The Viking Raiders are looking to make a major impact now that they are members of the Raw roster. That is, of course, if it is the will of the gods that they do so. Erik, Ivar, and Valhalla have undergone a number of changes over the last few months and now WWE has thrown them another curveball by drafting the Nordic faction to a different brand.
The trio however, are firm believers in letting life put you on the right path. If the powers that be in WWE decided their fate was better suited on Monday nights, then so be it. They will make the best of the situation.
Cageside Seats had a chance to catch up with the Viking Raiders during WrestleMania weekend, where we touched on everything from beard growth tips to Valhalla’s recent return to the company.
When asked about the inspiration behind her new look, she gave credit to another tag team for idea that ultimately brought her back to the company.
“Actually, The New Day were a big inspiration behind the [Valhalla] character. I had been fully into mom mode, farm mode, just doing my thing on my farm. And I know Xavier Woods was like, it’d be really cool if you guys had like a priestess. And they brought it to me and I was like, that is really cool. And I put the character together, and me and Hunter talked, and I just showed up looking ridiculous, like I am. And he didn’t say anything, so I just kept doing it. And that’s, that’s where we’re at today.”
Bravery, honor, loyalty, discipline, and honesty. Virtues that members of a modern day Viking community live their lives by.
The days of traveling abroad to pillage and plunder are long over, but traditions of living off the land via farming, hunting and fishing are alive and well. And it’s that lifestyle that helped prepare Sarah Rowe for her return to WWE.
“We all are Vikings in real life. We do like Viking living history and I’m a big fan of all the fantasy dramas and I read a lot of books,” Valhalla said. “You could say I’ve been training my whole life to be this character. I didn’t really have to buy anything. I just gathered things that were in my house and showed up with it.”
Rowe, formerly known as Sarah Logan, was released from her WWE contract in April of 2020. She was among the first wave of pandemic related budget cuts that unfortunately became common practice in the months that followed.
Later that summer, Rowe announced that she would be stepping away from wrestling for the foreseeable future. Turns out it was for a very good reason as nine months later Sarah and Erik, real name Raymond Rowe, welcomed their son Raymond Cash Rowe into the world.
Life truly is all about timing and there certainly is something to the thought process that everything happens for a reason.
Rowe’s time away from the ring gave her the chance to grow her family, and when the stars aligned, the opportunity presented itself to finally work alongside her husband on screen. That was a desire of hers that dated back to before she ever signed on the dotted line to come to WWE.
“I remember at Ring of Honor, I was pushing hard for it, but we have always just been ships passing in the sea,” Valhalla said. “When I was in NXT and they came to NXT, I got called up to the main roster. And then the timing never worked out and the gods didn’t see it fit that that was the time and that’s what we should be doing. And now that we are doing it, I very much believe if you’re on the right path in life, things just happen. Things just easily happen and the whole universe is working to get you to where you’re going. And that’s what it feels like.”
After appearing in a few vignettes during the fall of last year, Valhalla made her full-time return to WWE in November when she accompanied Erik and Ivar to the ring and helped the former Tag Team Champions lay waste to Hit Row.
The four members of the Viking faction have been practically inseparable ever since. And no, you didn’t read that wrong. The fourth member of the Viking Raiders has yet to make his television debut, but now two year-old Cash is living life on the road with his Mom and Dad. Which has been quite the experience according the high priestess.
“It’s been hard and amazing. I mean, as you can imagine, traveling every week with a two year-old is difficult. I’m still breastfeeding, thank God, boobs help all the time. I honestly don’t think I could do it without breastfeeding, but, having Cash along this ride with us has been amazing.”
Adjusting to the heavy travel schedule that comes with being a WWE Superstar hasn’t been the easiest thing to overcome for young Cash either. However, it hasn’t necessarily been the amount of miles traveled, but the amount of people he now sees on a regular basis.
Valhalla says despite his best efforts, and colorful shiny masks, Cash has shut down all bonding attempts from Hall of Famer Rey Mysterio. And no, he hasn’t been taking Dominik’s promos to heart. According to his Dad, outside of Uncle Ivar, Cash has not quite warmed up to many members of WWE’s backstage family.
