WWE announced today via its website and social media platforms at a press conference at the O2 Arena in London, England today that beginning in January, they will conduct a 16-man tournament on the WWE Network to crown the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Champion. The tournament will be called by WWE Head Commentator Michael Cole with colour commentary provided by surprise signing Nigel McGuinness, the former ROH Superstar who recently left his position as Ring of Honor “matchmaker” to sign with the WWE.
While details of the format are limited, it will emanate from Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom and will be taped over two full days. Here’s a look at the 16 competitors in yet another tournament joining the WWE Network’s line-up that already includes the annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, the Cruiserweight Classic and the upcoming World Women’s Classic. And will many will lament the lack of such UK stars as indie stars like Will Ospreay or Zack Sabre Jr. (due to other contractual commitments) or possible former WWE stars like Wade Barrett, there’s lots of emerging UK talent being represented in the tourney.
Here’s a look at the 16 competitors who will compete in the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament.
MOUSTACHE MOUNTAIN: Trent Seven (Wolverhampton, England) & Tyler Bate (Netherton, England)
Arguably two of the best known entrants, these two have been an emerging sensation on the indie circuit worldwide, from Revolution Pro to WCPW to NJPW to Chikara. They’ll be going solo in this tournament, with both men getting the opportunity to shine individually.
“THE BRUISERWEIGHT” PETE DUNNE (Birmingham, England)
He nearly made the CWC this past summer, but he’s got his foot in the door now. Pete Dunne is the current reigning Progress Champion (where he’s feuded with the likes of Will Ospreay) and is also the Progress Tag Team Champion (with Trent Seven, another entrant) and is perhaps the leading favourite to win the inaugural WWE UK Championship.
JOSEPH CONNERS (Nottingham, England)
He’s the former WCPW Champion who is rapidly becoming one of the UK’s most intriguing Superstars, with recent stand-out matches against the likes of Cody Rhodes, Martin Kirby, Joe Hendry and Drew Galloway (he defeated him for the WCPW title).
WOLFGANG YOUNG (Glasgow, Scotland)
The reigning Heavyweight Championship in Glasgow’s Insane Championship Wrestling, he’s another UK indie veteran.
TYSON T-BONE (Worcester, England)
A 2-time Preston City Wrestling Champion, T-Bone is also a former Tag Team Champion partner with WCPW’s Rampage Brown.
TUCKER (Northern Ireland)
He’s worked primarily the Irish and UK indie circuits, where he’s a mainstay with Pro Wrestling Ulster (PWU).
JORDAN DEVLIN (Bray, Ireland)
A regular in Ireland’s Over The Top Wrestling promotion, he’s worked all over the British isles. He was trained by WWE’s Finn Balor.
“BODYGUY” ROY JOHNSON (England)
A young wrestler who is a product of the Projo (Progress’ wrestling school), where he was trained by Jimmy Havoc amongst others.
HC DYER (England)
Another newcomer on the UK scene, he’s a mainstay in Leicester Championship Wrestling and Southside.
JACK STARZ (Leicester, England)
Starz is a pupil of current NXT trainer Robbie Brookside and has been making a name for himself across the UK indie circuit.
SAM GRADWELL (Blackpool, England)
A 7-year veteran of the English indies under the name Ricky J. McKenzie, Gradwell is a regular for Grand Pro Wrestling.
JAMES DRAKE (Blackpool, England)
Another wrestler who will be wrestling in front of a hometown crowd, Drake has been seeing a lot of action in Progress as of late, as well as Future Shock, where he held the FSW Adrenaline Championship for 357 days.
DAN MOLONEY (Birmingham, England)
At only 19 years old, he’s the youngest member of the tournament, but Moloney is already a veteran of many UK indies including ICW, ATTACK and Southside.
CHRIS TYLER (England)
A regular with LCW and Southside, he’s more known for his tag team wrestling as part of Stixx and Flips.
“MUSCLE CAT” SAXON HUXLEY (Hartlepool, England)
A pupil of WWE Superstars Lance Storm and Brian Kendrick, at 6’4″, 230 lbs., this 6-year veteran of the UK indies is one of the larger men in the tournament.
RINGO RYAN (Liverpool, England)
A ten year veteran of one of England’s oldest promotions, Liverpool’s All Star Wrestling (ASW), Ryan is sure to inject a little humour into the tournament.
TIGER ALI (Swindon, England)
WWE sure loves it’s Middle Eastern gimmicks and Tiger Ali is one of UK’s Middle Eastern heel types (even billing himself from Iran). He’s currently a wrestler for the UK’s 4 Front Wrestling promotion.