WWE owner Vince McMahon has come up with some interesting ideas in the past but one of his ideas almost killed The Undertaker even before Mark Calaway could don the gimmick for the first time in the WWF (now known as WWE).
Speaking on Fightful's podcast, The List & Ya Boy, former WWE creative writer and leader of The Four Horsemen, JJ Dillion revealed how Calaway nearly ended up being a Viking instead of The Undertaker. He said that McMahon was looking to make Calaway use a Viking gimmick when the latter joined the company in 1990. Dillion was with the company from 1989 to 1997.
"[Undertaker] is an impressive guy, he had the size. In the business, they call the 'it factor,' and if you're on the business on the executive side, it's hard to find the words to describe 'it,' I can't explain it, but he has 'it' and I guess another word for it is natural charisma and [Undertaker] had it. Vince's first reaction was 'maybe he could be a Viking with the helmet and the horns'," he said.
"He just saw this guy and Vince had a really creative mind. He had a department [Vince] would take somebody and turn this person over to this department and say to look at them, their body, their features, play with him and feed me some ideas. In all the years that went by, I think the Undertaker is the great wrestling character/persona that has ever lived in the WWE/F. Hands down."
Thankfully, somebody changed McMahon's mind and The Undertaker was born. However, McMahon's Viking gimmick also fructified when John Nord joined the company in 1991. Nord became The Viking, which was later changed to The Berzerker with Mr. Fuji as his manager.
Nord left the company after a two-year stint that saw him feud with the likes of Jimmy Snuka, Davey Boy Smith and Bret Hart among others. The Viking even feuded with The Undertaker and tried to stab the Deadman with his sword.