Exclusive interview: How Pete Dunne heeded Triple H’s advice and made a name for himself
If Triple H tells you to “make a name for yourself, kid,” it’s wise to take the message to heart. Thankfully, Pete Dunne, the 23-year-old who received that bit of encouragement from The Game almost six months ago, is nothing if not wise beyond his years.
The 11-year veteran (yes, he really began training at age 12) fell short of winning the WWE United Kingdom Championship when the opportunity first presented itself last January. However, the story was different at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, where he dethroned Tyler Bate to become WWE’s second U.K. Champion.
For anybody who witnessed that instant classic — available on-demand on WWE Network — the name Pete Dunne is now all but impossible to forget.
WWE.COM: Your match against Tyler Bate at TakeOver was the talk of the WWE Universe coming out of a very busy weekend in Chicago. With the benefit of a few days’ hindsight, what kind of statement do you think that match made?
PETE DUNNE: I think it was great for me and Bate to be out on that platform in front of an audience that we weren’t sure even knew who we were, to be honest. We were out to make an impression for the two of us, but even further than that, every time I go out there I try to work as hard as I can, to have the best match that I can, to secure some sort of future for a potential U.K. show. Obviously, that’s what we’re aiming for, so I hope that the match made a big enough impression that it gets us farther down the line. That’d be amazing.
WWE.COM: You’re the definition of a young veteran, having started training at age 12. But things have picked up very fast of late. Last year around this time, you were in a Cruiserweight Classic qualifying match. In November, you attended a WWE tryout in Glasgow. Now you’re the U.K. Champion. Has the speed at which you’ve attained this success surprised you at all?
DUNNE: Yeah, massively. It has all moved so fast. We talk about it all the time. Honestly, I was not really expecting all that much coming out of my tryout six months ago. I thought I could go and make a bigger name for myself on the independents and possibly in Japan, places like that. But to go from that six months ago to where I am now — where I’ve been on NXT, clearly, been on a SmackDown LIVE tour, been backstage at WrestleMania, and now, it seems like, stole the show at TakeOver — that’s an unbelievable accomplishment in such a short stretch of time. With all the things that I’ve done here, I thought this would take a lot longer.
WWE.COM: At the United Kingdom Championship Tournament in January, cameras caught Triple H telling you to “make a name for yourself.” What did it mean to get that kind of pep talk from him, and what has your relationship with Triple H been like?
DUNNE: It was really important to get a pep talk like that. Like I said, it’s always in our mind to go out there and kill it, regardless. We know that our future here is less secure than if we were full-time with the NXT brand or SmackDown LIVE or Raw, because we’re fighting to secure a full company in the U.K., and not just for ourselves.
As far as the relationship with Triple H goes, he has been incredibly supportive and has given us a chance to make a name for ourselves. That’s one of the most overwhelming things about it. For myself and Tyler Bate to go out there and show what we can do in front of an audience that probably isn’t that familiar with what we do, I’m grateful.
I don't worry about making enemies with what I do. This is all just business to me.
WWE.COM: You have also drawn the attention, if not the ire, of another one of WWE’s most influential people, William Regal. He has clearly disapproved of your tactics at times, such as sneak-attacking Sam Gradwell or Mark Andrews. Are you at all concerned that you’ve made a powerful enemy with your actions?
DUNNE: I don’t worry about making enemies with what I do. This is all just business to me. I want to further my career. I want to move along and become the biggest star in WWE. I don’t really care who it angers along the way, to be honest. It’s no concern of mine, really.
WWE.COM: Now that you’re the U.K. Champion, what are your thoughts on potential challengers? Obviously, Wolfgang has already indicated that he believes he deserves a title opportunity.
DUNNE: It doesn’t matter. Anyone and everyone. I want to get as much TV time as possible. I want to get the U.K. brand pushed as far along as possible. I’d love to get in the ring with Wolfgang or Mark Andrews or Trent Seven. I’d really love to have rematches with Tyler Bate. The more time I get in the ring with these people, the more time we have to secure our future, and the greater opportunity I have to prove myself as the future of WWE.