Ronnie William Arneill (born February 19, 1981) is a Canadian professional wrestler best known for his time in WWE under the ring name Tye Dillinger. He is currently signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) under the name Shawn Spears.
Dillinger in 2012
|Birth name||Ronnie William Arneill|
|Born||February 19, 1981|
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Gavin Spears|
|Billed height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Billed weight||223 lb (101 kg)|
|Billed from||Niagara Falls|
|Trained by||Cody Deaner|
Having begun his career on the independent circuit as Shawn Spears, Arneill initially joined WWE in 2006 and worked for the company between 2006 and 2009, performing in the developmental territories Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) and Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) as well as briefly on the main roster brand ECW under the slightly modified ring name Gavin Spears. After being released from WWE in 2009, he returned to the independent scene, before rejoining WWE in 2013 where he was assigned to NXT under the new gimmick of Tye Dillinger. After a rise in popularity, Dillinger was promoted to the main roster in 2017, working on the SmackDown brand until his release in 2019.
Shortly after leaving WWE, he signed with the newly founded promotion All Elite Wrestling. He debuted at their first show AEW Double or Nothing and shortly after established himself as a heel by attacking Cody Rhodes with an unprotected hit to the head with a steel chair.
Born and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, Arneill attended Laura Secord Secondary School. He played hockey for over ten years until he decided to leave the sport and enter professional wrestling. During his childhood, he was a fan of Rick Rude, Rick Martel, and Mr. Perfect.
Professional wrestling career
Early career (2002–2006)
Arneill trained at the Hart Wrestling School in Cambridge Ontario with Smith Hart, Ike Shaw and Waldo Von Erich and then with Eric Young at the WrestlePlex school before receiving further training from Derek Wylde and Cody Deaner. Upon wrestling his debut match in March 2002 as Shawn Spears, he began wrestling for some of the biggest independent wrestling promotions throughout Ontario and the United States, including Border City Wrestling, World Xtreme Wrestling, and Blood Sweat and Ears. On February 27, 2005, Arneill made an appearance on an edition of WWE Heat, unsuccessfully teaming with Mikael Yamaha to face The Hurricane and Rosey.
After sending a tape to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) officials, Arneill was called for a try-out in Buffalo, New York. He was signed to a developmental contract by WWE following the tryout, on January 21, 2006. He made a cameo appearance at Cyber Sunday as an employee called "Stan", who gets superkicked by Shawn Michaels of D-Generation X when Michaels is told that he doesn't understand the meaning of the word "controversial".
World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE
Developmental territories (2006–2008)
After signing his WWE contract, Arneill was assigned to the company's developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). He made his OVW television debut as "The Canadian Sensation" Shawn Spears, where he defeated then-SmackDown! superstar Simon Dean. After his victory, Dean attacked Spears until Spears was saved by Al Snow, who fended off Dean with a chair. After his debut, Spears quickly made an impact in OVW with a short undefeated streak that was soon ended by Aaron "The Idol" Stevens when Stevens made Spears submit. After this, Spears formed a tag team with Cody Runnels and they feuded with The Throwbacks for the Southern Tag Team Championship. On December 15, 2006, Spears and Runnels won the title from The Throwbacks.
On March 17, 2007, Spears won the Television Championship from Boris Alexiev, his first singles title in OVW. Soon after winning the title, he became more focused on championships and even began trying to steal Runnels' Heavyweight Championship opportunity. During Runnels' Heavyweight Title match, Spears interfered and performed a piledriver to Runnels, preventing him from winning the Heavyweight Championship and thus solidifying his heel turn. Spears then began feuding with Runnels and eventually lost the Television Championship to him on July 6, 2007 before winning it back one week later. He once again lost the title on September 19 to the debuting Ted "Manbeast" McNailer. Spears later regained the Television Title, only to lose it to Colt Cabana. Spears then began feuding with Cabana and the pair would go on to win the vacant Tag Team Title with on November 7 after defeating Paul Burchill and Stu Sanders. On December 19, Cabana and Spears' feud culminated in a ladder match in which the winner would claim the Tag Team titles for themselves and choose a new partner. Spears lost to Cabana, who then chose Charles "The Hammer" Evans as his new tag team partner.
