WWE makes moves constantly to recruit, train and entice the best wrestlers they can from the independents and other promotions, and they have a lot of the cards when it comes to negotiations. WWE has the worldwide brand recognition that can change a wrestlers life, making them a household name and backing that up with the rewards that that entails. Not every wrestler has a dream run in WWE however, creative differences more often than not the reason the two parties cannot come to an agreement, so outside talent considering making the jump when WWE comes calling have plenty to consider with the decision.
In recent years, under the influence of Triple H with his NXT pathway and the Performance Center, WWE has amassed perhaps their most impressive roster yet with most talents experiencing huge growth in their marketability and exposure (AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, etc..) while only a few big signings end up not working out (Mistico, Sami Callihan, Austin Aries..). Overall the WWE experience is much more than just business, it is the promotion that most people have seen first when it comes to wrestling, inspiring their future dreams of superstardom and remaining the lofty goal at the top of their career lists, and that is a strong attraction to resist.
Since WWE enjoys that lofty position in potential superstars' minds, signings are always happening or about to happen. With that knowledge here are some recruits we expect to find their way into WWE rosters in the coming year.
15 Shock - EC3
Although contracted to Impact Wrestling officially, you can tell EC3 is not pleased with his current position in the company and you know WWE is interested in getting one of their most successful alumni back.
EC3 was badly underestimated in WWE en route to being let go, but when he became a franchise player in Impact Wrestling you know Vince looked at the potential money he left on the table and would reconsider everything he knew about the former Derrick Bateman.
Currently the Impact Grand Champion, it looks like Eli Drake has usurped EC3's position as the trash talking heel atop the pack so EC3's position within Impact, despite being a champion, cannot be satisfying for him. Look for EC3 to return to WWE (albeit with a new gimmick) as he looks to take his experience practically carrying an entire promotion on his shoulders back to the 'E.
14 Shock - Ivelisse
One of Lucha Underground's best acquisitions right from the start, Ivelisse may just find that the time is right to return to WWE and show them what they missed out on the first time she came through. This would shock because of the unpleasant parting of ways their first time around, but most of the major issues between the two have since been moved on.
Appearing on the 2011 season of Tough Enough, after being eliminated through injury she ended up in WWE developmental and was ultimately one of the accusers of Bill DeMott before his ousting. Now that Matt Bloom is running the Performance Center, and by all accounts, it's a much better environment to be in, Ivellise could take the opportunity during Lucha Underground's uncertain hiatus to jump ship and take another shot with the WWE.
Ivellise would be a valuable member of either women's division and has the look, skills, and personality to capture her share of the WWE fanbase.
13 Obvious - Ricochet
Considered perhaps the best high-flyer on the planet at the moment, able to do insane acrobatics as well as flawless sequences on the mat, Ricochet has been being courted by WWE for months now, with several indie companies and other larger promotions indicating that he may very well be off the market soon and headed to the big leagues.
Becoming synonymous with quality aerial wrestling via his matches with Will Ospreay and gaining more televised notoriety under the Prince Puma mask in Lucha Underground, Ricochet is someone WWE can build their cruiserweight division around as a legitimate attraction.
With rumors the Neville situation might be resolved after all, Ricochet and the King Of The Cruiserweights is a match that could legitimately main event PPVs and finally get the division over its hump. Ricochet is seen as a vital ingredient and WWE have come calling.
12 Shock - The Guerrillas Of Destiny
They may have to tone down their in-ring banter but Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa have plenty of what WWE looks for in their tag teams. They are impactful, agile, wild with a great look, bringing an energy that would liven up whichever tag team division they land in. With Tanga Loa already having had a small run in WWE as Camacho the lines of communication are always open and bringing these two in to feud with their 'cousins' The Usos would be money.
Currently running amok in NJPW as part of The Bullet Club, G.O.D may be reluctant to give up their pursuit of a fourth IWGP Tag Team Championship reign, but the lure of truly worldwide success in WWE is a siren song that calls to all pro wrestlers eventually.
