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Pro Wrestling from A-Z: Names

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.

Previous editions: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K |M

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.

Bad/Jobber/Comic relief:

Dolph Ziggler has one of the worst ring names in wrestling but it hasn’t negatively impacted his career.

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.

Generic:

Daniel Bryan may have the most generic name in the WWE. He’s still the most over superstar in the WWE today.

Daniel Bryan, Alex Riley, Seth Rollins, and Curt Hawkins are all overwhelmingly generic.

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.

Nickname/Persona:

“Bret Hart” doesn’t exactly stand out but his nickname is one of the most recognizable in pro wrestling history.

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.

Unique/Common:

“CM Punk”. One of the more “unique” names in wrestling history.

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.

Epilogue:

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.

About Patrick Bateman

  • James

    I’m expecting O to be “Over” or “Over Selling..”

  • http://twitter.com/MYO716 Marc Yeager

    I think names are a lost art in wrestling today even though they’re one of the first things you hear about a wrestler. Welcome back and good read.

  • http://twitter.com/PhenomenalRyan Ryan Frye

    I know I’m late to this Rize, but you already got my feedback on this article anyway. It’s great to see you back though. Good job, it can be tough when you haven’t written in so long, but you showed no signs of rust.

  • Judas Thundersteel

    Rather sluggish of me to comment on this 2 days after the post date, but ah well. Da fuck are you? I don’t know who this writer is, but I read the article anyways.

    1.) Dolph Ziggler is a good case of making me forget that his name is pretty comical. However, I have had this theory on Dolph and I read something that plays to it. Ok, his name is based off the Dirk Diggler name from Boogie Nights, a movie on the 70s-80s Porn Valley environment. Now that’s interesting, but then if one looks at the “Ask the Heel” segments he did for Zack Ryder’s internet show, the logo is familiar. There’s a “Z” on the background, representing the Ziggler name, but look at the word “the.” It’s yellow. Take all this, the logo is spoofs of the Brazzers logo. Brazzers is a porn website, and it’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest in the world. Now add this Amy Schumer character claiming Ziggler does the athletic sex, and the fact that heterosexual sex on camera is that of “sport fucking” and it gets clearer. I also read that Ziggler references or even chats with pornstars on Twitter, and Randall in the infamous 2011 interview mentioned that Ziggler and Bibi Jones, a pornstar, dated. Now ALL that, and I don’t think it’s a questionable call on his name, I mean, what if Ziggler himself came up with it? D-Bryan apparently liked Buddy Peacock, these wrestlers are crazy anyways.

    I went off tangent, but ehh. Names like these are a case of how a performer is booked and how they themselves work it. Ziggler can more than work through his name, Kassius Ohno? I don’t mind the name. Kassius is a play on Cassius Clay, the original name of Muhammad Ali. KO for knockout, Hero is quite adept at elbow strikes, having trained in boxing. It all makes a bit deal of sense, and I got used to it quickly. Ask yourself, would they keep Chris Hero, from Metropolis? They can’t, John Cena has that…ahem. Michael McGuillicutty is more of a mystery, how the hell did that came up? While he’s more or less improved from his time on the main roster, I would think to really get a push in his career, he’d have to drop his name and adopt his true name. That would be a good angle to get him going, saying he’s not Michael McGuillicutty, a product of creative; he’s Joe Hennig, a product of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig. There are some names in the indy circut that are rather comical, but like Ziggler, they make one forget. Ole! El Generico? That’s funny, but he’s awesome. Anyways…

    2.) Daniel Bryan revealed that William Regal suggested the name. Like Ohno and Cesaro, Rollins too I bet, these standout independent wrestling stars, WWE wanted to give them different names so they can trademark them. CM Punk already had a captivating name trademarked to himself, so they couldn’t change that. I’m sure when PAC and even Sara Del Rey (both are now confirmed to head to Florida) come through, they will get new names. Generic ones too. I don’t mind any of the names, and really, when the Bryan name first popped up, EVERYBODY complained. My only explanation is just this common neverending obssession of bashing WWE left and right to even the slightest detail like a name. To Bryan’s credit, he rocked that name expertly, and add Booker T for credit. Mah boi D-Bryan! D-Bryan, I love that.

