The entire 16-man field for the upcoming WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament has been revealed; and, unlike the inaugural tournament, it will feature several wrestlers who don’t hail from the United Kingdom. One of those wrestlers is New Zealand native and current Progress World Champion, Travis Banks.
Here are five facts about Travis Banks (and no, one of them is not that he’s related to Sasha).
5. He Won Two Medals In Sumo Wrestling
At 5’9″ and 190 lbs, Travis Banks is not what anyone would think of when they hear the term “sumo wrestler.” But, believe it or not, he has not one, but two medals in the sport.
According to a 2010 article from NZPWI, in May 2009 – just months into his pro wrestling training – Banks traveled to Australia to compete in the Oceania Sumo Wrestling Championships. He won a silver medal as a lightweight and a gold medal in the team event alongside another pro wrestler, Tykade.
4. He Planned To Train Under Lance Storm
Aspiring wrestlers have traveled to Canada from all over the world to be trained by Lance Storm at his Storm Wrestling Academy, and once upon a time Banks planned on being one of those wrestlers.
Early in his career, Banks sent an email to Storm asking the former WWE Intercontinental Champion if he could train under him – and Storm accepted:
“Within a day or two he e-mailed back asking about my sporting background and whether I had any matches he could watch, so I sent him a link to my matches—I think I had only had three at the time—and assured him that I was very physically active, and within a few days he e-mailed me again to say that he would be happy to accept me into his academy,” says Travis.
However, it doesn’t appear that Banks ever made the trip to Calgary. Instead, it seems he remained in New Zealand to train under Martin Stirling before moving to the United Kingdom, where his career took off.
3. He Named A Finisher In Honor Of Chris Jericho
Banks has named a wide array of pro wrestlers as his influences, including Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Dynamite Kid, the original Tiger Mask, AJ Styles, and KENTA. But he specifically paid homage to one of his heroes by naming a finisher in his honor.
Banks’ “Lion’s Clutch” finisher is a tribute to Chris Jericho, who went by “Lionheart” once upon a time and of course, uses the Lionsault and Liontamer in the ring.
2. He’s Already Made His WWE Debut
While the majority of the participants in the United Kingdom Championship Tournament will be wrestling for WWE for the first time, Banks has been there, done that.
Banks made his WWE debut at night three of WrestleMania Axxess 2017, where he and TK Cooper were defeated by Mustafa Ali and Rich Swann.
1. He Defeated Pete Dunne To Win The Progress World Championship
Banks will have to fend off 15 other men to get a shot at the WWE United Kingdom Championship, but he has a leg up on the competition: he’s already defeated Pete Dunne for a world title.
From May 20, 2017, to September 10, 2017, Dunne was both the Progress World Champion and the WWE United Kingdom Champion. But it was Banks who put an end to Dunne’s duel reign when he cashed in his Super Strong Style 16 title shot at Progress Chapter 55: Chase the Sun.
Will Banks take Dunne’s UK Title, too? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Are you excited about the United Kingdom Tournament? Do you think Travis Banks could win? Share your thoughts below!