The Ascension looks back at the time WWE revealed plans to rebrand them as “Egyptians.”
Big Kon and Vik, now going by The Awakening, recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard and discussed the character change they underwent in between their respective runs on NXT and WWE roster.
The Ascension ruled NXT’s Tag Team division and had a clear fan-favorite gimmick, and they are still the longest reigning NXT Tag Team Champions to this day. For whatever reason, WWE went through a period where they would adjust NXT gimmicks before they would call up talent to the then-main roster, and most of the time it was met with immediate criticism. The Ascension was no different, as they ended up coming to RAW and cut promos about how they were better than other teams of the past. Big Kon and Vik explained how they first found out about the gimmick change, which included a confusing complaint from Dusty Rhodes and the pitch from WWE.
Big Kon: “I’ll just give you the quick story and Vik can attest to all of this. The day that we—first off, prior to getting the call, Dream had been working with us and it was really awesome. He had a lot to do with anything that was done, Hunter as well, and I just remember one day Dream was vaguely complaining and being upset about some stuff that we really didn’t understand. He said, ‘You guys are going to be Egyptians!’ We didn’t understand what he was talking about.”
Vik: [Impersonating Dusty Rhodes] “‘You boys are going to be Egyptians! You see all this stuff going on in People magazine with Egypt? You got to go be Egyptians, goddammit!’”
Big Kon: “We’re thinking that we don’t understand, we’ve been around Dream for years at this point, I’m sure he just wants to get rid of us. That’s just what we were thinking, but needless to say we had our big sitdown, our big meeting on a call, and Dream was legitimately sitting to the left of me. We’ve got Stamford, Connecticut on a big TV and we’re sitting in this room, it’s all dark and quiet and they want to congratulate us on the big promotion, stuff like that. It was really cool and then they say creative has an idea for you two and we’re like ‘OK cool.’ They go out and then bring in the pieces of paper that they faxed over, and they [placed it] face-down. They basically said ‘if you flip it over, this is what creative is looking for.’ We flip it over and then bam—that’s what you saw when they basically debuted it on Monday Night RAW.
“Now, the biggest thing I’ve ever said in any other interview I’ve done is the one thing you never do in this business is you never, ever insult the fans’ intelligence. The second you do that, they’re going to be pissed off and I think that was where there was no connection because they knew what they were getting but then when they saw [the final version] they were like ‘I don’t get it.’ I also think sometimes—and this is just me, I’m very grateful for everything—sometimes it’s just creative.”
Vik went on to note that they didn’t even really understand the reason for the change but felt that there was a definite disconnect somewhere. He pointed out that The Ascension definitely had a fan base but it seemed like there wasn’t enough focus on how much people actually liked them and that’s what caused the changes, and ultimately, the confusion.
Vik: “I don’t really know how it was from the office or somebody, but it was like they didn’t understand. Even at first, I don’t think we understood. I remember the first time we went to New York for a live event and it was after one of the TakeOvers we had done. It seemed like they didn’t think that the fans would know who we were, more or less. I remember when we walked up at MSG and there’s all of those fans out there. They were all going crazy as we walked up, we looked at each other like ‘holy shit, this is nuts!’ It seemed like there was just a point where they didn’t realize how much our fans were already connected through and through. It seemed like they felt like they had to change everybody at that time when they were coming up. Everything would get lost in the shuffle because the fans would be like ‘what? We don’t get this, why are you changing what we already know?’ You know what I mean? It wasn’t a natural evolution for a lot of people.”
One other prominent gimmick change that almost took place was Neville (aka PAC) was asked to portray a character that was allegedly inspired by Mighty Mouse. Neville denied that it was as literal as the rumor suggested, but was still pitched to him as playing a superhero-like character for his main roster call-up. He ultimately played a toned-down version, but Big Kon and Vik recalled seeing him try on the costume and his dejected reaction to it.
Vik: “The time that we were there, we’re not the only ones that were victims. Neville’s always the first one in my mind.
Big Kon: “They wanted to make him a superhero with a cape and all that stuff.”
Vik: “He had this awful mask. I remember when he walked in, he was just like, just the look on his face. We asked ‘hey, what’s wrong?’ and he didn’t even want to show anybody.
Big Kon: “Neville loves wrestling, loves it, so when you see somebody get defeated like that, it’s tough.”
Vik: “They’re so far behind and it took them a long time to catch up.”
WrestleZone features weekly audio and video content on Facebook, YouTube, and your favorite podcast apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud. Subscribe now for hours of exciting wrestling content including exclusive interviews, previews and reviews and much more!