WWE Review: United Kingdom Championship Tournament

We’re back for a review on the WWE’s latest attempt at extending their brand (maybe stretching it thin?) to other locales around the world. This time, with the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, or UKCT, as it was easier to say. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this special tournament and its impact on the current product.

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Triple H Stands in front of giant logo to announce the UKCT

First off, the first night of this tournament was rather dull. I for one took it on prior experience with WWE Network Exclusive content, a la CWC, that this tournament would be a flat out, crazy and entertaining experience. Well, maybe this is just a Yank talking here, but the first night of the tournament was just flat out bad. Let’s just take a look at my own twitter account during the first few hours:

I for one began to think: Am I missing something here? Why the hell is every British wrestler saying they are a ‘Brawler’. I get it, you don’t need to tell me again that you are a brawler, six wrestlers before you just said ‘I am a Brawler’, please, someone give these guys some original material or at least let them speak off the cuff a few times. Maybe this was just me acclimating to a new style of wrestling, or maybe, just maybe a few of these wrestlers were rather green.

I just hate my intelligence as a wrestling fan getting questioned, practically, most of the time these days. UKCT told me that this would be the best wrestlers from the United Kingdom, but then we have guys coming out and saying they ‘AREN’T WRESTLERS’. I feel like this is the UK’s way of legitimizing guys that punch outright as a move when it is clearly doing wonders for Roman Reigns:

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I digress, there were some great match-ups eventually. Mostly on the second night of the tournament. The entire tournament itself glossed over what I consider the best parts of these tournaments: getting to know the wrestlers themselves. With CWC it seemed like we had more time with each wrestler, longer interviews, and the talent was also far more experienced with many of the wrestlers having worked in the industry for 10 + years. UKCT had a lot of green guys performing on a much bigger stage. I mean, the first night gave us this tremendous screw up:

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uhh, you kicked out bro.

Devlin cracks open Sam Gladwells head and then Gladwell kicks out and Devlin is then marked as the winner. Huh? I wasn’t sure after watching this a few times if this was actually planned. I doubt busting him open was planned as Gladwell seemed legitimately surprised when he discovered he was bleeding. While Devlin eventually recovered the spot by side kicking Gladwell in the head during the hand raising, I felt like this finish was another example of the WWE making the referee look incredibly dumb. The ref stops to pull his gloves out as he realizes that Gladwell is bleeding, which really forced him to screw up the ending of this match because he wasn’t paying proper attention to the kick out. WWE, yes, this cut looked bad, but please just let matches end with some semblance of a rational ending.

Anyways, let’s just say something about the setting for the UKCT. The Empress Ballroom was like seeing WWE throw you a curveball, like early RAWs or seeing an ECW show at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

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WWE seriously had a show here

I am really happy to see WWE placing these network exclusive events in these smaller, and in this case, more illustrious surroundings. The smaller environments make these tournaments more intimate, mostly giving the crowd more power during the shows. Boy, those UK fans were extremely rowdy during this tournament. For the good, we got a ‘He’s a Shit Balor’ song/chant during the Devlin matches, and then a lot of British gibberish that I couldn’t understand, probably because I am not from the UK. It was a lively crowd to say the least.

There were also the stand out performances, so don’t get me wrong about this tournament, and ultimately, I do think it is valuable for the product to extend to a country where the WWE has been held in high regard for so long. Pete Dunn, Trent Seven, Wolfgang, Tyler Bate, Mark Andrews and even a surprise appearance from Neville, Finn Balor and Tommy End; there were some fantastic matches on the second night.

Personally, the first night was so setup-y that I needed the second night to help draw me back in and help redeem some of those bad performances. If you watch any of the matches from the second night with the individuals stated above, I think you’ll enjoy this tournament. If you watch the first night, you may want to find something dull to shove into your eyes. Honestly, I think you should watch the championship match between Pete Dunn and Tyler Bate as it was a well laid out and performed match. The next match you should watch is Neville vs. Tommy End. These two blew the roof off and Neville in my book is still way underappreciated.

Final Thoughts

I think there are some positives and negatives to this tournament. For one, we get to see some great new talent from across the pond that truly isn’t getting the exposure that they deserve. On the other hand, because of that lack of exposure, I think we get a lot of guys where the dream isn’t a reality. That being said, there is nowhere to go from here but up. The UKCT is also suppose to start a trend of a UK themed show for those subscribing to the network. Not a lot of details have come out about that, but it should be seen as a positive as all of these wrestlers were picked up for contracts with the WWE.

However, I am really concerned with all the content that the average fan is being asked to ingest. Wrestling as a whole right now is getting stretched really thin. RAW on Mondays, SmackDown/Talking Smack/205 Live on Tuesdays, NXT on Wednesday, plus Network exclusives and 4-hour PPV’s, I feel like my mind cannot simply enjoy this much wrestling. This can’t be sustainable right?

It’s like this, there is a pain point, somewhere in the 3 hour mark of your week that watching any more amount of wrestling is like not allowing your brain to do it’s job of regulating your body. After a certain point, I cannot simply suspend my disbelief with terrible writing and performances, or my brain will kill me. Maybe WWE has another idea for how they can get us to keep watching:

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All and all, UKCT was a welcome addition to Network Exclusives that include Brock Lesnar in Japan and the CWC, so my advice? Re-watch the CWC and enjoy the second night of the UKCT. Or you can strap yourself in like our friend above and just watch as much wrestling as you can, it’s really up to you how much you hate yourself.

PS I’m hoping wrestling will get better after this year’s Royal Rumble. fingers crossed.

-thepoorassgamer

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