WWE has a long tradition of changing their Superstars’ names and this year has been no exception, with dozens of Superstars ring names receiving changes over the last few months.
These changes can happen when an established wrestler enters the company for the first time, such as Prince Devitt becoming Finn Balor when he made his NXT debut, or it could be changing existing Superstars’ names, usually by shortening them. This happened to the likes of Big E Langston, now ‘Big E’, and Antonio Cesaro, better known today as ‘Cesaro’.
This year, many more Superstars have received alterations to their monikers, so below we have brought together every name WWE has changed in 2021.
Catalina to Katrina Cortez – January 6th
Singed in 2019, the former Catalina only made sporadic appearances on WWE TV for some time. She then debuted under her new name of Katrina Cortez at NXT New Year’s Evil on January 6th 2021 only to be decimated by Xia Li. After several months, she reappeared on 205 Live where she faced a string of defeats before being one of 18 Superstars released from WWE on November 4th 2021.
Ben Carter to Nathan Frazer – March 11th
After wrestling in promotions around the world, including a short stint in AEW, Ben Carter debuted on NXT UK on January 7th, 2021 to challenge Jordan Devlin for the Cruiserweight Championship. While he lost the match, he stayed with the brand and on March 11th announced that he was looking for a new start, which also meant a new name, “Nathan Frazer”.
— WWE (@WWE) March 11, 2021
Dabba-Kato to Commander Azeez – April 11th
The monstrous Dabba-Katto made a name for himself on Raw Underground, dominating a string of matches in late 2020 before finally being taken down by Braun Strowman on September 21st. Following the demise of Raw Underground, he disappeared from WWE TV for several months before resurfacing on April 11th, 2021 at WrestleMania 37 in military garb to aid Apollo Crews. Crews revealed on the following episode of SmackDown that Dabba-Kato would now be known as Commander Azeez.
Rinku and Dilsher Shanky to Veer and Shanky – May 10th
Rinku debuted in NXT as one half of Indus Sher alongside Saurav Gurjar, with the pair being managed by Malcolm Bivens. They saw some success as a team, defeating the likes of Ever-Rise. However, on May 10th 2021, he was brought to Raw by Jinder Mahal under the new name of ‘Veer’ and had a new partner, Dilsher Shanky.
Dilsher Shanky, unlike Veer, only had one match under his belt before joining the main roster, as he had joined Giant Zanjeer, Rey Mysterio, and Ricochet to defeat Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, King Corbin, and Shinsuke Nakamura at Superstar Spectacle in January 2021. His next appearance on WWE TV was when he joined Mahal and Veer on Raw, dropping his first name and going by Shanky.
Rik Bugez to Rick Boogs – May 21st
Rik Bugez joined WWE in 2017 and was part of NXT for several years, mainly competing at live shows. He first came to fans’ attention by taking part in Old Spice skits on WWE TV around the time of WrestleMania 37. Soon after this, on May 21st, 2001, Bugez made his debut as part of the SmackDown roster when he began playing Shinsuke Nakamura to the ring on electric guitar under the new name of Rick Boogs.
Shinsuke Nakamura to King Nakamura and King Corbin to Baron Corbin – June 18th
Shinsuke Nakamura kicked off a feud with King Corbin, who had gained his royal title by winning the 2019 King of the Ring tournament, by attacking the monarch and stealing his crown on the May 14th episode of SmackDown. The two would battle over the crown for several weeks before Nakamura got the final victory in a special Battle for the Crown Match on June 18th. This resulted in the coronation of King Nakamura and the forced abdication of Baron Carbin.
Piper Niven to Doudrop – June 21st
Piper Niven spent two years in NXT UK from 2019-2021 where she was a dominant force in the Women’s Division, defeating all comers including the likes of Jinny, Jamie Hayter, Isla Dawn, and even the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley.
