Tyler Bate sets his eyes on 2024 success after 'tactical' seven-year WWE battle

Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne pose during their entrance onto WWE Smackdown

Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne have their eyes locked onto a big 2024.


Tyler Bate looks remarkably calm for someone who has 'just' broken through into the big time. The WWE superstar was called up from 'developmental' brand NXT to unleash his talents on WWE Smackdown in the last few weeks and has enjoyed a starring role with his best friend, the man formerly known as Butch, Pete Dunne.

Tyler is as cool as they come - and hinted that his rise, and eventual big time debut on the cable networks of America with Smackdown, wrestling in front of huge mainstream audiences rather than simply for the entertainment of the hardcore, was tactical. He's zen, and the nerves don't outwardly show - but he says they were there.

Of course, there were nerves before his showing on Smackdown, teaming up as a surprise with fellow West Midlander Dunne (from Chelmsley Wood, not too far from Bate's own Dudley).

"I was super excited," says a buzzing and beaming Bate, gripping a coffee mug. "Super nervous, realising that it was seven years being in the WWE and twelve years as a wrestler, pretty much my life's work, like coming together in that moment, and it couldn't have been more ideal to do it next to my best mate. I've travelled the world with him and we've wrestled each other, teamed together, won titles and beat each other all over the place."

They've been doing this forever, Dunne and Bate. Bate is a Hollywood smile, Dunne is a snarling grimace. Where Bate projects the best of wrestling's golden era - a strong and stylish blonde who doesn't know when he's beat, Dunne is the counterpart, a villain who seems like he might, genuinely, be up to no good at all. A perfect tandem one-two punch from the Midlands that crowds have been dying to see. They're always together, and their history is linked. Teaming up, and then tearing each other part, like other duos - Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn - that stole the spotlight. The stories write themselves, and will continue to do so. It's a perfect parallel between Bate and Dunne, and so says Tyler himself.

Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne embrace after winning a match on WWE SmackdownBate and Dunne celebrate another win togetherWWE

"Me and Pete paralleled, and the stars have aligned. The Brawling Brutes [Dunne's former tag-team stable, led by Sheamus] are no more, and Pete's on his own. He doesn't know what to do, and there I am in, in prime condition to move up to the main roster and cool things are about to happen. The doors are wide open."

With opportunity, then comes pressure. Of course, there's pressure on Bate. He's representing a region, a people, a fanbase and a scene. That region is key - you can hear it drip from the mouths of Bate & Dunne, accents that defy logic in succeeding so far from home. Black Country and Brummie. Studies show these two accents amongst the most discriminated against in the UK. Assumptions are made when it is heard - but Bate is the latest role model from the West Midlands area to hit the big time. To me, and others, that is important, especially when the wrestling hotshot mentions his own journey with it, and how it didn't seem to matter when he landed on US soil - regional divisions eroded, he was simply British.

"I used to be really insecure about it. In the UK, our accent is not the most endearing or it's not the most attractive accent. It gets made fun of quite a bit, so putting myself on TV I'd get really insecure about it and being able to hear my voice.

"As soon as I would listen to myself speak, I'd get super insecure about it and then I'd try and change it a little bit, but I've kind of learned to love it over time - they [US citizens] just hear a British accent and that sounds cool, so these days I lean into it more.

"When I was younger, I had a much thicker Black Country accent. I think just through travelling around and meeting people, I can't talk in my natural dialect because they just can't understand. I still have it a little bit and if I go home and spend time around my dad, it comes back instantly. But yeah, I've learned to just pronounce my words more. I just have to communicate with people that don't understand it. It comes out without me thinking about it. People look at me like 'what?' and I have to say what I said again."

The roots are still there with Bate, and that means professionally too. The scene he emerged from weighs on him, and is hanging on his shoulders, and he'll share that with Dunne and others. British Strong Style isn't just a tag to them, it's been their professional life since they started hitting the mat, from sweaty Birmingham gyms and crowds of sub-1000 to the blinding lights of Smackdown.

