Alex McCarthy of talkSPORT had an opportunity to speak with WALTER of NXT UK and the big Austrian shared his feelings on working with the black and gold brand across the pond and talked about his wrestling journey to get to this point. WALTER also mentioned that he’d be willing to work with WWE in a main roster position, but a move to America may be out of the question for the NXT UK Champion. Quotes are below:
Hi WALTER! The fans in Blackpool relished your debut earlier this year and the atmosphere was electric. Everyone in the arena seemed to know exactly who you are, how was that moment for you?
Wherever I went in my career, fan reactions or whatever, it’s not important. It’s important for me to stay true to who I am and do things the way I believe in. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t, it does not. Luckily, it has worked out most places.
It was the same in Blackpool. The reaction was very positive and I was happy about that. But at the end of it, before I went out, it wasn’t my main concern.
You were a wanted man before turning up in NXT UK, talk to us about how WWE reached out to you?
Yeah, they talked to me and NXT UK had already started when we first got in touch about things. But, in the end, it seemed to be the place that suits my situation privately at the moment as well. And also, it’s a new, exciting project and I care about wrestling in Europe.
Speaking of which, talk to us about your path in wrestling. There’s not a long list of Austrians performing in major promotions so give us a little backstory about your journey?
I’ve had a very different path. The difference is, England have always had some type of scene, we didn’t have that in Austria and later Germany when I moved there. We had to create our own market. You look at Tyler [Bate] – he’s just 22-years-old. I’m 32. When I was 22, I wasn’t even close to being able to do the things that he can do now, or even put on a proper wrestling match.
My training was alright because I had an experienced trainer, but I think in the year after my first match I had seven or eight matches while right now, you’re able to do that in a month. So that says a lot about that. Only when it started to work out in Germany did I get the opportunities to go to England and then America.
Did you move to Germany as the next step in your wrestling career? Was there always a load of travelling early on?
I actually moved to Germany because my wife works in the army and was being moved there, so I had to. It just so happens that worked out because Germany had a better scene than Austria, so I moved to the next level by default. My original training was quite close because I lived in Vienna and the school was there, but for shows you had to go far. For my first show, I debuted in Switzerland and it was a nine-hour drive there and nine hours back. And I went to Japan to train for three months early in my career for different influences and that, so you really have to get out of your own ways to get going.
18 hour round trip for your first match! Was it worth it?!
It was a tag match I remember, with a lot of goofy stuff. But it was fine, everything is exciting at that stage. I don’t regret anything in the business so far, everything I have done has all led to where I am now.
So how was it joining a massive company like WWE and working with the likes of Triple H and Shawn Michaels? Were you a fan of WWE as a kid?
I was a fan in the mid-90s when Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were on top. That was when I followed most as a kid. I had all the cassettes and tapes. Then I kind of missed the attitude era but began to follow again when that was over. It’s actually quite wild when you think back, you wouldn’t think you’d be in the same working environment as those people. But I adapt to situations in life very quick, so I forget about that fact. It’s only when I step back sometimes it’s like ‘oh!’ that’s happening.
Your match with Pete Dunne at NXT TakeOver: New York earlier this year was critically acclaimed. Would it be fair to call that a career moment to date?
I’m not really a ‘career moment’ guy, I never sit at home and think ‘what has been my biggest moment?’ – I must pick one! Sure, it was a highlight. It was ‘Mania week, and it was a TakeOver, of course. But, the match itself, I wanted it to be different. But that’s what I to do in every aspect of wrestling. When somebody does this, I want to do that and go the other way. That’s something that’s always important to me, I don’t want to swim with everyone. I want to do my thing and how I believe in it, and I think Pete [Dunne] had a similar idea for that show on TakeOver in New York.
We wanted it to be that competitive European match and I think it did the job. People liking it at the end was a good add-on, but if they wouldn’t of liked it, I wouldn’t have minded it either. Because what we did was European professional wrestling in this day and age.
Yeah, you two had great chemistry and another man I’d bet you’d have great chemistry with is here today – Cesaro.
Yeah, I bet too. Cesaro is interesting. He started at the place I did in Germany – WXW – but he left for America before I started there. So there would be good background to that. Besides that, I’ve gotten to know him, he’s a great guy and one of the finest professional wrestlers in the company. So if it ever encounters where we could get together i2n the ring, yeah, I would really like to do that.
Without prying too much, you mentioned your private life earlier and being happy with your situation right now, does that mean you’re in no rush to move to America and the main roster?
I would go on the main roster at some point but I wouldn’t move to America. Moving to America is not for me. American lifestyle is not for me. No, I couldn’t imagine that. When it comes to that, I stay where I am.
But, I am able to get on an airplane! [laughs].