WWE Superstars are rarely able to keep their real names when they are signed to the company, mostly because WWE like to own the rights to the name that they create so that the superstar cant use it elsewhere and cash in on the spotlight that they have given them after they are released. While there are some impressive gimmick names that have been seen in the company over the past few years, there are even more real names that the company should have let the wrestlers keep instead. Some superstars parents were unaware that one day they would be in the spotlight, which could be why they decided to give them such strange names.
There are some wrestlers that suit their real name much better than they suit their gimmick name, which is a shock since gimmick names are usually the ones that the wrestlers come up with themselves, with a little help from the WWE creative team. The following list looks at just 25 of the strangest real names that WWE superstars have, some that would have made much better character names that the ones that the company actually created. Some of these beg the question as to why Vince McMahon didn't just build an entire character around their real name.
25 Barbie Blank (Kelly Kelly)
Kelly Kelly came to WWE as part of the revamped ECW brand back in 2006 and went on to be one of the most memorable stars on the roster until the brand came to an end a few years later and she was moved over to the main roster of WWE. Kelly Kelly was always seen as a strange name for a wrestler, especially since Kelly's real name is Barbie Blank, something that would have covered her wrestling character much better than her actual name did.
She always came across as a character who was a little bit ditzy which is why many female wrestlers commented on the fact that she was named the same thing twice, but it wasn't something that was ever actually discussed in her career. Kelly is just one of a few women in WWE history who could have made much more of an impact using her real name, which is a shame since WWE thought it was necessary to change it to something that is bland compared to what they already had. Kelly did well with what she had as a former Divas Champion, but maybe Kelly would have had more success if she was given the chance to play someone called Barbie since she did look like a Barbie doll.
24 Jonathan Good (Dean Ambrose)
Dean Ambrose has been nicknamed "The Lunatic Fringe" throughout his wrestling career, but how much different would his career and character have been if the company had allowed him to keep his given name? Jonathan Good isn't a great name for any kind of wrestler since it sounds like a name of a face in the 1990s, it's a surprise that the company didn't call him Johnny B. Good.
Ambrose's name came into his career when he first started since he became a well-known star under the name Jon Moxley, but when he made his way over to WWE the company wanted to push him away from the reputation that he had for over the top and dangerous matches. Dean Ambrose is definitely a strange name and one that came from out of nowhere but it's one that has allowed Ambrose to have lot more freedom in the ring and with his character since there is nothing attached to him to say he has to be a face or a heel. Moxley became known as his heel name and Good would have been a bland face name, so at least if Vince McMahon laughed at his name, to begin with, he's managed to push him forward with a much better name ever since.
23 Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt)
Bray Wyatt is a third generation superstar and someone who was always destined to wind up in WWE because of the connection to his father Mike Rotunda and his grandfather Blackjack Mulligan. Even though Bray Wyatt and his brother Bo Dallas came through the ranks in NXT before it became the phenomenon that it is today, they were both given ring names that were completely different to their real names despite having quite impressive real names of their own.
Windham Rotunda is a fantastic name and would have worked well as a ring name for someone like Wyatt who is seen as a strange entity, but it appears that the company thought Bray Wyatt was a much better option. Maybe the inventive chants that the WWE Universe could come up with because of the strange name were one of the main reasons why they decided to change it and the fact that WWE like to copyright all of their names as well. It's strange that Bray has ended up with a name of this caliber though since his brother is called Taylor and his sister is called Samantha, he's the only member of the family who doesn't have a bland name.
22 Oleg Prudius (Vladimir Kozlov)
There is nothing that Vince McMahon loves more than foreign talent that he can enjoy creating ring name's for, the only issue is that when it came to Vladimir Kozlov, he already had the perfect name for a character if Vince had allowed him to keep it. How much different would his career have been if he was introduced as Oleg Prudius? It genuinely sounds like the perfect name for an upper-class heel superstar.
There hasn't been another wrestler in history who has been called Oleg and at that point, there wasn't a baby Meerkat with the name either, so it would have worked perfectly. In WWE, there are a number of stars who have been able to keep their given names throughout their careers like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and even Michelle McCool, so why couldn't the company allow Vladimir to keep this name instead of coming up with one that didn't roll off the tongue very well at all. There are issues when it comes to stars using their real names after they have left the company but why can they change the rule for some stars and not for others? Maybe it was the name that was the reason that Vladimir's career wasn't as successful as the company had hoped, I guess they will never know.
