TCWNN #28: What’s In A Name?

Well, the first season, so to speak, of NXT has whimpered its way into the dust, and the second is on the way. As such, part of this weeks “season finale” was spent introducing the next batch of pros and rookies. And what a batch they are.

We have Kaval (the former Low Ki of ROH fame and TNA fame) matched up with Michelle McCool and Layla. This is clearly set up to be the Internet frustration inducing pairing for the season. The announce team was already putting over how no nonsense Kaval is, and his introduction from Team LayCool indicates that they’ll spend most of their time being airheads and making him slow boil. I’m sure wacky hijinks will ensue at least once, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m looking forward to it. Then there’s Percy Watson, who appears to be channeling Eddie Murphy as Buddy Love in the Nutty Professor. It’s almost like season two is going to be played for laughs. Just look at the names of the other rookies involved:

Eli Cottonwood. Michael McGillicutty. Lucky Cannon. Husky Harris… I mean, seriously? These are the names they’re giving these guys. They’re almost as ridiculous as the final segment of the NXT finale, where William Regal gave everybody a new name while throwing one liners around like Frisbees, CM Punk walked off, and R-truth did some poppin’ and lockin’. It was actually completely awesome in it’s randomness, and really, really funny. These names… not so much. Are we looking for new WWE superstars or new jobbers for 1980’s episodes of Superstars? These are not the names of future world champions. It’s almost astounding how much of a handicap they are thrusting on some of these guys straight out of the gate.

What’s more astounding is that in the cases of Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty, they’re real family histories are being acknowledged. Both are third generation superstars. Harris is the real life Windham Rotunda (and come on, if there was ever a name tailor made for wrestling superstardom), son of everyone’s favorite tax man (also everyone’s least favorite ship captain) Mike “IRS” Rotunda, nephew of Barry Windham, and grandson of Blackjack Mulligan. Michael McGillicutty is Joe Hennig, son of the late, great, Mr Perfect Curt Hennig and grandson of Larry the Ax. This was straight out acknowledged in their video packages. These characters weren’t being presented as there to incite laughter, so why the goofy names?

Well, if you ask me, there are a couple logical reasons for it beyond just “the writers are morons”. The first thing I can think of, after “what kind of stupid names are those” anyways, is to give them an obstacle to overcome right out the gate. What can you do to get a crowd interested in you and to take you seriously when they hear your name and think loser? How can you make them leave remembering who you were, even if your name is generically absurd? Of course, that assumes that NXT is actually about furthering the training of these guys. Judging from the way things went last time around, however, I don’t think that’s the case.

The other idea that sprung to mind was that, especially in the cases of Rotunda and Hennig, it’s a subtle message to not get too big for your britches. Sure, you’re a third generation superstar. That’s great. But guess what kid, without the WWE machine behind you, who’s going to care? The WWE wants its superstars to believe that the company can make or break you (though sometimes, it’s the other way around), and a “good” way to do that is to show them that they can be saddled with a loser of a gimmick if they don’t display the right attitude. But then, there are already numerous second and third generation superstars on the roster with their family name intact who weren’t given this kind of message, at least not publicly anyways. So it’s probably not that either.

And then of course, there’s the simplest solution, which is that it’s somebody’s idea of a rib. Just a good natured prank to give someone backstage a laugh at the rookies expense. Childish, to be sure, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a wrestler’s been given a joke for a name (Hello Virgil).

Or maybe there’s just nothing to it, period. No ulterior motives, no ribbing. Just some quickie names for a roster of guys who aren’t going to make it to the main roster in their present form. After all, only one of these guys is going to win, and most people (myself included) seem to think that victory is pretty much sewn up by The Miz’s new rookie, Alex Riley. So why ruin a perfectly good third generation wrestler’s chances by making him out to be a loser in his first nationally televised run with the company? A world heavyweight championship run isn’t in any of these guys futures any time soon, there’s plenty of time to course correct before they’re at that stage. But of course, that then raises the question as to why they’d even mention Rotunda and Hennig’s family history at all…

And then there’s one last option. Because let’s not forget, this is the company that originally wanted to call Stone Cold Steve Austin “Chilly McFreeze”, and Mick Foley “Mason the Mutilator”.

They might just like silly names.

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