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Interview With NXT Superstar Tye Dillinger: The Perfect 10

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Interview With NXT Superstar Tye Dillinger: The Perfect 10

You can't beat a good underdog story and WWE do it best.

Daniel Bryan's long arduous journey to main eventing Wrestlemania and winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was one of the greatest underdog stories because not only had Bryan being up against the powers that be, he was genuinely being held back by the company as those high up did not think he was cut out for being a top star and the support from fans meant that WWE could not hold him down for any longer and so his career highlight happened in New Orleans in 2014.

Persistent neck and concussion problems meant that Bryan had to retire from in-ring action on WWE's request and he now serves as WWE's general manager - meaning a true underdog that fans can get behind merely makes matches instead of being able to do their thing in the ring.

But one person in WWE's ranks who has a similar sort of presence to Bryan is NXT's Tye Dillinger and there is clear evidence that he can fill the void.

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He too has a chant that is regularly heard around arenas even when Dillinger is not on the show - which speaks volumes of the special connection he has with WWE's fanbase.


The Canadian has been in WWE developmental for what feels like forever and when you ask WWE's top stars about who they feel is the most underrated guy in the company, his name always pops up.

The 36-year old's talents have always been recognised but for however crisp you are in the ring, you need that larger than life character to go with it and that didn't arrive for Dillinger until August 2015 when he debuted with the "Perfect 10" gimmick, spawning the 'ten' chant and elevating him to the level where he was selected to appear in the 2017 Royal Rumble, at No.10 of course.

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The Royal Rumble cameo appearance infront of 52,000 was his main roster debut but wasn't a full-time call-up, as he continues to wrestle on NXT, the company's third brand that has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years.


Dillinger recently spoke on a conference call to promote the upcoming Wrestlemania weekend in Orlando, which will include a special NXT Takeover show.

SPORTbible had the opportunity to sit on the call and hear Dillinger talk in-depth about The Perfect Ten character, crowd reactions and a whole host of other topics.

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For a while, The Perfect 10 was an arrogant and cocky heel character but his presence, coupled with reactions from fans culminated in him becoming a good guy. Dillinger was clear throughout this interview that the fans are the driving force behind his rise.

Speaking to SPORTbible, he said:

"I didn't expect the 'Perfect 10' to take off and have a life of its own like it did, I just started going out there and doing what I wanted to do - flashing my 'ten' signs around, giving people threes, fours, zeros but the audience saw something in it and when they see something and they like something, they are going to let you know, and polar opposite, if they see something they don't like, you're going to hear about it.

"That's the beautiful thing about our audiences, the freedom to kind of do what they want. They were obviously liking what was happening with the 'Perfect 10' and I just went in that direction and went with it."

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Connecting with the audience is absolutely everything in WWE and Dillinger's connection with the fanbase is incredible strong. Before a show in Philadelphia, where the 'ten!' chant was born, he decided to repay those who helped elevate him by buying hot chocolate for the fans waiting outside.

"I asked them [WWE] if they liked it and they said yes. WWE is very open to all those kinds of personal things you want to do, you just have to ask. So I called a local company, gave them my credit card and they brought hot chocolate for 500 people. The reason is because just a year earlier, Philadelphia was where the chants of "Ten!" Were born. That's where it all officially started. When I left, at the beginning of the match were not very receptive, but during the course of the same changed their opinion and the end of the fight was when the shouts of 'ten'. So that was my way of thanking them and telling them that I had not forgotten. I think it was fair."

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Image: WWE

Football fans will be well aware that the number ten is such an iconic number that has been worn by a whole host of football greats - Pele, Messi, Maradona, Totti and Del Piero to name a few.

Dillinger regularly sports a No.10 shirt when performing for NXT and in one instance in a live show in Liverpool back in June, got major heat for wearing a Manchester United shirt.

"I'm not as big a soccer fan as I used to be, I used to play it a little bit when I was growing up - not to a level of an expert by any means but I did enjoy soccer and followed it a little bit when I was younger but since then I've fallen out of keeping up on it. I am aware a little bit of how big the number ten in soccer and when I came out in my Man U jersey, there was also number ten on the back of that so hopefully I can add that Man U 'ten' to some of those lists.

"But when you talk about NXT live events, you can see it's so much more interactive and everybody just cuts loose and is having a good time and wanting to put on the best possible show for the fans in attendance. That interaction between talent and audience is what makes those shows so special."

Dillinger has had two separate spells in developmental and has seen plenty of changes, with the introduction of the state-of-the-art performance centre in Orlando playing a huge part in NXT becoming the phenomenon that it is.

There becomes a point where those in NXT are too good for the show and need to be on the main roster, with the likes of Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Bayley and the American Alpha tag team all making that progression in recent times.

Many believe that the NXT product has suffered hugely as a result, but Dillinger says that the roster remains strong.

"We have a very solid NXT roster, and as you can tell a lot of stars on WWE television today came from NXT. It has been our breeding ground for top-tier talent, and a lot of talent have been very successful. At the same time, NXT has maintained a very high standard in terms of performance and production value. We want to put on the best possible show and product that we can for our fan base.

"So we've had guys like Seth Rollins, Adrian Neville, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and others that have cemented their legacy and then left some pretty big shoes to fill for others guys. But now, we've got Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong - guys like that who will continue the NXT legacy. This roster is stronger than ever."

Featured Image Credit: WWE

Topics: NXT, WWE

Josh Lawless
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