The United Kingdom tournament is shaping up to be a very exciting event. Occurring on Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15, the conclusion will crown the very first U.K. Champion. To reduce any chances of the division failing like the European Championship, WWE was quick to focus on the recruitment being from actual talent residing in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Per the press conference from Triple H, the tournament will be held at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, England. Moreover, the goal of the tournament is to boost the division to become as popular as NXT and the Cruiserweights. Based on the WWE logic, beginning the division with crowning a champion will spark interest in people wanting to watch the product.
While there has not been any formal announcement about a timeslot of when this division will air on the WWE Network or if it will be featured on either Raw or SmackDown Live, there is one announcement that was quite pleasing to diehard wrestling fans.
Former Ring of Honor World Champion Nigel McGuinness has been brought over from ROH to assist with the development of the division and to commentate. McGuinness was formerly alongside Kevin Kelly as a color analyst as well as the matchmaker.
Understandably, this is not a decision that ROH agreed with, as he has been a mainstay with the company for a number of years, pre- and post- his Desmond Wolfe gimmick in TNA.
According to WrestleZone, via PWInsider, ROH officials were not aware that McGuinness was leaving ROH for WWE. As a result, the decision was not well-received.
Despite this, WWE mentioned ROH during their recent interview with McGuinness.
“A contemporary of several Superstars in promotions like Ring of Honor – including WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, WWE Champion AJ Styles, SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan, former NXT Champion Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Austin Aries and Cesaro, among others – McGuinness was seen as one of the best indie wrestlers in the world until an injury cut his in-ring career short. He later found a new way to share his unique take on the mat wars with fans, joining ROH’s broadcast team before finally making his way to WWE last month.”
As you can see from the article excerpt, WWE also mentioned that a number of other competitors came from ROH. Moreover, they also mentioned that McGuinness was a member of the ROH broadcast team.
From what this indicates, especially WWE comparing ROH to indy wrestling, the company is not very concerned with them as any form of competition. However, they are looking at ROH as recruiting grounds to retrieve more talent for projects outside of WWE main shows, such as Roderick Strong recently appearing on NXT and Cedric Alexander appearing in the Cruiserweight division.
McGuinness was asked by WWE about joining the staff, and he responded by stating it is surreal and that this has always been a childhood dream. He added that he did not think this was going to happen over the past few years, as he is turning 41 and felt that his career in the professional wrestling industry was coming to a close after nearly 20 years.
Retiring in 2011 due to personal reasons, McGuinness stayed invested in the ROH brand, as the company had such an impact on his wrestling career in the United States. Although his Desmond Wolfe character in TNA did not shape up to be successful, he was received with open arms when he returned to ROH in an administrative role.
Becoming a member of the ROH broadcasting team was very instrumental in McGuinness landing a position on the WWE U.K. team, and he should be a great fit alongside Michael Cole.
[Featured Image by WWE]