When WWE first announced the UK Championship tournament last month – which, admittedly, turned out to be a very good event – I made a video about how this probably won’t have a positive impact on the very exciting independent wrestling scene on these shores.
Unfortunately, looking at what’s now transpiring, I hate to be able to say, “I told you so…”
In the last several days, two UK promotions IPW and Lucha Forever have had to pull UK Championship participants Pete Dunne and Joseph Conners from their shows that were meant to be broadcast on FloSlam – a rival streaming service to the WWE Network. IPW broke the news on their Facebook page:
“Unfortunately in the early hours of this morning we learnt that due to contractual obligations with the WWE, certain wrestlers will be unable to appear on our FloSlam live broadcast this Sunday, namely in this instance, Pete Dunne and Joseph Conners.”
It seems as though the WWE contracted wrestlers can still appear on the shows, but only in dark matches – so not to be broadcast on the Internet.
This doesn’t exactly sound like what William Regal promised What Culture Pro Wrestling shortly after the UK Championship tournament was announced:
“There is zero restriction on anybody working anywhere, except for these companies who won’t let these fellas work for that one. They are free agents, just as long as we need them for certain dates, we’ll give them plenty of notice. This is not the “Big Bad Wolf” coming in to try and take away everything from anybody.”
This just so happens to be at the same time WWE are reportedly signing UK promotions to appear on the WWE Network. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter claims that the Scottish promotion ICW, the Irish OTT and the London-based Progress are working on deals with WWE “for all three groups to appear on the network” for “$50,000 per year on a three-year deal which would end in early 2020.” This is apparently why the promoters of those companies were shown on camera in the crowd at the UK Championship tournament.
Which might mean me being a drunken fan boy in the crowd for a load of Progress shows will now be immortalised for all time on the WWE Network.
With major and independent wrestling promotions crossing over more than ever, this might create a scenario where currently contracted TNA wrestlers are appearing on the WWE Network in real time. As the Wrestling Observer reports, “two of ICW’s biggest stars are Drew Galloway and Grado, and Bram is used as a regular. Even if WWE would put TNA talent on its network, which would be questionable, would TNA allow its talent to appear on the WWE network?”
Also in this week’s Wrestling Observer, almost as a throwaway line in Dave Meltzer’s thoughts on Raw, he described the backstage segment between Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns planning their six-man tag match main event. Zayn was haphazardly trying to come up with different plans of attack – which is apparently a shoot rib, because Zayn is well known backstage for intricately planning out his matches – while Roman and Seth acted as though he was a complete dork.
“…the purpose of this segment was not to get anyone over, or build the match. It was to establish Zayn as a total geek. Zayn does have heat on him right now. They had him say some nonsensical stuff and Rollins & Reigns rolled their eyes at him, like “who is this guy?” …this was very much about getting Zayn under.”
Unfortunately, Zayn was part of one of Raw’s best moments that night, staring down Brock Lesnar in the opening segment, and this backstage skit dissipated that good work. Meltzer doesn’t say exactly why Zayn has heat, but it does explain why he’s been so underutilised since beating Kevin Owens at Battleground last Summer.
How would you book Sami Zayn as a WWE main eventer? Tell me how you’d force Raw’s creative team to watch the last three years of NXT in the comments below.
You can still buy tickets for the aforementioned 5 Star Wrestling Show next Saturday on the 28th January, and you can watch it broadcast live at the same time with Rey Mysterio, Johnny Mundo, Drew Galloway and more in action on Spike TV in the UK, which can be found on channel 31 on Freeview, 160 on Sky and 154 on Virgin.