The 50 greatest ring names ever!
What’s in a name? A hell of a lot, as it turns out. Just ask Steve Austin. Back before he was the biggest thing in WWE, the tough Texan was a Million Dollar Man protégé glumly named “The Ringmaster.” When Austin told WWE brass he wanted a new moniker, they came back with pitches like “Ice Dagger” and — we kid you not — “Chilly McFreeze.” It wasn’t until Austin’s wife told him to drink his tea before it got “stone cold” that the Superstar hit upon a name that fit his developing personality of a callous badass.
So, yeah, a name definitely means something in a business in which presentation is everything — unless you think high school kids would’ve been wearing “Chilly McFreeze 3:16” shirts to chemistry class. And these 50 Superstars had the best of ’em.
Andre the Giant
In 1966, Andre Roussimoff began his journey into the wrestling industry. First billed as Jean Ferre or Monster Eiffel Tower, his name was changed to Andre the Giant in 1972. From there, the sky was the limit for the big man from Grenoble, France. Standing 7-foot-4 and weighing more than 500 pounds, The Eighth Wonder of the World was regarded as the greatest attraction in sports-entertainment during his 26-year career. The first WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Andre’s most memorable moment undoubtedly was at WrestleMania III where 93,173 fans witnessed the giant take on Hulk Hogan. — HOWARD FINKEL
One of sports-entertainment’s true pioneers was born with an awesome name — Houston Harris. But it was under the guise of Bobo Brazil that this big man from Benton Harbor, Mich., made greater strides for African-Americans in the ring than perhaps any other competitor. Often referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of wrestling,” the 270-pounder originally went by the name “Boo Boo” Brazil, but when a promoter made a printing error, he simply became Bobo. The name stuck and Brazil went on to become a WWE Hall of Famer as well as an integral trailblazer. — RYAN MURPHY
The trainer of Superstars like Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins had such an odd name that when he made his WCW debut against Kidman, announcer Bobby Heenan called him Shipwreck. Years earlier, Mikey was discovered while flying around a wrestling ring that he had set up before an ECW event. Paul Heyman saw the athleticism of the unassuming young man and gave him a tryout on the show. Never imagining that the kid would last more than one match, Heyman nonchalantly named him after a Maryland wrestling promoter, because he found the name amusing. Unexpectedly, the unforgiving ECW Arena instantly connected with Mikey as he went on to become a cult hero. — JOEY STYLES
After debuting in the Continental Wrestling Association as “Blade Runner Rock,” Jim Hellwig joined the Texas-based WCCW as The Dingo Warrior. Exceling in singles competition with his unrivaled intensity, Hellwig caught the attention of WWE. Before making his debut on The Wrestling Challenge in October 1987, the adrenaline-fueled Superstar once again changed his name. With some debate surrounding what a “Dingo Warrior” was — and in order to differentiate himself from The Road Warriors and “Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich — Hellwig became Ultimate Warrior. The moniker did not just apply to his career. Outside of the ring, Jim Hellwig ceased to exist as he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. — KEVIN POWERS
An unsung hero of sports-entertainment, George Cannon’s tearstained cheeks earned him the nickname “Crybaby.” In truth, he achieved the look by wiping the sweat from his face and then rubbing his eyes. A short, stout individual, Cannon wrestled through the 1950s and ’60s before turning to managing in the 1970s. He became the brains behind such teams as The Mongols and The Fabulous Kangaroos. Billed as “The World’s Greatest Wrestling Manager,” he routinely wore a hardhat and a jacket inscribed with the phrase “Cannon: I Am Right,” which incurred the ire of fans throughout North America. — H.F.
Diamond Dallas Page
The name began as an affectation: Diamond Dallas Page was once the prototypical sleazebag grappling manager, obsessed with wealth and rotten to a group of charges he dubbed his Diamond Mine. But when DDP emerged as the working class hero of WCW’s fanbase in the latter half of the ’90s, his handle took on a new meaning. Over the hill by the time he got in the ring, Page was the last guy that should’ve made it to the main event, but there he was — a diamond in the rough. Too on the nose? Maybe, but damned if it didn’t work. — R.M.
