Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Mercy Side: The British Invasion in Wrestling

6 days to go...
Hey everyone, this is the last thing I'll be writing before the Noughtie series begins. I'm going away tomorrow to see a good friend in Ireland, and to watch some TNA wrasslin'. I hope you have a good weekend, and please come back to this site on Wednesday, when I kick off the Noughtie series, starting with my favourite artists of the decade (to see the entire series plan, click here). Anyway, here's another article on wrestling!

The past few years, the two biggest companies in wrestling have done something that has arguably not been done in American wrestling. They're investing a surge of British talent into their programming. We've had some decent British talent in the past make an impact in the US, such legends like Giant Haystacks, Dynamite Kid, Fit Finlay, Mark Rocco, Davey Boy Smith and William Regal. Some have been more successful than others, but all have something in common. They've never one the big one, the WWF, WWE, WCW or TNA title.

Sheamus, is the first born champion from the Republic of Ireland, something the Irish are proud of. Isn't it time the UK break the deadlock? We have more chance now more than ever. There's a fantastic surge of British talent, one that is possibly stronger than any surge in American wresting history. Let's go through the British talent in WWE and TNA now.

Wade Barrett (WWE)
Preston born Stu Bennett was trained by Al Snow at the age of 21. He had performed in America through his entire career, from the NWA, All Star Wrestling, Real Quality Wrestling before arriving in the WWE in 2007, signing for their developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling. After OVW and WWE parted ways, he moved to Florida Championship Wrestling, their new developmental territory. Two years after signing with WWE, he moved to a colour commentator position for FCW, before joining the first season of NXT, WWE's semi-reality wrestling program.
In NXT, Wade Barrett was born. He was mentored by Chris Jericho, and although he wasn't the best wrestler in the world, his work as a colour commentator and his mentor in Chris Jericho made him into easily the best talker on the show. His "winds of change" promo still sticks in my mind, as he was in front of a Manchester audience, the closest major city to his hometown. You could tell, he really wanted to be the first English born champion. Since winning NXT, he has come leaps and bounds, lead the newly born faction Nexus into one of the biggest impact storylines of the last year. He has improved his mic skills phenomenally, and his in ring work has also got better. He has had a fantastic feud with John Cena, he has main evented Pay Per Views. Since Nexus has been split into two he has now founded another faction called The Corre, who will debut officially tomorrow night.

Will he be champion?
He is one of two reasons why I am writing this article. The story of Wade Barrett is a great one. I'm so happy for him. I desperately want him to represent my country as champion, it's stupid we haven't had a British Champion in however long it's been. Wade is a very good talent, and the best thing is that he's not even close to being at his peak. He's not long turned 30, he has a good 5 years to hone his skills even further. Will he be champion? I hope so, the sky's the limit for him.

Desmond Wolfe (TNA)
From the North to the South. Steven Harworth, born in Kent, is arguably the best gifted British wrestler since Davey Boy Smith. I've had the pleasure of seeing Wolfe , also very well known as Nigel McGuiness, perform last year. Desmond started his career in America in Ohio, where he got into debt honing his skills. After debuting in the Heartland Wrestling Association, he decided to move back to England to be financially in a better position to take on the HWA. His original character, Nigel McGuiness was a punk and post punk rebel, very similar to his character now, using swear words more familiar in England (like wanker, it's much more offensive in the UK than in the US) and sticking two fingers up at everybody. His character got ridiculously over, as well as his in ring ability. He was a technical genius, but was also a stiff hitter, his combination of the two got him notoriety on the Indy wrestling scene, especially when he moved to Ring of Honor , the third biggest wrestling promotion in America, where he spent 6 years. While perfoming well in America, he also performed in Japan, where he was also well received.
It was inevitable that Wolfe would end up in TNA or WWE, it was a matter of when rather than if. Both companies tussled over his signature, when WWE came up on top, only for Wolfe to fail his medical there. TNA took advantage of this open opportunity and Wolfe was christened, and shot 
straight to the top card with a fantastic feud with Kurt Angle, one of my favourite feuds of recent memory.

Will he be champion?
I can't say. As talented as Wolfe is, he is the most talented of all the wrestlers I'll mention, ever since his first feud in TNA with Kurt Angle, which was just over a year ago now, Wolfe hasn't been used to his full potential. He has been used more like a mechanic (a guy who puts people over, but is also an in-ring general) than anything else, he has put over The Pope, Rob Van Dam and Abyss. Since then he has formed a tag team with someone else in this list, and appeared off television for undisclosed reasons. It's frustrating though, Wolfe deserves better, there aren't many completely gifted wrestlers in TNA better than him. So the truth, will he be champion? If he gets the right push, yes. If they (or him) hold him back, no.