11 Shock - Rey Mysterio
The ultimate underdog, a former World and WWE Champion, the most famous luchador on the planet is looking more and more likely to be heading for a final run under Vince's banner.
Last seen a few years ago in WWE, Rey has since taken a lighter schedule around the world, most notably in Lucha Underground. Rey wouldn't be expected to return to the grueling WWE schedule full-time, merely to lend his unmatched cruiserweight credentials to the new 205 Live division as a final addition among the many WWE are looking to as ways to cause the division to break out.
Rey's last few appearances in WWE weren't exactly his perfect swansong so the chance to have a thunderous impact before he hangs up the boots is likely to see him sign on the dotted line one more time.
10 Obvious - Rockstar Spud
A unique performer who has carved out a distinct niche in Impact Wrestling as the sniveling suckup to whichever evil entity is currently on the warpath. Rockstar Spud is a hilarious performer, willing to be the butt of jokes and the highlight of a storyline, often adding that extra something which makes a thing work where it might not have without him.
While he was never too badly marginalized in Impact Wrestling, a visa paperwork issue apparently caused his work status with the company to fall apart, opening the door for WWE to snare the British grappler for their UK, or more likely, cruiserweight division.
As someone who consistently gets good reactions and creates memorable television, it's no wonder WWE see him as a useful acquisition as they build 205 Live into another successful pillar of their network.
9 Shock - War Machine
The two huge brawling viking-types, Hanson and Raymond Rowe are tearing it up in ROH and over in New Japan, but the bright lights that Vince McMahon offers are getting glaring as this pair come into focus.
Having won both the ROH and IWGP tag team championships since joining together the two have established their credentials internationally, which is a plus because WWE is in a phase where scooping well-travelled talent seems to be a priority.
Hanson has had a couple of tryouts with the WWE Performance Center but right after his most recent one in 2014 he went to ROH and won their top prospects tournament, defeating his future partner in the final.
Now as a seasoned pairing these two would look right at home in either NXT or on the main rosters and WWE is known for snapping up sizable competitors.
8 Shock - Juice Robinson (formerly CJ Parker)
Regarded as one of the most improved wrestlers over the last coupe of years, Juice Robinson could find himself in a similar position to Drew McIntyre in that his good work gets him another shot in the big time, except this time having a much larger impression.
Excelling higher and higher during his stint in NJPW, Juice is a versatile competitor who WWE may see in a completely different light from when he left. His flower-power, environmental gimmick now long forgotten, he could re-enter NXT or even bypass it and find success on Raw or SmackDown now that his confidence and skillset are worthy of the jump.
It's becoming common for wrestlers who fail in WWE to 'find themselves' outside of the WWE umbrella, and Juice Robinson is one of the best examples of that, and would be good for WWE to bring 'home' to help the impression that they are the ultimate goal for pro wrestlers whether they've been there before or not.
7 Obvious - 'The Cowboy' James Storm
He's well along in years, but no more than his former partner Bobby Roode. He's already had a brief run in NXT, but anyone who's seen The Cowboy knows that given a larger role he could be the top guy in WWE's developmental promotion for a couple of years, no problem. If WWE felt the urge, he would be a valuable addition to the main rosters due to his ability to make people care about feuds he's in, whether there is a championship on the line or not, and that is one of WWE's favorite features.
The Cowboy has had some of the best and most underrated blood feuds of the last decade. He made Gunner, another recent WWE signing, into a bonafide loved face when he was dealing with James Storm at his most evil. James Storm could slip into a Wyatt Family reunion (what are we up to on those? 6?) and elevate the entire group by virtue of his mouth alone.
In short, James Storm's tenure in Impact Wrestling coming to an end is a chance for the greater wrestling world to finally see what this underrated former world champion can do and Triple H knows what Storm can bring to NXT at the very least.
6 Shock - Cody Hall
The son of Hall Of Famer Scott 'Razor Ramon' Hall, Cody Hall has so many of the attributes and traits that WWE loves in a wrestler that it's a bit odd he hasn't been talked about as a prospect more often. Now with his NJPW stint over and going around in Pro Wrestling Noah, he has a more open schedule that may allow WWE to have another look at the big young talent to see if his fathers talent for the wrestling business outweighs his penchant for getting into trouble.
