This is a cross post from our blog. Do check it out!
TNA once played host to the ‘British Invasion’ and if the results are anything to go by, the British have not only invaded but conquered too.
Of course, when referencing the British impact on US wrestling, most people start with Davey Boy Smith, the British Bulldog. Smith famously wore Union Jack emblazoned tights and was even accompanied to the ring by a real-life bulldog named Matilda who played a part in storylines, being dog-napped by ‘The Islanders’.
In 1997, Smith won a tournament to be crowned the first WWF European Champion, a title he regained two years later but which was later unified with the Intercontinental championship. He was also an Intercontinental champion, two-time Hardcore champion and a double Tag Team champion, once with fellow countryman and cousin Tom Billington aka the Dynamite Kid.
Other British stars followed suit. William Regal, who will be undertaking a UK speaker tour is a seasoned veteran having captured Tag-Team, Hardcore, European and Intercontinental Gold not to mention being crowned King of the Ring in 2008. Doug Williams took TV, Tag-Team and X-Division championships with TNA not to mention a host of other accolades in British, US and other indie promotions across the world.
Smith certainly paved the way for high-profile British athletes in American wrestling but some might argue that his achievements have been surpassed, if not his legacy.
Less than a fortnight ago 21 year old ‘Paige’ (real name Saraya-Jade Bevis) won the WWE Divas Championship on the company’s flagship show Raw. She was the first British woman to do so since Layla (Layla El) whom held the title in 2012 having previously won the now retired Women’s Championship in 2010. Paige is a young and extremely capable and exciting wrestler and the future looks bright for her.
However, Paige is not the only Brit climbing the championship ladder. Until very recently, TNA’s Magnus was their World Heavyweight Champion. Magnus remains the first ever Brit to have won such a title for a major US wrestling organisation in over 108 years and was proudly parading the belt in front of UK fans and at the Houses of Parliament when TNA held their UK live shows in January. At the time, Magnus said: “It’s also important to… hopefully show the young British talent that there is no glass ceiling; you can be a top guy!”
If a glass ceiling does exist, current British stars certainly seem to be smashing through it. For WWE other than Paige, there is Wade ‘Bad News’ Barrett. Already a three-time intercontinental champion, it looks like there is only good news for him in the future. Whilst at TNA the indefatigable Rockstar Spud has risen straight to the top having won the promotion’s British Boot Camp and now serving as a storyline Chief of Staff to TNA supremo Dixie Carter. We hope to have exclusive news about Spud in our next blog…
The British promotions are continuing to produce thoroughbreds. All-Star Wrestling and LDN wrestling brought us Magnus and Paige came by way of WAW. WWE and TNA continue to scout UK athletes through these promotions and UK training schools and the market for UK talent is wide open. It may be too late for Paul Revere to be forewarning his compatriots because in the US wrestling context, the British are well and truly here.