When your real-life name is Michael Shawn Hickenbottom, you do the right thing and forever rid yourself of that last name, and you become one of the greatest wrestlers in history. For the clueless few, Hickenbottom is indeed Shawn Michaels.
There are many reasons a wrestler uses a fake name, and it mostly comes down to how cool and intimidating it sounds. A bad wrestling name can cripple any chance a performer has of succeeding, while a good name can make all the difference in reaching the main event scene. We take a look at a few current WWE stars who use their real name to great success while looking at some other wrestlers who did the right thing (like HBK) and changed their name to fit the wrestling world.
10 FAKE: Nikki Cross
Sometimes, performers take parts of their real name and come up with a more awesome in-ring name. Case in point: Nicola Glencross, a Scottish wrestler known to fans as Nikki Cross. Frankly, it's a great wrestling name that suits her intense character perfectly.
Cross was the standout star of Sanity, and after finding her footing alongside Alexa Bliss and winning the Women's Tag Team titles, Nikki's stock rose and she quickly became a fan-favorite. Fun fact: Nikki's been trained by Finn Balor and her husband, former Sanity teammate, Killian Dain.
9 REAL: Shayna Baszler
Some people are just meant to do what they do; that might seem like an odd statement, but when someone's name is Shayna Baszler, you expect that person to kick some tail while taking names.
Shayna Andrea Baszler does just that, whether it be in MMA or in wrestling. The NXT Women's Champion has dominated the yellow brand, so it'll be exciting to see how Mrs. Baszler stacks up against Raw and SmackDown Women's Champions Becky Lynch and Bayley at this year's Survivor Series. She's looking to leave a mark, much like her buddy Ronda Rousey did.
8 FAKE: Charlotte Flair
No, it's not an amazing coincidence that The Queen hails from her namesake Charlotte, North Carolina (woooooo!). Outside of the squared circle, Charlotte Fair is Ashley Elizabeth Fliehr - very similar to "Flair", but lacking that... well, flair that the legendary wrestling name has.
Not that Ashley Flair would have been a bad name to go with, but Charlotte just sounds right, especially since she's from The Queen City. A 10(!!) times Women's Champion with plenty more to come, Charlotte has cemented herself as one of, if not, THE best women's wrestler of our generation.
7 REAL: Robert Roode
Something that is indeed an incredible coincidence is Robert Roode's resemblance to The Ravishing One - no, not Lana. You can't blame a wrestling fan for thinking that "Roode" might be a play on "Rude", paying homage to the legendary Rick Rude, in look and in presence... and in 'stache.
No, his name is actually Robert Francis Roode Jr., and he is glorious. Well, he was at some point, now he's just another dude in the sea of mediocrity that is WWE's midcard. He's a solid hand that will be thrown into whatever storyline is needed of him, much like his partner Dolph Ziggler.
6 FAKE: AJ Styles
"The Phenomenal" Allen... Neal... Jones! And the crowd goes mild.
It was a wise decision for Allen Jones to take his initials and go by Styles, because his real name sounds like the furthest thing from a wrestler. His incredible athleticism and riveting in-ring work for the past 15+ years have led many fans and pros alike to consider AJ Styles as one of the best of all-time, certainly among the best of his generation. Whether it was in TNA, NJPW, or WWE, AJ Styles has always been simply phenomenal.
5 REAL: Jeff Hardy
Our favorite thing about Jeff Hardy's real name has nothing to do with his first or last name. No, our attention lies solely on the fact that Nero is indeed his middle name!
Jeffrey Nero Hardy has an interesting ring to it (better than his brother's more plain Matthew Moore Hardy). During the Hardys' time in TNA, they engaged in an epic feud that culminated in the Final Deletion. During their rivalry, Broken Matt would goad his brother by calling him out by his real middle name: "Brother Neeeerooooooo."
4 FAKE: Adam Cole
No, he's not related to Michael Cole (although the jury is still out on if he's HBK's son...). Adam Cole's real name is Austin Jenkins, and he's getting his much deserved time in the spotlight as the NXT Champion during the brand's invasion storyline heading into Survivor Series.
A former member of Bullet Club, he decided to gamble on himself in the WWE and it's paid off, as he's gained the trust of Triple H. We'll see if Vince can learn to like him despite his smaller stature, but so far, so good!
3 REAL: Randy Orton
This isn't a very surprising addition to this list, we'll admit that. However, just like we saw with Jeff Hardy earlier, the most interesting thing about Randy Orton's real name is the middle part: Keith.
That's right, his full name is Randal Keith Orton. Don't see it yet? Just look at the initials... OMG RKO OUTTA NOWHERE. That's right, Orton's iconic finisher isn't the "Randy Knockout", it's actually named after his initials. Clever, fun, meme-worthy - we can't ask for anything more as wrestling fans!
2 FAKE: Pete Dunne
Currently embroiled in a feud with Killian Dain and Damien Priest, Pete Dunne is the longest-reigning WWE UK Champion. He's a technical brawler that goes by "The Bruiserweight" because he provides a serious hurting to wrestlers' bodies, in particular their fingers. Hailing from Birmingham, England, Dunne's real name is... Peter Thomas England.
While we would have liked to see him go by Petey England, we can understand how that would really hinder his career. Pete Dunne works very well. The Bruiserweight works even better.
1 REAL: Matt Riddle
This bro over here? His wrestling name is his real name, Matthew Fredrick Riddle, possibly related to Lord Voldemort. Hopefully, we never get any sort of "Riddler" gimmick. "Riddle me this, bro."
His laid-back approach to life makes it that much more entertaining when Riddle goes ham in the ring and dispatches his opponents with swift knees, submissions and suplexes. He's currently laying the bro-down in NXT, but he recently made an appearance during Triple's NXT Invasion of Raw and SmackDown. We're excited to see what he does at Survivor Series!