Gunther is now part of WWE’s SmackDown roster after a whirlwind past six months, which saw him jump from the company’s NXT UK brand to NXT 2.0 before he was called up to the main roster. Gunther says his climb up the WWE ladder came down to a personal choice to relax his previous stance that he would not move to the United States.

“The thought that I might have to take the step at some point [and it] was in the back of my mind,” Gunther told Sport1 in Germany. “I really, really liked living in Germany, but then I thought it was time to make the leap. It is the prerequisite for being able to be at the top here. You have to be able to be on the road every weekend for WWE and you can only do that if you’re based here. So I was faced with the question: Do I want to stand still or stake everything on one card and take the risk? I have now done that.”

Gunther made his SmackDown debut alongside Ludwig Kaiser (formerly known as Marcel Barthel) earlier this month. But the third member of their Imperium stable – Fabian Aichner – was left behind in NXT.

“Fabian Aichner [is] there for the time being and that’s a pity, of course,” Gunther said. “Fabian has very good qualities as a wrestler, is a fantastic athlete. But things can always change and Marcel and I both strongly believe in it.”

Marcel Barthel underwent his name change to Ludwig Kaiser when he was called up to SmackDown. Gunther got his ring name while he was still in NXT. The switch from his longtime ring name, Walter, was jarring for many fans who have followed his career since before he signed with WWE.

“I can say for myself that I’m satisfied with my presentation and that it’s not wrong that things are changed and that I have to leave my comfort zone a bit,” Gunther explained. “Change is often seen negatively at first, but in the end, it’s simply part of life. There’s this dictum: ‘Anyone who thinks they’re already something won’t become anything anymore.’ That’s it. On the other hand, I still think that I didn’t have to change in a way that doesn’t suit me.”

h/t to Sport1 for the translation and transcription.

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