Earlier today, WWE announced the first eight competitors who will be taking part in the second annual United Kingdom Championship Tournament: Zack Gibson, Joe Coffey, Dave Mastiff, Jack Gallagher, Kenny Williams, El Ligero, Joseph Conners and Amir Jordan.
Fans who are familiar with the UK scene will no doubt recognize these names as some of the top guys in the world right now. But for others, their backgrounds and accolades might not be as well known. In order to help everyone prepare for UKCT 2, here is a quick look at the resumes of the eight participants that shows why each is a pretty big deal in the world of British wrestling.
Jack Gallagher – Manchester, Greater Manchester, England
For Queen. For Country. For Jack Gallagher. https://t.co/DhIBBYOHbB
— Gentleman Jack Gallagher (@GentlemanJackG) May 16, 2018
Known to WWE fans as Gentleman Jack Gallagher, the 28-year-old wrestler out of Manchester, England, will be making his UKCT debut. A ten year veteran of the independent circuit, Gallagher joined WWE in 2016 when he competed in a different tournament, the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic. He earned that spot by defeating current United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne at PROGRESS Wrestling‘s Chapter 29 event. Gallagher lost to Akira Towaza in the second round but stayed with WWE as a part of its newly resurrected cruiserweight division. Gallagher, who made his NXT debut in April 2017, unsuccessfully challenging then-champion Tyler Bate for the UK championship, also competed in this year’s cruiserweight title tournament, where he lost in the first round to Mustafa Ali.
While in the independents, Gallagher won championships with Grand Pro Wrestling, Tetsujin Shoot Style and FutureShock Wrestling. In addition to wrestling, Gallagher is also an accomplished MMA competitor, who spent eight years training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as well as boxing and kickboxing.
Zack Gibson – Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Soon to be recognised as WWEUK's #01 🔜🔥 https://t.co/vfYRGKE8A4
— Zack Gibson (@ZackGibson01) May 16, 2018
Also a somewhat familiar face to WWE fans is Zack Gibson, who made his debut with the company when he worked Wrestlemania Axxess this year. Gibson, who hails from Liverpool, England, made his pro wrestling debut in 2009 at FutureShock Wrestling’s 5th Year Anniversary Show. Gibson would spend the next nine years wrestling for FutureShock, winning the FSW Championship twice. It was perhaps fitting that Gibson’s final match with the company, in February 2018, was against Dunne for the UK title.
Gibson, who will be taking part in his first UK tournament, was also a mainstay at PROGRESS from 2012-18. There, alongside James Drake (Grizzled Young Veterans), Gibson is a two-time tag team champion, currently in his second reign. Gibson and Drake defended those titles at Wrestlemania Axxess, where they won thanks to Heavy Machinery (Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic) getting disqualified. A mat-based wrestler, Gibson has also won titles in GPW, New Generation Wrestling and Britannia Wrestling.
Dave Mastiff – Birmingham, West Midlands, England
— Dave Mastiff (@DaveMastiff) May 16, 2018
Weighing in at 315 pounds, Dave Mastiff is so far, the biggest competitor to take part in the UKCT and it’s not even close. Last year, that distinction belonged to Wolfgang, who is a lean 255 compared to Mastiff. An absolute tank of a man, Mastiff, known as “Big Bad” or the “Human Hate Machine,” has been wrestling since 2002, where he debuted for Revolution British Wrestling. In the 16 years since then, Mastiff, a brutal wrestler with a take no prisoner’s kind of attitude, has become a very recognizable figure in British wrestling.
Mastiff is a former champion in Athletik Club Wrestling, Anti-Watershed Wrestling Be. Catch Company, Pro Wrestling Elite, Real Quality Wrestling, Revolution Pro Wrestling and International Pro Wrestling. In addition, Mastiff was the first winner of the World of Sport Wrestling Championship.
Kenny Williams – Scotland
I held my own last night in my WWE Debut against three former Champions!
I don’t Get Lucky, I Stay Lucky 🤞
— Kenny Williams (@KennyWilliamsUK) May 16, 2018
Just the second Scottish-born wrestler to compete in the UKCT (the first was Wolfgang last year), Kenny Williams, who made his professional wrestling debut in 2012, has described his in-ring style as “act first, think later.”
Williams is former British Championship Wrestling and Premier British Wrestling champion, as well as a three-time winner of ICW’s Zero-G Championship, making him the first to do so. His 414 days with the title are second only to Noam Dar (518). While this will be his first UKCT, Williams made his official WWE debut during this past week’s tapings in England, where he took part in a Fatal-4-Way on 205 Live against TJP, Kalisto and Tyler Bate.
