With their handsome looks and boyish charm, the Brits have shown they can absolutely go inside the ropes and in a brand where Shawn Michaels presides over you, that’s a true testament to your talent.
talkSPORT had the chance to have a chat with Sam Stoker and Lewis Howley – who comprise Pretty Deadly – to discuss winning the belts and their journey thus far.
On winning the NXT UK Tag Team titles from Gallus
Sam Stoker: Going into the match, we had a lot of tactics, a lot of plans. You see us put them into place and they didn’t all work, but at the end we just needed one to work and hey, look at us! Here we are.
Lewis Howley: NXT UK showcases some of the best matches and we’ve had to sit there and just wait for that opportunity, just knowing it was something that we could provide. So having that opportunity last night to show everyone what we can do, steal the show, steal the belts, we’re living life.
On winning the belts in front of no fans…
Howley: It’s interesting, because it’s something that Sam and I have dreamed about for a long time. We knew we were going to get there, but it’s still something you’re striving towards, working towards – winning a WWE championship. So you dream about it happening with a crowd. There is an element of it that’s strange. The great thing about Pretty Deadly though – and we love fans, fans are great and we can’t wait for them to come back – but there’s no one I want to share the moment with more than Sam! Alright, the crowds weren’t there, but my boy was!
On Lewis Howley being trained by Lance Storm..
Howley: I am actually, yeah. And you wouldn’t realise it because I’ve got a few bones to pick with Lance, he’s a bit of a cheeky boy! In January they announced the new signings of last year. So it was us, Levi [Muir] and Dani Luna. And Lance Storm quote tweeted it and said ‘congrats Levi. Another SWA graduate.’ I just text nice and simple underneath ‘bit rude.’ The audacity! A standout of the class I was in, of course, and not a shred of… you know what, don’t talk to me about it because I’ll get riled up again! But he wants to be my best pal now, doesn’t he! [laughs].
Stoker: I would like to say that Pretty Deadly as a team has no beef with Lance Storm. I think that’s important!
Howley: The training that I got there was unbelievable. You train Monday to Friday so you’re getting so much. It’s like 9-5 as well so it’s eight hours a day. It’s hard to explain because you learn so much. I was actually in a really fortunate position because at the time, Lance was training for a show and of course, being the standout, I would get invited in on the weekend and we would do stuff just me and him. And that really was an extra thing where I learned so much.
On how Pretty Deadly came together…
Howley: So coming back to the UK with a wealth of knowledge and who do I see… what beautiful man do I see! We got chucked together in a group that wasn’t quite us. We were cast as street thugs but now we’ve found who we are. Of course, to me, Sam is the best wrestler in the world!
Stoker: In my eyes, Lewis was the most underrated, actually under-appreciated wrestler. We jelled together, we worked well together and we’re pretty similar. I was looking at the blonde version of myself and visa-versa. It just fit when we came together and when we did, we just got stronger and stronger. Each show, each time we hung out, each promo – everything just grew.
On what Shawn Michaels said to them after they won the titles…
Stoker: We did get some nice words and he’s been with us since we joined the company, he’s been mentoring us in such a way. What we really appreciate the most is he tells us to be us. He can give us his advice but he says only you two know how to be you. And I think we’re pretty good at it. But with the kind words from Shawn, the motivation from Shawn, even a compliment will build our ego enough to dominate for the next six months.
Howley: We might just be in the ring or backstage beforehand and we get a little comment from him like ‘those are some beautiful shirts’ and things like that, just gets us riled up!
Stoker: Handsome boys.. good looking lads… we won’t bore you, but you know.
Howley: He’ll often say ‘handsome lads like us’ like the three of us, because he recognises. He knows!
On receiving public praise from the likes of Triple H and Shawn Michaels…
Howley: It’s things like that make it real. Maybe not make it real, but it gives you perspective. The family and people you went to school with, when Triple H tweets you and the shoutout from Shawn Michaels, they see that and go ‘oh wow!’ Because they grew up on people like Triple H and Shawn Michaels. So when they see them tweeting us and congratulating us, it’s like this is insane. In the group chat, my family are like ‘Triple H is interacting with you guys, this is so cool.’ In a normal day, we have quite a lot of interaction with Shawn Michaels and it’s great, but they don’t see that side of things so when they do, they’re like this is crazy! So that’s nice.
Stoker: I think to win a prestigious title in WWE is such a big thing, but then it really leaves you feeling quite retrospective. So to get the messages and to think back to when you’re 10 years old when you were watching Triple H at WrestleMania to now, it’s quite mind-blowing.
On the tag teams that inspired them as fans…
Stoker: The Hardy Boyz are the coolest team around. Icons.
Howley: Big Edge and Christian fans too, of course. That whole era with those rivalries including the Dudley Boyz as well were amazing.
Stoker: Ultimately, Team Extreme, the Hardy Boyz, if we can replicate half of what they’ve done in their career here in WWE, we’ll be happy. We will do more… but we’ll be happy.
On who they would like to face on June 21 in a perfect world…
Stoker: I think we want to be very progressive champions. We want to take ourselves and these championships to the next level. We want someone from across the pond. Someone from NXT, they can come over. The NXT tag team champions at the time, we’d like a face-off. We didn’t get to do World’s Collide this year so I think let’s get that going and prove we’re the better tag team and better champions.
Howley: But if we’re talking real dream matches, give us the New Day!
Catch Pretty Deadly every week on NXT UK on the WWE Network (Thursdays, 8pm) or BT Sport (Fridays, 10pm)