TNA Signs the Rock, Changes His Name
ORLANDO,FL — In a stunning move announced late this morning, Total Non-Stop Action (TNA) officials have announced the contract signing of perhaps the most famous wrestler of the past 10 years, The Rock.
But the Rock, born Dwayne Johnson, will not wrestle under the name “The Rock,” said TNA official and world champion Jeff Jarrett. While Johnson’s ring name has yet to be decided, Jarrett promised it would be something, “Largely forgettable.”
“It has nothing to do with copyrights,” explained Jarrett. “Johnson has the rights to use the name Rock. We just prefer he not use it. We’re aware that Johnson is most well-known by that name, and that’s precisely why we want to change it. You know, put our own TNA stamp on it.”
The decision to re-name the Rock does indeed follow the company’s recent actions when it comes to changing wrestlers’ names who are better known by their previous names.
“First I was Simon Diamond, which made sense since that’s the name I used when I was a national star with ECW,” remarked Simon Diamond, who has since left TNA. “But just as I was starting to get over with (tag team partner) Johnny Swinger, Jarrett changed my name to Irish Pat Kenney. It just made no sense.”
But he kept his feelings to himself, out of fear of losing his job if he publicly disagreed.
“I did it, begrudgingly,” continued Simon. “And then once they realized what a stupid name it was, they decided to rename me again. I thought ‘All right, I’m gonna be Simon Diamond again!’ I was wrong. They called me the Empire Saint. It went from dumb to dumber.”
But Simon is not alone. Michael Shane, who wrestles in TNA’s X Division, is undergoing a name change to his real name, Michael Bentley.
“Yep, they want to change my name too. Why? I don’t know. Jeff just has this thing about coming up with really, really bad wrestling names,” said Shane. “They gave the excuse that the Shane Twins trademarked the name Michael Shane; that’s total nonsense. It’s a public cover-up for the truth, and that is, Jeff has zero creativity.”
Monty Sopp, who achieved superstar status in WWE under the name “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, is also a recent victim of name changing. Sopp wrestled with current TNA star BG James as the New Age Outlaws when WWE was at the zenith of its popularity. In TNA, Sopp went from The New Age Outlaw to simply The Outlaw.
“WWE didn’t care if I used the name Billy Gunn,” said Sopp. “They’re lax about copyrights. I could’ve used that name here, but instead, they went with Outlaw. Everyone says it’s lame, but Jeff is stubbornly insisting I keep it.”
BG James, who is better known under the names Road Dogg Jesse James and Brian Armstrong, went under a name change himself. When we asked five former wrestling fans walking the streets of Orlando, not one of them was able to identify the name BG James. But when asked about the name Road Dogg, they all immediately knew the wrestler in question.
Sean Waltman, who recently joined TNA, has used perhaps the most ring names of anyone: Lightning Kid, 1-2-3 Kid, Syxx, X-Pac, and even Syxx-Pac. In TNA, he is called simply Sean Waltman. “It’s not a bad idea to use my real name,” said Waltman, who became something of a name when he appeared on VH1’s “Surreal Life” with ex-girlfriend Joanie Laurer. “But it’s not because it makes sense. It’s because they just didn’t have any other good ideas.”
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who helped transform World Championship Wrestling (WCW) into the top wrestling organization in the world in the late 1990s under the names the Outsiders and nWo, faced a similar fate. While they did keep their real names, the name they used for their alliance with Jeff Jarrett was rather bland.
“Kings of Wrestling? Kings of WRESTLING??” complained one fan outside the TNA studio. “My 2-year-old brother can think of a better name than that. Whoever came up with that name is lacking serious brain cells. What’s next, they dress up in Elvis costumes?”
The fan’s friend explained to him that Scott Hall does indeed wrestle in an Elvis costume. “You’re kidding me?” exclaimed the fan. “Good God, are they f*cking stupid or what??”
Lance Hoyt, who debuted with TNA under the name Dallas, is also stupefied about the news. “I can definitely relate. It doesn’t matter if Dallas was a cool name, which I thought it was. But they went through the trouble of getting me over with that name. And then they go and change it. How are the fans supposed to get behind the characters if they keep changing the names? And dumb names at that?”
Ryan Wilson, who debuted with TNA as part of TNA’s Red Shirt Security, expressed similar concern. “I went from a security guard to Trytan,” said Wilson, who wrestles as Trytan as part of booker Dusty Rhodes’ pet project to get over an unstoppable monster. “The fans, they laugh at my name and my gimmick. The bookers don’t see this. They’re oblivious to what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve got my resume up on Monster.com, because I know this company is headed nowhere fast.”
Regarding Johnson, Jarrett said, “We’re paying huge money for Rock. We’re talking many millions of dollars. If we’re going to spend that kind of money, we’re going to take the time to think of a really good name for him.”
When asked why TNA wouldn’t just use the name he is most well known by, Jarrett sharply snapped, “That’s too obvious. You’re not a student of the wrestling business like I am. Sure, we could headline Rock against DDP and draw 100,000 buys on PPV, but that’s not why TNA is in business. We’re not here to make money. We’re here to get me over and do things my way. And I say Rock is not going to use the name Rock.”
While nothing has been set in stone, possible ring names bandied about for Johnson are rumored to include The Maivia, Bullwinkle, The Brahma, The Bull, The Dominator of Nations, The Rundown, The Tall Walker, Koko B Cool, The Scorpion King of Wrestling, and The Mummy. There has also been talk of bringing back the Johnsons tag team, who debuted with TNA three years ago as two men dressed up as penises. “Naturally, Dwayne would return as a long, lost, Johnson triplet. There’s great potential there, because Rock naturally looks like a penis already,” said Jarrett.