It’s rare that a WWE performer uses their given name. Those that do tend to be such big attractions that changing their name would be counter productive, such as Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar or Ronda Rousey. Most wrestlers choose or are given ring names because their own names are boring or a bit of a mouthful. “Mr. WrestleMania” Michael Hickenbottom doesn’t exactly scream Superstar. This list looks at those wrestlers who used ring names even though their own names were cooler or more fitting.
Yes, I understand that there are often various reasons why ring names are used rather than real names, but there are and always have been exceptions to this rule. Not least of which, John Cena, who has happily been using his birth name for the last 15+ years. So I know that not all of the wrestlers would have been able to or even wanted to use their own name, but let’s not let details get in the way of a good list.
1. Matt Bloom AKA Prince Albert
Prince Albert, Giant Bernard, Lord Tensai, A-Train, Sweet T or Hip Hop Hippo. Call him what you want, Matt Bloom has had more terrible ring names than a whole season of the original NXT. Despite being pushed as a legitimate threat at several points in his WWE career, including being part of an Undertaker WrestleMania match, Matt never quite reached the heights a man of his size and capability should. While it’s tough to say that his terrible names held him back, they certainly didn’t help. Most frustrating of all is that his real name is actually pretty cool.
Matt Bloom sounds like the kind of no-nonsense, badass character that he should have been from the start. The kind of wrestler who doesn’t need weird gimmicks like, say, a personal tattooist or a pretend Japanese Lord. And it’s not like a straight forward name would have been too out of place in the era he debuted. For every Edge or Crash Holly on the roster, there was a Ken Shamrock or a Steve Blackman. Matt Bloom would have fit right in.
2. Robert Remus AKA Sgt. Slaughter
Okay, hands up here, Sgt. Slaughter is a good name for a good wrestling character. It was a great fit for the cartoonish era during which he achieved his career highlights, including a WrestleMania main event against “The Immortal One”. As society moved on and Slaughter reappeared as the on-air commissioner of Raw is War, Sarge had become a bit of a joke of a bygone era. Granted, this was partly because the emerging DX stable were doing everything they could to demean him, but Slaughter felt like he didn’t really belong and his name didn’t help.
What if Slaughter returned under his real name, Robert Remus? It’s not like anybody in the audience really thought he was called Sgt. Slaughter anyway. Robert Remus is a really interesting name. It has a nice alliteration to it in the same way Slaughter has, it rolls off the tongue, and you could even play up the Roman connotations of the name if you really wanted to.
It’s something the WWE would try further down the line, turning their newly appointed “Chief of Staff” Val Venis into Sean Morely. It gave that character the new lease of life it desperately needed at that point and the same could have been true for The Sarge.
3. Aurelian Smith AKA Jake Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts is one of those names that people remember, but do they remember it for the right reasons? It’s a silly name when you think about it, especially for somebody who was brought in to represent the personification of evil. Jake “The Snake” sounds more like a Saturday morning cartoon character or somebody who dies in the first five minutes of a Guy Ritchie movie. And talk about being beaten over the head with a gimmick; the guy who comes to the ring with a giant snake is called Jake “The Snake”. Real subtle.
Jake was a cunning, silver tongued heel who was a real pioneer of mind games. He should have had a name that reflected that. A name like Aurelian. It’s unusual, enigmatic and slightly exotic. It sounds like the name of somebody you shouldn’t trust. Jake sounds like the name of the next door neighbour you time your exit from the house to avoid.
4. Sesugh Uhaa AKA Apollo
Crews can’t lose. Unless it’s a wrestling match. Or his name. Two weeks ago, Apollo Crews quietly ditched his surname. Nothing much was thought about it at the time, after all, it’s not an unusual occurrence in the WWE. Big E is no longer a Langston, Rusev and Cesaro gave away their forenames, and God help you trying to find a woman wrestler with a surname in the mid 2000s. As it turns out, it appears that the Crews surname was abandoned due to its similarity to Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who opened fire at a Florida high school four days prior.
Reactionary, maybe, but understandable given how keen WWE are to protect their public image in uncertain times. None of this would have mattered if Apollo had used his own name to begin with. He has, of course, used the Uhaa name to great success on the independent scene as Uhaa Nation. It helped build a mystique around the character that the name Apollo Crews never really could. It’s such a lazy mash up of a Rocky villain and the Old Spice salesman that it’s really hard to root for. Now Uhaa Nation? That’s a Titus Worldwide member I can get behind.
5. Barbara Blank AKA Kelly Kelly
Sometimes, wrestling doesn’t know when to leave well alone. Kelly Kelly debuted as a mostly vapid character whose only career goal was to take all her clothes off on television. She was very conventionally attractive. Barbie Doll like, if you will. And she often wore a blank expression on her face. Yes, she was a blank Barbie, a Barbie who was blank. So let’s call her Kelly Kelly.
The name was right there in front of them. Right under their nose like a sexy, blonde moustache. Kelly Kelly is a really lazy name, even more so when you consider there was a man on SmackDown at this same time with the name Mr. Kennedy… Kennedy. If you’re going to be that lazy, why not stick with her too good to be true real name? Barbara or Barbie Blank is a wrestling name. It sounds like the name of a woman who wants to take her clothes off on television. It’s an incompetent wrestling writer’s wet dream, yet they let it slip through their fingers like sand. Sexy, blonde sand.