The Mighty, Too: Shane Thorne & Brendan Vink Continue TMDK Legacy

On Monday’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, the Australian duo of Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink, managed by MVP, defeated Cedric Alexander & Ricochet in an upset, with the two teams now locked in a feud in Raw’s tag team division. While the duo of Thorne and Vink may be new to many people in the WWE Universe, they’re actually a new tag team incarnation of two members from one of Australia’s greatest wrestling stables, The Mighty Don’t Kneel (TMDK), as Shane Thorne (Shane Haste) and Brendan Vink (Elliot Sexton) continue to unite in the ring. And much like how Mexico’s Los Ingobernables stable has branched out in representation in multiple companies around the world in 2020, now Australia’s TMDK are infiltrating the world as well.

Building The Mighty

Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste

In 2008, Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls united together as a tag team in Explosive Pro Wrestling (EPW), and a year later became EPW Tag Team Champions. Nicholls, the veteran of the duo, was already a 2x EPW Heavyweight Champion, while Haste was a former EPW Heavyweight Champion only five years into his own career. That same year, 2009, Elliot Sexton and Jonah Rock united in Explosive Pro Wrestling-Adelaide (later Wrestle Rampage) as SexRock. The team would disband after a short run, before reuniting in Riot City Wrestling in 2011.

That same year, Haste and Nicholls would adopt the name The Mighty Don’t Kneel and head to Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan, where they would become one of the most exciting new tandems in the GHC Junior Heavyweight division. They would be semi-finalists in the 2012 NOAH Global Tag League and make their Ring of Honor debut, winning the ROH Rise and Prove Tournament to face The Briscoes at ROH Proving Ground 2012.

Photo: NOAH

We Are The Mighty And The Mighty Don’t Kneel

In 2013, TMDK expanded from a tag team to a full on stable, featuring some of the top young stars on the Australian wrestling scene. SexRock – Jonah Rock & Elliot Sexton – joined the duo, as well as 4x (and reigning) EPW Heavyweight Champion Marcius Pitt and former Melbourne Championship Wrestling (MCW) Heavyweight Champion Slex. The new strength in numbers proved immediate dividends – Haste & Nicholls would win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships in NOAH that July, while Jonah Rock and Marcius Pitt would bring home the EPW Tag Team Championships in November. TMDK was taking over the Australasian scene, with Nicholls & Haste named the #1 tag team in Japan by the Japanese media in 2013.

In early 2014, Jonah Rock began to team with Aussie indie veteran Hartley “JAG” Jackson in the South Australian Serial Killers in Wrestle Rampage, capturing the WR Meltdown Tag Team titles, and in the spring of 2015, invaded MCW and won the MCW Tag Team Championships. By June of 2015, Hartley was competing in matches as a member of TMDK. In June of 2014, Jonah Rock won the WR Australian National Championship, holding it for 696-days. Elliot Sexton won his first singles title in August of 2014, becoming WrestleRock Champion, and May of 2015 won the MCW Heavyweight title, holding it for 559-days. In January of 2015, Haste & Nicholls won their second GHC Junior Heavyweight Championships, That November, Marcius Pitt would capture his 5th EPW Heavyweight Championship, as well as capture the MCW Tag Team titles with Slex. TMDK was unstoppable.

A New TMDK and TM-61 Arrives in NXT

Photo: WWE

In 2016, TMDK saw their numbers dwindle for the first time since their formation as a stable in 2013. In March of 2016, WWE confirmed the signing of Mike Nicholls and Shane Haste, leaving the group without its two figureheads. By the summer, MCW Heavyweight Champion Elliot Sexton had departed the group, allying with Dowie James aginst TMDK. In May of 2016, Haste and Nicholls – renamed Shane Thorne and Nick Miller respectively – made their NXT debut, renamed to TM-61 – the TM officially stood for their last names, Thorne/Miller, plus the Australia international dialing code of +61, but many saw it as a tongue in cheek nod to “The Mighty”. By the end of the year, Hartley Jackson had committed to working with Pro Wrestling ZERO1 in Japan (where he’d also been working since 2011), winning his second ZERO1 United National Heavyweight title. In 2018, Hartley would head to Orlando, Florida to become a trainer at the WWE Performance Center, while TM-61, renamed The Mighty in 2018, would win that year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament in NXT.

