The free agent market is hotter than ever in professional wrestling and WWE is aggressively going after the top names available. Both former stars and hot prospects are sought after by the WWE to improve the rosters of Raw, SmackDown Live and NXT. Everyone is on the table these days.
AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode becoming stars has made it open for former TNA stars to move to WWE. The hit list of ROH, Evolve and PWG stars show they grow talent that can help the WWE. International wrestlers like Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka and Neville have allowed the wrestlers from all countries to land jobs. WWE continuing projects like the Cruiserweight Classic and United Kingdom Championship will need even more talent being added often.
There are many outstanding performers available today that the WWE should try to acquire. However, some names on the free agent market just don’t stand out as being ready for the company. Others are past their prime or have already shown they don’t belong in the WWE environment. We’ll look at the names that would not do well in the current landscape of the WWE. These are fifteen outside wrestlers that we definitely do not want to see Vince McMahon sign any time soon.
The disappointing run of The Shining Stars has many wondering if Carlito should return to save them. Carlito is the brother of Primo and the cousin of Epico, but he always connected far more with the fan base. WWE once believed Carlito could have been a future World Champion. A lack of motivation and passion saw him get lost in the shuffle before his eventual release.
Carlito has continued his career on the independent wrestling, but nothing has changed. In fact, his lack of interest appears to be worse. Carlito only wrestles for smaller promotions that will pay him more to be one of the bigger names on the show. His lack of desire to improve or work against the best free agents proves WWE was right all along about Carlito’s lack of passion.
14. Justin Gabriel
Many wrestlers to get fired from the WWE have used the independent wrestling scene to prove they were being held back. Drew Galloway, Cody Rhodes and Ethan Carter III are a few examples of how to market and work your way back to relevance after a disappointing end with WWE. Any of those three names could return to the WWE with a high profile role. Justin Gabriel has written the complete opposite story for himself.
The talents of Gabriel in the ring made us believe he was among the better wrestlers in The Nexus. However, WWE never did anything of note with him. Gabriel hit the independent wrestling scene but struggled to stand out. Gabriel has recently signed with Lucha Underground and is still destined to be a secondary performer. The high flying skills of guys like Will Ospreay, Ricochet and Fenix make someone like Gabriel less relevant on the free agent market.
13. Hirooki Goto
WWE is zoning in on New Japan to sign the better wrestlers from the company that are looking for a change. Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows jumped ship in early 2016. Triple H has admitted to having interest in current NJPW stars Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay. One of the few wrestlers that would struggle making the jump is Hirooki Goto.
The language barrier for the actual Japanese wrestlers can be overlooked for certain wrestlers. Nakamura, Hideo Itami and Asuka have the special it factor that allows you to look passed it. Goto is not a dynamic performer that would thrive in the WWE environment. He’s very good in NJPW with his current role and WWE should look elsewhere on the NJPW roster if they hope to sign another successful wrestler from Japan.
12. Josh Mathews
The need for broadcasters will always lead to the hiring of new and old faces in the WWE. Josh Mathews was let go a couple of years and moved to TNA. His roles revolve around play-by-play commentary on television and social media marketing at TNA headquarters. Mathews has proven to be terrible at both.
Mathews’ commentary actually wasn’t bad in the WWE, but the lack of direction in TNA has seen him regress. WWE are experimenting with new broadcasters in NXT with the hiring of Nigel McGuinness and the re-signing of Percy Watson. Mathews is one guy we don’t want to see get another chance. The time has passed and Mathews is no longer a viable option for the noteworthy WWE shows, or any credible wrestling program at that.
11. Matt Taven
Ring of Honor has been the home to many new stars being born. The top names in ROH have moved on to the WWE and went on to dominate the big stage. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe are just three former ROH World Champions currently doing extraordinarily well on the WWE roster today. There are a couple of noteworthy ROH stars today, but most are not ready for the WWE.
Matt Taven should not be on WWE’s radar right now. His athleticism and aerial moves are very impressive, but he just doesn’t stand out the way most of his peers do. Taven is currently leading the new version of The Kingdom. It’s off to disappointing results with a lack of interest with the other prior members not there to lead him. Taven needs to improve before making the jump to the WWE.
10. Eli Drake
Recent rumors have circulated that WWE is showing interest in bringing back Eli Drake. His failed run in developmental led to him being released and going to TNA. Drake definitely has charisma that has shined on the show. However, WWE is a completely different animal, as TNA’s roster does not have much depth and Drake has less competition.
Most of the WWE stars are just as entertaining as him on the microphone and far better in the ring. Drake is still a lackluster worker that can’t rise to the level that has become the norm in the current WWE world. If you can’t work a great match, you’ll have a hard time getting over in the WWE today. Drake needs to prove he can have standout matches to go along with the charisma.
9. Sami Callihan
Another wrestler to struggle in WWE developmental before departing from the company was Sami Callihan. Under the name of Solomon Crowe, he struggled immensely to find a consistent role on NXT. The independent wrestling scene welcomed him back and he has landed a role in Lucha Underground. Callihan wrestles for a different promotion every weekend and even runs his own company.
In a recent podcast interview on the Art of Wrestling, Callihan has revealed that he’s looking for a return to the WWE in a bigger role than his prior position. The talent is there, but he lacks a lot of other tools needed to thrive in the WWE. Callihan struggles to stand out as the true best of the best on the indie scene. The fact that he can’t outshine his peers in smaller promotions doesn’t bode well for another WWE attempt.