Pork Chop Cash
The story of how Bobby Cash got his unforgettable ring name isn’t exactly a memorable one. Cash — who resembled an ABA player, with his prominent afro and bushy facial hair — was a popular Southern performer in the early ’70s under his birth name. But when he was lured to the Los Angeles territory by promoter Mike LaBell, he was told he needed a name boasting a little more flavor. When the two men sat down to dinner to discuss it, Cash ordered the pork chops. For whatever reason, the meal struck a chord with LaBell — and one of sports-entertainment’s truly unique monikers was coined. — R.M.
Although he was raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Chris Jericho was born on Long Island, N.Y., not far from the Jericho Turnpike. The roadway clearly inspired Y2J’s ring name later in life, right? Wrong. A metalhead since elementary school, WWE’s first-ever Undisputed Champion took a cue from obscure German power metal outfit Helloween’s 1985 album “Walls of Jericho” when he coined himself Chris Jericho in 1990. Years later, the record would influence Y2J again when he rechristened his Lion Tamer submission maneuver the Walls of Jericho. — R.M.
The Great Kabuki
The Land of the Rising Sun has always held a bit of mystique for Westerners. Akihisa Mera played that to his advantage when he arrived in World Class Championship Wrestling in the 1980s as the enigmatic Great Kabuki. Borrowing from different aspects of Japanese culture, he created a look that hushed audiences every time he stepped in the ring. Wearing a hood reminiscent of ancient Japanese warriors, he showed that he knew how to use nunchucks with precision. When his mask was removed, he revealed frightening face paint as he terrorized rings around the world while greatly influencing future stars like The Great Muta and Tajiri. — BOBBY MELOK
Big Boss Man
Ray Traylor competed as Big Bubba Rogers, The Boss and even Guardian Angel during his lengthy career, but he is best known to WWE fans as Big Boss Man. Many an opponent from either the good or bad side of the tracks felt the wrath of the former prison guard from Cobb County, Ga. Extremely agile for a man of his size, Boss Man wasn’t afraid to use his trusty nightstick and handcuffs to serve justice. In the end, everyone who faced off with Big Boss Man served hard time. — H.F.
Michael "P.S." Hayes
All of The Fabulous Freebirds had great names. When Michael “P.S.” Hayes formed the trio in 1979 — and named them after both the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, “Freebird,” and wrestling’s Fabulous Fargos — he nicknamed Buddy Roberts “Jack” (as in Daniels) and Terry Gordy “Bam Bam” (a reference to his lousy basketball skills — not his fighting prowess). As for “P.S.,” it stood for “Purely Sexy.” Hayes unabashedly blessed himself with the handle, but rumor has it that hundreds of women south of the Mason-Dixon Line would agree with the boast. — J.S.
The origin of the name The Undertaker is as mystifying as the very Superstar who is identified by it. When he debuted at Survivor Series 1990, The Deadman was dressed like a mortician to match his moniker. But throughout The Phenom’s legendary career, he has proven to be a far greater force than he initially seemed. Uttering his name anywhere in the world will conjure up talk of WWE’s most durable Superstar and his unprecedented WrestleMania Streak. It is that kind of one word identification that truly makes The Undertaker one of the greatest ring names of all time. — K.P.
Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
Jim Neidhart has been a powerhouse for his entire life. WWE Diva Natalya has told WWE.com staffers that, despite not training regularly anymore, her dad can lay down on a bench and press 400 pounds without so much as a warm-up rep. So why the nickname? While competing for Stu Hart’s Calgary Stampede Wrestling, the former football player was asked to enter a local anvil throwing contest as a way to create publicity for an upcoming event. A high school shot-put champion, Neidhart used that same technique to turn the competition into his own exhibition. Once word of his feat of strength got out, Stu’s wife Helen nicknamed her son-in-law “The Anvil." — J.S.
