BERLIN: Former Germany goalkeeper Tim Wiese made a winning debut overnight Thursday after switching to wrestling.
The 34-year-old hung up his boots three years ago after winning six caps for Germany and making their 2010 World Cup squad.
After packing 40kgs (88lbs) of muscle, Wiese, standing 1.93m (6ft 4in) and weighing around 130kgs (20st, 6lbs), won his maiden World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) bout at Munich’s Olympiahalle.
“That was great — but tonight was just the start, a warm up match against kids. Now I want men,” Wiese vowed after his successful entry into what he calls the ‘Champions League’ of wrestling.
An intensive schedule of weight-training sessions in Florida and a diet including a kilo of meat per day enabled him to bulk up and he cut an imposing figure as he entered the ring to fight alongside established WWE stars Cesaro and Sheamus in a six-man tag team match against the likes of Taylor Michael Rotunda, aka Bo Dallas.
A Big Splash bellyflop finishing manoeuvre later and he had helped his team land a ten-minute bout with a pinfall.
“The atmosphere in the ring was something else, totally different from in a stadium. Really close up and an incredible noise the like of which I’ve never experienced before,” Wiese told AFP sports subsidiary SID.
Wiese has yet to be given his wrestling nickname, and said beforehand he expected a few boos from the crowd as part of the show.
Instead, from the bulk of them he earned resounding cheers of “Wiese, Wiese,” even though he played the bulk of his career with northern giants Werder Bremen, well away from Munich, home to all-conquering Bayern.
While with Bremen he won the German Cup in 2009.
“I take my hat off to him, that was a great debut, one of the best I’ve seen,” said Swiss Cesaro afterwards.
WWE vice president and general manager Europa Stefan Kasenmueller dubbed Wiese’s opening gambit “extraordinary”.
“He turned in a super showing,” Kasenmueller said.
Even so, for the time being Wiese has no further bouts officially planned.
Asked if he was looking to carve out a career as a solo fighter, the former shot-stopper would only say: “I’m ready for anything. They just need to call me and The Machine is there.”
Wiese turned his back on the Bundesliga in 2013 after 269 appearances in Germany’s top flight for Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim, for whom he made the last of his total of 269 Bundesliga appearances in January 2013 after a fallout with club bosses.
After that he hit the gym and the rest is, if not history, perhaps, the future in the adrenaline-fuelled world of WWE.