In July 2018, the first block of NXT UK shows was filmed in Cambridge and, since then, WWE has maintained a steady flow of two-day events to create six weeks of NXT UK content for the WWE Network.
With the next NXT UK TakeOver taking place in Cardiff on August 31st 2019, WWE continues to put its weight behind the United Kingdom offshoot of NXT, but there’s still so much more to do.
NXT, in the US, runs regular house shows. It’s a way to get more of the talent in front of audiences, to try new things and further hone the skills of the deep roster from which NXT benefits. For audiences, it helps keeps NXT fresh in the mind and for WWE it occasionally gives them content to use in video packages and “see it live” moments.
For most fans, house shows, no matter which WWE brand they represent, are self-contained events that don’t impact what’s on television, but occasionally (and rarely) WWE throws in a surprise moment that creates a buzz on social media.
NXT UK, so far, hasn’t gone down the house show route, but it’s definitely something that must be in consideration. With many of the NXT UK talent seemingly unable to work independent dates, or able to work only select independent dates and for a small number of companies, it means that there’s a proportion of the roster who don’t get to perform for the enthusiastic British wrestling fan base on a regular basis.
At the time of writing, with 31 members on the NXT UK roster (according to Wikipedia) and many more who have made the odd appearance here and there, NXT UK is in prime position to run weekly shows to drive interest in their product amongst the all-important casual wrestling fanbase and amongst British wrestling fans.
WWE will likely increase its United Kingdom roster on a regular basis through its tryout system, especially with the WWE UK Performance Centre being at the centre of WWE UK. If its path follows the WWE Performance Center in the US, there’ll be a number of wrestlers in developmental, moving onto house shows as they become “show ready” before potentially joining the core NXT roster who are “TV ready”.
With so many wrestlers to choose from within the UK and Europe alone, WWE UK can cherry pick the best of the talent and keep an eye on those who are developing their skill set.
Talent acquisition aside, WWE is a company in a fortunate position when it comes to venue choice, too. Whether they’re running iconic locations such as Royal Albert Hall or the ever popular Butlin’s Minehead, WWE has the pick of the pack when it comes to venues in which to present their product and there would be little doubt that some smaller venues would be enthusiastic for regular bookings from a big company.
As great as it would be to see NXT UK at the 20,000 capacity o2 Arena in Greenwich, there’s plenty of four-figure venues that would fit the house show bill. Hull’s recently opened Bonus Arena seats 3,500 and Plymouth Pavilion houses 4,000 (standing), and those are “small” arenas.
By British wrestling standards, these are large venues, but for WWE it’s potentially an achievable sell-out, especially if NXT UK only came to select venues in major cities a few times a year, whilst running even smaller venues in between – there are fifty-one cities in the UK all with city halls. City halls were a long time staple of British wrestling, yet far too few are the home of the squared circle in the 21st Century.
Of course, this is all speculation, but with the rumours that BT Sports will soon be the home of WWE content, there’s a chance that the subscription channel could be the home of NXT UK for terrestrial viewers. BT Sports would want to show off one of the jewels in their sporting crowd to bring in a new audience. What better way to do that than by NXT UK finally running weekly house shows?
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE