WWE has announced it is to crown its first ever United Kingdom Champion with a weekly British wrestling TV programme set to follow.
World Wrestling Entertainment is to host an elimination tournament comprised of 16 British and Irish wrestlers held at the
historic Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, England, a venue which has long been associated with the sport, to find a winner.
The event will take place on Saturday January 14 and Sunday January 15 with tickets available at livenation.co.uk and it will be broadcast live on the WWE Network subscription streaming service.
Once the tournament has taken place the company has exciting plans to follow it up with a weekly programme showcasing the best wrestlers in the UK and Ireland.
Speaking at a press conference held at The O2 in London on Thursday (15.12.16), WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative and in-ring legend Triple H said: "This is an historic moment ... The WWE Network with 1.5 million subscribers is not just the WWE's fastest growing business but a launching pad for new programming and global brands. We did it with NXT, it started off as are developmental system but it quickly morphed into something much more than that ... NXT's success quickly made it WWE's third global brand.
"The success of NXT is what brings us here today, it's the next chapter of our talent development and content strategy. One of the great things about the WWE Network is our ability to further engage fans with localised content. We spent the better part of a year working in the UK with brands such as progress, Rev Pro and ICW (Insane Championship Wrestling) and OTT in Ireland, we spent that time to cultivate the best talent in the UK and Ireland and today we are excited to announce we will crown for the first time ever a WWE United Kingdom Champion. We will crown that champion live on the WWE Network in a special two-night tournament on Saturday January 14 and Sunday January 15 beginning at 8pm, it will feature 16 of the top competitors from the UK and Ireland in a 16-man single elimination tournament.
"There's no reason why the WWE United Kingdom tournament will not be as successful as NXT or 205 Live in terms of programming, talent development, touring, merchandising, all of it. Just like we've done with NXT and the cruiserweights our intent is in the long-term to use this tournament as a launching pad for a brand new WWE weekly show right here in the UK."
The 16 competitors confirmed for the single-elimination tournament are Trent Seven, from Wolverhampton; hard-hitting Pete Dunne, from Birmingham; Tyler Bate, the bright young 19-year-old star from Dudley, West Midlands; big brawler Wolfgang, from Glasgow; tough Tyson T-Bone, from Malvern; the aggressive Northern Irish grappler Tucker; Irish high-flyer Jordan Devlin, who hails from Bray, in County Wicklow and Londoner Roy Johnson, a former champion powerlifter.
William Regal, Head Scout and WWE Talent Development trainer, and WWE trainer Robbie Brookside participated in the scouting process to find the tournament competitors using their unrivalled knowledge and experience of the UK scene developed from their illustrious careers in the squared circle.
WWE lead announcer Michael Cole will be joined by colour analyst Nigel McGuinness on commentary for the tournament.
McGuinness - a mainstay of the UK independent wrestling scene - had to prematurely call time on his own career as a competitor in 2012 after he tested positive for Hepatitis B.