Who is the highest-regarded member of the WWE faction The Brawling Brutes? Is it Sheamus, the 13-time champion who leads the group around? Or how about Ridge Rolland, the group’s green but aggressive powerhouse? Well, according to Cagematch, the answer is Butch, who has a very impressive 9.05 rating.
But why? Is it because of his admittedly great Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook match with Imperium at Extreme Rules? Or how about his last televised singles man, a win over Ludwig Kaiser back in August?
Neither; while both of those matches were impressive, Butch’s really impressive matches came under his previous ring name, Pete Dunne, which he used in NXT, NXT UK, and on the European indie scene. That’s the name he was first introduced to as a member of the WWE Universe, that’s the name he used in PWG, and that’s the name Butch secured 17(!) matches with a five or greater star rating from Dave Meltzer.
And yet, on SmackDown, the only remnants of Dunne left are Butch’s singlet, his long hair, and his pension for joint manipulation, which is a key part of his offensive game. What gives? Why did WWE have Butch leave the best part of his characters in the past, and is he truly happy with this decision? Fortunately, he sat down with the rest of The Brawling Brutes to talk with David Shoemaker of The Ringer Wrestling Show to talk about that very topic.
Butch has excepted his place in WWE sans Pete Dunne.
Earning a chance to discuss how he landed in the Brutes in the middle of a more expansive interview that also featured Sheamus and Rolland, Butch thoroughly explained the biggest change in his 15-year wrestling career so far.
“Um, to be honest, I think sometimes the waters get muddied with it. I’m sure the name change and the character change and all that kind of stuff was done with the best intentions. I really do believe that they felt like that was better for me, and honestly, this side of it, there’s parts of this character that I’ve grown to love. I love this group that we have. It’s also given me, at first I was able to show range, and now it’s given me a different edge to my personality. There’s a different side to me now because of that. But obviously, dressing differently, it was a big overhaul all in one, and that was the biggest thing, knowing how people were going to react to it. But like Ridge said, we talk about it a lot, all you can do is show up and do your best with it. And like they said, I was confident that, just give me time, and when I get in the ring, no matter what, I can get people to react. It doesn’t matter.”
“There could be any circumstances going on, but if I can get that time in the ring to show what I can do, I know I can connect with the crowd and put on great matches. That’s all I ever wanted to do since I was a kid, with 50 fans or 50,000, it’s all the same. I loved it back then as much as I do now, and this whole ‘Butch’ thing and this whole relaunch of myself as a new character was another opportunity to another part of my career I can look back on. Like, people like William Regal and Kurt Angle, some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, I bet a lot of your favorite performers of all time, comedic sometimes, he can make you laugh, can make you cry, and the rest, and can have great matches too. And I hope my career looks the same in the end. I hope this is great matches and that all show up but also, hopefully, I can show range and make you feel other ways too.”
After Sheamus interjected and lauded Butch for taking on the character even if it wasn’t his first choice, recalling how many other WWE performers would have complained and potentially fallen off the face of the earth as a result, the man formerly known as Pete Dunne commented on the change too.
“I think for me as well, it’s important to take the ego out of it. You know, I have a daughter, and that’s my biggest concern in life is my wife and my daughter, and that side of things, so a lot of times I just try to take any ego or any of that stuff out of wrestling and just try to look at it as what it is. We’re making an amazing living doing this, we’re getting to go out there in front of a ridiculous amount of people and be a part of WrestleMania, and we get to do so many amazing things, and it’s because of the job that we do, so any opportunity that I get I’m going to smash it to the best of my abilities as long as I can provide for them and give them a fantastic life and enjoy what I’m doing then I’m happy.”
Asked by Shoemaker about how he feels knowing that fans love Butch online, he replied with a thoughtful answer.
“That was the goal for me to get it to my point,” Butch replied. “And here’s the thing, anybody who, I bump into people all the time and they’ll tell me ‘I want you to go back to being Pete Dunne, I want you to be the Bruiserweight’ that kind of stuff, and I’m never going to get frustrated with those people or feel like ‘just focus on what I’m doing now’ because I’m grateful for the fact that they followed me for the last five or six, or sixteen years, who knows, but I’m always greatful for that and they have the right to feel that way they might watch it and may not connect with it and that’s one thing, but those who do, and we travel around and do all of these live events and Philadelphia is one thing, it’s a wrestling town, but we travel around and do wrestling event all over the world, and, you know, like popping up in France, and hearing the reactions for the Butch character itself, and going to all of the small towns we go to across the states and seeing the reaction that gets. Like this is the first time in my career I’ve had people say ‘you’re my kid’s favorite wrestler.’ Like before that it was a lot of adults, or even like teenagers, the Philadelphia crowd, those kind of people, but now, I bump into people it’s like ‘you’re my son or daughter’s favorite wrestler,’ and I see how the kids react to me now and like I said these are the little wins I hold onto now.”
In the end, isn’t that really all that matters, making the young WWE fans happy? If Butch is happy with his new role, why not be happy for him too?