Report: WWE Issue Memo Regarding Name Changes
Several WWE superstars have changed names recently
Name changes for stars in WWE is not a new phenomenon, and despite making a ton of business sense, the changes have often left fans feeling cold, confused, or angered, especially when a crowd favourite is forced to change.
Recently we’ve seen Walter become Gunther, Raquel Gonzalez become Raquel Rodriguez, and Austin Theory become simply Theory. However, a report from Dave Meltzer in The Wrestling Observer Newsletter may have shed some light on WWE’s sudden changes for established stars:
“The actual story behind this is all the talent got a memo and Vince McMahon decreed he doesn’t want anyone new using their real names anymore, nor names they’ve used before on the indie scene. Walter became Gunther because Walter was both his real name and a name he used on the independent scene. Raquel Gonzalez kept Raquel (not her real name) but had to drop Gonzalez (her real name). Many thought Austin Theory dropped the Austin because of Steve Austin, but it’s actually because his real name is Austin White. Raul Mendoza is a WWE name, except Raul really is his first name so he had to ditch it.
“As is always the case, the memo only applies to people who are newer and who they decided it applies to. Randy Orton isn’t going to change to Frank Trevino and Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey don’t have this applied to them. It would be nutty if Riddle has to change his name because Riddle really is his last name, but it looks like this applies mostly to people just coming to the main roster and this doesn’t apply to Cody Rhodes. Humberto Carrillo isn’t a pushed name but his real first name is Humberto. Pete Dunne had to be Butch. As for Marcel Barthel, who knows past somebody didn’t like the name since Marcel Barthel was a WWE owned name that he never used until WWE. But from this point forward, they don’t want anyone new using former names from elsewhere or real first or last names. Except if you’re Gable Steveson. And this will change soon enough like it always does.”
As Meltzer points out, WWE’s attitudes to ‘real names’ is inconsistent at best, and it remains to be seen how long this mandate will last.