It was in late 2013 that Total Non-stop Action (TNA) ended a drought when Magnus defeated Jeff Hardy to become the first British wrestler to be recognised as a world champion in over 108 years. Is it about time that WWE followed suit, particularly with the UK being such an important market for the organisation? That’s the subject of this latest piece from Brian Damage.
It was December of 2013, that one of the longest streaks in pro wrestling was put to an end. It happened in Orlando, Florida….at the Impact Zone where Magnus defeated Jeff Hardy to become the TNA World Champion. Despite what many may feel about TNA wrestling these days…they did something before any major wrestling promotion didn’t do before them…they crowned an English born wrestler a world champion. The WWE didn’t do it….the AWA didn’t either…neither did ECW or even WCW. None of them had the foresight to capitalize on a market rich in history and starving for a champion they could call their own.
It was a drought of over 108 years where no English born pro wrestler was awarded a globally recognized world title. Granted, Nigel McGuinness won the Ring of Honor’s version of the world title in 2007 and before that…Gary Steele won the NWA’s version of the title in 1999. While both were great accomplishments in their own right…neither were really meant with much pomp and circumstance. Why is that? While Ring of Honor is considered a great promotion of pure wrestling talent….it isn’t as globally known as say the WWE or WCW. As for the NWA…it lost most of its great luster in the 1980’s after Jim Crockett Jr. broke away from them.
The coverage for both McGuinness and Steele’s title victories were nothing compared to when Magnus won the TNA world title. Despite which side of the fence you may be on about both McGuinness and Steele’s title victories…it still needs to be noted that the much bigger promotions of the day..mainly the AWA, WCW and the WWF/E had never had a British world champion. That fact seems odd considering the huge market as it pertains to professional wrestling. It’s even stranger considering all the great Brits to come stateside including Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Steven Regal, Chris Adams, Doug Williams etc.
The main problem with Magnus’ reign as world champion was for many…it was considered so dang forgettable. It happened during a time when TNA was in a real bad place. So much talent was misused, MMA fighters were given highlighted spots over the wrestlers and many just found Magnus incredibly dry and boring. Even though PWI (Pro Wrestling Illustrated) isn’t the powerhouse wrestling source it once was…even they as recently as 2015…stripped TNA of its “world title status.”
Magnus reign just doesn’t hold the prestige anymore that it should. That brings us to the WWE and despite its braggadocios claims of being the “Worldwide leader in Sports Entertainment…” the company has never had a male Brit as a world champion. For that matter, they were behind the times in crowning an African American as a world champion and have also never had a Japanese wrestler as a recognized world champion. (Although Antonio Inoki did win the WWF title….it hasn’t been recognized in WWE history.)
It is truly perplexing considering how vital the UK market is to the WWE’s success. It is their #2 market behind the United States. They routinely do extremely well when they travel there with solid ratings…yet can’t foresee the importance of having one of their wrestlers represented at the highest level. As big and as grand as Summerslam ’92 at Wembley Stadium was…imagine how bigger it would have been if Davey Boy Smith won the WWF title instead of the secondary Intercontinental strap?
Every time William Regal went home to England for WWE events…he was treated like a rock star. Imagine the calamity if Regal beat Triple H or whomever was the WWF/E champion at the time for the world title…yet…it never happened. With Davey Boy since passed and Regal basically retired…is there an Englishman worthy of such an honor?
Is Neville that man? What about King Barrett? All it would take is one of them to be seriously pushed and treated like a main event talent. If they were given the nod and made world champion…it should also be done in their homeland as well. When the other three aforementioned Brits won “world titles” they were won here in the states. When Magnus won his title…it was in Florida…McGuinness won his in Illinois and Gary Steele won his title in North Carolina.
If and when it finally occurs, it should be done in grand style. Something right out of 1992…Summerslam or Wrestlemania perhaps? A WWE network exclusive…something where a huge audience could truly witness and enjoy pro wrestling history. It should happen…it needs to happen…it’s time to reward a fan base that has continually rewarded the WWE with their ticket and merchandise purchases. A fan base that deserves to have a hometown boy make it big.