WWE are big fans of owning almost absolutely everything that is featured on their product. That has been demonstrated recently by their attempts to trademark the “Too Sweet” hand gesture. It mainly applies to names though, and can often cause problems when it comes to the names of Superstars who previously wrestled elsewhere. More often than not, when a wrestler joins WWE their name will be changed from what they were known as while wrestling for other promotions. Sometimes, it will be a complete name change, but a lot of the time it will be the slightest of tweaks making it seem like a slap in the face to wherever they wrestled before.
One of the most recent examples of WWE slightly altering one of their Superstar’s names is Elias. Throughout NXT and the first few weeks of his stay on Raw, Samson was known by his full name. Then all of a sudden, he was simply known as Elias. As will become clearer throughout this list, Vince McMahon loves his wrestlers dropping a first name or a surname. Maybe it’s to make his “who wants to walk with Elias?” catchphrase sound smoother or perhaps it’s because of his musical gimmick so that he falls into the same bracket as one-named stars like Cher and Meatloaf.
6. Adrian Neville
Another example of a star from NXT losing his first name. Maybe that aforementioned slap in the face is also one that WWE uses on its own developmental brand. Poor Neville has actually had to undergo two name changes since joining WWE, although the first one was more of an upheaval than a tweak. On the independent circuit, the former Cruiserweight Champion was simply known as Pac. That was changed to Adrian Neville in NXT, and now on the main roster, he is simply known as Neville. No wonder the Brit isn’t too happy with his employers right now.
5. Ruby Riott
On to the name change that inspired this particular list now, and one so minuscule that you may have missed it completely. Ruby Riott has recently laid siege to SmackDown Live’s women’s division with the help of Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. They’re known collectively as The Riott Squad. Did you notice that WWE is spelling that with two Ts? And that this past Tuesday they even added a T to Ruby’s name? Throughout her NXT career, Riott was spelled with just the one T but now she’s on SmackDown Live, apparently, it will be spelled with two.
Do you remember when Rusev arrived on the main roster? It was almost four years ago now, and he was portrayed as an unbeatable monster, going undefeated for over a year and winning the United States Championship in that time. For some of that period, he was actually known as Alexander Rusev. Once again though, for some still unexplained reason, Vince McMahon decided that The Bulgarian Brute didn’t need a first name and now we simply know him as Rusev. Maybe because his wife and valet at the time, Lana, is also only known by just the one name, who knows?
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3. Big E
There are interesting rumors that have surrounded Big E’s time on the main roster. He has actually been around for longer than you may recall. First introduced to us as Dolph Ziggler‘s bodyguard, rumor has it that the four-time Tag Team Champion was actually Vince McMahon’s first choice for the spot Roman Reigns currently occupies. That didn’t happen though, and he has gone on to thrive as a part of The New Day. After being on the main roster for some time, however, Mr McMahon couldn’t call him Langston, so in this instance dropped the Superstar’s last name and referred to him simply as Big E.
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When Taz arrived in WWE at the 2000 Royal Rumble pay-per-view, he was a hot property as a multiple time ECW Champion and one of Paul Heyman‘s promotion’s most valuable assets. For name recognition reasons WWE couldn’t simply give Taz a makeover and a completely new name. Their novel way around that was to add an extra Z to his name, thus making him Tazz while in WWE. Nowadays Taz has his own daily show and has once again dropped that extra Z, but WWE will forever know him as Taz with two Zs.
The final entry in this list is another man who eventually had his first name ripped from him once he was on the main roster for a short while. Like Neville, Cesaro is also a man who has had to undergo more than just the one name change since joining WWE. On the independent circuit Cesaro went by his real name, Claudio Castagnoli. No offence to the man, but naturally a name like that wasn’t going to fly in WWE. Developmental territory FCW changed his name to Antonio Cesaro and eventually, that was shortened to just Cesaro.
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