21 Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah (Kofi Kingston)
Kofi is a star like many others over the course of the company who has been able to keep part of his name only for WWE to then connect it to a different last name. It's hard to see the former Tag Team Champion as anything but Kofi Kingston right now and the reason that WWE changed his name was probably because of issues with pronunciation.
Kingston was able to remain known as Kofi, which is something that he has had throughout his career. The Ghanaian star didn't have much of an Independent career before he was signed by WWE back in 2006 and over the past 12 years, he has become a popular character in their main roster. The fact that he wasn't well-known when he came to WWE worked in his favour because it meant that WWE didn't have to completely change his name like they have with many other well-known Independent wrestlers. Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah doesn't have the same ring to it as Kofi Kingston so it appears that this was a decent decision for the company to make and it has definitely helped the longevity of his career since his name has become adaptable in recent years.
20 Monty Sopp (Billy Gunn)
The Badass Billy Gunn will be best remembered for his time as one half of The New Age Outlaws before going on to work behind the scenes in WWE. The New Age Outlaws were a huge part of a roster in a time when names were everything and they needed to get across well with the crowd if the superstar had any hopes of becoming a popular entity. Billy Gunn and Road Dogg definitely made their point, but how much different would it have been if Gunn had kept the name Monty Sopp?
It's hard to look at the star and imagine him as anyone but Billy Gunn, but his parents know him as Monty Sopp and even though it's a fantastic name to say out loud, it would have been a terrible ring name. It sounds like the name that WWE should have given to Perry Saturn when his gimmick was linked to a mop. It's obvious that this was a name that Vince McMahon took one look at and laughed uncontrollably, which could be why it was changed, if the WWE Universe found the name funnier than the character then it left him with an uphill battle, which is pretty unfair.
19 Rami Sebei (Sami Zayn)
Sami Zayn was once known as El Generico when he was working on the Independent Circuit, but it appears that he is another superstar who has an interesting real name. Sami is of Syrian and Canadian descent and this obviously comes across in his name Rami Sebei. There was a time in his independent career before he was known as El Generico that Zayn was known by his real name. This obviously didn't work out well for him, since he was only on WWE's radar when he became the masked superstar and made his way over to Ring of Honor, where he performed against his longtime friend Kevin Owens.
Zayn's heritage has never been used as part of his character or even been mentioned by WWE on-screen. This could be why WWE has tried to keep his ring name as bland as possible so that Zayn had the chance to become a star based on his ability in the ring and on the mic rather than his roots. He has become one of the most popular stars in the company in recent years, which is completely down to him and his alliance with Kevin Owens, which is exactly as it should be.
18 Randy Poffo (Randy Savage)
The Macho Man Randy Savage was a huge part of the history of the wrestling business, but would he have had the same kind of impact in a wrestling ring if he was known as Randy Poffo? Savage is a much better ring name and it has much more impact behind it because at that time it was all about spelling out who you were before you stepped in the ring.
Savage was a superstar at a time when wrestlers were larger than life, they weren't just wrestlers, they were characters, they were stars and they had to do everything that they could to stand out. Every wrestler had a nickname that told the fans everything they needed to know about them and Savage wouldn't have pulled off the "Macho Man" facade very well if he was known under his real name of Randy Poffo. Like many stars of that era, his real name is now common knowledge, but that doesn't matter because he wasn't Poffo when he stepped into the ring, he was Randy Savage, he had his character and it allowed him to step in the ring and become someone else, which is exactly what a wrestling character should be.
17 Curtis Hussey (Fandango)
Fandango was known as Johnny Curtis throughout his time in NXT before WWE decided to change his entire character and gimmick and have him re-debut on the main roster as Fandango. This was a huge push for him and he became a popular star for a number of months following his debut, even shocking defeating Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, before his 15 minutes of fame came to an end.
Fandango is a strange name and one that works well as a dancer of his caliber, but why couldn't he be known as Curtis Hussey?
Of course, there is already a Curtis in WWE, so that could be why he couldn't keep his own name and it is likely that the company would have allowed Hussey to be a name on a PG show since it means something completely different in the United Kingdom and the chants from the WWE Universe wouldn't have been acceptable under that banner either. Vince McMahon is definitely a man with a sense of humor, so it's obvious that he found Fandango's real name hilarious, which is why he went on to give him one that is just as funny, but usable in a PG environment.
16 Colby Lopez (Seth Rollins)
Seth Rollins is the current Intercontinental Champion and someone who has been at the top of the company before. He was the man who was handpicked to end The Shield and then cash in his Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania, but would it have been the same if his name was Colby Lopez or even Tyler Black?