The star caught the attention of Eva Marie, who brought her to the WWE Raw roster as her protege/enforcer on June 14th, 2021. Much to Niven’s chagrin, the ‘Red Queen’ took it upon herself to rename her Doudrop. She still wrestles under the moniker today despite turning on Marie and defeating her on several occasions.
Brendan Vink to Duke Hudson – July 6th
Brendan Vink signed with WWE in 2019 and spent several months appearing on NXT live shows and dark matches. He made his TV debut on Raw, teaming with Shane Thorne to take on the Street Profits in a losing effort. As associates of MVP, the two quickly became embroiled in a feud with Ricochet and Cedric Alexander. However, they lost a feud ending-match when they teamed with MVP to take on Ricochet, Alexander, and R-Truth on the May 11th episode of Raw.
Vink would not appear again until he was announced for the NXT Breakout Tournament on July 6th 2021, but with the new ring name of Duke Hudson. Hudson was able to reach the semi-finals of the tournament before being defeated by Carmelo Hayes.
Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox to Shotzi and Nox – July 9th
Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox both signed for WWE in 2019 and began their careers there on NXT. While perhaps best known for entering arenas on a miniature tank, Blackheart saw a lot of success on the black and gold brand, including teaming with Ember Moon to capture the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships for a 55-day reign.
Tegan Nox was often tipped to be a top star in the company but serious knee injuries took her out for months at a time. She did, however, have high profile feuds with her former best friend Dakota Kai and The Way’s Candice LeRay. It was LeRay who put Nox on the shelf for 10 months when she viciously assaulted her knee on the September 23rd, 2020 episode of NXT. Nox returned at the Great American Bash special on July 6th, 2021 to get her revenge, costing LeRay and Indi Heartwell the Women’s Tag Team Championships.
On July 9th, 2021, both women were called up to the SmackDown roster as a team and defeated then WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Tamina and Natalya in a non-title match. It was during their entrance that we discovered they had dropped one name each and would be known as Shotzi and Nox.
Reckoning and Slapjack to Mia Yim and Shane Thorne – July 12th
Reckoning and Slapjack were two of the main members of the Retribution stable which tried to terrorise the Raw roster in late-2020 and early-2021. The masked group of disaffected WWE Superstars, led by Mustafa Ali, debuted on the August 7th, 2020 episode of SmackDown by storming the ring and taking it apart with a chainsaw before spraypainting the ringside area to close the show.
Unfortunately, the faction did not live up to its impressive debut, losing in their feud with MVP’s Hurt Business and failing in their mission to make Ricochet join them. They didn’t fare any better when they began clashing with New Day, with the tag team of T-Bar and Mace being unable to overcome Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. The members of Retribution all turned on Ali a few weeks later at Fastlane 2021, ending the faction with little fanfare.
Following the end of the group, Slapjack and Reckoning were not seen on WWE TV again, but it was reported by PWInsider.com on July 12th that both would be using their pre-Retribution ring names – Shane Thorne and Mia Yim respectively – going forward. However, the two were released from the company in November 2021 as part of ongoing budget cuts before returning to our screens.
Nikki Cross to Nikki A.S.H. – June 21st
After almost three years in NXT, where she had a successful run with the SAnitY faction, Nikki Cross became a member of the Raw roster early in 2019. She soon formed an unlikely partnership with Alexa Bliss and over the next 18 months the duo would become two-time WWE Women’s Champions and were drafted to SmackDown.
The alliance came to an end in October 2020 when Bliss was targeted by ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt, who she aligned herself with following a drastic personality shift. Soon after their friendship came to an end, Cross was drafted back to Raw.
It was on the June 21st episode of Raw that Cross debuted a brand new gimmick, wearing blue and gold outfit complete with cape and butterfly motifs, she declared herself to be “almost a superhero” and became known as Nikki A.S.H. The change was a big success for the Scottish Superstar as she reached new heights, winning both the 2021 Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match and successfully cashed in the briefcase on Charlotte Flair to become the Raw Women’s Champion, her first singles title in WWE.
