When WWE announced the reutrn of the United Kingdom Championship tournament, fans were excited and now the Universe has a preview of who will be in this year’s tournament.
In a news release, WWE announced the first eight participants in the U.K. tournament and fans who follow the British wrestling scene may see some familiar names.
Zack Gibson – Liverpool’s No. 1 wrestler, Current Progress Tag Team Champion with James Drake as a part of the Grizzled Young Veterans.
Gentleman Jack Gallagher – WWE superstar in the 205 division, 2016 Cruiserweight Classic competitor.
Dave Mastiff – inaugural World of Sport Wrestling Champion and Revolution Pro Wrestling British Heavyweight Champion
Kenny Williams – three-time ICW Zero-G CHampion, BCW Openweight titleholder.
El Ligero – journeyman who has won titles all over the world among them, the WCPW Internet title and Magnificent 7 Briefcase holder.
Joseph Conners – former WCPW CHampion, current British Wrestling Revolution Heavyweight Champion.
Amir Jordan – has wrestled in Europe and is the current 3CW North East Champion. Although Jordan is from Pakistan, he primarily wrestles in the U.K.
WWE had success in 2017 with the first tournament, which introduced several United Kingdom wrestlers who have become popular with WWE fans, including tournament winner Tyler Bate, who became the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Champion, and current U.K. titleholder Pete Dunne.
Originally the tournament was going to lead into a show showcasing U.K. talent, but those plans are delayed for now. Despite no permanent show, several talents from the U.K. tournament have gone on to wrestle at WWE events, and some have even become – unofficially – a part of the NXT brand.
This year’s U.K. tournament is different than last year and WWE is making this year’s tournament a bigger event with NXT taking the forefront.
On May 14, 2018, WWE announced the first-round matches in the tournament will take place at the 2018 Download Festival on June 8–10 and the rest of the tournament will continue on June 18-19 at Royal Albert Hall.
In addition to the conclusion of the tournament,fans will have the opportunity to watch a dream as Dunne teams up with his British Strong Style mates Bate and Seven to take on the Undisputed Era’s Roderick Strong, Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly.
On June 19, the winner of the tournament face Dune for the United Kingdom Championship.
According to Live Nation, which is selling tickets for the event, the card will also feature NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler defending her title against an unarmed opponent – there’s speculation that it could be Toni Storm, who according to reports is advertised for WWE’s UK Tournament.
The website also lists the NXT North American and Tag Team titles will be defended.
Some may see the addition of more NXT talent as taking away from the U.K. competitors, but it’s a chance to bring in more members of the WWE Universe.
Personally, I like WWE having the first round of the tournament at the Download festival, then holding a two-day event. It’s akin to what New Japan Pro Wrestling does for their big tournaments.
With the tournament’s first round being weeks away, WWE should reveal the remaining eight competitors in the day to come.
NXT UK Premiers on WWE Network October 17
WWE has officially announced the premier of NXT UK on the WWE Network, in a Twitter post that appeared on Wednesday morning.
Per the announcement, the UK division of the NXT brand will debut on October 17th at 8pm BST and will air weekly, featuring male and female wrestlers in the UK.
BREAKING: #NXTUK, a new weekly episodic series featuring the greatest male and female competitors from the UK, will stream on @WWENetwork on Wednesdays beginning 17th October at 8pm BST. pic.twitter.com/L8wVJquMdF
— WWE UK (@WWEUK) October 11, 2018
Lita Praises Bianca Belair
WWE Hall of Famer Lita had some high praise for NXT superstar Bianca Belair, noting her “great attitude” and how “physically gifted” she is, adding that “when I very first saw her she had that intangible star quality that I just want to see more”, during an interview with The Sun.
“Down at the performance center, all the guys at NXT are in the ring every day and in class,” Lita said. “They have everything they need to learn and there is so much talent in regards to physical ability and thinking about their character. But for someone to have that intangible star factor… Bianca Belair, along with some other the others there, is very talented.”
Lita is also impressed with how Blair uses her hair as a weapon.
“It’s crazy, no-one has ever used their hair as a weapon. It’s so cool how she thought of that and how it works. She sure has that star quality and uniqueness.”
Johnny Gargano Talks NXT, Dream Matches
NXT superstar Johnny Gargano remains one of the most popular superstars on the brand and while his callup to the main roster seems imminent, he prefers to stay on the NXT brand, a brand he takes a lot of pride in.
“I do not see why not, everyone’s dream – and mine too – is to wrestle at WrestleMania, but right now NXT is such a special place” Gargano said of a potential call up, during an interview with the Daily Star.
“We are focused on building something wrestling fans can be proud of, and we are building it together.”
But Gargano, during a recent media session, discussed some dream matches he would want to make a reality when he does make it to the main roster.
“[…] so I’m going up to the main roster…after I win the NXT title and everything’s done. After that, man, I’m gonna say, obviously Daniel Bryan” Gargano said. “That’s a dream match that a lot of people would love to see now.”
“I think I just posted a Tweet recently that the internet went nuts for, and that’s me and Seth Rollins,” Gargano said. “Because, of course, I wore my Captain America Infinity War gear and he just wore the Thanos gear, so you never know what can happen there.”
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