Drew McIntyre (WWE)
Drew Galloway, from Ayr in Scotland, is the only Scottish wrestler on this list. He started training for wrestling as a 15 year old boy, and worked in both England and Scotland. He was a heavyweight champion at a very early age, and also found success afterwards in Ireland, winning the heavyweight title in Irish Whip Wrestling. 6 years after debuting in 2007 the WWE took a punt on this young wrestling prodigy. He further developed in WWE's terrirotial companies, OVW and FCW, similar to Wade Barrett. Unlike Wade though, he won the FCW heavyweight title in his time there.
It was sooner rather than later that this very well thought of young man would appear on WWE television. Drew was officially called Drew McIntyre when the inevitable happened, and made his debut by attacking R-Truth on Smackdown and started a feud. (His actual official debut was unsuccessful and is disregarded by WWE, this was his second debut.) His arrogance and cold demeanour got him over as a heel. He was given the nickname "The Chosen One", as Vince McMahon has personally chosen him as a future WWE champion (storyline-wise). He won the Intercontinental title very quickly, defeating John Morrison.

Will he be champion?
It's definitely a possibility. However recently he has gone from heading for the skies to being involved in a storyline jobber. He found some success with Cody Rhodes as a tag team but nothing big of note. WWE, like TNA with Wolfe just stopped pushing him. Drew McIntyre is very young and that's definitely in his favour, being 25 and having the experience and the potential so early will help him. His mic skills are decent, his strong Scottish accent will give him instant heat, but his in-ring work is average. But, up until recently anyway, he has been pushed strongly in every promotion he has worked in. I'd like to hope he'll get another Intercontinental title reign sometime soon, and then progress from there.

Doug Williams (TNA)

Reading born Doug Dirdle, who has wrestled as Doug Williams pretty much everywhere he has been, is actually the oldest wrestler in this group, coming in at the age of 38. His history is long, dating back to the early nineties where he worked for NWA UK Hammerlock, and became heavyweight champion there. He spent a long part of his career there, before doing a lot of tours in the US, and eventually wound up in Ring of Honor in 2002. He spent a good 5 years there, but not winning the big one. Whilst working for ROH he also worked the indy scene, and also Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan. He got his TNA break in 2008, after working in TNA's UK tour. It wasn't long before he started The British Invasion with two other guys on this list, who also aligned with the World Elite, an anti-America faction. They won the tag titles twice before Doug started to challenge for the X-Division title.
The X-Division title is where Doug Williams started to really shine. Unlike all the other X-Division wrestlers, Doug was a mat-wrestler, a technical wrestler, who used the mat to grind down the high flyers. His anti-X-Division approach made him have pretty damn good matches with Amazing Red, Shannon Moore, Kazarian, Brian Kendrick and Sabu.

Will he be champion?
No, unfortunately. The main reason is his age, he is probably feeling on top of the world right now, having very good matches, he was also part of a high storyline stable with Fourtune, and has now turned face. But he is 38, how many new champions start their first title reign at 38 nowadays? He got over in a big company too late, but I'm sure he doesn't mind, he's making decent money and having good matches, he's earned the respect of the American audience to boot. I have a lot of time for Doug Williams, but he won't be heavyweight champion.

Rob Terry (TNA)
30 year old Rob Terry is fucking huge. Steroidically huge. there's very little known about the guy, even his age is difficult to find properly, but he is from Swansea, in South Wales and he signed a developmental contract with WWE in 2007. Nothing has been discovered about him before hand really, so he could be in Year 4 of his total wrestling training and career for all we know. He didn't last long in WWE, presumably because he is a very green wrestler, but was given a chance in TNA in 2009, joining The British Invasion.
Due to his very large size, he was the muscle in the faction, and helped the tag team champions keep their gold. He didn't get in the ring often and I've barely heard him speak on the mic. When The British Invasion split, he was pushed very strongly as TNA's Global champion. He beat Eric Young back in Cardiff, near his home town of Swansea in Wales, a very memorable and emotional victory for him. TNA gave him a huge push, getting very quick victories against jobbers over and over again.

