WWE will crown a brand new United Kingdom Champion at a two night 16 man tournament on 14th/15th January in Blackpool, live on the Network. Michael Cole will be calling the action and will be joined by the newest member of the WWE broadcast team, Nigel McGuinness. Triple H also alluded to a new weekly show produced in the UK.
My initial reaction was a gasp, my second reaction was "that explains why Nigel left ROH seemingly out of nowhere" and my third was "I would have thought they'd bring back the European title before doing this".
After letting it stew for a while, it's making a lot of sense. The UK scene is really starting to kick into life, the only shocker is that WWE are jumping on the bandwagon relatively early.
The context here is England's ITV TV network has decided to at least run a pilot for a wrestling show, with the idea of turning it into an ongoing promotion a few months later if it should prove successful. An ITV funded promotion would immediately become a factor in the UK, so the idea is WWE wants to make that harder to do (and keep control) by signing up as many UK & Irish wrestlers as they can and are using the tournament as a means to launch the counter-concept. All the wrestlers involved were signed, but not to WWE or NXT deals, simply UK-specific deals that guarantee them a bit of money and this opportunity in exchange for not going on the ITV show or anything like it. (The various indie promotions are not affected, at least for now.)
The tournament is new news, but the idea of WWE acting in a monopoly-ish way has been circulating for weeks. And, for what it's worth, WWE denied this had anything to do with the ITV show or even that these wrestlers would be prohibited from working on the ITV show. Guess we'll see. The deals have been controversial, both because WWE is offering much more in brand and money, and because this has a chance to disrupt a vibrant UK wrestling scene. In a better world, they should've banded together and held out for better deals, but most people today go into wrestling because they're dreamers, and this is someone offering them a little slice of the dream.
WWE wins even if it doesn't hurt ITV, because they get a easy look at all these guys in their own environment and can identify who they'd like to see more of even before starting time consuming visa work. And if it works, maybe it's spun off into another hour of WWE Network programming on the cheap. Years ago, WWE floated a sort worldwide Manifest Destiny concept, setting up feeder promotions around the world to control the best talent and direct them to the central one. The expensive, and the need to relocate so many people, always made it seem improbable. Maybe they can find a way to work it out now (though that expensive seems like the biggest limiting factor; none of these ideas seem to make a lot of money in the short term.)
*This* is the real legacy of the CWC, not 205. WWE was able to pull in 32 people and a few alternates, most from outside their system, and put together a series that was both critically well regarded and met WWE's standards of professionalism. It was also a spectacularly easy way to scout some of the best talent in the niche they were looking for, and they ended up with some great people out of it who they might have not known before or might have not been able to convince to come without that tournament experience. The CWC worked, and it's going to be the forerunner to a lot of what we're going to see from WWE in 2017: this UK tournament, a women's tournament probably in the spring, a second CWC sometime later in the year. This tournament too could be a forerunner. If it works, and WWE feels safe in plopping down in a foreign country for a couple days to run a tournament with the best local talent who will sign, maybe they run a Canada Championship or an Australia Championship in 2018. If you really want to take this to the logical end, maybe they go to Japan or Mexico for one of these, and distrupt things in interesting if frightening ways. Or maybe nothing really comes out of this one except as a way to keep people happy in the UK.
Interesting. Although I am English, I am not overly familiar with wrestling here. I recognised a few names so need to spend some time on Youtube checking everyone out.
With the ITV show it seems unlikely that it will get and keep millions of new fans. Viewing figures will probably be high for this show on NYD so they need to follow up on it quickly. There are a lot of very good wrestlers who are not part of this WWE venture. The big stars are not here as they are in ROH and other promotions, and under contract there. Hopefully the ones selected will look good and show they belong in the big leagues. And hopefully it doesn't go the way of the Cruiserweights and change everything when shown on Raw.
Cole on commentary? Really?! As Matt said above, this is made for Barrett.
This is what happens when you have a company that views any competition as a threat. Not only is ITV running this pilot, but there are a bunch of new British wrestling promotions that are getting talent. What Culture has Kurt vs Cody as their main event. They are also developing new talent, a few that are heading to NXT. The WWE is trying to crush any threat even though it could be a net positive. I am so glad our new small business cabinet member came from this environment.
So, a company does what a company SHOULD do, and you find a way to complain about it. If there was a market for a non WWE show BEFORE the invention of this new title/show, then there will be one AFTER this new show. The WWE is already broadcast in Europe, this is not really going to make a dent in any indy promotions there.
Originally posted by lotjxThe WWE is trying to crush any threat even though it could be a net positive.
Meanwhile, those companies you imagine the WWE is trying to crush are publicly declaring how happy they are about this tournament and open promoting it.
Contrary to popular belief, the WWE doesn't typically make non-booking decisions on the spur of the moment. According to Regal, this has been in the works for some time and the timing is purely coincidental.
I don't want to spoil too much, just want to say that I think that the swerve on Smackdown was great, and it caught me by total surprise. For all those who were concerned about a face Angel vs. a face Lesnar at Mania, this should end all doubt.