WWE wrestler Michael McGillicutty (a/k/a Joe Hennig) appeared on the Extreme Pro Wrestling Radio show on KFAN on Sunday night and was asked about the origins of his pro wrestling name. “Well, that came to me as a surprise, actually. I wrestled my whole career, when I started with Harley Race and when I wrestled in the developmental territory down in Tampa, as Joe Hennig. And then when I got called up to the main roster with NXT, they gave me the name Michael McGillicutty.
“I don’t know, man. I’ve tried to pick this apart and tried to figure out how I got this name. The story I’ve heard was they were on Vince’s (McMahon) jet and they were talking about… It all comes down to intellectual property. They want to own the rights to your name. They were coming up with new names for guys. There was Husky Harris, there was another guy, and there was me, Michael McGillicutty.
“Vince said, ‘I’ve want to have a guy with a strong Irish name. I’ve always wanted to name a guy Michael McGillicutty. It’s a strong Irish name.’ Joey Styles, who works for WWE.com now, said ‘Are you serious? Michael McGillicutty? It’s Mr. Perfect’s son.’ That’s how I got the name is from Vince.
“The way I look at it now, I think when I got brought up to the main roster on NXT and all that, I was still a little green at the time and they didn’t want me to have to live up to the standard of a Hall of Fame father. They wanted to have me just be myself and try to get over by myself and do this on my own without having to have that pressure put on me and live in the shadows with people trying to compare me to my grandfather and my father.
“It’s been frustrating at times and I’ve questioned why and all of that stuff, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job of dealing with it and doing it myself anyway. If they ever do go back and change my name to Joe Hennig, that would mean the world to me. I think that this is actually a blessing in disguise having me be my own self, not having to do all my dad’s old moves, not having to look and act like my father, do my own thing.
“That’s all I really wanted when I started in this profession is to do my own thing and prove that it’s not only a name that gets you over in this business, it’s the talent, your background, and where you come from. Like I said, it’s a blessing in disguise and if I do get back to my real name, I think it’s an explosion waiting to happen.”