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.
The year was 2009, and Kevin Thorn was trying to get back on WWE TV.
WrestleMania was coming up, and it didn't look like the Undertaker program was happening. 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.
"So, I go to rehab. I work as hard as I can. I get out of rehab in like six weeks. Basically my doctor, Dr Meyers, said if I can run on the treadmill for a mile at a speed of six for that time he’ll give me the okay. I did that in six weeks. So normal labrum tear surgery is six months. I made it back in six weeks. So, go down to FCW, Tampa, I was put through a series of tests with Tom Pritchard, wrestled a bunch, did some stuff. Me and Dusty are working on promos again. Do the promo. Do a great, I mean it was killer, dude. I wish I had this thing on tape. [Billy] Kidman was in school for production and all this stuff, so they’re doing lightning in the back. It’s basically talking about train tracks and all this other stuff, but if you want to watch this promo it’s the exact verbiage from [Hade Vansen] that was there like two vignettes, basically talking about ‘Taker. That was the promo. It was my words, my and Dusty’s idea, and then he did it."
Hade Vansen was a 25-year old Englishman who would never end up wrestling for WWE's main brand, despite the vignettes. Word has it that Vince McMahon figured out he was 200 pounds and axed the angle. The fact that the vignettes were what Fertig had been working on, he wasn't happy.
"I was like motherfuck this," Fertig said. "So, they were in Pittsburgh and then Baltimore that following week. I was like, alright am I going to get called to TV? Nope. So, I was like “Screw this.” So I drove from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, and I was like, “What’s going on?” Didn’t really get any answers. So I went up there, Freddie Prinze, Jr. was just starting to write. Me and him were back and forth on all kinds of stuff. Finally the day in Baltimore I got told, “They’re going to use you, but you’re not gonna be the mouthpiece, you’re gonna be his heavy.” I’m like, “No, no, no. Those are my promos, my this, this is what it is.”
Eventually, the frustration led to a face-to-face conversation with The Undertaker. Fertig had his program with the Undertaker ripped from him and given to someone else. When that backup plan didn't work, another pivot was made, in which Fertig admittedly overreacted to.
"A little while later went by and then ‘Taker called me. I went in, talked to him, and it was “they’re kiboshing it all for some reason.” I was like, “What do you mean?” “We’re gonna go against Shawn [Michaels], and lead Shawn straight into WrestleMania that year.” I was like, you gotta be shitting me. So, like an idiot, feelings hurt, I walked into Laurinaitis’s office and basically was just, “I quit. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.” I literally was supposed to be off for six months, I killed myself to get back and we’re not going into this. Looking back I was an idiot. I should have just sucked it up and hung out for a little bit longer and eventually something would have happened, but it was just feelings hurt and everything else. I thought I could go quit and make it on my own, and I did for a while. But, it was just, I guess, an ego thing in a way," he said.
Fertig wasn't granted his release. In fact, WWE offered him a new contract in January 2009 after the Hade Vansen fiasco unfolded. He rejected that deal, and remained under contract until right after WrestleMania. He's never returned to WWE again.