WWE has found success with many TNA legends finally making the jump in recent time. A.J. Styles is arguably the top star on the SmackDown Live brand. Samoa Joe just debuted on the main roster in the main event program involving Seth Rollins and Triple H. Bobby Roode is the NXT Champion. One former TNA star that won’t have the same impact is Abyss.
According to Abyss, he turned down a contract to work a feud with The Undertaker culminating at WrestleMania 22. The horrible decision has to be regrettable for the big man, as Abyss no longer possesses the same momentum as he did earlier in his career. WWE’s success with former TNA stars comes from those that have a lot left in them. Abyss has less left in the tank and would not do well in the WWE.
7. Tommy Dreamer
Tommy Dreamer is a loveable veteran that the WWE loves to bring in once in a while for the nostalgia. There were past rumors of WWE looking to bring him in for a full-time role traveling the road following the brand split. WWE could use some veteran leaders and roster depth for Raw and SmackDown, but Dreamer is just not the right choice. The ECW legend is way past his prime and tough to watch in the ring these days.
Dreamer runs his House of Hardcore promotion and keeps an active schedule wrestling on the weekends. Unlike someone like Rhyno that has made the comeback, Dreamer has proven to be unable to keep up with the younger stars on the independent wrestling scene. Another run in WWE would be difficult to watch, so Dreamer running HOH is the best situation for him today.
6. Kelly Kelly
The return of Mickie James to the women’s division on SmackDown Live led to an interesting promo. James trashed some of the current female stars for the popularity of the women’s revolution coming at the expense of prior women’s wrestlers that worked hard during their time. Kelly Kelly commented on social media expressing agreement with James about their era.
Fans have started discussing the potential of Kelly and other women from the past returning to feud with the current stars. Kelly is one that would not fit in well at all. Mickie has always been a superb wrestler and can still hang with the best of them. Kelly Kelly’s lack of in-ring talent prevents her from being a good signing. It would harm the momentum of the women’s division and the WWE should stay away from all costs.
5. James Storm
As mentioned earlier, former TNA stars are doing very well in WWE these days. James Storm had the same chance after a buzzworthy NXT appearance. A business decision saw him take a much more lucrative contract to return to TNA rather than sign with the WWE. However, Storm would not have achieved the same success as his peers, unless teaming with Bobby Roode to reform Beer Money.
Roode being a singles star in the WWE for the long run makes it impossible to find a role for Storm in the current WWE landscape. The other TNA wrestlers to succeed in the WWE are some of the best in the world. Storm is a level below them and would struggle to stand out in a more competitive environment than TNA. The ship has sailed and Storm’s chances with WWE should be over.
4. Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart’s high-flying maneuvers were before their time, as he put together awe-inspiring highlights on the independent wrestling scene. WWE signed him at a young age due to his potential and his ties to the Hart Family. Unfortunately, his attitude held him back and that would be the story of his career. Teddy is still out of his mind, saying some of the most ridiculous things you’ll ever hear from a human being.
A recent appearance on Talk is Jericho featured Hart pleading for another chance in the WWE while going out of his way to say Samoa Joe, CM Punk and even his uncle Bret Hart were all jealous and intimidated by him. Teddy refused to own up to his own mistakes and will be remembered as a colossal failure that wasted his potential. WWE can’t ever risk signing him again unless he completely turns his life around, but even then it would be too late.
Magnus was once one of the more valuable assets outside of the WWE. His career took off in TNA as a rising star showing a great deal of potential. Magnus has a great look, decent character skills and was improving in the ring. Around the end of his TNA run, he just appeared to hit a wall and stopped making waves as someone to pay attention to.
His disappointing World Title reign saw everything start to turn in the negative direction quickly. TNA stopped using him as a major player and he eventually chose to leave the company. Magnus has done absolutely nothing to stay relevant since then and is now a forgotten person in the wrestling industry. WWE would be nuts to take a chance on him until he proved he was back on track to shine in a bigger ocean.
2. Velvet Sky
Bubba Dudley tried begging on social media for fans to request WWE hire his girlfriend Velvet Sky. Today, Bubba has left the WWE and Velvet has yet to receive any interest at all from the company. Her work in TNA led to success as a popular personality with The Beautiful People, but she was arguably the worst in-ring performer on the roster.
Velvet typically delivered poor matches on a consistent basis and looked like a fish out of water trying to keep up with the better wrestlers. Something as normal as running the ropes looks awkward when Velvet does it, meaning she clearly can’t come into the WWE right now. Wrestling skills have become more important than ever from the women on the roster, meaning Velvet wouldn’t really fit in.
1. Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam is a major name on the free agent market that Vince McMahon must stay away from at all costs. RVD’s legacy is tremendous and he absolutely deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame one day. Van Dam, however, should not be wrestling for a high profile wrestling promotion these days. His most recent stint in the WWE showed he no longer could hang with the stars of today and he didn’t want to either.
Many interviews have featured RVD admitting that he does not care about wrestling anymore and only does it to collect a paycheck. His lack of passion for wrestling shows in his work and it has with Van Dam for many years now. WWE definitely needs a few credible familiar faces, but they should be able to compete at a high level and have the passion for the craft.