on Coffey’s ribs until Coffey showed off three mean feats of strengths, hitting Mastiff first with a Back Suplex, then a Belly to Belly Suplex and finally and German Suplex. Coffey hit a springboard cross body and then followed up with a discus forearm for the win.
Match Ratings: 3 Stars
Match 3: ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster vs Jordan Devlin
The self-proclaimed ‘Mod-Father’ Webster came to the ring dressed like a cross between Liam Gallagher and Paul Weller. Devlin was once trained under former WWE Universal Champion and former Bullet Club leader, Finn Balor. The match started off with some disrespectful attitude from Devlin with some slaps and hard wrist locks. The fans were quick to chant, ‘Cheap Finn Balor’ and ‘Your head is too big for you’ toward Devlin. Webster showed off some of his fast pace style with his arm drags, head scissors and a somersault Senton Bomb. Webster performed a great spot when he dived to the outside three times in a row, though the bottom and middle rope, and then a Topè con Hilo over the rope. Devlin then proceeded to hit a Spanish Fly from the top rope followed up by a Super Kick. The match ended with Devlin attempting a Moonsalt but then was countered by Webster who hit the ‘Eton Rifle’ for the three count.
Match Rating: 3 Stars
Match 4: ‘Kiwi Buzzsaw’ Travis Banks vs Ashton Smith
It was a clash of styles with Travis Banks being the submission specialist with Smith being the more aggressive of the two in the final quarterfinal match. Both men shook hands as a show of respect before the match. Very early on, Banks showed off a show of agility and tactical movement, with Smith showing off his power. Smith tried to get a quick start on Banks, but Banks countered with a flurry of stiff kicks and knees. Smith hit a very well executed Topè con Hilo which was unexpected. There was a great spot in the match where Banks continued to hit Smith with forearms, until Smith screamed to Banks to hit him as hard as he could and then Banks hit him with a Fisherman Bomb to secure the win.
Match Ratings: 3 ½ Stars
Match 5: Toni Storm vs Killer Kelly vs Isla Dawn to determine the number one contender for the NXT Woman’s Championship.
These three women fought for the right to face Shayna Basler on night two for the NXT Woman’s title in a triple threat match. Both Kelly and Dawn focused to take out Storm early before taking on each other. Kelly showed off a good display of stiff knee strikes before giving Dawn a drop kick into the corner. All three women then hit each other with combination of chops, kicks and forearms to try and take the other down, especially one stiff kick from Kelly to Dawn. But then the match ended quickly, with Toni Storm hitting the ‘Storm Zero’ neck breaker on Dawn for the win. Storm then confronted ‘The Queen of Spades’ and former MMA legend Basler to set up their match tomorrow night.
Match Rating: 2 ½ Stars
WWE CEO Triple H then made a special appearance to address the crowd. “This is a cool building.” said the 14-time WWE World Heavyweight champion. He then went on to thank the talent that came before like Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Wolfgang and Pete Dunne. He then introduced the new WWE NXT UK general manager Johnny Saint. Saint announced the new NXT UK Brand, something fans wanted since the first United Kingdom Championship tournament in Blackpool, in January 2017. Triple H then promised, “The best in the UK wrestling scene” and even proclaimed a new women’s division would be created alongside it. Four events were then announced in Cambridge, Birmingham, Plymouth and Liverpool later this year.
Match 6: “Flash” Morgan Webster vs “Liverpool Number One” Zack Gibson
The first semi-final match was started fast with Morgan throwing punches on Gibson really quickly and then hit him with a high knee. He then followed Gibson to the outside and delivered the head scissors onto the barricade. Morgan tried to end it quickly with an Eton Rifle, but then was quickly countered by Gibson with a Lawn Dart. The crowd were firmly behind Webster with chants of “Stand-up (and Sit-down) if you hate Gibson.” Webster then tried to follow up with the same dives to the outside spot that he tried earlier on with Jordan Devlin. However, Webster got caught with a brain buster by Gibson to the steel floor. Webster then rolled back into the ring before being counted out, but only to be caught by the Shankly Gates submission hold by Gibson, quickly tapping out.
Match Rating: 3 Stars
Match 7: “Kiwi Buzzsaw” Travis Banks vs “Iron King” Joe Coffey
Former ‘Prestige’ stablemates Travis Banks and Joe Coffey fought each other in the final semi-final match to determine who would face Zach Gibson in the final. Before the match started, Coffey was selling a rib injury that he suffered in the earlier match with Dave Mastiff. Again, both men shook hands before the match began as a show respect. Both men started very technical and strong with a mix of holds and strikes. Coffey performed a great under-hook swing into on the Double Hooked Suplex. The former rugby player then continued to apply submission holds on the ‘Kiwi Buzzsaw’ acting more of the heel in the match. This match had more of a Japanese style to it, with Coffey focusing on the shoulder of Banks and Banks focusing on the ribs of Coffey. Both men hit each other with stiff kicks and strong suplexes. After a strong sequence towards the end of the match, Banks rolled up Coffey with a Victory Roll for the win. Coffey proceeded to turn heel, attacking Banks after the match throwing him into the ring post and hitting him with the discus clothesline.
