WWE has one of the best rosters in wrestling history. Raw, SmackDown and NXT field top talents from all over the world. Both wrestlers made outside of the company and homegrown talents have become talented assets providing noteworthy entertainment. Unfortunately, the writing team of WWE manages to ruin quite a few stars. There are many wrestlers on the roster not living up to their full potential. Cody Rhodes and Drew Galloway are two recent stories of wrestlers showing how to thrive after leaving WWE and having the chance to actually showcase their abilities to get over.
The talents being wasted right now could find successful careers in other promotions. New Japan is bigger than ever with the action overseas providing a viable option for struggling wrestlers. Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground also offer decent contracts with their hope for growth in the future, as alternatives to WWE. TNA has been in a difficult place but a rebranding under Jeff Jarrett and Dutch Mantell’s return could make them a viable option. We’ll look at fifteen specific wrestlers that would be better off leaving the WWE and the promotions that they should aspire to work in for better results.
15. Sheamus: New Japan
Wrestling fans have grown tired of Sheamus’ act and it has ruined his chances of being a huge singles star in WWE. Sheamus has been relegated to a tag team with Cesaro since they have no idea how to use him right now. Sheamus is quite underrated due to his stale character and lack of charisma.
Sheamus could remind fans just how good he is with a run in New Japan. The free agent market is leading to big contracts for those leaving WWE with the talent to back it up. He could see a career rebirth as an intense in-ring badass having hard-hitting matches with the stars of NJPW. The style of wrestling is Japan is just what Sheamus needs to rejuvenate his career and add to his legacy.
14. Roderick Strong: TNA
Roderick Strong’s signing by WWE felt like a big deal at the time. Strong has been a consistently great wrestler on the independent circuit for over a decade. WWE finally signing him should have led to an instant push, but he has struggled to stand out in NXT. The lack of direction for him is clear with Strong not being involved in any important storylines.
TNA could have utilized him better at this stage of his career. Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards are currently main eventers in TNA with a lot of investment in them. Strong has a similar style to his former peers and could be a top guy for the company. The timing of Strong’s past TNA run over a decade ago was all wrong, but a spot there today would work out far better.
13. Luke Harper: ROH
Luke Harper is arguably the most underrated performer in WWE today. Harper’s size is understated given the risky moves he pulls off with ease in his matches. Harper can hold his own against the likes of Brock Lesnar and Big Show when it comes to strength, but can also fly around the ring with Kalisto and Neville if needed.
WWE doesn’t really view Harper as anything more than a talented secondary player involved in background Wyatt Family stories. ROH used him poorly many years ago before he signed with WWE, but they could correct that mistake now. Harper would be a main event star and a potential World Champion on the current ROH roster. If he leaves WWE any time in the near future, ROH has to reach out and sign him for a long run.
12. Andrade Almas: Lucha Underground
NXT usually does a great job showcasing the talent of impressive performers. They have somehow managed to completely drop the ball with Andrade Almas. Almas’ work as La Sombra in Mexico made him among the most successful luchadors of his time. Almas has star potential, but has been positioned as a secondary player on the NXT roster since he debuted.
Lucha Underground would have been the right place for Almas to shine in the United States. With an emphasis on lucha libre, he would have been able to continue wrestling his usual style. Almas also would have been given more importance as one of the faces of the franchise. Lucha Underground would only improve with someone like Almas joining the promotion to help usher them into the future.
11. The Shining Stars : New Japan
Primo and Epico have flopped every single time they’ve received an opportunity in WWE. It’s rather depressing due to the fact they’re actually pretty talented. Their in-ring ability is impressive, but WWE fans just don’t care about them. A lack of charisma and presence leads to silent reactions. Simply, The Shining Stars will never get over in WWE.
New Japan fans care more about the action than character work or charisma. Primo and Epico would be given a chance to thrive based on their talent with other great teams in the Junior Tag Team Division. The Shining Stars would absolutely deliver the goods in matches with The Young Bucks, RPG Vice and other teams in New Japan. It could save their careers if they bet on the skills and decide to leave WWE.
10. The Vaudevillains: TNA
Another tag team lost in the shuffle of WWE is The Vaudevillains. Simon Gotch and Aiden English showed promise in NXT. At their peak, they won the NXT Tag Team Championship in front of a sold out Barclays Crowd, who went absolutely nuts. The Vaudevillains have been unable to generate that kind of reaction on the main roster since being drafted to SmackDown Live.
The writing may be on the wall for them. Instead of trying another character revamp in NXT, they could potentially head to TNA. TNA’s current landscape allows unique gimmicks to be given a chance and one with a track record like The Vaudevillains’ would work. Gotch and English would have a good opportunity to stand out more in an environment like TNA.
9. Konnor: TNA
The Ascension is yet another failing tag team in WWE right now after a tremendous run in NXT. One thing that stands out is that Konnor is a much better individual performer than Viktor. Konnor’s potential could give TNA another noteworthy star for a roster in need of depth. Someone like Konnor is perfect for a rebuilding company. He has the hunger to prove he was underused and the potential to back it up.
