Rumors and wrestling are two things that have always gone together. That was true in the days before kayfabe died and more so when newsletters began exposing the inside. It’s gotten worse with the Internet, “exclusive stories” of plans abounding, many of which are actually garbage. But sometimes, they can pay off. Earlier this year, rumors of the Hardyz jumping to WWE seemed crazy but it turned out to be true. Some workers use it to boost themselves and even WWE takes advantage to swerve fans. Thus, you have to take any rumors of guys leaving or going with a grain of salt.
Yet fans are interested, especially with the idea of who can join WWE. Many times, rumors are more wishes of fans who’d love to see a certain performer in the company. Other times, they come from WWE or the workers themselves, the circumstances pushing the idea of guys jumping to the company. It’s hard to figure out what can be true and what can’t but other times, it’s obvious when a guy seems ready to go. Here are 15 workers rumored to be headed to WWE by the end of 2017 and while some may not be true, don’t be surprised if others show up after all.
15 Taeler Hendrix
This gorgeous redhead has had a good run on the indies and even a stint in Ohio Valley Wrestling as a three-time champion but couldn’t make it work for a WWE run. She got attention as part of TNA’s “Gut Check” to win a spot on the roster but was then let go in the company’s wave of budget cuts. She eventually found her way to ROH and did well but held back a bit by the company’s lack of focus on female wrestling. Hendrix has also shown off well in Queens of Combat against great female workers. She had a tryout for WWE in 2016 but nothing came of it. Yet given her amazing beauty and great ring skills, it’s hard to believe Hendrix isn’t on WWE’s radar. Hendrix is now in Shimmer but reports are WWE is aware of her growing fanbase and adding her to NXT can give the women there a major boost. This is a lady who’s long waited for her chance to be a star and a WWE contact can offer that well.
This is a bit tricky. Montel Vontavious Porter had a great push in WWE as a play on famous athletes, complete with suits, gold chains and “endorsements.” He backed it up in the ring as a great athlete with runs as US champ and tag team champion as well. He credited the company’s wellness policy with discovering a heart condition in time to correct it. However, MVP grew tired of his lack of push and left despite having fan support.
He made a good push in Japan, winning their Intercontinental title to get more respect. His run in TNA was meant to be a big deal as their new “manager” and then heel to win the World title. But first an injury curtailed his title plans. Then, he was made the fall guy for the mess of Hernandez signing with Lucha Underground and fired. Since then, MVP has been mostly on his own and quiet but rumors abound he might want to give WWE another try as he worked out well in a large setting and be a star once more.
13 Kota Ibushi
WWE has come around to how Japan offers some major workers like Shinsuke Nakuma and Suka. Ibushi can also be a good guy, even with his history of injuries. He’s actually shown his stuff already by taking part in the Cruiserweight Classic and some fantastic matches against TJ Perkins. However, he couldn’t come to terms on a contract and so lost to Perkins in the semi-finals. His appearances in NXT got attention but Ibushi returned to Japan, becoming the latest man to wear the famed persona of Tiger Mask. With a background in martial arts, Ibushi can bring a fantastic workrate to WWE and give the cruiserweight division a much needed boost and remind fans once more how Japan offers some of the best pure workers in the business.
12 Kyle O’Reilly
Another ROH favorite rumored to be heading to WWE, Kyle O’Reilly has been plying his trade on the indies for years. He joined ROH in 2009 and soon among their best workers. He and Bobby Fish were terrific as tag team champions, facing the best in the company and shining well. O’Reilly moved onto singles work, hailed for battles with Jay Lethal before finally winning the ROH World title. His feud with Adam Cole was great but short as in early 2017, O’Reilly’s contract expired and pretty much all his stuff has been pulled from the ROH website. Thus, rumors of a jump to WWE are constant given how NXT loves getting ROH guys. O’Reilly has the skills and heat to shine in the company and his addition can make another great sign of how ROH guys can work in WWE.
