POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: The messy switch from WALTER to Gunther

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2022/01/19/pollocks-news-update-the-messy-switch-from-walter-to-gunther/

POST IT NOTES

**GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale joined us on the POST Daily News Show today to discuss The WLRD on GCW, the status of Nick Gage, staging an event in a commissioned state, the setback of losing Spring Break in 2020, and several other topics. Plus, we chat about WALTER’s name change, new direction for Sarray, Jon Moxley’s return on Dynamite, TV numbers & more.

**Rewind-A-Dynamite will be live at 10:15 p.m. ET tonight as Wai Ting and I review Dynamite from Washington, D.C. with the return of Jon Moxley scheduled. We will also take your feedback and questions, which can be submitted on the POST Wrestling Forum after the show. Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café can listen and watch the show live.

**On upNXT, Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review Tuesday’s NXT 2.0 and discuss the name change for WALTER, new direction for Sarray, and much more from Tuesday’s episode.

**The Wellness Policy returns Thursday live at 3 p.m. ET for Patrons with hosts Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman. The show will be available free on the POST Wrestling Café feed (no subscription required for this specific show) on Thursday night.

**The upNXT Royal Rumble is this Sunday streaming live at 4 p.m. ET at Twitch.tv/upNXTpodcast with 30 participants scheduled.

WALTER RENAMED ‘GUNTHER’

WWE sparked its latest outage after the news of a trademark filing for the name ‘Gunther Stark’ was revealed on Tuesday.

The name, whether intentional or a giant slip-up, was the name of a Nazi U-boat submarine commander, which one could discover in the same time it took to read this sentence.

While the full name may not be used, WALTER identified himself as ‘Gunther’ following his win against Roderick Strong on Tuesday’s episode of NXT 2.0.

The next question will be how much blowback the company will receive for a name that, at least in part, has ties to Nazi Germany. Famously, the company backed off the naming of Kenzo Suzuki’s ‘Hirohito’ character in 2004 after the significant backlash that it was deemed in poor taste in Japan and the name was dropped after weeks of vignettes.

It comes days after the news that the company will stage its Elimination Chamber event in Saudi Arabia, which drew its own set of eye-rolling, although not to the extent that a change would be expected. Rather, it re-ignites the ethical decision to go into business with the Government of Saudi Arabia for an eight-figure payoff per event. That’s a key point to decipher between staging events in Saudi Arabia independent of the government, and working with the government, who at least for the first event of the ten-year deal in 2018 used WWE’s show as a means to send its message through the company as its communication vehicle.

Over the years, WWE has perfected its public relations strategy of reducing controversy with silence with the belief that the noise will peter out and the news cycle will continue. While frustrating, one cannot deny it has worked in many respects. WWE has pressure points but its fanbase and wrestling-specific media are not those fragile areas. Instead, they are more likely to respond to upset sponsors, network partners, or shareholder unrest – the latter having no stake in a controversy like the WALTER renaming and have shown no aversion to anything related to Saudi Arabia beyond some questions after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

In 2018, the company acted swiftly to rename the women’s battle royal at WrestleMania after its original honoree, Fabulous Moolah, was the subject of debate over her legacy and allegations levied against the deceased performer. It was not fan revolt that caused the name change but a public statement from the Mars Wrigley Confectionery, whose Snickers brand was the title sponsor of the show that led to the change.

While dropping the last name ‘Stark’ displays an acknowledgment of the bad taste of using the name, keeping ‘Gunther’ only seems to counter that notion by digging their heels in on the name they wanted, and as Vince McMahon taught us this week, ‘there are no half victories’.

WRESTLING NEWS

**AEW Dynamite takes place from Washington, D.C. tonight for the first of two live events at the Entertainment & Sports Arena this week as they return for Rampage on Friday. The show is built around the return of Jon Moxley, which was officially announced Tuesday just days before he will wrestle Homicide at GCW’s pay-per-view. It will be Moxley’s first appearance on an AEW program since October after seeking in-treatment help for his alcohol issues. Moxley was clearly set for a heel run when he went on hiatus but there is no way he will be received as anything but a babyface tonight. Either Moxley can return and ride out this wave of support and slowly move back to the original character switch, or scrap plans and understand that no one wants to boo the man, so why fight it?

The other return is Cody Rhodes, who hasn’t been on television since the New Year’s Eve edition of Rampage. After a COVID-19 issue in his family, Rhodes and wife Brandi were isolating and led to Rhodes missing the Battle of the Belts show and his defense against Sammy Guevara. There is added interest for Rhodes given Monday’s report by Fightful that he is technically working without a contract. Rhodes is also set to do an interview on the Wrestling Observer site later today before Dynamite.

Below is the full line-up for the show airing at 8 p.m. ET on TBS and TSN 2 in Canada:
*Sting & Darby Allin vs. The Acclaimed
*CM Punk vs. Shawn Spears
*Malakai Black & Brody King vs. The Varsity Blonds
*Adam Cole & Dr. Britt Baker vs. Orange Cassidy & Kris Statlander
*Serena Deeb vs. Skye Blue
*The return of Jon Moxley
*The return of Cody Rhodes

**Scott Garland a.k.a. Scotty 2 Hotty was a guest on Talk is Jericho and spoke about his decision to leave his position as a coach in NXT and the changes to the brand. In the most telling story, Garland said that Vince McMahon had requested that the coaches needed to look younger by dyeing their beards and cutting their hair. Garland said he lost sleep over that and came after changes to the dress code where the coaches went from tracksuits at the venue to requiring business casual attire. He equated the changes to “jumping through hoops like monkeys” and wondering what they would make them do next before he ultimately left and gave his notice.

