Saturday, February 24

10 Worst Name Changes From Wrestlers Who Left WWE, Ranked

As many wrestling fans are well aware, it’s not uncommon for wrestler’s names to change from promotion to promotion, with WWE being a well-known offender in changing wrestler names seemingly just so the company can own the trademark. As a result, most wrestlers who depart the company have to change their ring names when they end up somewhere else.


Related

10 WWE Name Changes That Actually Worked Well

Some WWE name changes over the years have certainly been a good decision and have worked out well in the end.

That said, the name changes aren’t always for the better. Sometimes a wrestler adopts a ring name that evokes their WWE name (but worse), while others go in a different, more baffling direction. Let’s take a look at 10 of the worst post-WWE name changes, starting with the least bad of the bunch.


10 Damien Sandow Became Aron Rex In TNA

He Has Since Become Aron Stevens

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2003-2007, 2010-2016

Money In The Bank, WWE Tag Team Championship

After, like, a decade in developmental, wrestler Aaron Haddad finally found something that worked in WWE: Damien Sandow, “The Intellectual Savior of the Masses.” A stint as The Miz’s stunt double made him an underdog babyface, but WWE never really pulled the trigger on him as someone worth pushing. After his release in 2016, he ended up in TNA as Aron Rex, a surprisingly generic gladiator-style name that signaled a lack of direction for Stevens outside the WWE system. He actually fared better later in the NWA as failed Hollywood actor and comedy heel Aron Stevens.

9 Brodus Clay Became Tyrus In TNA

Tyrus Is A Controversial Figure In The NWA

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2006-2014

None

Originally WWE’s dancing, kid-friendly Funkasaurus, Brodus Clay worked a gimmick with a very low ceiling, and was released from the promotion in 2014. Hilariously, Clay had a similar trajectory: enter the Impact Zone with a worse name, and then end up in NWA. After WWE, Brodus Clay became the mononymic Tyrus, which is certainly a name befitting someone who seemed like they’d spend the rest of their career playing enforcer characters. Strangely, Tyrus’ wrestling journey took a left turn, and he found himself as the NWA’s controversial forever champion, holding the Worlds Heavyweight Championship for nearly 300 days.

8 Nailz Became The Prisoner In WCW

A Surprisingly Generic Change

WWE Run

Accomplishments

1992

None

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, WWE had a great gimmick in The Big Boss Man, a heel prison guard who inexplicably became a babyface law enforcer. As a hero, Boss Man of course had to fight a criminal, so enter Nailz, an ex-con with a vendetta against him.

Related

The Real Story Of WWE Wrestler Nailz Attacking Vince McMahon

Despite having some reputable feuds, Nailz was abruptly released from WWE in 1992 after allegedly assaulting chairman Vince McMahon.

Nailz was released from WWE after infamously attacking Vince McMahon, but one supposes he had enough recognition to be worth something to the other guys, so he debuted in WCW as the generically named The Convict, where he took on Sting at Slamboree ‘93.

7 Mike Knox Became Knux In TNA

This Was During His Stint In Aces & Eights

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2006-2010

None

Even die-hard WWE fans could be forgiven for not remembering Mike Knox, the overprotective heel boyfriend of Kelly Kelly in the ECW revival. After leaving WWE in 2010, he eventually resurfaced as one of several disappointing reveals in TNA’s divisive Aces & Eights storyline, where he of course had to be renamed for trademark reasons. Not the most memorable performer, mild name recognition was all he could rely on, so in the Impact Zone he received the hilarious soundalike ring name of Knux. Like Tyrus, it sounds like the name of someone destined to be a bodyguard for life.

