The following is an excerpt from our long-form feature on Kevin Fertig, also known as Kevin Thorn and Mordecai. Check out the full story at this link, and our interview above.
In late 2007, things got weird for the Kevin Thorn character. He was taken off television for six weeks only to be re-debuted, before being taken off of WWE TV forever, in a confusing series of events that he would explain. Hip and shoulder surgery would be mixed in there somewhere, but at the time, there were big plans for him -- or so he was told. Thorn remembers an insane series of events that unfolded that led to the end again.
"I had hip surgery. I had a really bad torn labrum. I went and got it fixed because all of a sudden we went to the just generic look. Me and Dusty were coming up with all these cool promos and other cool stuff, and literally, this was when Dusty was kind of, nobody really knew Dusty was sick and he was off and wasn’t around for a while and kinda going back and forth, getting ready to be full time in Florida. I thought we were gearing towards going towards ‘Taker. That’s what Dusty was telling me, that’s why were coming up with all this cool stuff, and all of a sudden, they wanted me to pull the red out of my hair, they wanted me start wearing more black with my ties. All of this stuff I was doing to not look like the Undertaker I was starting to do. Then it was in Detroit, and it was I got through wrestling Curtis James—he was with [Michelle] McCool—got out of that match, we had one botched spot. It just didn’t happen. I didn’t get him on my back right, it looked like shit. It was. Still got through the match," Fertig said.
The match, seen above, didn't seem to please Vince McMahon.
"I get through the curtain and I’m getting yelled at by Vince of, “Why are you looking like ‘Taker, why you lookin’ like this, why you doin’ this?” I’m like, “That’s what I thought I was supposed to be doing.” I think a lot of miscommunication and everything else. At the end of the day, it’s his toy. So, however he wants me to look, I should look," he said.
Well, apparently how he should have looked wasn't how he looked. In a true Mr. Burns-Don Mattingly moment, the new-look Kevin Thorn appeared a month later much to the chagrin of WWE officials. He had two matches and was off TV for good.
"It just ended up happening. So I went, cut my hair, did everything, and then two weeks later it was “Why did you cut your hair? Why did you do this? Why are you looking like this?” So I’m like, “’Cause you guys freakin’ told me to.” They told me to! It was, “You need to go get your hair cut. You need to change up your gimmick. You need to do, this do that.” I did it. Then it was like, “Oh, that made sense. We want that back.” Well, I can’t grow my hair back right now like this. So then I got put on the shelf, I wrestled Kofi a bunch. It was kinda like, “We don’t know what to do with you.” That’s when I was like, “Screw this, I’m gonna go get my hip fixed.” I should have asked, but I didn’t. So, I’m in surgery. I get out of surgery and I get a call from Laurinaitis, “We got the deal, and it’s you and you’re gonna go up against the Undertaker,” and all this other crap. I went, “Uh, John, I’m gonna be laid up for six months.” But, they had to have known. Because the WWE doctor is the one that finally okayed me to getting the surgery."
WrestleMania came and went and the Undertaker didn't happen. Soon, Fertig was on the operating table, but was trying to get the Undertaker program back on the table. Dusty Rhodes allegedly told Fertig to prepare for it, only to lose out to another ill-fated character, Hade Vansen.