Former world champions Edge and Christian caught up with WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne ahead of NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness. Among many other things, Dunne talked about his influences in professional wrestling, training in professional wrestling at 12 years old, why he and former WWE United Kingdom Champion Tyler Bate are so good at such young ages.
"Originally, when I first got into [pro] wrestling, I was a big fan of, like, that early Ring Of Honor sort of era and the independents and stuff," Dunne recalled. "That was sort of Bryan Danielson, Low Ki, AJ Styles was a huge one, Amazing Red, so I guess that's where the occasional bit of high flying stuff you'll see me do comes from."
Later, Dunne had a seminar with Fit Finlay, and after being manhandled by 'The Belfast Bruiser', Dunne began to study the work of Finlay and William Regal.
"Then, as I got further in my career, I was trying to imitate that [high flying] stuff, I ended up doing a seminar with Finlay," Dunne remembered. "And he got me up in the ring and threw me around and he looped me around. I couldn't believe it. It was such a step up from what I thought pro wrestling was, to even be in the ring with him for just two [or] three minutes in the seminar. I didn't have a choice. He was moving me around and throwing me around in a way that I've never really felt in pro wrestling before. So from that point on, I was on a bit of a mission, and I went back, and I watched as many videos of him as I could, and tried to study how he was doing things, and sort of tried it out from show to show around the country. So he was a massive influence. And from there, I really embrace the British roots and getting really into guys like Regal and sitting around watching a lot of World Of Sport tapes."
Dunne, who started training for pro wrestling at 12 years old, told Edge and Christian that it was not that unusual in his day.
"I know it sounds crazy to start at that age, but over here [in the UK], and I guess these days, now, wrestling has moved on a bit and has gotten a little bit more professional, and it would be more difficult, but back then, it really wasn't that unusual. I remember going to my first session and there [were] multiple children, probably under than I was at the time. I feel like if you ask a lot of people who started wrestling around that time, they were probably at a similar age. But I just remember going to a local show in the part of Birmingham where I'm from. It was in a pub. There were maybe 20 odd people there. And I just remember going up after and asking if there was somewhere where I could do this. There were teenagers on the show. I was 10 or 11 at the time and they said, 'when you're 12 years old, you're able to come and train.'" Dunne added, "so I waited and when I turned 12 years old, it was the first thing on my mind."
In Dunne's estimation, he and his countryman, Tyler Bate, are so good at such young ages because they started in pro wrestling young age and had a platform where it did not matter whether they messed up.
"Well, yeah, what I think really helped us was the fact that we didn't really have a platform to be exposed to in front of an audience that could realize how bad we were," Dunne admitted. "So we were doing shows like the holiday camp shows and stuff that and we were doing our best, but the people in the holiday camps really didn't care. A lot of the wrestlers on it didn't really care. So we had a platform where it didn't really matter if we messed up or not. And I think being able to wrestle under the radar for so many years it gave us years and years of getting reps in as soon as we could, so that as soon as we did get a platform that mattered, we were good enough to put on matches that people enjoyed."
Listen to the show here or in the audio player below. If you use any of the quotations that appear in this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness