When the bell rings out at Donnington Park, it will indicate it’s time for some of the UK’s best high-flying action inside the squared circle, as wrestling returns to Download. For three years, the WWE’s black and yellow brand of NXT has found a home at the metal festival. But this year, the stars of NXT UK will step through the ropes at Donington Park to lock up and entertain the thousands of fans at the site.
This year there will even be recordings of the weekly episodes of the UK brand being filmed at the famous festival after the success of last year’s UK Championship tournament. With many of us here at Already Heard having a passion for “the graps,” we thought we would give you a quick run down to some of the names you need to check out at Download.
The Bruiserweight is no stranger to Donnington Park, having jumped fellow NXT UK Superstar Mark Andrews on stage while his band Junior were playing the festival two years ago, Pete Dunne certainly knows his way around the festival site. Since the growth of the UK brand, Dunne’s hard-hitting or British Strong Style has been one of the driving forces behind its popularity.
The Birmingham native is also part of WWE history holding on to the UK Championship for a staggering 685 days before losing it to Walter (more on him later). One thing is for certain, Dunne will make sure his opponents at Download meet a bitter end.
NXT UK’s very own rock star will be right at home at Download. Storm has a swagger which would not be out of place with the 1980s era of heavy metal, but her mix of Japanese strong style and British technical grappling has seen her become a fan favourite in the British scene.
The Aussie grappler gained international acclaim with her appearances as part of the Mae Young Classic and at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, where Storm claimed the NXT UK Women’s Championship beating Rhea Ripley.
Already one of Europe’s most destructive heavyweights, Walter is now making shock waves through the NXT UK locker room. In the short time that the big Austrian has been a part of the UK brand, he has already laid waste to a large proportion of its roster.
Walter also brought an end to Pete Dunne’s historic reign as NXT UK Champion at ‘Takeover New York’, cementing him as one of the most dominant forces in UK wrestling. Played to the ring by Dvořák’s powerful ‘Symphony No. 9’ with a very calm demeanour, but once inside the ropes, the ring general is all business. And don’t be surprised if he’s joined by his new found friends in Imperium; Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner and Alexander Wolf.
So, Download if you think you hear a gunshot over the weekend don’t panic, it is probably just one of Walter’s chops.
Like many competitors hailing from Ireland, Jordan Devlin brings a physical, in-your-face intensity to the squared circle. The self-proclaimed “import killer” from his time at home promotion of Over The Top, Devlin has locked up with some of the worlds best and held his own.
Ever since arriving on the NXT UK brand, Devlin has not made himself any friends, but Irish grappler has won fans with his intensity even if he hasn’t always gone about winning in the fairest ways.
Since his arrival on NXT, Adam Cole (“Bay Bay”) has put on five-star performance after five-star performance. His appearance at Download comes just weeks after Cole became WWE NXT Champion, defeating Johnny Gargano. Undoubtedly, the leader of the Undisputed Era has established himself as a main event player.
Cole is renowned for his meticulous in-ring attack, not to mention his exclamatory (and infectious) means of introducing himself. Whether it is flanked by his Undisputed Era stablemates or flying solo, Cole is a master of the ring and will ensure it will be the last shot anyone who steps in the ring with him takes.
The “original bro” may seem more at home on the beach than at a music festival full of metalheads, but don’t be fooled by his flowing locks and flip-flops. The former MMA fighter has taken to the world of sports entertainment like a duck to water.
With vicious strikes and deadly submissions, Riddle will leave spectators wincing in pain just looking at the manoeuvres, he places on his opponents.
The ultra-aggressive and terrifyingly strong Aussie has embraced her true self in the UK, leading her to being crowned the first-ever NXT UK Women’s Champion. Ripley will be right at home at Download Festival as the merciless “Mosh Pit Kid” will no doubt be kicking ass in the pit and in the ring.
Despite losing her title, Ripley has one thing in mind and that is to rip the NXT UK Woman’s division apart.
Coffey brings two key elements to every match: an unyielding resolve and really, really hard hits.
The leader of Gallus has an impressive CV of past clashes with WWE and NXT Superstars and legends like Drew McIntyre, Kassius Ohno and Kurt Angle, to participating in the 2018 WWE UK Championship Tournament, Coffey boasts plenty of big-match experience.
Since joining forces with his brother Mark and Wolfgang, Gallus has run riot on the NXT UK locker room and they will be looking to add Download Festival to their list of venues they’ve torn through.
WWE NXT UK will be appearing throughout the weekend at Download Festival.
Download Festival 2019 takes place at Donington Park from 14th – 16th June.
Tickets are available here.
Words Tim Birkbeck (TB).