WWE: Ivar on His Current Singles Run in WWE & Confirmed Reason for War Machine’s Name Change, More on NXT May 21, 2024 Viewership, More News

Ivar Comments on His Current Singles Run in WWE & Confirms Reason for War Machine Name Change to Viking Raiders

A recent episode of the Insight with Chris Van Vliet podcast featured Ivar as the guest. One of the topics discussed included Ivar’s thoughts about his current singles run in WWE and praised Kofi Kingston for helping change his WWE career trajectory following their singles match together this past September.

“You know, no (I don’t think Kofi Kingston & I’s in-ring chemistry is good because of our history). 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 that night. It’s what started this whole singles run. It was the night that Erik was taken off TV because they discovered atrophy and he needed the neck thing. So, we were scheduled for a two-out-three-falls match with The New Day. So that match got scrapped and they just 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 a two-out-of-three-falls match. I’m like, this is probably my last match because historically, when the one tag guy goes out, both tag guys go out. So I said to Kofi, ‘This is probably my last match. I’ll be out with Ray while he’s getting fixed up.’ It’s like, ‘Alright, 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 say, ‘Hey, Ivar, do you mind sticking around? Doing some singles stuff while Eric’s out?’ I’m like, ‘Absolutely!’ Yeah, 100 percent (it changed the trajectory I was on), and part of it is Kofi being like, oh, I get to give him his flowers now. I was very fortunate. I got to be at WrestleMania when he won the title and I got to meet him right through Gorilla afterwards and it was a real special moment… So Kofi just being unselfish and being the great human being that he is and just — because he’s a former world champion. He doesn’t have to do good things for me and he does and he does for everybody. So, it’s because of Kofi.”

Ivar also confirmed that the reason why WWE changed his and Erik’s former tag team name of War Machine was due to criminal legal issues involving former MMA fighter “War Machine” Jonathan Koppenhaver.

“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.”

Transcript h/t: PostWrestling.com 1 & 2

More on NXT Viewership for May 21, 2024

The May 21st episode of WWE NXT saw NXT gain a very large increase in overall viewership and a small increase in key demographic rankings but suffered a slight decline in key demographic ratings.

NXT drew 654,000 viewers and a 0.17 key demographic rating on USA Network. NXT’s key demographic ranking was 9th place.

Detailed key demographic viewership breakdowns were not available in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Dave Meltzer reported that the main reasons for NXT’s mixed results this week was due to the large increase from their Over 50 viewership group, which its percentage was not given. This reportedly mostly offset the very stiff sports competition that night from the 2024 NBA Playoffs and the small decline from their key demographic viewership group, which was down 6.7% compared to last week’s show.

In terms of notable head-to-head competition, the 2024 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 of Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics drew 6,280,000 viewers on ESPN and 151,000 viewers on ESPN2, the MLB game of Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs drew 248,000 viewers on TBS, Vanderpump Rules drew 994,000 viewers on BRAVO, The Valley drew 665,000 viewers on BRAVO, Secret Skinwalker Ranch drew 1,257,000 viewers on History Channel, and Catfish drew 373,000 viewers on MTV.

In terms of key demographic viewership, NXT had 224,000 viewers. Meltzer reported that NXT’s males/females viewership split was 58.8% in favor of males.

In terms of peak viewership, NXT’s peak overall viewership was at 692,000 viewers for the quarter hour featuring the NXT Women’s North American Championship Ladder Qualifying match of Jaida Parker vs. Brinley Reece. NXT’s peak key demographic viewership was at 250,000 viewers for the first quarter hour featuring the NXT Women’s North American Championship Ladder Qualifying match of Fallon Henley vs. Thea Hail. NXT’s overrun reportedly was 582,000 overall viewers and 188,000 key demo viewers for the ending of the Karmen Petrovic & Natalya vs. Lola Vice & Shayna Baszler tag team match and the post-match brawl between Vice & Baszler.

In terms of yearly comparisons, NXT was up 13.1% in overall viewership and up 11.4% in key demographic viewership.

WWE News & Notes

WWE recently announced that that Saudi actor Ibrahim Al Hajjaj will make an appearance for the company at Saturday’s King & Queen of the Ring 2024 event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Friday’s WWE Speed show on Twitter featured Ricochet defeating Tyler Bate to retain the WWE Speed Championship.

Montez Ford recently announced on Instagram that he will be releasing a new music album on May 31st.

PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that the remaining upcoming episodes for this current season of WWE Legends: Biography on A&E are Eddie Guerrero, Ricky Steamboat, Mark Henry, “ECW – The Birth of Hardcore,” Rob Van Dam, and The Steiner Brothers.

Deadline reported that their sources stated that Cody Rhodes recently joined the cast for the upcoming Naked Gun reboot film. It was reported that Rhodes’ appearance in the upcoming film is “only a cameo.”

