This past weekend saw the crowning of a UK Champion in the WWE and relationships blossom with WWE and UK wrestling promotions. We also had confirmation of another Hall of fame inductee. It’s been a pretty good week for wrestling and we’re fast approaching Royal Rumble, so the hype continues. Welcome to Shoot Talk.
WWE & The United Kingdom
Last weekend the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament took place and crowned its first ever WWE UK Champion in Tyler Bate. The first night was entertaining but didn’t really showcase British Wrestling at it’s finest. Night two however was a different show altogether. The matches were all incredibly entertaining. Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews semi-final match being an outstanding highlight, Dave Meltzer took to twitter before the match to encourage people to watch this based off what he’d seen of them before, hopefully people took that advice as the match was incredible.
The eventual winner was somewhat a bit of a surprise. I know I picked Dunne for my “Book It Vince” choice, but I’m not sour he lost, I just genuinely did expect him to be the winner of this as he (along with Bate, Andrews and Seven) were the guys of this tournament like a big 4 if you will, but the spotlight seemed to be that much brighter on Dunne.
One of the most impressive things to come out of this tournament is how within 2 nights WWE managed to create an ultimate heel for the British show going forwards, and the ultimate baby face in Dunne and Bate. Dunne attacking his next opposition at the end of the first night was the start of increasing his heat as a heel. Bate seemed to get over on his own purely by waving to the crowds, but Dunne attacking him before their matchup sent the push into overdrive and saw Bate become the underdog and fan favourite.
All in all it is a very positive time for British wrestling. There were some fears that this tournament and future plans within the UK could see the demise of the British Wrestling indie scene, with many worrying over what will happen to the likes of Progress and ICW if WWE snap up their up and coming talent.
As it stands though, we should not be fearful of this, as it appears WWE’s stance on other promotions has drastically changed since the nineties and noughties. The 2nd night of the WWE UK Championship, Progress wrestling were hosting their latest chapter in Birmingham, not quite just up the road to Blackpool, but close enough for talent to appear at both. And that is just the case. WWE sent Finn Balor and Tommy End who was a fan favourite in Progress over to their show, perhaps as a show of thanks that WWE had Progress Champion and Tag champs in action at their tournament. On the first night, owners of OTT, Progress and ICW were all celebrated on the camera and name dropped by Michael Cole (who was exceptional during these 2 days), and PWG was also name dropped. This would have been unheard of a few years back.
And the latest developments that have been breaking since the tournament finale is that WWE are in talks to broadcast ICW, Progress and OTT on the WWE Network, with ICW looking to be the first promotion to appear. The idea being that till WWE UK Show begins, the UK Championship can be defended at these promotions shows.
The weekend of WWE in the UK to me was an absolute roaring success, it showcased to the world some of the talent we have here, it’s keeping incredibly popular promotions here happy, and looks to be setting up partnerships with said promotions going forward, all in all it’s looking a very win win situation for all parties involved and especially so for us fans.
Michael Cole to take a backstage role?
A bit of news that started circulating around midweek is that Michael Cole is looking to take a more backstage role within the company assisting the younger up and coming broadcasters as a mentor. With this bit of news now out, it kind of makes sense as to what’s been happening to the commentary teams on NXT, 205, RAW & Smackdown Live as of late. I mocked Smackdown Live when they brought Tom Phillips on as a 4th announcer, Not a jab at Phillips who does a great job on NXT, but more of a “Why do they need 4?”, but if this news does end up materializing then of course it now makes sense, have Tom sit in on Smackdown Live, a main roster show and maybe not take on a main role talking, but pick up on traits from JBL and Mauro Ranello. NXT have recently added a 3rd announcer with Percy Watson. Again I assume this is a replacement for Phillips who might be headed to RAW possibly to replace Cole?
Who knows, could all be a load of baloney and WWE just want 4 commentators on Smackdown Live.
Miz moving from mid card to main event?
Smackdown Live this week did a good job in building up the title match at Royal Rumble of AJ Styles vs John Cena. It also confirmed the title will be on the line at Elimination Chamber and that AJ Styles will be in it (as Champion or not yet to be decided). The great part of this little back and forth between Styles, Cene and Shane is that The Miz interrupted and argued his case for being in the Elimination Chamber and possibly headlining Wrestlemania as a Double Champion as he continues his pursuit of the Intercontinental championship that he recently dropped to Ambrose. It’s been no secret over the weeks I’ve sung The Miz’s praises as I think he was genuinely a standout star of 2016 after the draft to Smackdown. I think credit is due now and hopefully this will see The Miz feature more prominently in the main WWE Championship picture now.
Kurt Angle to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame
Oh it’s true, it’s damn true. The American hero Kurt Angle will be inducted into the 2017 Hall of Fame class. While this is very much deserved, I can’t help but feel WWE missed a trick by keeping this news to their selves till after the Royal Rumble. They didn’t need to give up a spot in the Royal Rumble to a returning Kurt Angle, but can you imagine the pop if before the Royal Rumble match, Kurt’s music played to the surprise of everyone? The fans might well have been disappointed when Angle took a mic and declared he’s not in the Royal Rumble, just there to be there, but still the mood and pop would be massive. Of course he could participate in the Royal Rumble still? You just never know based on some of the returning talent that have popped up in the Rumble in previous years.
So as mentioned last week, this little section will be used to showcase wrestlers, or promos or both that stood out which might have gone unnoticed due to the phenomenal output of WWE there is weekly.
Mustapha Ali – A bit of a random one to highlight this week I’ll give you that, but his recent performances on 205 have been getting better each week. Despite his most recent outing on 205 being a loss to Tony Nese (who actually also impressed me for the first time), It was still a very impressive match that he put on. The loss didn’t actually hurt him as the match was pretty much all about him and his moves. He and Nese for that matter did a great job in front of a flat crowd that didn’t seem to appreciate any of 205 live. As much flack as Full Sail get, you can’t help but think had 205 been there, or at another smaller venue not right after Smackdown in-front of a more casual WWE Fan base, these guys would be getting a lot more appreciation such as they did in the CWC. That’s a different tangent though, basically, keep an eye on Ali, he’s putting on good matches on a weekly basis.
Bobby Roode on NXT 18/01/2017 – This was the contact signing for the NXT title match that’ll take place the night before the Royal Rumble. Bobby Roode’s arrival at NXT wasn’t as impactful as previous signings like Samoa Joe, Finn Balor or Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s got on with his matches and done so with an incredibly catchy theme. He’s finally in the top bracket of NXT and his promo on NXT was a glorious example of why he deserves to be considered a top bracket star of NXT. He hyped the match up as good as any boxing promoter can. A feud with Nakamura is always going to be incredible, and Roode had a promo that cut this as a big fight feel. He had a mutual respect for his opponent and ensured the crowd knew his impressive resume, but he also ensured to belittle the achievements of Nakamura with a rather nice little dig at Japanese wrestling which did not go unnoticed with the Full Sail crowd.
It’s another step in the right direction to study the ship that is NXT and get it back to the levels it was at during it’s heyday when it boasted a roster of Zayn, Owens, Balor, Sasha, Bayley, Enzo, Cass, AA etc etc. Roode was doing his utmost to make us remember that the NXT title is still a big deal and that he and Nakamura are just as capable of stealing the weekend as other matches that’ll be on.
Book It Vince
Nice and short this week. We all got 0 points. Mike and I went with Dunne, Matt picked Trent Seven. We were all off the mark with Tyler Bate winning the championship. Points stand as before. Royal Rumble predictions to appear next week.