WWE Superstars are globally recognizable athletes. This means that when they begin their wrestling careers, they usually begin with names that wrestling fans will remember.
Some of the greatest gimmicks and ring names have been invented on the independent circuit, but these wrestlers were unaware at this point in their career that they would become famous and the WWE Universe would be looking back at their hilarious beginnings.
Some Superstars began their careers in WWE but they failed to gain the reaction or attention that The Company was hoping for when they drafted up there gimmick. This means that they are repackaged and given a different name and character that the company then hopes will become a lot more popular with the WWE Universe.
Steve Austin was ‘Stunning’ before he was Stone Cold, The Rock was Rocky Maivia before he was allowed to become the Superstar that is now loved and remembered by the WWE Universe.
Los Matadores, Primo and Epico or The Shining Stars have gone through so many gimmick changes over the last few years that it seems even they are unaware of who they are anymore. The likes of Adam Rose and Damien Sandow have also been put through the same process, only to come out with a character that the audience enjoys.
But all wrestlers have to begin somewhere and for the following list of stars, they began their career with some of the strangest, most creative nicknames of all of their peers which is why they have been given a deserved place on this list.
15. Dean Ambrose: Moxley Moxx
It’s a well-known fact that Dean Ambrose had a highly successful independent career before he joined WWE back in 2012. As Jon Moxley, he was a crazy psychopath that gained worldwide attention but has been forced to tone down this character and create Ambrose as a PG version.
Ambrose became famous for having Death matches along with Hardcore and blood filled brawls in many of the promotions he was a part of in his early career as both Moxley Moxx and Jon Moxley, but it was never explained where the name came from or if he picked it out for himself. Nowadays in WWE, Dean Ambrose plays the role of resident “lunatic” while not quite reaching the same levels of Mick Foley or Terry Funk. Of course, this is a direct result of the times in WWE.
14. Erick Rowan: Thoruf Marius
Erick Rowan is easily one of the strangest characters that WWE has employed over the past few years. Along with Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt he was one of the founding members of The Wyatt Family, but now it seems that this isn’t the strangest thing about him.
Rowan began his wrestling career back in 2003 under the name of Thoruf Marius. This remained his persona for a number of years and took him as far as Japan. When he was approached by WWE in 2011, they decided to change his name to Erick Rowan and sent him to FCW to prepare for the creepy character he was about to become. Without The Wyatt Family, Erick Rowan has struggled and thanks to the recent Brand Split, it would appear as though Rowan is once again left to fend for himself in the roster.
13. Kane: Doomsday
There is not a lot of information about Kane that many of the WWE Universe would find shocking or even funny, but the ‘Devil’s Favourite Demon’ also had a career before he came to WWE and he was known under a very different guise.
When Kane first began his wrestling career in the early 1990s, he debuted as Doomsday, a much different character to the one of Kane that he later portrayed in WWE. He won the USWA Championship under that name before he then began switching his names around and was signed by WWE a few months later. Now known as Kane, Glenn Jacobs (real name) must look back fondly on his days when he was known as Doomsday or Diesel or Isaac Yankem, DDS, even The Christmas Creature.
12. Simon Gotch: Psycho Seth
One-half of SmackDown’s Tag Team from yesteryear, The Vaudevillian’s Simon Gotch has risen to fame over the past few years after he joined the NXT Roster. While Gotch and his partner Aiden English have struggled to find their footing on the main roster, they did managed to make an impact down in NXT.
Before he was signed by WWE on their NXT roster Gotch was known on the Independent Circuit under various different names including Ryan Drago, Psycho Seth, Seth Lesser, and Super Otaku. He appeared for Allstar Wrestling, Chikara, and Full Impact Pro during his early years but has always had the idea of being a wrestler from the 1920s much like the one he now portrays on WWE TV alongside Aiden English.
11. Daniel Bryan: American Dragon
Perhaps not the funniest name on the list, but definitely one of the strangest. When children are asked about The American Dragon they usually refer to Jake Long from the hit TV show, but it seems Daniel Bryan also took on the name during his independent career.
Bryan found a lot of success under his American Dragon persona and even won the Ring of Honor World Championship. When Bryan took this character over to Japan he began wearing a mask as a way to allow the character to evolve and became a huge hit with the audience. Bryan used American Dragon as a nickname during his early career with WWE (working as a developmental talent) but never revisited the persona after he signed full-time to the company.
10. Corey Graves: Iron City Irvin Ickleman
Before Corey Graves signed with WWE it was believed that he could be the next CM Punk after many wrestling fans marvelled at his talent on the Independent Circuit. Or course his subsequent injury has forced him out of action but it hasn’t prevented his former ring names from coming to light.
When Corey first appeared on the Independent Circuit he was known as Iron City Irvin Ickleman as a play on the fact that he was from the ‘Iron City’ of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was then changed to Sterling James Keenan after Graves decided to pay homage to his favourite American Football Player Sterling Sharpe. Graves was then signed by WWE and given a new ring name in 2011, that has become much more acceptable. Although Graves would never become the next CM Punk in the ring, he has settled in as the best colour commentator in WWE right now.
9. JBL: Vampiro Americano
When it comes to strange ring names, JBL’s wouldn’t be one that would distinctively come to mind, but considering his former ring name sounds like a drink that’s made to order on Halloween, perhaps this one is much more interesting.
