Zack Gibson def. Gentleman Jack Gallagher in a Quarterfinal Match
This event needed the perfect opening match to set the tone for the remainder of the night and I thought this succeeded in doing just that. Sure, Gallagher has been a heel on 205 Live for the past eight months, but you had to know he was going to be beloved in England and thus it was wise to position Gibson as his foil here, giving him more heat for his win in the process. They produced an entertaining outing that had a hot crowd to boot.
Joe Coffey def. Dave Mastiff in a Quarterfinal Match
I have heard Coffey's name brought up a few times during discussions I've had about the former What Culture Pro Wrestling with fellow fans, but beyond that, I'm not too familiar with his work. The same can be said for Mastiff as well, but despite that, they had a damn good match. This was a total hoss battle with both men pulling off some moves you likely wouldn't expect out of them considering their size. Showing Joe's brother Mark in the crowd before the bout was a nice touch as well.
Flash Morgan Webster def. Jordan Devlin in a Quarterfinal Match
Webster impressed me immensely when he appeared on 205 Live last month, not just in the ring but the aura he had about him, too. Meanwhile, Devlin got over as a huge heel during last year's inaugural tournament and it was nice to see some of that carry over into this year. While I wish this could have lasted a little longer, it was still a very fun match where both competitors came away looking great.
Travis Banks def. Ashton Smith in a Quarterfinal Match
Of the four quarterfinal matches, this was easily my least favorite, but that isn't to say it was bad in the slightest. Rather, it was extremely obvious Banks was advancing over the inexperienced Smith and the crowd was well aware of that, hence why they didn't buy into most of Smith's nearfalls. Nevertheless, this was a well-wrestled affair. By the way, does Banks remind anyone else of a younger Douglas Williams?
Toni Storm def. Killer Kelly and Isla Dawn in an NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match
Triple H and Johnny Saint announced in the subsequent segment that the new NXT UK brand will have its very own women's division, and if this was any indication of how hard-hitting and physical those matches will be, I'm excited for it. It didn't matter that virtually no one outside of the audience in the arena knew who Kelly and Dawn were because all three of these ladies left solid impressions with a quality contest. Of course, Storm emerging victorious was the right call and her vs. Shayna Baszler should be a blast.
Triple H and Johnny Saint Announced the NXT UK Brand
Saint is a legend of British wrestling and is a fantastic fit for general manager of the NXT UK brand. Triple H, on the other hand, received a raucous reaction from those in the building and maintained his fan favorite status with the announcement of this new brand. And no, this won't be quickly forgotten about like the talk of a UK show was last year around this time, because tapings have already been confirmed for the coming months.
Zack Gibson def. Flash Morgan Webster in a Semifinal Match
Gibson is an awesome heel and Morgan is very easy to root for as a face, so I liked the dynamic they had here. They weren't given a ton of time, but this was a hell of a sprint for as long as it lasted and built up Gibson as the man to beat going into the finals. My only nitpick was that we didn't hear from Gibson following this win to give fans more of a reason to hate him ahead of the finals. That would have cemented him as an even bigger deal.
Travis Banks def. Joe Coffey in a Semifinal Match
I loved the chaotic pace of this match because it could have gone either way and both guys put forth a tremendous effort. Coffey may not have made it to the finals, but he definitely has a future on this UK brand if WWE decides to sign him to some sort of a deal, and after this performance, I don't know why they wouldn't. The post-match attack not only solidified him as a heel but also told the story that Banks would be the injured underdog in the finals.
British Strong Style def. Undisputed Era
I have been highly anticipating this six-man tag team match since Roderick Strong betrayed Pete Dunne back at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and it did not disappoint. They never took a second to slow down and that was what I enjoyed so much about it. All six are stars and know how to captivate a crowd. The final stretch was especially exceptional and saw Tyler Bate beat Strong to earn himself and Trent Seven a shot at the NXT Tag Team Championship the next night.
Zack Gibson def. Travis Banks to Win the 2018 WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament
Thankfully, Shawn Michaels' brief promo pandering to the crowd allowed the audience to come down a bit before the main event. I feared that British Strong Style vs. Undisputed Era would outshine them, but that didn't turn out to be the case whatsoever. Instead, they went in there and had an mat classic that featured stellar storytelling, an electric atmosphere, and exhilarating action. Even though Banks was injured, the fans believed he was on the verge of victory on multiple occasions, so this was excellently executed all around.
At nearly three hours in length, one would assume that this event would have worn out its welcome quickly, but they had my attention throughout with every single match delivering. The entire tournament was well done and led nicely into Night 2 on Tuesday. If short on time, the top two matches are remarkable and need to be seen, but in all honesty, it's much cooler to check out the event in its entirety and get familiar with the fresher faces.