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 Takeover: Blackpool Card
WWE is preparing for their upcoming NXT event, NXT Takeover: Blackpool, and after the airing of this week’s NXT, the full card is now in focus.
NXT UK’s first Takeover event hits the WWE Network, live from Blackpool, England, this Saturday.
Here is the card, at the time of this writing:
NXT UK Women’s Championship Match – Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Toni Storm
NXT UK Tag Team Championship Match – Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)
WWE United Kingdom Championship Match – Pete Dunne (c) vs. Joe Coffey
No DQ Match – Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis
Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin
WWE Reportedly Interested In KUSHIDA
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA is reportedly drawing interest from WWE, according to a report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
KUSHIDA, 35, has been the cornerstone of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s light heavyweight division and one of their most recognized stars, globally.
The report indicates that NXT is the destination if WWE were to lure KUSHIDA from New Japan.
With NXT globalizing, an NXT Japan seems like a natural progression for the brand and KUSHIDA could be in those potential plans moving forward.
Matt Riddle Talks About Joining WWE/NXT
NXT superstar Matt Riddle has been gaining popularity since his landmark signing earlier this year, and during a recent interview with ESPN for their story on the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, Riddle says that he should have been with WWE long before his 2018 signing.
“I moved my family down here, I’ve got three kids and a wife, so it’s nice,” Riddle said.
“I just wrestle in Florida every weekend. We occasionally do tours or TakeOvers, but for the most part, now I get to spend more time with my family. I’m more local, and it’s great. The training here is top-notch,” he continued. “Where I was, I was lucky to even train three times a week, because my schedule was so insane — and I didn’t have the coaches or amenities to do [much more than that].”
“I just feel like I belong here. I felt like I belonged here three-and-a-half years ago when I had my first try out.”
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