Front page


From the everyday to the ordinary

12 May 14 | Re: Bizarrely mundane sports entertainment naming policy | Link-U-Post

Back in the 80s, WWF wrestlers didn’t generally have the sort of names that normal people do. They had names like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, The One Man Gang, The Junkyard Dog, The Undertaker. Even when they did have a name that you might believably be born with, say Rick Martel, they generally had a cool nickname to go with it. The Model Rick Martel. The Dragon Ricky Steamboat. Macho Man Randy Savage.

As well as making its world all cartoony, the benefit of this to the WWF was that, since it had created most of these names, it owned the rights to them, so wrestlers who left couldn’t use the names that had made them famous elsewhere. It hobbled the competition. This didn’t apply to Hulk Hogan, who’d originally got famous outside the WWF, but it did apply to others. At the hated rival WCW, Razor Ramon, Mr Perfect and Haku had to wrestle as Scott Hall, Curt Hennig and Meng. Not so marketable, not so memorable.

(Even if the brain trust at WCW might possibly have been able to come up with something better than Meng if it had tried a bit harder.)

This policy proved so frustrating to some wrestlers that they actually changed their real legal names to their old WWF ring names so that they could legally carry on using them. The Ultimate Warrior legally changed his name to Warrior. Test legally changed his name to Test.

Times change, though, and for the most part names like Earthquake and Tugboat and Viscera are out of fashion. Recent holders of mid-card titles in what’s now WWE have included Wade Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Curtis Axel, Cody Rhodes, Zack Ryder. The current World Champion is one Daniel Bryan.


Even though WWE now wants most wrestlers to have completely ordinary names, for the sake of realism or modernity or whatever, it still insists on coming up with new, made-up ordinary names to rename its already ordinary-named wrestlers, purely so that it will have the rights to them!

Let’s say you join WWE as a hot new prospect and your name is Alan Carstairs. You as Mr Carstairs are unlikely these days to be transformed into The Shockmaster or Kamala The Ugandan Giant, but you can’t wrestle as Alan Carstairs either. You have to wrestle as, say, Pete Brompton. Then a real Pete Brompton joins WWE and has to wrestle as Colin Monkhouse. Then a real Colin Monkhouse joins and has to wrestle as “Big” Olly Castleford. It’s madness.

I don’t know. I can see how WWE can claim rights to a name like The Undertaker, which had some amount of creative power go into its choosing and also came with a cool spooky character attached. But when you are taking Colby Lopez and spending five minutes to rename him Seth Rollins (real example) for no other reason than to make his life harder if he ever leaves, I’m not sure your rights should have the same status.

Posted by MADAME SOSOSTRIS at 21:45

PS It’s actually been sad writing this because of all the wrestlers who’ve passed away over the last fifteen years. I honestly wasn’t favouring deceased wrestlers for my examples; RIP to The Ultimate Warrior, The Junkyard Dog, Macho Man Randy Savage, Mr Perfect, Test, Earthquake and Viscera.

[Back to main blog]

[Or dive into the blarchive...]

Take me home