    3.) The beauty of Daniel Bryan is he can have many nicknames to him now. The “Yes” Man Daniel Bryan! The “No” Man, and now? The tag team champions, Daniel Bryan. Now that’s part of wrestlers with multiple nicknames that give the impression that this superstar is, big time. Edge? Rated R Superstar, Ultimate Opportunist. One nickname is a badge of honor, having two convinces one that this guy, he’s something else. Randall Orton? The Viper (he does look like one, I guess, especially when he’s completely bald), the Apex Predator. John Cena? Uhhh? Well back then, the Doctor of Thuganomics, I guess the Champ, and? Well now? Boy scout, Superman, but those aren’t official. Christian’s nickname is Captain Charisma! Yes! Jericho had a lot: King of the World, King of Bling Bling, Best in the World, Best in the World At Everything I Do, Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla, Highlight of the Night. The more nicknames, the better, makes fans draw up a lot of signs, showing how someone’s transcended and achieved a deal of success. Bret Hart had The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be. Also, the Excellence of Execution.

    4.) Christian. One name, you can add Cage from TNA. A name that makes me want to say “Christian” without having to think of religion. Christianity, yes, I’d follow that kind from the Peep leader. About HHH, the shorter version was best for him. Hunter too, but Hunter Hearst Helmsley? Saying that is a chore, and it now represents his snobbish gimmick days that are prominent in one Damien Sandow. Now The Game, the Cerebral Assassin, the King of Kings (all this ties into nicknames really), HHH or Triple H, sounds badass. XXX or Triple X sounds something else, but that’s another story for another time. Actually, Triple X was a tag team in TNA: Christopher Daniels, Low Ki, Elix Skipper, different combinations amongst those 3. Uniqueness sells, and a strong name can do that. So “The Rock,” totally marketable. The Undertaker, that name alone evokes dark atmospheres and brooding images that if one put things tied to the name’s appeal alone, it sells. So say a graveyard, tombstone with The Undertaker name on it. Kicks ass, buy that shirt. Those kind of names become a brand in itself, where Hogan, ‘Taker, Rock, those guys’ names are at that level where it’s more than just a name, it’s an enterprise. These are rare and are more of that once in a generation or even lifetime occurence. I think currently, CM Punk is going to be there in terms of what his name can draw up. Especially when the CM part is never explained truthfully. Cookie Monster or Chick Magnet, by not revealing the truth, fans can have a field day over sign creations. I got one for CM: Caca Man :D!.

    Great article, in explaining the significance of names. It’s one of those smaller things that are not of the norm in judgement of a wrestler: mic skills, ring skills, charisma. It sounds better to say that Daniel Bryan is a fantastic wrestler, but Buddy Peacock? Yeah.

    PS: I’m joking of “Da fuck are you?” I know who you are.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBerge_ Kevin Berge

    Very interesting piece here, RiZE. Rarely are ring names actually considered, and they really can make or break a star. It is very important that at least the biggest stars have named that just jump out at you.

    Of course, there are always exceptions as you also pointed out. Honestly, looking back in history, some of the best in the business got lucky. They either had bad names and changed them in time, or they gave them the right nickname to make the wrestler a star.

    What I enjoyed most of the structure. It made a ton of sense and really conveyed a full message with an easily readable format.

  • DashingLuke

    Holy shit you’re back! Speaking about uncommon names, what about the name RiZE? It’s the pen name of one of the best, if not the best writers on this site and B/R. I mean, people don’t know by Patrick Joseph (excuse me if I didn’t get it right).

    It’s true, names generally mean a lot because of the fans associating with them. The name “Daniel Bryan” tells the story of an underdog while someone named CM Punk is thought to be a rebel at first. Now, why didn’t you put Steve Austin along with Bret Hart in the “Nickname” section of the article? The casual fan knows him as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, by the way.

    A name like John Cena is generic, but it’s his real name, so I guess that’s the second exception to the rule (Dolph Ziggler was the first).

    Nice job, and I’m looking forward to more. :)

    • RiZENigma

      Yeah, I think RiZE is more of an “attention catcher”.

      I did put Steve Austin in the nickname category. Probably an oversight lol.

  • Louie_Babcock

    Great job Rize, I was hoping you would pick this word. It is easy to under value the need for a great name in wrestling. Just look at Dr. Isaac Yankem he later became one of the most decorated wrestlers with 12 tag titles 3 time world champ 2 time IC champ and 1 time hardcore champ. No question this guy is a future hall of famer, and he did all this once he left the Dr. name behind and became Kane.

