Coming up with a suitable name for your burgeoning wrestling career is vitally important, but sometimes you need to look inward rather than outward to find a name that people would respond to. How many times have you watched a Schwarzenegger movie and even if they drill his character's name into you over and over you only think of him as 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' because that name is so impossibly cool for some reason that you ignore all other names they try to make happen? Such is the case in the wrestling world, where legends from inside and outside WWE, male and female, have all had interesting and excellent names that if you'd only known them would've blown your mind twice as hard as their 'stage names'.
Some wrestlers traded up and had little choice in the matter. Terry Bollea has nothing on Hulk Hogan. Randy Savage could never have gone by Randy Poffo. Other wrestlers were blessed with names right out of the gate (occasional spelling tweaks aside) and had the foresight to just run with them, like Ric Flair and Bret Hart. These ones all made the right call and benefitted appropriately. Then there are these names. Wrestlers who sat on weird, wonderful or simply better names that could’ve made them either more noticeable or more notorious. We’re going to go through the list and point out the time's wrestlers shouldn’t have fixed what wasn’t broken and used their real names, for our benefit or theirs.
20 Ricky Steamboat - Richard Blood
Ricky Steamboat is one of the classic babyfaces and he is renowned for going his entire wrestling career without ever turning heel. Looking at his success it's hard to argue that route, but when you know he had perhaps the greatest heel name right there for the taking you have to wonder 'what if?'. Wrestling under his real name for only a tiny fraction of the beginning of his career he was renamed by Eddie Gilbert after a similar looking Hawaiian wrestler also named Steamboat, quite correctly pointing out that 'Dick Blood' was not a name for a face wrestler.
Oh, what could have been in the annals of pro wrestling if a talent like Ricky Steamboat had ever changed to his real name for a while. Vince would've giggled his way to the bank.
19 Kelly Kelly - Barbie Blank
Never has a stage name been such a downgrade over a real name. So apt is the term Barbie Blank for the wrestler we knew as Kelly Kelly that it defies logic over whomever made the call to change it. The blonde beauty who even with years on the roster showed little personality beyond being smiley and gorgeous could've effectively doubled her career length if she ever went heel with this name.
Trading on the vapid, doe-eyed exterior she exuded almost exclusively would've perhaps given her time in WWE where she gained character and depth, something sorely lacking from the majority of Divas at the time. We have to conclude that Vince wasn't personally aware of her real name because otherwise he would've hammered it for all it was worth, in a manner of speaking.
18 The Steiners - The Rechsteiners
Steiner is a strong name, and adding the phonetical 'Wreck' to it only kicks it up a notch. The Steiner brothers could have fit that added bit of name to a tee, famously dismantling opponents of all sizes with their arsenal of suplexes and throws as they do. The possible problem with this comes with their first names clogging up the works.
Rick Rechsteiner makes it sound like you've got a stutter and Scott probably dug the Steiner name because it made his own name alliterative (he is from a highly educated university after all).
Change Rick's first name to something else and it solves both problems though. Or maybe it just sounded a little too 'German-y' for the originally All-American wrestling brothers. Whatever the reason, we missed out on a cool bit of naming here.
17 "Superstar" Billy Graham - Eldridge Coleman
This may sound like blasphemy but when a legend the status of Billy Graham could've had a name dripping with otherworldly evil on top of his pompous, boisterous facade it makes us just a bit sad it didn't happen. 'Superstar' Eldridge Coleman rolls off the tongue just as easily as the Billy Graham variant but that first name being so phonetically similar to the world 'Eldritch', which implies ghostly, demonic or even an abomination, could have laced his entire mystique with incorporeal elements beyond just the posing bodybuilder thing. It could have served him doubly when he transitioned into managing other wrestlers, the implication that his aid not only gave them tactical advantages but a shade of the darkly arcane as well is an intriguing road not taken. Admittedly this one is a long walk for an obscure payoff but how many guys do you know with a name so darkly ominous?
16 Roddy Piper - George Toombs
Maybe it would've required a rethink on the 'Rowdy' part of his name but 'Toombs' is a hell of a last name to drop for a perpetually heelish wrestler.
Clearly similar to the burial chamber vault of identical sounding verbiage, Roddy Toombs, or even Rowdy Roddy Toombs lends a darker bent to the motor-mouthed madman.
Piper is not a bad name and maybe if we're being super honest the Pied Piper reference does fit Roddy's ability to spellbind with his words the same way Steamboat fit Rickie's wholesome appearance. But these last names going utterly to waste when they could've easily informed and enhanced elements of their characters that went unfortunately unexplored leave us hoping there's another reality where a man named Toombs buried The Hulkster at Wrestlemania 1.
15 Lita - Amy Dumas
Lita is an okay name. It's not like we had to get used to it or it never fit her, and coming from her original WWE gimmick where she was Essa Rios' sexy seniorita sidekick it had a Latin bent to it that worked. But her real name of Amy Dumas has a nice ring to it, especially the last name which almost makes you want to pronounce the 's' silently so it is like the famed French author Alexandre. Perhaps her later career shenanigans with Edge would've been heightened just a shade by having this different, classy name attached to the Rated-R couple as they went around ruining lives on Raw and SmackDown, doing despicable things all while that name juxtaposed interestingly with everything.
14 Billy Gunn - Monty Kipp Sopp
Have you ever seen such a clunky, stop-start name with such unique, blurting sounds? Monty is a somewhat normal name if you're a rich philanthropist with a monocle over your eye, but after that, Kipp Sopp? This reads like someone spilled coffee on a birth certificate and we as fans missed out by him never deciding "the hell with it, real name it is!".
There is value in being unique, especially in wrestling and particularly in WWE where standing out is 80% of the game.
For a man who went through phases of being called Rockabilly, Mr. Ass, Kipp James, among other silly names, he should’ve just gone with the original weirdness and saved himself several steps. ‘Badd Ass Monty Sopp’ is so sideways it’s weirdly good again.
13 Johnny Impact - John Hennigan
From fiancée to fiancé, the man who should more and more just be known as Johnny has adopted the name of Impact Wrestling into his name for his stint with the company and it just doesn't work. It makes him sound like the most generic in-house brand product in wrestling history. At least when he wet with Johnny Nitro in WWE it was an homage to his onscreen mentor Eric Bischoff, but here it's either pandering, laziness or bad decisions.
Also, having changed his name across all the different wrestling companies it must be about time to just use his real name so he can consolidate his brand.
He's using it for his movies so why not just jumping with both feet and be Hennigan full time? From Nitro to Morrison, to Mundo, to Impact, the guy is too talented to be spread so thin in the name department.
12 Emma - Tenille Dashwood
Is there a weaker, more plain name for a female wrestler than simply Emma? Even Emalina has to be looking pretty good in hindsight since WWE effectively kicked her to the curb not long after she failed to deliver on that gimmick change. All of that pales in comparison to the fact that Emma actually has a great name to begin with, sounding both unique and chantable enough that it could've worked anywhere. Tenille Dashwood is distinct among the names of the women in WWE and if only she'd embraced it originally (if that was ever an option) her fate might have been different. Hell, having a last name seems to be the new thing for WWE's women while it's the males who are having their names shortened to singular. The point is, Tenille Dashwood is not only Aussie sounding for the Australia grappler, it is leagues better than her WWE name was.
11 Brodus Clay/Tyrus - George Murdoch
The big man known currently as Tyrus and formerly as the dancing dinosaur Brodus Clay in WWE is ignoring his solidly menacing natural name for some reason that we can't fathom. Brodus Clay was an ok name during his initial WWE stint on NXT and as Alberto Del Rio's muscle, but when he returned with the Funkadactyls and began jiggling and gyrating the name was forever poisoned from sounding cool. the problem with his renaming in Impact Wrestling and elsewhere as Tyrus is that it's clearly playing off of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, recalling his dancing stint and making that name not work either.
Murdoch is such a simple, dark, angry name and it suits the man exceptionally well to the point we're wondering how long it is until WWE snaps it up for someone else.
It hits its consonants hard, it's half of 'murder' which is chilling, and it beats the hell out of the other names he uses.
10 Liv Morgan - Gionna Daddio
Unless they're banking on the pun of her name like 'Live More' then there is no reason WWE should be wasting this name on the sidelines. It's so funky and cheesy, and yet somehow real that it fits her bubbly, bouncy personality way more than the weirdly downplayed Liv Morgan. Daddy-o is a classic greaser term and her New Jersey inspiration feeds into that as well, so all in all this truly screams of change for change's sake. WWE must not have wanted to make money because just from a marketing and catchphrase perspective, her real name combination does wonders for her right out of the gate where the current name just hangs there, not doing much. Liv less, Gionna more, and Daddio all day long.
9 Moose - Quinn Ojinnaka
Moose. It doesn't roll off the tongue nor does it sound particularly menacing, yet the man with one of the most movie sounding normal names went with the single syllable, dumb-sounding animal for some reason. Whenever he comes out on Impact Wrestling or before that in Ring Of Honor it doesn't stand up to the names around him. Quinn Ojinnaka, on the other hand, sounds like such a badass mix of inspirations that you'd never expect it to actually be his real name, instead of thinking it came about by someone looking for a cool combo of names inspired from elsewhere. Quinn Ojinnaka sounds like a potential world champion, while Moose sounds like a comedy character or worse one of the women wrestlers names from the dark ages where if she was heavy she’d get called on it. Hopefully, the man realizes this at some point and changes this oversight.
8 Tanga Loa - Tevita Fifita
From the rich history of islander wrestlers, this name is simply better than the one he's currently using in NJPW as one half of the Guerrillas Of Destiny. For the record, his full name is Tevita Tu'amoeloa Fetaiakimoeata Fifita, but let's take some pity on the commentators on this one and go with the first-last name combo.
It is pleasing to the ears, much more memorable and catchy than the current moniker, and is crucially a lot more chantable if he ever goes into singles action.
