Town’s ready to rumble

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This weekend, 16 of the UK’s best wrestlers will square off at the Empress Ballroom during the first ever WWE UK Championship Tournament.

The tournament will take place over Saturday and Sunday, with wrestling fans being treated to 15 matches over the weekend.

Wrestlers from all corners of the UK and Republic of Ireland will be represented, including competitors with experiences in big promotions such as TNA, Progress and What Culture Pro Wrestling.

There will also be two local grapplers competing in the squared circle in the form of St Annes’ James Drake and Central Drive’s Sam Gradwell.

The pair have wrestled more than 30 times already this year for various promotions but they will most likely be avoiding a rematch as James Drake takes on one of the favourites in Nottingham’s Joseph Conners, in the first round. Whereas Sam Gradwell will be getting to grips with Hartlepool’s Saxon Huxley.

What can fans expect in terms of style from the two local lads?

James said: “In this business you’ve really got to stand out and be marketable.

“Over the past year, I’ve been focusing on a more brawler/technical wrestling style. But it is very British as well so I always stand out in the sense that you won’t see me do 101 moves but the crowd are invested in me, they’re invested in the story I’ve told.”

Sam, who agrees with James about standing out, adds that he’s quite a versatile competitor.

“Being able to stand out is such a massively important thing,” he said.

“Everywhere I’ve been, everyone I’ve wrestled, I’ve tried to incorporate a bit of their style. If you want that old school British technical, I can do that, if you want a bit of high-flying I can do that, If you want a brawler, I can do that, if you want a talker, I can talk. The way I see it, when I’m in that ring, there’s four ways to win a match; knockout, pinfall, submission, count out and I’ll take any one of them.”

Tickets for the first-ever WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament are sold out, but it will be broadcast live on WWE Network.

Subscription is £9.99 a month, and the first month is free. To subscribe, go to WWENetwork.com.