WWE U.K. Championship tournament preview, part 1

This weekend's WWE United Kingdom Championship tournament is a historic opportunity for the 16 competitors hailing from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. By the end of action Sunday, the first WWE U.K. champion will be crowned -- and everyone involved has an opportunity to show what they've got for a global audience on the WWE Network.

Before you tune in Saturday, however, learn everything you'll need to know about each of the 16 participants. In part 1 of ESPN's U.K. Championship tournament preview, Nic Atkin breaks down the left side of the bracket.

Tyler Bate

Height: 5-foot-7
Weight: 175 pounds
Age: 19
Hometown: Dudley, England
Twitter: @Tyler_Bate

With five years of experience in Fight Club Pro, Progress and Chikara, Tyler Bate is not your typical 19-year-old. As one half of the Progress tag team champions with Trent Seven, Bate is part of "British Strong Style" -- a group that also includes Pete Dunne, founded upon bringing traditional British technical wrestling back to the forefront of the scene with a fresh dose of Japanese style in the mix.

Bate began his career training with Dunne and Seven, who helped him get on shows while he learned the craft.

"Pete's been wrestling since he was 12 years old," Bate told ESPN. "He's around a while, he's been all over the world and wrestled every single style there is and knows what he's doing. Trent has wrestled some of the best wrestlers in the world, so it was a very good idea surrounding myself with people like that. I'm only gonna get better and improve."

Bate himself has also competed against some of the best in the world, including AJ Styles and The Young Bucks when they were collectively in the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling. But it is his interactions with Chris Hero -- NXT-bound as Kassius Ohno -- that have left the biggest impression on him during not just their two matches but all their backstage conversations.

"He's a great person to share the ring with," said Bate. "I've seen him quite a few times now around on shows, even when we're not wrestling each other. I try and talk to him as much as possible, because I know he's a very knowledgeable person when it comes to wrestling. He's really into obscure wrestling that people don't really take much notice of, and I like talking to him about those things. Strange Andre the Giant in Japan matches and things like that.

"It's great to see him return to NXT, without a doubt. Personally I think Chris Hero was the best wrestler in the world outside of the WWE at that time. And now he's there. The WWE is where everybody wants to be now."


Height: 5-foot-8
Weight: 191 pounds
Age: 26
Hometown: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Twitter: @G7Gallagher

Tucker knows a thing or two about being the underdog.

"Northern Ireland is the underdog country," he told ESPN. "Everyone's probably already counting me out. But that's the way it's been my whole life, really."

Born premature, Tucker needed tubes to breathe and was given 26 hours to live -- and his parents were told by doctors that he most likely wouldn't make it through the night.

"At school I was always the smallest kid in class. Obviously when I said I wanted to train to be a wrestler, everyone sort of laughed it off. It was the same story -- they just counted me out again until I got myself established and got myself going."

At the age of 15, Tucker joined a training school in Pro Wrestling Ulster where he was taught by WWE superstar Finn Balor.

Tucker considers himself an all-arounder: technical, but a high-flier who likes strong style and a gold old brawl.

"I like to get hit in the face and I like to hit people in the face -- that's pretty much my idea for a good night out," he said with a laugh.

Jordan Devlin

Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 182 pounds
Age: 26
Hometown: Bray, Ireland
Twitter: @Jordan_Devlin1

Jordan Devlin is often touted as the 'new Finn Balor' -- and the man himself has no problem with the comparison.

He's from the same town of Bray, County Wicklow in Ireland, where he was trained from the age of 12 by Balor himself -- and he even bears a passing resemblance, in terms of looks.

"Any link with Finn is very complimentary," Devlin told ESPN. "He's a top-drawer athlete and wrestler. I spent a lot of time in the ring with him and picked up a lot of influences. I mold myself around the man's attitude more than anything. He was always the hardest person training, the first one there and the last one to leave the mats.

"Even when he went touring, he was still training like a man possessed. He didn't take his foot off the gas. Everything else has just been telling me to keep calm, take it one day at a time, to relax and enjoy the ride."

