WWE is adding content to the WWE Network, Sports Illustrated has learned.
WWE officials have confirmed that shows from EVOLVE, wXw, PROGRESS and Insane Championship Wrestling will begin airing on the WWE Network beginning this Saturday. The shows will add an international flair to the Network, with wXw based out of Germany, PROGRESS a staple of the English wrestling scene and ICW in Scotland.
The new content includes two “Best Of” compilation specials, which feature the work of Drew McIntyre in EVOLVE as well as Keith Lee’s rise in the same promotion.
“I absolutely never imagined matches from these companies, the places where I found myself in wrestling, are now going to be on the WWE Network,” said McIntyre, the reigning WWE Champion. “Hopefully they’re as good as I remember.”
McIntyre’s “Best Of” special features matches against Chris Hero (EVOLVE 31 in 2014), Ricochet (EVOLVE 37 in 2015), Roderick Strong (EVOLVE 44 in 2015), Johnny Gargano (EVOLVE 65 in 2016), a series of two matches against Matt Riddle (EVOLVE 79 and 80 in 2017) and a tag match with Gargano against Hero and Tommy End, who now stars in WWE as Aleister Black, from EVOLVE 55 in 2016.
“That’s the period where I started to become the man I am today,” said McIntyre. “I found myself on the microphone and in the ring. Independent wrestling, as a whole, was really growing during that period of time. There were a number of incredible superstars in America and the U.K. that are now part of WWE, and it’s going to be incredible to relive that part of history.
“When you watch those shows, you’ll see people that were so hungry and wanted to make the industry grow. For me, it’s one of the coolest eras ever, and I was so grateful to be a face of independent wrestling. I was so excited to be on these shows, and I’m blown away that those matches, my history, are going to be on the Network.”
The slate of shows released on Saturday include Insane Championship Wrestling’s Shug’s Hoose Party 5: Night 2 from 2018, wXw Femme Fatales 2019, wXw AMBITION 11 from 2019, and PROGRESS Wrestling’s Chapter 92 from 2019.
Matches on those cards feature an incredible collection of wrestling stars that include NXT’s Timothy Thatcher and WALTER, AEW’s Eddie Kingston, Ring of Honor’s Jonathan Gresham, independent stars LuFisto and Leyla Hirsch, and Jeff Cobb who is currently wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling. WWE also confirmed that more content from these promotions will soon be made available on the Network.
“This current run I am having does not happen without the independents,” said McIntyre. “I’d lost my passion for wrestling, the one thing I’d loved for as long back as I could remember. I didn’t just recapture it during this period of time, I took it to a whole new level.
“I was surrounded by so many talented, hungry individuals, people that were believing in me and pushing me. There is no WWE Championship for me without that run, and that period of time, as you’ll see, created a lot of superstars in WWE and throughout wrestling.”