When thinking of areas of the world that have created some of the biggest stars in the history of pro wrestling, a litany of places immediately spring to mind, such as Texas, Florida, Japan, Mexico, or maybe even Calgary, Alberta, Canada. But one area of the world that often slips under the radar is the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Over the years, the pro wrestling culture of the UK, which has roots in bare-knuckle brawling and “shoot-style” fighting, has provided some fairly talented wrestlers, many of which have become well-known on the international stage, even rising to heights within WWE. In recognizing this under-rated hotbed, here are some UK-born wrestlers who have represented their homeland with great success in their careers.
Before he became “The Man That Gravity Forgot”, Neville began his career in a small wrestling promotion in northeastern England, under the name PAC. After establishing himself in the UK, he moved on to the North American independent scene, starring in a number of promotions, including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), Chikara, and Dragon Gate USA, as well as a short stint in New Japan Pro Wrestling. During that time, Neville established himself as one of the pre-eminent high-flyers in the industry, and soon enough, found himself with a developmental deal with WWE. In NXT, he was the first man to win the NXT Tag Team titles twice, and defeated the longest-reigning NXT Champion (a record Neville would go on to beat) Bo Dallas at the inaugural NXT live special, ArRival, in a ladder match to win the title. Neville was promoted to the main roster after WrestleMania 31, and had several incredible matches following his debut, including bouts against US Champion John Cena and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. At the end of his first year in WWE, Neville was voted by the fans as the “Breakout Superstar of 2015”.