It's understandable that WWE didn't want Seth to keep his Tyler Black name when he made his way over to WWE since it was one that was linked to his Independent career and what had been a fantastic few years for him in Ring of Honor. Colby Lopez is a completely different thing altogether, Rollins given name sound like he's related to either Jennifer Lopez or Mario and Colby doesn't have a wrestling ring to it at all. Rollins stated that he himself came up with his new wrestling name when he combined Henry Rollins with the name Seth since it's one that he has always liked. It could have been his choice to not keep his real name since many stars like to be able to step in and out of character so that they can still have some kind of personal life.
15 Amy Dumas (Lita)
Lita is a WWE Hall of Famer and former four-time Women's Champion, she is the woman that inspired many of the current Women's Division to lace up their boots and step into the WWE ring, but could she have done the same thing with the name Amy Dumas?
One thing that many fans have pointed out over the years is the fact that they can't pronounce Lita's surname correctly. If she used her given name at that time then many fans would be calling her "Amy Dumbass" just because it isn't clear that it is pronounced "Duma." This is another one that Vince would have definitely found funny and probably made a point of pronouncing it wrong just because he could. Lita has a much more hard-hitting appeal to it in the ring and made a perfect heel alongside someone like Trish Stratus who managed to retain her real name and come across as a girl next door character. One of the things that made Lita so successful was her name and there is no doubting the fact that it definitely had to be changed or she wouldn't have lasted in the company anywhere near as long as she did.
14 Eldridge Coleman (Billy Graham)
Superstar Billy Graham was someone who oozed that superstar name and allowed his character to flow through him, it could be argued that he wouldn't have been seen as much of a superstar with the ring name Eldridge Coleman. Graham was an icon and someone who revolutionized wrestling throughout his tenure before he then went on to be someone who inspired some of the biggest names in wrestling to step into the ring.
Graham changed wrestling because of the way he conducted himself in interviews and inside the ring and this is why he is known as one of the company's biggest living legends and is currently signed to WWE on a legend's contract. While it is completely feasible that he had the talent to do all of this while he was known as Eldridge, it's hard to believe that the WWE Universe would have backed him throughout that time. Eldridge isn't a name that many people come across very often in their lives, which means that it's highly likely that many of the wrestlers in that day found his name hilarious because it sounds like he was an upperclass man from a high ranking family, which wasn't the case at all.
13 Richard Blood (Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat)
Why on earth did WWE decide to change Ricky's name to Steamboat, in the era that The Dragon was seen as a WWE Superstar, the name Blood would have been fantastic? It was always thought that Ricky's real name was Steamboat because it's such a strange one to be able to come up with, but it appears that his birth name was actually Richard Blood.
The Dragon became known for so much more than just his name throughout his career and was even able to inspire his son Richie into the business as well. Even though Richie was never able to achieve the greatness that his father's legacy had left behind, it proved that there was wrestling in his blood. Ricky was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame back in 2009 and has been seen as a trainer in NXT in recent years. Ever since 2013 Ricky has been an Ambassador for WWE instead, since it appears that he wasn't happy when the company released his son, so he left the company as a trainer but remained as an Ambassador. Ricky's son Richie is also called Richard Blood, so it appears that the family has been cursed with the name "Dick Blood" for the next few generations.
12 Roderick Toombs (Roddy Piper)
Rowdy Roddy Piper is a superstar who changed the game in the wrestling ring so many times that it's hard to imagine WWE history without him. Roddy Piper was one of the men who revolutionalized the business from the moment he stepped into the ring and could easily have pulled off the same feat if he had kept the name Roderick Toombs but it feels like a name that would have worked out much better for someone like The Undertaker.
Roddy is an abbreviation of his first name but appears that the company thought the same way when they looked at Toombs as a ring name for the star and decided against it. Piper managed to become a success despite the fact that his name was changed and has inspired many stars to turn to a career in the wrestling business including former UFC Champion Ronda Rousey who has shown a number of times throughout her career that she looked up to the former World Champion and has even taken over his "Rowdy" nickname. The former MMA star has watched the business for most of her life and one of her biggest inspirations in this career has been Roddy Piper.
11 Allen Jones (AJ Styles)
AJ Styles is a name that has been part of the wrestling business for so long now that many of the WWE Universe have accepted it and WWE even allowed him to keep it after he moved over to the company following a successful stint in TNA. Styles is someone who has dedicated his life to the wrestling business and has been very successful in this career path, that being said it's hard to imagine someone with the personality and character that AJ has being called Allen.
Allen is the kind of name that you'd expect from a middle-aged man who is working at a bank, not the current WWE Champion.
