We are fresh off the heels of WrestleMania 36 and after nearly fifty-seven years, we finally have our FIRST British male champion. Now I’m not talking Intercontinental, Tag or even 24/7, I’m talking the top prize in this sport. That is a monumental statement on its own and what a rub that is for Drew McIntyre, he not only beats Brock Lesnar, but becomes etched in history as WWE’s very first British champion. But us Brits won’t have to wait another fifty-seven years for the next, because WWE has some of the biggest and brightest British wrestlers ready to make their own mark.
The (possibly) current NXT Tag Team Champion and former NXT UK Champion, the Bruiserweight has a lot to offer. He is the master of manipulation and brings a mat base wrestling rarely seen in WWE. While audiences tend to turn on slow, mat-based styles like Dean Malenko and William Regal, Dunne is one of the best when it comes to telling a story within those four ropes and has the ability to keep everyone on their toes.
But does Dunne have the potential to make it to the top of the mountain? Of course he does, but he has one very big, or should I say small, disadvantage and is of course his height. At just 5 foot 8 inches tall, he is far from your typical WWE guy, if he doesn’t get over quickly he’s sure to become forgotten, and let’s be honest we’ve seen how quickly a push to a smaller guy can disappear in an instant, just ask Ricochet. His mic skills aren’t anywhere close to the likes of the top boys, but he can hold his own and that’s half the battle if he’s ever going to get his chance.
Match to watch: Pete Dunne vs WALTER at Takeover: New York
We can’t have a list without the first-ever NXT UK Champion. Tyler Bate hasn’t had the rise in stardom everyone was expecting after his great start winning the inaugural UK Championship Tournament. Bate quickly fell from the limelight, dropping his title to Pete Dunne, but before long found new glory in the Tag Team Division, winning the NXT Tag Titles with his partner, Trent Seven in Moustache Mountain. Since then he has not quite found his footing, often finding himself in other’s feuds, while his talent is undeniable, his lack of a persona has yet to take him to the next level.
So here’s the big question, will Tyler Bate make it to the top? As of right now, no, not a chance, but let’s not forget Bate is just 23, he became NXT UK Champion at just 19! The youngest ever singles champion in WWE history, so he is no afterthought. Bate has plenty of time to work on those mic skills, find a persona that can engage with the crowd and become one of the very best in WWE, it’ll just take time.
Match to watch: Tyler Bate vs WALTER at Takeover UK: Cardiff
Grizzled Young Veterans
Sooooooooon to be recognised as the world’s number one tag team… In NXT, but let’s talk about that for a moment. These guys have hit the ground running in WWE, first NXT UK Tag Team Champions, finalists in the 2020 Dusty Classic and are now (or at least once things return to ‘normal’) heading for big things in NXT. Aged just 27 and 29, they have a long bright future ahead, not just in the Tag Team Division, but singles too.
So we know these two are capable of becoming multiple time tag champs if they stick together, but we’re not here to talk about their tag team prowess, we’re here to discuss their potential for WWE glory, so let’s start with James Drake. Drake’s in-ring ability is top-notch, his mic skills are well, not quite yet proven, since Gibson does most of the talking, and he’s not quite over that 6-foot mark, being 5’11. So he’s got a lot still to prove, but there’s no doubting he has a great look at just 27, he has a huge upside, but will he be a top champion? It’s certainly a possibility, if he can go on the mic, he has the right attitude and gets an opportunity there’s no stopping this guy.
As for Zack Gibson, just like Drake, he is golden in the ring, on top of that his ability on the mic is undoubtedly strong, he makes you want to hate him, and he can build up a match like so little can. Then there’s Gibson’s build, which stands at 6’3, 220lbs, you add these all together and what do you get? The potential for a future world champion, that’s what.
Match to watch: Grizzled Young Veterans vs The BroserWeights at NXT January 29th, Dusty Classic Final.
While the others on this list are making their way up the ranks, Dain has already been around the block, with an unsuccessful run in SAnitY. Of course you can argue they were pretty successful down in NXT, but weren’t pushed right when moved to Smackdown and I would completely agree with you all. But the fact remains, Dain’s WWE career has so far been lacklustre, yet to win a title in his three and a bit years so far. However things are on the up for Dain, while he is waiting on his first feud in NXT, you have to believe it’s coming sooner, rather than later.
What do I see in Dain’s future? Well I was half expecting by the time this post would come out, he’d be the newest arrival on Smackdown. Why? Well for several reasons, starting with the obvious, his wife is currently residing on the roster as one-half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions. Secondly as he has already had a run on NXT and Smackdown, I firmly believe his return to NXT was a way to give him time to find his new gimmick. The only thing missing is a title run, but does he need one right now when Smackdown could use the beast from Belfast to buff up the mid-card division.
So onto the question that everyone wants me to answer, can Dain become our next British WWE or Universal Champion? Well he has the ring ability, he has the look and his mic skills are, well they’re okay, but when you look like Dain, mic skills aren’t essential, especially if you can find him a mouthpiece, just like how Heyman built Brock. So my answer is yes, of course he can, if the fans get behind him and Vince takes a liking to him, there’s no doubting Dain’s chance to climb to the top of that ladder. Speaking of which…
Match to watch: Killian Dane vs Adam Cole vs EC3 vs Lars Sullivan vs Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream at Takeover: New Orleans.