While JBL was working on the International Circuit between 1993 and 1995, he was known as Vampiro Americano. This was over on the Japanese Circuit and was where he would win the Heavyweight Championship a few months later. Luckily when he joined WWE two years later he became known as John Bradshaw and was finally rid of his vampire image. Hard to imagine the big, rough, and tough Texan portraying anything but an ass-kicker but such were the early days of JBL.
8. Xavier Woods: Consequences Creed
Xavier Woods has become one of the biggest stars on WWE’s Raw roster over the past few months after The New Day have managed to find success with their ‘power of positivity’ gimmick. But before he was known as Xavier Woods, he had a run with TNA where he answered to Consequences Creed.
He and current WWE Superstar R-Truth teamed together as Truth and Consequences as a play on both of their names at the time. He later began a team with Jay Lethal who became known as Lethal Consequences and had mild success in TNA before Woods was released from his contract and headed to WWE. Now in WWE, Woods serves as one-third of the hottest tag team in WWE, the long-serving Tag Team Champions, The New Day.
7. Sheamus: Galldubh
Sheamus was one of WWE’s first Irish athletes and certainly made a splash in the company by being one of the fastest world champions when he became Champion after just 166 days with WWE (defeating John Cena for the WWE Championship no less.)
Before he was known as The Great White in WWE, Sheamus was known as Galldubh on the Independent Circuit. This is a Welsh word with no known translation and it is thought that his gimmick was as unknown as the name itself, which must have been an incredible start to his career. With WWE, Sheamus has fluctuated up and down the card: one day performing in the main event and the next at the mid-card level. However, as Sheamus, he has still managed to find a level of success.
6. Luke Gallows: The Feakin’ Deacon
Luke Gallows has had a long, storied wrestling career so far, which includes two stints with WWE and one very successful run with New Japan Pro Wrestling. It was this stint that landed him back in WWE and allowed him to reunited with former Bullet Club teammate AJ Styles.
Before he was known as Luke Gallows, he was known as The Freakin’ Deacon in Deep-South Wrestling. He became a deranged wrestler who came to the ring with his face painted and carrying his pet spider named Willow. He used to talk to his spider throughout his matches as well until he was stolen by his former friend and teammate Palmer Cannon. Gallows now performs on the Raw brand along with his tag team partner Karl Anderson. However, the tow Bullet Club members have yet to succeed in their quest to capature the WWE Tag Team Championship.
5. Karl Anderson: Killshot
Luke Gallows’ Bullet Club teammate Karl Anderson seems to have as much of a past in wrestling as his friend because he used to be known by names such as Killshot and The Machine Gun before he was signed by WWE.
Back in 2011 Anderson competed in many matches under the guise of Killshot as part of Jeff Katz’ Wrestling Revolution Project season one. He was also known as ‘The Machine Gun’ Karl Anderson while he was a part of National Wrestling Alliance from 2005-2006 before he became known as plain Karl Anderson when he signed for WWE in 2015. As alluded to in the previous entry, Anderson and Luke Gallows continue to scratch their way to the top of the Raw roster, hoping to someday capture the WWE Tag Team Championship.
4. Mark Henry: Sexual Chocolate
Perhaps one of the funniest names on the list, but this was more of a nickname for Mark Henry than a ring name. During his early career with WWE he was known as Sexual Chocolate and even had an entrance theme that made full use of it.
He was involved in some controversial angles with the likes of Chyna and Mae Young while he performed under this ring name, which was perhaps the most uncomfortable thing to watch during WWE’s entire Attitude Era. Thankfully Henry was then given The World’s Strongest Man gimmick and The World attempted to rid themselves of that scars that had been created. If you listen carefully from time-to-time, you can hear the fans chant “Sexual Chocolate” towards Mark Henry as a way to taunt the Superstar.
3. Brian Kenrick: Spanky
The former Tag Team Champion and recent competitor on the Cruiserweight Classic has been around WWE for many years. But while he has always been known as The Brian Kendrick or just plainly Brian Kendrick during his time with WWE, he was known as Spanky on the Independent Circuit.
This was a nickname that was given to Kendrick when he was first beginning his wrestling career because of his unique way of managing to stay awake during long distance journey’s to wrestling shows. While it’s a unique nickname it is definitely considered to be one that has allowed him to stand out. In the CWC, Brian Kendrick was a sentimental favourite but was eliminated in the Round of Eight. Here’s hoping he can find some success in the new Cruiserweight division on Raw.
2. Triple H: Terra Ryzing
The COO of WWE and one of the biggest stars in currently in WWE wasn’t always the businessman that the WWE Universe recognizes today. While his ability to adapt with the wrestling business is one that has followed him since the beginning of his career, his name hasn’t.
Triple H has been known by many names over the past few decades, with the most interesting of all being Terra Ryzing. This was the name given to Triple H when he began his wrestling career with WCW in 1992. Eventually, Terra Ryzing was on his way out of WCW, heading for WWE were he befriended a group of guys who would become known as The Kliq. Since then, Triple H has gone on to become one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time.
1. Cesaro: Very Mysterious Ice Cream
Perhaps one of the greatest ring names of all time. Cesaro’s ring name during his stint with Chikara back in 2007 is worthy of taking first place. A Very Mysterious Ice Cream was made as part of Los Ice Creams and came out wearing a mask as part of the gimmick.
While this is a slightly odd name for the British or American audience, this was a seemingly normal name for a Chikara star and Cesaro stayed with the company for almost two years before he moved on to places like Combat Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor, which is where he first gained WWE’s attention. Try to imagine Cesaro coming down to the ring in WWE while being announced as “A Very Mysterious Ice Cream?” In a way, many fans would probably enjoy that.
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