You can hear the NJPW ring announcer having a world of fun bellowing this out, and if he ever returns to WWE where he was the underutilized Camacho, Greg Hamilton or in a blue moon 'The Fink' Howard Finkel would make this name sound truly epic.
7 Big E - Ettore Ewen
Big E is one of the more entertaining performers on the WWE's roster. When called up to the main roster after finding success in NXT, WWE seemed set to make him just another generic monster heel, but a move to The New Day really brought out Big E's big personality. While changing Big E's real life name of Ettore Ewen to something with 'Big' in it, Big E's name really seems like it should be incorporated into his ring name somehow. Big E has a rather unique real life name, as Ettore isn't a name you'd often hear in your everyday life, being the Italian equivalent to Eddie. Well, whatever his name is, let's hope Big E is able to eventually break the mid-card barrier he seems to be in right now.
6 Cage - Brian Button
This is a bit of a personal preference one because when you first find out that the insanely built juggernaut that is Cage ("He's A Machine!!"), complete with Mohawk and the ability to corkscrew flip around the ring is actually named 'Button', it's just wonderful.
Cage is one of those classic wrestler names designed to sound tough.
Christian used it in Impact Wrestling, and it suits the man currently using it. But this list demands that at some point in his career the guy goes on a crusade demanding he is called 'Button' because it would be so jarringly comedic and such a left-field turn for the intense, athletic behemoth that it couldn't possibly be anything but entertaining. Also, a button calling itself a machine before flip-slamming 3 guys at once would be a fever dream of wrestling brilliance.
5 Taya - Kira Forster
Her Impact Wrestling name of Taya Valkyrie is far better than her Lucha Underground variant because it avoids a problem you have to assume no one caught before going to air. Simply that you can't call someone Taya without it sounding like Tyre. Yeah.
If she had to change her name, which Lucha Underground often insists on even for established stars, her real name of Kira Forster is solid and appealing, but most importantly doesn't make her sound like she needs balancing or re-inflation after a thousand miles. Even just Kira is a great female wrestling name on its own. There's even a Japanese precedent for the name from the Anime Series Death Note where Kira means 'Killer' from their pronunciation of the English word. For all these reasons, Kira > Taya.
4 Kaitlyn - Celeste Bonin
Well, you see what we're getting at. One of WWE's best during the latter stages of the 'Diva' timeline along with AJ Lee, Kaitlyn had another nondescript, forgettable name when she should have been killing it with her classy first name and downright hilariously forward surname.
We're not sure how it would've fit with her impossibly likeable personality to be named in this quirky way but we're sure it would've worked because she clearly had the humor and talent to do so.
If the comedy she was able to produce with Big E and AJ Lee was any indication, Celeste Bonin could've been a WWE legend among the women's roster, but as it is she's often overlooked and forgotten, which is another thing her real name protects against.
3 Famous B & The Beautiful Brenda - Brian Winbush & Holly Meowy
Another of Lucha Underground's naming foibles, Famous B is about as bland an attempt as you can make to come up with a gimmick, and Beautiful Brenda is equally bad on the feminine side of the coin. Now maybe that's the point of them, being artless wannabe stars, but Winbush is a great name he could have used in this case and Holly Meowy is as if the internet named her after their favourite kink of the week. It sounds like the cat version of Holy Cow except it's her freakin' real name! Most importantly, if the phone number they'd asked us to call had been 423-Win-Bush instead of 423-Get-Fame I dare say the lines would have been scorching hot and busy into the early hours of the morning.
2 D'Lo Brown - Accie Julius Connor
D'Lo Brown was one of the undercard highlights for WWE during the attitude era, his waggling head and fun offensive style standing him apart from most as he was one of only four men to ever be the combined European and Intercontinental Champion. He had great music and a cool name, but not as cool as Accie Julius Conner which sounds like someone MLK would've hung out with, or someone the Nation of Domination could've followed had The Rock not stepped in.
Brimming with over-the-top gravitas that crushes the D'Lo name right out of the gate, any combination of his own names could have stood him in good stead.
AJ Conner. Julius Conner. Accie J Conner. All cool names and should have been considered higher prospects than just D-Lo Brown.
1 Zack Sabre Jr - Lucas Eatwell
This one's just funny because the guy is so clearly in shape as the lanky, slim technician but he clearly wanted to go for the triple crown of 'try-hard' wrestling nicknames while avoiding his own decent ones. Zack gives him that 'Z' cool sound, Sabre is a wicked sword and also a giant hunting cat, and what professional wrestler worth his salt isn't second or third generation at this point? Jr it is!
He's just gone too far over into the marketing department and scooped up everything in an effort to stand out when he's instead kind of given himself a silly over-produced name that just cutting with his real first name would alleviate. Lucas Sabre is fine, or Zack Eatwell Jr, but not the entire 'too cool for school' name he's gone with. Luckily he's one of the best in the ring anyway so the fans forgive his reaching naming effort, but if someone without that independent cred came out with this type of name in NXT he'd be laughed out of the building.