WWE's 15 Stupidest Name Changes Done For Legal Reasons
What's in a ring name?
Well, a lot actually.
Some can help send a wrestler into superstardom, like The Rock or Hulk Hogan, but some can make a wrestler wallow in mid-card or jobber hell for most of his career, such as Yoshi Tatsu.
Often, wrestlers are stuck with an awesome or a ridiculous name for legal reasons. Either they change their legal name so the WWE can't make money off of them, or the WWE changes a wrestler's real name to some absurd ring moniker so that the company can trademark it.
In the end, though, the result is the same: a really stupid name.
Here the 15 dumbest WWE-related name changes done for legal reasons.
15. Ken Doane to Kenny to Kenny Dykstra
Ken Doane officially debuted in the WWE in 2006 under simply "Kenny" as a member of the all-male cheerleader group, the Spirit Squad.
As if just giving the guy a first name and such a ridiculous gimmick wasn't bad enough, the WWE changed his ring name to "Kenny Dykstra" once his Spirit Squad days were over.
For those that don't know, Doane's new ring name was a shoutout to former MLB player Lenny Dykstra, who was a three-time All-Star but is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading no contest to three grand theft auto charges and one count of filing a false financial report.
Yeah, Lenny Dykstra is not exactly someone you want to be associated with.
But I guess the good news for Kenny is that he will always be known as the better Dykstra.
14. Windham "Duke" Rotunda to Husky Harris
Windham Rotunda comes from a rich wrestling bloodline.
His grandfather is Blackjack Mulligan, his father is Mike "I.R.S." Rotunda and he is the nephew of Barry and Kendall Windham.
Yet, the WWE decided to completely ignore his family's connection to the wrestling business and stick him with the god awful ring name of "Husky Harris."
I can only assume that someone in the company has a Siberian husky as a pet and that, for some reason or another, they want Rotunda's last name to start with the first letter as his ring name.
I mean, why not call Rotunda "Blackjack Rotunda" or something along those lines? I really have no idea.
13. Joanie Laurer Changes Her Legal Name to Chyna
In 2007, Joanie Laurer officially changed her legal name to "Chyna."
After parting ways with the WWE in 2001, Laurer had been going by the name "Chyna Doll," which I find rather ironic when because when I think of an actual china doll, the image of a jacked-up female wrestler usually doesn't come to mind.
Anyway, Laurer is now legally known as "Chyna."
I assume this means that we are free to spend one night in Chyna or take the backdoor to get there if for some godforsaken reason we choose to do so.
Kids, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you should feel blessed.
12. Johnny Prime to Lucky Cannon
Vince McMahon said that NXT was going to revolutionize the wrestling business, but he didn't specify what he meant by that.
If he was implying that NXT would give us some of the worst ring names in wrestling history, then yeah, he was right.
Of all the bad ones we got from that show, Lucky Cannon was undoubtedly one of the worst.
Cannon (real name: Jonathon Emminger) had a gimmicky name in "Johnny Prime" down in Florida Championship Wrestling, but at least that name wasn't derived from the most popular name for a dog on the planet.
I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a random house, seen an aggravating little mutt and heard its owner scream, "Come here, Lucky!"
Dumb name for a dog. Dumb name for a human. Even dumber when you combine it with a form of weaponry.
11. Kipp Christianson to Eli Cottonwood
When Kipp Christianson debuted on NXT under the name "Eli Cottonwood" and started rambling about mustaches, that was it: his career was over before it even started.
Kipp Christianson is not that bad of a name, but freaking Eli Cottonwood? It sounds like some character out of a novel set in the south in the 1800s.
Come on, guys. Eli Cottonwood? Eli Cottonwood?
I wonder if this name has anything to do with the fact that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, and I'm willing to bet that that is indeed the case.
I'm just not sure why anyone in the WWE thought that would be relevant in 2010, considering that Whitney died in 1825.
10. Chris Harris to Braden Walker
So, a guy makes a pretty decent name for himself over in TNA under his real name, Chris Harris.
Then, what does the WWE do?
The company brings him in, sends him to the C-brand (ECW), throws amateur wrestling gear on him and then calls him "Braden Walker."
The second that Braden Walker walked through that curtain on ECW, you could tell that his WWE career was about to be flushed down the toilet.
I'm not saying that it had anything to do with the fact that Harris was called Braden Walker, but it probably had a lot to do with the fact that he was called Braden Walker.
9. Nick Nemeth to Dolph Ziggler
Nick "The Natural" Nemeth has a natural (pun intended) ring to it, but Dolph Ziggler?
I actually don't hate that ring name as much as many people do, but when you're birth name sounds like a good ring name, you should probably keep it.
You shouldn't, however, go under a name like Dolph Ziggler when it's a play off of Mark Wahlberg's character Dirk Diggler from the 1997 film Boogie Nights.
