Mordecai (also known as Kevin Thorn) was a promising young wrestler who had a lot of WWE promotional muscle behind him, only to have it all taken away thanks to a brutal bar fight that led to a lawsuit.
Fight: Mordecai vs Civilian
Date: March 26, 2004
Location: Louisville, KY
Source: Wrestlinginc.com, slam.canoe.com, Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Before he was Mordecai, Kevin Fertig came through Memphis as a powerhouse indie wrestler. Because of his size and look, WWE signed him in 2002 at a time when they were actively signing guys who were over 6’-2”. He was sent to WWE’s developmental system, which at the time was Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) run by Danny Davis and booked by Jim Cornette.
WWE brought him up in 2004, giving him a very intricate gimmick as a religious zealot named Mordecai, shaming fans for their sins. With his white ring attire, white hair, and even white facial hair, he in some ways resembled Jeff Jarrett. The company produced an elaborate ring entrance for him, along with promotional vignettes that made him come across as a star. The company was so high on him that there was talk of grooming him for a run with the Undertaker.
In the Mordecai role, Fertig showed a lot of potential. He was well trained, but perhaps hindered by the excessive muscle and weight he put on that limited his mobility. As far as perfecting his persona and carrying himself like a star, he was better than most and seemed to be well on his way to moving up the cards.
Unfortunately for him, an incident just days before his debut on the main WWE roster derailed him before he even got started.
Mordecai had been working some WWE house shows and dark matches at the end of 2003 and early 2004, but still worked in OVW. After an OVW show in Louisville, he went out to celebrate the 27th birthday of his friend and fellow OVW alum Sylvain Grenier (best known for his La Resistance tag team with Rene Dupree in WWE). Also with them was Maven, the original Tough Enough winner who also spent time in OVW.
The three of them went to a bar, and it was reminiscent of the old territory days when pro wrestlers would enter the bar and one of the patrons wanted to test how tough they were by challenging them. It’s not known what caused this particular patron to become belligerent, whether he did it on his own or was provoked. Either way, he went after them with a beer bottle.
The blow by blow details were never revealed or discussed publicly, possibly because it eventually became a lawsuit. What is known is that Mordecai intercepted the guy before he made his way to the others with the bottle, and gave him a major beating. It was said he ended the fight “with an exclamation point,” and the patron’s nose was broken and he went to the hospital. Whether it was just one punch or a sustained pounding, we don’t know. Only Mordecai, Maven, Grenier, the patron, and those in the bar really know what happened that night.
The general belief is the guy started the fight, and Mordecai ended it. But he ended it perhaps too harshly.
Mordecai claimed that once the guy found out he was a WWE wrestler, he sued both Mordecai and WWE. The guy falsely assumed Mordecai was worth a lot of money, which wasn’t the case yet as he was under the standard OVW contract that paid relatively little and he hadn’t debuted on WWE TV yet. However, WWE certainly had a lot of money and perhaps the guy was pursuing ‘hush money’ from the company so that they’d pay him to go away.
He first sued Mordecai, and after he turned down financial offers to drop the lawsuit, he then went after WWE. It became enough of a headache for Vince McMahon that he decided to send Mordecai back to OVW in July, and the Mordecai gimmick was dropped after just a few months. He had made his WWE TV debut in April, so it was a short run that stopped before it had a chance to get started.
Once the civilian went back after Mordecai personally, he realized he had no money and thus wasn’t going to get any kind of financial reward. At that point the lawsuit was dismissed and Mordecai ended up paying a relatively small sum to the guy (the amount was never disclosed).
Despite the lawsuit going away, WWE never brought the Mordecai gimmick back. He ended up in OVW for awhile longer, but was released. He came back again, this time to WWE’s ECW brand, which had television on the SciFi network. His ring name was Kevin Thorn, doing a vampire gimmick with black hair and tights. He also had the sexy Ariel (Shelly Martinez) as his valet, herself an OVW alum as well.
Thorn was released again, returned to OVW, and during this time the WWE’s ECW brand was dropped altogether. He moved to FCW (precursor to NXT) and was dropped again.
Had the bar fight not occurred, or had Mordecai not beaten him so viciously, the lawsuit may never have taken place and the Mordecai character would’ve definitely been given a longer chance. That’s not to say he would’ve been a headliner, as WWE back then was bringing guys up too soon and squandering their potential before they were ready. Still, he would’ve been given the chance, and he almost certainly would’ve had a run against the Undertaker.
He did get a second chance in ECW, although for whatever reason he wasn’t brought onto the main roster again.