WWE has been adding some international names to their NXT and Performance Center rosters over the past year, and recently held a big European tryout in Glasgow. While they are of course attempting to fortify NXT with future call-ups in mind, and are preparing for events like their upcoming women’s tournament, it appears they’re willing to lock up European talent to not wrestle for them, as well.
In the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required), Dave Meltzer reports that a UK promotional war is brewing, and WWE is trying to ensure they get a leg up on the competition. WWE’s programming in the UK currently airs on Sky Sports, which is a subscription/premium cable channel. Meanwhile, ITV — the No. 2 network in the UK — has taped a pilot for a revival of World of Sport, which was a program synonymous with British wrestling for 20 years, from 1965 until 1985.
While World of Sport has not been picked up, any wrestling airing on ITV will likely reach a much more massive audience than WWE pulls in in the UK from week to week. Since they don’t want to lose a hold on their claim to the dominant wrestling company in the UK, Meltzer reports that WWE has begun offering very unorthodox contracts to a number of British wrestlers, in hopes they can keep talent away from ITV and World of Sport. ITV has sent out amendments to their wrestlers’ contracts that don’t allow them to appear on shows on major networks (although they are still allowed to work non-televised independent dates), and WWE is responding in kind.