Timothy Thatcher: An American in Oberhausen

It’s October 8th, 2017 in the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, Germany and the bell has just rung to signify a finish to the main event of wXw’s World Tag Team League. Standing in the center of the ring are two men who just won the wXw World Tag Team Championships, covered in a dusting of celebratory confetti, microphones in hand as they address the crowd chanting and cheering for them. They are Ringkampf in their most common iteration, former Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher and future WWE UK Champion Walter.

Walter addresses the crowd at the start, in German, thanking them for coming, expressing gratitude for their support. Walter has spent the majority of his career in wXw already (his debut was over a decade prior to this win), so speaking to this crowd is second nature. Thatcher finishes them out, slipping into the English he’s much more accustomed to to say a few words before the weekend comes to a close.

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The mic never seems like the place that Timothy Thatcher is the most comfortable. He’s not a bad talker by any means, but he’s also not one to fall into the habit of verbosity. He seems to speak more because he has to than because he wants to. You’d probably think that would be even more true in a country where he doesn’t fluently speak the language, but you would be completely wrong. Thatcher addresses the crowd naturally here, sounding confident and authentic in what he’s saying.

He thanks the crowd, he proclaims Ringkampf as his family, and then he declares Germany as his home. It’s short and sweet, but it feels significant, especially to Thatcher and to his future as a wrestler. As someone who travels the world for a living and still has relatively strong ties to a few American promotions, it feels bold for Thatcher to dismiss his home country in favor of a new one. Bold, but genuine— a declaration of love to a group of people that have become familiar with him over the past few years and are about to become even more so. Thatcher declaring Germany and wXw as his home is a leap of faith, asking the crowd to believe his words and to trust that he won’t go back on them.

There are several moments in Timothy Thatcher’s career that stand out as firsts. This is one of them. It’s at this moment that Thatcher ceases to be an outsider in wXw for the first time, winning his first championship there with the person he’s closest to at his side. The title reign won’t be a very long one (154 days), much shorter than the (often unfairly criticized) Evolve championship reign (596 days) that Thatcher is still most known for, but it puts him on the map as someone who deserves a place at the top of wXw, especially having the added benefit of holding said tag titles with Walter, one of the most well-regarded wrestlers in Europe.

Coincidentally, the Turbinenhalle is the same venue were Thatcher made his wXw debut in September of 2012, participating in the promotion’s third Ambition tournament. As a single elimination tournament with a strong emphasis on shoot-style wrestling, Ambition seems to be an atmosphere perfectly engineered for Thatcher and he’s credited the tournament’s existence as the reason he was even able to come work for wXw in the first place.

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It wouldn’t be until March of 2018 that Thatcher would actually win an Ambition tournament (the ninth in the company’s history), gracing the Turbinenhalle with another big win and with another promo, taking this opportunity to solidify his stance that this promotion feels the most like home for him.

The crowd is even more receptive to this statement a second time around, informing Tim that he deserves this opportunity, that he deserves this win— a chant which he humbly declines, selflessly giving credit instead to the trainers he’s studied under and the people who have supported him most.

Thatcher tells the crowd that they have no idea how much this win means to him, finishing his promo by declaring that winning wXw’s biggest tournament, 16 Carat Gold, is his next goal.

For Thatcher, 16 Carat is yet another win that has been too far out of reach. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, Thatcher’s participation in the past five 16 Carat tournaments have all been losing efforts. In 2018, he came the closest he’s ever come to winning, making it to the semi-finals where he lost against the eventual winner (and cheating heel bastard), Absolute Andy.

2019 was not as kind. A couple factors led to it being arguably the “worst” 16 Carat weekend in Thatcher’s career, but the most impactful one was this: Thatcher chose this time to officially leave Ringkampf.

In a promo released a few weeks before the tournament and a few weeks after Walter’s WWE debut, Thatcher turned his back on his found family, declaring that Walter and Axel Dieter Jr were selfishly abandoning him and that he was going to win the tournament out of spite. It was during this taped promo that Thatcher debuted his newest philosophy, crossing out “the mat is scared” from his vocabulary and replacing it with “rather be forgotten than remembered for giving in.”

