Gunther has gone through a dramatic body transformation over the past year. He estimates he has lost 45-55 pounds. Gunther says no one at WWE pressured him to lose weight, but he felt it was something he had to do to improve his standing in the company.

“It was completely my own initiative,” Gunther told Sport1 in Germany. “For me, it was quite clear — if I want to take the next big step, I have to present more for the general public. Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of old-school Japanese wrestlers who still had a belly and looked like you’d imagine a butcher. Emulating such idols worked for me also because up to now, I’ve been there for the, let’s call it, hardcore wrestling audience.

“In the WWE main roster, however, the conditions are different,” Gunther continued. “You are on a global stage, in the mainstream. From my point of view, you have to present yourself differently. And I prepared well for that in the months leading up to my move to the USA. […] Honestly, no one can tell me that anyone who happens to turn on the TV wouldn’t think I was better and more believable the way I looked before than I do now.”

Gunther’s efforts are paying off. He was called up to WWE’s main roster early last month. He was assigned to the SmackDown brand alongside his longtime Imperium stablemate Marcel Barthel, who received a new ring name, Ludwig Kaiser, to go along with his call-up. Gunther, who underwent his own name change, explained the origin of the new name.

“Marcel has Gustl Kaiser in mind, a legendary and very influential German promoter from the time when his father, Axel Dieter, was still a professional wrestler,” Gunther explained. “Marcel was given a few names to choose from and he chose that one because it sounds good and it embodies history. That suits us.”

h/t to Sport1 for the translation and transcription.

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