Imagine you’re watching a wrestler for the first time. You notice how loud and boisterous they sound when cutting promos, or perhaps how unusual their in-ring personas are. Then you read up about that wrestler and find out that their real name is just as unassuming as their character is over-the-top. It’s happened time and again in the annals of wrestling history.
When coming up with this list, we took two things in consideration when judging if a “shoot name” is boring and/or normal. The first name has to be common for people born in that wrestler’s generation, and the last name should also be common in their country of origin. So with that said, let’s look at five wrestlers with some of the loudest or most bizarre gimmicks out there, but with real names that scream “average Joe.”
5. Road Dogg (Brian James)
No discussion about over-the-top wrestlers can be complete without mentioning the tag team known for what was probably the most OTT entrance of all-time – The New Age Outlaws. Previously a nondescript country-singing mid-carder known as “The Real Double J” Jesse James, Road Dogg convinced Billy Gunn to drop The Honky Tonk Man as his manager. And with that the Outlaws were off to the races, helping lead the way in the Attitude Era with their risqué promos and on-air shenanigans as part of D-Generation X.
While Gunn’s real name of Monty Sopp is hardly common in any way, that’s not the case with Road Dogg, who was born Brian Girard James. That’s only slightly less unassuming than his father, wrestling legend “Bullet” Bob Armstrong’s real name of Joseph James.
4. Kane (Glenn Jacobs)
After two failed stints, one as evil dentist Isaac Yankem, and the next as the Fake Diesel; WWE finally struck gold when this wrestler was repackaged as Kane, the disfigured half-brother of The Undertaker. In the two decades since then, he’s seen his character frequently evolve. Kane lost his kayfabe deformities, began to speak normally, and even had a run as a suit-wearing corporate stooge. But certain over-the-top elements of his character remained as of late, mainly his “ability” to activate pyro effects with mere hand gestures.
Kane’s wrestling career may be winding down, but if he becomes Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, you can be sure more people than ever may know him by the his normal-sounding birth name of Glenn Jacobs.
3. Abyss (Christopher Parks)
As this list is not exclusively confined to WWE wrestlers, we might as well include a TNA Original in here, and a man whose usual gimmick is extremely similar to that of the man we mentioned above him. Whether wielding a barbed wire bat named after Dixie Carter’s mother, or masquerading as a mild-mannered, bespectacled gentleman named Joseph Park, Abyss has been one of Impact Wrestling’s most out-there characters of all time. While he was reportedly courted by WWE in the past, you’ve got to respect his loyalty to an often-troubled company.
If you’re wondering where the name “Joseph Park” comes from, it originates from Abyss’ birth name of Christopher Joseph Parks. Yup, he’s just an average guy with an average name when he’s not up to some bizarre antics on Impact Wrestling TV.
2. Papa Shango/The Godfather (Charles Wright)
For an example of someone who was over-the-top while playing two separate gimmicks, let’s take a look at the voodoo priest Papa Shango. This character is best-known for two things – making The Ultimate Warrior bleed black, and missing his cue to interfere as Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice main evented WrestleMania VIII. Years later, he became The Godfather, a wrestling pimp who made his ring entrances accompanied by a bevy of pretty women he referred to as his “hoes.”
While both gimmicks were certainly outlandish, the man behind them has a pretty unassuming real name, which is Charles Wright. That’s not the name you’d expect from somebody who’s fondly remembered for his “ho train,” and less fondly remembered for his hokey kayfabe sorcery.
1. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson)
There is probably no one more successful as an over-the-top wrestler than The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment, The Rock. Of course, he wasn’t always hamming it up to the pleasure of his millions (and millions) of fans. He debuted as a raw, boring character called Rocky Maivia, combining the names of his father (Rocky Johnson) and grandfather (Peter Maivia) as WWE’s so-called “blue chipper.” Fortunately, WWE made the right decision to let The Rock show off his swaggering personality, and fans have been better for it ever since.
Thanks to what is now his primary career, even non-fans are aware that The Rock has a pretty ordinary name, which he is also billed as in his movies – Dwayne Johnson. “Dwayne” might not sound as electrifying as “The Rock,” but you can’t deny the man’s personality and charisma has helped make him a bona fide wrestling legend.
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