The WWE UK championship is now over a year old, yet there is still no word on the launch of a WWE UK brand. Meanwhile, the British independent wrestling scene has continued to grow and get the attention of fans around the world. The huge success in recent years of British stars like Finn Balor, Sheamus, Paige and Drew McIntyre (plus many more), along with the hard work of everyone in the UK scene and the growth of companies like ICW, RevPro, OTT and PROGRESS have brought the country out of a slump of several decades. Now that the UK scene is on more people’s radar, British wrestlers are getting more opportunities, whether it be with WWE, Impact, ROH, NJPW or a huge number of international independents, Britain is being recognised as the hotbed of talent that it has been for years. There are so many incredible talents in the UK who deserve to be given a bigger platform that it would be impossible to include them all, but with the launch of the WWE UK brand on the horizon (hopefully), there should be some further talent acquisitions to expand and complement the already excellent roster.
As this is a male-only brand so far (from what we can tell), I have only included male talents, but rest assured there are more than enough talented females to make a list of their own. There are also some wrestlers, like Marty Scurll, Nick Aldis, Will Ospreay etc. who are all enjoying great success on other international stages at the moment that would make it unlikely or impossible for them to be available for an immediate jump to WWE, or they would have all been included. Without doubt, this still leaves a vast selection to choose from, so who should WWE be looking at to expand their WWE UK roster (in no particular order)?
This former Rugby player from Batley, West Yorkshire is everything WWE usually look for in their recruitment process. He’s big, he’s tough and has a credible sports background, having played for several respected Rugby League teams. Having already had the experience of a WWE tryout, he is a known prospect who will continue to be under WWE’s watchful eye as he continues his training under UK legend Marty Jones (who also happens to have been William Regal’s trainer) and gets some more experience under his belt. Experience is probably the only factor that has prevented him from being signed already, so don’t be surprised if this relative newcomer to the game is heading out to the Performance Center in Florida to hone his skills sometime very soon.
Big T Justice
Big T is another emerging talent on the scene who has recently had a WWE tryout and is pretty much a no-brainer for getting signed at some point. To say he lives up to his name would be a massive understatement. The guy is HUGE. He is also a hard working, talented wrestler who knows how to use his size without relying on it to do the work for him. While experience may be the determining factor in why he has not been picked up for a development deal already, he’s been training and working shows for a couple of years and is already starting to make waves in some of the UK’s biggest promotions, like PCW and PROGRESS.
‘Liverpool’s Number One’ Zack Gibson is an established name within the UK scene, having held titles in almost every promotion you could name and having shared rings with homegrown and international talents alike. He is a capable babyface and a fantastic heel, with the ability to adapt to any style and have superior matches with any opponent. He is consistent, his promos are good and basically he would be a welcome addition to any roster. He was originally scheduled to be a part of ITV’s World Of Sport roster when the British channel was going to revive their wrestling brand, otherwise I expect he would have been a shoe-in for the original roster of signees to the WWE UK division.
As far as all-rounders go, you can’t ask for much better than Ashton Smith. Now, some people might think I just want him in WWE because I’d love to be a fly on the wall for a conversation between Smith and Kofi Kingston, where they could both only speak in the faux-Jamaican accents they were forced to adopt in their early careers. Although that’s an amusing thought, there are plenty of real reasons too. Equally comfortable playing the hero or the villain, he is able to adapt to any style and hang with the best in any situation. Whether it’s jaw dropping athletics, cringe-inducing chair-swinging or technical mat grappling, Smith can bring it all. Most importantly, he has that intangible, as-yet untapped star quality and charisma that will take him to great places in the industry, which makes him a natural fit for the WWE UK brand and platform. Which brings us to his current tag team partner…
Rampage Brown has actually been under development contract with WWE already, back when FCW was still a thing, before the days of the current Performance Center and NXT system was in place. He’s one of those wrestlers who looks the part (in that he looks like he could beat up a room full of people) and backs it up with his performance in the ring. He works well with any opponent and has proven chemistry with existing members of the WWE UK roster; most notably with T-Bone, who was Rampage’s long-time tag partner in PCW where they held the Tag Team Championship for over two years. Rampage would be a great, solid heavyweight to add depth to a roster that seems to have fewer big men than you would expect from WWE.
‘Primate’ Jason Prime
Another hard-hitting heavyweight who seems a perfect fit for WWE is Primate. He has a great marketable look and has been having some great matches for promotions like WCPW/Defiant with all sorts of opponents. Whether it be in traditional or hardcore action Primate has been rising to the occasion, plus his character is different from anything anyone else brings to the table at the moment, which would make him a great addition to the WWE UK brand.
Having a few grizzled and experienced veterans on a roster is always a good idea, especially if they are even nearly as talented as Doug Williams. Internationally recognised as one of the greatest technical wrestlers in the business, he has valuable experience, a proven track record of great matches and name value, particularly in the primary market for the brand. Another versatile performer who can fulfil a variety of roles, Williams would be an asset to the brand both in front of and behind the camera. His experience as a successful trainer in OVW and seminars around the globe mean that when his in-ring time is eventually over, he would also be a natural fit for a trainers position at the Performance Center, although hopefully he would get a good, long run of in-ring action before then.
