The competitive world of wrestling often requires more than just in-ring talent to captivate fans. Wrestlers with great gimmicks might struggle if they can’t deliver in the ring, while those with unfavorable wrestling names could find it challenging to make progress in the business.
For instance, WWE legend Steve Austin might not have reached his iconic status if he had gone by the name Chilly McFreeze instead of Stone Cold. Similarly, Rebecca Quin nearly ended up as Madeleine before becoming Becky Lynch.
Wrestlers usually collaborate with the creative team to brainstorm potential names before their televised debut. However, in some rare instances, other members of the roster may step in and provide suggestions for better names.
Let’s take a look at five WWE stars who contributed to shaping the names of their fellow wrestlers.
Joe Anoa’i initially wrestled under the names Leakee and Roman Leakee in WWE’s developmental system before adopting the name Roman Reigns just before his main roster debut in 2012. On an episode of Chris Jericho’s “Talk Is Jericho” podcast, Reigns credited commentator Corey Graves for helping him change his last name from Leakee to Reigns, adding a more regal flare to his persona.
Wade Barrett underwent a character transformation in 2013, renaming himself Bad News Barrett. He revealed that Cody Rhodes came up with the concept after suggesting that he grew up watching Wade as Bad News Barrett on television. WWE’s online team later decided to incorporate the character on “The JBL & Cole Show,” bringing Bad News Barrett to life.
Triple H had a brief stint as a French aristocrat Jean-Paul Levesque in WCW before joining WWE. J.J. Dillon initially proposed the name Reginald DuPont Helmsley, but after some deliberation, they settled on Hunter Hearst Helmsley. However, on an episode of “Talk Is Jericho,” Triple H revealed that Shawn Michaels suggested the shortened version, Triple H, which ultimately stuck over the years.
AEW star Wheeler Yuta was trained by Drew Gulak and initially wanted to go by the name YUTA. However, Gulak recommended adding “Wheeler” to his ring name, which Yuta eventually embraced over time.
Corey Graves, who had a successful wrestling career before retiring due to concussion issues, struggled to come up with a ring name during his FCW days. He found inspiration from Bray Wyatt, who suggested the name “Corey Graves” after singing a song by Corey Hart during practice.
Overall, these instances demonstrate the collaborative nature of the wrestling industry, as wrestlers often come together to support and innovate each other’s personas and wrestling identities.