After OVW split with WWE, Spears debuted in WWE's new development territory, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), and teamed up with Nic Nemeth to defeat The Puerto Rican Nightmares for the Florida Tag Team Championship on August 17. Nearly a month later, Nemeth and Spears lost the title to Joe Hennig and Heath Miller on September 11.
On the August 19 episode of ECW, Spears made his WWE television debut as a heel under the name Gavin Spears as part of Theodore Long's "New Superstar Initiative" in a losing effort to Ricky Ortiz. After his ECW debut, Spears began splitting time between ECW and FCW. On the September 2 edition of ECW, Spears was defeated by Super Crazy. After a three-month absence due to competing in FCW, Spears returned to television on the December 16 episode of ECW, where he lost to Finlay in what turned out to be his final match for the company. On January 19, 2009, Arneill was released from his contract.
Independent circuit (2009–2013)
The day before he had been released from WWE, Arneill had broken his hand, and was unable to wrestle for 12 weeks following his release as a result. On May 27, 2009, Spears wrestled and lost to fellow WWE alumnus Elijah Burke in a tryout dark match for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling at their Impact! television tapings.
On May 16, 2010, Arneill, under his Gavin Spears ring name, teamed up with El Hijo de L.A. Park in a losing effort to Dr. Wagner III and Gigante Extassis on an Extreme Air Wrestle show in Mexico, marking his first tour of Mexico. On May 28 and 29, Arneill made appearances at the 2010 Anime North convention.
In 2013, Arneill wrestled at a Ring of Honor show on June 12, where he defeated Alex Payne. On August 15, he teamed up with Idol Stevens to capture the WWC World Tag Team Championship after defeating Thunder and Lightning. On October 31, Spears and Stevens lost the World Tag Team Title back to Thunder and Lightning.
Return to WWE
On September 15, 2013, it was reported that Spears had re-signed with WWE, and he was assigned to WWE's developmental territory NXT under the ring name Tye Dillinger. He made his televised NXT debut in a losing effort against Mojo Rawley. In early 2014, Dillinger formed a tag team with Jason Jordan, with the two described as a pair of blue chip athletes. The team of Dillinger and Jordan got their first televised win on the April 17 episode of NXT, defeating Baron Corbin and Sawyer Fulton. On the June 5 episode of NXT, Dillinger and Jordan defeated local competitors. On the August 7 episode of NXT, Dillinger and Jordan lost in the first round of a NXT Tag Team Championship tournament to Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. Dillinger and Jordan then appeared infrequently together, with Dillinger mostly being used as enhancement talent. On the February 25, 2015 episode of NXT, Dillinger's partnership with Jordan officially ended when Jordan unhappy with his partner not initially tagging him in, jumped off the apron and walked out on Dillinger just as he went to make the tag. After the match, an enraged Dillinger called out his old partner but instead was met with a quick loss to Baron Corbin.
On the August 12 episode of NXT, Dillinger debuted a new gimmick as the "Perfect 10" and defeated Solomon Crowe. At NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, Dillinger faced the debuting Apollo Crews in a losing effort. On the April 27, 2016 episode of NXT, he defeated Buddy Murphy. He faced the debuting Andrade "Cien" Almas at NXT TakeOver: The End, where Dillinger was defeated, although he received praise for his performance.
On the September 28 episode of NXT, after defeating Angelo Dawkins, Dillinger was approached by Bobby Roode, who proposed the two team up for the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which Dillinger accepted. The following week, Dillinger and Roode took on SAnitY (Alexander Wolfe and Sawyer Fulton). During the match, Roode walked out on Dillinger, resulting in the team losing in the first round. The following week on October 19, Dillinger called out Roode for a match at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, which Roode won. On the December 14 episode of NXT, Dillinger defeated Eric Young by disqualification in a #1 contender Fatal 4-Way qualifying match. At NXT TakeOver: San Antonio, Dillinger was defeated by Young following a distraction from Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain. At NXT TakeOver: Orlando, Dillinger teamed up with Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno and Ruby Riot to take on SAnitY in an 8-person mixed tag team match in a losing effort. Dillinger made his last NXT appearance on the April 5 tapings, closing out the event by winning a Steel Cage match against Eric Young.
