The dynamic yet simple story between Pete Dunne and Walter should make for one of the sleeper matches of WrestleMania weekend, if not a potential match of the year.
By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
There was very little I was interested in going into WrestleMania weekend this year with regards to WWE. There are plenty of other shows and promotions I’ve been looking forward to, but not a lot from the biggest company putting their biggest foot forward.
We’ve all seen how they’ve blown what should have a layup between Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch, shoving Charlotte in the car and swerving all over the road to the big show. How Kurt Angle’s retirement had been treated speaks for itself – hell, even WWE has pointed out how pissed off people are about that move. And I’m honestly so over Vince McMahon needlessly screwing with Kofi Kingston that I could puke.
Even down to NXT. To be fair, I don’t blame the company for the buildup to Takeover. No amount of planning could have foreseen Mother Nature screwing up the main event and leaving them scrambling when Tommaso Ciampa had to go under the knife, derailing the end of a story two years in the making.
Mind you, WWE does have some things for me to look forward to during their biggest weekend. AJ Styles and Randy Orton has quietly become one of the most anticipated matches of the weekend. While I’m not excited for the actual match between Batista and Triple-H, there have some good moments leading up to it. Velveteen Dream against Matt Riddle should be a great time. But even with these, nothing had me really excited for the first weekend in April.
It was made official on NXT UK – one of the best wrestling shows out there right now – that Pete Dunne will defend the NXT UK Championship against Walter at NXT Takeover New York. Anyone that follows our Instagram account (spoiler alert, I run that for us) already knows I’ve been excited about this since January when Walter debuted in Dunne’s face:
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This is going to be David vs. Goliath for the modern era. But this isn’t your typical “big man vs. little man” match. This isn’t Rey Mysterio vs. Kevin Nash or even Marko Stunt vs. Ace Romero. The dynamic here should make for one of the sleeper matches of the weekend, if not a potential match of the year.
Pete Dunne, by the time he arrives at NXT Takeover New York, will have been NXT UK Champion for 686 days. The “Iron King” has had a stranglehold on that title by being the toughest, meanest and most proficient wrestler in NXT UK. Bigger or smaller, Dunne has found a way to pound and confound them all to hold on to that championship.
Even before he got to WWE, Walter was a massive steamroller. He’d made his name all over Europe by mauling fools, either solo or with his Ring Kampf partner, Timothy Thatcher (that entrance music sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?). Last year during WrestleMania weekend, Walter wowed wrestling audiences with brutal rows against “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and PCO. As part of NXT UK, he’s decimated the likes of Kassius Ohno and just about all of Gallus on his way to Takeover.
That’s another lovely part of this equation – there’s an actual story behind all this! A simple, elegant tale of the incumbent, indomitable champion walling into the big event with almost the longest reign of any champion in modern times against the biggest challenge he’s had to date in the form of an unstoppable monster.
Neither of them were “arrested.” Neither of them had any cute little “shoot” comments to make on social media. Neither had the Boss crawling up their butts and rooting around for no good reason other than to be a jerk. No silliness here.
Both men have stared each other down and even helped each other against NXT UK’s resident group of Scottish ne’er-do-wells, Gallus. But the two haven’t even so much as brushed against each other, let alone got into any kind of physical altercation. The tension since Walter’s arrival has been palpable – so much so that Pete Dunne, not Walter, demanded the championship match on the big stage.
Because Pete Dunne knows he cannot be the greatest NXT UK Champion ever if he doesn’t face down the juggernaut. It’s eaten at him that Walter is encroaching on his turf and now he has to prove which of them is better.
A simple story that requires no unnecessary twists and turns in order to fill entirely too much television time. A story that has been slowly burning for nearly three months. On April 5, NXT UK turns up the heat and shows the rest of the WWE Universe what a good story and a great match can accomplish. And hopefully teach the rest of the company a lesson in simplicity and action.