|Fuck. This. Noise.|
I can't believe I have to get angry about this shit. I can't believe a hugely talented pair of wrestlers I greatly admire gets called up from developmental to the main roster and beats the RAW Tag Champions in their debut match, and I still have to be pissed they were called up. All because the cosmically obtuse guy with dementia who runs the place decided the name War Raiders wasn't money enough. Welcome once again to WWE, the enemy of fun.
"Hmm, let's see, they dress like vikings, so they should have viking names (Erik and....Olaf? Sven? Lars? Nope, we already have a Lars. I'll come back to this later...) and their team moniker should definitely feature the word 'viking.' Viking Soldiers? No, that's not right. Vikings of Doom? Nah, too derivative. Wait, wasn't there some hippie guitar player the kids were all into when I was in my twenties? Jimmy something. Jimmy....Hegstrand. The Jimmy Hegstrand EXPERIENCE, that was the name of the group! The Viking Experience! Perfect! The kids'll love that, they dig the pop culture references. It's um, GROOVY and all that. And since they dress like vikings we'll say they're actual vikings, like they only eat raw meat and they fashion their own weapons. That'll play like gangbusters! We're gonna make a fortune with this gimmick!"
I don't know how many times I need to repeat this - Vince McMahon is hopelessly and embarrassingly out of touch with what wrestling fans in the 2010s want to see, and he needs to relinquish control of this company immediately. There is not one single reasonable argument to be made that The Viking Experience as a name is an improvement over War Raiders. None. Anyone who seriously wants to defend this change is welcome to try to convince me, but you'd have to be a crazy person to actually believe it. War Raiders sounds like two bad ass motherfuckers who will decapitate you if you have too much bass in your voice. The Viking Experience sounds like a fucking Epcot attraction. There is nothing whatsoever intimidating about this name. Aside from the obvious and inexcusable racist stereotype Tony Atlas was forced to portray in 1990 this name/gimmick change reminds me of the Saba Simba bullshit; because these guys dress as mythic figures we have to pretend they actually live this gimmick? How fucking stupid does Vince think his audience is? In 2019?
I'm seeing WWE apologists and even Dave Meltzer saying "It's not the name that matters, it's how they're booked." And while that's true to a certain extent, does anyone honestly believe Vince and his crack team of writers is going to look at a team called The fucking Viking Experience and book them as a serious long-term threat to anyone? Does anyone believe the casual fan who has no idea about War Machine/Raiders is gonna see the words "The Viking Experience" flash across their screen below two dudes dressed like The Berzerker, and think "Yeah this act screams 'Main Event.'" This is a cartoon midcard gimmick from 1992. Remember that time Vince took The Minnesota Wrecking Crew 2, Mike Enos and Wayne Bloom, and changed them to Beau and Blake, The Beverly Brothers? Which of those two gimmicks sounds more intimidating? That's the kinda thing we're dealing with here. Maybe the best example actually is when the WWF signed The Sheepherders, a pair of New Zealand maniacs who specialized in violent brawls. And he changed them to The Bushwhackers, a lovable comedy team who licked each other's heads and lost basically always. Which gimmick do you suppose ultimately would've drawn better? Vince is so far removed from "the pulse" his brain shifts around through time; one minute he's booking Brock against guys he already fought in 2002, the next he's rehashing Attitude Era tropes, the next he's saddling good wrestlers with early 90s cartoon personas.
I don't know how Triple H (or Hanson and Rowe for that matter) didn't push back on this decision. Maybe he did, but I would think if anyone has enough of Vince's ear to make him reconsider such an idiotic move it would be Hunter. There's no way Paul can be happy about this. If I were Triple H and Stephanie I'd sell a whole bunch of WWE stock and buy NXT outright. Make it a full-fledged, autonomous promotion affiliated with WWE that does occasional talent exchanges but is no longer a feeder system for Vince. Any talent NXT sends over gets to keep their existing name and gimmick, or they don't go. How much of Hunter's work in building NXT stars is going to be undone by this clown?
This by the way is the last time I'll ever use the phrase "The Viking Experience" on this website. Hanson and Rowe are War Raiders (or War Machine) and that is how I shall continue to refer to them. I urge all my fellow wrestling writers and fans to do the same.
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