PREVIEW: WWE ‘United Kingdom Championship Tournament’

WWE UK Tournament Logo

Credit: WWE

Can you believe it’s been less than a month since Triple H announced the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament? Possibly the most groundbreaking moment in British Professional Wrestling history, there’s a part of me that still can’t believe this is happening. Well now, with only one week until it all kicks off, I thought it would be useful to run through the list of sixteen men who have been announced for the tournament, tell you what you’re likely to see, discuss some matches I’d like to take place and gather some predictions.

First, let’s go through the participants.


Wolfgang

Credit: Warrior Photography

Wolfgang

Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland

Age: 30 Years Old

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 255 lbs

Debut: 2003

Finishing Move: The Howling

Accomplishments:

  • Insane Championship Wrestling
    • ICW Heavyweight Championship (1 time, Current)
    • ICW Zero-G Championship (1 time)
    • Square Go Contract (2016)
  • British Championship Wrestling
    • BCW World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    • BCW Openweight Championship (2 times)
    • BCW Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Darkside and Red Lightning
  • Premier British Wrestling
    • PBW Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
    • PBW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Lionheart
  • Scottish Wrestling Alliance
    • NWA Scottish Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    • SWA Laird of the Ring Championship (1 time)
    • SWA Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Falcon and Darkside
  • World Wide Wrestling League
    • W3L Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
    • W3L Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Darkside

The current ICW World Heavyweight Champion goes into the tournament as one of the favourites, purely due to his high level of experience. Boasting singles victories over the likes of Finn Balor and Rhino, the Glasgow native will be no stranger to tough competition. Wolfgang brings something unique to the table, when you look at him you think to yourself “well there’s a brawler” and then he’ll hit a senton bomb and leave you dazed. The fact that he is currently embroiled in a heated feud with fellow participant Trent Seven, which saw them compete in a cage match in front of 6000 people, adds an interesting dynamic to the tournament should the two men cross paths.


Joseph Conners

Credit: Grae Davidson

Joseph Conners

Hometown: Nottingham, England

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 193 lbs

Age: 29 Years Old

Debut: 2006

Finishing Move: Hammerlock DDT

Accomplishments:

  • What Culture Pro Wrestling
    • WCPW Championship (1 time)
  • Southside Wrestling Entertainment
    • SWE Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
    • SWE Tag Team Champion (2 times) – with Paul Malen and Jimmy Havoc
  • Leicester Championship Wrestling
    • LCW Championship (1 time)
    • LCW Tag Team Champion (2 times)

What a year it has been for Joseph Conners, the 10 year veteran was thrust into the World’s spotlight when he picked up the WCPW Championship in August from current NXT Superstar, Big Damo. Since then he has defended the title against the likes of Drew Galloway, Cody Rhodes and Joe Hendry to name but a few. Conners is one of the busiest men in the competition with 91 matches in 2016, something that may help him in the latter rounds. The recent exposure he’s had with WCPW will most definitely help him with the crowd in Blackpool and on the Network.


Dan Moloney

Credit: Marc Lungley

Dan Moloney

Hometown: Birmingham, England

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 216 lbs

Age: 19 Years Old

Debut: 2013

Finishing Move: The Worldstar

Accomplishments:

  • Kamikaze Pro
    • Relentless Division Championship (Current)
    • Kamikaze Pro Tag Team Champion (1 time)
  • ATTACK! Pro Wrestling
    • ATTACK! Tag Team Trophy Champion (1 time)
    • ATTACK! 24:7 Championship (1 time)

Moloney is one of the youngest competitors in the tournament at the age of 19. He has picked up some big wins in the past year over the likes of MVP, Shane Strickland and Sami Callihan. He also holds a victory over fellow participant, Pete Dunne. While I don’t see Moloney going too far into the tournament I can see him advancing quite far and making a name for himself.