The name Bruce Woyan didn’t accurately describe the competitor that veteran wrestling journalist Bill Apter once described as “irrational, unpredictable and a keg of dynamite.” Cutting through opponents with the deliberate carnage of a buzzsaw, Woyan adopted Buzz Sawyer as his ring name in Jim Crockett Promotions in the late ’70s. Pounding his opponents into the canvas with wild abandon, Sawyer’s animalistic tendencies in the ring earned him several other nicknames, like “Mad Dog” and “Bulldog,” which only added to the terror that came over fans and opponents alike when he fought. — B.M.
Jesse "The Body" Ventura
Before embarking on a career in professional wrestling, James Janos served in the United States Navy and worked as a bodyguard for The Rolling Stones. No-nonsense at the time, Janos adopted a more flamboyant style when he got in the ring as Jesse Ventura — his surname meant to inspire images of sunny California. Although he initially competed as Jesse “The Great” Ventura, he was given a new nickname to match his weightlifter physique when he joined the AWA — “The Body.” Later, when Ventura left the squared circle and became Minnesota’s Governor, he dropped “The Body” and rechristened himself “The Mind.” — K.P.
King Kong Bundy
When King Kong Bundy first turned up in Fritz Von Erich’s World Class Championship Wrestling in the early ’80s, he was known as Big Daddy Bundy, in a nod to Britain’s most famous grappler, Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree. He was an oversized fan favorite with blue jeans and a full head of hair back then, but when he was recruited by the villainous manager Gary Hart, he stomped out in his trademark black singlet and bald head as King Kong Bundy. Named after the famous ape that had recently returned to theaters in 1976’s “King Kong,” Bundy went on to main event WrestleMania 2 against Hulk Hogan and make his mark as an unforgettable ’80s villain. — R.M.
The Mongolian Stomper
Globalization has lessened the impact of this phenomenon, but there was a time when all a grappler had to do was bill himself from some obscure corner of the globe — say, Mongolia — to go from man to monster. Such was the case with Killer Khan, Bepo Mongol (later known as Nikolai Volkoff) and Archie Gouldie, who went from tough Canadian cowboy to foreign menace under the guise of The Mongolian Stomper. With his bald head, colossal build and intense stoicism, The Stomper terrified fans across the South as he crushed heroes such as Jerry Lawler and Ronnie Garvin underneath his oversized boots. — R.M.
Big Van Vader
After leaving the Los Angeles Rams to enter the rings of the American Wrestling Association, the burly Leon White displayed obvious potential. After all, he was 450 pounds of hulking bedrock who moved with staggering agility. It wasn’t until White pulled up stakes and went to Japan, however, that he found major success under the smoking mastodon helmet of Big Van Vader. Bestowed upon White by New Japan Pro Wrestling head and WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki, the persona was inspired by a Japanese comic-book villain of the same name. In America, the name was shortened to the more direct Vader, but the devastation he wrought was just the same. — R.M.
Sweet Daddy Siki
Known in some circles as the “African-American Gorgeous George,” Sweet Daddy Siki was a competitor who understood the value of presentation. Stepping out in the early 1960s when many in the wrestling industry were still fighting against the advent of over-the-top theatrics, the mighty Texan with Jamaican roots dyed his hair, eyebrows and mustache an eye-popping platinum, wore psychedelic sunglasses and draped himself in spectacular robes. Done up, he looked exactly like you’d expect a guy named Sweet Daddy Siki to look. Dressed down, he was a respected figure in sports-entertainment who went on to train a man who chose a much more direct ring name — Edge. — R.M.
Bret "Hit Man" Hart
One of sports-entertainment’s great nicknames almost wasn’t. Back when Bret Hart first came to WWE from his father’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, he was dubbed “Cowboy” Bret Hart in a nod to the famed “Calgary Stampede.” (Legend has it that “Cowboy” Bob Orton’s LJN figure is actually a Bret Hart sculpt based on the persona that never was.) By the time he broke out as a member of The Hart Foundation, though, he was Bret “Hit Man” Hart — a nickname he grabbed from feared boxer Thomas Hearns. The two “Hit Men” even had a run-in over the shared name on Raw in 1997. — R.M.
