The future of NXT UK has been up for debate over the past few weeks. Since the eruption of the SpeakingOut movement, the British wrestling scene has seen an incredible amount of change across both the mainstream and the independents, with many of its seedier characters being usurped and ultimately creating a safer environment for all performers and fans to be a part of.
WWE may have shyed away from allegations for a short while, but have since responded with the terminations of both Travis Banks, El Ligero, Chris Roberts, Joel Allan and the indefinite suspension of Gallus’ Joe Coffey. But with more and more evidence coming forth from victims from all corners of the BritWres scene, NXT UK is certainly going to be hit hard by the sudden lack of trust and support for their roster.
I think it’s safe to say that the brand hasn’t had the best of starts. The booking has been stilted and there hasn’t been much for fans to be invested in. Some of NXT UK’s better times have been the two United Kingdom Championship tournaments, and even though technically the brand didn’t exist prior to those two events, it generated a tonne of worldwide attention, which is precisely what they need to see them through this tumultuous period.
A third UK Championship tournament could be a fantastic way to reboot the brand as the country exits its lockdown. As far as plans went prior to the pandemic, NXT UK were set to host their first TakeOver event in Dublin, Ireland. It seems that they were building towards a dream clash between Finn Balor and UK Champion WALTER. I’m sure there’s plenty of fans willing to tune in to catch the conclusion to their mini-feud, especially if it were to culminate at the proposed rescheduled date for TakeOver: Dublin in October. Although there needs to be something beyond that match, that being a tournament that could determine Balor or WALTER’s next opponent.
In editions past, we saw the young Tyler Bate rise to prominence to capture the inaugural United Kingdom Championship in Blackpool. Later on, Grizzled Young Veteran’s Zack Gibson was serenaded by a chorus of boos in the Royal Albert Hall after tapping out an injured ‘Kiwi Buzzsaw’. Both times, a handful of new superstars were brought to the centrefold of British wrestling, introducing fans of new and old to future stars that went on to various successes in the burgeoning NXT UK brand. Each class of newcomers were a who’s who of the indie scene, bringing in the likes of Trent Seven, Dave Mastiff, Flash Morgan Webster and the massively popular ‘Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne, who has since become a staple of the US NXT brand.
Since the last tournament and the introduction of NXT UK as a new entity under the WWE umbrella, BritWres fans have been concerned with the longevity of independent promotions like Revolution Pro Wrestling, IPW, PROGRESS and ICW, some of which being denied access to NXT UK talent. With plenty of holes being left in the talent base, promoters struggled to book cards that drew as big of an audience as they were used to. Over the years, new characters and performers have risen through the ranks to help fill those gaps, proving themselves as capable stars that could easily transition into NXT UK if given the opportunity.
Of course, NXT UK shouldn’t be seen as the be-all and end-all of the British wrestling scene — the indie scene remains to be one of the most exciting to watch with the likes of Cara Noir, Aussie Open, Mad Kurt and Rampage Brown continuing to kill it across the country. Anybody who’s been minutely interested in British wrestling should know of at least a couple of those names, even if they are in support to the cream of BritWres; global attractions like Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay and Zack Sabre Jr. But regardless, they have earned the right to be considered some of the best wrestlers in the world and deserve a platform such as a NXT UK Championship tournament to help put them on everyone’s radar.
This shouldn’t necessarily mean that they’re all tied down by WWE contracts from that moment forward. Keeping talent under lock and key is becoming a thing of the past, with All Elite Wrestling proving that even their most major performers can occasionally slip back onto the indie scene with a special appearance or two. NXT UK should allow their superstars to do the same, to help preserve the British scene and restore faith in the community of performers and fans.
Giving the NXT UK audience fresh faces to get behind and new villains to rally against will generate the same hype that was bubbling away prior to the pandemic. Mixing up new talent with the established superstars of NXT UK will help give the brand the fresh start that it sorely needs, making for unseen dream matches and well earned opportunities to be granted to both wrestlers and fans alike.
As far as where this UK tournament happens, I personally think it should be shared between the venues that were originally set to host NXT UK TV tapings: Bournemouth, Coventry, Glasgow, all building to the finals at TakeOver: Dublin in October. All wrestling fans love a good tournament, so why not use the third UK title tourney to bring back eyes to WWE’s token UK show?
Would you like to see another NXT UK Championship tournament? Who would you want to book for the line-up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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