Photo Credit: WWE
Well then… that was something!
At 11am today WWE held a press conference at the O2 Arena in London. Now this got a lot of people talking and there was quite the buzz in the air this morning, what was to come next was about to change British wrestling in a huge way…
Triple H took to the stage and began his speech, talking about how important the UK has been to the WWE over the past few years and how it’s helped grow the NXT brand. He then makes the huge announcement that on January 14th and 15th a two-day tournament will be held at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool and shown live on the WWE Network. The winner of this tournament will be crowned the first ever WWE United Kingdom Champion… I’m still in shock.
The press conference went on and Triple H announced that Michael Cole will be providing play-by-play for the tournament (I know, I know) and joining him on the announce team would be no other than Nigel McGuinness! Nigel talks about this is a dream come true for him to work for WWE, I couldn’t be happier for the guy.
Now it was time to meet the men who would be involved in the tournament including: Trent Seven, Pete Dunne, Wolfgang, Tyler Bate and Jordan Devlin just to name a few.
I’m not really sure where to start with this news, I think it’s safe to say it’s taken us all by surprise but let’s give it a go.
There are a few questions surrounding the United Kingdom Championship; will it be defended on WWE TV? Will the Champion be signed by WWE? At this stage we really don’t know, although with Triple H mentioning the idea of a weekly UK show on the WWE Network (similar to 205 Live) it could be a possibility that the Champion will just reign supreme over that show and not appear on WWE programming. Away from this, I just wanted to mention how amazing the title looks, unlike the Cruiserweight Championship they have stuck with the WWE World Championship shape. Looks like something worth fighting over.
WWE have really gone out of their way to include some of the best talent in the UK for this tournament. We have:
- Sam Gradwell (Ricky J McKenzie)
- HC Dyer
- Tiger Ali
- Joseph Conners
- Trent Seven
- Pete Dunne
- Chris Tyler
- Dan Moloney
- Ringo Ryan
- Roy Johnson
- Tyler Bate
- Saxon Huxley
- Jack Starz
- Jordan Devlin
- James Drake
Obviously there are some big names that are not included in the tournament, but just like the the Cruiserweight Classic there are only a certain amount of spaces. It may also be the case that they are unable to get names that are contracted to ITV for World of Sport (but that is just pure speculation). Either way this is an incredible list of British talent and I can not wait to see them tear it up in a WWE ring.
World of Sport
On that subject, the massive ITV shaped elephant in the room… it seems pretty obvious that this was done in response to ITV bringing back World of Sport Wrestling at New Year. I think that’s a great thing, for years now people have said that WWE’s television has dropped in quality since they have no real competition. So WWE and ITV both having shows in the UK with UK talent is going to create competition, which will result in a better product for us. It’s just nice to see more places for British wrestlers to make a living.
With Triple H mentioning the possibility of a weekly UK show on the WWE Network, we have our first indication of the future of this project. If this in fact what happens, there are so many questions that need answered. Firstly, will the wrestlers involved be signed to WWE Contracts? If this is the case, then what happens to their status’ with the current independent promotions they work for? Will they still be allowed to work elsewhere? Will they only be allowed to work non-televised events?
There’s a lot of confusion around this and only a few weeks ago it was reported that WWE were offering British wrestlers retainer contracts that would stop them working for any other televised promotions, is this why?
I personally think this is amazing news for British wrestling and look forward to seeing British wrestlers get a chance to show the world just how good they are. From reading comments online I’ve seen mixed reactions, with some fans claiming that this is WWE’s way of trying to shut out British independent promotions. I don’t see it like that at all, this is WWE looking at how strong British wrestling is, and wanting to be a part of it. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. 2017 looks to be an exciting year for us wrestling fans in the UK.
You can watch footage from the historic press conference below.
The WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament will be broadcast LIVE on the WWE Network at 8pm GMT on January 14th and 15th from the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool.
Tickets are available now from LiveNation.co.uk