WWE: Does Changing Your Name Make You a More Popular Wrestler?

The Doctor Chris MuellerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2010

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 21:  Mr Ken Anderson and Sean Morley perform on the undercard during Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania Tour at Rod Laver Arena on November 21, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)
Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

For years now wrestlers have been going by different names in the ring. Whether a nickname or a totally different name from what they were born with, wrestlers like to have cool-sounding names.

Some wrestlers did this on their own to create a cooler persona, while others were told to come up with something, and some were even told, "This is your new name whether you like it or not."

Now it is no secret that many of today's biggest stars have altered or totally different names, but does it help or just change things a little bit?

For example, would Shawn Michaels have been as successful and popular if he had gone by his real name, Michael Shawn Hickenbottom? I'm sure his abilities would have been noted, but he may not have taken off like he did when he changed it to just Shawn Michaels. Hickenbottom is not the coolest sounding name, so it may have hindered him in the long run.

Steve Austin, on the other hand, was told he could not go by his real name, Steve Williams, because that name was taken by the late, great Dr. Death. So he was given the name Austin, either name could have taken Stone Cold to the top.

Triple H, or Hunter Hearst Helmsley, is known by friends and family as Jean-Paul Levesque, or simply Paul. Obviously HHH sounds cooler than Jean-Paul Levesque, and had he not changed it to Hunter Hearst Helmsley, he may not be the Game; he may just be another big guy who has a small moveset.

Now, there are guys like Undertake, Kane, Doink, The Brooklyn Brawler, Sting, Ultimate Warrior, and Hawk and Animal who went with nicknames instead of traditional names. There is no doubt that some of these guys would not have risen to stardom if not for their names: Steve Borden doesn't strike fear into hearts like the name Sting does.

Some other notable renamed grapplers are Terry Bollea, AKA Hulk Hogan; Roberts Szatkowski, AKA Rob Van Dam; and Anthony Carelli, AKA Santino Marella.

Some wrestlers have chosen simply to add a little nickname. Bret "The Hitman" Hart or "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig are great examples of guys who went by their real names and added a moniker. Adding a nickname has a certain appeal because fighters and mobsters have been doing it for years to sound cooler, and it works. 

Iron Mike Tyson did this as a boxer, and The Sopranos portrayed the mafioso stereotype of nicknames like Big Pussy and Pauly Walnuts.

Other wrestlers are made to change their names because some companies don't like to have anything used that is not owned by them. Evan Bourne was originally billed as Matt Sydal; Vance Archer went by Lance Rock then Lance Hoyt in TNA; and we may even see Bryan Danielson get a name change when he arrives.

Having altered names is also a huge tradition in Mexican Wrestling. Rey Mysterio is going by his uncle's name as a tribute to him; others like Psychosis, La Parka, and Konnan also changed their names to suit their personas.

Let's not forget about the girls now. Bull Nakano, Alundra Blayze, and Sunny also changed their in-ring names to fit their personalities better. Bull Nakano was a perfect name for anyone who ever got to see her wrestle. She was like a scarier version of Hamada.

Owen Hart is an example of someone who went by a nickname, The Blue Blazer, who then switched to his real name. He later added titles like King of Harts, Slammy Award Winning, and The Black Hart.

Some choose to simply leave this whole thing alone, like John Cena and Kurt Angle. Angle may be refereed to as Olympic Gold Medalist, but that is a legit title he earned with a broken neck.

Overall, I think nicknames and name changes benefit guys with names that don't roll off the tip of you tongue, like Hickenbottom or Levesque, but in the case of guys like Evan Bourne, I don't think the change was necessary.

What do you think? Are nicknames and name changes beneficial or just stupid?

Also, What would your nickname be if you were a wrestler?