Long before CM Punk lambasted WWE fans for their sins another superstar was doing much the same but despite interesting hype, Mordecai never amounted to much and that character is the focus of this latest ‘Missed Wrestling Opportunities‘.
In April of 2002 indy wrestling Kevin Fertig signed a developmental deal with World Wrestling Entertainment and was immediately despatched to the promotion’s development territory Ohio Valley Wrestling.
where he continued to use the Seven gimmick. After wrestling sporadically in OVW throughout 2002 and 2003, against wrestlers including Chris Cage and Johnny Jeter, he joined the Disciples of Synn stable. He would team with Travis Bane, who later became Travis Tomko, and the duo would go on to win the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship.
However, they were forced to vacate the gold when Bane suffered an injury. In late 2003 and early 2004, Seven and Bane began competing in dark matches prior to the Raw television show, under the real names of Fertig and Tomko.
In late April of 2004, two years after signing with the WWE, Fertig was called up to the SmackDown! roster. Ahead of his on-screen debut, vignettes aired announcing the impending arrival of a character by the name of Mordecai.
It was certainly a bizarre character which saw Fertig rant about sinners and condemning the audience to hell. Wrestling doesn’t have a great history of religious based characters working but that sure as hell didn’t stop the WWE trying with Mordecai. Unfortunately, their attempts didn’t last long.
During his numerous promos Mordecai claimed to be on a crusade to rid the world of sin and would make his debut at Judgement Day with a quick squash win over former WWE tag team champion Scotty Too Hotty. This was quickly followed up with a similar style win over Bob Holly. Both wins were aimed at establishing the character ahead of what seemed like an obvious feud with The Undertaker.
However, less than three months after his debut on WWE TV, Mordecai lost a Smackdown! match against Rey Mysterio and the character was never seen again on WWE TV. The gimmick was dropped and Fertig was sent back to OVW for more training.
The reason behind the demotion isn’t too clear but could be, in some part, due to Fertig’s involvement in a bar fight and subsequent impending lawsuits and WWE deciding to take him off television until the issue was resolved.
His appearances in OVW were more sporadic this time around and in July 2005, Fertig was released from his WWE contract and returned to the independent scene where he used the Mordecai name again.
In late 2006 Fertig returned to WWE TV, wrestling on the ECW brand, as a Vampire alongside his manager Ariel. This run lasted until late 2007 where he returned to OVW where he lasted until early 2009.
Now, I am in no way suggesting that Mordecai was a character that could have gone on to be a champion or headline Wrestlemania. In fact, far from it. I merely think that the WWE gave up, for whatever reason, on the character far too early and long before it had the chance to reach its potential.
A match against The Undertaker was an obvious progression for Fertig’s religious zealot character but the character was afforded just two squash wins before being dumped back down to the WWE’s development territory.
Could it have been different? Quite possibly but we’ll never know. The cartoonish gimmick doesn’t, on the face of it, appear to have much in the way of longevity but that didn’t stop The Undertaker. What we do know is that the WWE wasted a lot of money and TV time on his squash matches and vignettes with nothing other than a “what if?” to show for it.
You can read all previous ‘Missed Wrestling Opportunities’ pieces here.