Pete Dunne

Credit: PROGRESS Wrestling

Pete Dunne

Hometown: Birmingham, England

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 205 lbs

Age: 23 Years Old

Debut: 2005

Finishing Move: Flatliner

Accomplishments:

  • Progress Wrestling
    • Progress World Championship (1 time, Current)
    • Progress Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Trent Seven
  • Revolution Pro Wrestling
    • RPW British Cruiserweight Championship (1 time)
    • RevPro British Cruiserweight Title Tournament
  • Westside Xtreme Wrestling
    • wXw Shotgun Championship (1 time)
  • Over The Top Wrestling
    • OTT No Limits Championship (2 times, Current)
  • Fight Club:Pro
    • Fight Club:Pro Championship (1 time, Current)
    • Infinity Trophy (2015)
  • Attack! Pro Wrestling
    • Attack! 24/7 Championship (5 times)
    • Elder Stein Invitational (2012)
  • Southside Wrestling Entertainment
    • Young Tigers Cup (2015)
  • Kamikaze Pro
    • Relentless Division Championship (1 time)
  • 4 Front Wrestling
    • 4FW Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Alternative Wrestling World
    • AWW British Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Damian Dunne
  • Pro Wrestling Kingdom
    • Pro Wrestling Kingdom Championship (1 time, Current)
  • VII Pro Wrestling
    • VII Pro Championship (1 time)
    • VII Trifecta Trophy Tournament

Arguably the biggest name in the tournament, Pete Dunne comes in with a lot of hype. Dunne has wrestled all over the World this year, including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in California and wXw in Germany. Both his appearance in the Battle of Los Angeles and gaining the PROGRESS Championship really put him at the forefront of the independent scene. Dunne has faced some huge opposition in the past year, including; Tomohiro Ishii, Cody Rhodes, Chris Hero and Matt Cross. Being in the tournament with his British Strong Style teammates, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate will bring an interesting dynamic if they end up facing each other.


HC Dyer

Credit: Carl McPherson

HC Dyer

Hometown: Cambridge, England

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 213 lbs

Finishing Move: Ripcord Blue Thunder Bomb

Dyer is one of the competitors that we don’t know too much about, but from what I’ve seen online he looks like one hell of a talent. Dyer has been plying his trade mainly in Leicester Championship Wrestling, Southside and HOPE, picking up wins over the likes of Robbie X and having great success with tag team partner and fellow participant Joseph Conners, before turning on him. Another dark horse in this competition who I think could take his opportunity and make himself a star.

 

 


James Drake

Credit: Tony Knox

James Drake

Hometown: Blackpool, England

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 178 lbs

Debut: 2010

Accomplishments:

  • FutureShock Wrestling
    • FSW Adrenaline Championship
    • FSW Tag Team Champion – with Axl Rage
  • Grand Pro Wrestling
    • GPW Heavyweight Championship
  • Britannia Wrestling Promotions
    • BWP Tag Team Champion – with Axl Rage

One of the two hometown boys, James Drake has had a lot of people talking after a couple of great showings in PROGRESS in 2016, he can really be seen as one of the close outsiders to win the tournament. He has everything; the look, the ability, he can even cut a good promo and being from Blackpool, the crowd will be right behind him that weekend.


Jordan Devlin

Credit: John Morrissey

Jordan Devlin

Hometown: Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland

Age: 26 Years Old

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 182 lbs

Debut: 2006

Finishing Move: Moonsault

Accomplishments:

  • Pro Wrestling ZERO1
    • NWA International Lightweight Tag Team Champion – with Sean Guinness
  • Premier British Wrestling
    • PBW Tag Team Champion – with Sean South
  • British Championship Wrestling
    • BCW Tag Team Champion – with Sean South
  • NWA: Ireland
    • NWA Ireland Tag Team Champion – with Sir Michael W. Winchester

Let’s just address the demon shaped elephant in the room… Jordan Devlin and Finn Balor have a lot in common. Now that’s out of the way, the 10 year veteran from Ireland will be looking to take this Championship home. He is by far one of the favourites to win, with him having international experience and a style that often impresses crowds all over the world, he will be very popular on the night and I feel like fans watching on the network are going to take a shining to him.


Roy Johnson

Credit: Dillon Pow

Roy Johnson

Hometown: London, England

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 239 lbs

Debut: 2015

Finishing Move: Last Set

If you’re a fan of PROGRESS Wrestling, then you’ll more than likely know who this man is. The Body Guy, Roy Johnson is a former Powerlifting Champion who began training at the ProJo in 2014, quickly becoming a part of the roster after debuting in 2015. Known for his “Wasteman Challenges”, Johnson is deceptively good in-ring for someone who only debuted less than two years ago. He could have a chance in the tournament and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on the big stage.

