Thursday, December 15, 2016

WWE to Add UK Championship, Raid PROGRESS in the Process

Bate and Seven are among the 18 announced names
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
WWE announced today that it will hold a tournament to crown a United Kingdom Champion at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, England on January 14 and 15. The event will be shown exclusively on the WWE Network. WWE had been laying groundwork for something big in the UK for the last month or so, offering unique contracts to talents that barred them from competing in certain promotions, including the long planned resurrection of World of Sport. Apparently, that "something" included this Championship and tournament. Interestingly enough, the tournament will be called by Michael Cole and Nigel McGuinness, who recently left Ring of Honor to pursue an opportunity as a trainer at the Performance Center.

Even more interestingly, the talent list includes Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, and Trent Seven. If those names sound familiar to you, it's because they all have worked Chikara in the last few years, and more pertinently, they comprise the PROGRESS Wrestling stable British Strong Style. Dunne is the PROGRESS Champion and co-holder of the Tag Team Championships with Seven. Seven and Bate tag outside of PROGRESS as Moustache Mountain, who hold the Chikara Campeonatos de Parejas as well. WWE has partnered with PROGRESS in the past, specifically to host Cruiserweight Classic qualifiers, which makes it odd that WWE would hold the tournament in direct opposition with PROGRESS' card in London on the 15th. Maybe Seven, Bate, and Dunne will work both shows, or maybe they'll all lose on the 14th. Either way, it smells fishy.

Of course, Linda McMahon was recently added to the Donald Trump cabinet as the Small Business Administrator, which makes sense since he also named an anti-public housing figure as Housing and Urban Development Secretary and a guy who got a D in a class called "Meats" in college to the office of Secretary of Energy. WWE is a small business like I'm a petite human being. WWE went national by swallowing up small businesses (the territories), and now it looks as if the pattern will hold in the United Kingdom as WWE tries to smoke some promotions out and take advantage of others. Fun!

But that's not to say that this won't be a great opportunity for the wrestlers in the process, which makes this a double-edged sword. Anyway, the full list of wrestlers, provided thanks to reporter Tufayel Ahmed, will be: Bate, Dunne, Seven, Dan Moloney, Wolfgang, Sam Gradwell, James Drake, Tucker, Jordan Devlin, Joseph Conners, Tyson T Bone, Roy Johnson, HC Dyer, Jack Starz, Tiger Ali, Ringo Ryan, Saxon Huxley, and Chris Tyler. The tournament will have 16 of those men, and two will more than likely be alternates. Anyway, it should be a fun time that puts spotlight on British wrestling and British wrestlers, which is good. But if it ends up crippling the British indie scene, then it will be bad, even worse than potassium benzoate.