Kamala the Ugandan Giant
Mississippi-native Jim Harris began his career under three different names: “Sugar Bear,” “Ugly Bear” and “Big” Jim Harris. Failing to find much success early on, Harris went to the United Kingdom as The Mississippi Mauler — a persona that foreshadowed what would become his most memorable identity. Upon returning to the United States, Harris embraced a new persona with the help of Jerry “The King” Lawler. After reading an issue of National Geographic featuring an African doctor in Uganda named Kimala, Lawler and Harris had a name to work from. With his incredible size and one-of-a-kind look, Kamala the Ugandan Giant dominated rings from Memphis all the way to WWE. — K.P.
Sputnik Monroe’s name was inspired by a Russian satellite, but this icon of the Memphis wrestling scene was a true American original. Born Roscoe Merrick, he used monikers like Rocky Monroe and Pretty Boy Roque during his time as a Southern villain in the 1940s and ’50s. He became “Sputnik” in 1957, when a female fan likened him to the “Sputnik 1” satellite the Soviets had just launched into space. At a time when the Cold War was escalating, this was a serious insult. Still, as hated as he was, Monroe was a Civil Rights pioneer who refused to compete unless African-American crowdmembers were able to sit where they pleased. — R.M.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper
When it came to being “Rowdy,” there was none better than Roddy Piper. The fiery Scot from Glasgow knew how and when to stir the pot, which got him the desired results. His Piper’s Pit segments on WWE TV more times than not served as the background for The Rowdy One to get busy. From cracking a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head to publically humiliating journeyman grappler Frank Williams, Piper certainly dared to be different, which ultimately gained him a great amount of fan acceptance that he still enjoys today. — H.F.
He started out as Frank “The Hammer” Goodish. Not a bad name, but not quite illustrative of the force of nature he would become. It was “King Kong” Brody from there. Which was better, yet too derivative for a sports-entertainment original. Angelo “King Kong” Mosca and King Kong Bundy were already stomping around rings at that time, which led Vincent J. McMahon — Mr. McMahon’s father — to rechristen him “Bruiser Brody” when he came to New York to rumble with Bruno Sammartino. Brody kept the name as he continued on his travels, thumping from Puerto Rico to Japan as the most feared brawler of his era. — R.M.
One of the most recognizable personalities in sports-entertainment, Hulk Hogan would have never existed if it wasn’t for Vincent J. McMahon. Before joining WWE in 1979, Terry Bollea competed as Terry Boulder, Sterling Golden and The Super Destroyer. It wasn’t until the big man came to New York City that he was given his immortal nickname by Mr. McMahon’s father, who noted that Bollea’s physique was similar to Lou Ferrigno of the popular “Incredible Hulk” television show. McMahon added the Irish surname Hogan — always a draw for East Coast fans — and created a moniker that has become synonymous with sports-entertainment. — K.P.
The Dynamite Kid
The Superstar we remember flying headfirst off the top turnbuckle to the concrete floor was by no means a kid. Yet, somehow, The Dynamite Kid never felt like a diminutive handle for a competitor who might’ve socked anyone who dismissed him as an adolescent. So why the name? When Tom Billington started out in England in 1975 at the age of 18, he was, in fact, just a kid. His trainer, Ted Betley, gave the feisty upstart the nickname, and Billington accepted it without protest. He would go on to become a gutsy, capable man, but The Dynamite Kid always seemed to sum up the passion and drive he brought to the ring. — R.M.
"Iceman" King Parsons
Believe it or not, King Parsons was the birthname of the most flamboyant competitor on the World Class Championship Wrestling roster. A soulful, spirited performer who buzzed his hair into a strange, reverse Mohawk and reminded fans that, “It be’s that way sometimes,” Parsons added “Iceman” to his handle after Jimmy Valiant caught him sleeping on a hotel ice machine. The name “Iceman” King Parsons could have belonged to the flashy leader of a ’70s funk band or the hero in a Blaxploitation movie, which is why it fit the master of the “Butt Butt” finishing maneuver just fine. — R.M.
