Analyzing Good and Bad Examples of Wrestlers Shortening Their Names
Pro wrestling promotions have gone to great measures while investing in stars with the potential to be great. Sometimes this includes repackaged gimmicks, new theme music, new ring gear or looks and tinkering with stage names.
This past week, WrestlingInc reported WWE had dropped the "Langston" in Big E Langston and "Antonio" in Antonio Cesaro.
Langston is the reigning intercontinental champion, and Cesaro will be included in the Elimination Chamber main event on the heels of a career victory over WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton on SmackDown. Both are being positioned as potential future top stars, and WWE apparently feels that shortening their names will help them get there.
Pro wrestling has had mixed results in shortening the names of wrestlers. Sometimes it's another step in the process of a wrestler's ascension, others it is a fruitless attempt to kick-start a career in neutral.
Good examples feature wrestling stars who were world champions. Bad examples showcase floundering talents with forgettable stints.
Only wrestlers whose titles were shortened by removing a first or last name qualify for this list, therefore nicknames based on full names—such as The Rock and Triple H—do not qualify.
Gene Snitsky's potential career as an elite monster heel was over before it started as he was introduced in a zany storyline alongside Kane and Lita.
Per storyline, Snitsky was credited with causing Lita to miscarry after his chair shot to Kane caused the would-be parents to bump into each other.
In the WWE Universe, it's probably for the best that Kane and Lita would not raise a child together, but the Gene Snitsky character was made to be the goat, prompting his "it's not my fault!" catchphrase.
After shaving his head and apparently dying his teeth yellow, Gene Snitsky was later known as Snitsky, but aside from his hair and teeth, little else would change.
Snitsky was released from his WWE contract in December of 2008.
Goldberg was introduced as Bill Goldberg in his memorable first match against Hugh Morris. Bill Goldberg would soon be known as Goldberg as he went on to pile up an unprecedented win-loss record of 173-0.
Goldberg's level of superstardom is befitting of a star known simply by one name like Elvis or Madonna. Following his World Heavyweight Championship victory over Hulk Hogan on Nitro from the Georgia Dome, there was no wrestler hotter than Goldberg.
His legacy will forever be tied to his historic win streak and a world title reign that some may argue ended prematurely.
Given the situation, Bill Goldberg was bound to be a star regardless of his name being shortened. But the Goldberg moniker added to a mystique that was pivotal to his character's success.
Sylvan Grenier was a serviceable tag team wrestler alongside Rene Dupree of La Resistance. The team of Grenier and Dupree captured the World Tag Team Championship on one occasion, but amounted to little else on their own.
Sylvan, with his last name dropped, would be repackaged on SmackDown as a vain, metrosexual heel who deemed himself the most handsome man in WWE history. He had the build and body type that WWE tends to favor when it comes to booking main event stars. Unfortunately, his gimmick was anything but unique.
If Superstar Billy Graham, generations before him, and several others hadn't had a similar gimmick, perhaps the Sylvan character would have taken.
Instead, Sylvan was a fly-by-night character who failed to take advantage of the real estate available on the blue brand for young stars to establish themselves.
Batista debuted in WWE as the Deacon Batista, the muscle for Devon's crooked reverend character. He debuted with the Evolution stable as Dave Batista and was later known simply as Batista shortly thereafter. Batista went on to successes that continue to this day.
Despite an injury-plagued career, Batista is a six-time world champion and the reigning Royal Rumble winner currently projected as one-half of the WrestleMania XXX main event.
Batista was carefully molded into a superstar through his alliance with Ric Flair, Triple H and a young Randy Orton as part of the aforementioned Evolution group.
Batista went from stable heavy to top star with a victory over mentor Triple H at WrestleMania 21, and he was positioned as 1A to John Cena's No. 1 in the WWE's post-Attitude Era.
A name like "Dave" was a misnomer for Batista, far too plain to illustrate his "genetic stopping power" as Triple H once put it. A name like Batista did the trick.
Jon Heidenreich first appeared on Raw when he introduced himself to Stone Cold Steve Austin. That's pretty close to all he really ever did in the WWE.
Like Dave and Bill before him, the ordinary name of Jon was eliminated from his title in order to create more allure for his character.
That allure never would never arrive.
Despite a high-profile feud with The Undertaker and being paired with Paul Heyman, Heidenreich played out more like a poor man's Brock Lesnar (likely and ironically due to his allegiance with the otherwise brilliant Heyman) and failed to connect with live audiences.
Like most monster heels who failed to live up to strong initial booking, Heidenreich was eventually rendered a comedy act. His gimmick was altered from unstable leviathan to bizarre beatnik.
Subject matter of Heidenreich's weekly poem readings on SmackDown included friends and farts, via Mike Roe of PWTorch.