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MAULING IT OVER - April 8, 2023: The Rise of Gunther

After what we've seen from Gunther during his outstanding Intercontinental Title reign, it's easy to see that he is destined to eventually be the top champion in WWE

By Mark Mahler - 04.08.2023

Wrestlemania is now over and gone. The WWE resets the cards and continues with storylines while building on some new ones with new champs, and the build to next year in Philly is off and running.

One thing is for sure: Gunther is the real deal in the WWE and a big-match player.

Before Triple H took over creative, many fans wondered if Vince would bury Gunther formerly WALTER in NXT UK. The longest-running NXTUK Champ came up to the main roster after dropping his belt to another hard hitter Ilya Dragunov, who is now residing in NXT.

WALTER had some brutally entertaining matches with not only Dragunov, but also Joe Coffey, and Pete “Butch” Dunne, among others.

Unfortunately, Vince McMahon has never been one to push guys that don’t have bodies like Lex Luger or the Rock. He doesn’t like guys that don’t sound like Cena or Flair on the mic.

A lot of fans that have seen just how solid WALTER was in the ring were worried right off the bat when Vince gave him a name not so flattering. Second, they dismantled Imperium a big part of Gunther’s character was being the Ring General with his soldiers, Ludvig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci.

All signs pointed to Vince not knowing how to handle Gunther or Imperium. It showed he never paid attention to NXT UK because anyone that did knows WALTER was a beast in the ring and was more than capable of being a main event player for the WWE if and when he came over to the States.

Well, with Triple H in charge, Gunther has done nothing but shine. Winning the Intercontinental Championship and the roll has continued to the tune of 300 days as champ and coming up quickly on a year.

Gunther has had amazing matches with Ricochet, Braun Strowman, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Madcap Moss, Butch, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Rey Misterio. His title defenses never disappoint. The brutality of his matches with Sheamus only come close to those with Ilya Dragunov and their time in NXT UK. The welts, the bruisers, and the sheer exhaustion from the beating both men dish out is nothing short of amazing

His rising star came as soon as he won the IC belt. He showed he is a gem for WWE. The Ring General has taken on everyone and whether it’s on a PLE or Live TV, he always finds a way to put on an entertaining show in the ring and get the fans invested in the match, and himself as a performer.

At Clash at the Castle, Sheamus and Gunther tore the house down. They traded vicious blows and moves from the start to the final pinfall. Threw everything they had at each other. Their bodies looked like they had both been in a car crash and that didn’t stop them from putting on what could easily have been a Match of the Year candidate for any publication or promotion.

Then Gunther follows that up with the longest stint in the Royal Rumble. Once again proving this big man has the stamina of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ricky Steamboat, and many before him that ran the gauntlet in Iron Men Matches. He went toe to toe with Cody to end the match. He didn’t win the Rumble but came out smelling like a rose.

Fast forward to Wrestlemania. As fans, we all pick that one match we wait for. We all pick that sleeper match we think might steal the show. A lot of old-schoolers also wait for that next Macho Man vs Ricky“The Dragon” Steamboat match that just shocks the world.

Well, as much as we might have been invested in The Bloodline vs Cody, KO, and Sami, it was Gunther vs Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus that absolutely smashed expectations.

We knew they had the chemistry to go miles in a match. We’ve seen Drew and Sheamus battle across the US from arena to arena. But all three combined added to the chaos, brutality, and imagination. This match was an all-out war from bell to bell. When it seemed to be heading either Sheamus or McIntyre’s way, Gunther just wouldn’t let that happen and with each near-fall and chop, the crowd grew louder and louder.

Once again, after arguably one of the greatest matches that Wrestlemania might have ever seen, Gunther retained his IC title and the fans gave all the men a standing ovation. Chalk up another banger of a match for these three, who are vying for the title of most banger matches in WWE History.

Gunther has shown in three big Premium Live Events this past year that he is not one to sleep on. Given the right match, and the right time in the ring, he can do anything and everything to capture the fans and bring them into the ring with them. Not many wrestlers have that type of talent or skills to go into every match and hook people like that.

I believe Gunther does. He's one of those once-in-a-lifetime talents that the WWE not only wants, but he’s one they need.

He can wrestle all styles and does it while telling a story in the ring with his opponent. It’s time the WWE does something more with Gunther. It might be time to introduce him to the Head of the Table.

Maul it over.



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