Ivar confirms Viking Raiders had to change War Machine name in WWE because of connection to former MMA fighter ‘War Machine’

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Ivar dives into the name changes for himself and Erik. 

Dating back to 2018, The Viking Raiders (Ivar & Erik) have been a part of WWE. They made their debut at an NXT house show in March of that year.

Throughout their time in the company, they underwent several name changes. To start, they were War Raiders and then switched to The Viking Experience and then to Viking Raiders. Ivar dove into those changes during his sit-down chat with Chris Van Vliet

He recounted the conversation they had with Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and he was fine with them staying as Hanson and Rowe, but the War Machine name had to change because of the connection to former MMA fighter ‘War Machine.’ War Machine, birth name Jonathan Koppenhaver is serving a life sentence for multiple counts of sexual assault, kidnapping and domestic battery among other charges. 

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.

Present day, Erik is recovering from C6/C7 neck fusion surgery and Ivar was competing in NXT, but he tweeted that he’s injured, it’s very serious but he has not had surgery. He was scheduled to be in a Triple Threat to determine Oba Femi’s opponent at NXT Battleground. 

If the quote in this article is used, please credit Insight with Chris Van Vliet with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcription.

About Andrew Thompson 8606 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.