Brit Pete Dunne has been tipped to shine at the top of WWE NXT – by two compatriot stars who’ve been “in the trenches” with him.
Birmingham-born Dunne confronted reigning NXT Champ Finn Balor in the WWE’s yellow brand show, hinting he may soon be set to challenge for the gold.
Whether or not the 27-year-old would be given the nod to dethrone Balor, who has been in red hot form himself since regaining the title, remains to be seen – but the fact Dunne is in and around the main event scene is pleasing for many fans and pundits alike.
His colleagues are equally as happy for him, it seems – fellow Brits Zack Gibson and James Drake could barely hide their delight for the man dubbed the Bruiserweight
The pair, who wrestle as The Grizzled Young Veterans on the same show, spoke exclusively to Daily Star and were adamant that Dunne deserves every bit of the spotlight he’s now enjoying.
Gibson, 30, was particularly thrilled to see Dunne’s relative success, having stood by his side during some of the more trying times and darker days that came prior to their respective arrivals to the big leagues of WWE.
“The phrase ‘You deserve it’ does get thrown around a lot these days – it seems if someone loses three matches on the trot then suddenly, they deserve the world!
“I don’t agree with that, but I do agree that Pete deserves every bit of success he’s had.
“He started in a different part of [the UK] to us but he actually started around the same time as and his career does mirror ours quite a lot.
“Once we did bump into him, we’ve always had tons and tons of time for Pete. He’s done everything the correct way.
“He’s the whole package if you look at him; he can wrestle, he can fly and he can fight. I’ve seen him graft for this in the exact same way we have.
“I’ve seen Pete at the peaks of his career in his big Takeover title matches, but I’ve also been there with him in the trenches when we were abandoned on a tour in China and had no way of getting home and no money.
“That’s the ugly side of pro wrestling, so when I see Pete doing good, it gives me the same feeling as when we’re doing good.”
Drake knows only too well that Dunne’s hard-hitting style of performing more than catches the eye, too, adding: “It’s that famous phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’, and in Pete’s position, actions clearly speak louder than words!
“Any time he’s on screen, he makes an impact!”
Gibson and Drake are themselves beginning to shine on NXT in their own right as one of the teams currently battling in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The prestigious tournament and its Dusty Cup trophy are named in honour of the iconic late Dusty Rhodes, a legendary wrestler and mentor to a huge number of professional wrestlers around the world and not least in WWE.
It’s a competition Dunne and partner Matt Riddle won last year – beating none other than The Grizzled Young veterans in the final.
With Dunne now on the cusp of singles stardom and Riddle plying his trade on one of WWE’s flagship shows, SmackDown, it’s clear the importance company officials place on the tournament.
That he and Gibson have again been trusted with matches in the 2021 version isn’t lost on Drake, who went on to say: “We understand the gravity the Dusty Cup holds and the potential it has to skyrocket your career.
“The Dusty Classic… you look at the previous winners, you can’t take that lightly, and anyone who does isn’t getting past the first round.”
Watch The Grizzled Young Veterans and Pete Dunne each week on WWE NXT – airing at 1am Wednesday nights on BT Sport. For more details visit wwe.com
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