The landscape of European wrestling will never be the same after the news last week of WWE signing several NXT UK talents to new, more restrictive exclusive deals.
However, the transformation may be more impactful than what’s been reported thus far. On the latest BritWres Roundtable, myself, Oli Court and Arnold Furious discussed new wrinkles in the NXT UK deals that have not been reported elsewhere.
After last week’s news, several NXT UK talents took to social media to answer questions about their new contracts with the most telling being Tyson T-Bone who claimed that there were “individual circumstances for each individual performer.” This lets us know that not every NXT UK talent is subject to the same restrictions or contractual obligations.
But that’s not the whole story. As we laid out, the contracts can more easily be split into three tiers:
Tier 1 wrestlers are signed to what is essentially WWE full-time deals, structured very similarly to that of traditional United States NXT deals.
Wrestlers in Tier 1 may be allowed to work some dark matches for WWE-associated promotions but only in dark matches. This structure was on full display throughout the last year when NXT talents such as Adam Cole, Cedric Alexander, and Velveteen Dream were able to work shows for EVOLVE, presumably to help live attendance, but were forbidden to appear on WWNLive. This restricted has recently been lifted for EVOLVE, allowing WWE talent to appear on WWNLive, but, for now, that is not the case with NXT UK talents on Tier 1 deals.
BritWres Roundtable’s sources indicate the resistance to show these talents on VOD or streaming services is that both PROGRESS and ICW are set to join the WWE Network towards “the start of 2019”. EVOLVE and wXw are expected to join PROGRESS and ICW on the network shortly thereafter.
There are no plans to incorporate the other WWE-approved promotions (Fight Club Pro, Attack! Pro Wrestling, Over the Top Wrestling and Futureshock) into the WWE Network at this time.
Additionally, our source indicates that this tier is much larger than initially assumed with more than just the top stars of European wrestling being restricted. A majority of those participating on NXT TakeOver: Blackpool are currently housed on this tier which includes top stars like Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate, the top women of the scene including Toni Storm, as well as Zack Gibson, Joe Coffey and more.
Wrestlers in Tier 2 can, in fact, work on VOD but only with partner promotions (PROGRESS, ICW, wXw, Fight Club Pro, Attack! Pro Wrestling, Over the Top Wrestling and Futureshock).
This tier of wrestlers can be categorized predominantly as those who are semi-regulars on the weekly show but without a featured role on the upcoming TakeOver: Blackpool.
The final Tier most closely resembles what the NXT UK deals had been prior to last week. Wrestlers in this tier can work freely across the world with the exception of what we’ll call the “blacklist” promotions (Rev Pro, Defiant, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Impact, MLW, Lucha Underground and the potential All Elite Wrestling).
Tier 3 wrestlers can show up on VOD for any promotion with the only wrinkle being that they cannot work either for anyone from the blacklist, or against any wrestler signed to a promotion on the blacklist. This caveat spans all three tiers as well.
This tier of wrestlers consists mostly of enhancement talent from the weekly show, as well as potentially one or two who have yet to sign one of the new contracts.
While overall these three tiers can be used to explain the contract situations of the vast majority of NXT UK talent, there are of course exceptions that don’t fit neatly into any one box.
- WALTER, another major WWE signing last week, is signed to a deal that doesn’t fit into either of the three above tiers. As reported, WALTER will be able to remain in Germany for the time being and will be more of a WWE/NXT freelancer.
- WWE has an option to purchase PROGRESS and ICW for a previously-agreed upon set amount at any time. The result would be the purchased company ceasing operations as an independent entity for both companies.
- Plans are in place for a UK-based Performance Center but there are no concrete details or a timeline on that just yet.
- It is expected that the recently legally separated wXw Now will undergo a rebrand and continue to offer indie wrestling content from across continental Europe after wXw’s core content moves to the WWE Network.
Listen to the full episode of BritWres Roundtable below including additional thoughts on these moves, what’s next for the European wrestling scene and much more: