5 WWE NXT Superstars who wrestle using their real names

Which current members of the NXT roster perform under their real names on the black and gold brand?
Which current members of the NXT roster perform under their real names on the black and gold brand?

WWE NXT is the proving ground for WWE's Superstars of the future. The black and gold brand has given starts to WWE careers for such names as Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Keith Lee, Becky Lynch and more.

However, most viewers of NXT on Tuesday nights often forget about the real person potraying their favorite on-screen professional wrestling character.

In a similar vein to television and film productions, most professional wrestlers use a "stage name" or character/gimmick which has a different name to their birth name.

A change in name if often due to trademarking or merchandise purposes for WWE. It can also be done because a professional wrestler's real name just isn't "showbiz" enough for the world of sports entertainment.

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But there are some exceptions to this rule. Certain professional wrestlers leverage their real name for their on-screen persona. This is sometimes done because they were already a well known public figure before entering professional wrestling. It is also done because the wrestler wishes to walk the fine line between fiction and fact, confusing the audience.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at five WWE NXT Superstars who wrestle using their real names.


#5 Former WWE NXT Tag Team Champion Fabian Aichner

Fabian Aichner was a regular member of the NXT UK brand as a member of Imperium before moving to the black and gold brand in the United States
Fabian Aichner was a regular member of the NXT UK brand as a member of Imperium before moving to the black and gold brand in the United States

Former WWE NXT Tag Team Champion Fabian Aichner is perhaps best known as a member of the NXT UK faction known as Imperium. Led by NXT United Kingdom Champion WALTER, Imperium have dominated the NXT UK brand, whilst also dominating the black and gold brand in the United States.

Fabian Aichner made his WWE debut in the 2016 WWE Cruiserweight Classic Tournament. The Italian wrestler was eliminated in the first round by Jack Gallagher.

Aichner officially signed a contract with WWE in June 2017 before becoming a regular on the WWE NXT UK brand as member of the Imperium faction in 2019. While under contract with WWE, Aichner won the EVOLVE Championship at EVOLVE 115. This was during a period of time in which WWE had a working relationship with EVOLVE before later purchasing the promotion.

In May 2020, Aicher and tag team partner Marcel Barthel defeated Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher to capture the WWE NXT Tag Team Championships. The team would later drop the championships to Breezango.

#4 WWE NXT Superstar Raúl Mendoza

Raul Mendoza currently serves as back up to Santos Escobar in the Legado Del Fantasmo stable in NXT
Raul Mendoza currently serves as back up to Santos Escobar in the Legado Del Fantasmo stable in NXT

WWE NXT Superstar Raúl Mendoza is perhaps best known to fans as a member of the faction Legado Del Fantasma.

Led by Santos Escobar, Raúl Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde have run roughshod over the black and gold brand.

Mendoza made his WWE debut as a participant in the 2016 WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Representing Mexico, Mendoza was eliminated by The Brian Kendrick in the first round of the tournament.

Following an impressive performance at the tournament, Mendoza was signed to a WWE contract and assigned to the WWE NXT brand. After making his NXT debut in May 2017, Raúl Mendoza made sporadic appearances at NXT live events and occasional episodes of 205 LIVE on the WWE Network.

However, in March 2020, Mendoza was seemingly abducted by a masked group in the Full Sail University parking lot during an episode of NXT. The next month, Joaquin Wilde was also abducted in a similar fashion.

Mendoza and Wilde returned during the June 10 episode of WWE NXT, alligning themselves with Santos Escobar, establishing themselves as heels and allowing Escobar to become the Interim Cruiserweight Champion.

The group later revealed their name to be Legado Del Fantasma and have quickly established themselves as a dominant force ever since.

#3 Former WWE NXT Tag Team Champion Marcel Barthel

Marcel Barthel was a regular member of the NXT UK brand as a member of Imperium before moving to the black and gold brand in the United States
Marcel Barthel was a regular member of the NXT UK brand as a member of Imperium before moving to the black and gold brand in the United States

Former WWE NXT Tag Team Champion Marcel Barthel is a member of one of the most dominant factions in NXT history, Imperium.

Alongside NXT United Kingdom Champion WALTER and tag team partner Fabian Aichner, Barthel has seen considerable success on the black and gold brand on both sides of the Atlantic.

A second generation wrestler, Marcel Barthel signed with WWE in 2017, making his NXT debut at a live event in June of that year. He would go on to make his televised debut in August 2018 in a loss against future NXT Champion Keith Lee. Several months later, Barthel formed a tag team known as the "European Union" with Fabian Aichner.

Barthel and Aichner began regularly appearing on the WWE NXT UK brand in 2019, forming the Imperium faction with WALTER. They would later be joined by former NXT Superstar Alexander Wolfe.

Marcel Barthel's first taste of WWE NXT gold came during the May 13, 2020 episode of NXT when Barthel and Fabian Aichner defeated Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher to become the NXT Tag Team Champions. However, their reign was relatively shortlived. Imperium dropped the NXT Tag Team Championships to Breezango in August of that year.

#2 WWE NXT Superstar Kacy Catanzaro

Kacy Catanzaro appeared on America Ninja Warrior before signing with WWE and appearing on the NXT brand
Kacy Catanzaro appeared on America Ninja Warrior before signing with WWE and appearing on the NXT brand

WWE NXT Superstar Kacy Catanzaro signed with WWE in 2017 before reporting to the WWE Performance Center in January of the following year. She was perhaps best known for her appearances on American Ninja Warrior. Due to her fame it was decided that she would utilize her real name during her WWE career.

She made her WWE television debut during the 2018 Mae Young Classic before eventually being eliminated in the second round by future RAW Women's Champion Rhea Ripley. Surprisingly Catanzaro made her main roster debut before making her NXT television debut. She appeared in the 2019 Women's Royal Rumble match, lasting over ten minutes before eventually being eliminated by Rhea Ripley.

It was subsequently reported later that year that Kacy Catanzaro had resigned from WWE and retired from professional wrestling due to a back injury. However, she later returned to the company in January 2020, once again competing on the WWE NXT brand.

In recent months Catanzaro has gone onto form a tag team with fellow NXT Superstar Kayden Carter. The team competed in the 2021 Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament, defeating the likes of Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm before eventually being eliminated by Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez in the semi-finals.

#1 Former WWE NXT Champion Johnny Gargano

Johnny Gargano was the first ever Triple Crown Champion in WWE NXT history
Johnny Gargano was the first ever Triple Crown Champion in WWE NXT history

Former WWE NXT Champion Johnny Gargano is one of the most successful superstars in NXT history.

Many consider Johnny Wrestling to be on the Mount Rushmore of the black and gold brand. Synonymous with the rise of WWE NXT, Johnny Gargano holds the distinction of being the first ever Triple Crown Champion in NXT history.

Johnny Gargano is a former NXT Champion, three-time NXT North American Champion and also a former tag team champion with Tommaso Ciampa as part of the tag team known as DIY.

In recent months Johnny Gargano has been the leader of the villianous faction known as The Way on NXT. The faction consists of Gargano, Austin Theory, Indi Hartwell and his wife, Candice LeRae.

Despite Gargano's success as the leader of The Way, the NXT icon hasn't had the best luck as of late. Johnny Gargano dropped the NXT North American Championship to Bronson Reed in a Steel Cage match main event in May 2021.

This was followed by an unsuccessful challenge for Karrion Kross' NXT Championship in a Fatal 5-Way match at NXT TakeOver: In Your House which also featured Adam Cole, Pete Dunne and Kyle O'Reilly.

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Edited by Greg Bush
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