Ivar On His Singles Run, Crazy Athleticism, Injury Update For Erik, Viking Raiders

Ivar (@ivar_wwe) is a professional wrestler with WWE. He is in a tag team with Erik called The Viking Raiders. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet in Philadelphia to talk about the incredible athleticism he has his size, how he got paired with his tag team partner Erik, working as a pro wrestler since 2001, the name changes from War Raiders to War Machine to The Viking Experience and now The Viking Raiders, William Regal being the reason they signed with WWE, his recent run as a singles competitor, Valhalla putting antlers on Michael Cole, how his match with Kofi Kingston changed his career and much more!

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On being surprisingly athletic:

“When I was a kid, I had a trampoline and I definitely did a lot of flips on the trampoline. But having a trampoline builds the confidence to even attempt it. So having that confidence then slowly becoming a professional wrestler then trying in the ring. Having the confidence to do stuff on the trampoline gave me the confidence to do it in the ring.”

On building the confidence to do it in the ring:

“You just do it. At least for me it was just do it. I know guys who have to work on the backflip, go from the first rope or have someone in the ring and guide them over with the flip. But with me, it was just go and do it, that was it.”

On being paired with Erik:

“It was Ring of Honor, it was the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament in Ring of Honor, we’d never met before. And we ended up wrestling in the finals, where I won. I beat Eric in the finals, 2014 top prize for winning. But then Ring of Honor wonder what to do with us. And they put us together as a team and then we set the world on fire.”

On previous ring names:

“So the beginning half of my career I was handsome Johnny. So much so that there’s still a lot of guys who call me handsome, Kofi still calls me handsome, Tommaso, my wife calls me handsome, we get in a fight and she still calls me handsome, it’s hilarious. So handsome Johnny was a big one. I did the Duke of Elegance Don Chesterfield for a minute who was also a backyard wrestling character I brought into into pro wrestling. Todd Hansen, the brand new bad, Warbeard Hansen and then ended up in Ring of Honor as Hanson Rowe.”

On the name change when signing with WWE:

“We knew coming into NXT that our names had to change. Mainly because right around time that Ring of Honor names us War Machine there was an MMA fighter who got in a lot of trouble. A 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? 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 like so if people did searches they pop up, lineage. Hunter was totally cool with that. 

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. So we were stuck and then our debut, we find out last minute that 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 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.”

On how Erik is recovering:

“He was just here. We just did the meet and greet for the weekends. It’s just, I mean, it’s neck surgery. So yeah, it’s just a matter of time. And everybody’s neck and heels differently. So it’s a matter of getting cleared. So that I mean, he’s doing great, physically great. It’s just doctors need to clear him. And he needs to get back to in the ring and so it’ll take some more time.”

On who he has helped to train:

“I’ve trained guys like Kofi Kingston, guys like Tommaso Ciampa. Guys, like Dijak in NXT, Oney Lorcan for an NXT. I trained Mercedes Mone. I was one of her trainers, she had three trainers I was one of them. So it’s just it’s a long list. Pretty much most people who came through New England at some point, I helped train.”

On the match against Kofi Kingston:

“I mean, you could say that. But I think it’s because Kofi is an amazing human being. That’s what it comes down to, unselfish, and all the stars aligned. It was the night that started this whole singles run, it was the night that Eric was taken off TV because they discovered atrophy and he needed the the neck thing. So we were scheduled for two out three falls match with The New Day, that match got scrapped. And then they had they decided to put me and Kofi into a singles match instead, but they didn’t cut our time. So we had the same amount of time as we would have had for two or three falls match. Then I’m like, this is probably my last match because historically, when the one tag guys goes out, both tag guys, so I said to Kofi this is probably my last match, I’ll be out with while he’s getting fixed up. It’s like, alright, let’s just do it, let’s just do the match, let’s kill it. And that’s what we did. And after the match, I got called over and they said, Hey Ivar, do you mind sticking around in singles stuff, while Eric’s out? Absolutely!” 

What is Ivar grateful for?

“To be here, the love and support and I can still be here.”

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