Vince McMahon Behind Bizarre Amusement Park WWE Name Change

Vince McMahon WWE

WWE is known for its sometimes haphazard approach to name changes for its stars and now one has revealed the real story behind their disastrous shift in presentation.

One of the things Vince McMahon came to be known for over the years as WWE boss was his steadfast approach to names for his stars. Sometimes people were brought in with a character in mind for them, sometimes they were allowed to keep their own name, and sometimes their name was simply tweaked for copyright reasons. What the case would be seemed to the outside world to change on McMahon’s whims with no real explanation.

Now one WWE star has opened up about how they had to change names a few times since joining WWE and how it was their main roster call-up led to one of the most infamous changes in recent times.

Speaking with Chris Van Vliet, Ivar of the Viking Raiders reflected on the team’s many name changes since joining WWE and revealed he and his partner Erik had no problem leaving their indy moniker of War Machine behind when they joined NXT:

We knew coming into NXT that our names had to change. Mainly because right around the time that Ring of Honor named us War Machine there was an MMA fighter who got in a lot of trouble for lot of things. We don’t want to mention it. So we had the conversation with Triple H, he said I can’t have kids Google that, right? Absolutely. 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 keep our Hanson and Rowe names because we were associated with that, with the titles in New Japan, Ring of Honor. So if people did search us we pop up, lineage. Hunter was totally cool with that.

However, when the team were brought to the WWE main roster, the transition was anything but smooth. The team was renamed ‘The Viking Experience’ and it was only Vince McMahon who was happy with that name:

So that’s how it started but when we got called up, yeah, that was a little rough. So the way the story goes, Vince 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, 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?; Then somebody describes us as like ‘Oh they’re this, they’re that, they’re like a Viking experience…’ And it was that’s it, ‘They’re The Viking Experience!’ Not one person was happy or okay with that except for the one man.

Vince McMahon Stuck With Viking Experience For WWE Raw Debut

Ivar revealed that they went to speak to Vince McMahon ahead of the team’s debut on WWE Raw and tried to get the tag team name switched – something that ended up happening in the following days due to the overwhelmingly negative feedback it received:

So we were stuck, and then our debut we found out last minute that we were 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 like on the ‘tron ‘Viking Experience’, Oh man, what is going on?

So 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 respected it and we went there and we were told about the whole Viking thing. So we were told, like, if you’re gonna pitch names, just make sure it says Viking in it. So we had like, six or seven names like names that we had picked. We’d already given up on our real regular names Eric and Ivar, no problem, whatever. 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 to say look, this is how we’re going to 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.

Ivar is currently recovering from an injury which has taken him out of contention for the NXT North American Championship. His partner Erik has been absent from WWE since undergoing serious neck fusion surgery in November 2023.

h/t Inside The Ropes