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WCPW launches the 2017 Pro Wrestling World Cup in the UK

What Culture Pro Wrestling held a press conference on Sunday morning at the Planet Ice Arena in Milton Keynes to launch the 2017 Pro Wrestling World Cup.

The presser, held in advance of the promotion's True Destiny iPPV at the venue, was hosted by Jim Ross, the ambassador for the competition, who will also call the action with Matt Striker, who put over the importance of UK wrestling history, name checking Johnny Saint, Marty Jones, and the Knight family. Interestingly, Paige was present at the press conference, though very much off camera, and jokingly pushed to get her brothers included.

The competition will feature 64 wrestlers, divided into eight geographical groups of eight, who will compete in a single-elimination tournament over the next five months, with two men from each qualifier progressing to the finals in August. That event, a four-day affair from August 23-26, will be held in the UK, with the final two days at the Sports Centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne shown live.

All the action will be available to watch for free on WCPW's YouTube channel, with the aim of creating what Ross called a “truly fan friendly” tournament. Ross declared his love for tournaments of this kind -- “an old concept that is new again” -- stating that anything that moves professional wrestling closer to mainstream sports in structure is a good thing.

Zack Sabre Jr. -- announced as being part of the UK qualifiers -- claimed tournaments are good because they have a definite ending, unlike most pro wrestling open-ended storylines, and that -- much like with the Olympics every four years -- non-fans can be drawn into the action.

Several of the qualifying rounds were announced, with only the US, Japanese, and Rest of the World groups to be revealed at a later date.

The first so far announced is the English qualifying round, at the Harvey Haddon Sports Village in Nottingham on March 21st, and will feature Sabre Jr. alongside Nick Aldis, Rampage Brown, Zack Gibson (interestingly both men contracted to ITV's World of Sport), Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay (likewise with Ring of Honor), Martin Kirby, and Jimmy Havoc. The presence of talent contracted to other promotions backs up WCPW's claim that they, as far as possible, want it to be a truly encompassing series.

Next on the docket is Scotland, at the Motherwell Concert Hall on March 23rd, with Drew Galloway, Joe Coffey, Lewis Girvan, Kenny Williams, Joe Hendry, Mark Coffey, BT Gunn, and Liam Thomson, promoted in conjunction with the Scottish Wrestling Alliance.

Canada's SMASH Wrestling will host the Canadian qualifier, at the Phoenix Concert Hall in Toronto, with the date and competitors to be announced.

Interestingly, the Mexican round will be held in the UK, at Coventry's SkyDome -- an arena used in the past for Pro Wrestling NOAH and other large-scale events under the auspices of WCPW commentator Alex Shane --  on April 30th, and will include Rey Mysterio Jr., Alberto El Patron, Caristico, Penta El 0M, Rey Fenix, El Hijo del Dos Caras, Drago, and -- humorously but kayfabe accurate -- El Ligero.

The last scheduled to be announced was the German qualifier, hosted by Ahmed Chaer's German Wrestling Federation at Berlin's Huxley's Neue Welt on July 2nd, which will include wXw's Bad Bones and Axel Dieter Jr., alongside Alex Wright trainee Juvenile X, and GWF regulars Crazy Sexy Mike, Cash Money Erkan, Lucky Kid, Tarkan Aslan, and Pascal Spalter.

More information -- regarding the remaining qualifying rounds and the format for the final four days -- will be announced in due course, and the best place to find it is at WCPW's website, as well as on their social media.

WCPW have as many critics as fans -- although their YouTube channel does have over 1 million subscribers -- but this looks to be something ambitious and innovative which is deserving of attention, and has star power as well as local favorites involved to keep the interest through to the finals.

I'll be covering the iPPV in my regular column -- The Week In British Wrestling -- later this week.