Trent Seven def. H.C. Dyder in a First Round Match
It was wise to kick off the tournament with one of the most popular participants, Seven. The crowd was hot for this opening match and Seven's "Mustache Mountain" shtick. Although he had that "star" aura about him and he should do well in the rest of the tourney, he isn't my pick to win it all. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this as the first match of the night and the crowd being as into Seven as they were helped me (someone who isn't familiar with him whatsoever) get behind him here.
Jordan Devlin def. Danny Burch in a First Round Match
It surely seemed like the intent was to get Devlin over as a babyface for as much as they hyped him up as Finn Balor's protege, but it definitely didn't go over that way with the crowd changing "You're not Balor!" at him. And that was before the botched finish. Or was it botched? I'm not entirely positive, but my guess is the referee saw Burch was bleeding from the back of the head and decided to call the contest. Of course, it was a crappy way to end the match, but it pretty much solidified Devlin as the biggest heel in the tournament, especially after he laid out Burch with a superkick. Speaking of Burch, I always liked Burch from the little we saw of him in NXT years ago and I'd love to see him brought back in the future.
Sam Gradwell def. Saxon Huxley in a First Round Match
This was easily the most forgettable match of the night and the crowd was justified in being as quiet as they were for the contest. Even as I write this, I don't remember much about either man other than that Gradwell looked like Marcus Louis in that he was absolutely terrifying. But a "don't let your kids near him or let them go near his van" kind of terrifying. It wasn't a bad bout by any means, but it was the weakest of the night in my opinion featuring two wrestlers who didn't stand out.
Pete Dunne def. Roy Johnson in a First Round Match
I had heard some rumblings regarding Dunne coming into this tournament and you could just tell he had "star" written all over him based off how he walked to the ring and presented himself in the video package that preceded the match. He reminds me of a younger William Regal in a way and I loved how he played homage to Daniel Bryan (presumably) with the color scheme of his attire. I'll get to his actions at the end of the night later on but he had a strong showing in this match.
Wolfgang def. Tyson T-Bone in a First Round Match
In all honesty, I was pulling for T-Bone to win this match. Wolfgang impressed me with the way he could move for a guy of his immense size, but I'm a sucker for those brawler-esque gimmicks we saw from T-Bone here. He had an awesome look and his in-ring style fit that perfectly. Wolfgang might have more experience on the independents (Michael Cole mentioned he owns a victory over Finn Balor from 2012), but I'd like to see more of T-Bone in the future if possible.
Joseph Conners def. James Drake in a First Round Match
Perhaps this was just me, but I was slightly disappointed with this match. Don't get me wrong, it was virtually on the same level as the previous matchups, but the commentators constantly said this would be the match of the night. Well, it was good, but not great. I kept waiting for them to reach that next gear but instead it abruptly ended. It wasn't the worst match of the tourney (as I said, I'd give that to Gradwell vs. Huxley), but it simply didn't hold my interest as much as I thought it would for all the high remarks it received going in.
Mark Andrews def. Dan Moloney in a First Round Match
Other than Burch, Andrews was the only competitor I knew coming into the tournament, and I was thrilled he was a late addition to the brackets. I have no doubt he would have fared well in the Cruiserweight Classic last summer, but I actually think holding off until this tourney was the best thing for him. He was the sole true high-flyer of the tourney and as a result, he stood out in a major way. He captured the crowd with his entertaining aerial offense that made this match as fun as it was. Why he comes off so much better here than he ever did in TNA is beyond me, but it might just be one of those things where a change in scenery makes all the difference.
Tyler Bate def. Tucker in a First Round Match
Bate is 19-years-old? Damn! He appeared to be far older than that, and he certainly didn't come across as a rookie in this match. I have to give credit to Tucker, too, because this was hands down the best bout of the night and they had excellent chemistry together. In addition to being well-wrestled, there were a handful of sweet spots that allowed both men to shine at various points. WWE was smart in saving this match for the main event slot because they ended the night on a high note.
The United Kingdom crowd was electric as always and the arena looked phenomenal, so the atmosphere was incredible. Even though I watched the tournament preview on the WWE Network after Raw last week, I still didn't have an interest in most of these guys until I watched the event. Now, from Andrews to Dunne to Bate to possibly Devlin, there's a few people I hope to see come out on top. The video packages helped a great deal in giving viewers just enough information before each match so that different stories were told, and the presentation on the whole was well done. I especially loved the ending angle with Dunne attacking Gradwell because it came completely out of nowhere and made me want to tune in to Day 2 to see how Dunne is reprimanded for his actions. I expect Day 2 to be filled with even more memorable matches and I will also never get tired of looking at that beautiful belt.
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