Although several independent wrestling standouts, including the likes of Undisputed Era members Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, and Roderick Strong, were able to keep their familiar ring names upon signing with WWE, that still isn’t the case for everyone who joins the sports entertainment giant after establishing themselves in the indy ranks. Now, it appears that several recent additions to WWE’s developmental promotion NXT, including a former Impact Wrestling standout, have joined the long list of wrestlers to get their names changed by WWE’s creative team.
Citing a subscriber-only report from Mike Johnson of PWInsider, Fightful wrote on Monday that a total of five NXT wrestlers will be using new ring names going forward. The two most notable names in the list were former Impact Wrestling X-Division Champion Trevor Lee, who is now known as Cameron Grimes, and Eric Bugenhagen, whose name was shortened to Rik Bugez.
As noted by Fansided, Lee/Grimes made his WWE debut in a dark (non-televised) match in May, which came three months after the company signed him to a contract. The North Carolina native, who also has experience wrestling for various independent promotions, is also notable for having been trained by Matt and Jeff Hardy of the legendary tag team The Hardy Boyz.
While Bugenhagen/Bugez lost his WWE Network debut match against 205 Live‘s Drew Gulak in February, Comic Book wrote that he became a viral sensation of sorts because of his energetic ring entrance, which included an air guitar solo, a heavy metal scream, and a post-match “encore” performance alongside ring announcer and interviewer Kayla Braxton.
Per WrestlingNews.co, it also appears that Bugenhagen has gotten more than his ring name changed, as a recent photo shows him sporting a shorter haircut and a cleaner look, as opposed to the longer hair and mustache he was rocking during his debut match.
Report: Name Changes For Five NXT Stars Including Trevor Lee And Eric Bugenhagen https://t.co/F76w7cLeXr
— Fightful Wrestling, MMA, Boxing (@Fightful) June 4, 2019
Aside from Trevor Lee and Eric Bugenhagen, three other relative NXT newcomers will also be using different names in the ring in future appearances. These include Adrian Jaoude (Arturo Ruas), former Mae Young Classic competitor Jessie Elaban (Jessi Kamea), and Luke Menzies (Ridge Holland).
Prior to WWE’s recent shift toward allowing most independent wrestlers to keep their ring names, it was almost a given that a former indy star would get their name changed upon joining the company. For example, the wrestlers currently known as Seth Rollins, Cesaro, and Kassius Ohno respectively worked in the indies as Tyler Black, Claudio Castagnoli, and Chris Hero, as pointed out in 2012 by Bleacher Report. Meanwhile, Rollins’ former Shield stablemate Dean Ambrose was known as Jon Moxley as an independent star and has since reverted to the Moxley ring name after leaving WWE and joining All Elite Wrestling earlier this year.