6 Big Boss Man Became The Guardian Angel In WCW

WWE Run

Accomplishments

1988-1993

None

Before being the aforementioned Big Boss Man, Ray Traylor had wrestled in the NWA/WCW as Big Bubba Rogers, but upon his return to WCW in 1993 the decision was made to capitalize on his WWE notoriety. As such, The Big Boss Man stopped being a Big Man and adopted the Springsteen-evoking name of The Boss, palette swapping his prison guard uniform to a black number. But WWE legal came sniffing around the gimmick, so The Boss became The Guardian Angel, adopting a gimmick based on the real-life volunteer crime-stopping group that did not make him seem threatening in the slightest.

5 Luke Gallows Became D.O.C. In TNA

It Stood For “Director Of Chaos”

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2005-2010

None

While Knux was a lazy way to evoke Mike Knox’s old gimmick, TNA didn’t even bother when Luke Gallows joined Aces & Eights. Instead of being Duke Barrows or something playing off of his old Festus gimmick, he invaded the Impact Zone as D.O.C., which stood for “Director of Chaos,” though Gallows’ in-ring style wasn’t particularly chaotic. The name, while more original than Knux, didn’t quite work, though it did make way for a better post-WWE ring name when he went to New Japan Pro-Wrestling and joined Bullet Club as Doc Gallows.

4 Enzo Amore Became nZo Or Real1 Outside Of WWE

He Uses These Ring Names Interchangeably

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2012-2018

WWE Cruiserweight Championship (2x)

A popular babyface and tag team specialist in both NXT and on the main roster, Enzo Amore made up for his unspectacular in-ring abilities with gifted mic work, complete with a shout-along entrance promo. Unfortunately, backstage issues and some disturbing allegations sent him packing from WWE in 2018.

Related

Why Enzo Amore & Big Cass Left WWE, Explained

Enzo Amore and Big Cass were once very popular with WWE fans, but two failed singles runs, combined with their own issues, saw their downfall.

Despite being a problematic figure in the sport, Enzo continues to wrestle to this day, albeit mostly on the indies and occasional appearances in low-level televised outfits like Major League Wrestling. Depending on where he shows up, he opts for either the soundalike nZo or the more baffling Real1.

3 Sin Cara Became Myzteziz In AAA

He’s Better Known As Mistico

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2011-2014

None

Before he became known as one of WWE’s many failed attempts to create a new Rey Mysterio, the original Sin Cara was one of Mexico’s top acts, wrestling in CMLL as the beloved Mistico. After his WWE release in 2014, Sin Cara needed a new gimmick as WWE owned Sin Cara and CMLL owned Mistico and had given the gimmick to a new wrestler in 2012. Signing to CMLL’s rival, AAA, he adopted a new name, the unwieldy but Mistico-evoking Myzteziz. Myzteziz’s AAA run didn’t last long, and he returned to CMLL and worked as Caristico until he eventually became Mistico again in 2021.

2 Balls Mahoney Became Kahoneys In TNA

It Was For A One-Off Appearance, At Least

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2006-2008

None

When WWE revived ECW as a third brand in 2006, it was a no-brainer to bring back some of the original ECW’s memorable talents, including the “Chair-Swinging Freak,” Balls Mahoney. In the new ECW, Mahoney had a goofy romance angle with the aforementioned Kelly Kelly, but not much else before he was let go from the company in 2008. While he used the Balls Mahoney name on the indies all the time, for his appearance at the TNA-produced ECW nostalgia show Hardore Justice he wrestled under the goofy soundlike name Kahoneys for apparent trademark reasons.

1 Big Cass Became CazXL On The Indies

He’s Now Known As Big Bill In AEW

WWE Run

Accomplishments

2011-2018

None

While nZo isn’t the best way to skirt WWE trademark ownership, at least it sounds like Enzo. the same can’t be said for Enzo’s tag team partner, Big Cass. After he was released from WWE in 2018, he of course joined his buddy on the indies, where he adopted the name CazXL, which evokes Big Cass but very little else. In the years since, however, he’s adopted ring names that are unequivocal improvements, including the admirable W. Morrissey in TNA and Big Bill in AEW, which is reminiscent of Big Cass but is far less cringeworthy.

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