June 2, 2009
Gary Mehaffy

The UK Invasion

Matt Striker (top announcer by the way!) passed a comment about Finlay wrestling the late ‘British Bulldog’ Davey ‘Boy’ Smith on the old World of Sport TV programme that ran for years here in the UK (“Greetings grapple fans!”), and I began to have a think.

Not about the truth of if they did wrestle or not on it. No.

I began to think about any UK & Irish wrestlers that are currently under the employ of the WWE and how they are fairing in ‘New York’ under Vince. I’m also counting those in FCW (and hope to goodness I don’t miss anyone out!)

Granted, there are wrestlers like DH Smith (I just can’t call him David Hart, but that’s just me – it’s like force feeding us a reminder of who he is related to in case we forget!) and Hornswoggle who by either birth or association are considered to be partly from the UK. The same goes for Layla when she was (almost) given the surname London when she was paired with Regal. So for cases like these, I won’t count them.

But the following WWE contracted performers will count: William Regal, Dave ‘Fit’ Finlay, Paul Burchill, Katie Lea, DJ Gabriel, Sheamus O’Shaunessy, Drew McIntyre & Stu Sanders/Lawrence Knight.

Now, as I said, there are probably one or two that I may have overlooked accidentally, and for that I apologise ahead of time. What I will do in regards to the above list is to (briefly) look at where they are now in WWE and where they could end up in the future.

William Regal

I have looked at Regal’s career in a column last year, but I will say this – in my opinion, for what it’s worth, last year after winning King of the Ring had he not failed a drugs test (and it depends who you talk to as to how big or sinister a failure it was) I think that he might have been headlining by now. Yes, that’s a big statement to make. So big, in fact, that it deserves to be said again.

I think he might have been headlining by now.

Many of you will disagree, but at the start of the summer last year he was slowly being positioned nearer and nearer to the top of the card, and I saw a HHH feud coming at the time (they are good friends from their WCW days) which he wouldn’t have won but would have placed him at the top of the card.

It’s taken a while but he has resurfaced (out of nowhere practically) to annoy MVP and help Vickie, so it appears that they have some sort of plan for him. He will have a job there for as long as he wants it (as a trainer when he retires from in ring) but I see him having a lot to accomplish still as a wrestler. A title run (maybe ECW at some stage next year, maybe one of the two main titles – SmackDown will need fresh blood after the new year) isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

Finlay:

Like Regal, he will have a job for as long as he wants it. Trish Stratus and Lita amongst others credit him for being a superb trainer, so he has that to fall back on. Last year, maybe 18 months ago, I thought he might win the title as it looked for all the world on a few occasions that he was set for a run at the top of the card (even a feud with Vince seemed possible but it was blown off with no fanfare).

He seems to be set in management;s eyes as the guy to sharpen talent up – in other words, a stepping stone.

But here’s a thought – when (not if) Christian gets moved brands I can see Finlay being a stop gap face main eventer giving him, yep, you guessed it, an ECW title reign.

For someone who has given so much to wrestling all over the world, and that is so respected by his peers, it’s the very least he deserves.

Paul Burchill

The man who nearly was Captain Jack Sparrow II has floated around WWE since he was brought up to the main roster doing a big bunch of nothing much.

He almost committed incest (in a matter of speaking) before WWE went PG. He had sporadic matches on Raw and, later, ECW, again without much fanfare.

In recent weeks, his profile has been lifted a little on ECW, with his veiled threats to the world’s greatest and most realistic general manager ever, Tiffany.

I can see him, if they stick with him, given some TV time to tweak his character a little (maybe back to the ‘Ripper’ – hey, even Striker calls him it sometimes) as even Vince sees ECW as the place to fine tune someone before promoting them to Friday or Monday night. I’ve always thought he had the potential to lead a mid card heel group, although right now I can’t see it happening due to the new Hart Foundation just having been formed. And if they did do a UK heel group, people would only say they stole the idea from TNA and we know that WWE would NEVER steal ideas from any other organisation, oh no.

His future is at a crossroads. It’s up to him to get himself noticed.

Katie Lea

Paul’s storyline sister, as mentioned above, was almost ready to commit incest on Raw when that particular rug was, thankfully, pulled from under their feet.

She got noticed in the UK in the inter-gender bouts that she wrestled, eventually finding herself under developmental contract with WWE. She had in ring talent, personality and looks – how could she fail, right?

