Many wrestlers around the world use ring names. It helps to separate their wrestling persona from the person they are in real life. As a result of this, many fans often forget that they have real names. More often than not, these wrestlers are more frequently referred to by their fake ring names. Even in many media reports, wrestlers are referred to by their ring names. An advantage of the ring names is that it allows companies and their wrestlers to blur the lines between reality and fiction.
Some wrestling promotions, especially WWE, insist on creating ring names for all their talent. WWE almost always insist on wrestlers using a ring name so that WWE can license it and own the rights to the use of that ring name. Cody Rhodes found this out the hard way. Wrestlers who get to use their real name or pre-existing ring name are few and far between, but Shinsuke Nakamura is one such example of this.
As noted, WWE is one company who insists on their wrestlers using ring names for the most part. Impact Wrestling (previously known as GFW or TNA) is another company whose talent frequently employ ring names Ring of Honor (ROH) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) sometimes do as well, though many Japanese wrestlers just use their birth names.
As we are about to find out, some wrestlers’ ring names are similar to their birth names in some way, while others are entirely different. Continue reading to take a look at 25 wrestlers currently wresting for major promotions around the world using ring names.
25. ROMAN REIGNS – LEATI JOSEPH ANOA’I
Roman Reigns, or Leati Anoa’I, is a member of the legendary Anoa’i wrestling family. He is the son of Sika Anoa’i, who also wrestled for Vince McMahon, and the brother to the late Yokozuna (Rodney Anoa’i). Other notable wrestlers in the family tree are The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), Jimmy Uso (Jonathan Fatu) and Jey Uso (Joshua Fatu), and the late Umaga (Eddie Fatu).
Reigns never started out in the wrestling industry. He tried his hand at pro football but never made it, which led to him signing with WWE in 2010. A few years later and he is winning big matches and headlining consecutive WrestleManias. Because of the persistent support of Vince McMahon, Reigns is being considered the next face of the WWE whether the fans like it or not.
24. ETHAN CARTER III – MICHAEL HUTTER
Ethan Carter III (EC3) sounds like it could be his real name, but it isn’t. He was born Michael Hutter. Not much is known about his personal life, but there is disputing that Ethan Carter III sounds much better than “Michael Hutter”. His ring name might suggest he is a third-generation star, but this is not even the case in real life.
EC3 is currently the Impact Grand Champion and has had a great deal of success since going to Impact Wrestling following a failed stint in WWE as Derrick Bateman. He has won multiple world championships on TNA/GFW/Impact Wrestling and seems to be committed to the promotion (so far) despite its’ instability. He has appeared as a strong babyface and heel, though he is currently appearing as a heel.
23. KENNY OMEGA – TYSON SMITH
Kenny Omega’s birth name is Tyson Smith, and was born in Winnipeg, Canada. Since making his wrestling debut in 2000, he has mostly performed under the ring name “Kenny Omega”. He has become recognizable under that ring name and it is likely he will continue to wrestle as that name under any promotion he wrestles for.
Omega is currently signed to both NJPW and ROH as a member of The Bullet Club. Since AJ Styles departed for WWE in 2016, Omega has served as the stable’s leader. Omega is also the current, and inaugural, IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion, for NJPW. Omega has certainly accomplished a lot in his wrestling career, including being the first non-Japanese wrestler to win their G1 Climax tournament. As noted, he is prominently known for his involvement in The Bullet Club and their sub-group, The Elite, alongside The Young Bucks.
22. AJ STYLES – ALLEN JONES
Speaking of The Bullet Club, the wrestler known as A.J. Styles used to be the stable’s leader. He also recently wrestled other former Bullet Club member and leader, Finn Balor, at WWE’s TLC. A.J. Styles was actually born Allen Jones, which helps explain where he got the “A.J.” part of his ring name from. The 40-year-old veteran has wrestled all over the world and has to be in the conversation for one of the best active wrestlers in the world.
