GamesRadar can exclusively reveal that NXT UK superstar Trent Seven is a member of the WWE 2K20 roster for the first time – and it takes the lad born in Wolverhampton one step closer to completing his holy trinity. “When you’re a kid dreaming of becoming a wrestler, there are three [main elements] to living that dream: the sticker book or card game, the video game, and the action figure,” he tells us over the phone from WWE’s Performance Center in Enfield. “I’ve ticked two of those boxes now – this is the peak of my career. I’m one piece of the puzzle away from ultimate career satisfaction. I just need that action figure!”
25 years ago few wrestlers would have admitted to enjoying video games. If Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart was a clandestine Super Metroid convert, he’s certainly never made it public. In 2019, such matters have come full circle: WWE pros regularly trumpet their Switch prowess on social media and one, Xavier Woods’, even has a dedicated Youtube channel called UpUpDownDown. The current crop of bruisers grew up in the era where Sega grappled Nintendo and PlayStation ruled over popular culture, making their first video game appearances even more meaningful. It’s certainly been the case for 38-year-old Seven – real name Ben Webb – who signed with WWE in December 2016.
“My first computer game was Batman, on the Amstrad CPC 464+ on cassette! Moving swiftly on…” he laughs. “I remember having a Mega Drive, I loved Gunstar Heroes and Street Fighter Championship Edition. Then the WWE [WWF at the time] games on Super Nintendo and Mario Kart on N64. I’d [back myself against] anyone on the planet, on any day, at Mario Kart. My character back then was always Yoshi. Then there were the classic THQ wrestling games on N64 like WrestleMania 2000 and No Mercy. Those were my peak gaming days.”
Seven’s not the first famous grappler to reveal their Street Fighter love to GR: indeed, we may have a virtual war within WWE brewing here. Three years ago, on the cusp of becoming the company’s most popular female brawler, Becky Lynch revealed that her favourite gaming hero of all time is Street Fighter’s Ryu. Seven, however, opts for his deadliest rival: “My Street Fighter character was always Ken. I just wished Zangief – being the wrestler – was better and had cooler moves.” If a Lynch & Ryu vs Seven & Ken mixed tag match ever materialises, you now know its origins.
Seven has been one of NXT UK’s leading lights since its inception three years ago. The British branch of WWE earned widespread acclaim for its two sold-out ‘Takeover’ special events in Blackpool and Cardiff, while Seven has also found success Stateside – he and Moustache Mountain partner Tyler Bate held the NXT tag titles for a brief spell in June 2018. Bate snuck onto the WWE 2K19 roster – “he and Pete Dunne worked so hard for that, I couldn’t have been happier for them” – and Seven feels his video game debut is another step forwards for the entire UK-based crew.
“One of the coolest things is my mates’ kids get to select me as a character to wrestle against John Cena or The Undertaker or Seth Rollins. It’s incredible,” Seven explains. “It’s an incredible milestone [not only] for me, but also to have four or five of us on there. [NXT UK women’s champion Toni Storm was also confirmed in a new WWE 2K20 trailer, which you can view below.] That’s the beautiful thing for us as NXT UK: there’s a lot of first times… even for those not in the game yet, like me last year, we’re aware that there are people out there making us as CAWs [create-a-wrestlers].”
Cena and Undertaker may be his friends’ kids’ dream matches, but what of Seven himself? After all, the 2K series is all about mixing up stars of the past, present and future. He says there are two answers to that: one pertaining to the video game, the other the real thing. “A dream triple threat match? In real life: maybe me vs Tyler [Bate] vs Pete [Dunne] in a couple of years’ time, for the Universal title. As far as WWE 2K20 goes, let’s go with me [and Tyler] vs Shawn Michaels and Triple H. Moustache Mountain vs DX, with the winner getting control of NXT.”
While WWE 2K20 represents the first time such a videogame match can take place using scanned likenesses and authentic entrances, it’s not actually a new one in the Seven household. As you’d expect from someone whose in-ring career aspirations span three decades, Trent’s been creating himself as a ‘CAW’ in-game since those formative Nintendo years. “Back in the N64 days I would take Rob Van Dam’s moveset, insert it into an older-looking wrestler – an Arn Anderson or Larry Zbyszko style character – and go from there,” he says. “These days though, when I see these guys online who create a wrestler for me… some of them over the last few years have just been incredible. I don’t know how they do it.”
These are young days in the world of NXT UK, and inevitably some of its lesser-known prospects are a year or two away from making the video game roster – as was the case for Seven himself 12 and 24 months ago. With that in mind we have to ask which members of the British contingent should be monitored by casual fans, with a view to appearing in future editions. “That’s a bit of an awkward question because we’re such a close-knit team here,” he responds. “I have a huge amount of respect for all of the roster here. There are some really cracking wrestlers coming through.”
Six by Seven
Despite his – highly polite – reluctance, Seven does ultimately share a sextet of names to keep tabs on for the long haul. “There’s a guy from Scotland called Kenny Williams, who’s one of the most improved wrestlers I’ve seen over the last few years. There’s a Leicester lad, Jack Starz, who’s one of the best technical wrestlers I’ve seen in a long time. Then you’ve got Travis Banks, Wild Boar, Primate, and Jordan Devlin, smashing it every week. There’s a lot of talented guys here.”
As for his own future? “If I rewind back 12 months and fast forward to now… it’s chalk and cheese. We’ve come so far: we’ve had two Takeovers, guys have been stepping up and doing main roster tours. Everyone is working so hard, and working together, towards achieving that goal of pushing NXT UK as high as we can. In 2020, who knows what the future holds?”
If the WWE audience has its way, it’ll be a call-up to either Raw or Smackdown for Moustache Mountain. Even if that doesn’t materialise, a 2K20 debut means Seven can now main event WrestleMania as many times as he wants, in any arena in the world, and - most importantly of all - without having to borrow Rob Van Dam’s moveset.
WWE 2K20 is released on 22 October. Want to know what you’ll be listening to while pairing Moustache Mountain against DX? Then check out our look at the complete WWE 2K20 soundtrack.