William Regal—the man's man wrestler from Blackpool, England—has held the European Championship on 4 occasions as well as serving 2 terms as the Intercontinental champion, 4 as a Tag Team champion and 5 times as the Hardcore champion. He has held stints as one of the most amusing WWE commissioners and even a King of the Ring tournament winner (okay, it's debatable that that is a cursed title) but likewise, he never the big one. Being a remarkable, well-respected technical worker with a highly coveted comedic ability could have potentially led to a wonderful heel run (ala John Bradshaw Layfield), but this is very unlikely to happen at this stage in his career, now. These two are likely the best examples of battling Brits to hold gold in WWE's recent past.
In the post-PG Generation, others have not fared as well. The Scotsman Drew McIntyre had a promising start with a long-running Intercontinental Championship reign in 2009. Vince McMahon had proclaimed him "The Chosen One" who would be a future WWE champion. However, his career stalled when McMahon disappeared off television and Drew's push seemed to fade away along with it. Issues with work visas followed, resulting in him being unable to appear on TV for a short period. While he eventually managed to return okay, it never felt like he got back on track. A largely forgotten two-week tag title reign with Cody Rhodes as "The Dashing Ones" was the last time he would taste gold. He would then drift with no real purpose or feuds (or meaning), much to the dismay of many fans. "Whatever happened to Drew being the Chosen One?" is a common comment one can see on YouTube videos and fan sites. He eventually wound up in the modern day equivalent to the JOB Squad known as 3MB (or, currently, 3.5 MB if you include Hornswoggle).
This brings us to last Sunday's Extreme Rules pay-per-view, where not only was Paige successful in defending her title, but Englishman Bad News Barrett defeated Big E for his fourth Intercontinental Championship. This time, it feels like WWE is really behind him.
Barrett was off to a promising start in 2010 as the leader of Nexus, headlining episodes of Monday Night Raw and even pay-per-view events at the time. In 2011, he splintered off to create the less successful faction known as The Corre, which fared above-average at best in terms of its impact. Although he did go on to win the IC title a handful of times, there never seemed to be much attention or a push behind it. Sadly, he then drifted a while with no real storyline to speak of, eventually disappearing from matches altogether for months.
His revival came on the WWE YouTube program The JBL & Cole Show in late 2013 when he started the Bad News Barrett character: a hard-nosed, hard-hitting loud mouth who reveled in delivering bad news to Superstars and fans alike. Later, he would return to the ring under this persona, which has steadily enjoyed a surge in popularity.
Some may debate that the titles have only been put on Paige and Barrett (and now the United States Championship on Sheamus*) due to the upcoming European tour. This is a sound theory, if you think about it. But many say that Vince is reportedly rather high on Barrett at the moment. Why wouldn't he be? He is built well, excellent on promos, charismatic, and has the ability to perform powerhouse technical wrestling moves alongside classic brawling.
The cultivation of events last week point to promising signs that we may very well have our first British WWE World Heavyweight champion coming in Bad News Barrett. For me, my fellow Brits and the WWE Universe, I feel this is actually some very good news.
But what do you think? Would it be bad news if Barrett become the first ever Brit to reach the top? Would you rather McIntyre be able to break out and become the true "Chosen One"?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
* Note: Sheamus is from Dublin (Part of Europe but not Great Britain).