Follow TV Tropes


Wrestling / Walter

Go To
Der Ring General.

[Cue Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 step IV]

Walter Hahn (born 20 August 1987) is an Austrian former footballer/soccer player turned professional wrestler and wrestling trainer trained by Michael Kovac, Tatsuhito Takaiwa and Tomohiro Ishii. He's known for his mononymous ring name WALTER, and for being an all-rounder powerhouse with the most devastating chops known to man. He's currently signed to WWE and performs in the Raw brand. He is also the current WWE Intercontinental Champion. He debuted for WWE in early 2019, appearing at the end of NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool after the main event where Pete Dunne retained the WWE UK Title and made his in-ring debut on NXT UK two weeks later.

In January 2022 he returned to America to work in the rebranded NXT, where he was renamed by WWE to Gunther, then called up to the main roster via the SmackDown brand.

Among his accolades, he's a 1x and longest-reigning WWE Intercontinental Championnote , 1x and longest-reigning WWE/NXT United Kingdom Championnote , 1x Defiant Internet Champion, 1x EWP Tag Team Champion (with Michael Kovac), 1x GSW Tag Team Champion (with Robert Dreissker), 1x OTT Champion, 2x PROGRESS Atlas Champion, 1x PROGRESS World Champion, 1x PWF North-European Champion, 1x PWG World Champion, 3x wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion, 3x wXw World Tag Team Champion (1x with Robert Dreissker, 1x Zack Sabre Jr., and 1x Timothy Thatcher), and win Fight Club: PRO's Infinity Trophy, wXw's World Tag Team Tournament (with Zack Sabre Jr.), World Tag Team League (with Timothy Thatcher) and 2010's 16 Carat Gold Tournament, and was ranked at #77 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2018. Broadly accepted as WWE's best Intercontinental Champion of all time, even without recency bias, Der Ring General is a five-star match machine considered by many to be one of the greatest wrestlers of the modern era.