Match Rating: 3 3/4 Stars
Match 8: Undisputed Era (North American Champion, Adam Cole and NXT Tag Team Champions, Kyle O’Riley and Roderick Strong) vs British Strong Style (United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven)
This match was the match that was put on the marquee when this event was announced. Two of the biggest factions in wrestling today took each other on in an instant classic. The Undisputed Era wanted to “Shock the System” by defeating the hometown heroes. Strong and Dunne have history went strong turned on his former partner, Dunne, at NXT Takeover New Orleans to join the Undisputed Era. Bate, who is still only 21 years old, impressed earlier on with some sequences with both Rodrick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly. The crowd went crazy when Dunne and Strong faced off against each other with Dunne gaining the upper hand. Adam Cole and Trent Seven got into chop fight with some stiff shots. The “Brusierweight” Dunne got the hot tag later on in the match and showed off a mix of the athleticism of Daniel Bryan and British ground wrestling of William Regal. Tyler Bate pulled off one of the most impressive spots in the match with Cole in a Fireman’s Carry position and Strong in a swinging position and proceeded to spin both of them around at the same time. Kyle O’Riley was able to counter Dunne’s pump handle finisher into a guillotine submission hold but was then stomped on by Tyler Bate. Undisputed Era hit the Last Shot to Seven and looked to win the match, until it was broke up by Dunne. Bate and Seven picked up Kyle O’Riley and hit him with a combination of a Dragon Suplex and a Lariat Clothesline for the victory. After the match it was announced that Seven and Bate would face O’Riley and Strong tomorrow night, for the NXT Tag-team Championships.
Match Rating: 4 1/4 Stars
WWE legend and Hall of Famer, The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels made a surprise appearance to address the crowd. He cut a promo about his memories with the Albert Hall and his matches there. The crowd chanted “one more match” before Michaels shrugged it off saying “You gotta stop that.”
He then spoke about NXT UK brand saying it was for the fans and to enjoy the finals.
Match 9: WWE UK Championship Final II “Kiwi Buzzsaw” Travis Banks vs “Liverpool’s Number One” Zack Gibson.
Before the match, Travis Banks was selling the injury that was given to him by the assault of Joe Coffey in the previous match. Banks offered the handshake to Gibson who declined. The crowd was firmly in the corner of Banks. Gibson early on tried applying a few submissions holds to the injured arm of Banks to wear him down and draw heat from the crowd. However, Gibson would be hit by Banks’ stinging head kicks and chops to turn the tables. Gibson took the fight to the outside and threw Travis Banks’s shoulder into the steel ring steps, further injuring the shoulder and providing huge advantage for the Liverpudlian. ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ would stay on the offensive, further attacking the arm. The former Progress Champion, Banks then started a comeback with his signature dropkick and dives to the outside. Gibson then hit the ‘Ticket to Ride’ for a two-count following it up with an attempt to throw Banks into the barricade, but the Kiwi Buzzsaw jumped onto the barricade and then caught Gibson with a ‘Slice of Heaven’ kick. Gibson attempted ‘Shankly Gates’ on Banks but Banks was able to get to the ropes and break the submission. Banks then connected with a second ‘Slice of Heaven’ kick but Gibson kicked out at two. After numerous false finishes, Gibson locked in the Shankly Gates and forced the submission on Banks and Zack Gibson is the second ever winner of the WWE UK Championship Tournament and will face Pete Dunne tomorrow night for WWE United Kingdom Championship.
Match Rating: 4 1/2 Stars
After the match, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Johnny Saint came out to congratulate both men and stand in the ring with Zack Gibson. Gibson then attempted cut a promo after the match but was then confronted by Pete Dunne. The two men squared off to close up the show.
Overall, this was a very interesting event. It helped show off some of the newer UK talent the WWE want to push such as Travis Banks, Zack Gibson, Joe Coffey and “Flash” Morgan Webster, as well as give the WWE fans something they’ve been asking for for nearly two years, a UK brand. Finally, The UK wrestling scene will be given more eyes and will allow the fans to see a lot more WWE in the UK they have ever seen before. The United Kingdom is NXT!
Overall: 4 Stars