There is a lot of weird edicts that get issued within the company, some you understand and others less so, but the appearances of the coaches are one of those utterly baffling ones. The coaches are not on television and in any significant front-facing role with the public that it’s bizarre how that idea could even be broached and thought of. Inherently, you want coaches with vast experience levels that typically translates to age to represent one’s experience level. Can you imagine that mindset when Dory Funk Jr. was running the Funkin’ Dojo sessions in the late ‘90s working with the likes of Edge, Christian, Kurt Angle, Sean Morley, Test, and many others?

The interview was one of the first involving someone from NXT seeing the changes to the brand firsthand and now being public and able to speak about the changes. Garland noted that Paul Levesque used to say that if you could bottle up the NXT culture (of the past) you could make millions off it with Garland calling the last four years some of the best of his career and seemed like someone that loved his job and made the changes such a bitter pill to swallow. He said he was driving into Orlando with his stomach in knots and would not continue to work for any company unless he was happy and helped his decision-making.

Jericho said he thinks Vince made NXT a scapegoat after AEW beat it weekly, and Garland agreed.

**Congratulations to Kyle O’Reilly (Kyle Greenwood) on the birth of his daughter this past Monday.

**Game Changer Wrestling has added Juicy Finau and Shane Mercer to The WLRD on GCW this Sunday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

**Effy speaks with Brandon Walker of Barstool Sports.

**The Henderson Brewing Company has released a new beer in honor of former NWA champion Whipper Billy Watson called Ides 69: Whipper Watson English Pale Mild.

For our Ides of January 2022, we have brewed an English Pale Mild Ale. With notes of crackery malt, toffee and white grapes, this beer has a pleasant fruitiness.

Although light bodied, it has a round maltiness with just enough bitterness to round it out, leaving you with a slightly sweet, yet still crisp finish.

This ides release is an easy drinking, malty English ale made for a nice long session – a perfect way to start off 2022!

MMA NEWS

**The first UFC Fight Night of 2022 was hurt badly going against the NFL playoffs. Saturday’s card finished #9 among cable originals for the day with an average of 482,000 viewers and 0.15 in the 18-49 demographic, per Showbuzz Daily. The card, headlined by Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze, went against NFL playoff coverage on NBC and ABC that was through the roof. The UFC’s last card on ESPN was a Fight Night on December 4th that averaged 592,000 and 0.20, although had a later start time of 10 p.m. ET whereas this past weekend’s card began at 7. The UFC 270 prelims air from 8-10 p.m. this Saturday on ESPN.

**The UFC will return to London, England for the first time since March 2019. The promotion has confirmed it will stage a Fight Night event at the O2 Arena on Saturday, March 19th with tickets going on sale on February 4th. The promotion has not announced a main event for the card yet.

**MMA Junkie is reporting that vaccinated fighters and cornermen will not be tested for COVID-19 this week or have to quarantine prior to UFC 270 in Anaheim, California. ESPN’s Marc Raimondi noted that vaccinated fighters and corners will still need to produce a negative pre-arrival test and will be tested before they leave after the card. This is a protocol from the California State Athletic Commission that will continue to test unvaccinated fighters and corners, who will be tested twice during the week and will be subject to quarantine measures. If someone develops symptoms, they will be tested this week.

**The UFC has moved the heavyweight fight between Greg Hardy and Sergey Spivak to UFC 272 on March 5th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Spivak was set to fight Hardy this Saturday as a late replacement for Aleksei Oleinik, but Hardy suffered a finger injury that led to the fight’s removal from the pay-per-view.

**The UFC has released Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3 of this week’s Embedded series for UFC 270.

ON THIS DATE

Perhaps the famous Royal Rumble of all time occurred in 1992 when Ric Flair entered third and won the Rumble and the vacant WWF championship. This led to the double main event at WrestleMania with Flair defending the title against Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice:

Steve Austin wins his first of three Royal Rumble matches in 1997 at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The show was built around Shawn Michaels regaining the championship in his hometown from Sid after dropping it at the Survivor Series. Of course, the title would bounce all over the place before WrestleMania with Michaels vacating the belt in February and going from Bret Hart and back to Sid:

A major moment in the history of Raw from 1998 where Steve Austin confronts Mike Tyson and began the path for WrestleMania and the company catching fire:

Brock Lesnar wins the Royal Rumble in 2003 in Boston with The Undertaker making his return after several months off. Lesnar wouldn’t enter another Rumble match until 2016:

*****
upNXT 1/18: The General Formerly Known as WALTER
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the January 18th, 2022 edition of WWE NXT 2.0, headlined by WALTER vs Roderick Strong!
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ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (January 2022)
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions from the POST Wrestling Forum in the January 2022 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
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REWIND-A-RAW 1/17: Lashley vs. Rollins, More Vince
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Raw featuring Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins and more Vince McMahon
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Wrestlenomics: MLW files a lawsuit against WWE
MLW filed an antitrust lawsuit against WWE on Tuesday for allegedly interfering with MLW’s deal with Fox-owned streaming service Tubi. Brandon Thurston and Chris Gullo spend the entire episode breaking down the legal complaint and the outlook of the case.
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LONG & WINDING ROYAL ROAD: Misawa vs. Kobashi (March 1, 2003)
WH Park and BWE’s Martin Bushby
venture outside of both the 1990s and AJPW to jump to Pro Wrestling NOAH and 2003 to review Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi for the GHC Heavyweight Title from March 1st.
*****

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