Der Ring Tropen

  • Acrofatic: Downplayed - WALTER's not as much 'fat' as 'bulky' - but still too obviously large and hulking for his occasional front dropkicks and top rope splashes to be anything less than terrifying. Just before coming to WWE's main roster, he's slimmed down, but hasn't lost any of his strength.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Travis Banks in PROGRESS Wrestling. WALTER really wants that belt. He finally got it at Chapter 74.
    • David Starr in Defiant Wrestling.
    • In NXT UK, it's Ilja Dragunov, with whom he's had a rivalry stretching over a year and a half. Ilja was the first person to pin him after a long undefeated streak on NXT UK's weekly programming. Their first match over the UK Championship is considered by many to be the stiffest and most brutal non-stipulation match to take place under WWE's watch in decades, if not ever.
    • In SmackDown, it's Sheamus. After becoming no.1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship, Sheamus would fight for the title as the final accolade missing to complete his Hall of Fame career, but at the same time Gunther reigned as champion with intent to catapult his career in America by restoring the title's prestige. Sheamus' Brawling Brutes and Gunther's reconstituted Imperium would often fight around the two titans, but whenever Sheamus and Gunther actually did come to blows things became violent in a hurry. With Gunther barely able to punish Sheamus enough to keep the IC title on numerous occasions and Imperium costing the Brutes a shot at the Tag Team Championship, it is clear this is more than a two-month skirmish.
  • Badass Longcoat:
    • A black one with the Ringkampf logo on it that looks like an old fashioned army jacket, since Ringkampf debuted as a team in Progress.
    • In NXT UK, since Ringkampf is nowhere to be seen (and when it did appear, it had its Serial Numbers Filed Off) and WWE usually sweeps away any indie reference from its wrestlers, it's instead a greatcoat resembling the one worn by Napoleon Bonaparte. (In fairness, considering how many tasteless Nazi references WWE has made by accident while promoting him, losing or toning down a mostly intentional one is probably wise.)
  • Bookends: His run with the Defiant Internet Championship starts with him defeating two departing wrestlers (Travis Banks -to WWE- and Zack Sabre Jr. -due to schedule conflicts with New Japan-) and ends with him being the departing one (to WWE), losing it at the hands of Martin Kirby.
  • Boring, but Practical: The deceptive simplicity of WALTER's moveset features classic era standards such as suplexes, dropkicks, powerbombs, and - of course - those ungodly chops. He's absolutely no less terrifying for it, for two simple reasons: the moves work, and it's WALTER using them.
  • Broad Strokes:
    • His duels against David Starr in Defiant Wrestling reference the fact that Starr was NEVER able to beat him at wXw.
    • While the stable itself never made it to Defiant,note  his entrance graphics still references his Power Stable in wXw, Ringkampf.
  • Catchphrase: "Die Matte ist heilig."note 
  • The Comically Serious: He's a beefy, mostly humorless guy who rarely talks, so he's the perfect straight man to whenever a promotion decides to do comedy nonsense around him.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: A criticism of his fighting style is that he relies a lot on those painful chops. He gets a pass because those chops really hurt.
  • Cultured Badass: Usually comes out to the fourth movement of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9. This extends to his teammates from Ringkampf.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: At NXT TakeOver: New York he defeated and ended Pete Dunne's 685 days long reign as WWE United Kingdom Champion.
  • Dirty Coward: Averted. Champion or not, WALTER/Gunther does not hide behind, nor need help from, his Imperium stablemates to win because to him, "the mat is sacred".
  • The Dreaded: Very, very few members of any roster are willing to fight WALTER.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Won his rematch with Dunne off of interference from Fabian Aichner distracting the ref so Marcel Barthel could clock Dunne with the title belt.
  • Finishing Move: A sleeper hold called "Gojira Clutch", a lariat, a powerbomb, and a pumphandle version called the "Golden Bomb". When both of these reliable old soldiers failed to put away Pete Dunne at NXT TakeOver: New York, WALTER improvised a new finishing sequence on the spot: a top rope jackknife powerbomb transitioned into the most terrifying frog splash ever witnessed by man. However, as many commenters have noted, the thing about WALTER that makes him so terrifying is that due to his stiff wrestling style every move he makes is a potential finisher, especially those chops of his.
    • In the first week of December 2022, he added an Emerald Flowsion to his arsenal, which he calls the "Last Symphony", by defeating Kofi Kingston with it after the latter was able to kick out of his Powerbomb. He rarely uses the Last Symphony, however, so it is like a "Break Glass in Case of Emergency" finisher for him if his opponent was able to survive most of his commonly used finishers.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: In his first time on SmackDown when debuting as GUNTHER, he and Kaiser wore patches of their respective nations on their wrestling gears (GUNTHER using Austrian Flag and Ludwig Kaiser the German Flag). And making promos about how the Americans didn't respect Wrestling. This would be subverted when they started feuding against Sheamus and the Brawling Brutes and its culmination at Clash At The Castle. The reunion with Giovanni Vinci would see them return to their old black and white attire, dropping the Foreign Heel Gimmick and reforming IMPERIUM. Though occasionally wearing red gear but without the Foreign stigma.
  • Formerly Fat: Not only has he slimmed down from his younger years to his signing with WWE to perform on the NXT UK - his move over to the US and rebrand to GUNTHER also brought with it a significant weight loss, to the point where WALTER in NXT-UK and GUNTHER on WWE's main roster almost look like two different people.
  • Hero Killer: As noted under the Wrestling Monster entry below, GUNTHER is an unstoppable super-behemoth whose preferred method of proving such is to destroy big-name opponents rather than making an example out of jobbers. Under his old WALTER moniker, he ended the UK Championship reign of beloved British pro wrestling hero Pete Dunne as his very first major statement as a WWE wrestler, going on to obliterate other sentimental favorites like Tyler Bate and Tommaso Ciampa in the course of a historically-long title run. After his main roster repackaging, he once again immediately made his mark by turning permanent plucky babyface and then-Intercontinental Champion Ricochet into a smear on the mat, then made yet another historically-long title reign out of the carcasses of the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Sheamus, and Drew McIntyre, all multi-time world champions in some company or another. GUNTHER is considered one of the final bosses of the sacred mat for a reason: when he meets your heroes, he will make them kneel.
  • Hidden Eyes: In an absurdly rare Real Life example, the prominent shape of WALTER's brow coupled with the overhead lighting of the average wrestling ring mean that the man rarely cuts a promo where his eyes aren't obscured by black, unfeeling shadow. He tends to scowl a lot, which adds to the effect.
