Pete Dunne on the United Kingdom Championship, training at 12 years old and transforming into “The Bruiserweight”
Prepare yourselves for “The Bruiserweight.” Pete Dunne’s career has taken him from a “working-class estate” in Birmingham, England, to the mountain dojos of Japan to an epic, three-month road trip across America. But it wasn’t until this very moment that he truly hit his stride. Find out how the 11-year veteran transformed himself, step-by-step, into the fearsome “Bruiserweight” just in time for the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament.
WWE.COM: When you first heard about the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, what were your thoughts?
PETE DUNNE: It’s great. There are a lot of talented people in the United Kingdom that deserve a chance to show what they can do. We haven’t had a platform here since it went off TV in the late ’80s, so it’s a fantastic chance for people who have been wrestling for 10-plus years to finally get on a platform like this and show what they can do.
WWE.COM: What did it mean for you personally?
DUNNE: It’s my 11th year doing this, and this is the perfect chance to show that we are good enough to be here.
WWE.COM: You said you’ve been doing this for 11 years, but you started at 12 years old. That’s almost unheard of in America. How does someone get started in wrestling at such a young age?
DUNNE: The old style of British wrestling is a lot different than the American style, and that’s what I was trained in. It’s a lot more technical; it’s something that even someone that young has the capacity to start learning. It was just a great head start for me. By the time I was 15, I’d already had a few years behind me learning that stuff, so I was ready to go on the road and learn the American style separately.
WWE.COM: Is that part of the reason why a lot of British wrestlers start so young?
DUNNE: It’s a big part of it. Wrestling in general is a lot more Americanized, to use that term loosely. Back when I started, there were still a few people practicing that old-school British style. At the time, I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to wrestle like AJ Styles; I wanted to do flips and that sort of stuff, but I never really got it. Now, representing the United Kingdom, I have an aspect of my performance which is traditional British wrestling. That’s something I can offer people in different countries watching. It’s something they might not have seen before, or something that’s a bit more nostalgic if you’ve seen William Regal and Fit Finlay in years past.
WWE.COM: Where did the transition from wanting to be like AJ Styles into being “The Bruiserweight” come from?
DUNNE: It was a gradual transition. Even this time last year, I hadn’t discovered the Bruiserweight thing yet. Over the last year, I really found my way with it and really learned to piece the puzzle together. It was like one step at a time, adding a different thing to make me look unique or a different move that no one else does. The progression — as you can imagine — from a 12-year-old to a 23-year-old is drastic. But even from this time last year and the year before that and the year before that, every year was a drastic change.
WWE.COM: How old were you when you went to Japan?
DUNNE: I was 17.
WWE.COM: What’s it like being a teenager in the Japanese dojos?
DUNNE: Oh, it’s crazy. I spent three months there. You kind of assume, especially being ignorant of the world and coming from a working-class estate where people didn’t really travel that much, that people everywhere just speak English. Or at least a little bit so you can get by. And we were eight hours north of Tokyo in the middle of the mountains in a remote dojo. We were a 15-minute walk from a main road. That says everything. It was a completely unique experience that was invaluable to me as a person, and not just a wrestler. That experience made me realize, “It’s OK to be different.”
WWE.COM: You went to America with Mark Andrews and wrestled across the country. What was that like?
DUNNE: That was a couple of weeks after I got back from Japan. We went and we did three months. We had three days booked in a hotel. That was it. And from there, we were like, “We’re just going to work it out as we go.” So we get there, three days in the hotel and from that point on in the next three months, we never needed a hotel again. We met different people, different wrestlers, went to different promotions, tried to get better and had a great time. Again, it was an invaluable experience that I wouldn’t change for me as a person or a wrestler.
WWE.COM: Now that you’ve had all these experiences and put it all together, are you ready for this tournament?
DUNNE: Definitely. Now is the best I’ve ever felt as a wrestler. I’ve now found my own unique path, my own unique character and my own unique look. This couldn’t have come at a better time. My career has escalated. It’s never been going this well before, and then this opportunity comes along. There’s not a single part of me that has nerves or anything like that. It’s time to do it.
WWE.COM: What can the WWE Universe expect from Pete Dunne when you step into the ring on Jan. 14?
DUNNE: They can expect to see something completely different. Whether you love what I do or you’re gonna hate what I do, I’m gonna look different than everything you’ve seen in WWE.
WWE.COM: Do you think, when the show comes to an end on Sunday, you’ll be the one holding the new championship?
DUNNE: I am 100 percent sure.