Thatcher then lost in the very first round of 2019’s 16 Carat to Lucky Kid, who went on to beat both of Thatcher’s former Ringkampf brethren Axel Dieter Jr and Walter and then win the entire tournament. The weekend itself ended up being even more unsuccessful for Thatcher, who did not win a single match out of the three he had.

On the final day of 16 Carat, Thatcher walked out of the Turbinenhalle after a brief confrontation with the remaining members of Ringkampf, not uttering a word about where he was going or when he would be back as he exited the building alone. When Thatcher took a similar hiatus from wXw in 2018 to fulfill prior commitments in America, there was at least a moment of goodbye and a promise that he would return eventually. This time, he simply left.

What had at first seemed to be anger had soured quickly into something worse, leaving those in attendance dismayed and confused about how they were supposed to approach this version of Tim.

After having (and losing) two matches in New York during WrestleMania weekend, Timothy Thatcher seemingly dropped off the face of the earth for over two months. He didn’t wrestle a single match in May and only wrestled once in June, leading many people (myself included) to wonder if something was wrong.

Thatcher has no social media presence. He gives few promos, even fewer interviews, and keeps his personal life completely private. In this current era of professional wrestling that relies heavily on web presences, it might surprise many to see how frequently Thatcher’s absence came up in discussion on online platforms that he’s never been a part of. However, the mystery that comes along with not participating in these social platforms meant that Thatcher’s absence led to a lot of speculation, none of which was ever confirmed or denied. That’s just not what Tim does. We probably won’t ever know whether Thatcher’s absence from wrestling was personal or financial, health-related or something else entirely, which is honestly entirely fine. What matters is that he was genuinely missed.

After six long months of a Thatcher-less wXw, August provided a welcome change with a surprise appearance at Shortcut to the Top. Similar to WWE’s Royal Rumble, wXw’s Shortcut to the Top is a 30-man battle royale that concludes with the winner receiving an opportunity for a shot at the promotion’s top title: the Unified World Championship. The 30th entrant is a coveted spot and was left as a surprise for this year’s event.

Still, when the lights went out for number thirty, the crowd was quick to guess who would be standing center stage in the Turbinenhalle as the surprise, greeting the man they missed with the warmest, loudest reaction of the night.

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Thatcher won Shortcut to the Top in a way that couldn’t have been more satisfying. After eliminating Ilja Dragunov a few seconds after entering the ring, Thatcher faced off with the last remaining wrestler in the match: Walter. After a series of stiff blows and angry staredowns, Thatcher choked Walter out and pushed his limp body out of the ring, securing himself as the title opportunity recipient.

While it was Walter that Thatcher squared off against in these final moments, the difference between this Thatcher and the Thatcher who had left months ago is that spite was no longer his motivation.

This wasn’t about Walter. This wasn’t about the past. This victory was finally about Timothy Thatcher, and about Timothy Thatcher’s future.

Like all other major wXw Thatcher wins, this one came with an appreciative speech, but not before the crowd could shower him with enthusiastic chants welcoming him home.

wXw has its own chant for Timothy Thatcher. It goes like this: “There’s only one Tim Thatcher, one Tim Thatcher. Walking along, singing a song, walking in a Thatcher wonderland.” I don’t know where it came from or when it started, who created it or why it’s sung to the tune of a Christmas song. But I do know this: the only person that loves this chant more than wXw fans is Timothy Thatcher, and the only thing that wXw fans love more than this chant is Timothy Thatcher. 

Months prior, in one of the promos he gave after turning heel during Thatcher’s absence, Walter angrily lectured the same crowd of people: “love is not a one-way street.” Walter refused to love a crowd that did not give him something in return. What Walter failed to understand is that the foundation of love is not reciprocation. Thatcher does not make that same error.

Thatcher came to work in Germany for the first time as an outsider. Although he used to call himself “the British Messiah,” Thatcher is American by birth, spending the formative years of his career wrestling in California. While his appearances in wXw have been relatively consistent since his debut, it wasn’t until Thatcher joined Ringkampf in 2016 that he seemed to get his footing in the promotion, being booked much more frequently alongside wrestlers that matched him in both style and passion.

