The Renaissance of Prince Pretty, Tyler Breeze

This Saturday night, Tyler Breeze returns to action in NXT to take on the North American Champion, Velveteen Dream. This would seem to be the closest thing to an NXT “Dream Match” you could have. Two incredible personalities that have become fan favorites through their own doing. Tyler Breeze gets to return home to NXT TakeOver and NXT itself following an up and down few years since then. Breeze’s road to success has clearly not been a smooth path, but one to marvel at as a fan.

Photo: PWA

From the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, he began his career as Mattias Wild, after relocating to Calgary, Alberta to train with former WWE, WCW, and ECW Superstar Lance Storm as the Storm Wrestling Academy. It wasn’t long before he began working the Western Canada indies, starting with Lethbridge, Alberta’s Power Zone Wrestling in 2007, before working with Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW), Prairie Wrestling Alliance (PWA), Real Canadian Wrestling (RCW) and even Stampede Wrestling. He worked the US West Coast briefly as well, working for Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF) and Alternative Wrestling Show (AWS).

Tyler Breeze was signed to the WWE at the end of 2010, joining Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) under the name of Matt Clements, just a little different from his real name. In his debut match, he teamed with the likes of future star Bray Wyatt and others to defeat a team that consisted of Big E and Roman Reigns. Gaining a win in his first matchup, it looked to be a bright future, but he would soon find himself in a rut. As 2011 came around, Breeze would get not one, but two-name changes.

In the span of the first four months of 2011, he would become Mike McGrath and then Mike Dalton. In November of 2011, he would finally start to pick up some steam with a win over Peter Orlov. He would then win a number one contender battle royal to become the top contender for the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. Champion Leo Kruger, who many may remember as Adam Rose, defeated him in Breeze’s first attempt at the championship.

On February 2, 2012, he would get another shot at Kruger’s title. In that attempt, he would become the FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion. Mike Dalton was on the top of the world in Florida as it seemed a bright future was ahead. Unfortunately, he would hold the championship for just 21 days before Leo Kruger would win back the championship. As the year of 2012 went on, he became FCW Florida Tag Team Champions with Roman Reigns. This would yet again be a short reign however, lasting just 28 days in the process. For the rest of 2012, he would lose plenty on the newly renewed NXT TV. He would gain wins on house shows but never really gain traction on NXT TV which began to possibly show some writing on the wall.

Breeze has said in multiple interviews that in early 2013, he was essentially informed if he could not find something to stick as a gimmick, he would be released. Along with his best friend and roommate Xavier Woods, the ideas began to be tossed around in hopes of saving his career. While making a series of characters Woods and Breeze would come up with the self-loving, pretty boy character that we all know as Tyler Breeze. Both he and Woods expected that this would be the one that stood no chance but was instead received with the most praise and became the gimmick to help save him. Prince Pretty would be born, leading to one of the best characters in the history of NXT.

On the 58th episode of NXT in July of 2013, Tyler Breeze would first grace the world. He would defeat Angelo Dawkins in quick fashion. As Tyler Breeze, he would begin to get hot on NXT TV with continuous wins while showing his selfish manner. Prince Pretty would show a dangerous side when in a match that would allow him to become a top contender in NXT. Before there was a WWE Network for NXT to be seen by the masses weekly, Breeze became a favorite on the NXT local circuit as they traveled through Florida. The chants of “Breeze is Gorgeous” would quickly catch on as the over-the-top Breeze owned his new character.

Photo: WWE

Breeze would become a problem for NXT Championship contender Adrian Neville at the end of 2013, causing him to lose to the champion Bo Dallas. Breeze would take Neville’s attention away from the championship in the first month of 2014 as he would mock him for simply being ugly and not looking like Prince Pretty himself. This would lead to a matchup between the two where Neville would come out on top.

All signs for Breeze pointed to the debut of NXT on the WWE Network as a part of NXT ArRIVAL. He would be scheduled to take on Xavier Woods. People got to witness the entrance of Prince Pretty which is a site in itself. The fans of Full Sail would clap along to his theme as the male model would make his way to the ring in hopes of leaving a real impression on the new fans of NXT watching on the WWE Network. The match would never get started due to Rusev ruining the matchup, but there was just something about the heelish ways of Breeze that would capture the fans attention around the world.

