Former NXT UK Champion Gunther explained why he’s leaving his previous identity of WALTER behind.
WWE recently sparked controversy when the record-setting former NXT UK Champion announced that he would no longer be going by WALTER, the name he made famous around the world, and would instead be calling himself Gunther going forward in NXT 2.0. The announcement came after he defeated Roderick Strong in the main event of the show.
Prior to the Austrian’s announcement, it was reported that WWE had filed a trademark for the name Gunther Stark, which drew criticism after people began Googling the name and found that it was the name of a U-boat commander who fought for the Nazis in World War II. WWE has reportedly abandoned the trademark for the full name and the NXT 2.0 star will be simply going by Gunther moving forward.
While the decision to abandon the star’s former identity has not been a popular one with fans and even drew criticism from former NXT Champion Keith Lee, WWE veterans such as Booker T and Shane “Hurricane” Helms believe the outrage is overblown and that the Austrian behemoth will be just fine.
On the latest episode of NXT 2.0, the former WALTER gave an explanation as to why he would abandon the identity that made him famous around the world. Appearing with the current NXT Tag Team Champions in a backstage vignette, Gunther declared that while he was proud of his former name and that it was part of his legacy, it was now time to move forward and forage a new beginning for Imperium.
Our name stands for dominance, our name stands for pride, our name stands for… success. The same goes for my name. The name I’m known as all over the world, the name my parents gave me in honor of our family patriarch, my grandfather, the man who introduced me to this great sport.
But now it’s time to leave the past behind and guide Imperium into the future, standing on my own two feet, with my own identity. It is time, it’s the dawn of a new time for Imperium. We’re closing the door to the past and opening the door to a whole new future, a whole new age.
It’s going to be a future led by this man, a man who will spread pain and fear throughout the entire WWE, GUNTHER.
This new era begins with Imperium already reigning as NXT Tag Team Champions, having defeated MSK at Halloween Havoc to capture the titles. Later on in the show, Malcolm Bivens mocked Gunther’s name and called out Imperium, challenging them to a trios match against Diamond Mine on next week’s episode of NXT.