The WWE UK Tournament was a breath of fresh air for people such as myself that enjoy pure wrestling. Although it had its ups and downs with some fans (many complaining the timing, NFL playoffs and too much wrestling was the reason they skipped it), it was nice to give back to some of the fans overseas that have to deal with 2AM episodes of Raw every week. It was also nice to see some of the talents of the exploding United Kingdom wrestling scene on a mainstream company. Although there is nothing permanent as of yet, there is speculation as to whether WWE is going to create a weekly UK show for the Network, as well as other independent shows (ICW, Progress) being featured on the network. On the off chance that a Network show takes a very long time to start up, they need to strike while the iron is hot with some of these talents. There were definitely some talent that stood out more than the others, and most of them did advance through the tournament. Below are my top five wrestlers from the tournament, and where they should be placed for now:
Big, tall, and strong. All are traits that Vince McMahon likes. Vince also enjoys cliché tag teams where he can place two men of similar regional or racial background together. The only other Scottish man on the roster, Noam Dar, would fit perfect pairing with Wolfgang. Both are incredibly talented, would add another strong tag team to the weak division, and fit the classic big & small man pairing. Something like this is probably worth pulling Dar out of the cruiserweight division and into the main mix. Even if Wolfgang was sent up as a singles competitor (with vignettes beforehand!), we would all still benefit from quite a few strong midcard matches. This is all provided McMahon and the writing staff can refrain from turning him into a comedy character.
Possible Notable Opponents: The New Day, Gallows & Anderson, Cesaro & Sheamus (both individually and as a tag team), Seth Rollins, Chris Jericho.
Placement: 205 Live
As the clear high flying cruiserweight standout of the tournament, Andrews warrants a spot with the other high flyers right away. He is a great look, surprisingly good talker, and amazing in-ring talent. Andrews could easily be that babyface flyer that TJP was not able to become, due to him being slightly more edgy. Adding him to the division can only make the 205 Live product more valuable.
Possible Notable Opponents: Neville, Austin Aries, The Brian Kendrick, TJP.
I had this man pegged to win the tournament initially. Although we only were able to see two matches from him, I did end up taking the trip to YouTube to watch some of his other work, and became even more impressed. Trent Seven is the type of guy you could put in NXT, and have him work from the bottom to the top within a year. Whether you started him in a tag team with his Mustache Mountain partner Tyler Bate, or throw him in solo against someone such as Almas or Strong, he will put on a great match. He also has the added benefit of having the best facial hair in the WWE (sorry Jack Gallagher). Seven should have the total package to succeed on any roster, including Raw or Smackdown. I would have initially said Smackdown, but NXT should be calling up a few main talents in the next few months. So for now, let’s hopefully enjoy him on NXT for a while.
Possible Notable Opponents: Tommy End, Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Almas, DIY (with Bate).
Speaking of the mustache; Tyler Bate is another that would flourish on NXT. Being the UK champion might muddy the waters with regards to title defenses, but it will add depth to the brand nonetheless. At 19 years old, there is no need to rush Bate. If played correctly, he could become a major player on Smackdown down the road. Some were complaining about the “plain” look of Bate, but it truly adds to his throwback charm. Plus, NXT is a place to tweak characters and help people become more rounded. His speaking may need some work, but he seems to be an amazing wrestler for someone under 20. Although he may benefit the most being paired with Seven, he proved that he was fully capable of wrestling lengthy matches, and keeping the fans excited.
Possible Notable Opponents: Bobby Roode, Roderick Strong, Big Damo, Almas, DIY (with Seven), Trent Seven, Nakamura (champion vs. champion).
Placement: 205 Live
Dunne was one of the biggest standouts of the tournament, and my personal favorite to come out of this. The 23 year old brought a unique viciousness to the table that we have not seen in a while. We saw him in the ring with both larger and smaller men, all with different styles, and he was able to mesh so well with everyone. Dunn is a future star that could fit well even on the main roster. If given the same time as the main event, his match with Mark Andrews would have been the best match in the tournament. Him working as a ‘bully’ with the cruiserweights would be perfect with his style, and would definitely help elevate 205 live. 205 Live needs Dunne more than he needs 205 Live.
Possible Notable Opponents: Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar, TJ Perkins, Rich Swann, Neville.