For the past year, British Strong Style – the three man faction of UK Superstars “Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate – have been dominating the UK wrestling scene, as well as kicking down the doors to mainstream and indie fans in North America. Two of the three have so far been WWE United Kingdom Champions (Bate being the inaugural, before losing it to current champion, Dunne). In the past year or so, Dunne has been PROGRESS World Champion, PROGRESS Tag Team Champion, OTT No Limits Champion (Ireland), RevPro British Cruiserweight Champion and wXw Shotgun Champion in Germany. Tyler Bate has been ATTACK! 24/7 Champion and wXw Shotgun Champion, while Trent Seven has held the ICW World Heavyweight Championship. The latter two – teaming together as Moustache Mountain – won the 2016 CHIKARA King of Trios and 2x PROGRESS Tag Team Champions. Dunne and Seven also held the PROGRESS Tag Team titles together once as BSS as well.
But with the trio of British wrestling megastars being used more prominently by the WWE to promote their upcoming UK brand, it’s a surefire bet that their indie bookings are going to be diminishing as they lead WWE’s UK charge. And all three are very capable of landing spots on the main roster or NXT with more regularity. With Dunne losing his World title – and Bate and Seven losing their Tag Team titles – at this past Sunday’s PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase The Sun, it almost appeared as if BSS was being slowly phased out of the main event of PROGRESS. But while it’s not necessarily a storyline that PROGRESS is pushing, it actually sets up a larger narrative of a new regime of British wrestling stars who are slowly taking over the major promotions in the UK. The Prestige.
On February 13, 2017, rising Scottish indie wrestler Joe Hendry from ICW beat Alberto El Patron in a match for WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW), with the help of the WCPW tag team Joe Coffey and Travis Banks. At the next WCPW iPPV, Chain Reaction, in March, Hendry beat Gabriel Kidd, this time with the help of not just Coffey and Banks, but BT Gunn as well. The Prestige was formed, as four rising stars from the UK indie scene (although Banks is from New Zealand) announced that there was something wrong with wrestling today and they were going to “fix it”.
The Prestige would gain its fifth member at June’s Fight Back iPPV, when crowd favourite and legendary Leeds luchadore El Ligero turned on his friend Martin Kirby and helped Joe Hendry retain his WCPW World Championship.
And while many probably think so what? or Who the hell are those guys anyway?, they may want to consider that they would probably have said the same thing about Pete Dunne, Trent Seven or Tyler Bate two years ago as well. But in the past few months, the three founding members of The Prestige have won arguably the top three World Championships on the mainland United Kingdom to lay their stake as the most dominant faction on the Isles. And they did it by knocking of British Strong Style.
EL LIGERO, SWE Tag Team Champion, 38 days
While he’s only currently defending the Southside Wrestling Entertainment (SWE) tag team titles at the moment, El Ligero is a legendary UK luchadore from Leeds, Mexico whose also a former PROGRESS World Champion, New Generation Wrestling (NGW) Undisputed Champion, and WCPW Internet Champion (amongst many others) during his 15 year career. He’s also the latest to join, so he’s got some time to grab some more substantial singles gold.
BT GUNN, WCPW Hardcore Champion, 21 days
Coatbridge, Scotland’s BT Gunn is the workhorse of The Prestige. He’s not the high flyer like El Ligero and he’s not one of the frontmen like Hendry, Coffey or Banks, but right now, Gunn holds more titles than all of the others, including the WCPW Hardcore title, which he won this past August. But he’s also 515 days into holding the British Championship Wrestling (BCW) Heavyweight Championship, 129 days as the SWE Heavyweight Champion, 108 days as the Revolution Championship Wrestling (RCW) in Spain, and 44 days as the reigning ICW Zero-G Champion. He doesn’t get the press or “prestige” as the other four members, but he’s as about as reliable a wingman as you could have in a new stable.
JOE HENDRY, WCPW World Heavyweight Champion, 135 days
On April 30, 2017, Edinburgh, Scotland’s Joe Hendry defeated Martin Kirby in a brutal match to capture the WCPW World Heavyweight Championship during the Mexican qualifiers for the Pro Wrestling World Cup. So far he’s retained his title against his rival Kirby, as well as Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll, Rampage Brown, Jordan Devlin and former WWE Superstar Jack Swagger. He also holds the Heavyweight Championship for PWE in Scotland, and holds the NGW Tag Team titles in England as well. And while many UK indie purists raise their nose at WCPW a bit, it’s the most watched UK indie show around the world, thanks to its YouTube content.
JOE COFFEY, ICW World Heavyweight Champion, 149 days
On March 16, 2017, Glasgow’s Joe Coffey became the first World Champion in The Prestige, when he captured his second career ICW World Heavyweight title at ICW’s BarraMania III. It also fired the first shot, as Coffey regained the belt by ending BSS’ Trent Seven’s 70-day reign. Coffey first defence was against BSS’ Pete Dunne, whom Coffey defeated. He’s also defeated UK favourites Jack Jester and Jordan Devlin, but even defeated his Prestige stablemate Joe Hendry at ICW’s T2: Tramspotting event in July. One of Scotland’s other major promotions, Scottish Wrestling Alliance (SWA) also calls Coffey their Heavyweight Champion, where he’s reigned the past 290 days. While the United Kingdom got Hendry as their new Emperor in WCPW, Coffey has become the Last King of Scotland.
TRAVIS BANKS, PROGRESS World Heavyweight Champion, 2 days
Last night at PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase The Sun, Auckland, New Zealand’s emerging sensation Travis Banks defeated BSS’ Pete Dunne to win the PROGRESS World Heavyweight Championship, capturing arguably the top singles title in the UK. He’s also gaining a significant boost in audience awareness thanks to his co-runs with CCK (alongside Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos) and with fellow kiwi TK Cooper in The South Pacific Power Trip. He came to the UK a few years back as a 2x IPW New Zealand Heavyweight Champion and has also picked up an ATTACK 24/7 Championship and Lucha Forever Championship. He’s also currently the defending RevPro British Tag Team Champion with CCK running mate Chris Brookes.
While The Prestige is a stable that’s exclusive to WCPW, it shows the foresight they had to pair these guys together early on, as their individual stocks grow outside in the rest of the UK and international wrestling scene.
But if I was Over The Top (OTT) No Limits Champion Mark Haskins, I’d be worried. Now that The Prestige has conquered England, Scotland and Wales, they’re probably going to turning their sites on the Emerald Isle sooner or later. El Ligero still has room around his waist.