    • RiZENigma

      Thanks Lou.

      Kane is actually a good case of this that I overlooked.

  • Nick Money Elzer

    N is also for Nick Money LOL, good stuff but Scotty too Hotty along with dozens of others during the Attitude Era are remembered fondly as mid-carders so stupid names also benefit some times

    • RiZENigma

      You make an excellent point actually.

  • http://twitter.com/AmericanDolphin Brett Chandler

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY

    • RiZENigma

      WHAT HAPPEN?

      • http://twitter.com/AmericanDolphin Brett Chandler

        Just excited to see an article from you, lol. I’ll comment on the actual content later.

  • SiD

    RiZE? You’re back? Holy shit! Anyway, excellent job with this piece. I was expecting ‘names’, and your categories are brilliant. Now, I don’t think Daniel Bryan is generic, but then again, John Cena is a generic name, in my opinion, and he’s selling merch, so he isn’t affected by his name. What about names like Alex Riley? Isn’t that generic, but is failing at everything. Hah, anyway, good job, welcome back.

    • RiZENigma

      I don’t know, Sid.

      How many guys you know with “Cena” as a last name? Lol

      For some reason, fans have always been okay with real names. No matter how generic they may sound. A-Ry’s name is really generic but it was okay during his Varsity Villain days.

      Thanks Sid.

      • SiD

        Haha, you got a point. No problem.

    • http://twitter.com/gieseflysouth Nathan Giese

      Sid, you do know that John Cena is his actual name, right?

      • SiD

        I know.

  • http://twitter.com/JacobJ_Enigma Jacob Stachowiak

    oh and good stuff, Pat.

    • RiZENigma

      Thanks Jacob

  • http://twitter.com/E__RAGE Eric

    Great to see you back.

    Names mean a whole lot in the wrestling world. You can’t go far with some cheesy name like Eli Cottonwood. A name can be a representation of yourself and can define how people view you.

    BTW, great pics, make them yourself?

    • RiZENigma

      I forgot all about Eli Cottonwood. That sounds like a name you’d find common in the 1800s.

      I wish

  • http://twitter.com/iTsChinmay Chinmay

    Nice article, man. So good to see your work after a long gap.

    I totally agree your points. Name makes a wrestler. It is simple, screw the Shakespeare here.

    There is this awesome rumour about Stone Cold. The creative at that time had come up with the name Iced Dagger or some similar bs. It would have been death of the career for Austin.

    • RiZENigma

      Iced Dagger? LOL.

      I think I’ve heard that from somewhere. Austin himself came up with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

      I remember Mick Foley saying Vince tried to give him “Mason the Mutilator”.

      None as bad as “Buddy Peacock”. Daniel Bryan may be generic but its a thousand times better than that atrocity.

      • DashingLuke

        I think none is as bad as Claudio Castagnoli being named “Very Mysterious Ice Cream Man” at one point in his indy career.

  • http://twitter.com/JacobJ_Enigma Jacob Stachowiak

    I was expecting another word starting with N….. #DisappointedRacist

    • RiZENigma

      Just keep your white hood away

      • http://twitter.com/JacobJ_Enigma Jacob Stachowiak

        *Puts down flaming cross* awww, man….

    • http://twitter.com/WrestlingForAll Josh Biederman

      The question was people who annoy you… I’m sorry but the answer was “naggers”

      • JacobStachowiak

        Awww, I always get that question wrong..

  • http://twitter.com/JoEburGett_WE Joe Burgett

    HE LIVES!!!!!! This was great Rize. Gotta agree too, the name makes the guy. You don’t see the name Husky Harris getting to the top of the flock at Wrestlemania. But you see names like The Undertaker up there for sure. It’s all in how one operates in their name of course, but even then, the name will always be what makes or breaks you IMO. It could be just as important as being able to talk and wrestle

    • RiZENigma

      Thanks Joe.

      I tried to squeeze every bit of the word as I could.

      And I agree with you wholeheartedly. Someone like a Michael McGillicutty would need a name change (among other things) to be successful.

  • RiZENigma

    Sorry if its late. I scheduled it for 8 and it didn’t publish.