The Only First And Last Champion: Tyler Bate

Tyler Bate NXT UK

Tyler Bate will defend the NXT UK Championship against Bron Breakker at NXT Worlds Collide this Sunday, September 4. It will mark the final defense of this championship as it will be unified with Breakker’s NXT Championship. 

This makes Bate the only person to be the first and last holder of a WWE championship. Bate was the inaugural person to hold the NXT UK Championship – then known as the United Kingdom Championship. He defeated Pete Dunne in the finals of the United Kingdom Championship tournament in January 2017. 

The Only First And Last Champion: Tyler Bate

Tyler Bate As NXT UK Champion 

Bate also holds the record for the two shortest reigns as NXT UK Champion. When he faces Breakker to unify the championship with the NXT Champion he will have held the gold for four days. Although, as he won the NXT UK Championship at a taping on July 7, it could be argued that he has held the championship for 59 days. Either way, it is the shortest reign. 

Bate’s first run with the title is the second shortest reign of 125 days. He lost the gold to Pete Dunne at TakeOver: Chicago in a match that put both men, the UK Championship, and British wrestling firmly on the map. The match was quoted on WWE.com as “feeling like the main event of WrestleMania” as they awarded it 3rd place in the top matches of 2017. The match was the second highest-rated WWE match of 2017 by the Wrestling Observer

NXT UK Championship: The Other Holders 

Dunne was a terrific holder of the title for an incredible 685 days. He defended the championship on independent promotions such as Futureshock, PROGRESS, and Ultimate Championship Wrestling. 

As NXT UK launched, Dunne defended the championship in the show’s inaugural main event against Noam Dar on July 28, 2017. Dunne dominated 2018 as champion and was 33rd on the PWI500. 

Dunne began 2019 by defending the championship against Joe Coffey at the first-ever NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool. The epic 34:14 encounter ended in a Dunne win. The match was followed by arguably the biggest moment in NXT UK history took place. The debut of WALTER. 

WrestleMania Weekend Show Stealer 

Dunne vs. WALTER was deemed too big even for UK soil and took place during WrestleMania 34 weekend. WALTER took the title from Dunne at NXT TakeOver: New York in another incredible contest. 

WALTER incredibly beat Dunne’s reign by holding the belt for 870 days. His successful defense against Ilja Dragunov in front of zero fans at the BT Sport Studios was arguably the greatest match anyone had during the pandemic.

He followed this up with two incredible matches in two days first defeating Tommaso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver and then seeing off Rampage Brown at NXT UK Prelude ahead of WrestleMania. The match with Ciampa featured on most lists of top matches of WrestleMania Week 2021.  

Dragunov and Vacant 

The WALTER vs. Dragunov match sparked potentially the most intense character arc in NXT UK TV after Dragunov suffered PTSD. Dragunov spent 10 months learning to overcome his mental issues before forcing himself into the NXT UK Championship picture. 

Dragunov shocked the world when he defeated WALTER and ended his 870-day reign. 

Dragunov’s reign included brilliant matches against A-Kid, Jordan Devlin, Rampage Brown, and Roderick Strong. But he never got to shine outside of the BT Sport Studios. Dragunov was forced to relinquish the championship after 319 days. 

A tournament to crown the new champion coincided with a fierce rivalry between former lifelong friends turned bitter enemies Trent Seven and Tyler Bate.      

Back To Tyler Bate: NXT UK Champion

Bate’s second NXT UK Championship victory came against Trent Seven. It was fitting as his first had come against Dunne. When the UK Championship was announced Dunne, Seven, and Bate were the hottest stars with their British Strong Style faction.  

The three will always be intrinsically linked with each other and with WWE’s UK brand. But it is Bate that will stand out as the only one to be the first and last person to hold a WWE championship. 

The go-home episode of NXT 2.0 featured Dunne – now Butch – and WALTER – now Gunther – encouraging Bate ahead of his match with Breakker. Tune in on September 4th to see who becomes the unified champion. 

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.