At the end of August, Triple H made the announcement that WWE’s NXT brand would be making its inaugural tour of the United Kingdom late this winter.
Kicking off in Newcastle on December 10th, the tour takes in dates in England, Scotland and Wales before culminating in a WWE Network live special on December 16th at the SSE Arena in London, the tour is an interesting move for a company who pretty much relegated the British isles to a twice-yearly house show loop following several years of running PPV level attractions over on these shows.
[adinserter block=”1″]It’s also a move that’s got this writer pretty excited for the December 13th gig at the Empress Ballroom in NXT Commissioner William Regal’s hometown of Blackpool, a rambunctious little seaside town based about an hour’s drive from where this article was written. Still, that’s a whole other article for a whole other time.
For now, we’ll instead take a look back at some of the best WWE shows to come out of the UK. If your favorite isn’t included here, go ahead and bring it up in the comments below.
5: No Mercy, May 16th, 1999
I’ll be honest here, I’m including this on the list more because it took place on my 15th birthday and I was there live rather than because it was classic bell-to-bell action.
The two best bouts on the card saw X-Pac and Shawn McMahon going at it in a wildly entertaining match for the European Championship, and a four-way ‘Anything Goes’ match in which Steve Austin successfully defended the WWF Championship against The Undertaker and Triple H.
4: Capital Carnage, December 6th, 1998
With the edgy days of the Attitude Era in full flow, the WWE made their way to London for a show which though it didn’t have any consequences on the company’s ongoing story arc, was an entertaining affair in its own right.
Featuring Steve Austin in a four way match against The Undertaker, Kane and Mankind in the main event and a white hot bout between X-Pac and The Rock, Capital Carnage was enjoyable pretty much all the way through.
It was also here that Jacqueline famously had her top ripped off and her breasts exposed to all and sundry in a mixed tag pitting her and Marc Mero against Sable and Christian.
3: Rebellion 2002, October 16th, 2002
The last UK-only show was actually the best version of Rebellion to date, featuring an awesome tag bout in which Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit successfully defended the tag title against Los Guerreros, an entertaining main event pitting Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman against Edge for the WWE title and a fun triple threat between Rey Mysterio, Jamie Noble and Tajiri for the Cruiserweight championship.
2: One Night Only – September 20th, 1997
This is the only WWE event in history that your writer can tell you the exact date of without having to visit Wikipedia, and that’s because I was there in the front row seats, cheering on Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart as he defended the WWF title against The Undertaker in the best pro wrestling match I’ve ever seen live in person.
After that, we got the big main event of British Bulldog defending his European title against Shawn Michaels. To say this one made the fans livid would be an understatement. Rather than sending the crowds home happy with a win for Davey Boy, this match instead saw Rick Rude, Chyna and Triple H run so much interference that Michaels practically dominated the match. It wasn’t a popular decision and resulted in garbage being hurled into the ring, but it was certainly a very memorable -and for some even heartbreaking- end to the show and saw Shawn Michaels playing the heel role to perfection.
Owen Hart vs. Vader and an opening match between Triple H and Dude Love also stand out as firm favorites.
[adinserter block=”2″]1: Summerslam 1992, August 29th, 1992
Could there really be any other British WWE show at the top of this list? In front of a huge audience at the original Wembley Stadium, home-country hero Davey Boy Smith bested his brother-in-law Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart in all-time classic and picked up the Intercontinental Championship in the process.
Also on the card, two legends sadly no longer with us went at in a dramatic co-main-event as Macho Man Randy Savage defended the WWF Championship against The Ultimate Warrior. Though by no means as technically sound as the Bulldog/Hitman clash, Savage/Warrior II was an emotional contest that delivered the big match feel far better than most matches that year did.
There was also a surprisingly entertaining opening contest in which The Mountie teamed with The Nasty Boys in a losing effort against Hacksaw Jim Duggan and The Bushwhackers. It was dumb, it was stupid, but it was hilarious, and the perfect way to kick off the best WWE show from the UK, so far.