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
Although he competed under the name Baby Face Nelson early in his career, John Wisniski, Jr., paid tribute to his father — old-school tough guy Johnny Valentine — when he dubbed himself Greg Valentine in the mid-70s. If the name conjured up images of a drive-in movie heartthrob in some fans’ minds, Valentine put those thoughts to rest with his hardnosed ring style, which, in turn, earned him the qualifier of “The Hammer.” According to the WWE Hall of Famer, the moniker was both a tribute to his snug work and a reference to the Arm & Hammer logo, which was similar to his trademark pose. — R.M.
Claude Patterson went by the name Thunderbolt, but “Lightning Rod” may have better described the outspoken competitor who stood up to prejudice and discrimination while influencing the likes of Dusty Rhodes with his stylized speech and in-ring rhythm. A major star in Southern states during the 1960s, Patterson was unafraid to incense crowds at a time when racism was embarrassingly overt. (Most African-American performers of the era played fair in order to avoid full-scale riots.) The Atlanta native was blacklisted from professional wrestling for a time when his rallies against poor payouts and bigotry rubbed some promoters the wrong way, but Thunderbolt was a man who could not be silenced. — R.M.
No competitor has held onto a name as tightly as CM Punk. Back when The Straight Edge Superstar began his pursuit of sports-entertainment glory as a scrawny Chicago teen, he teamed up with a dude named CM Venom in a tag team known as The Chick Magnets. Somewhat impossibly, the handle stuck, from the armories of the independent wrestling scene to the stadiums of WrestleMania. Since then, Punk has made a running gag out of “CM.” What do the letters stand for? “Chicago Made,” he’ll tell you. Cookie Monster. Charles Montgomery. Truth is, the meaning changes with The Second City Saint’s mood — perfect for a Superstar as unpredictable as Punk. — R.M.
"Ravishing" Rick Rude
Early in his career, Ricky Rood struggled to find success while competing in promotions like Georgia Championship Wrestling and the Continental Wrestling Association. Although his chiseled physique and uncanny athleticism made him a crowd favorite, it wasn’t until 1984 that the young competitor unleashed the arrogant personality that would launch him to new heights. Simply changing the spelling of his name to match his attitude and embracing his Adonis-like appearance, “Ravishing” Rick Rude became the personification of male chauvinism. Finding success that had previously eluded him, Rude’s egotistical attitude made him one of the most hated Superstars throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s. — K.P.
Mad Dog Vachon
Maurice Vachon was born with a name so elegantly French-Canadian, no one would have blinked if it was listed in a ballet playbill. But the stout, 5-foot-7, five-time AWA Champion was never known to stand on his tippy-toes. Instead, Vachon made his name while gnawing on competitors across the Midwest. His reputation for viciousness gained him the moniker of Mad Dog, creating a first and last name combination that was somehow sophisticated and barbaric all at once. And his opponents knew it wasn’t the size of the man in the fight, it was the size of the fight in Mad Dog Vachon. — ZACH LINDER
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Back in the ’70s, Ken “The Snake” Stabler was a standout quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. Stabler’s moniker captivated the son of professional wrestler Aurelian “Grizzly” Smith. When Aurelian Smith, Jr., embarked on a career of his own, he changed his name to Jake Roberts to separate himself from his famous father. After competing in various promotions, “The Snake” joined WWE and took his nickname one step further by bringing his python Damien to the ring. Although he took the moniker from a famous football star, Roberts eventually made the name his own and became pop culture’s defining “Snake.” — K.P.
In his drab trunks and black boots, George Wagner was impossible to differentiate from the countless other lugs who wrestled on every black-and-white television in the late 1930s. But when the nondescript Wagner re-emerged as the haughty, endlessly vain Gorgeous George in 1941, he reinvented not only his own identity, but that of sports-entertainment as a whole. Creating the archetype of the smug, platinum-blond ring villain that everyone from Ric Flair to Dolph Ziggler would later ape, George introduced a new type of ring antagonist who enraged audiences with a particular brand of preening vanity as opposed to outright brutality. Sports-entertainment would never be the same. — R.M.