Well, you’d think so. Also, being English gave her that extra charm and made her stand out among the other divas. Or so you would think……

They don’t quite know what to do with her, and now that they’re on ECW what can she do in ring? She’d have to turn face to feud with Natalya, but the public wouldn’t see the Burchills as being anywhere near the level of the Harts.

They could turn them both and pair them with Finlay, as some sort of UK alliance, but even that is a stretch. Bottom line, Katie Lea is at even more of a crossroads than Paul as far as I can see, which is a pity. They both deserve better, as they are much more skilled than many on the roster.

DJ Gabriel

This is a strange one. I said a few columns ago that I feared for him in WWE once his partnership with Alicia Fox was ended during the draft. And I still feel the same way.

They tried to give him a personality during that run, as whenever he appeared on TV (as a glorified jobber, granted) in the years gone by, he never really showed any.

He is patterned after Chris Benoit. Can’t use that name on WWE TV for obvious reasons.

Dynamite Kid? Probably too obscure for today’s generation of fans (get him in the Hall of Fame please!). So where next?

He can go in the ring and is built like the proverbial tank. Some sort of arrogant, narcissistic character could work, like a Luger/Rick Rude/Venis type of character for today’s fans, but does he have the mic skills for it?

If he doesn’t pitch an idea soon it could be back to the drawing board for him, and that drawing board could as easily be the UK grap scene as ROH or TNA.

Sheamus O’Shaunessy

Now, I must say this – I saw him and Drew McIntyre wrestle on a small IWW card in Belfast a few years ago and while he connected with his target audience never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect him to be on the verge of promotion to the main WWE roster!

But, in all fairness, he has grafted away and got himself an opportunity (although Hade Vansen though he had one too not so long ago) to work his way up from FCW to WWE.

Can he, as they say, cut the mustard at the highest level? We’ll have to wait and see. While I saw him in Belfast working as a face (obviously given where the card was) I agree with what Dave said in the Observer recently that he probably does work better as a heel. Sometimes people just click with the audience and I have the feeling that he very well might just do that.

And in these days of supposed chances from the creative team, he may not have a better time to be promoted to the main game. Good luck from the Emerald Isle, SOS!

Drew McIntyre

Another strange one, although I see that he has recently been on some house shows in the last week or two.

He had a chance a couple of years ago in a tag team with 246 year old Dave Taylor that died a death when Taylor got injured. I then saw him wrestle on a house show with Kenny Dykstra as a tag partner, but that tandem went nowhere and then Kenny got released.

Back to the drawing board again.

And here we are with him on the verge of hitting the main roster again. Maybe he can for a tag team with SOS – hey, it’s a thought, but again they could be accused of copying TNA.

Here’s a thought, and I mean this. How about a UK group that starts on ECW then branches out via a tag team win (they’re allowed on all shows still, right?) They could have Burchill as the talker, Gabriel as the muscle, SOS/McIntyre as the tag team & Katie Lea as the flirt/tart to help them get the wins. Start them on ECW to get them noticed. Have them, over a period of months, try to recruit people like Finlay or Regal, meaning that they get another rub higher up the card.

Hey, anything must be better than what they’re doing, so where’s the problem in trying it?

Stu Sanders/Lawrence Knight

Truthfully, I know little about him. I have seen clips of him from his UK days, but nothing of him in FCW. He has held the tag title in FCW (with McIntyre) and in OVW (with Burchill) but if he gets the call to the big league he almost needs to be in the right place at the right time.

All the best Stu, you will probably need it! Not everyone can make it through, although for the hope of UK grapplers it would be good if you did!

Well, that’s me done for this week. I hope to do one more before I get married (July 1st) and head off to the Dominican Republic for two weeks (can’t wait for both to be honest!).

In passing, and in relation to the UK grap scene, if you haven’t seen Pac than you’re missing out. If WWE had a cruiserweight scene he would be there, which is why I can’t understand why TNA don’t pick him up. He is a superb high flyer (I saw him on the aforementioned IWW show, and he was the best on the entire card).

And as per usual, whether you agree, disagree or just have a point to make, feel free to drop me a line – garymehaffy@hotmail.co.uk – and I’ll try to get back to you.

And right before I go, a quick apology. There were a few people that got back to me last time that I never replied to, and for that I apologise. It’s been a bit hectic recently with preparations as you can appreciate but things are back to normal now so I will reply to any of you asap!

Ciao!

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