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The Week In British Wrestling: WWE crowns its first UK Champion

Here's five things you need to know about British wrestling this week:

1) The WWE UK Championship tournament showed the best of our scene

Although the long-term ramifications won't be seen for some time, the UK scene was given a huge shot in the arm by WWE last weekend, when they presented the first WWE United Kingdom Championship tournament from the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool.

The two-day tournament -- won by 19-year-old Tyler Bate -- featured an array of talent from across the UK (and Ireland), and many promotions were given the rub by being mentioned by the commentary team. In addition, the promoters of PROGRESS Wrestling, Over The Top Wrestling, and Insane Championship Wrestling were shown at ringside, and these would appear to be the three main "partners" in WWE's transatlantic expansion.

Pete Dunne stretches Roy Johnson

The first night of the tournament -- and both were shown live on the WWE Network -- featured mostly short matches, with the eight first round bouts squeezed into a two-hour time slot.

This didn't leave a lot of room to showcase the talents of those involved, although the tournament followed the format of the Cruiserweight Classic in that losers were given the majority of those first round matches to display their wares. The four alternates -- Tiger Ali, Jack Starz, Ringo Ryan, and Chris Tyler -- worked a dark match to experience the atmosphere.

Night one ended with an angle, continued on WWE.com, to paint Pete Dunne as the show's major villain, which did work as night two continued despite a section of the crowd wanting to cheer him.

The second night kicked off (after a dark match which featured Nathan Cruz) with Dunne facing Sam Gradwell -- the man he attacked at the climax of the previous evening -- and dispatching the hometown hero with his usual style. He was joined in the semifinals by Mark Andrews (who beat a surprisingly flat Joseph Conners), Tyler Bate (who pinned day one's other big villain, Jordan Devlin), and Wolfgang (who surprisingly upset his Square Go! opponent Trent Seven).

The semifinals saw Dunne beat Andrews in a matchup that has defined both men's careers, and Bate win a classic big man/little man battle against Wolfgang. After that match, Dunne reappeared and attacked Bate, finally turning the crowd against the Bruiserweight.

Tyler Bate is congratulated by his rivals

Before the final, Neville appeared and cut a heel promo on the crowd (which was rapturously received by people so very happy to see him), and declared himself not only the UK's best but also the best in Europe. This brought out Tommy End -- using that name rather than his Aleister Black moniker -- and the two had a great, short match to whet the appetite for the final.

In that final, Bate overcame the odds -- and a supposedly partially-torn AC joint -- to pin Dunne and take the belt, as the entire roster (Dunne apart) celebrated with him in the ring.

What happens now is anyone's guess. There is a desire on WWE's part for a weekly Network show, in the way that 205 Live spun out of the cruiserweight tournament, but nothing is fixed thus far. There are rumours of ICW shows being included on the Network, and PROGRESS have a mysterious set of tapings planned for March, but it's very much a whole load of unknowns. I'll give you all the news when I have it!

2) PROGRESS came up with the answer for the eternal question

Eschewing their usual tradition of naming provincial shows after songs by artists from that town (one they'll return to for the next Birmingham chapter, named after a Judas Priest song), PROGRESS Wrestling went with Douglas Adams' Life, The Universe & Everything for chapter 42, held last Sunday at the O2 Academy in Birmingham.

The show, their debut in the Second City, was potentially hamstrung by the loss of their heavyweight champion Pete Dunne, and tag team champions Trent Seven & Tyler Bate, to the WWE UK Championship, but -- as they so often do -- they pulled it out of the bag and delivered another banger of a show.

Finn Balor, enjoying musical chairs -- photo by Rob Brazier

With WWE “borrowing” some of the main attractions for the Birmingham show, they sent some make-goods, in the form of Finn Balor (who wrestled for PROGRESS twice before he went to NXT) and Tommy End (who later that night wrestled on the WWE Network against Neville).

Balor came out at the beginning of the show and initiated a game of “musical chairs” in the ring against four fans, the winner of whom -- “Tom” -- is now considered official 24/7 musical chairs champion. End answered an open challenge of sorts, from Jimmy Havoc, who had asked for mic time to run down British Strong Style and the Swords of Essex, and then asked for an opponent. End emerged to a huge reception, but Havoc -- number one contender to Dunne’s title -- picked up the win.

They weren’t the only surprises, either, as the main event saw Rampage Brown’s Atlas Division Championship open challenge answered by Matt Riddle, who made a massive impact on his PROGRESS debut last year.

