When World of Sport came back on our TV screen for ITV in 2018, fans were excited for the return of British wrestling. They were excited to see the best British wrestlers in the world competing in the ring, like their hero Big Daddy did years before.
Wrestling became a household favourite across the country for 20 years, between 1965 and 1985. It featured a wide variety of characters, from fan favourites like Johnny Saint, Dynamite Kid and Big Daddy to evil villains like Kendo Nagasaki and Giant Haystacks.
However, the show was taken off the air in 1985, effectively killing the British wrestling scene for many years. All the top British wrestlers would head oversees to compete, leaving the remaining competition in Britain bare.
However, in recent years the wrestling scene in Great Britain has experienced a boom in popularity. In the mid 2010s, promotion like ICW, Progress and OTT in Ireland started gaining traction, and fans flocked in their thousands to see the new stars of British wrestling.
However, when WWE announced NXT UK, the British offshoot of their NXT promotion in America, things changed. All the top stars were poached, signing to NXT UK.
Before, the wrestlers would travel across the country, wrestling the local wrestlers and drawing huge houses for fans wanting to see them. However, once they signed exclusive deals with WWE, that stopped.
Wrestlers like British Strong Style, WALTER and Nixon Newell were suddenly unavailable to other promotions. They were no ready made stars to replace them, so attendances and interest in these companies soon dropped.
British wrestling is not dead, and the companies are slowly building their way back up to the peaks they were at before.
In the meantime, they helped produce some of the worlds biggest wrestling stars. Top British wrestlers of this era have gone on to sign for the likes of AEW, WWE and NJPW, becoming top champions in these companies.
In this article, I will go through the top 10 best British wrestlers currently, in my humble opinion.
Best British Wrestlers in the world
10. Rampage Brown
Fans of British Wrestling over the past 10 years will know the name Rampage Brown. Since his release from WWE developmental in 2011, he has been a consistent name in the UK wrestling scene.
He was a major part of the main event scene since the beginning of WCPW. The promotion, started by the lads at WhatCulture wrestling on Youtube, was a Youtube wrestling show which helped bring a number of wrestling fans into the British Wrestling scene.
Rampage was at the forefront of this. He was constantly in the main event at the start of the promotions life, teaming up with manager Adam Blampied. Rampage would have some fantastic matches in the promotion, including a best of seven series against bellow Brit-wrestler Primate.
He was also a key part of the World of Sport revival in 2018. In the very first episode of the series, he beat WOS Champion Grado to become the third man to hold the newly revived championship. However, he would later lose the championship to Justin Sysum, before the promotion ultimately folded.
Rampage since returned to WWE, competing in the companies UK promotion, NXT UK. He has had a number of high profile matches in the promotion, including a United Kingdom Championship bout against long-time former champion WALTER.
Rampage goes number 10 on this list because he is not the best British wrestler in the ring, but is definitely no slouch in the ring. He is known for his incredible power and presence, and would be a star in any era of wrestling.
9. Nixon Newell
“The Girl with the Shiniest Wizard” comes in at number 9 on the list of best British wrestlers. For my money, she is the best female British wrestler currently on the scene.
Being Welsh, my bias towards anyone from our country is off the charts, and shamelessly this is no different. However, I firmly believe that she would have been a future WWE Women’s Champion had WWE not been stupid and released such a great talent. Hopefully AEW signs Nixon Newell so we can see her back on television as soon as possible.
Before she was known as Tegan Nox in WWE, the girl from Bargoed wrestled on the UK circuit under the name Nixon Newell.
There, she was one of the biggest up-and-coming talents in Britain. She formed a much-loved tag team with fellow Welshman and Cardiff native Mark Andrews, named Bayside High. The duo were incredibly popular in Attack! Pro Wrestling, and won the tag team championships in the promotion.
She also worked for a number of women’s promotions. She has made appearances for both Shimmer and Stardom, as well as other indie promotions like Progress.
Nixon Newell was a featured star in WCPW (later renamed Defiant Wrestling), being the first woman to win their Women’s Championship. She defeated former AEW star and currently NXT wrestler Bea Priestly in a Last Woman Standing Match to be crowned champion.
WWE and injuries
Since signing with WWE, she has performed in both NXT and NXT UK. Sadly, a multitude of knee injuries halted her progress to becoming Women’s Champion in the company.
However, Newell has all the tools to become one of the best women wrestlers in the world, let alone the United Kingdom. She is great on the mic, as well as a supreme talent in the ring. She also has clear room to improve, and at only 27 years old has heaps of time to do so.
Nixon Newell is one talent that definitely needs looking out for once her 90 days in WWE is up. The sky is the limit for this young Welsh star. I hope to see her in AEW soon, beating Britt Baker for the AEW Women’s Championship.