El Ligero – Leeds, West Yorskshire, England
I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the @WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament! After over 17 years of hard work all over the world, being a part of @WWEUK is a dream come true. #WWE #WWEUK #WWEUKCT https://t.co/nMYB1jNsnG
— El Ligero (@Ligero1) May 16, 2018
Britain’s premier luchador, the 33-year-old El Ligero is a beloved veteran of the industry and especially the British wrestling community. A 17-year professional, Ligero has wrestled around the world, working for over 100 different wrestling companies – soon he’ll be able to add WWE to that list. He is most well known for his time in the UK independent circuit where he worked for such companies as One Pro Wrestling, Real Quality Wrestling and Triple X Wrestling to name a few. Some of the other prominent companies Ligero has spent time with include Pro Wrestling Noah, NWA Wildside, IPW and most recently with What Culture Pro Wrestling/DEFIANT. Ligero also took part in TNA’s British Boot Camp 2 where he lost to eventual winner, Mark Andrews.
Ligero’s accomplishments are far too many to note but to sum it all up, he’s won over 30 singles titles across the world as well as numerous tag team championships. Ligero is currently one-half of Southside Wrestling Entertainment‘s tag team champions (with Joseph Conners), as well as HOPE Wrestling‘s King of Flight Champion. Ligero was also just the second ever PROGRESS world champion, which he held for 245 days in 2012-13.
Joe Coffey – Glasgow, Scotland
Royal Albert Hall.
The Iron King/Man will be there not taking part,but taking over.
This is how it feels..
No Mercy. https://t.co/gMBOkYBrxu
— Joe Coffey (@Joe_Coffey) May 16, 2018
Joining Williams in representing Scotland will be the “Iron Man” himself, ICW’s Joe Coffey. The 29-year-old Coffey made his professional wrestling debut in 2009 and in the eight years since has become one of the top names in Scottish wrestling.
Coffey, who is the current Discovery Wrestling Y Division Champion and Scottish Wrestling Alliance Scottish Heavyweight Champion, is best known for his time in ICW, where he has worked since 2011. At ICW, Coffey is a former two-time world heavyweight champion as well as being named the Wrestler of the Year in 2014 and 2016 and the ICW “Iron Man” in 2014 and 2015. Coffey is very much a hybrid wrestler, a devastating slugger but someone who can get down and dirty on the mat as well.
Amir Jordan – West Yorkshire, England
Sapnin WWE Universe
— 🕺🏾Amir Jordan💡 (@iamamirjordan) May 16, 2018
With just under three years of professional wrestling under his belt, Amir Jordan is one of the least experienced competitors in the field for this year’s UKCT. Not that age or experience necessarily means that much, however, as Tyler Bate was just a five-year pro and still under the legal drinking age when he won the tournament last year.
Jordan, who wrestles out of England by way of Pakistan, was trained at the Storm Wrestling Academy and is considered to be a technical wrestler, much like that of Lance Storm, the man who helped develop him. Jordan, who has wrestled for both PROGRESS and DEFIANT, is currently the 3CW North East Champion, in his first reign.
Joseph Conners – Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Congratulations to everyone announced thus far.
Now that's on the way, you are all on notice.
I promise 2018 is my year. Whether you take my words or not, you'll know by my actions when I'm the last man standing. https://t.co/k5RMUrUflf
— Joseph Conners (@JosephConners) May 16, 2018
Last but not least is the only man on this list who has experience wrestling in the UKCT, the 30-year-old Joseph Conners. Conners, who has been wrestling since 2006, made his WWE debut taking part in last year’s UK tournament, where he was defeated by Mark Andrews in the quarterfinals. While not a staple of WWE programming afterward, Conners has worked several matches for the company, most recently at this week’s 205 Live from London, where he teamed up with James Drake and Drew Gulak in a losing effort against Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali and the debuting Flash Morgan Webster.
Conners, who is the current Tidal Championship Wrestling and British Wrestling Revolution heavyweight champion, has wrestled for many well known British wrestling promotions including Real Deal Wrestling, British Wrestling Alliance, Frontier Wrestling Alliance, Southside Wrestling Entertainment (where is one-half of the current tag team champions with Ligero), Leicester Championship Wrestling, ICW, PROGRESS and more. He is perhaps most well known for his time in WCPW, where he is a one-time champion.