WWE superstars are rarely allowed to use their own names in the ring, because WWE likes to own copyright to their characters and prevent them from going to any other company and using WWE’s likeness to perform.
This means that sometimes, superstars are given more than one name. They can find fame under one name and then be repackaged by the company, forced to wrestle under a different name (which may not invoke the same reactions as the character that they played before).
Over the past few decades many superstars have been repackaged by WWE and failed to be a hit with the WWE Universe following their change of character. This is not really anyone’s fault – WWE had just decided their old character was becoming stale or wasn’t working in the way that they had hoped.
Sometimes this works, as The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were repackaged as those characters and reached heights in the company because of the name changes. But some superstars fail to connect, fail to reach their championship goals and then become jobbers for the company or are even released from their contracts early.
The following is a list of 10 wrestlers who fell from grace with the WWE Universe after their name was changed and their new character failed to be a big hit:
10. El Local
Ricardo Rodriguez was known as EL Local when he wrestled in NXT, and he was even one of the original members of The Lucha Dragons. But WWE decided that he would only work as a valet to Alberto Del Rio and later Rob Van Dam on the main roster.
After his story lines with Del Rio and Van Dam came to an end, WWE decided to send Rodriquez back down to NXT and put him under a mask, under the name of EL Local. This seemed to work out for a while, especially when he was joined with Kalisto, but WWE failed to see any future for his character and released him from his contract not long after.
Prince Albert was a big part of WWE in the late 1990s during his first stint in WWE. He was then repackaged as Lord Tensai when he made his return to WWE in 2012 after a successful run in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
As Tensai, he was pushed by WWE and was thought to be a credible talent on the roster, but when Tensai was partnered up with Brodus Clay and the duo became known as Tons of Funk, it seemed that all Tensai’s credibility had been lost. The duo eventually disbanded and Clay was released, but Tensai was kept by WWE and new works as a trainer for WWE NXT talent.
8. Adam Rose
You can’t help but feel bad for Adam Rose. He had a fantastic gimmick when he first came to NXT and it seemed Leo Kruger was about to take Rose all the way to the main roster. But officials didn’t feel the same way, so they repackaged him as Adam Rose, the party boy.
This Adam Rose was a hit in NXT, but he failed to capture the audience’s imagination in WWE and Rose ended up stuck in a feud against a bunny. This ended and Rose was kept off TV for a while whilst he was repackaged as the guy who hated parties. He was then added to The Social Outcasts.
7. Big Daddy V
Viscera and Mabel were two respected wrestling gimmicks that were played by the same superstar in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But WWE decided to bring back the character as Big Daddy V and it was one gimmick that he was unable to work with.
The gimmick lasted just over a year with many WWE officials unsure what to do with the large athlete. So he was placed on the ECW brand, before being drafted to SmackDown, but he was never given the chance to wrestle on the brand since WWE released him from his contract the following week.
6. Kerwin White
Chavo Guerrero was a respected member of the Guerrero family. He was a talented star in his own right and he had many accomplishments to his name when WWE decided to allow him to become Kerwin White.
Guerrero dyed his hair white and had his own golf buggy, and had a new phrase “If it ain’t white, it ain’t right.” But it wasn’t enough for fans to get behind the character and after just a few months Kerwin White was forgotten and Chavo Guerrero returned. This was linked to the death of his uncle Eddie Guerrero, but we are still thankful it ended.
5. Blue Blazer
Owen Hart is still considered one of the greatest of all time. He came from one of the most famous wrestling families and it showed whenever he wrestled.
Despite this, WWE decided to give him a new gimmick Blue Blazer. This character was self righteous and edgy, and tried to prove that he wasn’t Owen Hart many times (even though it was made very obvious that it was him). Blazer was never really given enough time to go over with the Universe, given that Hart’s death came prematurely at Over the Edge in 1999.
4. Los Matadores
Primo and Epico made a name for themselves after they debuted in WWE. and are even former Tag Team Champions. But WWE decided that their tag team division was missing a pair of bull fighters along with their own pet bull.
This then led to Los Matadores being repackaged and ever since have been used as a jobber tag team to make up the numbers in WWE (especially when the company decides to have multi-man tag team matches). The duo have been kept off TV for most of 2016 and it seems like they’re going to be repackaged once again.
3. The Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick is a former Tag Team Champion in WWE alongside Paul London, but after the high-flying duo broke up, Kendrick went his own way and became the self-obsessed The Brian Kendrick.
Kendrick was not a big hit with the fans who had supported him and London as a team, and after a short stint on Raw, he was drafted to ECW. This was another short stint after WWE then released Brian from his contract a few months later. He has since returned to WWE as a trainer, but later left the company and headed over to ROH.
2. Bourne Again
Doink The Clown is one of the most memorable wresters of the 1990s and is remembered for his bright appearance and wrestling ability. But after several years of dressing as the clown, Matt Osbourne decided that he would wrestle under a different name.
Doink became Bourne Again, and he would lose the clown attire and instead dress in a suit with minimal make up. He would then dress his opponents in clown suits after they lost to him, but this was a short-lived gimmick since he left the company due to personal problems. Many people have continued to portray Doink over the past few years.
1. Saba Simba
Tony Atlas is one of WWE’s most respected Hall of Famers. He was a part of wrestling in the 1970s to the 1990s, and witnessed the change of the business over those two decades.
He returned to WWE in 2008 and had a six year stint with the company where he proved the he still had it even at an older age. The one blip on his career would be when he became Saba Simba at the 1991 Royal Rumble. This was by far the worst run of his wrestling career, even though he credits it as the gimmick that took him to WWE.