In Australia, the remaining members – Rock, Pitt, & Slex – needed to regroup. After feuding with TMDK alongside Chris Vice in The Brotherhood throughout 2015 and 2016, Damian Slater would join with TMDK’s Marcius Pitt in the new unit, The Untouchables in November of 2017. Slater had worked for the WWE in 2016 as part of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, where he lost in the first round to Tajiri. The Untouchables would win the EPW Tag Team titles in June of 2018. In February of 2018, the new look TMDK would be major players when New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) headed to Australia for the NJPW Fall Out Tour, feuding with Bullet Club and Suzuki-gun.

Photo: NJPW

Jonah Rock would continue to rise as one of the top Australian indie stars, winning the MCW Heavyweight Championship in August of 2017 and the Pro Wrestling Australia (PWA) Heavyweight title in June of 2018. He would compete in the prestigious Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) Battle of Los Angeles tournament in 2017 and 2018, as well as the 2018 16 Carat Gold tournament in Germany with Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw). In October of 2018, TMDK would add another member in former PWA Heavyweight Champion Mikey Broderick. In December of 2018, Nick Miller would be granted his NXT release, returning to Australia to spend more time with his new family. In February of 2019, he would make his return to Japan, signing with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) under his old moniker of Mikey Nicholls, debuting at last year’s New Japan Cup. He soon joined Kazichika Okada‘s CHAOS faction.

The Mighty American Invasion

Brendan Vink (Middle Front Row) and Bronson Reed (Far Right Front Row), February 2019 WWE Performance Center Class (Photo: WWE)

In February of 2019, Jonah Rock and former TMDK member Elliot Sexton were signed to NXT, where Jonah Rock was renamed to Bronson Reed and Elliot Sexton became Brendan Vink. Bronson Reed made his NXT television debut in June as part of the NXT Breakout Tournament, defeating Dexter Lumis in the first round before being knocked out in the second round by Cameron Grimes (formerly Trevor Lee). That December, Slex signed with Ring of Honor, debuting at ROH Free Enterprise in February of 2020. Shane Thorne spent 2019 repackaged as a singles wrestler, while Brendan Vink spent time on NXT Live Events and with EVOLVE Wrestling – he had a six-match undefeated run after debuting at EVOLVE 141 in December. In early April, EVOLVE teased that had the EVOLVE shows not been canceled in 2020, Vink would have been EVOLVE Champion. In Australia, Slater, Pitt, and Broderick continue to challenge for the PWA Tag Team titles under the TMDK banner, but the stable’s best years are now behind them, barring a major rebuild.

The Mighty, Too?

Photos: WWE

In early 2020, Shane Thorne began to work more tag team events, first alongside fellow TMDK member Bronson Reed and then recently released Dorian Mak (Dan Matha). But in March, he was paired alongside Brendan Vink on the NXT Live Event circuits in Florida, leading to their March 23 debut on Monday Night Raw against Raw Tag Team Champions The Street Profits. They would lose to on Raw to Ricochet & Cedric Alexander on April 20, but their second loss lit a fire under them. Now under the wing of former WWE United States Champion MVP, the duo has evened the series at 1-1, giving the Australian duo their first feud on WWE television. While the original tandem of Thorne & Miller were cursed with multiple lengthy injuries that derailed the bulk of their NXT tenure together, never truly showing the WWE Universe what they were capable of, it appears that Thorne and his reunion with Brendan Vink is off to a good start, proving that they can still be Mighty too.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.