  • Hot Potato: The PROGRESS Atlas Championship feud with Matt Riddle: WALTER won it at Chapter 51: Screaming For Progress, then lost it in a NYC house show before recapturing it at Chapter 55: Chase The Sun only to vacate it later.
  • I Have Many Names: "Big Daddy Walter", "Big van Walter", "Man Mountain Walter", "Pater Walter", "Ring Kaiser Walter", "Gha-cha-ping", "Gunther".
  • Insistent Terminology: He is Gunther, the Intercontinental HEAVYWEIGHT Champion! Or the holder of the Intercontinental HEAVYWEIGHT Championship!
  • The Juggernaut: Since arriving on the main roster as GUNTHER. While he's technically lost matches - typically multi-man affairs where one of his stablemates has been pinned and his Intercontinental Title defense against Chad Gable via count out but retaining due to titles not changing hands through that - the number of times he himself has been pinned or submitted can be counted on less than one hand.
  • Large Ham: Ever since coming to the United States properly and beginning his main roster and IC Title runs, Gunther has begun cutting more and more of his own promos. His accent, florid vocabulary, and booming, resonant voice make him come across quite strongly (and quite appropriately) like a bombastic Imperial German general.
  • Lean and Mean: Has done tremendous work in the gym to get himself into traditional fighting shape since moving to America and becoming GUNTHER. And yes, he's still too obviously large and hulking for his occasional front dropkicks and top rope splashes to be anything less than terrifying.
  • Like Cannot Cut Like: He can dish chops like candies, but other wrestler's chops barely move him at best. The only exception to this so far has been Drew McIntyre, who responded to the Ring General's typical artillery battery of chops at WrestleMania 39 by returning them at double power.
  • Made of Iron: Can shrug off chops like they're nothing.
  • Meaningful Name: "Walter" comes from an old Germanic name meaning "ruler of the army", fitting his Ring General gimmick much more than it sounds like. The fact that it’s his real first name is just icing on the cake.
  • Meaningful Rename: When WWE started renaming NXT guys away from their indie names in January 2022, WALTER became GUNTHER and announced in a video that it was time to let go of the past, create his own name, and lead Imperium into the future. He then proceeded to get into monster shape, got called up to SmackDown three months later, and started tearing up fools on the way to the Intercontinental title. While "Gunther" itself is primarily known as the name of the semi-legendary 5th-century Burgundian king from the Nibelungenlied saga, the original trademark, "Gunther Stark", roughly translates to "strong warrior", and is also the name of a World War 2 Nazi German submarine commander. The idea was obviously to carry over the powerful militaristic roots of WALTER and make it more imperial in tone, to reflect that the General isn't holding back anymore.
  • The Mentor: Towards RAFA and Tim Wiese.
  • Moving the Goalposts: A consequence of external actions: WALTER was set to take part on the vacated Defiant Internet Title three-way at Defiant Lights Out alongside Travis Banksnote  and David Starrnote , however, due to an injury on Banks's side, the match was turned into a #1 Contendership match... which WALTER won. Then at the Road to No Regrets his match against Banks ended up in a draw, needing a rematch at Defiant No Regrets... which ended up being a three-way which also had Zack Sabre Jr., who had to vacate the title before WALTER's arrival due to scheduling conflicts with New Japan Pro-Wrestling. So, with both Banks and ZSJ leaving the promotion, the way was finally cleared for WALTER to become Defiant Internet Champion.
  • Passing the Torch: Was on both ends of this during his time as Defiant Wrestling's Internet Champion. The first was a triple threat involving him, then champion Travis Banks (who was departing to WWE) and previous champion Zack Sabre Jr. (who had to relinquish it several months earlier due to his commitments to NJPW) who competed under the rematch clause. At the end of his run, he was the departing one to WWE, and lost the Title at the hands of Martin Kirby.
  • Power Stable:
    • Catch Hoolz, with Terry Frazier, Sha Samuels, Jon Ryan, Sami Callihan and Tatsuhito Takaiwa.
    • Mind, with Adam Polak, Tommy End, Michael Dante and Karsten Beck.
    • Schadenfreude, with CCK,note  Aussie Open,note  Lucky Kid and Timothy Thatcher.
    • Imperium, with Fabian Aichner/Giovanni Vinci, Marcel Barthel/Ludwig Kaiser, and Alexander Wolfe.note 
  • Power Trio:
    • Ringkampf, with Axel Dieter Jr. and Timothy Thatcher.
    • Imperium, with Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel, who are respectively renamed Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser. Alexander Wolfe was kicked out of the group in 2021.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: His entrance theme is the fourth step of Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World".
  • The Quiet One: He barely speaks a word, preferring instead to let his ring work speak for him. Best exemplified in a promo with Colt Cabana for Rings of Europe's November Classic event, where Colt speaks most of it while WALTER has only two lines: "I have to say something, right?" and "I know". Colt finishes it saying "You are a promo god". It goes to the point that when WALTER pronounced his first words on NXT UK, by shouting "PETER!" when Pete Dunne was about to leave the contract signing for their WWE UK Championship match, there was a noticeable shocked gasp heard across the audience.
  • Red Baron: "Der Bulle aus Wien"note , "Der Ring General"note .
  • Reverse Arm-Fold: WALTER takes this pose to look intimidating to his opponents, looking down on them.
  • Serious Business: Becoming the PROGRESS World Champion is this for him, so much so that when Banks stated that WALTER would not be allowed another title shot as long as he was the Atlas Champion, WALTER instantly stepped down as champion.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of his ring names was "Big Van Walter", after another powerhouse noted for his stiff moves.
    • One of his nicknames was "Otto Wanz Jr." after Otto Wanz, the former AWA World Heavyweight Champion considered one of the most famous Austrian wrestlers ever.
    • His new ring name in 2022 would have been "Gunther Stark", after the Nazi U-boat commander, before WWE dropped the last name due to controversy surrounding the name.
  • Signature Move: The Chop. The most painful one you'll ever hear.
  • The Stoic: As described by OTT Wrestling Commentator Don Marnell:
    Don Marnell: When we saw Minoru Suzuki, we talked about him being sadistic, enjoying inflicting punishment. When I see WALTER inflict punishment on his opponent, it's almost like he feels nothing.
  • Tag Team:
    • AUTsiders with Robert Dreissker.
    • Die Bomber with Spalter.
    • ZackDaddy with Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Wrestling Monster: And unlike older monsters, he's usually been fed mid-carders and main eventers.
  • Worthy Opponent: Ever since winning the Intercontinental Championship, he's since respected any contender who tried but failed to take the title from him, which also helps that he is a fighting champion despite being a heel.

Alternative Title(s): Gunther