A name change might be a lot more common than most might think, especially in the world of pro sports. Whether it be in the NBA, NFL, NHL, UFC or other sporting platforms, we’ve seen evidence of a name changes more than a couple of times. The only time you might see these athletes use their real-name is through legal documentation such as a passport.

Changing a name can be done for various reasons. In some cases, the name used by the athlete is an abbreviation. However, as you’ll see in this article, lots of names are nicknames that just stuck. You see, Tiger’s real name isn’t really Tiger, that’s a nickname used by his dad. We’ll address the name change a little further in the article. We also look at occurrences of athletes opting for their middle name instead.

Finally, we take a look at the world of sports and entertainment, the WWE. What might be a surprise to the casual fan is the fact that lots of the mainstream popular wrestlers actually go by a fake name. A name like John Cena is a real one, however, his former fiancée Nikki Bella goes by a fake name. The same goes for some other wrestling stars we feature on the list.

Enjoy the article folks and like always be sure to share it with a friend. Without further ado, here are 20 real names you won’t believe these athletes use in their passports. Let’s get started!

20 Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (Ronaldo)

Soccer players out of Brazil are similar to hockey players out of Russia. They’ll typically use shorter versions of their actual full name. Examples of that include popular soccer star Neymar along with former soccer legend Kaka. Both use abbreviated versions of their full names.

Now mega soccer star Ronaldo isn’t from Brazil but he still uses a shorter version nonetheless. We typically don’t hear them, doe Santos Aveiro part. He typically goes by Cristiano, Ronaldo or CR7. Rarely does he see his full name unless flipping through his actual documents such as a passport?

19 Leati Joseph Anoa’i’ (Roman Reigns)

He’s the current face of the WWE, Roman Reigns. Since John Cena’s full-time departure Reigns is the one with the spotlight these days. WWE typically changes real names so they can hold the trademark rights. Now John Cena used his real name so they couldn’t do that. However, Roman had his name altered. The name we know him by is actually owned by the WWE.

His real name, we rarely hear about is Leati Joseph Anoa’i’. He’s a member of the prestigious Anoa’i’ family, a popular last name in the wrestling business, though rarely do we ever hear about it.

18 Allen Neal Jones (AJ Styles)

Sticking with the WWE, another popular face is AJ Styles. True wrestling fans are familiar with the WWE Champion from back in his days prior to the WWE. Throughout his wrestling journey that began in the late 90s, AJ has used this name.

What’s pretty interesting is the fact that his passport has another name on it despite the longevity of his wrestling name. Styles goes by Allen Neal Jones. In truth, he sounds like a country singer using his real name and nothing like a WWE star. The name change was a wise decision.

17 Elisha Nelson Manning (Eli Manning)

Oh the popular, “call me Elisha” quote. Back in 2016, with the addition of a second Eli to the team, Manning joked that he might have to revert back to his actual name Elisha in order for his teammates to avoid the confusion. It was a hilarious moment, mostly because he hasn’t used the name once since his NFL stardom began as an elite prospect.

Of course, he uses Eli because it is a short version of Elisha. As for his middle name Nelson, we rarely hear anything about that unless it’s on his travel documentation.

16 Glenn Anton Rivers (Doc Rivers)

We include a basketball coach on this list. Ironically, it was a coach that gave him the nickname Doc, it stuck with the NBA coach ever since. Rick Majerus was the one to label Glenn Anton Rivers as Doc. Following Rick’s sad passing, Doc discussed how important this man was to his career;

"That's a tough one for me," a somber Rivers told reporters in Milwaukee. "I mean, he's the one who gave me my name." (Source ESPN)

Doc continues to use the name these days. Referring to coach as Glenn Anton seems unthinkable today and that’s all thanks to Rick.

15 Ashley Elizabeth Fliehr (Charlotte Flair)

The father of Charlotte, Ric Flair has quite the wacky history with names himself. Flair was actually born as Fred. Never having met his parents, Ric or should we say, Fred, doesn’t even know his real last name. According to his book, it’s either Phillips, Stewart or Demaree.