Konnor needs to take a risk before his prime is over. His talent is not currently being showcased and it will be a huge regret for him with the way everything is going with The Ascension. Konnor and Viktor could easily continue teaming outside of WWE, but Konnor going the singles route is the better bet. TNA also needs to be proactive in finding talents like him to staying afloat.
8. Rusev: New Japan
WWE did a great job with Rusev during his first year on the roster as an undefeated monster. However, his time after that has ruined him and Rusev has never been able to regain the momentum he once had. WWE no longer views him as a main eventer or future World Champion. A change may be best for him in the long run, if he does it, before it’s too late.
New Japan is the perfect fit for someone of his skills. Rusev has the overall talent to work with names like Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenny Omega. His physical style would also work in the world of NJPW with fellow bruisers like Katsuyori Shibata and Tomohiro Ishii. Rusev’s career would see new highs as a top tier star in Japan rather than just another guy in WWE.
7. Kalisto: ROH
Kalisto has been given a few opportunities in WWE, but they always manage to hold back. The best times of his career have come as the United States Champion. Kalisto did a good job holding the title and had exciting matches against Alberto Del Rio and Ryback. However, WWE didn’t believe in him enough to continue the push for a sustainable amount of time.
Ring of Honor is in need of new talented stars to lead the company into the future. WWE continues to raid ROH and it may be time to return the favor. Someone like Kalisto has the potential to become the biggest luchador in the United States since Rey Mysterio. His fast-paced style and ability to deliver outstanding matches would make him the perfect addition to ROH.
6. Heath Slater: Lucha Underground
The small push of not being drafted in the brand split led to Heath Slater getting over big time with the WWE fan base. It culminated in Slater and Rhyno winning a tournament to become the first ever SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions. Despite getting over with little to no help from WWE, Slater is still sitting in the background with very little television time.
Slater’s strengths are as a comedic character, but he’s also solid in the ring, making Lucha Underground the best fit for him. They understand how to utilize an entertaining character in the right spot. Lucha Underground has the benefit of a unique atmosphere where wrestlers like Slater get to showcase their strengths and hide their flaws. Slater would be a huge success as a top star in LU.
5. Paige: TNA
Paige is in a very awkward position right now. WWE clearly is upset with her for her relationship with Alberto Del Rio. Paige has been suspended twice during her injury for violating the Wellness Policy and often speaks out against the company in public. It’s unlikely she’ll be happy there following her rehab, if she’s still dating Del Rio.
The controversial couple saw the first domino fall in their war with WWE when Del Rio requested his release. It’s likely Paige will have to do the same. There are fewer places for women to wrestle outside of WWE unfortunately and TNA is one of the only viable options. Paige would thrive in the talented division with matches against Gail Kim, Sienna and Jade. TNA signing Paige would give them a new face of the division to build around.
4. Apollo Crews: ROH
Apollo Crews’ athletic ability may be second to none in WWE today. Crews’ freakish combination of strength, size, speed and ability makes him a valuable prospect. Sadly, WWE has managed to do nothing with him on the main roster after an early call-up from NXT. SmackDown Live is in need of new talent, but Crews is just not getting the opportunity to break out.
Crews never got a chance in Ring of Honor during his independent run. This may be the right timing with the company in need of a new face. Crews’ marketable smile and ability to carry himself as a champion outside of the ring is more valuable to a growing company like ROH. It could be a situation of Crews going to ROH for a few years to thrive and returning to WWE as a hotter commodity.
3. The Usos: New Japan
The unsung work of The Usos has seen them become the most underrated tag team in WWE. Jimmy and Jey Uso always have great matches when put in a position to succeed. Fans and management just never appear to view them as a legitimate top tag team. The Usos’ pure talent gives them a ceiling higher than just about any other tag team in the WWE.
Leaving the WWE could be what the doctor ordered for The Usos so they can show just how amazing they are. The Usos have always appeared to be perfect fits for New Japan. They have personality through their mannerisms and actions rather than catchphrases and promos. That works better in Japan and The Usos vs. The Young Bucks could main event any show in New Japan.
2. Dolph Ziggler: TNA
Dolph Ziggler is someone desperately in need of a change. WWE never viewed him as a top star and he remained in the mid-card to waste away his glory days. Fans have stopped campaigning for Ziggler to get a push and have moved on to newer performers. Ziggler has received a little momentum with a recent heel turn, but it just seems to be too late.
We can all accept Ziggler will continue to serve as a mid-carder with the occasional main event loss for the remainder of his time in WWE. TNA is the perfect place for Ziggler to get a main event push and he’d also have more creative freedom. Ziggler would also be able to work on his side projects in comedy without restrictions being placed on him.
1. Cesaro: New Japan
The one WWE star most in need of a change is Cesaro. Vince McMahon doesn’t believe he can be a main eventer. Cesaro has the in-ring ability and connects with the fans at just about every single show he appears on, but McMahon just doesn’t think he has the “it factor” to sell tickets or keep fan interest due to his own beliefs on how a star should be presented.
Cesaro has spoken out about his frustration in WWE and also often reveals his love for New Japan. While watching NJPW on his off time, Cesaro may also be scouting future opponents. The fit would be perfect and Cesaro absolutely would find himself in the top tier of the company. NJPW would have a new World Champion contender and Cesaro’s excellence wouldn’t be held down any longer by WWE’s thumb.