This past weekend, there was fresh speculation over the future of NXT UK… but for the show’s fans, it seems like they’d need not be worried.
The releases of Travis Banks and Ligero came as part of the fallout from the Speaking Out movement, and to some that suggested that it was the beginning of the end. While that was certainly something that had been called for, the fact that NXT UK had been sneaking in vignettes and promos in among their roulette wheel of formats perhaps should have been a sign.
After all, if they’d been dismissive of the current roster for so long in the covid-era, wouldn’t random promos from Noam Dar, Aoife Valkyrie and Ashton Smith be a sign? Yet still, despite that, and previous talk about online seminars among talent, those rumours continued to spread… but, the most recent speculation that WWE is looking to start taping NXT UK again, with or without fans looks to be true. Even if the initial line was “nothing to share” in terms of news…
Of course, all of this is subject to any change of restrictions that the British Government imposes. In the past, I’ve written about how sports have started to come back in the UK – with the English Premier League having been back playing games behind closed doors, in addition to other sports taking place in empty arenas, such as tennis and snooker.
In the near-future, we’ve also got empty-arena MMA in the UK, with Caged Warriors having fights taking place in the BT Sports studio… which is where perhaps going to be the key here. Professional wrestling tends to fall between a lot of cracks in British legislation – whereas in Ireland wrestling was named as an activity in part of their coronavirus exit plans, in the UK we’ve had nothing. No firm date for a return to general one-on-one contact training. No date for gyms opening. No date for when we can begin to plan for wrestling to return indoors.
On top of that, it goes without saying that NXT UK starting up again isn’t going to be quite as straight-forward as how WWE’s managed to keep running. For one, the UK Performance Center doesn’t appear to be readily convertible into an “arena” setting, unlike its Floridian counterpart. So in that sense, perhaps the BT Studios was a no-brainer for a return venue.
Alright, so what about the talent? At time of writing, the UK doesn’t have full-on travel bans in place (unlike, say, the US)… but existing legislation that forces arrivals into the UK to isolate for two weeks throws in a new logistical hurdle for the roster regulars who are permanently based outside the UK. Much like how NXT needed to create an interim (depending on what week it is) Cruiserweight champion because of travel issues, NXT UK would likely need to do without the likes of Ridge Holland and the Imperium pair of Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner, in addition to any referees or production staff that may get flown over from the States.
Fortunately, with the British Government looking to relax quarantine restrictions for visitors from several European countries, NXT UK could be able to bring across WALTER, Alexander Wolfe and Ilja Dragunov from Germany, along with Oliver Carter from Switzerland and A-Kid from Spain. However, while mainland Europe looks to be starting to come back in play, those folks based in the States, and the remainder of the British Isles remain off-limits – unless you want to do that 14-day quarantine – as Scotland and Wales currently do not allow residents there to cross the border into England.
So, assuming those restrictions remain in place – and that WWE don’t take any additional action against those who’ve had accusations levelled at them, they’d at least be able to continue with the main storyline that they were building to for the delayed Takeover show in Dublin, with Ilja Dragunov and WALTER set to be the main event for that show. As it stands, that show still remains on the docket for October 25 in Dublin, assuming that the situation with coronavirus doesn’t enter a predicted second wave.
Of course, NXT UK could come back with “just” the English-based talent, but that’d leave us with no champions, since WALTER’s based out of Germany, while Kay Lee Ray and Gallus all are north of the border in Scotland – which would make NXT UK a very bare bones show. Would it be an improvement on the roulette wheel of formats? Perhaps – but long time viewers of the show will remember just what “spinning the wheels” looks like. Shows that build to nothing in particular is one thing, but much like we saw when there was the threat of WrestleMania being delayed this year, at some point you’ve either “got to shit or get off the pot” – you can’t keep building a match indefinitely. Not in this economy.