UK Championship Special
Date: May 19, 2017
Location: Epic Studios, Norwich, England
Commentators: Jim Ross, Nigel McGuinness
This was a special two day event taped about two weeks ago as WWE continues their UK expansion. The idea here is to set up the UK Title match at Takeover: Chicago, which was announced before this show ever aired. The initial tournament shows were a lot of fun so hopefully this continues the trend. Let’s get to it.
We look back at the tournament with Bate shocking everyone, including himself, by winning the title. The participants talk about how it’s changed their careers in a positive way. Everyone is after Bate and the title though.
Video on Wolfgang, a big Scottish wrestler who is more aggressive now that he lost to Bate.
Joseph Conners is a high flier says his future looks good.
Wolfgang vs. Joseph Conners
The arena looks a bit dark. They trade shoulders to start with Wolfgang kicking him in the face to take over. JR makes sure to tee up McGuinness for some easy questions, which is exactly what Nigel is supposed to be able to do as an analyst. Wolfgang blocks some suplex attempts before lifting Conners up for a very delayed one of his own.
It’s way too early for the Howling (Swanton) though as Conners shoves him to the floor for a crash. Back in and a bad looking slingshot splash gives Conners two as the fans are trying to get back into this. Nigel gets into the simple story of the English vs. Scottish rivalry as Conners kicks Wolfgang in the ribs to keep him on the floor. Joseph throws him back in to crank on something like a seated abdominal stretch.
That’s enough to start a comeback (as is always the case) but a crossbody messes with Wolfgang’s damaged ribs. Wolfgang thinks about the Howling again but comes down instead. A gutbuster sends Conners outside as the fans seem to have sided with Wolfgang. The ribs are made even worse by a sitout spinebuster but Conners gets speared out of the air. The Howling gives Wolfgang the pin at 11:00.
Rating: C+. Good but not perfect way to open the show. There wasn’t much of a spark here and a face power wrestler vs. a heel speed wrestler is always a bit of a weird choice. The ribs were a simple enough story to keep things rolling but the match was nothing that hasn’t been done if not done better before.
Tyler Bate and Mark Andrews are getting ready.
TJP/Brian Kendrick vs. Dan Moloney/Rich Swann
So it’s a match on a UK show that only has one person from the UK (Moloney). That’s probably not the best choice to use on a show like this, especially after the lackluster opener. Also, you have RICH SWANN on the card and you don’t use him in the opener? This is quite the curiously booked show. Finally, TJP (who JR keeps calling Perkins) covers his ears to block out Rich’s music.
Kendrick and Moloney get things going with a feeling out process until the veteran drags Dan into the corner. TJP comes in and the fans start singing about him in some rather unflattering terms. JR: “What’s this wanker thing they’re talking about?” Nigel basically tells him not to ask if JR wants to keep his job.
The heels try some cheating with TJP grabbing an arm over the ropes, only to make the mistake of not looking and working over Brian’s arm by mistake. TJP comes in and gets kicked in the head for a hesitant two, perhaps because Moloney made sure to look at the camera (which he was probably told to do) first. It’s off to Swann for some dabbing, which angers TJP so much that he misses a charge out to the floor.
One heck of a flip dive takes out both Kendrick and TJP, which is made even better when Swann sticks the landing. Back in and some double teaming puts Swann in trouble for all of fifteen seconds before he kicks Kendrick in the face. Moloney comes in off the hot tag for some chops and a clothesline to Kendrick.
More double teaming (they’re good at that) takes Dan down though and TJP covers his ears to block out the singing. We hit the chinlock for a bit before Dan backdrops his way to freedom, setting up the real hot tag to Swann. Everything breaks down and Swann gets caught in the Captain’s Hook with Moloney making the save. Swann is tossed to the floor and Kendrick grabs a sloppy rollup (with tights) for the pin at 11:30.
Rating: C. This didn’t work and the fact that Moloney is only twenty years old has a lot to do with it. You can tell that he’s really young and is still having to think a lot out there, which can cause some problems. That’s not say he was bad, but you could tell he was easily the weakest in the ring. The rest of the match was good enough but they never really hit the top speed that you’ve seen them reach before. Granted a lot of that could be due to the whole being in another country issue, which is a common problem.
We look at Wolfgang injuring Trent Seven’s arm the previous night.
Seven doesn’t have a broken bone and is going to keep at it. Pete Dunne, his opponent for the night, comes in and hits him in the bad arm. That guy is a special kind of heel.
Video on Pete Dunne, who is rather evil. The tournament got him the credit he deserves and he’s been making money ever since.
Trent Seven has a sweet mustache and hits people really hard.
