Typically speaking in WWE, if you join the company, you're expected to use a stage name that can be trademarked and become official property of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Naturally, there are exceptions to this when someone is popular enough to establish a history with a name like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles or CM Punk where they may own the rights to the character.
Sometimes, people are even lucky enough that their actual names get to be used, as is the case with John Cena, Matt and Jeff Hardy, and many cruiserweights like Akira Tozawa, Brian Kendrick, Noam Dar and Rich Swann.
However, when someone leaves WWE and they aren't lucky enough to be able to take their already popularized ring name with them, there are only a few options:
1) They can get as close as possible to the previous name, like "Swoggle" instead of "Hornswoggle" or "Chris Master" instead of "Chris Masters"
2) They can suck it up and deal with it, creating a new persona and hoping being billed with "formerly known as" will suffice.
3) Once in a while, people go so far as to legally change their names to their ring names, and that's what we're going to be looking at here.
There are certainly more than five instances where this has happened, but here are just a handful of pro wrestling's most well-known names— pardon the pun — to have gone through the paperwork.
#1 The Ultimate Warrior
Few entertainers threw themselves into their characters as much as what became of The Ultimate Warrior and the lines between reality and fiction blurred so much that they eventually crossed over into one another.
Whatever it was that he would be talking about in his promos—as most of the time, they were utter nonsense that sounded like super fun gibberish—James Brian Hellwig must have truly believed in them enough to not just tie his name to the character forever, but to make that an official alteration.
In 1993, Hellwig went through the process of changing his name to Warrior. Just Warrior, without "The Ultimate" in front of it, in the style of Madonna and Cher.
This naturally resulted in some legal battles between himself and WWE, who sought ownership of The Ultimate Warrior character, which Hellwig was successful in retaining along with all of its supplemental material such as the face paint, gear, attitude and atmosphere.
Years later, he would marry Dana Viale, who would take on the Warrior surname which she would also pass onto her children, Indiana Warrior and Mattigan Warrior.
Sadly, just days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Warrior passed away, but Dana Warrior has kept his name alive in the spirit of the WWE Universe through her charity work and the Warrior Award.
#2 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Oddly enough, there have been two times where this particular wrestler has changed his name to his ring name, to a certain extent.
Born Steven James Anderson, the future Ringmaster and Texas Rattlesnake would go by many names in his career, but thankfully, he never went to the courts to have his birth certificate read "Stone Cold."
Instead, "Stunning Steve Williams" actually did become Steve Williams after adopting the surname of his stepfather, Ken Williams.
That in itself isn't too strange, as he would later use the Steve Williams name in a professional wrestling capacity.
However, the biggest draw of the 1990s didn't sell out arenas as Steve Williams. The audiences wanted to see Steve Austin.
He was such a mega hit that it became a no-brainer that he would change his name yet again as "Steve Austin" became a brand of sorts, so around 2007, he ceased to be Anderson and Williams and made the transition to fully embrace Austin.
Here's hoping Jim Ross was in attendance to announce that the Austin era had officially begun.
When Joanie Laurer entered WWE, she was given the moniker of Chyna—The Ninth Wonder of the World.
Relatively speaking, she had a decent career, as she made history with title wins and crossing the gender gap in matches against men, but when she left WWE, she would fall victim to the same problem most other people do.
If people inside the WWE fan base had no idea who "Joanie Laurer" was, then certainly, people outside of it would have no name recognition to her instead of "Chyna."
This would cause problems for her if she were to wrestle elsewhere or try to make a living through celebrity status with reality television shows and such.
In an attempt to skirt the issue, she used the stage name Chyna Doll for quite some time before attaining the ability to legally change her name to just Chyna in 2007.
Considering WWE's complete lack of interest in working with her in any capacity, it seemed petty to try to deny her being able to use the name, so it's good to see she had a few years with the rights under her ownership.
As she has since passed away in 2016, there's no turning back, and she will forever be tied to her professional wrestling career, for better or worse.
Ryan Allen Reeves was nicknamed "Silverback" during his youth, which would eventually morph into the name Ryback, which he adopted for his in-ring persona.
At first, Reeves would go through the Tough Enough system under his own name before trying out several characters, including the horrible Skip Sheffield.
Keeping things simpler and allowing him to use a name he was more comfortable with, he returned to the Ryback name and started to gain serious traction on the main roster before WWE would consistently book him to come up short in his matches, killing him dead in his tracks.
For someone who prides himself in staying positive, the combination of this lacklustre booking, repetitively underwhelming pushes to nowhere and false promises led to his exit from the company.
Out of all the names to choose to retain, he opted to forego "Big Hungry" and "The Cornfed Meathead" among others, but "Ryback" was simply too personal and too tied to his future goals in sports entertainment.
He argued his case in Clark County, Las Vegas and upon approval, his name was changed to Ryback Allen Reeves—arguably a more natural alteration than what could have happened, and a smart move.
#5 Diamond Dallas Page
If your name is Page Joseph Falkinburg and you eventually beat all the odds and become one of the most beloved "cool guys" in WCW history, there's almost no question that you need to change your name.
Thankfully, when dropping his surname, he did not replace it with Diamond in any fashion, but simply "Dallas Page" in 2003.
This is more than enough to keep things simplistic and normal while also giving him the legal ability to argue his ownership in trademark and copyright cases.
Like most entertainers who adopt their personas into their real lives, Page has had his name branded on everything he is associated with (whenever possible), including his most successful venture, DDP Yoga.
Like Warrior before him, Page's children have adopted his first name turned surname, with Brittany Page and Kimberly Page thankfully never having to suffer from having the last name Falkinburg — says the writer who has a last name of a food.
Send us news tips at email@example.com