WWE UK: Could This Be The Key To Bringing Hardcore Back to the Mainstream?

Thanks to the growing relationship between the British Wrestling scene and the WWE a combination of the two worlds is set to take place once again when the WWE launch a UK series which will see tapings kick-start next month! The series will see a UK Women’s and UK Tag Team titles introduced opening plenty of doors for British and Irish talent as well as introducing a new era in the world of professional wrestling. The news of course came as no surprise following the success of not one but two WWE United Kingdom Championship tournaments taking place over the last year and a half and fans have now been left with plenty to look forward too however, there is an element of modern day British wrestling we are yet to see arrive in the WWE association shows; the style that is hardcore wrestling.

Photo: Oli Sandler

One of the biggest UK Wrestling promotions is, of course, ICW. Owned by the very talented Mark Dallas, the brand has gone from strength to strength and the over eighteens show has skyrocketed over the past few years. Drew Galloway finding his way back on the roster following his release, the rise of talents including Viper, Jimmy Havoc, and Kay Lee Ray as well as brand new unique, interesting and very entertaining storylines and characters have put Insane Championship Wrestling at the forefront of British Wrestling.

It’s been evident for quite some time that the company has an excellent relationship with the WWE, so strong in fact, the UK championship was defended on the show in a must see fatal four way and Triple H himself has spent time at ICW shows particularly over past year. Now, one of the things that make ICW so entertaining and so well received is its unique Hardcore style. Reminding fans of the ECW era, it’s talent and the storylines that pushed boundaries and create a level of escapism we don’t see as often in the world of pro wrestling today.

It’s not just ICW that have pushed the idea of Hardcore wrestling. Fellow British promotions including Fight Club: Pro which has hosted fantastic Hardcore matches including talents like Clint Margera, Drew Parker & Chris Brookes as well as international legends like DJ Hyde and MASADA, Defiant Wrestling also sport a Hardcore championship for their brand and the division built over the years has grown to become a key area in the scene here in the UK. With the two worlds set to meet in much greater detail and considering a series is being built around British wrestling including a general manager and two new championships the discussion as to how far the culture surrounding British wrestling will be introduced to the WWE/UK shows and the question as to whether there is s space for Hardcore wrestling in those shows is being discussed amongst fans.

Now, with the WWE hosting the UK shows on the WWE network, it does mean they have a little more leeway. Access to ECW shows is granted on the WWE network and so introducing a division based around hardcore wrestling may just work for this platform. While the WWE is keen to remain in the PG era considering it’s the most marketable the audience here in the UK does differ slightly. Fans are far more used to seeing talent compete in more extreme rules matches were boundaries are pushed further than what we see in modern day WWE Extreme Rules competition. Creating a platform on the WWE network where those fans can be targeted could guarantee more success not only for the network and the company but British wrestling as a whole and the direction the WWE can take this division in. The network is there for one reason, providing the best wrestling content and its here the WWE is free to try new ideas and push what they can’t technically do on TV and so why not slowly introduce a series of shows dedicated to the UK scene combined with what a good chunk of the UK audience and talent are used to in Hardcore wrestling?

It is, of course, key to note that many of the talents we see flourish in the UK hardcore wrestling scene including Mikey Whiplash, Jack Jester, Jimmy Havoc and Primate (prior to his injury) were not a part of either UK Championship tournaments. For many this has been a clear enough indication that that the style these types of talents possess isn’t technically what the WWE is looking for in the tournament itself, however, with ICW being the home for many of these names it does mean talents including Jester, Whiplash, and Havoc are one step closer to WWE exposer. If the company were to introduce a hardcore division or at least shine a light on that style of wrestling it’s these three amongst men, they should call upon to lead and kick-start the new era of WWE Hardcore Wrestling.

Of course, there are many controversial elements of British Wrestling we see that the WWE may not latch onto just yet. Intergender matches are something the majority of British promotions don’t shy away from and again this could be a platform to showcase that. We have already used their names as an example but female talent including Kay Lee Ray, Viper, and Jinny have competed against some of the best male wrestlers the UK has to offer and with Ray and Jinny in particular sure to find their way on the WWE UK shows in the future they too could lead something new and possibly be a part of re-introducing intergender matches.

Photo: David J Wilson

Whether it be Lucha Underground, Japanese wrestling or the UK Scene everywhere is bringing something different to the table, it’s what makes wrestling so interesting, however, when two of these worlds collide compromises must be made in order for the idea to work. The British Wrestling scene has plenty to offer. With a slightly more outspoken, tough crowd many are used to seeing intergender matches and hardcore wrestling a key part of British wrestling today and with the WWE creating a new relationship where there are many opportunities now open.

To keep the fanbase loyal and coming back regularly to these shows, the WWE must explore the option of possibly introducing these kinds of matches and divisions to their UK show. It’s important to keep what makes something work and something original on the plate. However, what this also does is allow the WWE to bring something back that had a strong following in the first place and to this day has a demand from fans around the world. Hardcore wrestling has been controversial from day one but if the fans are asking for it and there is an opportunity to present it in a new fashion shouldn’t that be something we see provided? We’ve seen NXT and 205 LIVE stars integrate themselves in the UK division and vice versa and so couldn’t this too give these names a chance to also further develop characters and divisions as well as create something very very interesting?