If I'm not careful, I'm going to turn into one of those people on the internet who tell you at every opportunity how great Daniel Bryan was in the indies and use obscure wrestling jargon that only they understand. I'll try not to. But it's the WWE United Kingdom Championship tonight! Another special edition featuring 16 of the UK's (and Ireland's) top wrestlers, hot on the heels of the World Of Sport new year special. It's on the WWE network, which I pay £9.99 a month for and very rarely watch - I really should get round to cancelling my subscription, but while I've still got it, let's have a look at all the fun!
I don't think it's really appropriate to compare the two as if they were rival promotions, because I think these guys are all friends and intermingle freely at live events. But it's probably fun anyway, so here we go. World of Sport was a mainstream ITV production, so the target audience is obviously people who don't routinely watch wrestling, but maybe remember or have heard of the old days when it was a regular feature of Saturday evening telly in the seventies. The WWE championship is on the WWE Network, the internet service for people who don't get enough wrestling from the weekly shows on satellite TV and need even more supporting material. It's a smaller but much more intense audience.
World of Sport had a really cool promotional poster and a colourful set of individual pictures, while the WWE's promotional video mainly featured the group gathering on stage in identical suits, and the individual pictures on the website are all a lot more uniform...
Quite a few of the WWE crowd put across a lot of personality in those headshots though - Tyler Bate's old-fashioned moustache is awesome, Tyson T-Bone wins the prize for most distinctive appearance, Pete Dunne's nervous grin is brilliant and Roy Johnson's friendly smile is a nice contrast to all the other grim faces.
While the WOS special tried to cover the whole spread of different types of bout (four singles matches, one ladder match, one tag match, one battle royale) with an interweaving storyline, the WWE event is a straight knockout tournament of singles fights - so 15 matches in total, spread across two live nights. Unless, of course, there are some surprises in store... I'm curious to see how it'll be scheduled, because if they do the first round on Saturday and the rest on Sunday, that'll mean the finalists have to fight three times on one night, which I don't think wrestlers really like to do (Grado did it on WOS, but one of them was the battle royale and he was able to spend most of it lying in the corner of the ring while other people battled around him). So we'll just have to see what they come up with. I'll write an in-depth review, or maybe even two!