8 Best WWE UK Tour Moments So Far
Every time the WWE goes on a UK tour, something good happens. Here are the best moments so far.
The red and blue brands return to the United Kingdom this coming week for another round of tapings and house shows. The annual post-Mania tradition brings fans from all over the UK together for a few nights of rowdiness and shenanigans, often selling out popular venues such as The 02 Arena in London and the Hydro up in Glasgow.
Although WWE persist with their reluctance to host a PPV in Blighty, they do like to treat us with some special attractions and moments which manage to leave a legacy in not just the UK but America as well.
But what ranks as some of the best matches and moments from previous UK Tours? Let’s have a gander.
8. Wayne Rooney slaps Bad News Barrett – Raw, Manchester Arena: November 9, 2015
A household name here in England, the captain of the England Football Squad made a front-row appearance for the latter UK Tour in 2015.
Something that I don’t think Americans can wrap their heads around is that, in England, nobody likes each other. Or at least, not when football is involved. If there are two cities which have two separate teams, then naturally they will develop a heated rivalry, and much like Wrestling, fans will vie in support of their chosen favourites. Although, unlike us wrestling fans, footie fans tend to get extremely violent and do their best to get under the skin of the other team by calling them all “massive thundercunts” or something like that.
Anyway, Wade Barrett, who publicly acknowledges his allegiance to Preston Football Club, really doesn’t like Manchester United, and in turn, Wayne Rooney. Naturally, when Rooney happened to be there for Monday Night Raw, a confrontation happened which left Barrett (a legitimate badass IRL) getting the taste slapped out of his mouth by a guy half his size.
I remember the day after seeing social medias erupt with GIFs and videos of Wayne Rooney’s antics. Most of which were shared by non-wrestling fans, but were brought in just because of their interest in football. A boundary-breaking moment in the UK Tour.
7. William Regal wins the Intercontinental Championship – Raw, Manchester Arena: November 10, 2008
English fans are slowly being treated with a plethora of hometown superstars to support – especially following the UK Championship Tournament and the expansion into our independent scene. However, prior to the creation of NXT, WWE wanted nothing to do with our talent and instead opted to keep hold of William Regal as their draw for British crowds.
Regal’s career has see-sawed between him looking fairly strong and competent in the ring, to being shoe-horned into mismatched tag teams and comedy skits. He excels in both, being one of the most diverse performers in the entire wrestling industry. On this night in Manchester however, Regal was rewarded with the Intercontinental Championship in front of a home crowd.
Despite being a heel at the time, Regal’s victory of Santino Marella was one of the best received moments of the entire evening. With Regal himself conducting a post-match celebration and speech which was both heart-warming and revitalising for his career. Regal then went on to win the King of the Ring tournament that year, as well as having an exceptional series of matches with CM Punk.
6. A triple threat for the ages – SmackDown, Liverpool Echo Arena: November 14, 2014
Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd. Three of the most respected grapplers from the past decade.
The Intercontinental Championship was on the line in an incredible triple threat match involving the trio on the Smackdown edition of the 2014 UK tour. A match that had pretty much everything you could want from any of championship calibre – a fast paced, innovative technical showcase.
The match gave the IC title scene a much needed buzz for a few weeks following Ziggler’s victory, and remains one of the most talked about Triple Threats from recent memory.
5. Balor vs Joe I – NXT TakeOver: London, SSE Arena: December 16, 2015
Words can’t describe just how excited I was to see this match live. This marked the first PPV I’ve the privilege to attend, with a card which was stacked from start to finish. The main event featured the first encounter between NXT Champion Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, a match which met all expectations.
Starting strong with a Jack the Ripper inspired entrance for the Demon, Balor brought the best out in Joe and vice versa for a solid 20 minute match. The feud only escalated from there, involving a bloody rematch at Takeover: Dallas, a shocking title change at a house show in Lowell and the climactic cage match at Takeover: The End. But it was in London where it first exploded, in front of a raucous crowd that were more than happy to see it first.