Flair would later go by Richard Fliehr. A little-known fact, his daughter doesn’t use her real name either. Charlotte’s real name is actually Ashley Elizabeth. The spelling of her last name is also different. On WWE TV, the spelling is Flair however in real-life, the name is actually Fliehr.

14 Randal Keith Orton (Randy Orton)

He’s a veteran in the business and a wrestler that has been on WWE programming regularly since 2002. Orton turned into a household name under the label of Randy Orton. This name seems legit as they come. Except, this is another name WWE created themselves. Orton’s real name is Randal Keith Orton. Ever wonder where he got the motive for his finisher the RKO? Well, the answer is in his real name when you take the three initials.

At the age of 38, the wrestler continues to travel with the WWE on a regular basis. He’s set for a trip to Saudi Arabia for the Crown Jewel event come November.

13 Jacob Christopher Ortiz (Tito Ortiz)

Jacob Christopher? Man is that ever far off from Ortiz’s real demeanor in and out of the UFC octagon. Similar to Liddell’s real-name earlier in the article, the name just sounds totally wrong. Thankfully, only in his passport and other pieces of documentation does this name show up.

So how did he get slapped with the name Tito? It was a nickname used by his dad since the age of one. Nicknames have a tendency to stick. In all likelihood, anyone reading this likely goes by their nickname these days; especially with those, they’re close to.

12 Hyland DeAndre Jordan Jr. (DeAndre Jordan)

For those most part, a name change seems quite legit especially in the case of these athletes. The new names sound much more fitting and easier. However, in this case, we might disagree. NBA star DeAndre Jordan doesn’t use his real-name these days. This is puzzling as lots of fans agree his real name might have more appeal given the rareness, Hyland.

It isn’t every day that we see a massive dude by the name of Hyland. Doesn’t Hyland Jordan have such a good ring to it? He didn’t think so apparently, the NBA star chooses DeAndre, his middle-name these days and throughout his professional basketball career.

11 Gerry Lester Watson Jr. (Bubba Watson)

"My dad wanted a baseball player and I came out chubby in the face and looked like a big football player, and he said I'm a Bubba. I'm a football player, not a baseball player. So ten seconds after I was born, he just called me Bubba.” (Source NJ)

That’s the hilarious story on why he’s referred to as Bubba these days. The irony, he didn’t end up becoming a football player but instead, a mainstream golfer making millions in the sport. The name Bubba absolutely stuck. Very few are aware that his real name is actually Gerry Lester Watson.

10 Terry Gene Bollea (Hulk Hogan)

One of the most popular, if not most recognizable wrestlers of all-time is Hulk Hogan. Thinking about calling him anything else is unthinkable. However, like lots of other wrestlers, his name is a fake one. Hogan was actually born Terry Gene Bollea. A name he’s only referred to as by his close friends and family.

Vince McMahon Sr., the father of WWE’s current boss was the one responsible for the name. He saw lots of value in the wrestler back in the day and wanted to use the name Hulk for his character. Clearly, the move worked as Hogan became a legend in the industry.

9 Eldrick Tont Woods (Tiger Woods)

One of Tiger’s companies goes by the name of ETW. That stands for his real name, Eldrick Tont Woods. This is his real name listed on the birth certificate, however rarely do we hear a reference to it. Instead, Woods uses the nickname, Tiger.

How did Tiger come about? As an homage to one of his war buddies, Earl Woods (Tiger's dad) decided to use the nickname Tiger on his son. Of course, Tiger stuck and it's one of the most popular sporting names in the modern day. Without a doubt, the war veteran is proud at what Woods has accomplished with the name.

8 Wardell Stephen Curry II (Steph Curry)

What a different world this would be if one of the NBA’s best went by his actual name, Wardell. Ironically, the NBA star is followed by over 22 million via Instagram account while using the real-name he seldom uses, Wardell.

Curry admits that he is typically acknowledged by his middle name, Stephen or Steph for short. However, the NBA Champion admits that his closest friends and relatives call him by his actual name, Wardell. Don’t expect this to change as the 30-year-old typically goes by his middle name these days.

