WWE has never been one to share its product. Yes, you can buy and watch their shows from anywhere in the world, but that is where it ends. Bringing PPVs and shows to anywhere but the United States is an extraordinary event that doesn’t happen often. A WWE United Kingdom Event is a rarity. This is, and WWE PPV’s decades-long absence is why the upcoming Clash at the Castle PPV is so important.
For years the U.K PPV was a staple of WWE programming. At least once a year WWE would take its show across the ocean to entertain fans overseas. These shows have been some of the most memorable in WWE history so it is great to see WWE going back across the pond.
That being said, heading to the WWE U.K for a PPV has not always been a success. There have been various lows to go with the highs of WWE in the United Kingdom. Before Clash at the Castle is set to invade our t.v screens let’s take a look back at the best and worst of WWE in the U.K.
Best: Bret Hart vs The British Bulldog (Summerslam 1992)
We all knew that this was going to make it on the list. When the subject of WWE U.K PPVs comes up this is usually the first thing that comes to mind.
Under the guise of a family at war Bulldog and Bret went to battle over the Intercontinental Championship. It was a beautiful match that showed off the technical expertise of both men. The back-and-forth for 25 minutes was spectacular and kept the fans on the edge of their seats.
The match was also great for the thunderous crowd response throughout. Bulldog was the clear hometown favourite and the fans showered him with praise. The reaction blew the theoretical roof off Wembley when he pinned his brother-in-law.
Worst: The British Bulldog vs Shawn Michaels (One Night Only 1997)
D-X and The Hart Family were engaged in a bitter feud going into One Night Only. Centring around the real-life hatred between HBK and Bret Hart it was an incredibly personal feud and one that led to a horrendous moment in the United Kingdom.
The main event match, booked between HBK and The British Bulldog, was, admittedly, a good match. Both men were great wrestlers and there was no doubt that they would put on an entertaining contest. The problem that occurs is with the finish of the match.
Rumours have it that Bulldog was initially going to retain his European Championship before a last-minute power play by HBK. Michaels convinced top brass to let him walk away the winner and in a very terrible finish, this happened. The boo’s reigning down on Michaels were deafening and the win served no purpose going forward.
Best: The Undertaker vs Chris Benoit (Rebellion 2000)
United Kingdom PPVs are not ones to maintain WWE storylines. Going overseas gives the company a break from most storylines and while this does upset some, it provides for some great matchups that we usually don’t see. Enter a fantastic little match between The Undertaker and Chris Benoit.
At Rebellion 2000 both men engaged in a great 12-minute bout. The styles clashed perfectly and there were able to craft an entertaining match for the Sheffield crowd. It was something that should have been continued over in the States but we only got to see this hidden gem in the U.K.
Worst: Paul Heyman Dones The Tights (Rebellion 2002)
Rebellion in 2002 was an interesting PPV. It was the first U.K PPV of the brand split era and was exclusively a Smackdown show. It was a lacklustre affair that didn’t include many great matches on the part of the blue brand. A stand-out was the WWE Championship match between Edge and Brock Lesnar.
So why would this match be landing on the worst list? Because someone thought it a good idea to include Paul Heyman in the main event, as a wrestler. Heyman is a fantastic talent and his creative ability has made him a great part of any roster, but he is not a wrestler. It was embarrassing to see the walrus lumber around the ring and it would have served the match better to have him absent from it.
Best: The Rock vs Triple H (Rebellion 1999)
The Rock and Triple H were part of one of the best feuds in WWE history. The two men had some incredible matches all over the world, including this fantastic cage match in the U.K.
The rest of this show would have been forgotten had it not been for the main event. It was violent, fast-paced, and a great watch. It shouldn’t come as a huge shock as their feud produced some memorable WWE programming.
Triple H using some interference to retain his championship was no surprise. A strap changing hands overseas was a rarity. Still, though, this match is worth a watch for any wrestling fan.
Worst: The Plane Ride From Hell (Insurrextion 2002)
Following Insurrextion one of the most controversial moments in wrestling history took place. After their U.K exclusive PPV WWE talent boarded a plane for their long ride back across the pond. On this flight, copious amounts of drugs and alcohol were consumed. This led to some less than great behaviour from talent. Tales that came out of this flight were almost too hard to believe because of their extreme nature of them. Allegations of sexual assault and lude conduct were levied against WWE talent. That is not to mention the rough behaviour that nearly caused the plane door to open mid-flight.
These actions resulted in fines and terminations of several wrestlers on the roster. It was a black eye for WWE and one that still haunts them to this day.
Best: Los Guerrero’s vs Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle (Rebellion 2002)
Rebellion 2002 was a two-horse race. The Edge/Brock Lesnar main event was the highlight of the night but there was a banger of a tag team match that went on just before it.
Smackdown was amid its Smackdown Five upswing and these four men put on one heck of a tag team match for the Manchester crowd. It was a continuation of their matches from episodes of Smackdown but they brought some new spots to the match. The freshness of the match made it seem that much more special.
Worst: Vinnie Jones’s Involvement in the Main Event (Capital Carnage 1998)
WWE is always one to use celebrities to beef up their reception. It is an easy ploy and one that can get some mainstream attention to the show. Unfortunately, this does have the habit of falling on its face if the celebrity is not smart to the show and is not coached properly.
We can see how celebrity appearances can fail by examining Vinnie Jones at Capital Carnage. Coming from London it made sense to have some football stars show up. It added to an already hot crowd but that is where it ended. Jones was not used properly as an enforcer and looked like a fool.
The red card segment with Gerald Brisco was terrible and showed WWE’s ignorance of the sport they were mimicking. Vinnie wearing a turtle neck was also a laughable thing. Yes, I am nitpicking but it just shows how WWE failed to hit the mark on that night.
Best: Summerslam 1992 Heads to the United Kingdom
In 1992 WWE had the choice of holding Summerslam in Washington, D.C, or breaking down barriers. Thankfully, for us all, they decided to put on one of the biggest shows in wrestling history.
Summerslam 1992 was a rousing success. The show brought close to 80,000 fans to Wembley Stadium and was a massive financial success. It was an eye-opener for WWE as the show proved that anything heading over to the U.K turned to gold.
It was the first, but not the last time that WWE headed across the pond. The history of the U.K and WWE can be traced back to Summerslam in 1992.
Worst: HHH vs Kevin Nash (Insurrextion 2003)
The terror that was HHH’s hold on the World Championship took its show on the road in 2003. Main eventing Insurrextion HHH and Kevin Nash put on a yawner. HHH had no interest in putting anyone over, other than himself, and Nash was well past his prime. It was a hard match to watch as it involved the two men engaging in rest holds and very slow power moves throughout.
Judging from their feud in 2003 this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, though, the Newcastle crowd deserved better than this.