What do you think of when you think of a great wrestling trilogy? Rock vs. Stone Cold, Flair vs. Steamboat, Cena vs. AJ.
I’m here to talk about a trilogy from this year. No not Okada Omega - though that was indeed stunning - I’m talking about one you haven’t thought of but should have; Bate vs. Dunne.
Two of the UK’s young up incoming stars trying to prove not only why they are the best, but for the right to hold the new UK Championship and be the face of WWE’s UK brand.Through three matches, they managed to establish themselves as two guys who could carry not just a division, but the entire WWE for years to come.
Each match told its own story. The first match in the final of the UK championship tournament was the culmination of a story told over the course of the two nights.Through the whole tournament, Dunne established himself as a true heel, utilising every underhanded tactic to advance, while Bate was clearly the fan favourite.
Bate had to over come not just wrestling multiple times over the two nights, but Dunne injuring his shoulder to become the first ever UK Champion.
He played the likeable underdog perfectly for the entire match as much of his offence was hindered by the injury. After almost every move, it took him a while to follow up. Dunne assumed he had the advantage and his facial expressions when Bate refused to stay down were perfect.By the end you’re so invested that when Bate is finally able to hit the Tyler Driver 97 for the win it feels like he fully earned it.
Then came THAT Takeover match, better known as WWE’s best match of 2017.
The story before this match was that Dunne felt he had been robbed of the opportunity to become the first UK Champion and Bate was on top of the world since the tournament.
Starting out with the kind of technical wrestling you’d expect from these two and from there, it looked like they tried to top each other with one high spot after another. Towards the end Bate went to the well once to often which gave Dunne the opening to win the title.On Takeovers, it’s hard to overshadow a #DIY match but these two pulled it off. It was far superior wrestling wise than anything on Backlash the following night.
Don’t just take my word for it just listen to the Chicago crowd chanting UK.
Most recently came the rubber match on an episode of NXT withBate finally getting his rematch after pinning Dunne in a tag match.
It would have been hard to top the Chicago match, so they didn’t try, instead putting on a straight up wrestling match. There was plenty of joint manipulation both trying to do more damage to the other - Bate even dislocated his finger and had to pop I back in. This did lead to a fantastic bit of story telling with Bate unable to cover Dune after Bop and Bang because he used his injured hand.
Dunne countered another top rope spot into the Bitter End to come out the victor of this trilogy.
The finish of the second and third match speaks to the over confidence of the younger Bate and plays wonderfully into a possible development of character angle further down the line.
A big advantage was that these matches all had a least a few months between them, a rare thing in WWE today especially with the automatic rematch clause; it allowed them to build anticipation for the next match.
Having said that, the draw back to this trilogy was that all three matches took place on network exclusive shows meaning your more casual fan won’t see it and even more regular viewers might not be as inclined with all the hours of weekly WWE programming they already have to watch!