Welcome to the newest article series of WrestleEnigma.com, titled “Professional Wrestling: From A-Z.” This series is designed to focus on various aspects of the industry we all love. Each week, a new word will be the focus of an article, and in that article, the writer will explain how that word relates to pro wrestling. Some of the greatest internet wrestling writers will be taking part in this series.
N is for name.
As hardcore wrestling fans, it’s in our nature to analyze everything about a new prospect. Wrestling ability, mic skills, look, theme, and character are all taken into account by us. The superstar could be impressive in each area but there’s one thing that could easily determine how they’re judged by the general audience.
Their ring names.
A superstar’s name could make or break their career given the circumstances. It’s all about marketability and having a name that appeals to fans. Even then, they have to fit the person and the character they’re portraying.
While this may vary, I believe there are four different categories of ring names.
Guys like K-Kwik, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Grand Master Sexay are frequent targets of ridicule due to the corny nature of their ring names. Most fans automatically assume these guys are for comic relief and or so they’ll be written off as jokes for the rest of their careers.
Then there are names like Michael McGillicutty, Dolph Ziggler, and Kassius Ohno. Ziggler is a special case since he has achieved a considerable amount of success despite his ring name. Kassius Ohno has yet to be affected while McGillicutty has been regulated to NXT.
Honestly, most of the names on the entire roster scream generic. This doesn’t necessarily make them bad since it has become common nowadays.
Having a generic name doesn’t affect potential marketability if they’re not too bad. Daniel Bryan probably has the most generic name in all of wrestling today. However, he’s also the most over superstar in the WWE currently. Bryan actually suggested “Buddy Peacock” as one of his possible ring names.
Bret Hart, Steve Austin, and Roddy Piper aren’t the best names but their personas and nicknames put these individuals in a different category. The nickname sells the superstar and only adds to the character and personality of said superstar.
This actually highlights the lack of creativity in the WWE nowadays. The “run in the mill” names have been common in every era but there was always a gimmick attached.
And then there are the names that stand out.
Triple H, Undertaker, The Rock, and Kane all sound uncommon but cater to the evolution of a character (Rock, Triple H) or a persona (Undertaker, Kane). Undertaker’s name just adds to his overwhelming presence. Kane shares this but to a lesser extent.
CM Punk, Ryback, and a few others are also in this category. While not possessing the “larger than life” quality like “Kane” or “Undertaker”, they’re still different from the status quo. In Punk’s case, his name represents his on screen persona and Phil Brooks himself.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan are arguably the three biggest stars in professional wrestling history. Now imagine if they would’ve kept names like the Ringmaster, Terry Boulder, and Flex Kavana.
I doubt they would’ve attained the same level of success with those names.
Pro wrestlers need personality, mic skills, charisma, and in ring ability.
Their name is a vital piece of the puzzle.