Friday’s WWE SmackDown show in Jeddah featured Randy Orton defeating Tama Tonga to advance to the Finals of this year’s King of the Ring tournament against Gunther. Following the show, WWE held a digital exclusive backstage interview with Gunther giving his thoughts about his upcoming match against Orton. Gunther stated “I sure will face Randy Orton tomorrow in the finals, and what an opportunity it is, right? What a chance. I came here to do this. I came here to be in the ring with the best of the best, and Randy is maybe one of the biggest legends that ever came out of WWE. But to become a legend myself, I gotta beat a legend tomorrow, and yeah, tomorrow, ‘The Ring General’ will officially become the King of the Ring.” (Transcript h/t: Fightful.com)

As noted before, WWE currently has plans for Bo Dallas and the Uncle Howdy character’s return to the company. Friday’s WWE SmackDown show also featured a new video teaser for Dallas and Uncle Howdy’s upcoming return. During Austin Theory and Grayson Waller’s entrance for the Grayson Waller Effect talk show segment, the screen briefly glitched again and a flashed a new QR code. When scanned, this leads to a WWE archive website featuring several letters and poems. One of the notable letters and poems included “They’re talking about us now. We finally got their attention. Let us savor this and we will show you signs and wonders.”

Besides the new QR code at Friday’s WWE SmackDown show, WWE’s Twitch channel was “hacked” for a second time this past Thursday resulting in a new teaser video featuring a mysterious person writing letters to various people containing several new coordinates. One of the notable clues given in the video teases at Uncle Howdy making his official return to WWE this June. This video ended with this mysterious person visiting a mystery woman and a teethy smile.

In a recent interview with the Busted Open Radio podcast, Seven Bucks Productions executive Brian Gewirtz stated that WWE officials had originally locked their plans for The Rock vs. Roman Reigns match at WrestleMania 40 in mid-January and had questioned their decision to have Cody Rhodes win this year’s Men’s Royal Rumble. Gewirtz stated “That kind of led us to a pinpoint, January 1st, the promo with Jinder (Mahal) in San Diego, because at that point, it was looking very much like a possibility that Rock and Roman (Reigns) was gonna happen and we had a meeting in Rock’s — we rented a hotel room for the day in San Diego. It was me, Rock, Triple H and Nick and we talked about it all — Nick Khan — we talked about it all and Triple H was very, as you would imagine, aware and astute of the current Cody (Rhodes) storyline and brought that up and we talked about that for a while and at the end of the that meeting, this is what’s also funny that people don’t know is that everyone enjoyed the, you know, for what it was, the promo with Jinder. But what everyone was talking about at the end of it was, ‘Should The Rock sit at the bar? Should he sit at the booth? Or should he sit at the head of the table?’ And that came about super late into our meeting in San Diego at the hotel, because, as we were talking about Cody, it was said, ‘Well you know what? I hear you. Maybe we should do a little test polling of the audience and not just the audience in San Diego but the audience all over the world. What if I kind of teased it without saying it directly?’ We brainstormed on how to do that, he did it and as you saw, the place went nuts and online went nuts and maybe nuts is different degrees of nuts in terms of if you’re a diehard Cody fan and you might be, hey, wait a second. What’s he talking about here? But for the most part, it was overwhelmingly positive when he teased head of the table, and at that point, we were like, okay, that gives us our answer. We’re locked in. He did the TKO announcement, he went to WWE HQ. I have, what ended up being 96 pages of merch and t-shirt and title belt design ideas from creative services and it was pretty much locked in at that point which begs the question which I know you’re gonna ask which everyone would ask and naturally ask which is, okay, if all of that is the plan at this point in mid-January or whatever it is, why, on for the love of all things holy, do you have Cody Rhodes win the Royal Rumble? That would be your question, right? Well, let me backtrack for a second and just say there’s — the idea of Cody winning the Rumble, I thought, was problematic. In full transparency. I said even in San Diego in that meeting, I thought the cleanest thing to do if we’re booking Rock and Roman is to have (CM) Punk win the Rumble and challenge (Seth) Rollins, just because there’s a difference storyline-wise in my opinion of Cody wanting to finish the story and having earned the right to finish the story by winning the Royal Rumble. Once you when the Royal Rumble, that dynamic changes from, I want to donate my hamstring to O.G. Anunoby so we could beat the (Indiana) Pacers in the playoffs. That’s not gonna happen. But Cody winning the Rumble changes the dynamic completely because it goes from something that, yeah, we all want things but now he’s got it and why would he do anything other than focus on Roman? And that’s what he naturally did when he pointed to him. Why wouldn’t he? That’s exactly what that character would do… I do ultimately want to write a second book, I think, on this whole thing… I don’t wanna say everything, but I will say, and I could say this with 100 percent certainty that the original plan is something that you, Dave (LaGreca) and many, many more people would have hated more than anything in life itself. I can’t overstate that or understate that. I can’t state that anymore clearer. But, Punk gets hurt and the dominos start falling and things start shifting and then we get to a point now where the WrestleMania press conference is coming up. We need to promote something, a main event of some sort and we’re in this space and now we get to the infamous Birmingham, Alabama promo.” (Transcript h/t: PostWrestling.com)