By Pete Weymouth @PETE_TBR
I had only been watching promotions like Attack, Pro Wrestling Chaos and Progress for a year when the WWE announced their plans for a UK tournament in Blackpool. The winner would be crowned the first ever WWE UK Champion, with the intention for a monthly WWE UK show recorded for the network.
The announcement was met with a mixed reaction, there were people who were excited to see the likes of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate get the opportunity to compete in front of millions on the WWE network. They would also gain recognition they deserve, there were however, others (like me) who were a bit cynical at both the timing of the announcement, which came a month or so after ITV announcing their intention of bring back World Of Sport. My biggest concern was the history of WWE mismanaging talent.
The tournament took place over the weekend of January 14/15 in the historic Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, it is considered by fans globally as a huge success, the tournament eventually being won by Tyler Bate after defeating Pete Dunne in a standout match in the final.
The buzz of the back of this about the British wrestling scene and both Tyler and Pete was huge, we all waited to see what the progression would be from WWE. Tyler Bate defended the title a handful of times on NXT against Mark Andrews and Trent Seven, he defeated Andrews again in Norwich on the WWE UK championship special filmed for the WWE network. This was then followed by a match that put both Tyler and Pete on a world stage.
At WWE takeover Chicago in May, Pete Dunne defeated Tyler for the WWE UK title, in a match that was later voted NXT match of the year. The title wasn’t defended again on WWE TV until August, Pete defeating Wolfgang in an NXT TV taping. At around the same time noises were being made about the WWE ending their interest in the UK Division.
It wasn’t a shock to hear this, the title was sporadically defended on WWE TV and the monthly UK TV shows never materialised. It left a lot of unanswered questions, my earlier cynicism about WWE mismanagement was starting to become a reality. Pete Dunne made an appearance on RAW in November, that was recorded in Manchester as part of the WWE UK tour. Pete after being announced by GM Kurt Angle, confronted then WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore. With assistance from Kalisto, Pete scored the victory, we’ve not seen Pete on RAW since.
Tyler, Andrews and Trent Seven have also been used on NXT live shows and TV tapings with little or no success. As someone who has seen all of these wrestlers in the UK, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that they have the talent and ability to succeed in the WWE. This in turn makes the booking of them even more baffling.
Come January and Royal Rumble weekend we heard Pete was pulled from a indy booking in the UK by WWE, the rumour mill began as it was reported he was needed for the weekend. What did we get?? Pete was on the NXT takeover kick off panel, saying he would love a match with Brock Lesnar. Most fans who have seen Pete wrestle know that to see him wrestle Lesnar would be a dream match, but the fact that that Pete (Tyler who also there that weekend) wasn’t included in the Rumble. What makes it even worse, an overweight Hurricane and a past it Rey Mysterio was.
Since Rumble weekend Tyler has been knocked out of the 1st round of the Cruiserweight tournament by TJP, next week Mark Andrews is facing Tozawa, which to me will have in inevitable outcome.
I’ll end my first article for Kayfabe Today with 2 questions?
- How relevant is the WWE UK title as its rarely defended on WWE tv anymore
- What does the future hold for Pete, Tyler and Mandrews whilst they are not being utilised properly?