The habit WWE has of dropping wrestler’s first or last names when they start appearing on the main roster is a running joke among fans. It’s also led to a lot of speculation about why it’s an ongoing practice for the company.
On the Sept. 15 post-Raw edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer explained why it happened in a pair of prominent cases. As with almost all things WWE, it boils down to “because that’s how Vince McMahon wants it.” But the specific justification is pretty interesting.
The story comes up after Meltzer and co-host Bryan Alvarez discuss why Babatunde Aiyegbus is going by Dabba-Kato (that one is for trademark purposes, as WWE wouldn’t own the Polish-Nigerian big man’s birth name). The examples covered are Alexander Rusev and Antonio Cesaro:
“There was a meeting and at the meeting, Vince goes, ‘We’ve got to drop that first name.’ And it was like why? And Vince goes, ‘If we call him Alexander Rusev, people are gonna start calling him Alex, and Alex is not a good name for a heel.’
That’s the real reason. So that’s why they dropped the first name. And the same thing happened with Cesaro. The reason they dropped Antonio Cesaro was cause Vince said people are gonna start calling him Tony and Tony is not a heel name, so we’ve gotta drop the first name.”
Everyone will decide for themselves whether or not they buy this explanation. Obviously, there can be villains named Alex or Tony, and heroes named Bobby and Baron... okay, maybe there can’t be faces named Baron. I stand corrected.
Either way, it’s a story that will fit in nicely with other Vinnie Mac lore like “hates sneezing” and “thinks vomiting is hilarious.” Vince McMahon remains one of the most fascinating characters in wrestling history.