At the first-ever NXT Takeover event on May 29th, 2014, almost five years to the day he makes his return to NXT for NXT TakeOver: XXV, Tyler Breeze would take on Sami Zayn in a #1 Contenders match for the NXT Championship. Breeze would debut his brand-new theme song, performed by him and only him. NXT’s Prince Pretty against the Underdog of the Underground would go on to become an early NXT classic as the two men would battle in a 15-minute classic. It seemed Sami Zayn would finally get his opportunity at the NXT Championship as it seemed he would hit the Helluva Kick. He’d instead get caught on the top turnbuckle, allowing Breeze to hit the Beauty Shot on Zayn to nab his most important win as Prince Pretty.

He would get his opportunity against champion Adrian Neville on NXT 111, losing by DQ in the process as his opportunity would, unfortunately, be gone to capture the NXT Championship. By no means would he be done chasing for the championship, as he would be included in the main event of NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way. It would be Tyson Kidd, Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Breeze facing off in a classic Fatal 4-Way match in September of that year. Before that, they would all be featured in an “NXT Showcase” on Monday Night Raw just days before as he would team with Tyson Kidd in a losing effort. Breeze would not be in the final sequence when Neville would hit the Red Arrow on Tyson Kidd in the main event of Takeover to retain his NXT Championship.

Breeze would be off of NXT TV for the last few months of the year following a loss to Sami Zayn in a Number One Contenders match on NXT 122. He would make his return on NXT 130 at the beginning of 2015, defeating Chad Gable and putting his name back in the hat to get another shot to contend for the NXT Championship. He would take on Hideo Itami in a first-round bout in hopes of becoming the next contender for the NXT Championship. Prince Pretty would lose to Itami, but in no way be done as they would quickly enter a rivalry following Itami’s removal from the tournament. They would face off at NXT Takeover: Rival, in a match that Itami would once again get the better of Breeze.

Breeze would continue to bother Itami, even beating him on NXT TV twice. These two men, along with Finn Balor would be granted an opportunity to face each other at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. This would be the memorable beat down of Itami in the parking lot prior to the matchup, allowing Finn Balor and Breeze to face off one on one. Prince Pretty was at the height of his popularity, with selfie stick and all. He would again lose the big Takeover match to the “Demon” Finn Balor and left Breeze wondering what was next for him in NXT.

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By August, he knew what his fate would be. He would first team with Bull Dempsey in the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, but lose in a first-round matchup to the team of #DIY. He would be informed by William Regal on NXT that he would be the one to face Jushin “Thunder” Liger in his one and only WWE match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Breeze did all he could to build this one up alone as Liger would be in Japan, preparing to take on such a legend. It would be proof that Tyler Breeze and the work he had put in allowed him to be in such an important match. The New Japan Pro Wrestling legend would arrive following Breeze’s incredible Takeover entrance as the two men would go just under 10 minutes in an exciting open match to begin the legacy of NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Liger would hit Breeze with the Liger Bomb to win his only match in NXT and under the WWE banner. Breeze continues to bring this experience up as one of his favorites to this day.

Photo: WWE

Prince Pretty would have his final NXT match on his first run through the brand at NXT Takeover: Respect on October 7, 2015. It would be against Apollo Crews, who would gain the win over Breeze as it would be Breeze’s sendoff. Many remember the final scenes of the WWE Network show, “Breaking Ground”, where it would be shown that Triple H would inform Breeze that after all of his hard work and dedication to a brand he helped build with the incredible character of Tyler Breeze, he would officially be debuting on the main roster as a full-time superstar. The respect shown by all of his peers shows how hard Breeze had worked for that moment while helping the others around him get better.

At this time, everyone knows how the Tyler Breeze run has gone on the main roster. A single run that was never given the light of day, unfortunately. But a perfect matching with Fandango to form the Fashion Police team that became one of the hottest teams when they were a part of SmackDown LIVE. They would get fans to their feet multiple times as it seemed that they would capture tag team gold but would never be given the true chance. “The Fashion Files” became an incredibly entertaining part of WWE’s weekly television and even got its own series on for a few weeks before it seemingly went away. The Fashion Police team found its end in 2018 when Fandango went down with an injury and has yet to return to television. Breeze continued to appear on Live Events and was made a brief return to NXT last December to take on Ricochet for the NXT North American Championship.

This Saturday, Tyler Breeze returns full-time to NXT to take on the Velveteen Dream for the North American Championship. A rivalry created in such short time but already has the most buzz as Breeze looks to claim his NXT spotlight back from the Dream, who says Breeze is just a lesser version of himself. The video put together, narrated by the Velveteen Dream, shows Breeze’s past and why this Saturday truly could be redemption time for Prince Pretty in his return to greatness.

Prince Pretty has made it clear how truly excited he is to step back into an NXT ring, and as fans, we should be as well.

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