Welcome to the first edition of a new regular column here on TWF called the WWE Brit(ish) Report! This is going to be a weekly recap of what WWE’s UK & Irish contingent have been up to on and off the screen. It’s been a big week for a couple of WWE superstars from this side of the pond, so let’s get to it!
Let’s start with NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. In the opening match, the six man ladder match to crown the first ever North American Champion featured an Irishman in the form of Killian Dain. The Beast of Belfast was involved in some really cool spots – it’s always impressive when a man of his size performs a suicide dive, he and Lars Sullivan literally threw Ricochet around the ring in a game of one-upmanship, and he hit a Vader Bomb on a ladder (that was on EC3) with Adam Cole on his back. It was the kind of stand out showing that we’ve come to know and love from Dain in a chaotic match.
Later in the show the WWE United Kingdom Champion was in action, trying to become a double champion. Pete Dunne teamed up with Roderick Strong in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic looking to earn a shot at getting revenge on the Undisputed Era. Of course, in the final things broke down and we ended up with a triple threat tag match at TakeOver. Dunne would look like he had the match won, hitting the Bitter End on Kyle O’Reilly, only for Roderick Strong to turn on him. Dunne had O’Reilly covered, the referee was counting to three, and Strong broke up the pinfall and attacked Dunne. Presumably this is going to lead to Dunne feuding with Undisputed Era for a little while longer. Personally, I hope Dunne aligns with his compatriots Trent Seven and Tyler Bate and we get to see British Strong Style vs Undisputed Era.
On to Wrestlemania. Becky Lynch was in the women’s battle royal on the preshow, but she ended up not being much of a factor. The opening show on the main card featured Finn Balor in a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship. His entrance featured members of the LGBT+ community, because Balor Club is for everyone.
That was a cool moment, but it wasn’t enough to see Balor win gold under the bright lights of Mania. He would have The Miz pinned, but Seth Rollins would break it up by hitting the Blackout on Balor, and then another on Miz to become a WWE Grand Slam champion.
The three men would come face to face… to face… again on Raw, where Balor pointed out that Rollins won the match, but he didn’t beat Balor. He argued that should be enough for an IC Title shot, before being interrupted by The Miz to remind Balor of his contractual rematch. It looked set to be Balor & Rollins vs The Miztourage, until Jeff Hardy returned to even the numbers. That was Raw’s main event, which the team of Balor, Rollins and Hardy easily won.
But Balor wasn’t the only Irishman to lose out on a title at Wrestlemania. I am, of course, talking about Sheamus. The Raw Tag Team Championship match has been the subject of huge debate online, and I can understand both sides of the argument. Regardless, Sheamus & Cesaro lost the titles to Braun Strowman & 10 year old Nicholas.
Their reign wouldn’t last long however, as the next night on Raw the championships were vacated. Sheamus & Cesaro tried to convince Kurt Angle to award the belts back to them, but with no success. Instead Angle announced a tag team eliminator, with the winners facing Sheamus & Cesaro at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia at the end of this month for the titles.
And then we come to Paige. I’ve already written a fair bit about her this week, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. At Wrestlemania she was on commentary for the women’s battle royal, and I thought she seemed a little off. It was as though she just didn’t want to be there. Then on Raw I thought we had the reason why – she announced her official retirement from WWE. The way it went down made it seem like that was the last time we were going to see Paige in WWE as she was going to pursue other opportunities.
Boy was that wrong. In the opening segment of SmackDown, Shane McMahon announced that Tuesday nights needed a new general manager, and that role would be filled by Paige. I’m really looking forward to seeing where things go from here, and I’m delighted that Paige is sticking around for a while longer.