11 Shelton Benjamin
A great breakout in OVW, Benjamin started in WWE teaming with Charlie Haas as Kurt Angle’s partners. Together, they held the tag titles before Benjamin got a good start in a singles run, put over Triple H. He then had a long reign as IC champion and would add a few more as well as runs as US Champion and stealing several Money in the Bank ladder bouts. Many held him as a great athlete but held back by rough character stuff (his “mama”) and promo work. Released, Benjamin did stuff in ROH as tag champion and impressed in Japan. He was set to be returning to WWE in 2016 but was held back by an injury and revealed he was a free agent. Given his great skills, Shelton can do well in NXT to improve and a return to WWE would be great as one more MITB show-stealer from him would be terrific.
10 Eli Drake
Drake had a good run in the indies and some tryouts for WWE in 2006. He was even signed as Slate Randall but only a couple of minor matches before being released. Moving to TNA, Drake has improved nicely, showing off great skills in the ring and on the mic. He had a run as their King of the Mountain champion and a feud with Ethan Carter that had good stuff. He and Tyrus formed a formidable team to attack others and Drake set up to be a top heel. It hasn’t totally clicked but he’s had feuds with Alberto Del Rio and others to keep himself going. Yet Drake seems ready to move on from TNA with reports saying he's ready to boost himself up a bit more and would work well in WWE thus the rumors of him jumping ship in a few months continue.
9 The Beautiful People
When TNA remade the Knockouts division, Velvet Sky and Angelina Love were soon two of the biggest stars. Both gorgeous knockouts, they can go from a sexy battle in lingerie to actually tough matches and proving their worth as champions. Each has reigned as Knockouts champion and tag champs as well and proven themselves as both partners and rivals. Whether working together or fighting each other, the two excel and are perfect for WWE. They can easily boost the women up in the ring, still very hot and arrogant characters yet also able to carry themselves as workers in the ring.
Each lady has been rumored to go to WWE in the past and they both seem content in TNA now. However, the rumors persist WWE might try to get them on and if they come in as a pair, the People can boost the women’s division up very nicely for good attention.
8 Ethan Carter III
WWE really missed the boat here. Michael Hutter showed promise in Ohio Valley in 2007 and then over to the main roster as Mike Hunter. He had a turn in FCW and NXT (back when it was still a reality show) but was cut in 2013. Traveling to TNA, Hutter remade himself as Ethan Carter III, the “nephew” of Dixie Carter, an arrogant brat. But he backed it up with great ring style and soon reigning as champion. Since then, ECIII has been one of the TNA’s best guys, a great heel but a good face when he has to be and his main event battles and feuds have been a highlight of the company.
It seems EC III is comfortable in TNA but rumors of his jumping to WWE have been around for a while. The guy would be good as a heel and much in the style of Bobby Roode and while he may need to change his name, Hutter clearly would love to make his second run with WWE better than the first.
7 Tessa Blanchard
As the daughter of Tully Blanchard and stepdaughter of Magnum TA, Tessa has wrestling in her blood. The athletic and lovely Tessa has been plying her trade in various indies like Shine and showed her skills. She even had a run with WWE, first as one of Adam Rose’s “Rosebuds” and then a few matches in NXT. It didn’t work out then but Tessa is improving in Lucha Underground and in Japan. As the daughter of one of the best heels ever, her addition would be a good one for NXT’s women which needs some new blood. Tessa is eager to follow in her dad’s footsteps and becoming a star and thus while she’s among the top female workers cited as being pursued by WWE. If nothing else, the idea of the daughter of Tully facing the daughter of Ric Flair is something old-school wrestling fans would love to see.
If you see Lucha Underground, you know him better as Prince Puma. On the indies, he’s Ricochet and among the most popular guys around. A lithe guy, he’s a great high flyer as well as a technical worker, brash and wild. Fans adore seeing him making fantastic leaps over the ropes and able to handle guys almost twice his size. He works well in smaller crowds so NXT would be a great start for him. WWE is said to be highly aggressive in wanting to sign him on. Ricochet is huge in Japan and that can bring some international appeal to the company. Ricochet himself has stated that he’s held back by his contract to Lucha Underground and if he can get a release, he’d sign with WWE in a heartbeat. He would be a great addition and many fans hope this rumor is true.
