NXT superstar Pete Dunne recently spoke with PW Insider about a number of different topics ahead of his high-stakes triple-threat showdown on this week’s NXT on USA, where the Brusierweight takes on KUSHIDA and Johnny Gargano for an opportunity to wrestle Karrion Kross at the upcoming Takeover. Highlights from the interview are below.
On the triple threat on this week’s NXT on USA:
Yeah, I think the great thing about being a part of NXT is there’s so many of these different match-ups that you look forward to. Obviously, Kushida, you named him, he’s one of them, I’ve wanted to wrestle him for a long time. And Johnny Gargano is somebody who… I think we’ve had one match on the independents and one match in WWE, but that’s it. So even though we’ve both been in the company for so long, we haven’t crossed paths very much. So that’s obviously something I’m really looking forward to. And then as for Kyle, and anytime you’re in there with any of the Undisputed Era lot, and I’ve done that a lot since I’ve been with WWE, it’s a real competition, it’s a fight and that’s something I really look forward to and I’m excited for every time. So putting both of them in there with me, I think it’s a recipe for something special.
On his style of wrestling:
Yeah. I just wanted to mesh all aspects of wrestling… Well, I grew up in wrestling myself, and with aspects that I take from growing up in Britain, learning to wrestle, and then a big formative part of my career was going over to Japan with Michinoku Pro, so the element of that Japanese style, and then, I just try and pull from all different parts of wrestling that I grew up enjoying, and obviously I’m very proud of being from Britain and the heritage that it has for pro wrestling, so I’d like to keep that alive in my own way. And in terms of what it puts on your body, I think maybe there’s other styles that might be worse. You see a lot of high flyers that are doing a lot more high-risk stuff, but obviously it is very physical, it is quite demanding, but I enjoy every minute of it. So it’s not something that I think about too much, I just make sure my training, my diet, my recovery, all of that is on point, and fingers crossed, I should be good.
Says he’s always had his eye on Karrion Kross:
Like you say, with my style being as physical as it is, and the way the Kross wrestles, I think it does mesh together quite well. He’s somebody that I had my eye on just before he got to the company, and then seeing the way he’s come in, and he’s breezing through so fast. Obviously he had the injury, but to come back and do it all over again is impressive, and I definitely would like to work with him down the line. And for me personally, it’s just a case of, I’ve been in NXT now for coming up to five years, I had that obviously long run in the UK with the UK title, and had a brief run with Matt Riddle as the tag champion. But I really do feel like now I’m here, I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m doing the best work I’ve ever done, and it’s time to take that next step. And if Kross’ is who I’d do that against, then so be it, and I can’t wait to get rolling.
On the current NXT UK product:
Yeah, I’ve definitely tried to stay involved. When I was back in the UK, I was able to work backstage and it’s almost more rewarding for me, being a part of that process, than it is actually being in the ring. I have a certain set of expectations for myself, right, and I’m never truly happy with a match that I’ve done. I’ll come to the back and I’ll start criticizing myself, and trying to work out where we can improve, but obviously being a part of that process, seeing people that are maybe not as far down the line as I am, and working with them and helping them to improve and get better, is always something I find really rewarding, and hopefully can be a future career for me, down the line. Obviously, it’s tough right now with NXT UK. Obviously the lockdown measures and whatnot in the UK and the fact that there’s no audience, it can be difficult for talent brushing. They’re all doing a great job. And the fact that I’m still able to be a small part of these stables, even though I’m the other side of the world, is a great thing. And I’m glad that at the very least I get to be a part of it in some manner.
On NXT getting fans back:
Yeah, of course what we do, obviously, is all about the live audience, right? But there’s part of me that started to enjoy the challenge of having these smaller audiences. I was never somebody that turned my nose up for that in the first place, right? I always loved independent wrestling, whether it was in front of 50 fans in the UK or the much bigger stuff when the UK started to pick up a bit more. So it’s sort of been that I’m used to it. For my style personally, maybe as far as some forms of pro wrestling go, maybe my style can work a bit better in that sort of intimate atmosphere. So I’ve just taken it up until now as a challenge, and still trying to get across who I am and what I do with that smaller audience, it is difficult in a different way, but it’s also been rewarding to take on that challenge and see what we can do with it.
On Pat McAfee:
I think the thing to say about Pat is, you see a lot of people coming in and out of the company and wrestling in general over the years. With him, I think even as a viewer or knowing him behind the scenes, he’s there because he loves wrestling. I think that’s important, and I think it really shows through. And his performances in the ring are obviously really entertaining, for somebody who hasn’t really trained in this and doesn’t know much about it, he throws himself full steam ahead. And he put on a couple of really insane matches. And honestly, I wish we would have got a chance to do a bit more with him, but I’m happy now that he’s in the commentary role, it’s something else for him to sink his teeth into. But well, who knows down the line, maybe we’ll be able to get back together and do some more.
Talks the UK Performance Center in the UK:
Yeah, it’s a tough one for me personally, because my sort of ascent through the company has been so different to other people. Obviously I was holding a WWE title and still doing independent attendances for quite a while there. So I think my career would be very different. But luckily we have access to, in between those independent shows and NXT UK, I mean, it wasn’t even NXT UK, it was WWE UK still. We’d be able to come out here for four, five, six weeks at a time and pick up what we could from the Performance Center, but then in terms of, for the current crop that are over that right now, especially with the pandemic, it’s been crucial because there’s been no other chance to learn, there’s no live events, they’re not on shows, they’re not doing independents. So having that there has been the only way to sort of stay fresh and be prepared for the return to normal. So right now it’s crucial, and going forward it’s going to be even more crucial, because obviously there was a great crop of talent coming out of the UK, and now we’ve all got signed up in different places and are in different points in our career. And there’s a new crop of talent there that need to develop and need to get better and need to learn, and luckily all the tools are right there in that building. So I’m excited to see what the future holds for them.