This weekend WWE present the WWE UK Championship tournament to crown the first ever UK champion. Pro wrestling has been thriving in the UK for quite some time. Their independent scene with the likes of Progress, ICW, Rev Pro, Fight Club Pro, OTT in Ireland and many others have been blowing away the independent wrestling scene in the United States. The UK and Ireland is loaded with talent and now the world will get to see what they’re all about. Here is a look at some of the talents to watch out for this weekend.
Known as “The Bruiserweight”, Dunne currently holds the top titles in Progress and OTT. Dunne is one of the favourites to win this tournament and is probably the guy with the most buzz surrounding him after having a major breakout 2016. Dunne at 23 years old has 11 years experience and has always been an excellent talent, but he really began to breakout in late 2015 when he became OTT champion for the first time, and as a heel began to discover “The Bruierweight” and become one of the top talents in Europe. This run in OTT began to open the door for him in companies like Rev Pro and Progress over the last several months. Dunne is a very gritty, no nonsense, hard hitting style wrestler. He uses lots of hard forearms and has become known for biting his opponents fingers, something that has gotten over in a big way. Dunne comes across as a combination of Bryan Danielson and Fit Finlay. He has recently had excellent matches with the likes of Tomohiro Ishii, Yuji Nagata, Chris Hero & Zack Sabre Jr.
At 36 years old, Trent Seven is somewhat of a veteran in tournament despite only really making a name for himself over the past couple of years. He is most well known currently for his tag team with Tyler Bate, Moustache Mountain. He described his style as “British Strong Style”, which is also the name of the faction he is part of in Progress along with Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne. Seven & Bate are the current Progress tag team champions and also compete in Rev Pro, WXW in Germany, as well as others. Seven is an extremely physical competitor and would be an immediate fit in the NJPW NEVER division. Seven is another favourite to win and at least get to the final where he could potentially clash with both of his British Strong Style partners.
Andrews is probably the most well known name in the tournament to American fans after spending the last two years in TNA and becoming a regular for PWG since 2015. Andrews is one of the smoothest high flyers on the UK scene. He uses a lot of Lucha style moves in his arsenal and has incredible accuracy with his dives. Because of his name and appeal as a very likeable babyface, Andrews is another guy that has a big chance of winning this tournament. Andrews will likely clash with Dunne in the tournament. The two are very close friends and have had spectacular matches all over the world for many years, with their most notable coming in the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles.
At 19 years old, Bate is a pro wrestling prodigy and maybe the worlds oldest 19 year old. Bate has several years experience and has been very good for a few years, so there is no telling what kind of a huge future Bate can have. To describe Bate’s style to someone who has never seen him before, he’s very similar to Jack Gallagher. He uses lots of old school “World of Sport” moves and strong man stuff. Watch out for his deadlift German suplexes, which are incredibly impressive. However, he is not limited to that. Bate has incredible range. He can fly, he can brawl, he can have a very physical match and he is also a great comedy wrestler. Bate competes in companies such as Progress, Rev Pro, OTT, WXW and everywhere in between. Bate has proven that he can work as both a babyface and a heel or in a tag team or as a singles, so he has a lot to offer WWE, but there is no need to rush him into winning this tournament because he has his whole career ahead of him.
Devlin is one of the best kept secrets in European wrestling and is the Republic of Ireland’s only representative in this tournament, making him the only competitor in the tournament not from the UK. Devlin comes from Bray Co. Wicklow, the same town as Finn Balor, someone who has been a mentor and a huge influence on Devlin. Devlin has spent the last 18 months on a tear in OTT and if you aren’t familiar with OTT you likely won’t have heard of him. Once this tournament ends you will be hearing a lot more of him and he will be popping up all over the place. Devlin has spent time in Zero 1, so his style is Japanese influenced. He can also take to the air and grapple on the mat. He had an outstanding match with Tyler Bate in OTT last June, which was a match entirely based around mat wrestling. They managed to keep a rowdy, drunken, Dublin crowd in the palm of their hand for its entirety, making it one of my favourite matches of the last year. Devlin has really shown his charisma since turning heel during the summer and has scored big wins over the likes of Big Damo and Chris Hero. Devlin has been featured heavily in promotional material for this tournament, so expect a breakout weekend for him.