Ring names are quite important in wrestling. No one cared much for Terry Boulder, Rocky Maivia or Randy Poffo but becoming Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Randy Savage sure helped. Many a great worker has been saddled with a horrible name and dumb character. Chris Harris was a real talent but WWE’s “Branden Walker” name was a key reason behind his failed run. Too many guys have been saddled with a bad name from the start and it gets worse as it goes along. Some are lucky enough to hit the jackpot early on but too often, workers have to go through some names before changing over.
That’s not to mention the names that could have been. It’s legendary how Vince McMahon and WWE creative have come up with slews of ideas that border on the utterly insane and never came to be. Thankfully, the majority of them were passed over and that includes names. It’s not just WWE, as WCW could have some dumb ideas too (yes, even dumber than what got on screen) but WWE is more infamous in creating names that would have killed careers early. Here are 15 of the worst names ever pitched to wrestlers and show how, as bad as what we see on TV, it could always be a lot worse.
14 Cain The Undertaker
Reportedly, the original idea for the giant egg to open at the 1990 Survivor Series was The Undertaker. That was dropped for the Gobbeldy-Gooker and that's a good thing as Taker’s debut was amazing. When Mark Callous signed with WWE, there was a lot of talk on him with various ideas on the character. One was to have him be “Cain The Undertaker” with the idea of him being named after the biblical Cain and hinted at more of his supernatural powers.
13 Mason The Mutilator
Mick Foley loved to talk about this in his first book. He’d worked with WWE years before as Jack Foley before making his name as Cactus Jack in WCW and ECW. Hired on by WWE, he wanted more than anything to make it and was willing to put up with a lot. However, the first character plans gave him the nickname of Mason The Mutilator. Foley, in what he called one of the greatest acting jobs of his career, told Vince McMahon the name “sounded good” but he wanted to think it over.
12 David Diggler
10 The Mighty Neville
9 Baron von Bava
8 Lloyd Boner
7 Sherman Dupont Helmsley
When you start as “Terra Ryzing,” you can really only go up from there. Paul Levesque had the talent to be a star early but was saddled with aristocratic characters in WCW like Jean-Paul Levesque, a supposed “Frenchman.” He had potential and Ric Flair liked him but he felt he was going nowhere so signed with WWE. As it happened, Vince McMahon wanted someone to parody the “Greenwich snobs” McMahon hated and thought Paul would be the best guy.
5 Shrug Shadow
Scott Hall always had the ingredients to be a star but never the right character and attitude to make it work. That changed in WCW as he slicked back his hair, chewed a toothpick and had a cool finisher. It got attention but the politics of the company pushed him out. Travelling to WWE, Hall pitched the addition of a “Cuban” accent and wanted something “sharp” for his name (despite how WWE briefly considered using him as a military soldier type). At first, he got some bad ones, including “Shrug Shadow,” which someone somehow thought was a cool drug-dealer type of name.
One has to wonder if WWE even has a “cultural sensitivity” meter. Kenzo Suzuki had been a major star in Japan and promised to take off even bigger once he signed with WWE. The company had given him the idea of an anti-American person which could be rough. But then came his ring name; Hirohito. The idea was that he would actually be the grandson of Japan’s emperor during World War II. Needless to say, WWII is a tricky subject with the Japanese and the idea of a heel being named after a figure who still inspired some reverence did not go over well with their fans.
2 The Posse
Even for WCW, this was one of the craziest ideas ever. The Ebony Experience had been a good team in Smokey Mountain and had promise when signed by the company. Leave it to WCW to come up with the idea of having Kole and Kane come out, managed by Robert Parker, a “Colonel” dressed like a plantation owner who had “won” them in a card game. The two black men would come out in convict gear and even wearing chains. Incredibly, they actually tried this at a show but the crowd reaction was so intensely hateful that WCW never aired it.
1 Chilly McFreeze
Steve Austin had stardom written over him as soon as he debuted in 1990. He was great in the ring and a skilled promo guy, who was a top notch heel. As “Stunning” Steve Austin in WCW, he reigned as TV, US and tag team champion and seemed poised for more when he joined WWE. He was saddled with the idea of “The Ringmaster” and Ted DiBiase as a manager but broke off on his own. He shaved his head and wanted a name leaning toward a “cold” motif of some sort. He went to creative for suggestions but their best was “Chilly McFreeze,” which sounds more like a 1960s Batman villain than an imposing heel. It was a bad idea and Austin hated it and didn’t like the others such as Ice Dagger and Otto von Ruthless.
By sheer chance, an innocent comment by his wife led to him adopting “Stone Cold” and the rest is history. A good thing he avoided what could have been a terrible name that would have killed his star fast.
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