Reginald to Reggie – July 30th
Reginald entered WWE late in 2020 with one of the odder gimmicks we’ve seen in recent years, Carmella’s French sommelier. For several months, he assisted Carmella in her matches, even taking on one of her opponents, Sasha Banks, although ‘The Boss’ made short work of him.
After splitting from Carmella, he briefly managed Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler before the two abandoned him when he cost them a shot at the Women’s Tag Team Championships on July 19th, 2021. Following this, he joined the 24/7 Championship Division when he pinned Akira Tozawa to win the title.
On the following SmackDown, Reginald dropped his French accent, revealing he had only pretended to be a sommelier as a ploy to get a job in WWE. Along with this admission, he also changed his ring name to Reggie. Kofi Kingston, who was once Jamaican until he accidentally dropped his accent in front of D-Generation X, was outraged by the revelation.
Wait, wait, wait… you mean to tell me that @ReginaldWWE isn’t French?! Deceiver! Imposter!
— 🎅🏿 Sir Kofi Krampus 🎅🏿 (@TrueKofi) July 31, 2021
Baron Corbin to Happy Corbin – August 27th
Following the loss of his crown to King Nakamura, Baron Corbin had a string of bad luck, claiming he had lost his car, his house, and even his family. The former King resorted to stealing Big E’s Money in the Bank briefcase in the hopes of restoring himself to his former glory. However, in a match for the briefcase at SummerSlam, Big E came out on top, leaving Corbin with nothing once again.
Everything turned around for Corbin when the former WWE United States Champion hit on a major winning streak in Las Vegas and became, in his words, “filthy rich”. This led to him flaunting his wealth and good fortune on the August 27th edition of SmackDown and even went as far as officially changing his name to Happy Corbin.
Emily Andzulis to Ivy Nile – September 14th
Joining NXT in 2020, Emily Andzulis competed in several matches at NXT live events and made her first appearance on WWE TV when she fought Shayna Baszler in a Raw Underground match. When NXT relaunched as NXT 2.0 on September 14th, Andzulis was introduced as the newest member of Malcolm Bivens’ Diamond Mine under the new name of Ivy Nile.
Cal Bloom to Von Wagner – September 14th
Another fresh face to debut on the inaugural edition of NXT 2.0 was former footballer Cal Bloom. He is the son of Wayne Bloom who, as Beau Beverly was one half the WWE tag team The Beverly Brothers in the mid-1990s.
Cal Bloom joined WWE in 2019 on a developmental contract and spent several months performing on NXT live shows before finally making his TV debut on September 14th under the new name of Von Wagner. Wagner immediately made an impact when he was added to the main event of the show, a Fatal Fourway Match for the NXT Championship. While he was unsuccessful in the match, it was a significant vote of confidence in the young star’s potential for the future.
Bronson Rechsteiner to Bron Breakker – September 14th
Another debut on NXT 2.0 was the much-anticipated Bronson Rechsteiner, the son of Rick and nephew of Scott Steiner. While it was originally reported he would be carrying the torch of the legendary Steiner name as ‘Rex Steiner’, on the night it was revealed that he would, in fact, be known as Bron Breakker, a name he pitched himself.
“We were just sitting around one day and I’m like, ‘Well, when I used to block people in football, I used to try to break them in half. That was literally what I tried to do: snap them in half and break them. What if I’m the breaker? I break people, Breakker, and then it came to me. Bron is part of my first name and that’s what we went with.”
Since his debut, Breakker has impressed many in the wrestling business, with one former WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal, even claiming he’s on his way to the top.
Riddick Moss to Madcap Moss – October 1st
Riddick Moss signed with WWE in 2014, becoming part of the NXT roster on his arrival. Moss had an unremarkable stay on the black and gold brand, often coming out on the losing end of his matches. His most successful period there came as part of a tag team with Tino Sabbatelli in 2017 as ‘The god Gifted Athletes’. However, after multiple defeats, Sabbatelli turned on Moss, ending the team.
