The crowd packed into the Olympiahalle in Munich began to sing Tim Wiese's name as the former German men's national soccer team goalkeeper stood on the ring apron. Cesaro tagged him in, and soon Wiese bowled over The Shining Stars, using his massive shoulder as a weapon.
And with that, the Bundesliga bad boy's WWE career began in earnest.
Wiese had been eyeing a move to pro wrestling as his soccer career faded and his physique grew brawnier. On Nov. 3 in Munich, Wiese officially made that transition, teaming with two other European powerhouses to win his in-ring debut.
The German fans roaring as Wiese wrestled are certainly familiar with him. But for the bulk of WWE fans, he's an unknown commodity.
Just who is this new prospect? Who is the latest pro athlete attempting to make a name for himself on the mat? Let's dive in and find out.
- Height: approx. 6'4", per National Football Teams.
- Age: 34
- WWE nickname: The Machine
- Hometown: Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
Career on the Pitch
Wiese's first career was as a keeper in Germany's Bundesliga league.
According to the National Football Teams site, he played for a number of club teams including Fortuna Koln, FC Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and TSG Hoffenheim. Wiese also played in a handful of matches for the German national team.
His stint playing for his home country included a spot on the 2010 World Cup squad.
Wiese was a rough-and-tumble, hard-nosed player. If you came into the box, there was a good chance he would bump you, yank your jersey or worse.
He once famously dropkicked a rival player:
Moments like that made it no surprise to some that Wiese would later pursue WWE stardom. Physicality was his comfort zone.
But Wiese was plenty skilled, as well. When the ball soared at him, his grace and agility emerged. He made some spectacular saves.
Toward the end of his career, a knee injury slowed him.
And he made the news for the wrong reasons. German newspaper Bild reported (h/t Stephan Uersfeld of ESPNFC.com) that security threw out Wiese and his Hoffenheim teammate at a carnival party. The club later fined the pair.
Eventually, Wiese realized he was done as a footballer. According to Yahoo Sports, he said, "I am not a dreamer but a realist, and I assume that I have my best years behind me and I will no longer play as a professional."
He retired in 2014.
The wheels were already turning for his next step, though. Wiese began to beef up significantly, adding mass and muscle and looking more and more like a WWE powerhouse than a keeper.
1st Tastes of the Squared Circle
Wiese talked often about a potential move to WWE. He was a fan, and now he was built like he belonged on that world.
WWE invited him for a cameo to whet his appetite. Wiese served as the guest timekeeper at a live event in Frankfurt, Germany, in November 2014. But he didn't stay put next to the ring bell.
He climbed up on the ring apron and assisted The Usos in taking down Goldust and Stardust by distracting the face-painted heels.
Triple H, WWE executive and head man for the company's developmental brand, later invited him to train at the WWE Performance Center. WWE announced in June that Wiese had taken up Triple H on his offer.
Five months later, training gave way to performance as Wiese wrestled in his first live match.
The former goalkeeper joined forces with Cesaro and Sheamus to take on The Shining Stars and Bo Dallas. As one can see in this fan-shot video, the German fans were fully invested in Wiese:
The audience chanted, sang and roared for him.
As expected, WWE didn't ask much of Wiese in this bout. His appearance was brief. He issued just a few moves.
Wiese earned the pinfall via running splash a la The Ultimate Warrior.
He played a babyface in Germany, but that's not likely to be the case elsewhere. WWE apparently wants to build on the reputation he had on the pitch.
Wiese told Agence France-Presse (h/t BBC.com): "I think I'll be playing the role of the bad guy—I'm being pushed in that direction, but that's OK. In football, I was already the bad guy who opposition fans would insult. It doesn't bother me. They can all hate me."
A mountain of work lies ahead. Wiese is a rookie once more, the latest pro athlete to attempt to translate his physical skills to a new medium.