Styles finally found his way to WWE at the 2016 Royal Rumble, and has consistently been involved in high profile storylines ever since. Styles defeated Cena cleanly (wow!) and reunited with The Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) for a while. Styles has also won the WWE Championship and the United Championship. He is by far one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE, making it nearly impossible for him to be a heel right now.
21. CODY – CODY RUNNELS
Contrary to what some might believe, Cody’s real name is not “Cody Rhodes”. He is rarely referred to by his birth name, which is Cody Runnels. Cody Rhodes just so happens to be the ring name given to the second generation wrestler owned by WWE. This unfortunately means Cody can only go by “Cody” rather than “Cody Rhodes”, a name that he is much more familiar with and used before he even signed with WWE.
Cody has proven that a determined wrestler can have success outside WWE and make a lot of money doing so. He is wrestling all over, but is most notably signed with Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Cody is the ROH World Champion right now, but he is perhaps best known for his involvement in The Bullet Club. Cody certainly seems to be having the time of his life right now!
20. ZACK SABRE JR. – LUCAS EATWELL
Zack Sabre Jr.’s birth name is Lucas Eatwell. He is a British wrestler who started wrestling when he was 14 years old and kept going since then. Regardless of the promotion that he has been involved with, he has managed to keep his ring name which has become something of a rarity in the wrestling industry.
Sabre Jr. has bounced around quite a bit, but is currently signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Evolve, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). His championships and wrestling accolades are plentiful. He has been voted the Best Technical Wrestler by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter for three straight years (2014-2016). Sabre Jr. currently holds three championships: WCPW Internet Championship, British Heavyweight Championship, and Evolve Championship.
19. SETH ROLLINS – COLBY LOPEZ
Seth Rollins has gone by a few different ring names, most of which sound like they could be his actual birth name. His real name is actually Colby Lopez, and he was born in Buffalo, Iowa in 1986. As a teenager, Rollins was an introvert and lived a straight-edge lifestyle. While it’s uncertain if he continues to live that lifestyle, he was involved in some controversy in 2015. Private photos of former wrestler Zahra Schreiber were leaked through Rollins’ Twitter account, which led to the end of his engagement with Leighla Schultz. Rollins later broke up with Schreiber.
Rollins signed with WWE in 2010 and spent some time as a singles wrestler in NXT where he won the NXT Championship, before joining The Shield. He turned on The Shield in 2014 to join The Authority where he became WWE World Heavyweight Champion before eventually being betrayed and defeating Triple H at WrestleMania in the process. He is now firmly aligned as a babyface alongside Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, as The Shield has reunited.
18. ASUKA – KANAKO URAI
The talented Japanese female wrestler Asuka was born with the name Kanako Urai. She previously wrestled as Kana in Japan, which was just an abbrevation of her first name. However, WWE clearly felt it was best to switch her ring name to Asuka. She seems to be on board with the decision, since it translates to “future”.
The translation of Asuka proves her ring name makes perfect sense. There should be little doubt that Asuka is one of the top rising stars in the WWE women’s division and will be a star in the future for them, despite her being 36. Thus far, she has been booked appropriately. She held the NXT Women’s Championship for 523 days, the longest in WWE’s post-national expansion era. Asuka continues to remain undefeated in WWE since she made her NXT debut in October 2015. Let’s hope that steak continues for a while longer!
17. RICOCHET – TREVOR MANN
Ricochet is actually a 29-year-old named Trevor Mann. He has been using the ring name since 2003 when he started out on the indies. He has since obviously moved on to bigger wrestling promotions and has made a name for himself under the ring name of Ricochet. He is still a fairly young wrestler and it should be safe to say that he will probably keep that name regardless of where else he wrestles in the future.
Ricochet has been wrestling for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla since 2013 and is still signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Interestingly, his mannerisms in an October 9 loss implied that he had wrestled his last match. If this is true, one can’t help but wonder what his next career move will be. He also still has a no-compete clause with Lucha Underground that should expire soon. Regardless, the immensely popular and talented high-flying wrestler will be an attraction for any wrestling company. As long as he is used right wherever he winds up, he is a supremely talented wrestler who should be a main event type of star.