Early in his career, William Calhoun — the 601-pound, barefoot hillbilly from Morgan’s Corner, Ark. — went by the name “Country Boy” Calhoun. It wasn’t until he tossed massive bales of hay through the air on the popular 1950s TV show “Art Linkletter's House Party” that he got his distinctive nickname. Known across the globe as Haystacks Calhoun, the former World Tag Team Champion was the defining superheavyweight of his era, influencing future stars such as King Kong Bundy and Hillbilly Jim, as well as British sensation Giant Haystacks, who took his name directly from Calhoun. — R.M.
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair
Once upon a time, Ric Flair was a dark-haired AWA rookie with a bulky, 300-pound frame that would look awkward in a custom-made suit. However, as he honed his craft in Japan and NWA, the two-time WWE Hall of Famer’s natural ability and burgeoning sense of style led him to adopt a new nickname. Taking a cue from 1950s ring icon “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, Flair swiped the moniker of the first-ever WWE Champion and made it all his own. Not only did the younger “Nature Boy” defeat Rogers, but he would go on to become a 16-time World Champion. Woo! — K.P.
Bad News Brown
Allen Coage became the only American heavyweight to medal in Judo when he pulled a bronze in the sport at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal. Few would have been foolish enough to question the resolve of a near-300 pound fighting machine from the rough streets of New York City after that, but just to make it crystal-clear, he dubbed himself Bad News Allen in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling up north in Calgary, Canada. When Coage joined WWE in ’88, his name was tweaked to Bad News Brown — “Bad News” being the forecast for whatever “beer-bellied sharecroppers” stood in his way. — R.M.
Virgil Runnels is a legend in sports-entertainment. An influential force in NWA, WCW and WWE, the WWE Hall of Famer is better known by his ring name, Dusty Rhodes. Internet lore will tell you that “The American Dream” took his name from a 1950s New York Giants baseball player, but that is not even close to the truth. The WWE Hall of Famer’s name actually comes from where he was raised in Austin, Texas. Growing up in an area surrounded by dirty and dusty roads, “The American Dream” was nicknamed "Dusty Roads" by his father and the moniker stuck throughout his legendary career. — K.P.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
Before he was Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, he was Richard Blood — a good-looking, athletic kid with a name that made him sound like an evil pirate. It was an ill fit for a competitor who would go on to become one of the ring’s most sympathetic heroes, so he was given the surname of Sam Steamboat — a popular Hawaiian wrestler of the ’50s and ’60s who bore a strong resemblance to Blood. Re-emerging as Ricky Steamboat in the late ’70s in Jim Crockett Promotions, he would not adopt his “Dragon” nickname until his 1985 stint with WWE, where Mr. McMahon added a bit of theatrics to his already fiery persona. — R.M.
Would you believe that Mick Foley’s first ring name was inspired by a comedic cowboy movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? A childhood favorite for Foley, “The Villain” featured a bad guy named Cactus Jack Slade — a name Foley would later give to his father when the two were playing a wrestling board game. As a ring hopeful, Mick had planned to dub himself Dude Love, but he wanted to save the persona until he exploded as a WWE Superstar. Foley needed a ring name to tide him over until he became WWE Champion and, as a tribute to his dad’s board game character, he called himself Cactus Jack. Bang! Bang! — J.S.
"Dr. Death" Steve Williams
Could there be a more perfect name for a comic book villain, movie monster or professional wrestler than “Dr. Death?” The best part? Steve Williams earned the nickname when he was just a teenager. While wrestling in high school, the budding powerhouse had to compete in a match while wearing a hockey goalie mask to protect a broken nose. A local sportswriter joked that Williams looked like “Dr. Death” and history was made. By the time Williams began tearing through wrestling rings around the globe, even the other hockey mask-clad monster — Jason Voorhees — would stay at Crystal Lake to avoid “Dr. Death.” — J.S.
