On last night’s RAW, Hanson and Rowe—sorry, Ivar and Erik—debuted on the main roster as…for…f*ck’s…sake…the Viking Experience.
This isn’t merely the daftest, most careless, most damaging name change ever in itself. It is symptomatic of Vince McMahon’s decaying mind.
Let’s play devil’s advocate, a name incidentally you can’t believe Aleister Black hasn’t been lumbered with…yet, and attempt to rationalise this decision. Suppose the whole ‘War’ connotation is potentially alienating to sponsors. Why were Ivar and Erik still rallying the crowd with a chant that, as of TakeOver: New York, was finally getting over big? Were they allowed, or was this name change settled upon mere hours before RAW’s script was finalised, resulting in a miscommunication?
On the subject of TakeOver: New York, that opening match was a masterclass in storytelling. Rowe and Aleister Black burned through one another, each wearing an expression of perfect stillness. Within this wary, respectful confrontation, Black’s aura as an unflappable warrior was transferred to Rowe. This was the theme of an absolute banger of a match of considerable depth; when Hanson and Rowe performed a dual variation of Black’s stupendous float-over bump, the message was clear: these hoss destroyers were capable of raiding the arsenal of even the most spectacular performers.
This match made a cartoonish act many were reluctant to truly embrace. And then, within literally seconds, Vince McMahon destroyed them.