16. SASHA BANKS – MERCEDES KAESTNER-VARNADO
Sasha Banks’ birth name, Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado, is quite a mouthful. It was a smart idea by WWE to make her name much more recognizable and easy to pronounce. Banks is of African-American and German descent and has some famous cousins: Snoop Dogg, Brandy Norwood, and Ray J.
Banks has been at the forefront of the Women’s Revolution on WWE and is one of their most talented in-ring performers. In WWE, Banks has already had five championships although some of them came during the time when her and Charlotte kept switching being champion. Regardless, Banks will be a crucial member of the Women’s division moving forward. She also competed in multiple high profile matches, including the first ever women’s Hell In A Cell match against Charlotte.
15. THE MIZ – MIKE MIZANIN
The birth name of The Miz is Mike Mizanin. While he was on The Real World in 2001, he created “The Miz” character and alter ego to make him stand out. When he wanted to enter wrestling, he realized it would be a good wrestling gimmick (which it has been). He has been known as The Miz ever since.
The Miz has recently come into his own in recent years with WWE. He has been given a microphone with greater regularity and been allowed to show off his ability. The Miz has been a staple in the mid-card of both Raw and SmackDown for the past few years and is usually involved in meaningful storylines. He is currently in his seventh reign as the Intercontinental Champion.
14. IO SHIRAI – MASAMI ODATE
Io Shirai is a female Japanese wrestler who was given the name Masami Odate at birth. Throughout her wrestling career, she has used many different ring names but Io Shirai is the one that she is best known for.
Shirai is one of the most talented female wrestlers in the world right now. She is currently wrestling for World Wonder Ring Stardom, where she is currently a Artist of Stardom Champion. Shirai has won countless other championships with Stardom and other promotions, justified by her incredible enthusiasm and in-ring ability. She was originally supposed to compete in WWE’s Mae Young Classic but she was removed because of what was believed to be a neck injury. Stardom is surely glad to have Io Shirai still on their roster!
13. SIENNA – ALLYSIN KAY
Allysin Kay has gone by a few different ring names during her time on the indie scene. She is best known by her ring name Sienna, since she signed with Impact Wrestling in 2016. The 29-year-old is a veteran of the wrestling industry, having first started in 2008, but it was not until 2016 when she signed with a “bigger” promotion. Sienna has improved her in-ring skills considerably and she is yet another technically talented female wrestler in an industry that is only just starting to waken up to the idea of female wrestlers being more than just eye candy (at least in North America).
In the short time she has been with Impact Wrestling, she has been a champion three times. She was the GFW Women’s Champion before that championship was merged, and is currently in her second reign as Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion.
12. ALEXA BLISS – ALEXIS KAUFMAN
The 26-year-old cheerleader turned wrestler goes by the ring name Alexa Bliss in WWE, but her birth name is Alexis Kaufman. She got Alexa since it is shortened from “Alexis” and Bliss was added to her ring name when she was saying “bless your heart” in NXT and someone thought she said “bliss”. It has stuck with her and the name Alexa Bliss fits the talented blonde well.
She is one of the few wrestlers to hae not spent any time on the indies, as she was a pro cheerleader and bodybuilder instead. Between that and the fact that she was not as highly touted in NXT as the others, Bliss has done well for herself to get to the spot she is in today. Bliss has held both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championship and has proven herself as one of the most reliable and talented talkers on the mic, while steadily improving her actual wrestling skills. Though not one of WWE’s Four Horsewomen, Bliss has arguably been just as critical to the success of women’s wrestling in WWE.
11. ABYSS – CHRISTOPER PARKS
Abyss was a ring name devised for him by Impact Wrestling. His birth name is Christopher Parks. Abyss is a much better name for his wrestling character as it makes him stand out much better than using a variation of his birth name would. He also frequently appears under the ring name of Joseph Parks, Esq., his alter ego.