Moss eventually joined the main roster in 2020, first aligning himself with 24/7 Champion Mojo Rawley before turning on him to claim the title for himself. After losing the belt to R-Truth, Moss disappeared for several months, then made his return on Raw Underground that August. Shortly after this, he was sidelined by an ACL tear for several months.
Almost a full year from his injury, Moss made his surprising return on the September 24th, 2021 edition of SmackDown allying himself with Happy Corbin by attacking his rival, Kevin Owens. The following week, Moss, sporting an open shirt and yellow braces, once again assisted Corbin in his feud with Owens, and was dubbed ‘Madcap Moss’ by Michael Cole.
Parker Boudreaux to Harland – October 5th
Parker Boudreaux is a top NXT prospect who gained a lot of attention on his singing in March 2021 when none other than Paul Heyman heaped praise on him, saying he was someone who could navigate his way to the top of WWE.
Since then, he has caught the eye of several WWE Superstars including Riddle, who proclaimed that Boudreaux, like Brock Lesnar before him, is “The next big thing”.
His tweet is not a prediction. It’s a spoiler.
Save this #HustleTweet for future historical reference.
— Paul Heyman (@HeymanHustle) January 2, 2021
Boudreaux made his WWE TV debut on the October 5th episode of NXT 2.0. Now known as Harland, he appeared in the crowd with a newly shaved head and silently stared at Joe Gacy. The following week it was revealed that Harland was now Gacy’s bodyguard, a role he has carried out ever since.
King Nakamura to Shinsuke Nakamura – October 8th
King Nakamura respectfully abdicated his crown when a new King of the Ring tournament was announced in October 2021, meaning that he would once more be known simply as Shinsuke Nakamura.
Xavier Woods to King Woods – October 22nd
Xavier Woods took up the mantle of King of the Ring after he defeated Finn Balor at Crown Jewel on October 21st 2021. The following night on SmackDown, a coronation was held and he officially became King Woods.
Zelina Vega to Queen Zelina – October 25th
Claiming victory over Doudrop in the final of the first-ever Queen’s Crown tournament at Crown Jewel on October 21st 2021, Zelina Vega was officially crowned Queen Zelina on the following episode of Raw on October 25th.
Veer to Veer Mahaan – November 1st
After several months of Veer being part of a team with Shanky and Jinder Mahal, the 2021 WWE Draft saw him remain on Raw while his allies were drafted to SmackDown.
Following the split, vignettes began airing on Raw on November 1st, revealing that he had reverted back to Veer Mahaan and he was “Coming to Raw”. The videos have continued to air for several weeks with no sign of Mahaan making his return. They have become something of a running joke in wrestling fandom, with even the famously serious Lance Storm making light of the situation, asking if he’s walking to the red brand from India.
Is he walking to RAW…..from India? https://t.co/MwLp3uf1ND
— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) December 7, 2021
Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo to Angel and Humberto – November 7th
Despite having a heated feud in 2020, real-life cousins Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo put their bad blood behind them to begin teaming together on the September 20th, 2021 edition of Raw. The duo moved to SmackDown as part of the 2021 WWE Draft, debuting on November 5th under the new team name of Los Lotharios.
Soon after, Garza announced on Twitter that he would now be known simply as Angel, while Carrillo also dropped his second name to become Humberto the same day.
Seth Rollins to Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins – December 29th
Since joining WWE as part of the NXT brand in 2010, the man formerly known as Tyler Black was renamed Seth Rollins. When Rollins debuted as part of The Shield in 2012 on the main roster, he, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose all avoided having their name shortened as many NXT call ups have.
Now, however, WWE appear to have made an addition to Rollins’ name as he appears to officially be going by Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins. Rollins had previously used the middle name as a nickname but WWE.com have updated several articles suggesting that the name change is official.
Seth FREAKIN Rollins. On the birth cert babes. pic.twitter.com/RuxzIa2ZcU
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) December 29, 2021
Seth Rollins even took to social media to poke a little fun at the change, saying it’s what’s on his birth certificate.