The WWE Network presents special coverage of an historic two day event held in Norwich, England, featuring stars from WWE United Kingdom Championship and WWE 205 Live, headlined by a WWE United Kingdom Championship match between inaugural champion Tyler Bate and Mark Andrews.
(Winner by pinfall: Wolfgang)
TJP & The Brian Kendrick
Dan Maloney & Rich Swann
(Winners by pinfall: TJP & The Brian Kendrick)
#1 Contender Match for the WWE United Kingdom Championship
(Winner by pinfall: Pete Dunne)
Tyler Bate (C)
WWE United Kingdom Championship
(Winner by pinfall: Tyler Bate)
The WWE United Kingdom Championship Special is a peculiar show to review, because I was there when it was taped, and what we saw as a live audience is very different to what has been put on television for WWE Network. We were given more matches on the two days of the Norwich tour, and had stories carrying over both nights that you only got a hint of on the WWE Network airing. The television broadcast, on the other hand, had backstage interviews and video packages that we never saw in the live audience.
The result of the above is that I actually got to enjoy a whole new experience when watching this on WWE Network. Was I sad that so many United Kingdom division competitors got cut from the final airing? Sure. Was I pissed that two absolute stormers of matches got cut (Tony Nese versus Akira Tozawa, day 2, and Tyler Bate versus Joseph Conners, Day 1)? Of course. Was I disappointed we didn’t even get a glimpse of the #1 Contenders match that Mark Andrews won on day 1? Most certainly. But I’ve got those memories, and they may even show up on TV or on a DVD one day in the future, so here I can just enjoy what WWE put together as a means of a television pilot for the supposedly soon-to-launch WWE United Kingdom Championship weekly TV series.
The show contained four matches, all from the second day of the Norwich tapings, and largely focused on the superstars who WWE have pushed as their top talent in the division. So, Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews, and Wolfgang. Joseph Conners appears to have worked himself into that group too, and after his performances in both matches he had over that weekend, it’s well deserved on his part.
Wolfgang versus Conners was a strong opener. In WWE, Wolfgang appears to switch from babyface to heel depending on who he is facing, which is something they’ll want to make a final decision on eventually, but for now simply leads to interesting dynamics in his matches. The guy can go, which I’ve said before, and he’s getting over with viewers simply because of how damn agile he is for a big man. Conners has been a revelation recently, and has backed up the praise Michael Cole showered him with during WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament. He and Wolfgang worked a long, hard match, and Conners definitely had Wolfgang scouted throughout. This wasn’t your energetic, high speed match that opens WWE shows normally, and in fact it is almost as though WWE have kept away from doing that on any of these UK shows thus far.
I was surprised to see the tag match make the broadcast, as it obviously featured three non-Brits, and felt very much like a house show match at the time of filming. From TJP accidentally damaging the arm of his partner Kendrick, to covering his ears due to “wanker” chants whilst still trying to wrestle, it was the kind of thing that doesn’t normally make WWE television but fills their non-broadcasted events. I suspect it was the many “DAN!” chants that ensured this bout made TV, but it was a good opportunity for Dan Maloney to get some good television time, although I’d personally have cut it to feature more of the matches containing only UK talent. It was genuinely fun though, and Rich Swann is bloody incredible live.
Trent Seven and Pete Dunne had an incredible match, and one that you’d appreciate so much more if you were there in person. Regardless of the latter, it came across on television so well, and social media is already going nuts for it. For Seven, this was the first match he’s had in WWE that truly showed just how good an asset he can be to this brand, and justified the hype he had coming into the launch of it. I’m a big Seven fan, so this makes me happy.
Dunne is obviously the big bad of the whole brand, and the feeling that he’ll be the next WWE United Kingdom Champion only grows stronger and stronger. Many people, including myself, had anticipated the change happening during these Norwich shows, but the way their were structured obviously didn’t allow for that. Don’t be surprised to see him win the championship at NXT Takeover: Chicago though, even if I don’t personally think that should happen just yet.
When I saw the main event live, I genuinely felt that I had seen one of the matches of the year. I still feel that way now, and without a shadow of a doubt it’s the greatest match I’ve ever seen in person. It started very similar to their match at PROGRESS: Orlando, a technical affair where neither man was really able to take control, but growing into something a whole lot more impressive. This overshadowed that Orlando match in almost every single way.
Whilst the fact that Dunne had already become No.1 contender implied we were headed for Bate/Dunne II, the match did a really good job of teasing a Mark Andrews victory. There were some close nearfalls, and Bate was certainly on the receiving end of some moves that would have ended other matches. This was just two men putting on a damn showcase for British wrestling, and it tops any match that has aired as a part of the United Kingdom brand since it’s launch in January. Bate was victorious, but it was close, and he is making this championship feel more and more prestigious the more he defends it. Seriously, his title matches just get better and better.
Having Jim Ross back was incredible. His voice is what I associate with wrestling since I was a kid, so it was a dream hearing him run commentary on matches containing some of my favourite guys in the business currently. He was funny, informative, and put over the talent and matches in ways we don’t often get to see on WWE television. His chemistry with Nigel McGuinness was off the charts too, and McGuinness was top dollar here too.
There is no science or method behind how I rate matches at Talk: Pro Wrestling. I go with my gut and emotions, so how I rate them is sometimes a little higher than other people would, but where’s the fun in trying to use some strict formula to grade every match of wrestling I watch? For that reason alone, and the fact I got to experience these matches live, one might argue that I’ve been quite favourable toward the matches here, but I stand by my scoring and can’t wait to see more of this brand moving forward. Hopefully, I’ll once again be sat front row to cheer all of the British wrestlers on, as they make names for themselves in this business, and create a damn special television series.
Match of the Night
Tyler Bate vs. Mark Andrews
WWE United Kingdom Championship Special Rating