Abyss is currently signed to Impact Wrestling, where he has mostly wrestled since 2002. Abyss has won several championships with the promotion, and is one of two wrestlers to win NWA World Heavyweight Championship while competing wearing a mask. Abyss has also became the fourth wrestler to complete the Triple Crown Championship since he won all required championships and is the second to complete the Grand Slam Championship.
10. ROSEMARY – HOLLY LETKEMAN
Rosemary is a Canadian born wrestler whose real name is actually Holly Letkeman. She is one of the few female wrestlers who regularly wear extensive face paint as part of their persona. Rosemary was a fan of wrestling from a very young age, and her background in film studies and theater helped her develop a more interesting wrestling character. PJ Tyler and Courtney Rush are some of the other ring names Letkeman has gone by throughout her career.
Rosemary is currently signed to Impact Wrestling, and she was an Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion. The talented female wrestler was involved in the infamous incident at TripleMania XXV in Lucha Libre AAA. During the match, Sexy Star applied a submission hold on Rosemary and legitimately popped Rosemary’s arm out of place. The incident prompted widespread criticism of Sexy Star and is a recent example of poor sportsmanship in wrestling.
9. DEAN AMBROSE – JONATHAN GOOD
Dean Ambrose was apparently a ring name chosen for him by the late Dusty Rhodes in developmental. He said it was a change since he had always been known as “Jon Moxley”, which is much closer to his actual name, Jonathan Good. He grew up in the East End of Cincinnati, which is where most of his WWE persona is based on.
Dean Ambrose broke into WWE with his Shield brethren, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. His character is largely meant to come across as wild, reckless, and unstable. Like his aforementioned Shield brothers, Ambrose has also held singles championship gold. He won Money In The Bank in 2016 and cashed it in later that night on Seth Rollins, a move that seemingly solidifed him as a main event talent on SmackDown Live. He has since dropped to the mid-card on Raw, but has reunited with Seth Rollins to win tag-team gold and is now part of The Shield reunion.
8. MATT SYDAL – MATTHEW KORKLAN
Some WWE fans may recognize him as Evan Borne, but since leaving WWE, the former WWE Tag Team Champion has gone by the name of Matt Sydal.
The ring name of Matt Sydal is close to his birth name, which is Matthew Korklan. He has used the ring name of Matt Sydal during his time on the indies and with Impact Wrestling. He was also previously known by the ring name of Evan Bourne during his time with WWE between 2008 and 2014.
The high flying wrestler is currently signed to Impact Wrestling, where he can show off his lucha libre style of wrestling. He has also recently spent time with ROH and NJPW where he has had some success. Although he has never held a singles championship yet, he has won several tag team championships in all the major promotions he appeared in.
7. SAMI ZAYN – RAMI SEBEI
Sami Zayn is Canadian but is of Syrian descent, which is reflected in his birth name, Rami Sebei. It sure seems like when WWE chose a ring name for him, they just took his first name and replaced it with an S to make it sound more “American”. His pre-WWE ring name, El Generico, was a good name but WWE seldom allows pre-existing names to be used.
Sami Zayn has had a somewhat difficult run on the WWE main roster. The ‘Underdog from the Underground’ was an NXT Champion but has struggled to maintain much success despite being a fan favourite. He has recently turned heel and aligned himself with his former nemesis Kevin Owens. The heel turn might do a world of good for Zayn, as his character seems revitalized.
6. REY MYSTERIO – OSCAR GUTIERREZ
Everywhere he has wrestled so far, he has been known by some variation of Rey Mysterio. In WWE and Lucha Underground, he has wrestled under the ring name of Rey Mysterio. He has also gone by Rey Misterio and Rey Mysterio Jr. during his lengthy wrestling career. Despite the fame associated with that name, his birth name is actually Oscar Gutierrez.
The masked superstar is currently signed to Lucha Underground, where he has been wrestling since 2015. Mysterio is credited with being the first wrestler to really bring cruiserweight/high-flying wrestling to the forefront. He is probably best known for his time in WWE that lasted over a decade and saw him win several world championships. It remains to be seen if he will ever wrestle for WWE again before retiring (he is 42), but he is a sure bet to be a WWE Hall of Famer someday.
