Bate & Switch : What Are WWE’s Plans for the Former WWE UK Champion?

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Photo: WWE

On January 15th, 2018, 19-year-old Tyler Bate was on top of the wrestling world, as he became only the second teenager to ever capture a championship in WWE. After a two-day tournament, he outlasted fifteen other men including ‘The BruiserweightPete Dunne to become the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Champion. It was a grand time as Bate was celebrated by those in attendance, and much was made of this young man’s achievement and heart. Those unaware of what Bate was capable of doing and his move set were excited at the types of matches this member of Moustache Mountain had in his future, which was just beginning at the outset of 2017.

Photo: WWE

Bate’s win didn’t mean he was only relegated to competing for WWE; like other WWE UK talent, he was able to take independent bookings, but with restrictions that should be. After defending the title on televised events on two separate occasions, he lost the title to Dunne at NXT Takeover: Chicago on May 20th in what many called a match of the year contender. Despite that showing and his performance, it appears today as though something is different compared to how his year began. After losing the title, Bate has lost televised matches on several occasions. Before 2017 ended, Bate lost to former Cruiserweight champion Enzo Amore. Since the beginning of 2018, he has lost to TJP as part of the Cruiserweight championship tournament and then lost to Roderick Strong in a #1 contender’s match to determine Pete Dunne’s next challenger for the title. Most recently, he lost against Velveteen Dream, despite once again having an impressive showing.

Why the sudden change in direction? What went wrong for this young UK phenom, who has a ton of charisma and seems to resonate with fans, including the young female demographic. In February, wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer reported that Bate’s loss of the UK title may have been based on WWE administration’s displeasure with him. The report suggests that the company had a tour that they wanted to book him on at the last minute, believed to be on the main roster, but Bate had other plans and couldn’t commit. This isn’t something that all involved with either confirm nor deny.

Was that something to hold against Bate? As mentioned earlier, there were certain restrictions on independent bookings, so if it was a booking issue, then getting out of it couldn’t have been that much of a challenge. However, if it was a case where he didn’t get out of the booking then the onus is on him. However, also consider that if he did decide to pursue the original booking, then he is mainly guilty of wanting to keep his word.

Fans could see this as being a case of Bate being punished for a bad choice. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be looked at as the glass being half empty, but rather half full. Even if his role has changed to put over others, look at whom it was that he put over, not to mention they were engaging, meaningful matches. Roderick Strong, Velveteen Dream, and TJP are three men that are on a trajectory to either main event or pursue a title. There is no question that Bate shows promise, and he is no doubt willing to make the changes needed to show he is committed to WWE. When twenty years of age, most if not all fans made a decision that wasn’t considered the best choice in retrospect. What should be celebrated was that even in defeat, Bate has continued to have impressive showings.

It has recently come to light that Bate, along with Moustache Mountain tag team partner Trent Seven will no longer be able to compete in the Dusty Rhodes Classic due to an injury. While it could be said that the injury couldn’t have come at the worst time for him or Seven, as hard as it may seem to believe maybe the injury is a blessing in disguise. The time away allows him to return to the ring with a new outlook and direction. Will he need to once again get into the good graces of management? With no confirmation as to the reason he’s been booked to lose as often as he has, the fact remains he could regain his place in the upper tier of the United Kingdom division, and resume his rivalry with Dunne. Each time these men step into the ring with one another, fans are treated to an instant classic where fans will want them to fight forever. Hopefully, fans won’t feel that Bate’s push was just a minor tease.

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