His initials are AJ and it's obvious that this is why he chose to be known as AJ rather than Allen, it is something that he has passed down to his children as well since all three of his sons and his daughter all also have the initials AJ, even though there has been no word yet on whether or not AJ's children want to follow in their footsteps. AJ is someone who definitely looks nothing like an Allen Jones, which makes this so much harder to believe.
10 Fergal Devitt (Finn Balor)
Finn Balor was the Inaugural Universal Champion back in 2016 and has been known by a number of ring names throughout his career including Prince Devitt when he was making a name for himself in Japan. When Devitt made his way over to WWE, the company didn't want him to keep the name that he had made famous in the Land of The Rising Sun and he then became Finn Balor, named after the Irish mythological creature Balor.
Finn's real name is actually Fergal Devitt, a name that couldn't possibly become any more Irish than it already is. Unless the company was looking to make Finn another character that was seen as an Irish love letter from WWE, then it would have made no sense for him to keep his given name. It is a name that is somewhat hilarious when Balor is the one to say it out loud though since his accent makes the name sound much worse than it already is. Balor was the best name for him so that he wasn't seen as just another superstar passing through representing his Irish roots and so far he has managed to become a success within his new character.
9 Gionna Daddio (Liv Morgan)
Liv Morgan joined the WWE without any prior wrestling experience just a few short years ago and has been able to climb the ranks in WWE through NXT and onto the main roster where she is now part of the Raw roster alongside Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan as The Riott Squad. The trio has been successful on the main roster over the past six months, but it appears that all three women have gone through major changes since they joined the company.
Liv is the only member of the group who wasn't part of the Independent Circuit, with Sarah Logan being known as Crazy Mary Dobson and Ruby Riott once being seen as Heidi Lovelace. Liv's real name is Gionna Daddio, which genuinely sounds like the name of a star who would be part of the adult entertainment business, so this could be the reason that the company thought that it was best to change it to something that rolls off the tongue much easier. The name Liv has also allowed the former NXT star to come up with catchy merchandise phrases as well, something that wouldn't have been as easy to do if she was still called Gionna Daddio.
8 Ettore Ewen (Big E)
Big E was once known as Big E Langston when he was part of the NXT set up and only the second recognized NXT Champion. It's obvious that the Big E part of his ring name comes from the fact that his real name is Ettore, but it's unknown as to why the company didn't decide to allow him to keep that name.
Big E lost the Langston part of his name a few years ago and is now seen as just Big E in the New Day, a group that has had a lot of success in WWE in recent years.
Big E himself is another superstar who joined the company without any wrestling experience since he had a background in powerlifting, it appears that wrestling was the appropriate next step in his career. It's hard to imagine him being pushed to the highest level of the company with the name Ettore Ewen, but stranger things have happened. Current speculation suggests that Big E could be the star who steps into the Money in the Bank ladder match and wins the contract for his team, something that Ettore would definitely deserve after years of dominating the Tag Team Division.
7 Aurelian Smith (Jake "The Snake" Roberts)
Jake "The Snake" Roberts became a star in his own right and even though he was unable to lift a WWE Championship in his career, he is still a WWE Hall of Famer. It's hard to imagine Jake with a different name but it appears that Aurelian Smith Jr. is the name that he was actually given.
Roberts is another superstar who comes from a wrestling family as the son of former wrestler Grizzly Smith. His brother and sister also went on to become wrestlers under the ring names Sam Houston and Rockin' Robin, but their success was never on the same level as their brothers. There were reports in his earlier career that Jake actually wanted to wrestle under his given name but the company wouldn't allow it, so Roberts obviously opted to use his middle name for part of his ring name when this was turned down. The fact that Damien was one of the biggest parts of his character is why he was given "The Snake" nickname, but Roberts is something that was obviously just added for effect, in a time when almost every superstar had two names as well as a nickname. It appears that times have definitely changed.
6 Ron Killings (R-Truth)
There are so many superstars who have come through the company over the past few years and had much better real names than the ring names the company has decided on. R-Truth is one of these stars since Ron Killings would have been a fantastic name for him to have had in an era when it was all about the name and the character.
When Truth came to WWE he already had quite a history after spending some time in prison when he was still quite young. It's likely that the company decided to change his name to push his character away from the persona that he had created for himself and allow him to then get a fresh start in the wrestling business. Truth has had a lengthy wrestling career with the same gimmick over the past decade, which shows that obviously, the creative team knew what they were doing when they pitched his character and gimmick all those years ago. Truth hasn't featured on WWE TV in recent months, but his retirement hasn't been officially announced, which means that he's likely going to return to TV screens in the coming months before he officially walks away from the wrestling business for the final time.
