WALTER, who is currently the Progress World Champion and also wrestles for promotions like Westside Xtreme Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, stopped by the Steve Austin Show recently to open up about how he got into wrestling back in Austria and Germany, on kayfabe and the state of the business today, that legendary match against PCO at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2 during WrestleMania 34 weekend and more.
(Transcription credit to Aditya Rangarajan for Wrestlezone.com)
On how he started training wrestling back home in Europe:
This was in Austria and Germany, running with the tournament system[where wrestlers would wrestle convene and wrestle in tournaments instead of in promotions]. And when that broke down, there was nothing left. There was only a few guys left who just started out when it went out of business.
Because the top guys like Finley, Steve[William] Regal, those guys all came over and the more famous German guys just retired because there was not really much around. Michael Kovac was one of them, and a few others.
He was one of the guys who said ‘I want to keep it [wrestling scene] active somehow and started a training school. I didn’t even know that there were wrestling training schools in Austria, but one time in Vienna, in the city I lived in, there was line on a wall, a sticker that said ‘Wrestling school’.
I was like ‘What? Over here?’. Because I wasn’t aware that there were wrestling schools [ in Austria]. Because back that that time, the only kind of wrestling that existed was WWE. [At least] in my mind, it was that.
And then I just went to the internet and found it and I was like ‘Okay, I’ll just go there’. I just called him, I was like ‘Hello, Mr. Kovac I want to do wrestling training.’
Then I walked in and there was, in a squash room, one wrestling ring just fitted in there. He just took me [in] and taught me the first lesson and I was like ‘Okay, I like it. I’ll come back’.
On working in a way that upholds kayfabe:
The matches in general, I don’t really care about doing that style of a match [spotfests] or that style of moves. My big goal, I prefer to do my matches where people come in and they pay for the ticket, for the three hours and when they watch me, I want them to believe for that time the match takes. As soon as I go through the curtain, I want them to believe into what I do – negative or positive way. Whatever is like my part on that day.
And that is like the most important thing to me. I don’t like stuff where you give the fans the ‘wink’ where it’s like ‘Hey, what’s going on?'[where the wrestler breaks kayfabe to interact with the fans] because wrestling is open nowadays. Everybody knows and everybody can read kind of how it works but I still think it’s easier for us than it ever was.
Because when I came up, the wrestlers were like ‘Oh, we have to be 100% kayfabe’. But everybody already knew it and were like ‘Come on guys…’.
But now it’s open to where we can talk on a podcast about how it works and people come to the shows and are like ‘I’m ready to believe it’ and don’t come with the mindset ‘Let’s see how we can find something to prove it’s not real’.
It’s so easy now, because people want to believe what we do.
About THAT match against PCO during WrestleMania 34 weekend:
Some people joke wise complain [about how hard he chops], but I think they mean it. But I don’t care. Like all the stuff I do to people is safe and easy. I’ll never do anything stupid dangerous or ask anyone to take anything stupid dangerous. So I think, ‘man, you rather take the big slap on the chest and we get the same reaction out of it than some of those crazy [high flying] moves.’
And also the matches you watched with Zack [Sabre Jr.] and PCO – those were matches where beforehand, we were like let’s go. Because Zack – I’ve wrestled him so much over the years – and as you know, when you wrestle a friend [ laughs] you go crazy a little bit.
With PCO, with Carl, the funny thing was I wrestled Carl almost 10 years ago before that Mania match, so I already knew him. He was crazy back then, so I knew what was about to happen. And he was like ‘man WALTER, give me your chops. Let’s go!’
You can see the match between WALTER and PCO at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2 below:
You can also listen to the entire podcast HERE.