The former Bruiserweight has broken down his new attitude (Picture: WWE)
Best known to NXT fans – and those who watched him work his way up through the British independent scene – as ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne, the rising star was called up to the main roster with a new name and character, which left viewers divided.
Playing down the change, he exclusively told Metro.co.uk: ‘I’m embracing the opportunity and having as much fun with it as I possibly can! I think that will come across.
‘For me, as long as that in-ring stuff is the same quality, and especially now with this character being able to push it more – it’s obviously very similar to how I was before, but that added step above feels completely fresh for me after 16 years in wrestling. I hope that comes across on screen.’
Finding out about the changes was something Butch described as a ‘gradual process’, first being called up to do dark matches and Main Event tapings ‘for months’ without switching things up.
‘I knew it was coming,’ he admitted. ‘I didn’t know the name Butch specifically, but I figured there would be a name change, I knew that would be the case. I knew there would be multiple changes alongside that, so I went in with a very open mind.’
The 28-year-old star – who turned to mentors like Shawn Michaels and William Regal for advice – didn’t mind the overhaul as much as he was nervous about the inevitable backlash.
‘I was aware of that, and that’s quite nervewracking at the time ’cause you know the reaction that’s coming from people. But, you just have to tune out from that and focus on what you can, and that’s the quality of the work you put out,’ he added.
‘Seeing it catch on in different places, it’s almost more rewarding because I know who I am with Pete Dunne and the Bruiserweight, that’s established. But to start establishing something new is a really rewarding process.’
It’s also something his boss Vince McMahon – someone he’s always had ‘great’ and ‘positive’ interactions with over the past six years – has taken notice of.
Vince McMahon is a big fan (Picture: WWE)
‘He seems really into this, as you can imagine,’ Butch smiled. ‘He seems really into the idea of Butch. It is entertaining.’
The former NXT United Kingdom Champion also pointed out how his new direction doesn’t take away from the work he’s done before, while he doesn’t think people would be complaining if he was a completely new arrival.
‘Not that I want my NXT work to vanish, it never will – it’s always gonna be there, and I hope people can always appreciate it,’ he said. ‘But if you could do that and you could start all over again, and this is me coming in fresh to the company, I think there’d be a lot of people who’d look at it through a different lens.’
It’s true that as Butch points out, he hasn’t gone ‘a million miles away’ from the work did before, particularly when it comes to the in-ring style, and he’s already noticing skeptics coming round to the fresh direction.
Butch is loving his work with Ridge Holland and Sheamus (Picture: WWE)
The dad-of-one also has his family to keep him grounded, and he feels like he has a ‘pretty mature’ outlook on the nature of life in WWE.
‘It helps a lot being so grounded and having a wife and a kid, having that real life here to lean into that and realise that ultimately, there’s a million different routes in wrestling that will get you where you wanna be and things that you can enjoy,’ he pondered.
‘Some of my favourite work of my career has been the comedy stuff… Obiously that’s not to say that Butch is strictly a comedy character, but it’s gonna allow me to show more of a range, show more of a personality.’
While life on the main roster is a different beast to NXT, Butch feels like he’s adjusting well to his new environment, and while he’s grateful for the passionate fans hyping up his Bruiserweight days, he’s glad to see people warming to his current work.
More: US TV news
‘I’m so happy that people do feel passionately enough to say, “No, we want Pete Dunne”. I hear that quite a lot – even when I see people in the street, that’s a lot of what I’ve been getting,’ he said. ‘But that’s slowly turning into, “But this stuff you’re doing now is good.” ‘
It sees Butch in a great position, particularly with WWE heading to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on September 3 for the company’s first UK stadium show in 30 years.
‘Over time – hopefully more opportunities like WrestleManias, or the show in Cardiff will be a perfect opportunity to go out there and show people that it’s still me,’ he added. ‘The in-ring stuff is always gonna be top level.’
WWE Clash at the Castle comes to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on September 3. Tickets are on sale now through www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wweclash.
Got a story?
If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us [email protected], calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.