Riddle won the title, too, after a match which tested both men to their limits and really defined the division. It’s been announced that Riddle’s first defense will be for Michael Elgin’s Glory Pro-Wrestling promotion, against Elgin, and he may well become a touring champion for the brand.

The new Atlas Division champion, Matt Riddle -- photo by Rob Brazier

The rest of the show -- which also featured Jack Sexsmith -- included two tag team matches, with the wXw’s Ringkampf (Walter & Axel Dieter Jr.) beating the London Riots, and the South Pacific Power Trip remaining unbeaten in tag team competition by seeing off The Origin (Banter Edition).

There was also a Natural Progression Series qualifier, with Alex Windsor (who lives in the city) beating Livvi Grace (IPW:UK’s Tennessee Honey) to move into the six-woman semifinals, and Spud made his PROGRESS debut -- decked in tights covered in the PROGRESS logo -- against Paul Robinson, winning by DQ.

The show will be up soon on Demand PROGRESS, and the promotion return on Royal Rumble weekend with Tropic Thunderbastard.

3) ATTACK! packed them into Club 100 again

Although they describe Club 100 as a smaller experience than their usual shows, ATTACK! Pro-Wrestling’s third installment of the club, last Friday at the Frog & Fiddle in Cheltenham, was no less thrilling than their bigger shows, with all three titles defended on a night stuffed full with comedy and drama.

The show was topped by a second defense by Eddie Dennis of the ATTACK! Championship, this time against Chris Brookes, who brought his #CCK tag team partner (and noted dirty wolf) Kid Lykos to the ring to aid him in his title quest. He also got help from crooked referee Shay Purser, but overcame the odds with the help of ATTACK! fan Warren (of which more later) to keep his title belt.

The wonderfully tight Frog & Fiddle -- photo by Oli Sandler

Warren, for those following along, went into the show as ATTACK! 24/7 champion, having won the belt at ATTACK! Club: PRO’s WrestleHouse show two weeks ago, and he was brought out at the beginning of the show to John Cena’s theme, wearing a pink suit.

He was attacked by Kid Lykos, who pinned him for the title, before Lykos went on to face Ryan Smile in the official opening bout of the show. Lykos won, again with the help of Purser, but Smile decked him after the match and Warren covered him to regain his title.

The tag team titles were on the line when Bowl-A-Rama faced the Anti-Fun Police, and it was a somber occasion given that Bowl-A-Rama, the (honestly not fictional, really) bowling alley that gives its name to the tag team, was destroyed in an explosion during the week by #CCK. The champs fortified, and saw off the challenge of Chief Deputy Dunne & Sergeant Banks in a painfully-funny match which included a chase to the Benny Hill theme song.

Humour was not on the cards at the end of the match which preceded it, as “Extremely Confused” Drew Parker (this time: Tommy Dreamer) was attacked by Elijah Dahl after beating Ol’ Poppa Sunflower. Dahl unmasked Sunflower after knocking out Parker, and left with his mask, much to the disgust of even heel referee Purser -- some things are beyond heel turns in wrestling.

Chris Brookes brings the pain to Eddie Dennis -- photo by Oli Sandler

The night’s other contest saw Mike Bird & Wild Boar brutally down the team of “Raving” Danny Jones & “Man Like” Beano, who was making his ATTACK! debut (not that you’d know it from the reaction he received).

The show is already up on ATTACK!’s Vimeo service for a very reasonable price, and the promotion return in Bristol on February 25th with Gorilla Pressed & In Deep Conversation.

4) ICW set up Square Go! with a final Friday Night Fight Club taping

Despite missing the two combatants from its main event, Insane Championship Wrestling used its latest Friday Night Fight Club taping at the Garage in Glasgow last Sunday to really set their stall out for their next big show, Square Go!

That show is main evented by Wolfgang vs. Trent Seven for the ICW Heavyweight title, and while both men were taking part in the WWE UK Championship tournament the rest of the show was built with some very interesting clashes in prospect.

Given that the Square Go! gimmick is a battle royal-style affair, it was fitting that last Sunday’s show ended with Stevie Xavier’s win over Chris Renfrew sparking an all-in brawl, as Davey Blaze, DCT, Aaron Echo, Chris Ridgeway, Liam Thomson, Charlie Sterling, BT Gunn, and Flex Hunter all ran in, with Hunter ending the night chokeslamming all his potential rivals.

Joe Hendry looking the part -- photo by David J Wilson

With Bram weirdly pulled from the show hours before it started, Joe Coffey instead faced Wild Boar, after Boar & Mike Bird had earlier ran riot during Jackie Polo’s match with Iestyn Rees. That earned Bird & Boar a shot at Polo Promotions’ ICW tag titles at Square Go!, but Boar failed to make an impact on Coffey, who signaled his desire to go after the ICW Heavyweight title in the future.

Number one contenders were also decided for the ICW Zero-G & ICW Women’s titles -- both Andy Wild and Lewis Girvan will get a shot at Kenny Williams for the former at Square Go! after they went to a draw in their match, and Kasey Owens will face Kay Lee Ray at the big show after seeing off the challenge of Debbie Sharp, Sammii Jayne, and Martina The Session Moth in a four-way.

Williams gave himself some practice for that triple threat by beating Zack Gibson and Aaron Echo in a three-way, which was among other matches on the show which also featured wins for DCT, James Scott, Charlie Sterling, and Joe Hendry. Hendry beat Lionheart in a loser draws number one match, and Lionheart will now be the first entrant in the Square Go! match.

In other news from the taping, Carmel Jacob was announced as the first inductee into the ICW Hall of Fame, and Jack Jester explained that his turn to help Team Dallas at Fear & Loathing IX was brought about because he wants to run Drew Galloway out of the promotion.

These shows will air on ICW On Demand (and on the Fight Network in the US and Canada) soon, and the road to Square Go! ends at the O2 Academy in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on February 5th.

5) A still-injured Morgan Webster won the King of Chaos title (and other stuff)

Despite not being fully recovered from the injuries he suffered in a WWE Cruiserweight Classic qualifier in April last year, “Flash” Morgan Webster cashed in his Heir to the Throne briefcase at Pro-Wrestling ChaosThe Mysterious City of Chaos! at Newman Hall, Westbury-on-Trym, last Saturday to pin the reigning King of Chaos Wild Boar and throw the title picture into, well, chaos.

Webster was aided by the Modern Culture team of Danny Jones & Edwin Ricci, who attacked Boar after he’d fought a grueling match against Jimmy Havoc, and Chaos owner Dave Mercy was furious. He's since declared a seven-way ladder match for the title for their next show.

Elsewhere on the show, the Steele Dragons beat Project Lucha in a Knight of Chaos title match, again with help from Modern Culture, and former tag team champions The Magnums fought, with Dick Riley beating Chris Walker.

That was in addition to wins for Big Grizzly (over Mike Bird), Eddie Ryan (who impressively saw off Rampage Brown), and the team of Jetta & Jeckel in an intergender contest against Gideon & Sierra Loxton. The action will soon be available on UK Wrestling On Demand, and Chaos return on February 18th with that title match and MVP over for a shot.

Cashing in on two thousand fans visiting the town for the WWE UK Championship tournament, Preston City Wrestling held two matinee shows in Blackpool on Saturday and Sunday, putting on a solid mix of PCW Academy graduates and established roster members for a bargain price.

The attraction was well-attended, and those there got to see some great contests with some new fans for the promotion hopefully made from the affair. Day one was headlined by Bubblegum beating Kenny Williams, with both men returning on day two to beat Lionheart and Chris Ridgeway, respectively.

Also in action were The Hooligans, Sha Samuels, and Ashton Smith, alongside academy graduates Jennie B, Jimmy J, Big T Justice, and Rocky Future. PCW’s next show is a full-on Academy showcase on January 28th.

Cuban Heat has fans?!?

Lastly from a busy weekend, IPW:UK promoted Tables, Ladders & Challenges at Selsdon Community Centre last Saturday, main evented by a TLC match for the IPW:UK Tag Team titles which saw former champions DnD (Danny Duggan & Cieran Donnelly) recapture the belts from the London Riots.

The IPW:UK All-England title was also on the line as Scott Star saw off the challenge of Robbie X, and there was a big win for Cuban Heat in his latest 10,000 Cuban Pesos Challenge when he beat Doug Williams. The show also featured wins for Earl Black Jr., Toni Storm, Mountain Stew, and Jonathan Windsor, as well as tag team victory for The Monsters, and IPW:UK are in action this Sunday with Supershow 6, shown live on FloSlam at 6 p.m. GMT.