Why the New NXT UK Contract Deals Shouldn’t Come as a Surprise

We reported earlier today that WWE will be locking down the contracts for many of their performers in the UK. Moving forward, WWE will be even more strict on which promotions their talent can work for- a move that has not been well received on social media and by wrestlers and promoters not with WWE in the UK.

Mike Johnson over at PWInsider has covered the original story by Wrestletalk and added further details. Back in January 2017, Johnson actually asked Triple H about this exact fear- that the company would stop talent from working promotions. Here is what Johnson had to say specifically when asking “The Game” this:

“I want to ask you about the UK scene. You guys signed a number of talents that worked the tournament. Since then those talents have been pulled from appearing on different UK promotions and European promotions based on where that content is going to appear. Whether it be on the FloSlam platform or on iPPV or whatever. Before the tournament took place there seemed to be this understanding that nobody was going to have any sort of restraints where they could work and now you’ve got a bunch of indy promotions, some of which you guys tried to forge relationships with, all scrambling to reshuffle cards. Can you explain why this happened and why there wasn’t a grace period? Also, where did the misunderstanding come from? You have a lot of people freaking out over there that you guys are about to do the 2017 version of what happened in the 80’s where Vince walked in and trounced all the territories. There’s a lot of guys concerned that you guys are about to start the beginning of the end of the European indy scene.”

This led to a response from Triple H, where he claimed there was a lot of confusion. From what he says, it seems the company is fine for talent to work promotions that don’t have television shows and ways to distribute and make further profit off the names of WWE’s contracted performers.

Triple H answered, saying the following:

“Yeah, there’s a lot of confusion based on that. A lot of that confusion is based on people’s refusal to acknowledge the reality of the situation. We signed talent as part of this UK tournament. We are looking forward to doing what will eventually become a weekly show over there. The talent knew going in what the deal was. They knew what the restrictions were and they knew what the restrictions weren’t. We’re not restricting them from working for anybody as long as it’s not distributed. As long as there is no distribution outside of the live event. Some of these promotions tried to come in after the fact and add a distribution component to that. Talent didn’t sign up for that to start with. It was added coming off of the success of what we did or what they were working on. That’s a change. That’s a change in how the talent is being dealt with. Talent had an agreement to go to a live event and compete on a live event and that’s changed. We’re not heavy handing anybody. We are asking them to approve and work with us and the groups. I was very clear when I was over there that we want to work with groups that are cultivating talent and not groups that are just coming in and one-offing talent. Is there a period of time where we are allowing guys to work for people? Absolutely. Every single one of these talents knew the deal. They knew the deal going into it and they knew what the ask was and they knew what their restrictions are. Coming out the other side of it there is a lot of confusion. It’s not on our side. It’s not on the talent’s side, I believe. It’s on the promoters side who just kind of changed things and do things however they want to do things. You can call them promotions but there are a lot of people that do one-off shows over there. There is a big difference. All of this is strategic and you are going to see a lot of announcements here in a short period of time. Where I think all of the questions you are having now and the fears people are having will go away. People are going to go, “Oh, it’s very clear what they are doing now.” It’s just strategic. You can’t come out right and say those things.”

The exceptions for this are promotions WWE has working relationships with. As it stands, wXw, PROGRESS Wrestling and Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) are the three promotions over in the UK that work alongside WWE.

From what we understand, El Ligero, Xia Brookside, Flash Morgan Webster and James Drake have all signed the new NXT UK deals, which give WWE further rights to prevent talent from competing for other promotions if necessary. More names are expected to be announced.

Do you think WWE has handled this well? Let us know your thoughts, opinions, and reactions in the comments below.

With H/T to PWInsider for the transcriptions.