Scotland’s ‘Iron Man’ Joe Coffey has really made a name for himself on the UK scene in the last couple of years. After a particularly brutal feud with Grado in ICW, he went from strength to strength with a multitude of UK promotions and has shared rings with massive names like Kurt Angle. He consistently has great matches with anyone and he can cut a good promo on top of that. Coffey is another wrestler on this list who is bound for greatness somewhere, so WWE may as well give him the platform now and just sit back and count the profits.
One thing that is ultimately important in building a wrestling brand is having unique characters who stand out from the crowd. Sha Samuels is definitely one such character and he lives and breathes his gimmick. ‘The East End Butcher’ (who got his name because it was literally true, being a butcher in London as his day job) is one of the best heels on the UK scene. He’s brash, he’s loud, he’s completely memorable and he is just the kind of character that WWE love. Oh, and his matches are executed with the same professionalism and attention to detail as his promos and character, so there really isn’t a hole in this guy’s game.
Lord Gideon Gray
Lord Gideon Gray is a character that will resonate with fans on either side of the atlantic and around the world. He is the aristocratic snob that everyone loves to hate, but this guy takes that hatred to a whole new level. His microphone and character work is, without doubt, his biggest strength and I can easily see him being the mouthpiece for a faction or operating in a dual role as manager and wrestler. His long-running comedy feud with Colt Cabana in RevPro was highly entertaining and he would bring some colour, character and comedy to the WWE UK division.
This is one badass, old school heel character that everyone can love to hate. He’s big, he’s angry, he’s mean and he’s as powerful as an ox. Think of 911 from ECW, but with mobility, hundreds of times the talent and the ability to cut his own promos. If you’re too young for that reference, think of Marv from Sin City (and if you’re too young for that reference, then that just makes me feel really old). Ruffneck is a veteran who would bring another layer of invaluable experience to the young roster and would be another unique character which would add an interesting dimension. He would also make a good addition to WWE’s training staff when his in-ring time is up, which would be an especially easy transition given that he already splits his time between the UK and USA. Recently enjoying a successful run in the Knight family’s WAW, he has stepped up his game and risen to the occasion as one of their main event players, overcoming a shoulder injury and getting into great shape.
A favourite in front of any audience and already like a superhero to young kids throughout the country, El Ligero is generally regarded as one of the absolute best and most hard-working performers in the UK. With some of the stories he shares on social media, you can’t help but think that he would be an ideal fit for the WWE, even if just for the way he cares about his fans and his obvious passion for the business. As far as WWE considerations go, he has a great look and his in-ring ability is undeniable, although they may insist on a change of gimmick in this instance. Having an Englishman playing a Mexican, who everyone really knows is English, hence being on a WWE UK brand, may be a bit of a stretch for the WWE office to envision. Even so, El Ligero’s talent and work ethic mean that he deserves a chance, under this name or any other.
If you are not familiar with Joe Hendry, the first thing anyone will advise you to check out are his ICW entrances. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great wrestler and his matches are fantastic, but without a shadow of doubt, those entrances prove that he is one of the funniest, most entertaining and creative people in professional wrestling today. Beyond that it’s just one surprisingly talented layer after another. He delivers great interviews, he plays heel or babyface equally well, he has great ring psychology and he even has the added credibility of being (currently) a champion in amateur wrestling. If Hendry is lacking something that WWE look for, then I have no idea what that is. Having had great matches over the last few years with a who’s who of former champions from WWE, Impact and elsewhere, he is a huge success story waiting to happen.
‘Everyone’s Favourite B**tard’ Dave Mastiff is one of those heavyweights who can take your breath away. You know how people look at Samoa Joe or Bray Wyatt and say “Whoa, that guy can move!”? Well, that’s the mould that Dave Mastiff came from. A powerlifter who has the agility to match his strength, he is another heavyweight with a marketable look and the in-ring ability to bring out the best in everyone he works with. Having faced off with some of the biggest and baddest in the business, he was one of the chosen faces of ITV’s World Of Sport revival before the plug was pulled on the project. His success on the British circuit and the fact that he had already been so close to having a mainstream platform show that he is easily ready to step into WWE UK and tear the house down.
Zack Sabre Jr
At the time of his outstanding performance in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, ZSJ reportedly had to turn down a contract with the company due to other commitments. It was speculated that he would sign with them after 12 months, but he has yet to join the company at the time of writing. He has already impressed the company and a wide audience of fans in the course of the tournament (enough for him to be offered a contract at the time), so it would be easy to reintroduce him in the context of this brand to the WWE audience. As one of the biggest British names on the independent circuit in the UK, USA and Japan (who isn’t currently tied down to any promotions with a long-term commitment), he is a natural choice and would easily become a fan favourite and one of the faces of the WWE UK brand.