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We chat to WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne about the WWE UK Championship Tournament, the Independent scene and why Triple H thinks he is having too much fun.
“Make a name for yourself, kid.” Those were the words WWE legend Triple H said to Pete Dunne in Blackpool at the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament. We all in agreement he took that on board? Good.
“We knew it was gonna be big, but I don’t think we realised…” Dunne says of the tournament. “Not to this degree.” The tournament, held in January, shattered everyone’s expectations. Dunne may have not been crowned the first-ever WWE United Kingdom Champion – that accolade went to Tyler Bate – but he made an immeasurable impact with his snarl and brutality. Incurring the wrath of NXT GM William Regal at the end of the first night by attacking fellow competitor Sam Gradwell; jumping Bate before their clash in the tournament final. He’d already begun making that name for himself all around the world – especially in the ring at PROGRESS, but over that weekend in Blackpool he put them up in lights, doused them in petrol and set them on fire.
At NXT TakeOver: Chicago, The Bruiserweight got his redemption as he defeated Tyler Bate for the WWE UK Championship in a match that stole the entire show – an arena full of US fans on their feet, chanting “UK! UK! UK!” and ‘Fight forever!”
Ahead of the NXT Live tour, where you can see Pete Dunne in the ring, we caught up with him for a chat about how the UK tournament has changed his life and why Triple H thinks he is having too much fun…
ON HOW LIFE-CHANGING THE WWE UK TOURNAMENT HAS BEEN…
“It’s definitely benefitted. Not just us, but those Independent companies we work with, too. Which is great, because they built us up to the point where we got here, so we can sort of hopefully pay it back in a way. For me – and for Tyler [Bate] as well – I know it was life-changing over night. Well, for everyone, but especially for us two. We were sitting there in the hotel afterwards and just turned our phones off – just take a step back and take it all in, you know. With the system now, it’s great – it builds people up through NXT and you get to learn what it’s like to be a part of this. But for us it was Independent shows the weekend before, and there we were – showed up, it happened so fast, and then overnight all this has happened. This time last year I hadn’t even wrestled for PROGRESS. I couldn’t be happier with it.”
ON HOW IT’S OPENED A DOOR FOR ALL UK WRESTLERS…
“I think it’s amazing that it opens the door. I started doing this 11 years ago, and Britain seemed to be the last place that wrestlers were making it from. There were one or two that managed to get out there, but it was few and far between. Now it’s amazing that the door is almost wide open at this point, and I’m glad that I’m part of it. It’s now an option for people. And to go along with that, I’m really proud of what we’ve created from the Midlands – between myself, Trent [Seven] and Tyler – and then that whole scene that we’ve helped build up on a much smaller scale. There’s a lot of people from there that I’d love to see come through.”
ON COMING OUT TO TRIPLE H’S MUSIC AND DOING HIS ‘WATER SPIT’ AT INDY SHOWS…
“When did I decide to do it? It was after the UK tournament – I was walking back and Triple H walked past me and he was like, ‘Make a name for yourself.’ And since then, just every day there’s tweets about that going up there. It’s just appealing to those guys, I guess. I saw that they were reacting to it and just going with it. Triple H told me himself today that we’re having way too much fun. So we might have to rein it in a little bit (laughs).”
There’s plenty more WWE action taking over the UK over the coming months, starting with the WWE NXT tour which culminates at Download Festival. Here are those dates:
5 June – GE Oil & Gas Arena, Aberdeen
7 June – First Direct Arena, Leeds
8 June – Centre, Brighton
9 – 11 June – Download Festival 2017
Tickets for WWE NXT are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.