Mark Andrews works double duty in the WWE, performing as a cruiserweight on WWE 205 Live and also spending Wednesdays soaring through the skies on WWE NXT UK, however, Andrews' wrestling career actually started early on and he's been on the independent circuit since he was a young teenager. After receiving his first television exposure under the name "Mandrews" on Impact Wrestling, Andrews debuted on WWE TV at the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament. He made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to current WWE United Kingdom Champion, Pete Dunne.
Andrews had an in-depth discussion with They Are NXT UK where he explained how important TV exposure has been for the UK wrestling scene. Andrews remembers a time when British wrestlers appearing on television, especially in the WWE, was rare, but he is thrilled to see how accessible it is to watch British wrestling all over the world.
"[TV exposure] was really important because I come from a generation of wrestlers in the UK where there hasn't always been a spotlight on us," Andrews said. "I know when I started back in 2006, when I was 12/13, there wasn't really anything on TV. I mean you had a few, like FWA was on the wrestling channel and there'd be old reruns of World of Sport, but it wasn't in the limelight much. It wasn't in the mainstream. And obviously WWE, most of their roster would be kinda American at the time. You had the likes of William Regal, Fit Finlay; A few British guys were out there but there wasn't really a booming scene like there is now.
"So to first get television exposure," Andrews continued, "to actually be seen worldwide was huge for me. And even back then, at the time, there wasn't many British wrestlers being on TV. You have guys like Drake Maverick who has broken out a little bit, Zack Sabre that has broken out in Japan, obviously Finn Balor, people like that. But there still wasn't an entire scene being pushed, so it was really important [to get TV exposure]. And I think I was one of the few at the time to get TV exposure, and it's funny, you fast forward now to 2018 and look at NXT UK!
Andrews believes that the excess years it took for UK's best wrestlers to finally gain some exposure has allowed them extra time to craft their skills and impress audiences.
"And now suddenly you see all this talent that almost feel like they've been hidden gems over the last 5 - 6 - or 8 - even up to 10 years," Andrews explained. "But I guess that's because we've had such a strong scene over here in the UK and now we've had years and years of honing our craft, and now we finally get to be seen on the grand stage that is WWE. And I almost feel like, well I'm hoping, and I'm sure that the world's almost a bit shocked like, "Where have all these British guys come from?" Where have they been this whole time? And now it's nice to be on that platform for the world to see what we've been working on for the last 10+ years."
You can listen to the full interview below. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit They Are NXT UK with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.