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A report from Wrestletalk.com published today revealed that WWE offered new contracts to several talents after the WWE UK tapings last week in Liverpool, England for NXT UK. The new contracts are said to be much more restrictive than the previous contracts, which allowed NXT UK talent to take independent bookings in most places with the exception of promotions with a bigger presence in terms of streaming or TV presence like Rev Pro.
The restrictions don’t end there, as the report states that NXT UK talent can now only wrestle for WWE-affiliated promotions. The list of promotions talent can appear on include the following: Progress Wrestling, ICW, Fight Club Pro, Attack Pro Wrestling, Futureshock, OTT, and wXw. WWE also stipulates in the new contract that a paramedic must be on site for contracted talent to work on an independent event.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider is reporting that talent under the new NXT UK contracts won’t be allow to appear on iPPV or VOD for the WWE-affiliated promotions and can only appear in dark matches. The contracts also forbid talent from WWE UK from wrestling against talent from ROH, NJPW, and World of Sport. Additionally, any promotion WWE deems to be major can be added to this list.
Right now it appears that Flash Morgan Webster, El Ligero, James Drake, and Xia Brookside have signed the new deals, as they have been pulled from appearances in the UK due to the new contracts.
One upside of these deals according to the report, is that they include a pay raise. The promotion is going to be in full swing in 2019 with tapings for the WWE Network and it was recently announced that the first NXT UK Takeover special would take place on Jan. 12 in Blackpool, England.
Radican’s Analysis: This is definitely a blow to the independent scene in the UK and beyond. With WWE restricting NXT UK talent from where they work. There doesn’t seem to be much of an upside for WWE-affiliated promotions right now from a marketing standpoint, as talent can’t wrestle on iPPV or streaming services.
It’s not a shock that WWE is planting their flag in the UK and making a statement with these new contracts. Promotions like Rev Pro were becoming massively popular thanks in part to their access to the best talent on the independent scene in Europe and a working relationship with NJPW, but now it’s going to be more difficult for them to put together dream matches, although they will still have access to talent like Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay, and Zack Sabre Jr.
When the brand launched in 2016, William Regal did an interview with What Culture Pro Wrestling where he said WWE wasn’t going to come into town and place restrictions on where talent could work, but it’s not a surprise that this is stance WWE is taking and, if you look at the history of the company going back to Vince McMahon killing off the territories in the ’80s, this feels eerily similar, but on a lower level.
On the bright side, talent gets a bump in pay and the security of a contract, but it seems like the fans will lose out now that the promises that were made when the WWE began their expansion into the UK in 2016. The new contracts will also have an impact on NJPW’s popularity in the UK, as the number of matches their talent can have against independent talents is now severely restricted.
This is the first step of what appears of Triple H’s long-term plan that he discussed on a recent conference call where he said the plan is to have talent under contract on brands like WWE NXT where they have talent work under the WWE umbrella, but never make the main roster. His stance was that talent working under the WWE umbrella and lengthening their careers without risking their health under the security of a WWE contract.
In addition to WWE’s plan to expand with international brands under the NXT banner in the future, PWTorch has learned Triple H also has a long-term vision for all of the U.S. independent talent being signed, which includes a new class that starts in January that most notably is expected to include Shane Strickland, Trevor Lee, and ACH. One source noted that Triple H has many plans and visions and that the belief there is a method to his madness.