What Role Does the UK Championship Have In WWE?
We've only seen glimpses of the WWE UK Championship since its inception. Once the show is on the Network, where does it go from there?
The United Kingdom Championship has had a slow yet steady start to its life in WWE. Since the inaugural champion Tyler Bate first won it back at the Championship Tournament in January, it has had somewhat of a meagre presence, televised on rare occasions and kept as an attraction for smaller British indie promotions. This past week has seen the most prolific of the UK Tournament bunch tour alongside the Smackdown Live roster across Europe, culminating at the first of the UK’s network show in Norwich.
‘The Cruiserweight’ Pete Dunne defeated Trent Severn in a number one contender’s match to award him a finals rematch against Bate at NXT Takeover: Chicago in a few weeks time. Already this is becoming the most interesting match on the card so far, seemingly being built over the course of four months, since the tournament itself. Pete Dunne is without a doubt the hottest product from the troupe, an individual who truly made a name of himself during the tournament and in the few appearances he’s had in NXT. It’s hard to bet against Dunne in the coming bout, but the question remains, how is the championship going to develop from there?
The burgeoning UK indie scene has one of the most diverse rosters, one that I’m sure is going to be cherry-picked under the new expansions made by Triple H and the WWE. The UK Championship tournament took some of the lesser-known names from various promotions, providing them with a platform to develop their in-ring psychology and refine their characters for an international audience. Names such as Mark Andrews, Wolfgang and Trent Seven have already made the rounds in globally recognised brands, but the likes of Jordan Devlin, Joseph Connors and Tyson T-Bone have the potential to become huge stars, should they enter the UK title picture. It would be natural to assume that WWE would want to use their ready-made superstars to represent the UK Championship scene. Sheamus, Neville or Jack Gallagher would be the first that come to mind when wanting to appeal to the UK markets, even though there’s an opportunity for them to make a cameo appearance in the future, I strongly doubt they’d be willing to tie them down to just that title picture.
The UK Championship is unique in a way that few mainstream titles are. It can transcend the barriers between the WWE and the independent promotions, allowing for fresh acts and hot products to develop a relationship with the ‘big leagues’. The championship itself could act as a peace offering, or sign of trust to stars which have slipped their grasp or have yet to start WWE careers. Established stars like Zack Sabre Jr, Will Ospreay and ‘The Villain’ Marty Scrull would be ideal to not only provide the title scene with some prestige and star power, but also names which I’m sure are on WWE’s radar.
Having the option to allow for Tyler Bate (or Pete Dunne) to defend and drop the championship to a rival in another UK promotion gives it that unpredictability that many championships are sorely lacking. Rising stars in the British independent scene could be made into a main event attraction, without even being tied to WWE. Jimmy Havoc, Dave Mastiff, Grado and Mark Haskins are bordering on main event calibre, by being the one to dethrone the WWE’s chosen UK Champion could only do wonders for their respective careers. Nor has there been any stated regulations upon whether an international star can win the championship, plenty of non-British stars have been tearing up venues across the pond – the US’ Matt Riddle being the prime example, as well as New Zealand’s Travis Banks and Lucha Underground stars; Pentagon Jr and Fenix.
What I think we can expect from the UK Championship picture and the incoming UK based Network show is professional wrestling in its purest form. The British style of wrestling is highly regarded and recognised worldwide, with some of its biggest names reaching household status. I can only imagine that are going to benefit massively from this groundbreaking relationship with the independent promotions, and as fans, so will we. We’re still in the dark as far as when the new UK show is going to debut, but as far as the roster goes, you can expect to see all the familiar faces from the tournament, as well as some newer talent raided in their recent tour. But who’s going to be the flag-bearer of that roster? Will it be the reigning champion Tyler Bate, or Hijo del William Regal – Pete Dunne? Comment below, y’all.