8. Chris Brookes
For fans of the major American companies (WWE and AEW), Chris Brookes may be a name unfamiliar to you. However, he has quietly become one of the worlds top wrestlers, and has handily earned the number 8 spot on the list of best British wrestlers.
Chris Brookes gained initial success after the WWE’s destruction of the independent scene. He helped keep the scene alive, with his brilliant performances in Rev Pro Wrestling not going unnoticed. His tag team with Travis Banks were brilliant to watch, and the pair captured numerous tag team championships together.
Brookes even famously rejected a contract with WWE, with the 6 foot 4 British star aiming instead to help keep the British scene alive and thriving.
Brookes has shared the ring with a number of top stars, and has not looked out of place against any of them. Bouts against Zack Sabre Jr, WALTER and Minoru Suzuki showcased the young star as one to look out for in the future. Injuries have slowed his progress but he has everything to be a huge star.
He has most recently been a champion in Japan, winning the DDT Extreme Championship in March this year in an Extreme Barbed Wire Coffin match.
7. Mark Andrews
Previously mentioned as the tag team partner of Nixon Newell, Mark “Mandrews” Andrews flies in at number 7 on the list of the best British wrestlers in the world.
He’s wrestled all over the world, appearing for promotions like Progress, Rev Pro, TNA and WWE in various capacities.
He is a high flyer who is incredible fluid in the ring and sells like nobody else. He is the perfect babyface, drawing the crowd in with his selling and wowing them with incredible moves like a Stundog Millionaire and the Shooting Star Press.
His match at NXT UK Cardiff with fellow Welshman Flash Morgan Website earned him the accolade as being the first, and so far only, Welsh champion in WWE history. He and Webster defeated Gallus and Grizzled Young Vets to win the NXT United Kingdom tag team championship, in a match that made me lose my voice and agree to call my first born son Flash Morgan.
Andrews has solidified himself as one of the best British wrestlers in the world, as well as one of the best Welsh wrestlers to ever wrestle for the WWE.
6. Pete Dunne
Hand picked by Triple H as the future of NXT, Pete Dunne has made a living as one of the UK’s finest in ring competitors.
Gaining fame across the UK as part of British Strong Style, he became a top heel in WWE with his performance in the WWE United Kingdom Tournament. He made it to the final, where he lost to Tyler Bate, but was part of a segment between himself and WWE legend Triple H.
Since then, he has beaten Bate for the WWE United Kingdom championship, as well as winning the Dusty Rhodes Classic and NXT Tag Team Championships with partner Matt Riddle.
The future is bright for the young star, who despite his small stature has brilliant in ring ability. Whether it be WWE, AEW or NJPW, he is sure to be a main event talent wherever he goes.
5. Tyler Bate
At aged 24, Tyler Bate has no reason to be as good as he is. He was one of the youngest competitors in WWE’s United Kingdom tournament, and shocked the world by winning the entire thing.
In the ring, there are few that can match his character work and intensity. He has a certain charisma and selling ability that forces you to will him on, and to cheer him to win.
Along with Pete Dunne and Trent Seven, he was a part of British Strong Style, a heel stable which dominated the British scene prior to NXT UK.
He rekindled this relationship with Seven in NXT. The pair are former NXT Tag Team Champions, albeit a short reign after losing the belts to Undisputed Era.
He also was part of the greatest match I have ever seen live. His 45 minute classic with WALTER at NXT UK Cardiff was breathaking to watch, and should have been the match to end WALTER’s legendary reign. Bate became a star in my eyes that night, and he should be a WWE Champion in the future. That match was one of the best WALTER matches in WWE.
4. Zack Sabre Jr
For fans of the technical side of wrestling, there is no one that comes close to the ability of Zack Sabre Jr. He has won the best technical wrestler award every year since 2014, and shows no signs of stopping.
Zack Sabre Jr wrestles his own particular style of wrestling. Submission holds and crafty escapes are part and parcel of a ZSJ match. He has lit up New Japan with his unique in-ring style, and has risen to the ranks of one of the top Gaijin in the company.
Zack Sabre Jr is a multi time IWGP Tag Team Champion in NJPW, and has aspirations of winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He turned down a contract from WWE after a stellar Cruiserweight Classic performance in 2016, opting instead to live his dream in Japan instead.
He has shown off his incredible technical skills against opponents such as Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. Over time he has been entrusted in main event spots in NJPW and have thrived in every one of them.
Sabre Jr wrestles a true British style, and is banking on his expertise in the matter to drag him to the top of NJPW. He hopes to be the second Brit to hold the famous Heavyweight championship in the promotion, after the man who tops this list of best British wrestlers.
3. Drew McIntyre
It took a long time for a British wrestler to become the WWE Champion. British Bulldog failed. William Regal failed. Pirate Paul Burchill failed.