Danny Burch

Height: 6-foot
Weight: 190
Age: 35
Hometown: London, England

A 14-year veteran, Danny Burch should be a familiar face to fans of NXT.

Known as Martin Stone on the British independent circuit with Insane Championship Wrestling and Frontier Wrestling Alliance, Burch signed with WWE in 2011 and worked in its developmental territory, making his televised debut in May 2013 in a loss to Bray Wyatt.

He was released by WWE in April 2014, though, and then appeared on the second season of TNA's British Boot Camp. Burch reappeared at several NXT tapings in 2015, although he did not sign a contract at that time, losing matches to Kevin Owens, Apollo Crews, Tye Dillinger and James Storm. He continued to sporadically appear at tapings last year as an enhancement talent, including a dark match at the Cruiserweight Classic finale.

Trent Seven

Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 210 pounds
Age: 35
Hometown: Wolverhampton, England
Twitter: @trentseven

Trent Seven, as he puts it, is "an older head on younger, very well-defined shoulders."

"When I was a kid I always wanted to be an actor. I always wanted to be a performer. Then I found wrestling," he said. "As soon as I saw WrestleMania, I thought if I'm gonna do it, then that's gotta be the end goal, surely. I always think of setting goals as high as you possibly can. God knows if you fall short you're still gonna hit a pretty high target.

"Looking at things from outside the box, these are incredible things. Wrestling at the Electric Ballroom, wrestling at Brixton Academy, wrestling at the SSE Hydro for ICW in front of 6,000 people. Wrestling for the WWE live on the network to crown the first-ever U.K. champion. Such huge, huge steps, but steps I feel that I have to take and that I have to be successful at to hit that goal of wrestling at WrestleMania. For me it's just a case of it's just gotta be done, bring it on. Let's go. Now it's time to stand in the middle of that ring Jan. 15 as the first-ever WWE UK champion."

Read more about Trent Seven and Pete Dunne

HC Dyer

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 213 pounds
Age: 20
Hometown: Cambridge, England
Twitter: @HCPledge

A powerful yet quick competitor, HC Dyer trained at House of Pain, a name synonymous with British wrestling.

Making his in-ring debut in 2014, he is also a part of Leicester Championship Wrestling and Southside Wrestling Entertainment.

Despite being only 20 years old, Dyer has already been in the ring with former WWE stars Hacksaw Jim Duggan, JTG, X-Pac and Carlito, currently contracted WWE stars like Cedric Alexander and Tommy End, and top British names like Will Ospreay, Jimmy Havoc and El Ligero, among others.


Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 255lbs
Age: 29
Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland
Twitter: @WolfgangYoung

If you don't know Wolfgang, it's probably because you're not a fan of Scottish wrestling. And if you are, you will know well what Wolfgang can do in the ring.

"I'm a brawler, a grappler -- however, given the opportunity I can fly like anyone else on 205 Live just as eloquently but with 18 stone behind me, which is probably gonna hurt a bit more," Wolfgang told ESPN.

Read more about Wolfgang

Tyson T-Bone

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 242 pounds
Age: 35
Hometown: Malvern, England 
Twitter: @Tyson_T_Bone

Tyson T-Bone's first dalliance with WWE came as an extra in a barroom brawl scene between Big Show and Sheamus five years ago.

WWE was taping Raw and SmackDown in Birmingham, where they were also running a tryout -- and contacted T-Bone to hire the wrestling ring that he owned. It was at that tryout that he met William Regal.

"He obviously saw something in my answers that made him interested in me. Not really sure what it was!" T-Bone told ESPN, laughing. "I didn't know a great deal about what I was doing."

T-Bone was a late starter in wrestling at the age of 25, having transitioned from boxing -- and he describes himself as smash mouth, with a style very much still like a fighter.

"By pure shock is how I finally got here -- I thought the opportunity had passed," he said. "When I first started I didn't know anything about it at all. Something I had only thought of in passing. I fell in love with wrestling while I learned on the job. I tried to learn everything I could in a later stage of life compared to most people."