On January 29, 2017, at Royal Rumble, Dillinger was a surprise entrant in the Rumble match, entering at number 10 but was eliminated by Braun Strowman. On the April 4 episode of SmackDown Live, Dillinger would make his main roster debut, defeating Curt Hawkins. Dillinger would enter a short feud with Aiden English, defeating him on various episodes of SmackDown Live, leading to a match at Backlash, where Dillinger once again defeated English to end their feud.
On the July 4 episode of SmackDown Live, Dillinger would compete in an Independence Day Battle Royal to determine the number one contender to the United States Championship, lasting until the final three before being eliminated by Sami Zayn. At Battleground, Dillinger briefly reignited his feud with English, with Dillinger facing him in a losing effort. On the August 29 episode of SmackDown Live, Dillinger would confront and brawl with Baron Corbin, who was about to answer an open challenge set by AJ Styles for the United States Championship. After Dillinger would fight off Corbin, he would take on Styles' challenge in a losing effort. On the September 12 episode of SmackDown Live, Dillinger would get another shot at the title against Styles, once again in a losing effort. After trading victories with Corbin on various episodes of SmackDown Live, both Dillinger and Corbin would challenge Styles for the United States Championship at Hell in a Cell in a triple threat match, where Corbin would win the title. On the December 26 episode of SmackDown Live, Dillinger would compete in a United States Championship tournament, after former champion Dolph Ziggler vacated the title the week before, where Dillinger would be defeated by Jinder Mahal in the first round.
At Royal Rumble, Dillinger was to be the number 10 entrant in the Men's Rumble match but was attacked backstage by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, with Zayn taking his spot. At Fastlane, Dillinger would team with Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze), defeating the team of Chad Gable, Shelton Benjamin and Mojo Rawley. At WrestleMania 34, Dillinger would compete in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, where he was eliminated by Matt Hardy. In his final PPV appearance, Dillinger competed in the Greatest Royal Rumble, where he entered at number 42, but was eliminated by Braun Strowman. On the July 10 episode of SmackDown Live, Dillinger was scheduled to face Samoa Joe, however, Joe attacked him after the match, this led to the next week Dillinger to challenge Joe in a losing effort. At a WWE live event on August 13, Dillinger was seemingly injured in a match with Shelton Benjamin. The referee called for the end of the match, giving Benjamin the win via count out. Dillinger was promptly escorted backstage by officials. Dillinger returned on the September 25 episode of SmackDown Live, challenging Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE United States Championship; however, he was attacked during the match by Randy Orton, in what was Dillinger's last televised match with the company.
Dillinger suffered a hand injury in October 2018 which kept him out of action for several months. He returned to in-ring competition at a house show on February 9, 2019; however, he was still not used on television. On February 19, 2019, Dillinger announced in a Twitter statement that he had requested his release from WWE and was granted on February 22, 2019.
Independent circuit (2019–present)
After his release from WWE, Arnell reverted to using the ring name, Shawn Spears once again. On March 1, 2019, he announced on Twitter that he will be accepting bookings on the independent circuit starting May 31. On the June 5 episode of Beyond Wrestling's weekly show, Spears debuted for the promotion defeating Orange Cassidy in the main event.
All Elite Wrestling (2019–present)
Arnell, under his previous name of Shawn Spears, debuted for All Elite Wrestling (AEW) at their inaugural pay-per-view event Double or Nothing, competing in the pre-show Casino Battle Royale. He would fail to win, however, as the match was won by Adam Page. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Spears stated he would be appearing with the promotion going forward. His signing would officially be announced on June 12. At Fyter Fest in June, Spears established himself as a heel after hitting Cody with a steel chair shot to the top of the head. The following month at Fight for the Fallen, Spears teamed with MJF and Sammy Guevara to defeat Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc and Joey Janela in a six-man tag team match.
Championship and accomplishments
- Adrenaline Live Wrestling
- ALW Georgian Bay Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- American Combat Wrestling
- ACW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Canadian Independent Wrestling Alliance
- CIWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Florida Championship Wrestling
- Florida Underground Wrestling
- FUW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kenny Kendrick
- Ground Breaking Pro Wrestling
- GBPW Championship (1 time)
- Great Lakes Championship Wrestling
- GLCW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Flexx Falcone
- Neo Spirit Pro Wrestling
- NSPW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with J.T. Playa
- Ohio Valley Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pure Wrestling Association
- PWA Pure Wrestling Championship (1 time)
- Tri-City Wrestling
- TCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Council
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