A report has stated that Gunther’s main roster debut on SmackDown would have originally seen him completely split from his Imperium teammates.
Appearing on the SmackDown stage on Friday’s show, Ludwig Kaiser, formerly known as Marcel Barthel, announced the arrival of Gunther. After a commercial break, Gunther was in the ring and ready to take his frustration out on Joe Alonzo.
Unfortunately for Alonzo, he was demolished in short order. Gunther flattened his opponent with a series of strikes and a big boot, before finishing the job with a powerbomb.
Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio Dave Meltzer noted his surprise at the debut which saw Gunther accompanied by Ludwig Kaiser as the original plans would have seen Imperium split and The Ring General stand alone on Friday nights:
“It’s interesting that they’re going with them as a tag team and not Gunther as a single, which surprises me greatly especially because the original plan was [for] separate brands.”
It is currently unclear what the future holds for Fabian Aichner, who was the third member of Imperium as he didn’t appear on SmackDown. Aichner was last seen walking out during a tag team match on NXT 2.0 leaving his partner to be demolished by The Creed Brothers.
Meanwhile, Barthel joins an ever-growing list of stars who have undergone name changes in recent months. After debuting in NXT 2.0 Pete Dunne was recently called up to the main roster under the name Butch and former NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez also debuted on the blue brand now known as Raquel Rodriguez.