This year, on the 18th of June at the historic Royal Albert Hall in London, Triple H, Founder and Senior Producer of the NXT brand, announced NXT UK. It would be the United Kingdom’s own WWE offset, set to record across Britain, with the best of the British talent that the UK Independent scene had come to love. The night was pivotal in showing that the UK was back and better than ever when it came to performing in the Squared Circle, and was evidently noticed by the bigger eyes that are the WWE.
Since this, NXT UK have been recording weekly episodic shows up and down the country, which have been airing on the WWE Network, Wednesdays at 8PM. It’s incredible to see the guys and girls that have worked relentlessly hard at this over the last decade to get our industry to where it is, on the main stage. It’s been said for a long time that the UK exports the best wrestlers in the world, and this is a hard statement to argue against if you watch the product. Hard hitting matches and fast paced action that we are so used to on a smaller scale across the independent companies throughout the British Isles.
Nearly six months on from this announcement, Triple H made another. England would see the first Takeover special, in Blackpool, in January. It’s a testament to the workers of the scene, that already the heads of NXT are confident enough to hand NXT UK their own special, that will be aired on the WWE Network. They were justified in their thoughts, as the event sold out in just three hours. It will inevitably see the NXT UK championship defended, the NXT Women’s championship defended, and the inaugural winners of the NXT UK Tag Team Championships. The interesting fact to point out is that the show will not potentially see any American imports from the NXT brand across the pond, so it will be supported purely by the British signees (not all of them are actually from Britain, mind; see Travis Branks, Rhea Ripley and more.)
With this news comes controversy, however. When the UK brands, and the UK championship tournaments were announced, contracts were offered to the UK superstars. Triple H is reported as saying that they did not want to be “The Big Bad Wolf” to the UK scene, and that wrestlers would be open to work wherever and however they pleased, as they had done for so long. This was great news for worried fans, which were then hit with slightly sadder news, in that those signed for WWE UK could only work for certain independent promotions, not those with big online presences, but more predominantly the UK Partners (Progress, ICW, WxW in Germany) and other smaller promotions. This was a slight blow to certain independents that even had some of these stars holding their titles, which meant storylines had to be changed and fan favourites were never seen again. However, for the most part if you wanted to see a certain wrestler, they were accessible across the country.
With the announcement of NXT UK: Takeover, even more interesting news is reportedly on the horizon. We have had news that new, better contracts have been offered to the UK talent, that comes with some limitations.
The contracted talent can now only work for WWE’s partner companies, and nowhere else. And inside of that, the talent can only wrestle talent that is not signed to any other company, be it New Japan, Ring Of Honor, or others. It’s looking like this is the truth, and some fans aren’t happy.
The two sides to look at are that the wrestlers that we have grown to love that built the UK Scene finally have a stable income, the chance to work on the grandest stage of them all, and have paved the way for the next generation, which is an incredible feat that no others have ever accomplished.
The more optimistic view of things is that it’s going to give a massive chance to the new and upcoming wrestlers who may have never had a shot to break into the scene and become an independent wrestling household name. Hopefully, this will usher in a new generation to the scene and it will, as it has done for the past few years, continue to thrive and grow moving forward.
Worries are along the horizon though, as with Triple H going back on his word, who knows how far these restrictions could go moving into the future.
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