Trent Seven vs. Pete Dunne
The winner gets a UK Title shot at Takeover: Chicago. Dunne comes out with his Progress Wrestling Championship but it’s not on the line here. The fans are split here between Mustache Mountain and the Bruiserweight before going with BRITISH STRONG STYLE instead. Pete starts on the good arm in an interesting strategy but Seven goes to the ropes.
One heck of a chop with the bad arm drops Dunne but he kicks Seven in the arm to send Trent outside. The arm gets crushed between the steps and the post before it’s back to working on both arms at once. A kick to the mustached head gets two but he sends Pete outside for a flip dive.
Back in and another shot to the arm looks to set up the Bitter End, only to have Trent nail a hard left armed lariat for two. A suplex into a powerslam gives Trent two more but the arm is sent into the post. Pete can’t quite grab a Kimura (which sends JR into a mini rant about how it’s a double wristlock and NOT a Kimura) so he sends the bad arm into the barricade instead.
The arm is good enough for a dragon suplex onto the apron and both guys are left in a heap on the floor. They both dive in at nine and Dunne manages to flip out of a dragon superplex, only to eat a huge lariat for a very delayed two. The Seven Star Lariat is broken up though and we hit another double wristlock. Trent slips out again but walks into the Bitter End to send Pete to Chicago at 14:47.
Rating: B+. This was all about the arm and Dunne being one of the most evil wrestlers around because he’ll do whatever it takes to win. The fact that the match was another brutal back and forth fight makes Dunne look great all over again. Seven seems like a comedy guy with the mustache stuff but he’s more than capable of backing it up in the ring.
Dunne says he’ll be champion by any means necessary.
We recap Tyler Bate vs. Mark Andrews. Bate (now twenty years old) won the inaugural title in January while Andrews was a semi-finalist. It’s the young upstart vs. the slightly more experiences high flier.
UK Title: Tyler Bate vs. Mark Andrews
Bate is defending. The fans serenade Bate with a song and then boo someone out of the building for trying a TNA chant. They take their time to start with Andrews working on the arm before Bate twists all over the place to escape. Bate powers out of a front facelock by casually setting Mark on top and walking away to get under his skin a bit. Andrews gets taken down to the mat for a double arm crank but he reaches the ropes and gets a clean break. That might be brought up again later.
They trade some flips and cartwheel up before nipping into a standoff for some applause. The sportsmanship starts going away as they go nose to nose and yell a bit. Andrews goes back to the technical stuff and manages a modified Octopus Hold. Bate shows off the freakish strength by walking the hold over to the ropes for the break. Tyler slaps on a reverse Boston crab which Nigel names and JR calls innovative. Something tells me JR isn’t a big Colt Cabana fan.
Bate grabs the arms to lift Mark up for a little rocking back and forth. Mark comes right back by sending him outside for a big flip dive and a double stomp to the chest for no cover. With nothing else working, Bate starts swinging before avoiding a charge to send Mark outside. This time it’s Tyler hitting a dive of his own but it’s too early for the Tiger Driver 97.
A Frankendriver gives Andrews two and he takes Bate to the apron for a standing Sliced Bread #2. Mark’s moonsault to the floor is caught so he goes with a tornado DDT instead. Unfortunately Bate is out on the floor and therefore able to kick out when Mark finally gets him back inside. Mark gets crotched on top (Fans: “NO MORE KIDS!”) and takes a jumping European uppercut to put both guys down. Of course that means they slug it out from their knees with Bate getting the better of it, as you might expect.
There’s the airplane spin but Bate takes too much time resetting, allowing Mark to hit a reverse Frankendriver for a close two. Now the fans are getting into these near falls because they’re smart enough to know the match wasn’t ending earlier. Bate is ready for the shooting star but his super Regal Roll is countered into a super hurricanrana, followed by a running shooting star for two.
The champ is reeling but still manages to earn his independent credibility with a superkick. His suplex is countered into the Stundog Millionaire but the shooting star hits Bate’s raised knees. The fans get behind Bate again as he kicks Mark in the head, followed by the Tyler Driver 97 to retain at 24:15.
Rating: A-. There’s very little I enjoy watching more than taking two wrestlers and having them look so polished and untouchable at first and watching them be broken down until they can barely stand. That’s exactly what we got here and it made for one heck of a fight. Bate is scary good for his age and TNA continues to look like a bunch of morons for wasting someone capable of doing this. If you watched Andrews in TNA, you would think he was a one move wrestler. Now he had a great match that went nearly twenty five minutes. Who do you think did the better job with him?
Post match Dunne comes out to deck Andrews, drawing out William Regal to stare him down. Bate and Dunne stare each other down to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. The first two matches, while good, really do feel like little more than weak appetizers before the two outstanding feature matches. You can feel a real feud here with Bate vs. Dunne and it’s no surprise that their match in Chicago was a near masterpiece. Fix up the first two matches on this show and it’s a classic. As it is, it’s just very good.
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