The name of a wrestler is extremely important when it comes to achieving success on the big stage. Think about it; Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H all sound much more appealing than The Ringmaster, Rocky Maivia and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. You need to grow to accept and view the wrestler by their name and it needs to sound cool enough to work with the character. Unfortunately, not everyone can choose their name or keep the same name throughout their career. The WWE is especially protective of their personas and often want to choose a performer’s name or will own rights to it.
That guarantees the wrestler will not be able to profit off of a character or act that was developed in WWE. If you ever wondered why your favorite stars were under new monikers in WCW, TNA or other promotions following a WWE run, now you know why. Many wrestlers earn their reputations under their most popular name and it's a tough journey when forced to change. The struggle can be due to the gimmick, name or just timing. We’ll look at that world of momentum going downwards and careers failing. These are the top fifteen wrestlers to flop following a name change.
15 Scotty Goldman (Colt Cabana)
The independent wrestling career of Colt Cabana has always been extremely success. Cabana is known for being the best friend of CM Punk and having highly entertaining matches through the art form of comedy. WWE signed him in 2006 to make his lifelong dream come true but it ended up being the worst thing to happen to his career. Cabana took a pay cut to join WWE developmental and was forced to change his name to Scotty Goldman on the main roster.
14 Curtis Axel (Michael McGillicutty)
As the son of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, wrestling fans had high hopes for the third generation superstar and WWE signed him at a young age. The bizarre name choice given to him in developmental was Michael McGillicutty. It was puzzling to understand the logic there but he was never positioned high on the card so it never really mattered. The highest level of success under the McGillicutty name was winning the tag titles with David Otunga.
13 Akeem (One Man Gang)
The WWE had an impressive monster heel on the roster with the One Man Gang. We all knew he would never become WWE Champion but he had a great presence to secure a role on the show. One Man Gang served as a credible threat against the likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage but he always did the job. WWE decided to make a drastic change by having him embrace the new name and character of Akeem.
12 V.K. Wallstreet (I.R.S)
The heel work of I.R.S in WWE is often overlooked, but he did a stellar job as a member of Ted DiBiase’s Money Inc. How could you not hate a smug jerk in his shirt and tie reminding you have to pay your taxes? The act was ideal for the midcard and he was arguably the best heel in that tier of the roster. WWE’s battle with WCW was in its early stages and we entered the world of copyrights and trademarks.
11 Beaver Cleavage (Mosh)
The Attitude Era is met with overwhelmingly positive memories due to nostalgia, but there were many horrible ideas. The Headbangers were a fixture in the WWE tag team picture but Thrasher suffered an injury that forced partner Mosh to go it alone. WWE decided to give him a completely new gimmick and name with the concept of Beaver Cleavage. The concept was meant to be a parody of the old television series Leave it to Beaver.
10 The Shark (Earthquake)
Only in pro wrestling can you say The Shark jumped the shark. John Tenta achieved success for WWE in the early 90s as a massive human portraying a villainous monster against the top faces in the company as Earthquake. Hulk Hogan struck a friendship with Tenta and that eventually extended to getting him a deal to join WCW. The company underwent a complete makeover with Hogan as the face of the franchise and his friends like Tenta joined the roster to appease Hulkster.
9 Braden Walker (Chris Harris)
Chris Harris showed the potential of becoming a future superstar in the wrestling business during his time in TNA. Everyone views the top TNA stars of that young core as being A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode and James Storm due to their success but Harris was right there with them for years. In fact, he looked like he could be an even bigger star than some of those name following classic matches against Storm and Christian Cage.
8 Kenny Dykstra (Kenny)
The Spirit Squad is remembered for being an embarrassing faction of jobbers that were humiliated by Triple H and Shawn Michaels but all five men had great promise. WWE actually thought the five members could blossom into stars, but only Dolph Ziggler was able to accomplish anything past the cheerleading group. Kenny had the most potential at the start and appeared to have the skills to one day become a world champion.
7 Flash Funk (2 Cold Scorpio)
ECW was home to popular hardcore wrestling. Everyone remembers Tommy Dreamer, Sandman and Raven being on top of the promotion with their violent matches but 2 Cold Scorpio could be argued as the best in-ring performer in the company’s history. Scorpio delivered unbelievable matches on a nightly basis in Philadelphia during ECW’s early years of big success. His work was impressive enough to get him offered a contract but that was where a name change occurred.
6 Rellik (Johnny Stamboli)
The late years of WCW featured the company desperately trying to find young talent after relying on old legends, and Johnny Stamboli stood out among the top prospects. Between his impressive physical look and the athleticism, Stamboli found a spot on Nitro in the tag team and hardcore divisions before WCW was bought by Vince McMahon. WWE saw enough potential in Stamboli to bring him over to the company and give him a couple of chances as Johnny the Bull.
5 Berlyn (Alex Wright)
WCW rarely gave a legitimate opportunity to a young performer looking to move up the card. Alex Wright showed promise as an in-ring worker and personality with his heel character as the dancing fool. Fans enjoyed booing Wright and his matches frequently delivered. Wright likely would have been able to put out classics if booked in a better position. Das Wunderkind failed to become a top guy but he was at least entertaining to watch.
4 Junior Fatu (Rikishi)
The recently inducted WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi had a tremendous career with the company. Rikishi achieved great success during the Attitude Era as one of the most beloved faces as the dancing big man. The problem is an act like this had a shelf life and WWE eventually let him go when there nothing left to get out of him. Rikishi made the move to TNA with the new name of Junior Fatu for obvious legal reasons.
3 Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero)
Many of the WCW cruiserweights and midcarders went on to achieve massive success in WWE but Chavo Guerrero was the exception. The nephew of Eddie Guerrero was an afterthought but fit a role in the lower card for years. WWE tried to change his persona with one of the more offensive gimmicks in recent memory. Chavo changed his name to Kerwin White and was forced to portray a Latino male desperately wanting to be white.
2 Big T (Ahmed Johnson)
Vince McMahon wanted Ahmed Johnson to become one of the top stars in WWE due to his physique and presence. Johnson was one of the last wrestlers you would want to meet in a street fight but that didn’t carry over to his in-ring work or talking skills. Ahmed absolutely sucked as a wrestler and the other performers didn’t want to work with him in fear of injury. It didn’t help that his promos were also horrible with his words being impossible to understand.
1 Stardust (Cody Rhodes)
Cody Rhodes always had superstar potential and WWE realized it by signing him at a young age. We saw an evolution of his character from the Legacy group to the Dashing days to the babyface fighting for his family’s legacy against The Authority. Rhodes could have been a main eventer easily with the right story progression but he was always left in the midcard or tag team picture. The worst thing to happen to his career was the name and persona change to Stardust.
The silly heel version of his brother’s Goldust gimmick didn’t connect in the slightest and flopped instantly. WWE refused to give up on the character because kids reacted to it at house shows in a favorable manner for a family-friendly heel. The problem is that didn’t matter on television as Stardust could not get over to save his life. Cody demanded a release from WWE due to hating the little chance at moving up the card as Stardust and chose to wrestle on the independent scene instead. The worst name change saw a promising WWE career die in the lamest of ways.
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