Why There’s Never Been An English WWE Champion


Hamish Woodward

There has never been an English WWE Champion. That fact seems bizarre, considering the rich history of wrestling in the UK, and the names that have come from England.

It makes sense why the legends of British wrestling haven’t won the WWE title. The likes of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks wrestled almost exclusively in the UK, especially in their peaks.

American wrestling wasn’t on their radar in the 1970s and 1980s, especially when the wrestling dominated ITV on Saturday afternoons until 1988.

Learn about why ITV cancelled the wrestling in 1988.

A few men have come close to reaching the level required to be WWE Champion. Some have even challenged, but never been trusted as the “face of the company”.

There have been a multitude of reasons why no Englishman has been given the chance to hold the legendary title, and most of them are very valid reasons.

Drugs Cost William Regal Chance To Be WWE Champion

William Regal is the name people most tout as the greatest to never become WWE Champion. That’s probably because he came so, so close to winning the big one, but screwed it all up for himself.

While the bulk of his career was spent as a mid-card act, he had a brief main event run in 2008 that showed a glimpse of what he could really do. He won the role of General Manager of Raw in a Battle Royal, before beating CM Punk to become King of the Ring.

This began a run of him in charge of Raw as a ruthless King. He shut down the show before the end as a power play (“Take it off the bloody air!”), and booked his rivals into increasingly difficult matches, all while still wrestling himself. It was a fresh take on the heel GM, and he looked to be on the way to becoming the first English WWE Champion.

Sadly, just weeks after winning King of the Ring, he lost him role as GM in a match against Mr Kennedy. He was then suspended for 30 days due to failing a drug test, and his push was over.

It is rumoured that WWE had plans to put the WWE Championship on William Regal during this time. Had he not got popped by the drug tests, we could be sitting here and calling him the first ever British WWE Champion. Sadly, it was to be.

PAC Came Close In His Only Title Match, But His Size Cost Him

When he was in the WWE as Neville, PAC was viewed as a future WWE Champion. His NXT title reign showed he could be a top star, and fans were excited to see him get called up to the main roster.

Soon after being called up following WrestleMania 31, Neville challenge Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship. He quickly got over as a babyface, and had an impromptu title match with Rollins on Monday Night Raw.

The high-flyer wowed fans with his aerial moves, although nobody believed he could be champion yet. That was until he hit the Red Arrow, pinning Rollins for the three count.

Except at the last second, he inadvertently moved the Champions’ foot onto the rope. The fans were in shock, thinking they’d seen Neville become the first ever English WWE Champion. He went on to lose the match.

Sadly, Vince McMahon never saw him as a champion. He wanted to saddle Neville with a “Mighty Mouse” gimmick, a death sentence for any wrestler with main event aspirations. He was relegated to the Cruiserweight division for most of his run, before being granted his release in 2018.

John Cena Politicked To Keep Wade Barrett Away From The WWE Championship

Wade Barrett is one man who looked certain to win WWE gold. After winning the first season of NXT, he created the iconic Nexus faction, while also earning a shot at the WWE Championship.

Sadly, John Cena did not allow him to become a top heel. He insisted on going over The Nexus at Summerslam 2010, while also making sure Barrett lost his WWE title match against Randy Orton.

Their feud ended in Cena literally burying Wade Barrett underneath a pile of chairs. He did get over as “Bad-News Barrett” in 2014, but the WWE soon decided that fans cheering him was the wrong thing, and cut his legs out from under him immediately.

British Bulldog Had Numerous Issues That Halted His Progress

Despite being arguably the most popular British wrestler in WWE history, “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith never held the top title under Vince McMahon. There were numerous reasons for this.

Bulldog had significant moments that could have propelled him to the top, such as his match against Bret Hart at SummerSlam ’92 in Wembley Stadium. This event drew the largest crowd in WWF history at the time, and was Vince McMahon’s favourite match.

However, just a few months later, he left the WWF for WCW. His returns to the WWF were marked by peaks and valleys, often missing the perfect moment to capitalize on his popularity. Had he stayed put, he may have got bigger pushes and at least a transitional reign as WWE Champion.

Sadly, he struggled with substance abuse, which affected his reliability and consistency. These personal issues created a level of unpredictability that made Vince McMahon hesitant to place the championship on him.

Stability and trust are crucial for a WWE Champion, and Smith’s behind-the-scenes troubles undermined his potential. The fact he was off his head on drugs for his match at Wembley Stadium says a lot about his mindset at the time.

The steroid trial also had an effect. Few wrestlers were as clearly on the juice as British Bulldog. McMahon wanted to move away from the behemoths of the 1980s, and ushered in a new generation led by Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in the 1990s. There was simply no room for Bulldog at the top.


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