It took me exactly one tweet to be blocked by NODQ_Virtue (after being called a “snowflake” no less). Damn, girl.
AEW Dynamite Thoughts
Did everyone watch Dynamite? A much improved show. Better pacing, good storytelling, and lots to look forward to. Perhaps TK listened to his fanbase, as well as columnists, when it comes to booking and improving his product.
-Moxley looks about 10 years younger and was rewarded with dropping an F-Bomb on live television. No, AEW will not get fined for that — cable networks aren’t FCC regulated. They can technically say whatever they want.
-Serena Deeb is slowly becoming the biggest women’s heel in AEW. DMD may have some competition…
-STING IS 62 YEARS OLD AND IS STILL DIVING INTO TABLES. Legend.
-Malakai Black vs. PAC is going to be a future Match of the Year contender.
-Cody actually dropped some truth bombs last night during his promo. More on that in another column…
-We (technically) got TWO women’s matches on a single Dynamite. AND a Leyla Hirsch heel turn. <3
Keep it up! AEW is starting to build momentum again…
What’s In a Name?
Quick: Name me every wrestler that has main evented Wrestlemania who goes by ONE name. There’s only three.
Yokozuna, Batista and Edge.
And no, I’m not counting THE Undertaker or THE Rock, because marking a proper noun IS part of a name. Truth is, fans have every reason to be upset at the most recent controversial name change with WALTER (now known as Gunther).
I know what WWE was likely intending to do. Stark translates to “strong” in German. Gunther Strong has a decent ring to it, and somebody in their copyright department failed to do a very simple Google Search on the name in question.
But not only do I just think of Gunther from FRIENDS when I hear the name, but it is a name doomed to NEVER headline a Wrestlemania.
And isn’t that the potential you want to give every one of your wrestlers?
Names ARE important, and more notably, SINGLE names are often left behind when it comes to professional wrestling success. Here’s why.
While countless numbers of stories with single-named characters exist, it’s still rare by today’s standards (sans Superhero movies). And even then, these Superheroes have real-life names that the viewer is usually made aware of.
Upon meeting a new friend, you may refer to them by their first name, but in general, you don’t just know them as just that. Last names exist for a reason. It’s the difference between Austin Jenkins (Adam Cole), Austin Sopp (Austin Gunn) and Austin Matelson (Lucharsaurus).
If you have two friends named Brittany, and somebody asks you the clarify who you’re talking about — you’re not going to say “THE Brittany”. You’re going to simply mention their last name to identify them.
Fans have a personal connection to pro wrestlers more than they do actors or musicians. Many fans get to meet their favorite wrestlers, and if you see them live, you see them up close and personal. These wrestlers aren’t a mysterious corporate enigma — they’re human beings — and as such, one-word names often don’t connect as well.
This personal connection is important, and why from a marketing standpoint, something as simple as changing a name to Gunther is a bit laughable and sad.
Success Rates of Single-Named Wrestlers
Historically, you have your outliers:
Sting, Edge, Yokozuna, Kane, Rikidozan, Asuka, Diesel? (Maybe?) — But aside from those, there isn’t many industry greats with single-named characters.
When we go back to the example of WALTER, I question why he simply isn’t referred to by his real name: Walter Hahn. Hell, Walter Stark would have been fine in this case.
And if you comb through the roster now, there aren’t many high-profile talents with single-names.
Asuka, Bayley, Edge, Sheamus, and Riddle (I guess — because “Matt” is too hard). The rest are usually hovering around the mid-card. Names like Ricochet, Elias, Aliyah, Naomi, Angel, Boa, Kushida, Mansoor, Cesaro and now Saurav (or is it Veer? Do they even know?).
Hell, at LEAST Ricochet is representative of his wrestling style and makes some level of sense. How long before Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins simply goes by “Seth” and then soon after dropping Seth, just goes by ‘Freakin’?
Overall, when you view it through a success rate, single-named wrestlers rarely fare well.
People or Property?
Actors can take a role and be called whomever the story calls for. However, it’s one role, and they go by their real names off-stage. It’s different for professional wrestlers, but the question I have is this:
Aside from pure greed of licensing for profit, do wrestlers need to be “named”?
To my knowledge, I don’t believe anyone in AEW has been “renamed”. What you see is what you get. It makes me wonder: Did Walter Hahn getting his name changed because he WILL be eventually released in a year and McMahon simply doesn’t want others to capitalize on the name “WALTER”?
From ridiculous “no-compete” clauses to anti-union practices, is this a microcosm of how McMahon actually views his talent?
I honestly hope not, and I’m probably wrong there. But I have to imagine that McMahon sees his talent through the lens of some level of ownership.
That’s simply not what professional wrestling has to be in 2022.
You could play it safe and applaud the efforts of a wrestling conglomerate and trust that this is not a big deal. OR that perhaps Vince simply knows best. Who cares about Gunther? Whatever.
OR you could see that this is a larger problem of a lack of creative freedom within the company. Something tells me that Sarray didn’t sign up to be a re-branded typical Japanese schoolgirl when heading to NXT. (As if they’re sort of ripping off Su Yung’s characters from Impact…)
I get that WWE is a publicly traded company, and there is a large amount of necessity for control over all aspects of your talent.
But is that truly best for the wrestling business?
Pro wrestlers have to live almost every aspect of their career through their persona. If it’s not theirs, in which they personally crafted, then how authentic of an experience are you getting from them?
Keep in mind that Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Jerry Lawler, The Rock, Steve Austin, and even Chris Jericho — these larger-than-life personas were just parts of their own personality turned up to 11. They weren’t crafted under a microscope by WWE creative. They were mostly, if not solely, responsible for creating their character.
Bottom line is this: Changing a wrestler’s name is essentially changing their identity; and if it’s without their true consent, is that for the greater creative good?
I don’t think it is. But I’m old school and believe artists should be able to create freely.
Until next time, don’t be a dick to others, and remember to watch Rampage on Fridays 😀
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