Professional wrestling has had its share of “final boss” level stars that serve as a giant mountain to climb for babyfaces about to reach the top of the business. In the past, names like Ric Flair, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, and Roman Reigns have filled that role to tremendous success across generations. I believe that the next great wrestler to fill that role will be Gunther in WWE and I don’t think we’re going to have to wait that much longer for him to ascend to that role. As we enter 2024, I believe he will be the new World Heavyweight Champion by the end of the summer when WWE puts on the Bash in Berlin PLE next year.
Gunther has been on the run of a lifetime since winning the Intercontinental championship in the summer of 2022. He has had incredible matches with the likes of Sheamus, Chad Gable, Ricochet, Braun Strowman, Santos Escobar, Drew McIntyre, The Miz, Mustafa Ali, Tommaso Ciampa, and Bronson Reed. He is one of the absolute best in-ring performers in the world and his character is perfect for his style. He is destined to join Roman Reigns as the two biggest monster heels in the company and arguably in all of wrestling at the moment.
In the past, the final boss character has been used to elevate other babyfaces. During the prime of Ric Flair, the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Ricky Steamboat, and Sting had to get through Flair to get to the top of the old WCW. During the Monday Night Wars, Hollywood Hulk Hogan terrorized WCW and helped deliver one of its most compelling stories between hm and Sting once he adopted the crow gimmick. The end of that story was ruined by atrocious booking, but it still delivered a great feud that led to a crowning moment for Sting. In 1998, Hogan would lose the world title to Goldberg, cementing his status as one of wrestling’s biggest stars in its most acclaimed era. After the attitude era, Triple H took over as WWE’s final boss and helped elevate the next generation of top stars in Randy Orton, Batista, and John Cena. For all the talk of Triple H burying people during this time, he helped create the stars that carried the company for over a decade after the departures of Steve Austin and The Rock.
In modern times, that role has been filled by Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. For Lesnar, he ascended to that role after ending Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak in 2014 and dominating John Cena in the main of SummerSlam in the same year for the WWE Championship. In subsequent years, he would go on to win the Universal title and was positioned to elevate stars like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, and in this past year, Cody Rhodes. This is why I disagree with people who believe that Lesnar should not have been the one to end Undertaker’s streak. He became the ultimate monster heel that helped shape the next generation of stars. He could have achieved this without ending the streak, sure, but ending the streak, and later destroying John Cena, created an aura for Lesnar that still surrounds him to this day. Even his recent battles with Tribal Chief Roman Reigns helped elevate Roman to another level in his ascension to final boss status. Now that Roman holds that role, he has been positioned to elevate others around him even though he hasn’t dropped the title yet. Logan Paul, LA Knight, Jey Uso, and Cody Rhodes have all benefited from stepping into the ring with Reigns over the last year.
The next wrestler to take that torch is going to be Gunther and I believe that he will defeat CM Punk in the main event of Bash in Berlin and win the World Heavyweight Championship. From there, he will go on one of the most dominate runs in history and elevate whoever gets put in the ring with the Ring General. He will become box office. The matches that come out of that run will be some of the best we’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to see it.