WWE announces new U.K. championship and tournament

Relationship with UK helps clear path to WWE for future stars (1:45)

Triple H explains how the 16-man United Kingdom Championship tournament will help to cultivate talent and grow the WWE brand. (1:45)

The WWE promised big news ahead of Thursday's press conference at London's O2 Arena Thursday morning, and delivered with news of both a brand new championship and a tournament to determine the first title-holder.

WWE will crown its first U.K. Champion at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, England, with 16 English and Irish competitors participating in a single elimination tournament over January 14-15, which will air live on the WWE Network.

WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events & Creative, Paul "Triple H" Levesque, was in attendance to make the announcement to a receptive London audience.

"Our passionate U.K. fans deserve to have their own Champion," said WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events & Creative, Paul "Triple H" Levesque.

The entire field of 16, including British independent wrestling stars Pete Dunne and Trent Seven, stood on the stage alongside Levesque, Finn Bálor and William Regal. While on stage by himself, Levesque said that if the tournament is a success, it will lead to a weekly program on the WWE Network that will be filmed in the U.K.

"The tournament is the next step in our ongoing strategy to create localized content for our global WWE Network, develop another brand that engages our passionate fans, and add a new dimension to our on-going storylines."

Michael Cole, who was also in attendance at the O2 Arena, will be joined at the commentary booth for the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament by U.K. independent scene mainstay Nigel McGuinness.

The tournament will play out on the WWE Network over the course of two days, with action starting at 8 p.m. GMT (3 p.m. ET) on both Saturday, Jan. 14 and Sunday, Jan. 15.

Also announced to compete are 19-year-old Tyler Bate, Wolfgang, Tyson T-Bone, Tucker, Jordan Devlin and Roy Johnson.

Both Regal, head scout of WWE Talent Development, and WWE trainer Robbie Brookside -- both legends of British wrestling -- participated in the scouting process that determined the 16 tournament competitors.