5. KEVIN OWENS – KEVIN STEEN
Kevin Owens is a Canadian wrestler whose birth name is Kevin Steen. Prior to joining WWE, he actually did not use a ring name for most of his career. He just simply went as “Kevin Steen”. When he joined WWE, he was told he needed to use a ring name and decided upon Kevin Owens. He kept his first name of Kevin, and decided to add “Owens” to it as an homage to the late Owen Hart. He also named his son Owen after Owen Hart as well.
Owens has been one of the top perfomers pretty much since he made his main roster debut in 2015 and cleanly defeated John Cena. Owens, as a top heel, has consistently been involved in solid storylines and around the championship scene on both Raw and Smackdown. In a span of just over 2 years, Owens has already won the Universal Championship, Intercontinental Championship twice, and the United States Championship three times.
4. ELI DRAKE – SHAUN RICKER
Eli Drake was born by the name of Shaun Ricker on November 2 1982. He was trained by Cody Hawk and has been wrestling since 2002. A large part of his career was spent on the indie scene where he wrestled some high quality matches and won a few championships. He briefly spent some time in WWE developmental under the ring name Slate Randall, but was released without making it on TV.
Drake is currently signed to Impact Wrestling, which is where he has started to earn some recognition. He is currently the Impact Global Champion and is taking full advantage of a lack of big name stars on the promotion to prove himself and to prove he is a talented wrestler who is deserving of a push. Drake also has connections to The Rock, as Drake appeared on his TV show, The Hero, in 2013.
3. FINN BALOR – FERGAL DEVITT
Finn Balor is another very talented wrestler who appears on this list of wrestlers who perform under a ring name. The 36-year-old was born Fergal Devitt, but very few people in the world will know him by that name. Balor spent a lot of time in NJPW under the ring name “Prince Devitt”, which is much closer to his actual name.
Balor signed with WWE in 2014 and went to NXT where he quickly became NXT Champion. He still holds the record for the longest reign with the title, at 293 days. He won the Universal Championship in pay-per-view debut at SummerSlam in 2016 against Seth Rollins. He had to relinquish it the following day because of a legitimate injury sadly. Since that time, Balor has not been booked as well as his talent indicates he should be. He has mostly been stuck in mid-card feuds when the veteran should be in main event matches against the likes of AJ Styles, Brock Lesnar, or even John Cena.
2. CHEESEBURGER – BRANDEL LITTLEJOHN
This has to be one of greatest ring names in wrestling right now, in any major promotion. His real name isn’t quite as exciting: Brandel Littlejohn. In a 2016 episode of Talk is Jericho, Littlejohn revealed that he went by the name Cheeseburger when he is in the ROH DoJo and it stuck with him. Rhett Titus saw Littlejohn and said, “Damn, that boy needs to eat some cheesburgers.” That has to be one of the best ways to come up with a unique ring name.
Despite his awesome ring name, Cheesburger has mostly been used as a jobber because of his small stature. That is really unfortunate because is a fan favourite with the fans, who would surely love to see him get a push. He is currently wrestling for Impact Wrestling and Ring Of Honour.
1. THE UNDERTAKER – MARK CALAWAY
Well, this one is fairly obvious. The Undertaker is obviously the ring name for Mark Calaway. He was born in Texas and continues to live there to this day. Not much is known about Mark Calaway because he essentially lives as The Undertaker character. He seldom does interviews or is seen in public, which probably helped his character last as long as it did. We do know that Calaway is married to former WWE Diva Michelle McCool, but has been married twice before to Jodi Lynn (1989 – 1999) and Sara Frank (2000 – 2007).
The WWE career of The Undertaker cannot be fairly summed up in a single paragraph. Needless to say, he is a future Hall of Famer and is a legend in the industry. He’s pretty much done it all and has become a highly respected veteran. He is known his unprecedented 21 consecutive wins at WrestleMania.
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