Where there has been an Undisputed Era in NXT, there has been a Bruiserweight in their path. Just when they thought they were safe, Pete Dunne and Pat McAfee “kicked” things up.
Recently on NXT, beloved fan favorite Pete Dunne shocked the WWE Universe by aligning himself with Pat McAfee and his new stable that plan to “retire” The Undisputed Era. When he made his return to NXT, Pete pulled off a heel turn on Kyle O’Reilly that left Seth Rollins somewhere smiling to himself. Crashing a steel chair against the spine of O’Reilly before stomping him down along with new stablemates and NXT Tag Team Champions, Oney Lorcan, and Danny Burch.
While shocking, to say the least, Dunne aligning with McAfee to target The Undisputed Era is the perfect fit. While it wasn’t always planned from the start, Dunne has become the foil to Undisputed Era’s plans. Just when The Undisputed Era thought they were on the top, Dunne came to knock them down a few pegs like a hawk playing with its food. Although, this hawk, Dunne looks very fit and very hungry. Is it time for him to finally finish his meal?
Back in the early days of The Undisputed Era, the trio of Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish had two major pains in their way in the form of future stablemate, Roderick Strong, and you guessed it, the “Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne. At NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, with the NXT Tag Team Championships and the Dusty Rhodes Classic on the line, Cole would have to pull double duty and fight in two matches to replace Fish, who had recently torn his ACL and MCL putting him out of action for months.
During a triple tag team match between Undisputed Era’s Cole and O’Reilly, The Authors of Pain, and Dunne and Strong, Roddy would turn on his partner and align himself with The Undisputed Era; giving us the line-up that we have still to this day. I also feel it was very important to mention that Cole would become the inaugural NXT North American Champion on this night by winning a six-man ladder match! Pulling double duty and winning in both big title matches. What a guy, bay-bay!
Now back to the main plot, this was just the beginning of the long-running rivalry between The Undisputed Era and Dunne that has lasted to this very day. After Roderick’s betrayal, Pete would look to get retribution against his former friend and The Undisputed Era when he would get a one-on-one match against Strong in May. During the match, it would come as no surprise that Cole and O’Reilly would come to get involved when Dunne nearly had the win.
Being triple-teamed, Dunne needed some assistance quickly. While Dunne has been best known for his friendship and for teaming with Trent Seven and Tyler Bate, they were nowhere to be found on this night. However, it was Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan who were there to save Pete from the attack that night. A week later on the May 16th, 2018 edition of NXT, Dunne teamed with his future stablemates, Lorcan and Burch to face off against The Undisputed Era’s Strong, O’Reilly, and Fish.
On that night, Dunne’s team were able to work together and get the win over Undisputed Era. Was that night a peek into the future? We are all watching in anticipation to find out. However, to possibly get to the possible demise of one of the greatest stables to ever do it, we continue to take a path down memory lane of how we got to this moment. No matter the time or date, Dunne has always been a thorn in the side of The Undisputed Era; as they were a thorn in his.
The rivalry between Dunne and the stable has spanned over many different wars including solo, tag, team, six-man tag team, and even War Games matches. In a majority of these matches, including War Games alongside Ricochet and The War Raiders, Pete has had The Undisputed Era’s number. A feat that not many people in NXT can say they’ve accomplished. The Undisputed Era has been the total powerhouse running NXT for the past three years. They have been almost unstoppable during their run. However, that keyword almost being the most important.
As the old saying goes, everything that goes up must come down. We recently saw the end of beloved stable The New Day. Could we be on the verge of seeing the next stable come to an end? That’s a clear yes if McAfee and Dunne have anything to say about it. Dubbed “The Kings of NXT,” McAfee has surrounded himself with true strikers and stars in Dunne, Burch, and Lorcan. They have made a mark quickly, similar to McAfee in his debut match against Cole.
In one of the most shocking moves of the year, NXT began to push a feud between Cole and McAfee, who had no in-ring experience at the time. During the feud, Cole would begin to show signs of a babyface turn against the obnoxious heel McAfee. Many were cautious of the feud and the idea of placing McAfee in the ring with Cole for his first match. Pat did more than just show up at NXT TakeOver 30.
Pat impressed the world in his debut match but wasn’t able to get the win over Cole. It seemed that things were finished between Cole and McAfee after this match. Things would go as normal, well almost. After TakeOver 30, NXT held a gauntlet eliminator match to name a new number one contender for the NXT Championship. In the match, Undisputed Era’s O’Reilly stepped out of the tag team spotlight and into the singles.
While many doubted Kyle’s ability to step into the NXT Championship picture, the champion Finn Balor was the first man to say that Kyle was up to the challenge. Both men promised to go into an absolute war and that they did. O’Reilly and Finn Balor gave a tremendous performance in their championship match at NXT TakeOver 31. Their battle was brutal and bloody and I for one loved every single second of it!
However, after the Main Event was over, the action was still going on. Ridge Holland made his name known as attacked Cole and carried him to the ring after Balor and O’Reilly match. Adam would later say that Ridge broke his ribs and that Ridge was a “dead man.” When Holland was asked about the attack, Ridge said that he received a new Mercedes and he had Adam Cole to thank for that. McAfee would later reveal that Ridge was working under his command.
Unfortunately, Holland would suffer a horrific ankle injury on NXT in an altercation ironically with Lorcan. While we wish Holland the best of wishes and hope for a speedy recovery, the plans with Cole were clearly scrapped, at least for the time being. With Holland abruptly taken out of the plans, the cast changed up but the plot stayed the same: eliminate The Undisputed Era.
Pat replaced his “younger version of himself” Holland with the guy who took him out, Lorcan, and “his guy”, Burch. While I hate that we didn’t get to see what Holland could do in this feud, it opened the door for the men that made the most sense. With Burch and Lorcan by his side, McAfee was already building a shell around himself. A shell that would become rock solid with the inclusion of “The Bruiserweight” Dunne.
With Dunne joining McAfee and company, the two sides of the upcoming battle were now even at four apiece. Far from irony, I would say. With both sides of this war known and ready for blood, there is only one way for this feud to go. Fortunately for us fans, it just happens to also be that time of the year! Are you thinking what I am thinking? The Undisputed Era’s biggest rival, WAR GAMES! For the fourth year in a row and for possibly the last time, I expect The Undisputed Era to take Pat McAfee and his “Kings of NXT” to war inside War Games!
There is no question that there is no bigger match to put an end to this feud than this one. Pat McAfee alongside arguably The Undisputed Era’s biggest rivals, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan, and Danny Burch is in arms reach of making their mark on history. This group is primed to accomplish its goal to “retire” The Undisputed Era. If history is anything to go by, The Undisputed Era is in the biggest trouble that they have ever been in. With 2020 drawing to an end, could The Undisputed Era be Dunne for by 2021?