 


Sam Gradwell

Credit: Tony Knox

Sam Gradwell

Hometown: Blackpool, England

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 210 lbs

Debut: 2009

Finishing Move: Diving Headbutt

Accomplishments:

  • Grand Pro Wrestling
    • GPW Tag Team Champion – with Chris Echo

 

Wrestling under the name Ricky J McKenzie for the past 7 years, Gradwell comes into this competition with high hopes. The second of the two hometown heroes will be looking to light up the Blackpool crowd and bring home the Championship. Gradwell has one of the best physiques in the tournament and is surprisingly quick for his size. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing him properly against some of the best in the UK.


Saxon Huxley

Credit: Saxon Huxley

Saxon Huxley

Hometown: Hartlepool, England

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 220 lbs

Debut: 2010

Finishing Move: Shattered Illusions

This guy’s a monster. Great shape, 6′ 3″, can move well in the ring, what more can you ask for? Trained by Lance Storm, Brian Kendrick and Marty Jones, Huxley has a headstart over a lot of the guys in the competition and will be very sound in the ring. I’ve only ever seen a few of his matches online so I will be looking forward to seeing some proper contests against other guys on his level.

 


Tyson T-Bone

Credit: Brett Hadley

Tyson T-Bone

Hometown: Malvern, England

Age: 35 Years Old

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 245 lbs

Debut: 2007

Finishing Move: Jackknife Powerbomb

Accomplishments:

  • Preston City Wrestling
    • PCW Championship (2 times)
    • PCW Tag Team Champion – with Rampage Brown
  • Southside Wrestling Entertainment
    • SWE Heavyweight Championship

T-Bone is another big guy who dominates in the ring. Alongside Rampage Brown, he held the PCW Tag Team Titles for 1211 days, which is incredible. He has really came into his own as a singles competitor again this year after reaching the semi-final of the PROGRESS Atlas Tournament. T-Bone has been a real mainstay of the British Wrestling scene and I think he will do well in this tournament.


Trent Seven

Credit: Insane Championship Wrestling

Trent Seven

Hometown: Wolverhampton, England

Age: 35 Years Old

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 210 lbs

Debut: 2009

Finishing Move: Red Right Hand

Accomplishments:

  • PROGRESS Wrestling
    • PROGRESS Tag Team Champion (2 times, Current) – with Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate
  • CHIKARA
    • CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas Champion – with Tyler Bate
  • ATTACK! Pro Wrestling
    • ATTACK! 24:7 Championship

2016 was some year for Trent, after picking up momentum in both ICW and PROGRESS, Trent has become on of the top names on the British Independent scene. He ended the year by becoming PROGRESS Tag Team Champion and challenging for the ICW World Heavyweight Championship against fellow participant, Wolfgang, in a steel cage in front of 6000 fans on iPPV. Trent is by far one of the favourites to win the tournament with his great in ring work and contagious charisma.


Tucker

Credit: Michael Barbour

Tucker

Hometown: Northern Ireland

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight: 191 lbs

Debut: 2006

Finishing Move: Tuck-Fast

Accomplishments:

  • Pro Wrestling Ulster
    • PWU Championship (2 times)
    • PWU All-Ulster Championship
  • Fight Factory Pro Wrestling
    • Irish Junior Heavyweight Championship

Tucker is one of the few high-flyers in this tournament, but that isn’t to say he can’t hold his own with the big boys, he has defeated the likes of Big Damo and Luther Ward, both significantly bigger men than him. With the things that Tucker can pull off, I can really see him becoming one of the fan favourites in this tournament and could be a real underdog to win the title.


