While we were later joined by WWE United Kingdom Champion WALTER, who discussed the incident that saw his Championship, passport and other belongings stolen, I took the opportunity to ask Aichner and Barthel about their respective backgrounds, and whether they feel a certain added pressure to represent two nationalities that have been somewhat underrepresented in WWE over the years.
AICHNER: "I mean, for me, it was really cool because I was very aware that Bruno Sammartino was, like, the last real Italian to be part of WWE so I always like when people tell me, "It's not possible," because then, when you do it, you're the first one to do it. Obviously Bruno being the first one, that was 70 years ago - the odds were against me, I'd say, but I'm very happy that I made it to WWE and joined WWE. I'll try to make Italy proud and make the wrestling as big as it used to be when Bruno Sammartino was there. Like you said, there weren't many German guys either so I think it speaks to Marcel and his ability to be able to be the first - with Alexander Wolfe, them being the first two wrestlers to make it to NXT and WWE."
Meanwhile, Barthel would reveal how he's proved a lot of people wrong in his native Germany:
BARTHEL: "For me, obviously I'm aware that a lot of people from my hometown, and teachers, and people who never believed in me when it comes to wrestling would be looking at me now and thinking, "Wow, he did it." That gives you that little "I told you so" moment.
"It's funny, a lot of people ask me that but it's not so much me being proud to represent Germany, because I represent myself. My country where I grew up in and was born in is nothing that I chose - even though I like my country, I'm very happy to be German because it's a great country - but when I'm out there, I represent Marcel Barthel and Imperium.
Barthel would then go on to reveal that, while he does have pride in his country of birth, but that he wants to represent himself and his faction first and foremost, and doesn't want to be defined by his nationality.
BARTHEL: "I don’t want us to be the Italian, German, Austrian, whatever faction. We are Imperium. We are from certain countries but that's not who I represent. I represent myself. So, it's nice to see all the guys in our country supporting us and obviously us waving our flags a little bit for them too but, at the end of the day, I stand in the ring for myself and my buddies."
Catch Imperium on BT Sport, the new home of WWE. Watch WWE NXT on BT Sport 1 every Thursday at 1am or catch up on the BT Sport App.Published 27 Feb 2020, 14:27 IST