7 Michael Gerard Tyson (Mike Tyson)

Getting knocked out by a dude named Michael just doesn’t have the same effect as a name like Mike. We’d take a punch from a Mike but not a Michael! For that reason, Tyson went by the name of Mike throughout his career instead of Michael Gerard, which, let’s face it, doesn’t sound as intimidating. Kind of sounds like a soccer player name.

His last name could have easily been Kirkpatrick. That was the name of the father he grew up with. He could have also gone by his mom’s last name, Smith. Instead, Mike used his biological father’s last name, Tyson. For what it’s worth, due to financial constraints Tyson’s flying a lot more commercial these days.

6 Cristiane Justino Venancio (Cris Cyborg)

Speaking of intimidating names, Cris Cyborg is one of the tops. She’s a tremendous UFC fighter with a name to match her attitude in the octagon. However, like lots of other athletes out of Brazil Cyborg decided to alter her name. Back in her earlier days, Cyborg was known as Cristiane Venancio - certainly a name not nearly as intimidating to Cris Cyborg.

She made be using that passport a lot more in the future. At the moment, rumors are swirling pertaining to Cyborg signing a deal with the WWE. Unlike the UFC, that’ll mean a lot more traveling and time away from home.

5 Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace (Nikki Bella)

Speaking of WWE, we now turn our attention to one of the biggest female stars in the company, Nikki Bella. She has used this name since her debut years ago. Alongside her sister Brie, the two are known as the Bella twins. In reality, they should be identified as the Garcia-Colace twins, their actual last names.

Nikki and Brie rarely use their real names, aside from legitimate documentation such as a passport. The twins have dual last names due to their parent’s separation years ago. Garcia comes from their father’s side while Colace is their mother’s last name.

4 Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao (Manny Pacquiao)

He’s not only a major star in the world of professional boxing but he might be even more important back at home in the Philippines as a massive star and political leader. In fact, he’s the current senator of the Philippines. Yes, he’s a man with many strengths.

Similar to Tyson, Manny wisely decided to use his nickname during his boxing fame. Emmanuel just doesn’t have the same ring to it compared to a name like Manny. In fact, Emmanuel kind of sounds like a character we might see during a daytime soap opera. Thankfully, he only deals with this name in his passport when traveling. Like so many other athletes, Manny travels the world with his own personal jet.

3 Charles David Liddell (Chuck Liddell)

“Oh what a knockdown by Charles!” Yup, that just doesn’t sound right in the slightest. Wisely, by 2002 when his name began to rise, he went by the new name of Chuck Liddell, a nickname he used growing up. This is similar to both Manny and Mike earlier in the article.

Chuck definitely has a better ring to it. Unless he was applying for a job at a computer technology company, then changing from Charles David was the correct decision. Surely, any airport attendant checking his passport must get a “chuckle” (see what we did) out of his actual name.

2 Yevgeni Vladimirovich Malkin (Evgeni Malkin)

Hockey players are among the most basic and simple dudes you’ll ever see in the sporting world. Rarely does any hockey player change names because it sounds cool. However, what you might see is a player out of Russia abbreviates their name. This makes it easier on the commentators and the fan base.

Former great Sergei Fedorov abbreviated his name and so did Evgeni Malkin (no Y in the front). Fans managed to abbreviate Evgeni as well; he’s typically referred to as Gino Malkin these days, a nickname that stuck with the Penguins’ superstar forward. Thankfully, commentators don’t even try to pronounce his middle name.

1 John Matthew Stafford (Matthew Stafford)

It isn’t uncommon for an athlete to use their middle name; Steph Curry is an example used earlier in the article. NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford is another example. However, this one is a little odd as his real name is a pretty common one, John. Why wouldn’t he want to be called John like the great NFL QB John Elway?

In truth, Stafford does look like a Matt or Matthew type of fellow so the name definitely fits the bill. Nonetheless, it is still weird for an athlete to use their middle name when the first name is a common one.

References: NJ.com, ESPN.com, Twitter.com