He’s remembered today as the lovable commentator who put up with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan’s broadcast antics for the better part of a decade. There was a time, though, when Gorilla Monsoon was a lumbering giant from the land of Manchuria who punished fan favorites such as Bruno Sammartino and even Muhammad Ali with his debilitating airplane spin. Monsoon’s name took on a kitsch factor as age softened his features, shaping him into a kindly grandfather-type to viewers watching at home. Still, in his prime, the bearded 400-pound behemoth could resemble an angry primate, and his physical ring style caused more destruction than a tropical storm. — R.M.
The Fabulous Moolah
In the beginning — before she was WWE’s greatest female villain — Lillian Ellison went by the name Slave Girl Moolah and served as the valet of a competitor known as The Elephant Boy. The Slave Girl part of the name may have been wildly diminutive, but it was the word “Moolah” that truly mattered. Ellison’s love for money had inspired the handle, and it would eventually inspire her to claw her way out from under The Elephant Boy’s shadow and become something great. “Fabulous,” even. As for The Elephant Boy? He’s just a footnote in the epic story of The Fabulous Moolah. — R.M.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Scott Charles "Bam Bam" Bigelow could’ve been named Shirley and he still would have been one of the most intimidating men to ever step inside a wrestling ring. Pounding his way through every major North American wrestling organization in the 1990s, the former ECW World Champion hit as hard as the toughest big men and moonsaulted like an agile cruiserweight. The Jersey Shore native was responsible for some of wrestling’s most iconic moments in a decade that saw plenty of them. When Bam Bam Bigelow was announced as coming down the aisle, fans knew trouble was coming with him. — Z.L.
As one of the most physically impressive performers of his — or any — era, Wladek Kowalski adopted the names of historic heroes like Tarzan and Hercules when he first entered the ring in the late 1940s. Standing at a giant 6-foot-7 with a perfectly conditioned 290-pound build, Kowalski lived up to these labels, but they failed to capture the menace that was so apparent in the Polish behemoth. When he became “Killer” Kowalski in the early ’50s, the moniker aptly summed up his particular brand of mayhem. And by the time he severed the ear of grappler Yukon Eric during a 1954 match, it became clear that “Killer” wasn’t just an empty threat. — R.M.
One Man Gang
On most other men, the title of One Man Gang would sound like a goofy overstatement. On the 6-foot-9, 457-pound George Gray, it was an accurate description. Although Ronnie Garvin used the name before him, One Man Gang made the handle his own as he flattened opponents with his 747 Splash, everywhere from Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation to WCW. A bizarre stint as Akeem the African Dream in WWE in the late ’80s nearly confounded Gang’s legacy, but he brought his reputation as an army of one back to prominence with solid runs in both WCW and ECW. — R.M.
Abdullah the Butcher
Lawrence Robert Shreve sounds like a name you might see adorning lawn signs and television commercials during election season. However, Shreve has rarely been known by his given name. Over the span of his legendary career, the WWE Hall of Famer has been called Pussycat Pickens, Kuroi Jujutsushi and Zelis Amara, but he is best known as Abdullah the Butcher. Adopting the persona of “The Madman from The Sudan,” “The Butcher” became an internationally feared brawler through his penchant for savagery and complete disregard for the safety of himself and his opponents. — K.P.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
It’s strange that the handle of the toughest S.O.B. ever to lace up a pair of boots was inspired by a soothing cup of tea. Before Steve Austin pushed WWE to the forefront of pop culture while sucking down beers during the “Attitude Era,” his British wife urged him to drink his Earl Grey before it got “stone cold.” It might be hard to picture The Texas Rattlesnake curled up on the couch with an afghan over his lap and a mug of tea in his hands, but that scene — or some version thereof — led to a revolution in sports-entertainment. — R.M.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Randy Poffo was born into a sports-entertainment legacy, but he never wanted to succeed off the family name. After initially competing as “The Spider,” the second-generation star was told that he wrestled like a savage by Ole Anderson, prompting Poffo to change his name to Randy Savage. In 1985, Savage joined WWE and was a major prospect for a number of managers, including Mr. Fuji and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Adding the moniker “Macho Man” to his name in a nod to his bubbling masculinity, Savage aligned himself with Miss Elizabeth and the rest, as they say, is history. — K.P.