Maybe I'm confused, but I'm pretty sure Ziggler debuted in 2008.
Who the hell thought thought any wrestling fans would care that Ziggler's ring name was derived from a mediocre movie that starred Wahlberg as a porn star and came out 11 years ago?
8. Bryan Danielson to Daniel Bryan
Bryan Danielson is widely regarded as the best wrestler on the planet, so most would assume that it would be wise to bring him into your wrestling promotion under his real name.
Except for Vince McMahon.
Vinny Mac and the WWE made the not-so-smart decision to switch Danielson's first and last names, drop the "son" from Danielson and then call him "Daniel Bryan."
Try being a bit more clever next time, or actually using the name that, you know, made the guy famous.
7. Tyler Black to Seth Rollins
A Ring of Honor star was signed by the WWE and given a dumb ring name.
Colby Lopez had developed a reputation as one of the best stars on the independent wrestling scene, and he is known to wrestling fans across the country as "Tyler Black," a catchy name that you can tell fits the guy just by looking at him.
But the WWE loves to trademark the names of its superstars, so the company decided to change Black's name to "Seth Rollins."
I honestly don't even know where they came up with this crap, but it looks like someone in the WWE is a fan of naming wrestlers after members of the Philadelphia Phillies.
6. Barbara Blank to Kelly Kelly
My first day, my wrestling name was going to be Kelly. Then, I came back the next week and Vince (McMahon) had this wonderful idea, 'Let's call her Kelly Kelly. Let's just give her two first names; we've never done that before," she said. "So, there you go.
Huh? What? Really? Vince McMahon just decided on the fly that Kelly Kelly should have two first names?
I don't get it.
Her real name is Barbara "Barbie" Blank, and given that she looks quite similar to a Barbie doll, why would you not just call her "Barbie Blank?"
That's a lot more catchy (in a good way) than giving her a generic first name...and then using it twice.
5. Carlos "Carly" Colon, Jr. to Carlito Caribbean Cool
Carlos "Carly" Colon, Jr. is another wrestler on this list with tons of ties to the wrestling industry.
His father, uncle, cousin and brother (WWE's Primo) are all well-known figures in the business, and you would think they would all use the Colon family name.
But that just hasn't been the case.
When Colon debuted with the WWE in 2004, he was given the name "Carlito Caribbean Cool." I'm fine with just Carlito, but "Carlito Caribbean Cool" is a bit too much.
That's like calling Rey Mysterio "Mysterio Mexican Masked Man."
4. Sid Vicious to Sid Justice
Sid Eudy has gone under a number of different ring names throughout his career, even once being called "Lord Humongous."
He rose to fame in WCW, however, under the name "Sid Vicious," which he took from a punk rock musician of the same name but still sounded cool nonetheless.
When Sid jumped to the WWF in 1991, though, the company stuck him with the painfully bad "Sid Justice" ring name.
That sounds like the name of a bad cop show to me and was a far cry from "Sid Vicious" or even Sycho Sid.
3. Joe Hennig to Michael McGillicutty
Joe Hennig is the son of one of the best wrestlers of all-time, Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig.
So, naturally you would assume that the WWE would use his real last name in order to get him over with the fans?
Apparently the best that the company could come up with was Michael McGillicutty, which was his mother's maiden name but is a mouthful to say.
I still can't get over the fact that no one told Vince McMahon, "Hey, you're an idiot. Just let this guy be Joe Hennig."
But we all that Vince is all about the money, and he's more worried about trademarking Michael McGillicutty than he is about getting Joe Hennig over.
2. James Hellwig Legally Changes His Name to Warrior
James Hellwig takes this pro wrestling stuff pretty seriously.
In an effort to combat the WWF trademarking his character/ring name and reaping the monetary benefits that come along with it, Hellwig (a.k.a. Ultimate Warrior) changed his real name to "Warrior" in 1993.
It actually wound up working pretty well for him, because in 1998, a court ruled that Warrior, not the WWF, was entitled to using his gimmick and everything that came along with it.
I'm just not sure how his kids felt about all this, given that their legal surnames became Warrior.
I can imagine them sitting in class and having to respond "Here!" when the name Warrior is called. Plus, it had to be a pretty big adjustment to go from sitting in front of Hernandez to sitting in front of Williams during algebra class.
1. WWF to WWE
Time magazine recently named the World Wrestling Federation's switch from WWF to WWE one of the 10 worst corporate name changes in history.
It's not that "WWE" sounds all that bad. It's just that we enjoyed the WWE when it was a federation rather than an entertainment company because it seems to have steadily gone downhill since changing its name.
Coincidence or not? Who knows.
But I can't help but wonder: How can the most prominent wrestling organization in the world lose a court battle to the World Wildlife Fund?
I didn't even know that existed, but apparently that fund and its initials were more important than our federation and theirs.