At NXT TakeOver: Chicago, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate put on a show as they showcased the potential of the WWE's U.K. division. Dunne emerged victorious in a match that told an amazing story between two competitors who have been thrust into the wrestling spotlight in a hurry. Now, with the title in his possession, Dunne is ready for everything that comes next.
"I've completed every goal I've wanted and more at the age of 23," Dunne told ESPN.com moments after his victory. "That doesn't mean I'm going to stop there at all. There's a lot more goals on the horizon."
There is plenty ahead for Dunne, but Saturday postmatch offered a moment of reflection. The bout was highly praised by the Chicago crowd, which chanted "U.K." and "Fight forever" repeatedly, but it was the response Dunne received backstage after the match that really moved the new champion.
"It was quite overwhelming to be honest," said Dunne. "I didn't expect it from the get-go, really. I'd be confident that any venue in the U.K., that there would be a fair amount of people that know who myself and Tyler are. It's another thing to walk out in Chicago and get a great reception. And then to walk back to an even more overwhelming reception from the people in the back, the people that have been around the business for so long and all the great ones behind it all. It's unbelievable."
With plans for the WWE to begin a weekly U.K. program in the near future on par with what they've done with NXT and 205 Live, it's the perfect time for the division to gain more exposure. Dunne is extremely proud of the direction it's heading, especially after a performance like his match at TakeOver.
"I'm just really proud of where we're taking this U.K. division," he said. "Right now, we're still unsure of what it's going to become, but every time we put on a performance, we set out to kill it."
As the WWE moves toward that realization, Dunne is ready to lead the movement as the division's champion.
"I'm really honored to be pushing this U.K. brand.," he said. "And now arguably being the face of it, it's a massive honor to me, because I saw British wrestling in the absolute pits at one point. Thirty or 40 people was a great draw. And now thanks to the exposure that the WWE has given us, and now in every house in the U.K., all the talents that come through, they all finally have something to work towards. And if I could be that benchmark for the talents to work towards, that's incredibly exciting to me, and it feels like a massive goal finally reached."
Another face of the division is former champion Bate, and while their match in Chicago vaulted them into the spotlight, the result was no surprise to either of the two participants, given that they know each other so well.
"[Tyler is] one of my two favorite people to wrestle [the other being fellow U.K. performer Mark Andrews] and I'm really glad I got to share that one with him," said Dunne. "I had a big hand in training Tyler. I got him his first ever booking, which was against me in a tag match. As proud as I am of myself for being able to hold this WWE title, I was incredibly proud of him, as well. The two Brits on such a huge show of this magnitude."
While wrestling fans aren't likely to complain about watching an endless amount of Dunne-Bate matches, Dunne offered up some other dream matches of his own.
"I'd love to wrestle Brock Lesnar," said Dunne. "It's the realism, the way he carries himself. It's 100 percent believable because he's real. That's someone who I'd love to get in the ring with someday. I don't think there's a possibility of it ever happening, but I'd also love to wrestle William Regal one day."
A match against Regal does seem unlikely, but Dunne's next goal isn't.
"One of [my remaining goals] is WrestleMania," said Dunne. "That was a goal that I never really thought was doable, whereas now, it feels like it's on the horizon. It feels like it's something I could do in the next few years, for sure."