Ever since NXT UK finally reached the WWE Network, it’s seemed increasingly doubtful how long WWE would let its UK talent keep working shows for other British promotions. Unlike in the US, where nobody with a WWE contract is permitted to appear at indie shows for companies not affiliated with WWE (making EVOLVE the biggest exception), UK stars were given contracts that let them appear on indie shows as long as the companies didn’t have widespread distribution. Reportedly, this was a trade-off for lower WWE salaries, and enabled to the company to recruit top British talent. Now that WWE has their own UK TV show up and running, this flexibility appears to be coming to an end.
As reported by Wrestletalk.com, several members of the NXT UK roster were given new contracts this week, which increase their pay but prevent them from appearing at shows for any promotion that’s not affiliated with WWE. That means they can still wrestle at Progress in England and ICW in Scotland, as those companies have deals with WWE similar to EVOLVE in the US, but other local indies are off-limits.
At this time, only a few members of the roster have received these new contracts, so some performers will continue to appear on the indies, but as more contracts come up for renewal, the restrictions seem likely to become universal. Those who’ve signed the new contracts are reportedly allowed to fulfill their existing indie bookings through the end of the year, as long as the shows in question have a paramedic present and the NXT UK stars aren’t wrestling anyone who has a contract with ROH, Impact, NJPW, or World of Sport.
Obviously this is bad news for the UK indie wrestling scene. It’s not exactly surprising behavior from WWE, but it must still feel like a betrayal to have this sprung on them now when things had seemed so uncharacteristically open since WWE began building their UK roster. Hopefully the indie promotions affected will endure and find new top stars that don’t get immediately snapped up by NXT UK.