One of the most popular current acts on the NXT roster is Ronnie ‘Tye Dillinger’ Arneill, who claims to be the ‘Perfect Ten’. In this latest piece, Brian takes a look at the ten year WWE journey for Arneill from development to the main roster to independents and NXT.
Have you ever seen the baseball movie ‘Bull Durham’ starring Kevin Costner? In the film, Costner plays a character named Crash Davis, a career minor leaguer who briefly had a quick moment on the major league level. His main goal during the movie was to mentor a young up and coming star in “Nuke” Laloosh. It’s a good movie and really relevant to this piece.
This can easily also be the story about professional wrestler Ronnie Arneill, better known as ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger down in NXT. At one time, Arneill was one of the WWE’s top developmental stars who somehow, someway lost his luster. After a very brief call-up to the main roster, he has been toiling in the independents and developmental for 10 long years.
Ten is the magic number for Arneill and perhaps is the number that will finally get him up to the main roster permanently. A Canadian born wrestler, Arneill was trained by the likes of Eric Young, (yes, that Eric Young) The Wild Samoans and Al Snow. He’s wrestled in several indie organizations before the WWE came calling in 2006. He was assigned to OVW, given the name “Shawn Spears” and was paired with rookie Cody Rhodes. It was quickly apparent that the highly skilled Spears was used more like a mentor to the young 2nd generation wrestler.
The duo won the OVW Southern tag team titles and feuded heavily with the team of Deuce and Domino for the tag titles. Eventually, Shawn Spears would turn heel and began feuding with Cody for a few months. In 2007, the younger, less experienced Cody Rhodes was called up to the main roster and Shawn Spears was left behind. Shawn Spears would remain in developmental until 2008 when he finally “got the call.”
In the summer of 2008, Spears was part of the WWE’s “new talent initiative” and made his debut of the WWE’s C show ECW as Gavin Spears. He would make 3 appearances, losing each time. Spears would break his hand and subsequently be released by the company.
Ronnie Arniell would continue his career on the independent circuit and even get a tryout match with TNA wrestling but was not signed. He would remain independent for four long years before Triple H reached out and gave Arneill a call. In 2013, Arniell was given a second chance with WWE’s developmental system under the NXT banner.
He was renamed Tye Dillinger and quickly became a glorified jobber to less experienced talent. In a move reminiscent of his first go around with the company, Arniell was paired with another young, inexperienced talent to mentor in Jason Jordan. The team was used mostly to job to more established teams in NXT. Eventually, the decision was made to break up the tag team of Dillinger and Jordan. Jason Jordan would later team with Chad Gable to form ‘American Alpha’ and would win the NXT tag team titles.
Ultimately, American Alpha got the call-up to the main roster, once again leaving Ron Arniell in the dust. Despite the seeming lack of growth and opportunity for his career, he kept working hard and reinvented himself. This time, he was known as ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger and quickly became a fan favorite with the often fickle NXT Full Sail audience.
Despite his growing popularity, Dillinger was used more often than not to job to other NXT wrestlers. In fact, Dillinger was the wrestler often called upon to job to a new, debuting star whether it be Andrade “Cien” Almas or Shinsuke Nakamura. As his losses continued to pile up, his popularity continued to grow.
He finally started getting his own storylines and began getting pushed..winning matches against other lesser known developmental wrestlers. While he still loses big matches, the angle has been that Dillinger can’t win the “big one.” After 10 long years scratching and clawing to get an opportunity finally Arniell has been getting one. It may not be a title run or even a call-up to the main roster but there is no denying Arniell, of all people, deserves another shot at the big time.
He always had the look, the skill set and the charisma to become a star with the company or another big promotion for that matter and it never materialized. He has been used as a mentor, a jobber and pawn for others to succeed and, for the most part, they all have. Will his time ever come? As of this writing, it looks like it may and it couldn’t happen to a more perfect candidate.