It was a moment that has been rumored, squashed, and rumored again, but on Saturday night in Blackpool, England, it became an absolute reality. Following a 30 minute plus battle against “The Iron King” Joe Coffey of Gallus, Pete Dunne retained the WWE UK Championship in an absolute classic. But in the dying moments of the first ever NXT UK TakeOver, a new face emerged as the next threat to Dunne’s 600+ day reign as UK Champion – the Austrian brute known the world over simply as WALTER.
Arguably the best wrestler of 2018, the European megastar is a longtime staple of Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) since he debuted with the company in 2007. Originally known as Big Van Walter, it only took him three years to win the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship, a title he’s held on three occasions.
In 2012, WALTER joined forces with fellow Austrian Robert Dreissker (now known as Avalanche) to form The AUTsiders, capturing tag team gold in wXw and German Stampede Wrestling (GSW). In 2015, he would form a short alliance with an emerging UK star named Zack Sabre Jr., capturing wXw tag team titles once again.
In 2016, he would join one of Europe’s most dominant stables of the past few years, Ringkampf, alongside “Ax Man” Axel Tischer (now WWE’s Alexander Wolfe), Axel Dieter Jr. (now NXT’s Marcel Barthel) and Timothy Thatcher. Ringkampf dominated wXw for years, with WALTER and Thatcher capturing the wXw Tag Team titles in 2017.
In 2015, WALTER began to travel outside of Germany with more regularity, making his debut with PROGRESS Wrestling, and the following year he began to work with RevPro again (he’d wrestled previously for the company back in 2012). In 2017, he would begin his conquest in America, working with EVOLVE and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), having match of the year candidates with the likes of Keith Lee and Matt Riddle. By the end of 2017, the world was plenty aware of what WALTER could do.
This past year saw WALTER absolutely explode on the international circuit. He’d been a 2x PROGRESS Atlas Champion in 2017, but in 2018 he would claim the PROGRESS World Championship, a belt he still holds to this day, over 170 days. In April of 2018, he would win the PWG World Championship, and in August, defeated NXT UK’s Jordan Devlin for the Over The Top (OTT) World Championship in Ireland. And 2018 was the year that WALTER rekindled a 10-year rivalry with Pierre Carl Ouellette (PCO) which saw the two have several epic encounters throughout the year, kickstarting PCO’s monstrous comeback year.
With WWE partnering with Germany’s wXw – where WALTER is also head trainer of the wXw Wrestling Academy – WALTER is expected to maintain his European indie presence in wXw, PROGRESS and the like, while now becoming a focal point for NXT UK (and a potential future NXT Germany). If you’ve never seen WALTER in action, you’re in for a treat.