4. Roman Reigns vs The Bullet Club – Raw: London, 02 Arena: April 18, 2016
Hot after claiming his Number One contendership spot on the Raw after Mania episode, AJ Styles faced down the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns, in front of a particularly anti Big Dog crowd.
I’m sure a lot of people might have forgotten about this specific promo, but it truly captured the current state of the wrestling industry – huge indie stars having to prove themselves against the WWE’s chosen golden boys. AJ Styles delivered a passionate speech, Reigns gave his best pouty face in response and was then attacked by the debuting Gallows and Anderson.
The Club had established themselves as ‘outsiders’ the previous week by running through the crowd and beating down The Usos. They pulled a similar stunt in London, by assaulting Reigns from behind to the crowd’s approval. AJ feigned shock – leaving everyone scratching their heads as to whether or not the former Bullet Club teammates were working together to put the title on Styles.
It was a great segment, made even better by an extremely vocal crowd. Coming from someone who was in attendance – Reigns’ entrance was the loudest response anyone got all night – especially his ‘I’m not a bad guy’ line.
3. The Undertaker returns to face off with The Shield – SmackDown, The O2: April 26, 2013
During the phase where The Shield dominated almost everybody on the roster, there were few that could invoke a presence against the trio which were booked so strongly up to this point. Having already defeated the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton and Sheamus – three of the most established active members of the roster – WWE needed an almighty set of opponents to pose a threat to them in London.
To everyone’s elation, The Undertaker returned to side with the Tag champs, Kane and Daniel Bryan to face off with The Shield at the 02 Arena. Personally, I don’t think either Ambrose, Rollins or Reigns have looked as great as they did on those two nights. Descending somewhere nearby the arena in a chopper, the crowd went absolutely nuts for the three when they eventually appeared.
Not only were they being given the rub of looking like absolute superstars, but they also defeated The Undertaker and sent him packing after putting him through one of the announce tables with a triple powerbomb.
2. HBK and Cena’s 60 minute special – Raw, Earls Court: April 23, 2007
If anyone needs to experience the model main event – it’s Cena vs Michaels from London 2007. In a non-title rematch from their instant classic at Wrestlemania 23, WWE Champion John Cena and Shawn Michaels put on another showcase which bested their efforts on the show of shows.
I’m not sure anyone expected them to take it as far as they did, whilst executing it as perfectly as they could. My issue with elongated matches such as an Ironman match is that they can sometimes feel a little drawn out, with the two performers failing to keep the content fresh and diverse throughout. Not that it’s an easy task when you have three times the amount of time that a typical championship main event is given.
Shawn Michaels has obviously learned a great deal since his Ironman match with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12. The match was one of the most dramatic back and forth bouts that I believe WWE has ever televised, and probably Cena’s greatest match of all time.
1. Summerslam comes to Wembley – SummerSlam, Wembley Stadium: August 29, 1992
Not a lot of people recall much from this iteration of Summerslam, aside from the Intercontinental Championship main event between Bret Hart and The British Bulldog. Drawing in a massive crowd of over 80,000, the two put on an incredible match that stands the test of time as one of the best performed IC title matches.
The London crowd were naturally behind Davey Boy Smith, creating one of the most intense and emotional victories in the history of the sport. Without a doubt the peak of his short career, The British Bulldog certified himself as a wrestling legend that evening against his brother-in-law.
Supporting this main event was a WWF Championship match between The Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage. Considering the star power shared between those two, you’d think people would be talking about this co-main event over the secondary title’s match, but this was a mere curtain jerker compared to the explosive finale. Rightfully taking its place in the middle of the card, Savage and Warrior paled in comparison to the most historic moments from UK Tour history.
– Shane O Mac returns to the UK – Raw: London, 02 Arena: April 18, 2016
– British hard man Vinne Jones is red-carded by Gerry Briscoe – Capital Carnage, London Arena: December 6, 1998
– Stone Cold vs The Rock comes to England – Rebellion, Manchester Arena: November 3, 2001