Tyler Bate

Credit: The Ringside Perspective/Oli Sandler

Tyler Bate

Hometown: Dudley, England

Age: 19 Years Old

Height: 5′ 7″

Weight: 175 lbs

Debut: 2012

Finishing Move: Orange Crush Combo

Accomplishments:

  • PROGRESS Wrestling
    • PROGRESS Tag Team Champion (Current) – with Trent Seven
  • CHIKARA
    • CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas Champion – with Trent Seven
  • Westside Xtreme Wrestling
    • wXw Shotgun Championship
  • Kamikaze Pro
    • Kamikaze Pro Tag Team Champion – with Dan Moloney
    • Relentless Division Championship
  • ATTACK! Pro Wrestling
    • ATTACK! 24:7 Championship (3 times)
  • VII Pro Wrestling
    • VII Pro British Lions Championship

The fact that Tyler Bate is only 19 is terrifying. He wrestles like someone who has been doing this for a decade, alongside his partner and trainer Trent Seven, he has become one of the top names in British wrestling. I will be very interested to see how Tyler gets on in the tournament and would like to see how he will tackle going against some the larger opponents in singles competition.


Mark Andrews

Credit: Lee South Photography

Mark Andrews

Hometown: Cardiff, Wales

Age: 24 Years Old

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight: 160 lbs

Debut: 2006

Finishing Move: Shooting Star Press

Accomplishments:

  • ATTACK! Pro Wrestling
    • ATTACK! 24/7 Championship (3 times)
    • ATTACK! Tag Team Trophy Championship (1 time) – with Nixon Newell
    • Elder Stein Invitational Tournament (2011)
  • Celtic Wrestling
    • C/W Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Tommy Dean
    • Halloween Tournament (2008)
  • Chikara
    • Rey de Voladores (2015)
  • Fight! Nation
    • FNW British Championship (1 time, Current)
    • FNW British Title Tournament (2016)
  • Progress Wrestling
    • Progress Championship (1 time)
    • Progress Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Eddie Dennis
    • Progress Tag Team Title Tournament (2014) – with Eddie Dennis
    • Natural Progression Series I
  • Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
    • TNA British Boot Camp 2

In a rather big swerve, WWE announced on Thursday afternoon that ‘Mandrews’ would be taking part in the tournament. This is absolutely incredible news for anyone who has seen what Andrews can do, his match with Chris Hero at Super Strong Style 16 is easily one of my top five matches of 2016. Since winning British Boot Camp 2, Andrews has been working away in TNA and has had some really strong displays on TV. I for one am really looking forward to the possibility of Andrews vs Pete Dunne as their match in the opening round of BOLA last year was amazing.


Danny Burch

Credit: Speedysk8

Danny Burch

Hometown: London, England

Age: 35 Years Old

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 190 lbs

Debut: 2003

Finishing Move: The London Bridge

Accomplishments:

  • Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment
    • GWC Championship (1 time, Current)
  • Best of British Wrestling
    • BOBW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Frontier Wrestling Alliance
    • FWA Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Stixx
    • FWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Full Impact Pro
    • FIP Florida Heritage Championship (1 time, Current)
  • German Stampede Wrestling
    • GSW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Matt Vaughn
  • International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom
    • IPW:UK Championship (3 times)
  • LDN Wrestling
    • LDN Championship (2 times)
  • NWA Florida Underground Wrestling
    • NWA FUW Flash Championship (1 time, Current)
  • One Pro Wrestling
    • 1PW World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    • 1PW Openweight Championship (1 time)
  • Real Quality Wrestling
    • RQW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Premier Promotions
    • Worthing Trophy (2008)
  • Revolution Pro Wrestling (UK)
    • RPW Undisputed British Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Joel Redman
  • Rock and Metal Wrestling Action
    • RAMWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • United States Wrestling Alliance
    • 2016 USWA Wrestle Bowl champion (1 time, current)
  • The Wrestling League
    • Wrestling League World Championship (1 time)
  • Westside Xtreme Wrestling
    • wXw World Wrestling Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Doug Williams
  • World Xtreme Wrestling
    • WXW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Jody Kristofferson

Another last minute addition to the tournament is former NXT Superstar and British wrestling mainstay, Danny Burch. In the past few years Burch has become a whole new man, he has transformed his body and looks in amazing shape. Burch is one of the most experienced wrestlers in the tournament having competed all over the world for over a decade which makes him one of the favourites to win the tournament. I’m so happy that WWE decided to include Danny Burch as he was helping hold the British wrestling scene together before things picked up again in the noughties.


