LONDON -- Pete Dunne successfully defended the WWE United Kingdom championship against Zack Gibson on Tuesday and closed the book on what was a historic and monumental two days for the promotion in the U.K. market.
Dunne defeated U.K. Championship Tournament winner Zack Gibson in the headlining performance to close out WWE's second straight night at the Royal Albert Hall. It bookended a glorious night for the trio known as British Strong Style, as Moustache Mountain -- aka Tyler Bate and Trent Seven -- defeated The Undisputed Era to become the new NXT tag team champions.
WWE executive Paul "Triple H" Levesque couldn't be happier with how everything went over the past 48 hours in what was the official kickoff for the newly announced WWE's NXT U.K. brand.
"To come into Royal Albert Hall, two nights, back to back, and to put on the level of event that we did, and for the fans' level of engagement be off the chart, I don't think we could've had a better launch of a brand," Levesque told reporters at the post-event media scrum. "I'm proud of everybody here and really excited about the future."
Dunne, who competed in the inaugural U.K. championship tournament in January 2017 in Blackpool, England, thought the group outdid itself -- and he's excited by the prospect of giving the title a more consistent run with other British talent moving forward.
"It's so important because we're relaunching a brand and something I feel so passionate about," Dunne said. "I think we did last year's tournament justice and even more than that. Finally, this title has a full-time home where it can be the feature and we can build amazing stories around it and put on competitive matches like we did tonight. We can be something different and really represent British wrestling.
"It was an emotional moment for everyone out there. I've been doing this for 12 years, since I was literally a kid, and I've seen British wrestling come from literally no scene at all and then to see it go from strength to strength, I'm just so excited for everyone to have this platform. To do this with all my peers, it was a real special moment."
In Dunne, Levesque sees a champion and a brand ambassador who can be a cornerstone in establishing and growing the NXT U.K. brand -- a feeling he was all too happy to echo after Tuesday's action had concluded.
-- WWE (@WWE) June 19, 2018
"From a brand representation standpoint, Pete has done an incredible job over the last year and a half," Levesque said. "His growth to me as a performer, but also as a professional, has just been phenomenal. He's the perfect representation of this brand right now and what he's going to bring to the future of the U.K."
When the WWE announced the launch of the NXT U.K. brand, one would've thought Moustache Mountain were shoe-ins to obtain the NXT UK tag team titles and similarly carry the brand alongside their compatriot Dunne. But just as it seemed Bate and Seven would be seeing more action closer to home, expectations swerved in a different direction as they won the NXT team titles -- a move that'll likely see them continue to perform frequently in the United States.
For Levesque, it was the perfect booking to give Tuesday's show at Royal Albert Hall a big moment.
"I think it's about launching a brand in a big way," Levesque said. "It makes for a great story and a continuation of that. What happens tomorrow? That's the goal."
For Dunne, who has been the U.K. champion for more than a year after defeating Bate at NXT TakeOver: Chicago in May 2017, to see his long-time friends and brothers-in-arms win the tag titles was a real moment, reflecting on not only the journey they've been on together but also the competitive rivalry they share.
"It's fantastic," Dunne said. "For me, from a friendship standpoint, especially over the last 18 months, we've obviously bonded and travelled, so it's really nice from that point of view. I always say this: I hold Tyler as my standard. When I see them go out there today and put on this amazing show, I feel like I need to top that. It was the same when [we] did Takeover in Chicago. That was our mindset. Not only were we trying to put NXT on notice and the WWE Network but also each other. We're always pushing each other."
For the youngest of the group, Bate, tonight was a landmark moment in all of their careers -- a moment that he felt put a stamp on their position within the company. Seven, the eldest of the trio, put into context the residual impact of climbing the ladder in the WWE.
"It just shows we're not just part of the NXT U.K.. We are part of the WWE as a whole," Bate said. "Is there another time that we're ever going to win the NXT tag team titles in the Royal Albert Hall in perhaps the biggest show in British wrestling history? It's madness."
"NXT U.K., launching that brand means everything," Seven said. "Having the opportunity to do this here, at a venue the WWE hasn't been in in god knows how many years. A year ago, we were standing in the middle of the ring, and confetti came down when [Tyler] was crowned the inaugural United Kingdom champion, and that was the most emotional night of my life, let alone his. Then you fast-forward a year and a bit, and we're stood in the middle of the Royal Albert Hall as the NXT tag team champions. Winning titles is what it's all about, getting paid more money and supporting your family and making a career out of wrestling is what we always wanted to do. Moments like this is what it's all about."
Now the attention turns to the upcoming slate of NXT U.K. events, which will be taped in the coming months. The brand will hold eight events: in Cambridge, Birmingham, Plymouth and Liverpool later in the year. Bate hopes the talent is able to live up to and exceed lofty expectations.
"I'm looking forward to seeing who's actually got that star quality to come and step up to our level that we've built," Bate said. "NXT U.K. has been built on people like myself, Trent and Pete. I'm looking forward to seeing who can step up beyond our level.
"The one thing about this brand is it will continue to evolve, it will continue to grow, you will see announcements coming, you will see talent being signed," Levesque said. "It's going to be a constant progression."
-- Kenny McIntosh (@KennyMc1985) June 19, 2018
Full results: WWE U.K. Championship Tournament night two
(c) indicates defending champion(s)
WWE U.K. championship: Pete Dunne (c) def. Zack Gibson
NXT tag team championships: Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) def. The Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly & Roderick Strong)
NXT North American championship: Adam Cole (c) def. Wolfgang
NXT women's championship: Shayna Baszler (c) def. Toni Storm
After more than six months of inaction, long-time 205 Live performer Noam Dar returned and defeated Mark Andrews, Travis Banks and "Flash" Morgan Webster in a Fatal four-way match to become the new No. 1 contender for the WWE U.K. championship.
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