While fans of wXw have been kind to Thatcher from the start, the love that Thatcher has received from them in recent years has skyrocketed into a truly notable level of appreciation and dedication, treating him as one of their own. While there could be many possible reasons for this uptick in emotional investment, the strongest is that Thatcher has proven over and over again that he is willing to give his entire heart to what he does, and has asked for nothing in return but an opportunity to show it.

In The Long and Short of It, poet Richard Siken describes the relationship between an artist and the audience as one of giving more than taking. He writes, “Of course, I wonder if they love me back, which is, really, besides the point. I don’t do it to be adored, I do it because my love keeps getting bigger and that’s what happens.” Thatcher doesn’t love wrestling or wXw or Germany or the fans because he can get something in return. He loves them because he has already decided where his heart belongs. In his eyes, any reciprocation of his emotional investment and commitment is a bonus. To be welcomed home with such open arms is a gift.

And despite having given absolutely everything he has to give, Thatcher still gets on the mic and says that he only deserves this because of how much the crowd has supported him.

Much like his Ambition win, Thatcher closes out this moment with a declaration of intent. He explains that he’s approaching wXw’s next major event, Tag Team Festival, with a specific focus: making up for the time he spent away and taking full advantage of the opportunity he’s been given.

The title opportunity Thatcher received from winning Shortcut was only his second in his six year history with the company.  The last had been a losing effort against Jurn Simmons in 2016— over three years prior, when Thatcher still held the Evolve championship

In fact, Thatcher entered that unsuccessful attempt fresh off of a successful defense of the Evolve championship in wXw against Bobby Gunns. The same Bobby Gunns who walked into World Tag Team Festival on October 5th, 2019, as the Unified World Champion.

Bobby Gunns did not walk out of World Tag Team Festival on October 5th, 2019, as the Unified World Champion.

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There’s a thousand things that could be said about the moment that Timothy Thatcher won the title or about the match in which he won it or even what it meant to me as someone who wouldn’t be writing about wrestling if it weren’t for him, but the most important thing to say is that it would be impossible to argue that he didn’t deserve it.

As human beings, we have the incredible capacity to understand that something can exist as more than what it is. The human heart is not just an organ. It is vital in every aspect, so much so that we attribute it with one of the most powerful emotions that any of us can ever experience: love.

Timothy Thatcher is depicted most frequently as ruthless, driven, tough as nails, and unrelentingly serious about what he does. Muscled and scarred, with a mouth of jagged teeth, there’s not much about Thatcher’s outward appearance that tells a different story. However, what this depiction fails to capture is that the most important element of Thatcher’s character is not his strength or his in-ring intelligence, but his heart.

When Thatcher falls to his knees in the center of the ring at the end of this main event, crying, bleeding, and clutching the championship in his hands, commentary does not mention how strong or tough he looked during this match. Instead, they describe him as a pro wrestling angel, who gives to everyone else more than he ever takes for himself. I can’t think of a more accurate way anyone has ever described his character, but ironically, this part of Thatcher doesn’t feel like a character at all.

In the weeks leading up to this title match, Thatcher addressed Bobby Gunns’ mean streak against previous title challengers by stating outright that he’s not trying to be anyone’s savior. While others may have a mission to rid wXw of cheaters or bullies, Thatcher’s only agenda is to simply fulfill his own destiny and give fans a champion they can be proud of.

Despite existing in a predetermined storyline in a sport that “isn’t real,” Timothy Thatcher is one of the most authentic and multifaceted characters in modern professional wrestling. He isn’t trying to be an angel. He isn’t trying to exist as more than what he is. He’s only trying to be Timothy Thatcher.

Personally, I can’t think of a better person to be. After all, there’s only one.

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Sarah Babbage

Sarah is a writer currently residing in Orlando. She has a Bachelor's in Media Communications and a self-awarded certification in Ringkampf expertise.

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