Will he be champion?
It's possible. TNA are definitely interested in him, he's a ridiculous looking guy, he's just huge. Like it or not, TNA and WWE respect big guys, he doesn't have to be able to do a Perfectplex or a BME to get over, he just has to smash someone's face off with a large clothesline, it's very effective. That's what TNA have been doing and it's working. It really depends on how the TNA fans react, they used to hate Rob Terry as he couldn't work very well, but their feelings are slowly changing, because TNA are suspending disbelief, they are telling their fans "this guy is a freak, he is kick-ass". And it's working. Will he be champion? With Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo in charge, both guys who are interested in big guys, it's possible, but he needs to get bigger and bigger reactions. Rob Terry needs to follow Batista's example, and hope to god that his Welsh accent isn't that strong, because he'll sound like a moron!

Magnus (TNA)
Nick Aldis is the youngest guy on this list, at the very young age of 24. While he's the youngest, he does have 7 years wrestling experience behind him, before any training. The only major note of his time before joining TNA in 2008 is that he had a well respected 2 out of 3 falls match with Doug Williams. But joining TNA at the age of 21 is a big boost to anyone's confidence, especially as he joined before the other two members of The British Invasion. So Magnus was born, and developed with Doug Williams and Rob Terry as the British trio, who held the tag titles together. The best thing about Magnus is his facial expressions, he has this "I'm so much better than you" smirk when posing. Doug, being the veteran, has definitely helped his development as a wrestler.

Will he be champion?
I really can't say. He is 24 and has just signed a new TNA contract, so the future is his and TNA's to make. If he does, it will be a long road ahead, he hasn't had any major push at all, Doug Williams and Rob Terry have had more prominent pushes. But he is 14 and 6 years younger than them respectively, so he has that to his advantage. Pairing him up with Desmond Wolfe is a great move for him (not so much for Wolfe), as he has another very good wrestler to learn his trade with. Will he be champ? He needs to get over more, and improve in the ring, but it's not out of the realms of possibility.

I said there was two reasons why I'm writing this article, the first being Wade Barrett's fantastic achievements so far in the WWE. The second, I'm sure you know it's coming, is this guy:

Mason Ryan (WWE)
If you watched Raw on Monday, you may have seen a guy make his debut by attacking John Cena and joining CM Punk's tweaked Nexus faction. He is Mason Ryan, or Barri Griffiths from near Porthmadog in North Wales, but some people have been calling him Batistwo, as he resembles Batista a great deal. He is very new to the sport, only starting his training 5 years ago, but his physical presence, similar to Rob Terry, is what makes him stand out. When the WWE lost Batista, they started to show strong interest in this guy, to actually make him their Batistwo, and Monday's Raw is what you got.

Will he be champion?
With how fast the WWE have pushed him into the spotlight, despite his very little experience (he actually kinda botched some of his moves on Raw) then yes, it's definitely possible. He has to use his physical appearance to his advantage, and take the Batista route to success. He'll be the bodyguard piece for Nexus, and he will benefit from CM Punk's tremendous knowledge and in ring psychology, and mic skills. Hopefully his Welsh accent, like Rob Terry's, isn't too strong as it's an awful accent to have in America. Will he become champion? Keep in the right road, get over, and then yes, definitely.

These 7 guys are The British Invasion for America. I'm hoping one, if not two or three, can finally break into the major American heavyweight title history books. I'm proud to be British, I'm proud to be born in Merseyside, and be a Scouse, and I'm proud to have spent 13 years in Wales, and learn how to speak Welsh. Seeing these 7 guys representing these Great British Isles is fantastic. I don't know if I can remember 7 guys from the UK involved strongly in big wrestling promotions. Sheamus has broke through for Ireland, can Wade Barrett do it for England? Can Mason Ryan do it for Wales? Can Drew McIntyre do it for Scotland? And Northern Ireland, where the fuck are you? Fit Finlay is too late now, bring someone else in! Let's get these UK wrestlers over, and make wrestling in this country more popular. Wrestling isn't the way it used to be in the UK, since the 70's, hopefully these 7 guys will make the UK more interested in this great sports entertainment. They have my support anyway. Thanks for reading.


  1. Nice article Johnny, agree with most of what you said. I think Barrett is nailed on to win the Title within the next year, I still have hope for Nigel in TNA if he returns from illness.

    ps. This is TheDashingOne from LFC.TV :)

  2. Wow, I didn't know Douglas Williams was 38! He's one of my favorite wrestlers in TNA, and he has great ring work. I think Barrett will be champion by the end of this year.