5 Superstars who legally changed their names to their ring names
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.