The son of Carlos Colon had a good run in WWE before. He debuted winning the US title off of John Cena and caught on as an arrogant guy chewing on his apple and even his own interview segment. He also had a run as IC champ and with Primo, tag team champions. Carlito could still go well in the ring but was cut in 2010 after refusing to attend rehab for an addiction to painkillers. Carlito has since stated WWE was right to cut him as he needed help and has been careful rebuilding his life since. He remains on good terms with the company, attending the Hall of Fame in 2014 to induct his father and has done great work again in WWC. WWE loves “redemption stories” and so it’s possible Carlito can make a return for another run and prove himself back in top form.
4 Kenny Omega
This may seem unlikely but then, rumors are less than exact. Still, it’s easy to see why fans are eager to see Omega in WWE. The leader of the Bullet Club actually had a run with WWE in 2006 under their Deep South brand but found it harsh and unpleasant under Bill DeMott. Since then, he’s gotten more famous with his great work in IWGP with multiple championships. In IWGP, PGW and other places, Omega is great as an awesome heel and top notch worker able to win over a crowd easily. Omega has stated he’s not that into the idea of WWE as he worries about them “watering down” the edges that make him a star.
However, reports are Triple H is quite interested and NXT does show WWE willing to let guys be more themselves. So while it’s unlikely, it’s still possible Omega could sign on and hardly the first guy to say no to WWE but then realize he’s well off there after all.
3 Jay Lethal
Lethal showed his stuff in TNA, a top performer as X Division champion and even pulling off a great impersonation of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. But ROH gave him the real push, fantastic in the ring with his style, a top worker and soon engaging fans as TV Champion. Lethal then won the World title and actually defended both belts at the same time. He even worked in a run as tag team champion. Whether a heel or a face, Lethal is fantastic and fans respond to him well. His smart attitude and great ring style are perfect for NXT and one can easily see Lethal shine as the atmosphere of the brand is quite like ROH.
Lethal has stated he would enjoy working for WWE and would love to face Chris Jericho. Given how NXT enjoys raiding ROH talent, Lethal would be a major pick and thus why rumors about him joining are high.
2 Ronda Rousey
In 2015, WWE seemed ready to push a Ronda Rousey encounter when she confronted Stephanie at WrestleMania. At the time, Rousey was at the height of her fame, undefeated, the face of UFC and female MMA and even a movie star with “Furious Seven” and talk of a “Roadhouse” remake. But then she lost her title to Holly Holm in a shocking upset and her would-be comeback was a humiliating loss. Given that, it’s safe to say Rousey’s career in MMA is pretty much done. So moving to wrestling just makes sense and rumors abound of WWE offering Rousey a big payday to come in.
True, her star has faded a bit but still a name and obviously WWE can work to make her look once more an invincible champion. Maybe she’ll need to be covered and training for the actual wrestling but Rousey still has some charisma and power that could pull fans in. If nothing else, it would get WWE major media attention and thus why many believe it will happen.
1 Adam Cole
Rising up in places like CZW, Adam Cole has become one of the biggest names in Ring of Honor. A former TV champ and three-time ROH World champion, Cole is amazingly over with the fans, a fantastic heel but can be cheered on as well. As leader of the Bullet Club, he was a top worker, a great star who held the company well. Now betrayed by them, Cole is a face but still an arrogant guy and that backing makes him a star. He’s also done great in Japan and various other indies, a serious following among hardcore fans and would be a good addition to WWE. Given the great way former ROH guys like Kevin Owens have done well in WWE, Cole seems a good contender for them. He’s a great worker, truly over as a star and getting him into NXT first would be great for feuds (he and Bobby Roode would be terrific) and then boosted to the main roster for a great new addition with Cole himself open for it.