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British wrestling is feuding with itself over NXT UK contract restrictions

There’s always been debate over whether Triple H’s publicly stated goals for expanding WWE via global NXT territories are good for the overall wrestling business. But things have really heated up by the recent rumors & reports about restrictions on the latest batch of NXT UK contracts, which have limited where WWE talent can work, and against whom. Some reports have also indicated the company has the right to buy out and shut down partner promotions like Progress.

One side of the argument says Vince McMahon & his son-in-law are in the process of doing to the independents what the then-WWF did to the regional U.S. territories in the 1980s. The other says restrictions on WWE talent will just create more opportunities for new indie stars.

The debate spilled over into a public spat between World of Sport wrestler Justin Sysum and the British Strong Style trio of Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate.

It began when Sysum tweeted “an open letter to British wrestling”:

These words are entirely my own and do not represent any promotion or individual other than myself.

Last week it came to light, through independent UK promotions who have been left uncertain of the future, that WWE NXT UK talent have apparently been signed to new contracts allegedly preventing many of them from wrestling for any promotion outside of the we WWE banner from the start of 2019. Talent may honour independent bookings until the end of the year but are seemingly being prevented from wrestling anyone who is currently contracted to NJPW, Impact, ROH, WOS, and other major promotions. You can read more about this and the potential impact it will have on many wrestling news websites

WWE have a history of trying, and succeeding, to conquer smaller promotions. Many believe that the NXT UK brand was only reignited this year once they caught wind of wrestling returning to British television without them, signing their roster with within weeks of the TV tapings being announced. I personally fear for a future not too far away where WWE has succeeded in its mission and as a consequence destroyed much of our thriving domestic scene.

If they eventually decide that they no longer need the expense of a UK brand and pack up, this will leave us with a decimated British Independent scene. Wrestlers will find themselves with less places to work and yet still have to bow to the king that is WWE, so that one day they may be considered for a job.

I understand completely why my friends in this business would take these contracts, as for many it’s been their dream since they were little kids to work for the WWE. I’m very proud of their achievements and wish them the greatest success. Fortunately for me, my dreams are different...

I hereby pledge to follow in the footsteps of the great British wrestlers that have come before me, to continue to build the UK scene into something to be reckoned with, one that can and deserves to stand alone. Despite WWE’s best effort, unintentional or otherwise, to halt all the incredible progress, I will not pander to anything that restricts our thriving scene. I will not tip toe around it, I do not want a job with them.

I want to let every promoter, ring crew member, event staff and fellow wrestler know that we can band together and lead our industry out of these potentially stormy waters. We do not have to take anything lying down and we can continue to provide a thriving scene for fans and talent alike.

I encourage the fans of our great wrestling scene to continue to attend independent shows. I promise you, the depth of talent in this country means you will not leave disappointed. It’s your choice who the next stars are. All of the NXT UK talent got their start here with the support from you and it doesn’t have to end with them.

I’d sooner die on my sword in defeat than watch what makes our industry so free, diverse and inclusive for both wrestlers and fans alike, get eroded away as part of a ‘corporate strategy’ to Geta bigger share price and global market position.

Thank you, Your #Superhuman - Justin Sysum

That led to the following exchanges with the NXT UK trio:

Time will tell who’s right. In the meantime, maybe everyone can think on this message from Will Ospreay (who’s dream match with PAC helped RevPro sell out their Feb. ‘19 York Hall show this week):

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