- WWE renamed an Austrian-born wrestler so that he now shares his name with a Nazi U-boat commander.
- Wrestler Walter Hahn announced that he is changing his ring name to Gunther Stark.
- Fans and journalists were quick to notice that Gunther Stark was a German naval officer in WWII.
The WWE is facing criticism after an Austria-born wrestler’s ring name was changed to one shared with a former WWII Nazi submarine commander.
On Tuesday, Walter Hahn, who previously wrestled under the stylized name WALTER, announced in the ring that he should now be referred to as Gunther.
Marking his NXT 2.0 debut in the United States with a win against Roderick Strong in the night’s main event, the 34-year-old interrupted the ring announcer declaring his victory to say: “Nein! The winner of this match is Gunther.”
Five days prior to the in-ring announcement, the WWE successfully filed a trademark application for the ring name “Gunther Stark” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Social media users and journalists were quick to notice that the top search result on Google for the term “Gunther Stark” is a web page on a site called UBoat.net about a lieutenant-commander on a German U-boat, named Günther Stark.
According to UBoat.net, Stark served on U-boat 740 between March 1943 and June 1944 until it was sunk in the English channel.
David Bixenspan, a wrestling reporter who has worked for Forbes and Vice, hit out at the WWE about the name change on Twitter.
“Get the fuck out of here with this ‘he wasn’t that notable a Nazi’ shit,” he wrote. “The Nazi submarine captain was the top Google result for “Gunther Stark” until the trademark story broke.
“If anyone did even the most basic possible due diligence, the issue should have popped up.”
Louis Dangoor, a reporter for GiveMeSport, also pointed out the name’s associations on Twitter, reiterating fears about the WWE’s apparent lack of research into the name.
—Louis Dangoor (@TheLouisDangoor) January 18, 2022
Soon after his name change announcement, Hahn tweeted the German word “einmarsch,” which translates to English as “invasion.”
—WALTER (@Gunther_AUT) January 10, 2022
The WWE did not immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment about Hahn’s name change.
This isn’t the first time that WWE has used WWII imagery for one of its superstars.
In 2004, Japanese wrestler Kenzo Suzuki joined the company and was set to make his debut under the name “Hirohito,” a character meant to be the grandson of the Japanese emperor of the same name, who wanted revenge against the United States.
The gimmick was dropped, however, before Suzuki debuted.
Courtesy By INSIDER