WWE Cruiserweight Classic's Jack Gallagher also an MMA competitor

Britain's Jack Gallagher is not your typical professional wrestler.

The 26-year-old has a 2-0 record in amateur MMA with two first-round submissions, and has trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for eight years, as well as in boxing and kickboxing.

"If you don't think MMA is influenced by pro wrestling, you've got your head in the sand, and definitely vice-versa," Gallagher told ESPN.

Gallagher, from Manchester, England, is one of three British representatives in WWE's Cruiserweight Classic, a tournament starting Wednesday night on the WWE Network featuring 32 competitors from 16 different countries.

"There's an incredibly international flavour," he added. "Everyone's bringing their own style. I really believe I'm bringing the British style to the tournament, as well as Noam Dar from Scotland, Zack Sabre Jr. representing England as well.

"We're bringing the British style back. I know we're all incredibly influenced by the traditional British style."

That style was honed over three years at the legendary Snake Pit gym in Wigan, England, competing in 'catch-as-catch-can' wrestling -- a hybrid grappling style that is one of the foundations of modern MMA.

"It's the largest stage I've ever had to perform on, both as a professional wrestler and as well as an athlete," said Gallagher, who has appeared in English promotions Futureshock Wrestling and Grand Pro Wrestling.

"Having it lean much more towards a sports era -- particularly from a British standpoint, the old world of sport-era wrestling was much more like a sport, we had weight brackets in a similar manner. I think it's very good, I think it's very interesting for the WWE audience as well.

"I think it can influence WWE, but I don't think there's a chance this becomes the norm, though. I think what WWE is doing now is they're trying to create as wide an audience as they can.

"It's the best time to be a professional wrestler, and it's the best time to be a professional wrestling fan. Because if you like the sports stuff, we have sports stuff. If you like the pure entertainment stuff, we have the pure entertainment stuff. It is a variety show of true proportions now.

"I think pro wrestling has an understanding of really the business we're in, in entertaining people. Pro wrestling, and I know pro wrestlers, look at everything. We're not just limited to MMA, to the television or the movies we've seen, books, poetry. Anything we can do to entertain the people that's what we're doing."

Gallagher said he was rooting for Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt. "He's the representative of pro wrestling in the UFC, of course," he said.

"If you look at terms of numbers, Brock Lesnar is the biggest PPV draw in MMA history. I think the WWE audience is so strong he crossed over in that sense. I still think probably the WWE has a stronger audience than the UFC."

Former WWE star Daniel Bryan, who was forced to retire in February aged just 34 due to concussion problems, will commentate on the show along with Mauro Ranallo, who has previously commentated for MMA organisations Pride Fighting Championships, Elite XC and Strikeforce, as well as on boxing for U.S. television network Showtime.

"My personal favourite style of wrestling is wrestling called as a sport. But I am very biased in that one general direction," Bryan told ESPN with a laugh.

"The presentation, it is like sport. It's a very sports-like feel. I don't know if that's where they're [WWE] going, going forward, but that's something that I love about it, and something that really drew me to it.

"Knowing that Mauro Ranallo was going to be the commentator with me kind of gave me that feel, anyways. Mauro is a great, great commentator. And he likes calling it as a sport.

"Him and I had talked, then Triple H and I had talked, and William Regal and I had talked. And they kept reiterating to me this sports-like feel that they wanted from this."

The biggest tweak compared to usual WWE programming is that all 32 competitors have to pass a legitimate 205-pound weigh-in before each round of matches, with five alternates on standby should any fail to make the cut.

Competitors will also be brought to the centre of the ring after each match with the winner's hand raised by the referee, in another nod to MMA and boxing.

"I love the completely overhauled look, the overhauled presentation," Bryan said. "I love the fact there's not a stage where people do their entrance from. With [WWE shows] Raw and Smackdown, there's this big stage which separates you from the crowd, you walk down this giant ramp.

"One of the things that I loved about, for example, '80s NWA [National Wrestling Alliance] was that Arn Anderson would just walk up to the crowd and people would try to grab him.

"I think that's one of the neat things about UFC as well, is that there's not this big stage and ramp where people come down to the cage. So I think the presentation is really neat, and the tournament format really lends itself to that sporty feel.

"It's a lot of how wrestling used to be presented. The weigh-ins -- the catch tournaments in Germany would do that before every show. When you talk about the Fit Finlays and William Regals who did all those tournaments in Germany -- I did one in Germany in 2003 at one of the carnivals -- that's the way they opened every show, with that very legitimate sports feel.

"That's what I grew up loving about wrestling -- focusing less on storylines. But just because you're focusing less on storylines doesn't mean you're not telling stories, because each of these guys has their own incredible story as to how they got to the Cruiserweight Classic.

"But that's what happens in sports as well. When you're watching sports, the commentators are talking about the action. But they're also talking about the people who are in the action. That's kind of what we're doing."