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    Tuesday, June 26, 2018

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: 2018 United Kingdom Championship Tournament, Night 1

    Hello and welcome to a special edition of the Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review! As you already know—you should have, I told you yesterday—the rest of the United Kingdom Championship Tournament concluded today.

    "Liverpool's #1" Zack Gibson beat the "Kiwi Buzzsaw" Travis Banks in a hard-hitting final match, topping off a long night that saw both men advance through two rounds. We haven't really seen anything like this since the days of the King of the Ring (and even Westside Xtreme Wrestling's prestigious 16 Karat Gold tournament takes three days for the whole bracket), so Gibson and Banks wrestling a grueling 15-minute match is an impressive feat.

    Despite an interesting landscape carved by the first round, there was no better choice for the finals than Gibson and Banks. With Banks influenced by Japanese strong style and the rough-hewn Gibson taking from the no-nonsense brawling, power, and catch of the English, these two were able to epitomize the modern face of British wrestling much like last year's finalists Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne. I even see a bit of a pattern forming here, with Banks establishing himself enough to be a worthy UK champion after Gibson has his run, like how Dunne put the title on the map after Bate first established it.

    So with this tournament proper concluding and NXT UK about to launch, I guess this is the world we live in: more than being a major monolith of the business, WWE (or, at least, the parts Triple H's currently overseeing) is serving as a bridge to showcase hidden talents from around the world. They may have to pay the price of being folded into the corporate umbrella, but now a wider audience can check out the wrestling only more enterprising fans are able to find. There are options, and nobody has to remain stuck watching a product they may not feel.

    And if anyone really wants something new to sink their teeth into, the NXT UK menu WWE's laid out with this year's UKCT should be enough to get everyone hooked. (Everyone who's been in the tournament so far should be showing up tomorrow.) You get to follow something as it sprouts up, so there aren't any previous episodes you need to catch up with.

    See you all here again tomorrow for the title shot that comes with winning the tourney. Calling it: Gibson becomes the new UK champ.

    United Kingdom Championship Tournament 2018 Night 1 Final Grade: A

    Match of the Night

    I couldn't find a video of the match itself yet, but the six-man tag between the ERA and British Strong Style (who are officially British Strong Style in the WWE as of this match, by the way) stole the show. I mean, come on. It's a six-man tag, and look at the guys in the match. Even Shawn Michaels said he was scared of following them after they burned the barn down.

    Other observations

    • So when you've got two heels in the ring and one of them is Jack Gallagher, Jack's automatically going to be the face?
    • But that's okay, because face Jack Gallagher means we get a Lady of the Lake in the UK. I know I've seen him do this before, in the Cruiserweight Classic probably, but I'll never get tired of this spot:
    • Other than Drew Gulak, I'd like to see a British or European main roster guy compete in the tournament and lose in the quarters or semis just to put a guy over.
    • If Wade Barrett ever wants to come back, though...
    • Dave Mastiff deserves better, but I also didn't realize he was that soft-spoken.
    • Ashton Smith also impressed a little more in the second round, and I can see him getting called up to either RAW or SmackDown as a blue-chipper that WWE can mold.
    • Also, I can't unsee him as the wrestling Henderson from Black Lightning.
    • Travis Banks is going to get pretty over with all the growling and barking he does in the ring.
    • Jordan Devlin's a little more exciting now, especially when he's got a bigger match here at the Royal Albert Hall, but I still don't care that much for him. Flash Morgan Webster getting as far as he did is another plus for this tournament.
    • What do you prefer more, the Eton Rifle or the Destino?
    • I'll be honest, I really thought the women were fighting for a chance at the NXT UK Women's Championship when they tape NXT UK. Toni Storm getting a shot at Shayna Baszler, however, is even better.
    • Also, we'll need more Isla Dawn, thanks.
    • Pretty interesting decision to make Gibson/Webster that quick. We always get a match like that, but at least it made sense and put Gibson over as a truly dangerous threat.
    • Perhaps the weirdest, most random moment of the whole tournament was Joe Coffey suddenly taking his frustrations out on Travis Banks. Yes, it made sense to do because he lost with a rollup, but with zero hints of him possibly turning heel. I don't know, it just seemed weird to me because he looked like a pretty jolly fella in the ring.
    • Okay, so that airplane spin/giant swing spot though...
    • How did no one else think of singing along to "Sexy Boy" during HBK's career?
    • Anyone else agree that Shawn Michaels lost a lot of his youth cutting his hair off? He just doesn't look like a living legend after losing that.
    • Also... poor suit jacket choice, Shawn. Hunter needs to hire you a stylist.
    Photo from WWE


    Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: 2018 United Kingdom Championship Tournament, Night 1 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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