There hasn’t been much in the way of updates about WWE’s plans for a United Kingdom wrestling show lately, but that doesn’t mean the wheels aren’t turning on it. A report from PWInsider posted earlier tonight (Oct. 19) revealed a ton of details about what the company hopes to do with the series - and much of it is completely new information.
Up until this point, it was believed the roster signed for this past January’s United Kingdom Championship Tournament (UKCT) would eventually be used for an ongoing program on the streaming service, WWE Network - a la 205 Live or NXT. According to Mike Johnson’s sources, however, the show is being pitched to traditional British broadcasters as a property which “would be produced in Great Britain featuring an all British cast of characters.”
A couple of things really stand out about the plans laid out by PWInsider. One is that the series is titled WWE King of the Ring, after the tournament-centered pay-per-view (PPV) which ran from the 1990s until the mid-Aughts. King of the Ring has returned as a television gimmick intermittantly since then - the last time being in 2015 when Bad News Barrett won - but as its a brand with name recognition they weren’t doing anything with regularly anyway...
The other item of note is that one of the networks WWE is supposedly pitching to is ITV, who brought back the iconic British wrestling show World of Sport as a New Year’s Eve special in 2016. That broadcast led to Jeff Jarrett and Impact Wrestling’s parent company Anthem Entertainment attempting to launch an ongoing World of Sport promotion, even going so far as to hold a press conference to announce tapings. That was as far as it got, however. Insider says wrestlers have told them the deal fell apart because Jarrett and Anthem wanted it to be an ongoing show like U.S. wrestling, and ITV wanted a shorter “series” similar to how most programs are sold in the UK.
The Dec. 31 World of Sport show allegedly caused WWE to rush into the market with the two-day UKCT and to re-sign Jim Ross, who did play-by-play and helped produce the special.
It’s unclear whether or when King of Ring would appear on WWE Network worldwide, and that will probably be an element addressed in negotiations for whatever broadcaster partners with WWE on the show. PWInsider’s report reminds us that Progress and Scotland’s ICW are linked to The ‘E with the goal of putting their shows on the Network’s tiered-system. But that’s been rumored for longer than a UK wrestling show, so don’t expect any imminent announcements about their availability on the service, either.
In saying WWE is readying a pitch, Johnson is saying that all of this is currently in the planning stages, so we’re a long way from negotiations, let alone a launch.
Still it’s the first news we’ve had on the company’s plans for the market and stars like Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate in quite some time. That it’s notably different from the last model we heard about also makes it very interesting.
What do you think, Cagesiders - especially those of you across the pond? Is WWE King of the Ring a show you’d make time for every week?