Preview: WWE UK Championship Tournament (First Round)

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United Kingdom Championship Tournament
Credit: WWE

Earlier this afternoon, Cathy Kelley revealed on WWE’s YouTube account the full first round match-ups for the upcoming second WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament, featuring 16 Superstars from both the WWE UK brand (as well as 205 Live) and the UK indie scene. The reveal also seems to imply that apart from the first match (which will be featured in an upcoming NXT episode), the rest of the opening round will be filmed at the Download Festival on June 8, 9, and 10. The quarterfinals will be part of the London Royal Albert Hall two night event, June 18 and 19.

Preview: WWE UK Championship Tournament (First Round)

DREW GULAK vs. JACK GALLAGHER

Photo: WWE

The only first round matchup that won’t take place at the Download Festival, this one will air on an upcoming episode of NXT. A lot of head scratchers over Drew Gulak‘s inclusion in this tournament, but the veteran grappler has been wrestling in the UK indie scene since 2011, working with the likes of IPW:UK, FutureShock, Fight Club: PRO, and Southside Entertainment (SWE), up until his signing with the WWE. His opponent, “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher, is a product of the UK indie scene and a 2x FutureShock Champion. Expect a technical, hard hitting affair, but with the tournament heading back to England after this qualifier, expect the UK’s own Jack Gallagher to head to Royal Albert Hall for the quarter finals.

Prediction: Jack Gallagher advances to the Quarter Finals

ASHTON SMITH vs. JOSEPH CONNERS

Photo: WWE

Ashton Smith is on a roll right now in the UK, where he’s the current reigning FutureShock Champion (as well as being a former ICW Tag Team Champion and Preston City Wrestling (PCW) Cruiserweight Champion). His stock gets higher every year, and adding the WWE UK Championship tournament to his resume will open even more opportunities. His opponent is back for redemption from last year’s tournament, as Tidal Championship Wrestling (TCW) Champion Joseph Conners returns for another shot at the tournament win. A former Defiant World Champion (and current SWE Tag Team Champion with another entrant, El Ligero), Conners is very similar to early Chris Benoit – not the most talkative guy, but full of deceptive power and technical marksmanship.

Prediction: Joseph Conners advances to the Quarter Finals

FLASH MORGAN WEBSTER vs. JAMES DRAKE

Photo: WWE

“The Modfather”, Wales’ Flash Morgan Webster, made his WWE debut recently on 205 Live from London, England, and he’s hoping to carry that momentum into the tournament. The reigning ATTACK! Champion and former RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Champion, Webster is a veteran of PROGRESS, RevPro, and countless UK indies. He was also a participant in the 2017 PWG Battle of Los Angeles and the 2015 CHIKARA King of Trios. His opponent is also back for his second opportunity in the tournament. One half of the reigning PROGRESS Tag Team Champions The Grizzled Young Veterans, James Drake has made a number of WWE appearances over the past year, including appearances on 205 Live. He recently faced against Webster at the 205 Live from London, on the losing side of a 6-man tag match.

Prediction: Flash Morgan Webster advances to the Quarter Finals

KENNY WILLIAMS vs. DAVE MASTIFF

Photo: WWE

Scotland’s high flying daredevil Kenny Williams is the current reigning (and 3x) Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) Zero-G Champion and one of the UK’s top thrillseekers in the ring. As well as being a regular star with his hometown ICW in Glasgow, he’s also competed for the likes of Over The Top (OTT) in Ireland, and other UK indies like PROGRESS, SWE, IPW:UK, Discovery, PCW and more. He made his WWE debut at the 205 Live from London a few weeks back. If there’s a David vs Goliath matchup this tournament, this is it. While Williams is a shorter high flyer, his opponent, Dave Mastiff, is an absolute tank. A former IPW:UK Heavyweight Champion and PCW Champion, Mastiff is over 300lbs of pure muscle and a veteran of such UK promotions as PROGRESS, RevPro, PCW, Defiant and ICW to name a few.

Prediction: Kenny Williams advances to the Quarter Finals

EL LIGERO vs. TRAVIS BANKS

Photo: WWE

Two absolute superstars clash in what could be the match of the first round. El Ligero is a 15-year veteran of the UK indies, having worked for everyone from PROGRESS, Defiant and RevPro to SWE, PCW, and everyone in-between. The current HOPE Kings of Flight Champion and SWE Tag Team Champion, El Ligero is also a former PROGRESS World Champion, SWE Heavyweight Champion, Defiant Internet Champion and 2x PROGRESS Tag Team Champion. This UK indie legend is facing one of the best wrestlers in the world today in the “Kiwi Buzzsaw” Travis Banks. A product of the New Zealand and Australian scene, Banks relocated to the UK a few years back and has become an indie sensation. The current reigning PROGRESS World Champion and Defiant Internet Champion, Banks is also a 2x IPW New Zealand Champion and a tag team specialist with two top tag teams, CCK and South Pacific Power Trip. Banks is one of the top picks to win this year’s tournament.

Prediction: Travis Banks advances to the Quarter Finals

ZACK GIBSON vs. AMIR JORDAN

Photo: WWE

The other half of the 2x (and reigning) PROGRESS Tag Team Champions Grizzled Young Veterans, Liverpool’s Zack Gibson has become one of England’s most hated (beloved) villains, working the likes of PROGRESS, Defiant, OTT and many more. He’s also a 3x FutureShock Champion, ICW Zero-G Champion, and a reigning tag team champion in OTT as well. He faces a young up-and-comer in the UK scene, Amir Jordan, a product of the PROGRESS Wrestling School in 2015. He also spent an excursion in Canada, where he trained under Lance Storm at the Storm Academy. Since then, he’s continued to work for PROGRESS as well as Defiant, IPW:UK, New Generation Wrestling (NGW) and others as he continues to work on his craft.

Prediction: Zack Gibson advances to the Quarter Finals

TUCKER vs. JOE COFFEY

Photo: WWE

Another returning competitor from last year’s WWE UK Championship Tournament, Ireland’s Tucker has been a veteran of the Irish wrestling scene. A former 2x Pro Wrestling Ulster (PWU) Champion, he’s also been a regular with OTT the past few years as well. He’s continued to work WWE Live Events in the UK since last year’s tournament and will be looking for a better showing this year. He’s facing off against one of Scotland’s best veterans, “The Iron King” Joe Coffey. A perfect combo of speed, athleticism and raw power, Coffey is a 2x ICW World Heavyweight Champion, 2x Scottish Wrestling Alliance (SWA) Scottish Heavyweight Champion, and the current reigning Y Division Champion with Discovery Wrestling. He’s worked all over the UK and is now looking to show the rest of the world what he’s made of.

Prediction: Joe Coffey advances to the Quarter Finals

JORDAN DEVLIN vs. TYSON T-BONE

Photo: WWE

The final matchup features two competitors who were part of last year’s tournament, including one of last year’s standouts, Ireland’s Jordan Devlin. A student of WWE Superstar Finn Bálor, Devlin is the current reigning OTT World Champion and has been consistently been one of the British Isles most electrifying performers, defeating the likes of Zack Sabre Jr., Timothy Thatcher, El Ligero, Angelico, and many other elite indie talents. He faces off against the current (and 3x) PCW Heavyweight Champion Tyson T-Bone, a rough and ready brawler who takes no prisoners, even if it means his own health in the process. While he calls PCW home, T-Bone has taken his knuckles across the UK, from PROGRESS to SWE (where he won the SWE Heavyweight Championship). If there’s a fight, T-Bone is looking for it.

Prediction: Jordan Devlin advances to Quarter Finals

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