What to Expect

Triple H

Credit: WWE

Great In-Ring Action:

If you’ve followed any British wrestling promotions lately, you’ll know that we have some of the best talent in the world. Since the old ‘World of Sport’ days, British wrestlers have been famed for their great technical ability and today’s crop are no different. If you’re a fan of some fantastic ring work, this is the show for you. The likes of Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Mark Andrews have proved against some of the best international talent in the world, just how good British wrestlers are.

A Hot Crowd:

Every time WWE comes to the UK they are always blown by the atmosphere that Brits provide. We love our wrestling over here and we get pretty passionate about it, you just need to watch ICW, PROGRESS, RevPro to see the reactions that guys get. Add to the equation the fact that this is the first time WWE have ever done something like this in the UK and you can guarantee that the crowd in Blackpool will be losing their minds.

To Become a Fan of Guys You’ve Never Heard Of:

Even for someone who likes to keep a keen eye on British wrestling (I mean I write about it so I have to), there are a couple of guys in the tournament that I had never seen before. Obviously I had seen their names but due to the fact that they either only work shows that aren’t widely available or I’ve just overlooked them, I had never actually seen them wrestle. In the process of writing this article I’ve now seen them all work and I can guarantee that you’ll be surprised at how good they are.


Matches I’d Like To See

WWE UK Competitors

Credit: WWE

Trent Seven vs Wolfgang:

These two have been feuding over the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, and recently had a Steel Cage Match in front of 6,000 on iPPV… to see them go at it in a WWE ring would be surreal. Not to mention the fact that they are both incredible wrestlers and would put on a great match!

Tucker vs Saxon Huxley:

This would be the perfect underdog match, the small high flyer against the big monster. I think these two would have a fun match and would really get the crowd behind Tucker, making for a great atmosphere.

Tyler Bate vs Trent Seven:

Two members of British Strong Style colliding, this would be an epic match-up with two of the top BSS wrestlers in the world right now going against each other. I imagine this have a real old school World of Sport feel to it, and would really showcase what British Wrestling is all about.

Mark Andrews vs Pete Dunne:

As soon as Mark Andrews was announced I knew this match needed to happen. Pete Dunne’s first ever match was against Mark Andrews and every time they compete they tear the house down. I’ve never wanted to see a match more in my life, if they could recreate their BOLA 2016 match then this would be special.


Predictions

WWE UK Championship

Credit: WWE

I thought it would be a good idea to gauge people’s opinions on who they think will take home the gold, I’ll start off with my own:

My pick is Tucker. The ultimate underdog, Tucker has shown a lot of promise over the past few years and has continued to improve. I can see his style going over well with the live audience and those watching at home, which will certainly help him progress in the tournament.

Mark Anthony (@AnsoniiSan):

My pick to take thing the whole thing in WWE’s UK Championship Tournament is Pete Dunne and the reason is simple, he’s a title collector. Almost every title Pete has gone for he’s gotten, he won’t be stopped. In all seriousness I just think Pete is the best pick here, he’s very young and has already proven himself to be someone you can build a division around. Dunne is the franchise player WWE needs to put at the forefront of their new UK movement and this month he’ll prove that to the whole world.

Billy Strachan (@VoiceOfOSW):

I’ve got to back the only Scotsman in this tournament, Wolfgang, one of the most versatile wrestlers in the tournament with plenty of experience. Plenty title experience hitting a grandslam of championships in Scotland where he currently holds the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, only being out-titled by Pete Dunne who I would love to see face The Big Bad Wolf. Big match experience in front of The Barrowlands and The SSE Hydro, a favourite in my opinion.

Mark Leslie (@markmeatsix91):

My pick is ‘The Guv’nor’ Danny Burch because he is an absolute beast, the guy has completely transformed since we last saw him. Possibly the most experienced wrestler in the tournament, he has done everything that an independent wrestler can do in the UK and his past WWE experience will really help him in this.


You can catch the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament on the WWE Network on January 14th and 15th at 8pm GMT. 

If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to contact @KyleWattUK and @WrestleRopes on Twitter.

Make sure to like our page on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest happenings in British wrestling. 

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