But the chosen one did not fail. Well, initially he did fail. His original run in WWE came too soon for the man from Glasgow, and it wasn’t until his release and reinvention in ICW that he finally became the man who could be the top guy in WWE.
He left WWE at part of Three Man Band, a comedy jobber stable. He returned a world champion prospect and the newest member of NXT.
McIntyre quickly climbed the ranks of NXT and became NXT Champion within a year of signing. When he was called onto the main roster, he soon teamed with Dolph Ziggler and became a WWE Tag Team Champion. This was his first main roster championship since 2010.
Drew won the 2020 Royal Rumble, and at Wrestlemania defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. He finally fulfilled the destiny placed upon him by Vince McMahon, as the Chosen One became the first British WWE Champion and one of the best British wrestlers of all time.
Some people will be shocked that this man is not top of the list of best British wrestlers. PAC, formerly Adrian Neville, the Neville, and almost Mighty Mouse, is one of the best wrestlers on the planet.
There is nothing in the ring PAC cannot do. He does high flying moves that nobody can do. He is strong, and can do power moves like dead lift German Suplexes with ease. PAC is brilliant on the microphone, and one of the best characters in wrestling today.
He first gained worldwide fame as NXT Champion in WWE. There, he showcased himself against some of the best wrestlers in the world, and to this day remains one of the best NXT Champion of all time. The Neville vs Sami Zayn feud was also one of the great feuds in the golden age of NXT.
He moved up to the main roster, and initially didn’t have much success. He did have a brilliant match with Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship soon after Wrestlemania 31. Neville his his Red Arrow finisher, pinning Rollins for the three count.
Fans in the arena exploded as they thought the Geordie native was the new WWE Champion. However, Seth Rollins had his foot on the rope, and it was almost the greatest underdog victory in WWE history.
PAC in AEW
After leaving WWE, he signed with AEW in 2019. He racked up huge wins in AEW, over top stars like Kenny Omega and Adam Page. His match against Orange Cassidy at AEW Revolution was one of the best AEW matches so far in the companies history.
He challenged for the AEW Championship just once in AEW. He took on Kenny Omega and Orange Cassidy in a three way match at Double or Nothing 2021.
It was an incredible match, where PAC looked like he was going to become the new champion. He destroyed the competition with speed and power, and looked like an absolute star whilst doing so.
However, he would lose the match without being pinned, as Kenny Omega pinned Orange Cassidy to retain his title.
Since them, he has been embroiled in a number of feuds and brilliant matches, and the future surely holds a AEW World Championship for PAC, one of Britain’s finest wrestlers.
1. Will Ospreay
In my mind, there was very little doubt who would be top of this list. While PAC is a supreme talent in the ring, and Drew McIntyre was the first Briton to ever win the WWE Championship, Will Ospreay is the best British wrestler alive today.
He first gained fame as one of the best high flyers in the world. He gained notoriety for his death-defying and sometimes reckless matches. Wrestlers and legends around the world lambasted him for his dangerous style, with some stating that he wouldn’t be able to walk by the time his career was over.
Once of these wrestlers was WCW and NJPW legend Vader. The former WCW Champion criticised Will Ospreay’s bout with fellow high flyer Ricochet for being athletic, but dangerous. He even claimed that Will Ospreay was “What’s wrong in wrestling”.
The pair hit the ring in the end, taking on each other in Revolution Pro Wrestling. Despite being 61 and well past his prime, Vader picked up the win to the surprise of everyone in attendance.
However, it’s a testament to Ospreay’s ability that he managed to carry Vader to a half decent match.
Since that match and his incredible bout with Ricochet, Will Ospreay has moved on to being one of the biggest stars in wrestling.
Will Ospreay in New Japan
He has been a consistent name in Rev Pro since 2012, but it was his move to New Japan that launched his career into superstardom.
He won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship three times, having incredible matches with wrestlers like Shingo Takagi and Hiromu Takahashi.
However, it would be his transition to the heavyweight division which would make him a huge name in NJPW. He had a great showing in his first G1 Climax in 2019, before going on to face Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom the following year.
He would become the first ever British IWGP Heavyweight Champion, defeating champion Kota Ibushi at Sakuri Genesis 2020. However, he would only manage one title defence, injury his neck in his only title match against Shingo Tagaki.
He has since returned from injury, wrestling on NJPW Strong in America. He holds the championship belt he never lost, claiming to be the real IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Ospreay will face the winner of Tagaki and Kazuchika Okada on the second night of next years NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom.
No British wrestler currently active can make Will Ospreay for in ring talent. He is the best British wrestler in the world, and a top wrestler regardless of nationality. Even more impressive is that he is only 28 years old, so has years and years to improve and become one of the greatest of all time.