Cody has plenty Vince will want to exploit regardless, not least of which is a sheer size that makes Hall stand out in a crowd. His familial connection to Scott Hall, now that he is in the Hall Of Fame and WWE's good graces, can only quicken the pathway to being signed into NXT where his raw skills can be further honed into something WWE can use.
5 Shock - Rosemary
For the simple fact that if WWE is keen on ever bringing Bray Wyatt's Sister Abigail to life she is the perfect fit for the role and could add so much to both Bray, any Wyatt reunion, and the Raw women's division.
Currently hotter than she's ever been for good reasons (kicking ass everywhere) and not so good ones (the Sexy Star incident), Rosemary is the type of character worker that WWE usually comes up with for themselves. Her ability to deliver creepy promos (without getting lost in cryptic Bray nonsense) sets her apart from the pack, male or female. Her mannerisms in the ring flesh out her dark, joker-esque motif to boot.
Rosemary is a ready-made WWE entity, all that remains is for her to sign up and start making t-shirt money hand over fist.
4 Obvious - Ronda Rousey
The former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion and WWE have been circling each other for a while, Rousey appearing at both WrestleMania 31 and the recent May Young Classic tournament. Rousey has been linked with professional wrestling for years due to her name that she personally got the blessing of Roddy Piper for, and now with her appearances and being close friends with fellow Horsewoman Shayna Baszler who has recently signed, it seems inevitable.
Rousey is many things that WWE can't resist. She has personality, looks and a legit background that promotes their division to the world. She has been in movies, can be sweet or dangerous at the drop of a hat, and looks at home in the ring no matter how many sides. She has genuine cross-over, mainstream appeal and if you think WWE isn't going to bend over backward to accommodate her you're kidding yourself. Expect an announcement before next year is even half over, more likely around WrestleMania.
3 Shock - Kota Ibushi
WWE doesn't often miss their man and it was obvious that during the Cruiserweight Classic they saw Ibushi as the tournament attraction the same way Kairi Sane was for the May Young Classic. now that some dust has settled, look for WWE to make another play for the silky-smooth, enigmatic flyer.
Ibushi stated around the time of the tournament that he was happy to do one-off deals with WWE but wasn't looking to be tied into a full-time contract, however, Ibushi remains a massive target for WWE as that marquee headliner that can be used to promote the entire 205 Live show around.
With other potential signees on this list to complete the package, Ibushi would be another way for WWE to make their cruiserweight shows unmissable.
2 Shock - Jay Lethal
This one would be late next year due to remaining contracts, but Jay Lethal is one of the best wrestlers walking the planet at the moment. Moreover, he has proven, not unlike Eric Young and Daniel Bryan, that he is capable of performing in any role you can imagine, from skillful comedic wrestler to absolutely maniacal heel to uber-talented world champion. WWE always has a use for someone with that kind of versatility.
While the fans of Lethal would hope for him to be signed to WWE only if he's going to be taken seriously, as his excessive talents dictate, knowing that he can have fans rolling with laughter as easily as screaming for his blood or cheering for his success makes him lucrative to WWE.
Triple H has to be a fan of Lethal's legendary Ric Flair impression as well.
1 Obvious - Toni Storm
One of the highlights from the May Young Classic and yet when she was offered a WWE contract the A-NZ standout turned them down to continue reigning as the World Of Stardom champion. She's only just turned 22 and WWE are likely looking at her as a longterm prospect so look for them to turn up the heat and sweeten the deal for Toni Storm.
With her oodles of personality and ring skills that are already well past her age range she'd have a shot, but with her look as well there's a chance Vince has her picture already framed on his desk waiting to call her up before Hunter can even give her a cup of coffee in NXT. Blondes with expressive personalities and 'the look' have Vince's full attention, making Toni Storm's potential signing less a matter of if, but when.