Gunther might be one of the biggest stars in WWE today, but that wasn’t always his goal.
The Austrian star is the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion in history and his hard-hitting style has endeared him to fans across the world. Interestingly, Gunther has done this by remaining close to his wrestling roots, steering clear of becoming an over-the-top character often favoured by WWE — although his character is ‘dialed up to eleven.’
Speaking to Chris Van Vliet, the star reflected on his almost 14 years on the independent scene, explaining that the wrestling scene in Europe wasn’t what it would become in recent years.
“Yeah, always, I was sure. 2005, I had my first training, right. Then a few years in, the wrestling scene in Europe, especially the German speaking countries was so small. Nobody gave a dang about it. It wasn’t on free TV, like in general, you get looked at weird when you watch wrestling. Most people didn’t know what’s going on, like it was not a topic in the mainstream entertainment world.
All of that was so far away, even like ten years ago, somebody from England — I think Sheamus and Drew [McIntyre] and Stu were one of the first exceptions for Europeans to go there and actually make it or be somebody, or Cesaro. Then, for a long time, there was nothing and it was just something that’s not realistic, so don’t aim for it.”
Gunther Was Focused On Promotion Outside Of WWE
Gunther admitted that he never really focused on a career in WWE, instead, dreaming of a run with All Japan.
“My goal was always I want to make a living off of being a professional wrestler. That was always my goal. I want to make this my profession because I know some about it now, I have a passion for it, and I don’t want to work a job that bores the hell out of me. I always wanted to make it a profession. When I achieved that, that was already something unheard of. When I became a full time wrestler, I had to be self-employed basically. To every agency or every government body I had to go for, whatever it was pension or health insurance and all of that stuff, I got looked at like an alien.
I think at that time, I was the only person in Germany that was a wrestler by profession. That was already a big step and then everything else just fell into place over the time. The indies changed big time, it was before COVID, there was such a big boom in the indie scene in England especially, but all in the states as well.
WWE decided to open the doors to the independent wrestling world and also to Europe so that brought up a lot more possibilities obviously. It was never my big dream to go there, I think I was more passionate to wrestle for All Japan at some point as like a big dream then being with WWE.”
Gunther will be back in action at Survivor Series when he puts the Intercontinental Title on the line against The Miz.
H/t to Fightful