The WWE are certainly no strangers to name changes when it comes to their expansive roster.
Sure, sometimes a name change is necessary in repackaging a wrestler to get them over with a new crowd – just ask X-Pac if he still wanted to be known as The 1-2-3 Kid when he returned from WCW – other times can be downright controversial – see Walter’s change to Gunther, though that change has been working for him. But lately, superstars have been seeing their in-ring names condensed for… some reason… leading to Theory and Riddle, or just changed out of the blue, like the head-scratching decision to make Bron Breakker lose his Steiner name.
Well, while it remains to be seen if we will be seeing more first names left on the cutting room floor with this new WWE regime, WWE viewers with a keen ear might have been a little confused when they watched excitedly as a certain ex-NXT star entered SummerSlam as part of Bayley’s new faction.
— WWE (@WWE) July 31, 2022
Goodness, that’ll take some getting used to, even though the first name is pronounced the same.
Now, generally speaking, WWE has always wanted their Superstars to have new names in order to trademark them in merchandise and such. Even with the new leadership, they appear to be sticking with that policy, as real name Masami Odate used the name Io Shirai in Stardom, indicating that she most likely owns it.
Seeing that this looks to be the start of the main roster push Shirai has been hoping for, and how much excitement this SummerSlam moment generated – not to mention all of the potential barn burner matches – even with a slightly different name, this was an absolute win for the WWE Universe.
And let’s face it, with WWE’s history of repackaging Superstars, especially ones from NXT, this could have been far, far worse.