"It just felt like a lot of pressure. We both [Bate & Dunne] hold on hold ourselves to play like high standards. Constantly trying to live up to those standards is a lot of pressure. Especially if you're representing we both really feel like we represent British wrestling, and especially the more traditional style of British wrestling as well. Which was essentially why William Regal [UK WWE legend and wrestling icon] kind of latched onto us in the first place was that we were still like holding down that traditional style of British wrestling kind of veered off a little bit, but I couldn't be happier with how everything went."

It has felt like a long time coming as well. Bate and Dunne shot to stardom around half-a-decade ago, and their performances alongside one another have gained, and kept the attention of the biggest wrestling show on the planet. Bate hasn't at all been frustrated with his path in the WWE and says, outright, that it was tactical. His time was always coming, and after breaking through at the age of 19 [he's now almost 27], there are very little frustrations in his mind.

"No frustrations at all. It's actually been partly purposeful and tactical. I have been here for a while, but I also started super young. I was 19 and I purposefully didn't want to rush off to the main roster before I knew who I was and what I wanted to say with my wrestling. For sure, there's been 'frustrating' parts of the journey - things maybe not going my way. But I've always been pretty good at putting a positive twist on things and looking at my cup half-full and being grateful for what I do have.

"Put it this way. It's got to the point where people were kind of begging for me to get called up to the main roster. I'd much rather than than people say 'oh Tyler's not ready'. It's now happening, and I'm at a point where I'm super comfortable in who I am and know what it is that I'm trying to do with my wrestling."

It's so soon in 2024, and if you're talking New Year's Resolutions, Tyler's ticked off that big one - partnering with his mate in front of the watching world on one of the biggest stages of all, but there's more to come, and one is around the corner.

Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne execute a tag team move on the middle of the WWE Smackdown ringBate and Dunne's partnership has flourished, and now it's in front of big audiences.WWE

The Royal Rumble remains a crown jewel of wrestling programming. Loads of big lads jump into the ring aiming to toss each other over the ropes, and the remaining wrestler gets a title shot. If you win the Rumble, you're a big deal. If you star in the Rumble with a key spot before losing, you're likely the next big thing. There's room for stars like Bate to shine, and room for friendships to unravel - Bate and Dunne can't team up for long if they both enter the Rumble this month - but there's another opportunity for the Midlander to shine.

"In the seven years I've been a part of WWE, I've been saying every year that I want to be in the Rumble. I want to aeroplane spin Braun Strowman, Omos [two wrestling giants that crowd out room ceilings and likely weigh-in the same as a hatchback car] - Whoever the biggest guy in the ring is that's that's who I want in the Rumble."

The cult following of the UK wrestling scene has allowed talents like Bate and Dunne to flourish, and the pinnacle of that scene has led to titles and major plaudits. Just ask Gunther - known as Walter during his time in the UK scene - how long he has held the glimmering gold of the prestigious Intercontinental Championship that straddles his waist.

That's the target, and then some, down the line for either Bate or Dunne - or both at once. The duo have had titanic bouts before, but not at this level. A former ring partner has shown them the way, and if Dunne and Bate continue on course, it will bring at least one, if not both, into a collision course with him.

Speaking to Tyler, and watching him pair with his best friend Dunne once more as partners, it's hard to stop the irresistible feeling that you get, and one that people like Gunther have enabled - that they aren't just here to look flash and take part, they might just be here to take over.

But, baby steps - it's early days in the big time for Tyler Bate, and he's determined to enjoy it.

"I know I've already achieved such a huge goal already so I just kind of want to my main goal for 2024 is to just keep the momentum and I just want to I want to keep enjoying what I'm doing with love with my mate."

Royal Rumble 2024 is 37th annual Royal Rumble Premium Live Event and will emanate from St. Petersburg, Florida on Jan. 27. Tune in on the WWE Network or TNT Sports Box Office.

Tune into SmackDown, Friday’s at 1AM on TNT Sports.

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