Bull Dempsey was one of the up-and-coming stars of early NXT and seemed to have a bright future in the WWE. Being one of the biggest men in the promotion he wowed fans with his power and strength while also showing incredible agility for a man his size.
His most memorable moments in WWE came during his rivalry with Baron Corbin. At the start of both their careers they engaged in a competition of “who could squash jobbers the fastest”. They regularly defeated their opponents in seconds, with the fans counting along with each passing second until victory.
Bull Dempsey later had some great matches in WWE, facing future stars like Hideo Itami (NJPW’s Kenta), Tyler Breeze, Elias and Baron Corbin in fights that showed his potential. However he ultimately failed to reach it, being released from the promotion despite a new and entertaining “Bull-Fit” gimmick, where the WWE star tried to get fit and lose weight.
WWE released Bull Dempsey from his contract in February 2016, alongside 4 other NXT stars, and exited WWE for good. He wrestled on the independent scene under the name Bull James and even made a brief Ring of Honor appearance. However, his career soon fizzled out and he made very little impact on the wrestling world.
Bull Dempsey Didn’t Know Why He Was Released By WWE
Despite being featured in NXT for years, Bull Dempsey was released unceremoniously in 2016 but was shocking never given a reason for his firing. His career in WWE had been tapering off in the months leading to his release and it was looking increasingly unlikely that he would ever make it to the main roster under Vince McMahon.
Speaking to The Wrestling Inc. Daily, the former NXT star revealed he was “never given a reason” for his release from WWE, blaming the “higher ups” for the decision. Despite being a big man in the ring (which was rare at the time in NXT, he was fired from the company in 2016.
Bull Dempsey had this to say when asked why he was released by WWE in February 2016;
“I was never given a reason so I can’t answer that,” stated James. “That’s a question for the higher ups in WWE. For whatever it was, the decision was made and there was no ill-will as I left on the best of terms. I think as long as there’s a need for pro wrestlers, then I’ll have a shot at going back. Sometimes, it’s just timing.”
Whilst he made the gimmick his own, the former “Bull-Fit” was actually offered another gimmick which has since been used by one of WWE’s most promising young stars.
He Rejected The Name Later Used By Pete Dunne In WWE
While Bull Dempsey was a name that became synonymous with early NXT, it was not always the name he thought he would be wrestling as. The former NXT star revealed on the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast that he was originally pitched the name Butch to use in WWE, with former NXT trainer Bill DeMott suggesting the name for him.
Dempsey also noted that the name would later be used by Pete Dunne, the English WWE star who impressed in NXT before moving up the main roster alongside Sheamus and Ridge Holland as The Brawling Brutes. He did say that, while it was funny The Bruiserweight was given the name eventually, Pete Dunne would not be held back with the name due how talented he is as a WWE superstar.
“There’s all this uproar about Pete Dunne being Butch. Butch was one of the names I put on my list, thinking, ‘Oh, they’ll never use this,’ but not realizing that Bill DeMott’s nickname for his son was Butch, so he loved it. He kept trying to get me, like, ‘Oh, I think you should be Butch.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t wanna be Butch! Please don’t make me Butch.’
“It’s funny that Pete has it now. He’s so talented, man, that a name is not gonna hold him back. He’s awesome.”
There have been rumours of Pete Dunne returning to his previous gimmick now that Triple H has taken over as the head of creative in WWE. Meanwhile, Bull Dempsey remains out of the WWE and is unlikely to be signed by the WWE.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.