Pete Dunne Addresses NXT UK Contract Reports: “British Wrestling is Safe”

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Photo: WWE

Ever since details of the new NXT UK contracts emerged from a report from Voices of Wrestling on Monday, indie wrestling fans around the world – and especially within the UK indie scene – have expressed their concern over the “demise” of the British Wrestling scene due to new levels of exclusivity for those contracted under an NXT UK deal with the WWE.

Photo: WWE

From the report, it appears that these new deals – which would kick in in January of 2019 – will be multi-tiered, depending on the wrestler and the deal they’d signed. The first (top) tier contract – the one that long time stars like Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, and most likely, Toni Storm – would be signed to, these wrestlers are now forbidden from working any non-WWE allied promotions (PROGRESS or Insane Championship Wrestling). Over the past week, we’ve seen the implications of this, as British Strong Style (Dunne, Seven and Bate) said their goodbyes to Fight Club: PRO (which is incidentally owned by Trent Seven himself).

The second tier contracts, which would include semi-regulars like Ligero, Travis Banks, Jinny, and others, would still be allowed to work WWE-approved indie promotions (PROGRESS, ICW, wXw, FCP, Attack! Pro Wrestling, Over the Top Wrestling and Futureshock) and appear on their VOD services as usual. The third tier, which was once considered a “promise deal” (more of a retainer than anything) would allow them to work anywhere except the WWE “blacklist” of promotions (NJPW, Ring of Honor, RevPro, Defiant, IMPACT, MLW and Lucha Underground). And while Tier 2 and Tier 3 are able to work VODs for other promotions, they are not able to work against any competitor signed with one of the “blacklist” promotions.

All of these new restrictions – most of which were to be expected – have raised the ire of the indie fans who are now lamenting the demise of the UK scene, just as it had reached it’s biggest heights since the heyday of World of Sport in the 1970s. But one man has come to the defense of these contracts and the “moving up” of some of the UK’s stars, and that’s current WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne. When rumors of the new deals first made its rounds, Dunne was quick to interject when fans screamed foul.

And it seemed that many indie promoters and wrestlers agreed with Dunne, at least in principal. US indie wrestler David Starr, who spends a considerable amount of his calendar year working in the UK scene, voiced his opinion that a scene will stay alive as long as fans continue to support the promotions during their re-stocking periods, saying to “wait until you see some of these dudes over here step up and fill their spots”.

One wrestler, however, did not. Earlier on Wednesday morning, World of Sport Champion Justin Sysum took to Twitter to share his fears and seeming disdain for these new deals.

This “open letter” naturally caught the attention of Pete Dunne, who responded to Sysum’s original post.

Which Sysum then responded to:

This time, Dunne’s British Strong Style co-hort Tyler Bate entered the conversation as well.

Pete Dunne would then take to his own Twitter to re-enforce his position.

Which prompted a response from another UK star – one who isn’t signed to NXT – but rather one of the “blacklists”, New Japan, in Will Ospreay.

True enough, Will. True enough.

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Jamie Greer is the Managing Editor and lead writer for Last Word on Pro Wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan who started with the WWF in the early 80's, he now follows everything from the smallest indie to WWE. He's also written for WrestleZone, The Windsor Star, Windsor Independent and other publications. He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and son.

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