Ivar Viking Raiders
Photo Credit: WWE

Ivar Says ‘Viking Experience’ Still Haunts Him, Confirms Reason For War Machine Change

Ivar and Erik did not like being the Viking Experience. Only one man liked the name.

When the Viking Raiders debuted on the main roster in 2019, fans were not happy. They were known as War Machine and War Raiders in NXT, but were called up as The Viking Experience.

Ivar spoke with Chris Van Vliet about the name change. He said the pair knew they couldn’t keep the War Machine name, after the arrest of Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver, the MMA fighter who used the same nickname.

They did get to keep their first names, however, after Triple H heard and respected their plea to keep the lineage from the run on the indies.

“We knew coming into NXT that our names would have to change. Mainly because right around the time that Ring of Honor named us War Machine, there was an MMA fighter who got into a lot of trouble for things we don’t want to mention. We had a conversation with Triple H, and he said, ‘I can’t have kids Googling that.’ So we agreed. We came up with a bunch of names and settled on War Raiders.”

“It kept a bit of the element from the Indies where we were War Machine. We added more of a Viking touch going forward with the Raiders. The fans were fine with it. We asked if we could keep our Hanson and Rowe names. Because we were associated with the titles in New Japan and Ring of Honor. Hunter was totally cool with that. But when we got called up, that was a little rough.”

Ivar Explains How They Got The Name Viking Experience

Ivar continued. He explained how a legal battle meant they could be “The Vikings”, so somebody thought of the name “Viking Experience”.

Vince McMahon loved it. Erik and Ivar eventually went to him, and pitched a new name which he accept. They were only called Viking Experience for three days.

“The way the story goes is Vince loves Vikings. So he found out there was a team in NXT that were Vikings and he’s like, ‘Yes, I want them,’ and he wanted ‘Viking’ in our name. They couldn’t pass anything through legal because there’s already a Vikings football team and a Vikings TV show. None of the names they were trying were getting through. Then somebody described us in a meeting as ‘like a Viking experience,’. Vince said, ‘That’s it, they’re the Viking Experience.’ Not one person was happy or okay with that, except for the one man.”

“On our debut, we found out last minute that we were coming in. We got flight cancellations and didn’t land internationally in Montreal until almost 5:00 p.m. the day of our debut. We couldn’t even talk to him. So we got there, saw ‘Viking Experience’ on the Tron, and thought, ‘Oh man, what is going on?’ We went to talk to him, saying we can’t be this amusement park ride name. He respected that, and we were told to pitch names with ‘Viking’ in it. We had six or seven names. We gave up on our regular names, we had no problem with that, we were just trying to change the tag name.”

“The tag name was so bad. It was awful. It haunts us to this day. When we listed off these names, we got to Viking Raiders, and he stopped us, saying, ‘Look, this is how we’re going to introduce you to the main roster audience. If it doesn’t work, we’ll change it going forward.’ Literally two days later on the website, it changed. So, we were the Viking Experience for, I think, three days.”