“When we’re home, it’s like us, our dog Roach, the cows and my family sometimes. That’s it. We come to work and there’s 200 people backstage, 300 people backstage and he’s an adorable two-year-old. So he’s the most exciting, most popular thing every time he walks into a room. So everybody wants to talk to him, everyone wants to see him, everyone wants to touch him.”
Erik says that kind of attention can be a bit overwhelming, causing Raymond Jr. to seek the comfort of his parents. But the second anyone tries to talk to Mom, he apparently goes into baby Viking-mode.
“It’s really funny too because, people try to hug Sarah and say hello and he just stiff arms them in the chest, like step away. Like, nope. Like, nope, that’s my mom, don’t touch her.”
Ask most parents and they’ll tell you the same thing. While those early developmental years are among the most difficult for all the obvious reasons, they are the ones you miss the most when they’re gone. Which is why Sarah and Raymond are trying to soak in as much of this experience with Cash as they possibly can.
“We’re making all these memories, like he’s never gonna remember, but we’ll never forget. So, it’s difficult, but it’s special and it’s a wonderful time,” Erik said as Valhalla chimes in. “And he’s our purpose for doing all this. So, it’s amazing to have him be a part of it as much as he is.”
Now, it’s time for a new adjustment. After six months on the road as members of the SmackDown roster, the entire Viking clan was drafted to Monday night Raw at the end of April.
Just last night Erik and Ivar competed in the battle royal to determine the new No. 1 Contender for GUNTHER and his Intercontinental Championship. Neither of the Viking Raiders won the match, Bronson Reed made sure of that, but they still had a solid showing.
Hope the ring has been reinforced! #WWERaw #WWE pic.twitter.com/zYh2L5jx9E— USA Network (@USANetwork) May 16, 2023
The move to the Red Brand should provide the Raiders with expanded opportunities to factor into more fulfilling creative storylines. Over the years they have proven themselves to be versatile performers and their in-ring work has never faltered.
However, despite their quality of work, it’s been some time since the Viking Raiders found themselves atop the WWE tag team landscape. Sure, a record-breaking 622 day reign for the Usos has played a major factor in several dry spells in the Men’s Tag Team Division.
It’s still hard to believe that the last time Erik and Ivar held the gold, pre-dates the pandemic. We’re talking back in January of 2020. Regardless, Ivar’s confidence in the Viking Raiders’ ability as a team has never wavered.
“It’s our time right now in general, whether we have the tag titles or not. Do we want ‘em? If the God’s will it, it’ll happen. But man, I think we’re on the top of our game right now.”
After dropping the Raw Tag Team Championships to Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy, now Buddy Mathews in AEW, Erik and Ivar were called upon to show off their comedic chops.
Their rivalry with Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins evolved into an “Anything you can do, I can do better” challenge that led the Vikings onto the basketball court, the bowling alley, the decathlon field, and eventually... a dumpster after fighting off a hoard of ninjas - including a rather large man with a katana, who you know now as the Nigerian Giant Omos.
WWE truly threw everything against the wall during those COVID shows, and the Viking Profit segments were among those that stuck. Complete with all those turkey legs that just magically appeared in the wild as if they were a new breed of Pokémon.
“I think we’re very opportunistic. When an opportunity or when a challenge presents itself. We’re ready to face it and to overcome it and to exceed it. But I think it’s a natural progression of things to evolve, the look to change. Costumes to change, beards to grow, hair to dread, you know what I mean? If you stay the same vanilla all the time, you get stale, you get boring, you get passed over... we get bored. So that kind of evolution of who we are and who we present and what we look like and how we move is a good thing. And it’s a natural thing.”
The Erik and Ivar we know today are vastly different than the fun loving, axe throwing Vikings we saw during the spring and summer months of 2020. Yes... they have a presentation that can be described using a certain word that begins with the letter V, but it goes beyond that.
The Viking Raiders are getting the opportunity to showcase a side of themselves that’s a much closer representation of what they are like when the camera is not rolling.
“I think we now, in our current evolution, Ivar said this is our time. I think we are more true to our real selves in this version, in this moment in time, than we ever have been before, Erik said. “We’re not fighting the universe, we’re not fighting against what the gods want from us. We are who we are and this is our best evolution yet. And it’s just gonna continue getting better from here.”
Make sure to check our full interview with the Viking Raiders in the video at the top of this article. You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.