Ryan Allen Reeves (best known to WWE fans as Ryback) has now legally changed his name to Ryback after a long running falling out with the company. A judge’s ruling in Nevada this week has cemented the former Intercontinental Champion as Ryback Allen Reeves, which means he can now technically wrestle anywhere under the Ryback name.
Although this gives him all sorts of freedom to use the name, it does not necessarily impede on WWE’s rights to the name and character Ryback that he portrayed on TV. All of the merchandise designs, slogans and other trademarked elements created under WWE are still WWE’s.
The late Ultimate Warrior who himself had an infamous falling out with the company went through a similar process when he changed his name to Warrior. However unlike Warrior Ryback was never a huge draw and most likely wont be returning in 20 years to a hero’s welcome.
On May 2nd, he notoriously walked out before RAW after a contractual dispute. He then went on to criticise WWE’s merchandise and payment policy on social media (ironically echoing some of the same things CM Punk brought up when he quit the company). Ryback remained under contract until August when his deal expired.
It will be interesting to see if WWE mounts any kind of legal action. There are still grey areas that can be hashed out in a court room should either party decide to go there.