5 Nuufolau Seanoa (Samoa Joe)
Samoa Joe isn't actually Samoan, he's an American superstar who has been given the ring name Samoa Joe because it's much easier to pronounce than Nuufolau Seanoa. WWE is a business and when they sign superstars to the company they have to know that they are going to connect and they will make money out of them otherwise it's a waste.
Joe was able to make his name a success throughout his run in TNA and when he was finally signed to WWE he was one of few wrestlers who were able to keep their ring names when they moved over to the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. Joe hasn't had the success that many expected of him on the main roster since he's a former NXT Champion, but he has now been pushed into the WWE Championship picture, which means that he could finally reach the promised land in a company where The Chairman didn't actually like him. It was reported that Vince McMahon didn't sign Samoa Joe because he thought he was "just a fat wrestler" so it was Triple H who first signed him to NXT and he has since been able to prove that The Game was right to bring him into the company.
4 Peter England (Pete Dunne)
Pete Dunne burst onto the WWE scene back in 2017 when he was one of the biggest stars of the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Championship. Even though Dunne didn't win the tournament, he was signed to WWE and was able to defeat Tyler Bate a few months later to lift the United Kingdom Championship for the first time, a title he has now held for more than a year.
Pete has always been known by his current ring name, which could be because his given name Peter England is a name that WWE would probably have laughed at since it's something that creative would have called someone like William Regal when he first started his career in the biggest wrestling company in the world. England as a name for someone who is actually English could be seen as overkill, but it's interesting that the company has never mentioned it, even when looking at aspects of his life outside of the company. The second annual United Kingdom tournament takes place next month and could finally see someone dethrone the long-time Champion and will also bring many other United Kingdom-based talents into the spotlight and onto the NXT roster in the coming months.
3 Nhooph Al-Areebi (Aliyah)
Aliyah has been part of the WWE set up now ever since she was 20-years-old and started at the very bottom in the company's Performance Center, where she trained for more than three years before she was taken seriously on the NXT roster. Aliyah went through a number of characters before she settled on her "Cat's Meow" gimmick which included trying out a belly dancer gimmick which was featured on WWE Breaking Ground.
Even though Aliyah had to work hard to establish what her character in WWE was going to be, her name wasn't that much of a problem. The company gave her the name Aliyah when she first found her feet because the name Nhooph wouldn't have connected as well with the WWE Universe. It is unknown what the origins of her name actually are, but it is reported that she is of Arab descent, which would explain why it is so unique. Aliyah is someone who is finally being seen as a threat to the Women's Championship down in NXT, so after three years of training, the world could finally be about to find out who she really is. It's an interesting time for NXT and their Women's Division and it could see a number of women finally stand up and be counted.
2 Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (Shawn Michaels)
Shawn Michaels is one of the biggest legends that the company has ever created and someone that is considered to be one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. It's hard to imagine him having the same kind of career if he was allowed to wrestle under the name Michael Shawn Hickenbottom. Michaela revealed in his Heartbreak & Triumph book that his name was always something that he would be bullied for, so it's likely that he was happy to change it when he entered the wrestling business.
It was the Hickenbottom part of Shawn's name that many of his fellow school friends found so funny and were able to then use in a derogative way, which could be why the star himself opted to call himself Shawn Michaels and only use the beginning of his name when he was in the spotlight. Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels had an interesting relationship, so it's easy to see him finding his name as hilarious as all of those school kids once did. Shawn Michaels was the one who had the last laugh though since he is now one of the best-remembered superstars in the company's history, a former World Champion and is also a WWE Hall of Famer.
1 Terrence Guido Gerin (Rhyno)
The Man Beast Rhyno was best-known for his time in ECW before he was brought to WWE and most recently was able to become one-half of the inaugural SmackDown Tag Team Champions. It's hard to imagine the man that calls his finishing move "Gore" actually being called Terrence backstage.
Rhyno has always been billed as a beast and it would be hard for anyone to see someone called Terrance as intimidating. Not only that, but his middle name is also known as a derogative term, so there was no way he would have been able to do what many other wrestlers have and be known by his middle name either. Rhyno's real name has come in handy for him in recent years since he has expressed his desire to step into the world of politics, a place where Terrance would actually fit in quite well. This could be why he has been featured on WWE TV much less than usual as he looks for other avenues of employment outside of the company since he's now reached the age of 42 and could be contemplating his retirement from the wrestling business that he has been part of ever since he was 19 years old.