Pete Dunne is once again at the top of NXT, this time as part of the Tag Team Champion Broserweights alongside Matt Riddle. While Dunne has primarily been a singles wrestler, his team-up with Riddle has taken NXT by storm, and the duo has quickly become fan favorites. Tonight Dunne and Riddle will take on the Undisputed ERA in a follow up to their excellent TakeOver match, and while the Undisputed ERA will pull out all the stops to take back some gold, Dunne isn't ready to give up that hard-fought gold so easily. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Dunne ahead of his big match on tonight's NXT, and first, we had to ask how this amazing but unexpected duo came together in the first place, especially after both experienced success on their own.
"So yeah, we've been lucky enough to work with each other fairly often back at the independents and on large events for NXT but always on the opposite side until maybe a week or two before the Dusty Classic started, where we found ourselves on the same team on a live event, and it just felt like it jelled and worked," Dunne said. "So the idea was put forward to put us together. I don't know if I was too thrilled about it at the time, but it's definitely been a really fun experience since then. It's been great to see how the audience has connected with us. Its sort of morphed into its own thing. Two completely unlikely characters coming together and, you know, it's been fun. It's exciting and it's sort of refreshing my career."
When asked if he's glad he did, there's no doubt in Dunne's mind it was the right move.
"100% glad I did it, and I think the surprise for me was the way in which we've connected to the audience," Dunne said. "Obviously we've had some good matches and we had big matches at TakeOver and the Dusty Classic Final and stuff like that. But to me, it's the first time in my career, where the connection to the audience comes through talking, from those vignettes that we've done and all the shenanigans of the trophy, where it's me really just being myself and Matt just being himself and, it's really connected with the audience."
Dunne wasn't necessarily looking to do more comedic bits, but when the opportunity came about he looked at it as another challenge, and it seems he's passed with flying colors.
"Yeah, it's exactly that. It's time to take on a new challenge and I've been waiting for that since I lost the UK title," Dunne said. "I've been in a bit of limbo and obviously in the, with the beginning of NXT going on TV every week and stuff like that, it's about finding out where you fit into this and waiting for that next challenge. This has really just felt like the fresh start in my career that I've been waiting for. Obviously the Dusty Classic and now having the Tag Titles, and heading into WrestleMania season, it really feels like it's coming together and in a way that I didn't expect that I'm, I'm really grateful that we've been able to do the vignettes with the trophy and the plane and that kind of stuff. I'll welcome them whenever these unusual opportunities arise."
Dunne first conquered NXT UK before heading over full time to NXT, but he's also been a part of just about every other brand WWE has, even before there were clear divides between them. That said, he loves calling NXT home.
"Well for me, my start in WWE has been so unique that its all sort of mashed into one," Dunne said. "There's never really been a clear distinction between me just being a part of one brand, this is the first time really that that's happened because when I started, there wasn't NXT UK yet, so I was bounced around. Doing all sorts from the tournament's over in the UK to them being a part of NXT, plus got to be on RAW a couple of times, the Survivor Series, and the Royal Rumble. So I really have covered, almost every base you can in the company. But its nice to finally have somewhere that I feel like I'm just a part of this, I just have to focus on this for now."
Dunne is also now a father, and that's definitely given him some new perspective and changed up his focus.
"Well, it's just given me a great perspective and a great balance in law," Dunne said. "Honestly, I didn't necessarily have before that before the baby was born. My 100% focus was on my career. It was on wrestling always has been. But now I definitely feel like I have a right balance, that different perspective on life. Since NXT went weekly, we've been in the process of moving out to Florida full time so that's the challenging part of it, but I like to spin that in a much more positive light and just say that already she's one year old but she's had the chance to see the world. She's been back and forth between here and England and she's, you know, she'll get to see family in England and spend time there and come out here and be in the sunshine and stuff so I can really see what a great life has been forged for her because of pro wrestling, specifically because of working in the WWE."
We had to ask if she's already wearing rocking some WWE swag, and that is 100% yes. "Yeah, she got a whole bunch of WWE stuff," Dunne added.
As for tonight's big matchup, Dunne knows what to expect from Undisputed ERA, and that's a brutal match that will leave some bruises. Thing is, it's worth it if he gets to keep that championship gold.
"Yeah, so I've been in the ring with Undisputed Era many times over the past couple of years," Dunne said. "So I'm expecting the same as ever. It always feels like a wall. You always feel terrible the day after and that makes really great entertainment right? But, I think that the stakes tonight are huge because like I said, rolling into WrestleMania season as a champion is important. It's a big deal. So everything rides on tomorrow. I'm not ready for what me and Matt have built and what we've been rolling with to come to an end. And the Undisputed Era, they're trying to get their belts back, but to me, changing the guard, you know, that's how NXT has been. It's been run by the Undisputed Era, so now we move forward and it's time for new opportunities, new tag teams, and were the ones who are going to lead that."
You might have expected Dunne and Riddle to tweak those Tag Team Championship title designs, and Riddle well might at some point, but Dunne likes them the way they are.
"Well, I'm okay with the belts exactly how they are, but if you ask Matt Riddle this question, I'm sure it'd be a very different answer," Dunne said. "So you never know. You saw a golf cart already, so who knows what he's got up his sleeve."
You can check out the Broserweights vs the Undisputed ERA on tonight's NXT, which airs on USA at 7 pm CST. Let me know what you think of the match in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things NXT!0comments