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Ivar Recalls First Tagging With Erik In ROH, Origin Of Their Team Name

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In early 2018, The Viking Raiders, previously known as War Machine, signed with WWE. Subsequently, in January 2019, they achieved their inaugural tag team championships in WWE by securing the NXT Tag Team Titles at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix.

On a recent edition of the “Insight” podcast, WWE Superstar Ivar of The Viking Raiders discussed his professional journey, the formation of his tag team with Erik, their current medical condition, and other related topics.

You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:

On being paired with Erik while they were in Ring of Honor: “It was Ring of Honor, it was the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament in Ring of Honor, we’d never met before. And we ended up wrestling in the finals, where I won. I beat Erik in the finals, 2014 Top Prospect Tournament. But then Ring of Honor wasn’t sure what to do with us and they put us together as a team and then we set the world on fire.”

On how Erik is currently recovering: “He was just here. We just did the meet and greet for the weekends. It’s just, I mean, it’s neck surgery. So yeah, it’s just a matter of time. And everybody’s neck heals differently. So it’s a matter of getting cleared. So that I mean, he’s doing great, physically great. It’s just doctors need to clear him. And he needs to get back to in the ring and so it’ll take some more time.”

On his acclaimed match with Kofi Kingston: “Kofi is an amazing human being. That’s what it comes down to, unselfish, and all the stars aligned. It was the night that started this whole singles run, it was the night that Erik was taken off TV because they discovered atrophy and he needed the neck thing. So we were scheduled for a two out of three falls match with The New Day, that match got scrapped. And then they had they decided to put me and Kofi into a singles match instead, but they didn’t cut our time. So we had the same amount of time as we would have had for two or three falls match. Then I’m like, this is probably my last match because historically, when the one tag guy goes out, both tag guys go out. So I said to Kofi this is probably my last match, I’ll be out with [Erik] while he’s getting fixed up. It’s like, alright, let’s just do it, let’s just do the match, let’s kill it. And that’s what we did. And after the match, I got called over and they said, ‘Hey Ivar, do you mind sticking around in singles stuff while Erik is out?’ Absolutely!”

On the origin of their ring name: “We knew coming into NXT that our names would have to change. Mainly because right around the time that Ring of Honor names us War Machine, there was an MMA fighter, who got in a lot of trouble for a lot of things, we don’t wanna mention it. So we had the conversation with Triple H and he said, ‘You know, I can’t have kids Googling that, right?’ Absolutely. Don’t (Google it). It’s not worth your time. So we’re like ‘Alright,’ so then we came to a bunch of names and War Raiders is what we settled on. So we had a little bit of the element from the indies where we were War Machine and a little bit more Viking going forward with the Raiders, no problem and the fans were fine with it. They were fine with it, and I think we asked if we could just keep our Hanson and Rowe names because we were associated with that, with the titles in New Japan, Ring of Honor, like, so if people did search us, they would all pop up, so there’s lineage. Hunter was totally cool with that so, that’s how it started but when we got called up, whew! Whew, whew. Yeah, that was a little rough…”

“And the way the story goes, Vince (McMahon) loves Vikings. So, he found out there’s a team in NXT that were Vikings and he’s like, ‘Yes, I want them,’ and now he wanted Viking in our name, and they couldn’t pass anything through legal. There’s already a Vikings football team, there’s already a Vikings TV show. So none of the names they were trying, whatever they were, they (weren’t) getting through. Then somebody, I won’t say who, because it was asked in the meeting, ‘What are they? How to describe them?’ And then, somebody describes us as like, ‘Oh, they’re this, they’re that, they’re like a Viking experience’ and it was like, ‘That’s it! They’re The Viking Experience’ and not one person was happy or okay with that except for the one man.”

“So, we were stuck and then our debut, we find out last-minute that we’re coming in. We get flight cancellations. It was in Montreal. We don’t land internationally in Montreal until — I didn’t even get into the building until almost 5 PM, the day of our debut so we couldn’t even talk to him. We get there and we just see on the tron, ‘Viking Experience.’ We’re like, ‘Oh man, what is going on?’ Then we went to talk to him and be like, look, we can’t be this amusement park ride name, and we talked to him and like, he respect — and we went there and we were told about the whole Viking thing so we were told, ‘If you’re gonna pitch names, just make sure it says Viking in it.’”

“So we had like, I don’t know, six or seven names, Viking names that we had picked. We’d already given up on our regular names, Erik and Ivar, no problem, whatever (he laughed) … and that wasn’t worth even trying. So we’re just trying to change because the tag team name was so bad. It was awful. Still is, it haunts us to this day and when we are listing off these names, we got to Viking Raiders and he stopped us and said, ‘Look, this is how we’re gonna introduce you to the audience, the main roster audience and if it doesn’t work, we’ll change it going forward’ and literally two days later on the website, it changed. I think three days (we were The Viking Experience to start our main roster run). Yeah, one show, three days and it haunts us to this day.”

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