By now, the news is out. While it has yet to be confirmed by either the WWE or the man himself, Austrian international indie superstar WALTER has reportedly signed his contract with the WWE. All accounts point to the fact that WALTER will most likely be a part of the January announced class, that is rumored to also feature Shane Strickland, Trevor Lee, and Silas Young. Arguably the breakout wrestler of the year, WALTER had a stellar 2017, but this year emerged as the World Champion for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), PROGRESS Wrestling, and Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling in Ireland. And now it appears he is heading to NXT in January. The real question though will be which one?
While many fans will argue that WALTER is already primed for the main roster and that a man of his size is exactly the kind of behemoth that Vince McMahon loves to push and that NXT would be a waste for him. And while that may be true, the reason why WALTER will not be heading to the main roster anytime soon (and perhaps ever), is because WALTER simply has no desire to. “I don’t know if I mentioned this but being a part of the Raw or SmackDown roster is nothing I am interested in,” WALTER told the Daily Mirror UK in September of this year. “I don’t want to live in the US. I really like NXT though, I think it’s a great product, filled with the best talent in the world and is focused on competition in the ring, which is something I enjoy.”
And WALTER may become one of the first major crossover stars to work NXT in the US, NXT UK, and become the anchor for a rumored NXT Germany. WALTER has spent the last decade living in Germany since he became a regular performer for Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw). He’s started wrestling in the early 2000s, working Austrian, Swiss and other German indies, even debuting with wXw in 2007. In the past 10 years a full-time performer for wXw, he’s a 3x wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion and 3x wXw World Tag Team Champion. He’s also the head trainer for the wXw Academy, the company’s wrestling school. It’s the same school that recently hosted the WWE for their Germany tryouts. With wXw’s recent announcement of their alliance with the WWE – essentially becoming for the WWE in Germany that PROGRESS is in England, Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) is in Scotland, and EVOLVE is in the United States – and Triple H’s announcement earlier this year to create WWE Performance Centers around the world with their NXT brand, it’s not unlikely to think that WALTER could very well have a hand in the NXT Germany training facility, or even for the NXT UK one.
With the restrictions of the NXT contracts, it’s safe to assume that the days of seeing WALTER in PWG, NJPW, Ring of Honor, or RevPro UK are behind him. But WALTER’s two most worked promotions – wXw and PROGRESS – are both still WWE affiliates, so he could continue to work for them. And WALTER is also a part of EVOLVE. With WALTER’s desire to remain living in Germany, he only likes short jaunts to the US anyway. He only came over to the United States seven times last year for short tours – outside of WrestleMania week, those trips usually only resulted in three matches on average a trip. Most of WALTER’s matches take place in Europe, which thanks to the NXT deal, will mostly still be able to continue.
Interestingly enough, WALTER would mark the third member of the legendary wXw stable Ringkampf to sign with the WWE, following Axel “Axe-Man” Tischer (now Alexander Wolfe in SaNitY) and Axel Dieter Jr. (now Marcel Barthel on NXT and NXT UK). Barthel has been running a similar faction at NXT Live Events, followed by new EVOLVE Champion Fabian Aichner (another former wXw wrestler). Tischer and Dieter Jr. had a reunion with WALTER (and Timothy Thatcher) last December. And Dieter Jr. will be returning again next month to take part in a match alongside them as well.