Why The Viking Raiders have failed to get over on WWE’s main roster

Credit: WWE.com
Credit: WWE.com /

Despite their dominance, The Viking Raiders have been unable to replicate their NXT success on WWE’s main roster due to the company’s blatant negligence for properly developing new characters.

Call-ups from NXT to WWE’s main roster were once very exciting, but have since become most fans’ worst nightmare. The Viking Raiders pretty much proved that with their random arrival on Raw in this year’s Superstar Shake-Up.

It isn’t uncommon for up-and-comers from WWE’s hottest brand to be brought up to either Raw or SmackDown Live immediately following WrestleMania. However, considering there were already so many wrestlers on the main roster WWE wasn’t doing anything with at the time, there was no need for anyone else to be added to either roster.

Of course, that didn’t stop the powers that be from promoting the reigning NXT Tag Team champions War Raiders to Raw as part of the 2019 Superstar Shake-Up. The destructive duo was fresh off a successful title defense at TakeOver: New York against Aleister Black and Ricochet and had no business being called up when they were.

The name change from War Raiders to The Viking Experience hardly helped matters, either. There was nothing wrong with what they were going by in NXT, so for WWE to alter their gimmick by giving them more of an overt “viking” feel was completely unnecessary.

Although Hanson and Rowe (now rechristened as Ivar and Erik) were booked to look strong in their Raw debut by defeating then-Raw Tag Team champions Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, all fans were focused on was their new names.

WWE attempted to redeem themselves by tweaking their team name from Viking Experience to Viking Raiders the following week, but the damage was done. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they did nothing to formally introduce Erik and Ivar to the WWE Universe and therefore gave fans zero incentive to care about them.

Unfortunately, their next month on the main roster was just as uninspiring as their debut. They went on to feud with The Lucha House Party for a short period, which effectively positioned them as heels, unlike in NXT where they were babyfaces for their entire stint.

The Viking Raiders disposed of Lucha House Party with ease, yet the audience couldn’t have cared less. Perhaps the silence they were greeted with during their matches was what led to them to being pulled off Raw for almost the entire month of May, right around the time the polarizing Wild Card Rule was instituted.

No matter the reason, it was ridiculous of WWE to put an abrupt halt to any momentum they may have had by taking them off television. In their first bout back on WWE programming, they were eliminated from the 51-man Battle Royal by Titus O’Neil in embarrassing fashion at Super ShowDown.

Viking Raiders returned to Raw later on in June to defeat a pair of local athletes before setting their sights on Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Ryder and Hawkins and The New Day. They emerged victorious in all of those outings and started to show signs of getting back on the right track.

Over the last month, however, they have inexplicably reverted back to beating enhancement talent. While it’s great their skills are being showcased in these short squashes, the matches are meaningless and the wins clearly aren’t getting them to where they need to be.

Again, their lack of character development and mic time has hurt them quite a bit, in addition to not being given a real sense of direction. It’d be easy for fans to invest in The Viking Raiders if they established what their ultimate goal was, but with apparently no aspirations of contending for the Raw Tag Team Championship, it should come as no surprise that they have yet to get over with the audience.

To no fault of their own, The Viking Raiders have failed to live up to the lofty expectations that fans had for them upon their arrival. They were a popular act in NXT with the potential to go far on the main roster, but obviously, that hasn’t been the case up to this point, largely because of WWE’s sheer negligence for tag team wrestling.

That said, there is still time for them to bounce back. They have thankfully remained undefeated since debuting on Raw and should enter the Raw Tag Team Championship scene sometime this summer.

Winning the tag titles won’t undo every dumb decision WWE has made with them this year (see: AOP), but it would at least be a step in the right direction. In the meantime, a feud with (and wins against) The Usos could do them some good if handled properly.

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WWE’s tag team division on the whole needs work, but it has been especially disappointing to see what has become of The Viking Raiders. They have cooled off considerably in the span of six months, but that doesn’t mean they can’t eventually reach the heights they did in other promotions with more attention from the company.