The WWE roster is always changing, and throughout 2016 we saw a plethora of new faces like AJ Styles, The Club, every new cruiserweight, and some talented women such as Ember Moon and Nikki Cross. With Triple H gaining more influence backstage and always running NXT, the constant influx of new stars will no doubt continue. And as always, fans will have their favorite performers that they’d love to see in WWE, but for some reason or another, that may not happen.
With all that in mind, we’ve decided to assess and list 15 stars who NEED to be in WWE by the end of 2017, for their own benefit, or WWE’s.
15 Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal is one of the most underrated performers in the world today, and after long tenures in both TNA and ROH, he has solidified himself as one of the best professional wrestlers on the planet. It may be about time that he brought his unique style of offense and personality to the WWE. Similar to most people on this list, Lethal is getting up there in age, but WWE would be stupid to not look at someone with the entertainment potential and experience like Lethal. At worst he could slot in as a main eventer on NXT or a midcard guy on the main roster, but if the WWE brought him in and gave him the freedom as either a babyface or a heel, he could be a potential World Champion in the company within the next few years.
14 Broken Matt and Brother Nero
Wrestling is a weird business, and if you told anyone that the Hardy Boyz who came to fame in the early 2000s as a team would be among the most talked-about performers in 2016, people would look at you like you were crazy. But thanks to the reinvention of their characters in TNA, “Broken” Matt and Brother Nero have again become relevant, and after being released from their TNA contracts, they look to be making their way home to the WWE. If given similar freedom like they were in TNA, they could be main event stars once again. Matt has spoken about his desire to introduce his Broken World to the WWE Universe, but with WWE’s track record, it’s hard to imagine they will receive this freedom. Either way, it will be great to see Matt and Jeff back in the WWE after several years away.
13 Joe Coffey
When we think about the wrestling boom that’s going on in the U.K., most fans will think of Zack Sabre Jr., Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll or even Wade Barrett, but there are many performers that are just as talented who don’t get the recognition. One of those is the Ironman, Joe Coffey. Coffey has been wrestling for several years now, and as a big man, he shows off his incredible agility, which makes him very versatile and a perfect fit for the WWE, especially NXT. He also holds a career-defining, clean victory over the legendary Kurt Angle, which speaks to how highly promotions and Kurt himself think of Coffey, and why he should follow the path of Big Damo to NXT.
12 The Briscoes
Ring of Honor has become famous for its incredible performers like AJ Styles, Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Samoa Joe and countless others, but there is one tag team that has been there since the beginning, and they are one of the best in the world today. That team is the Briscoes, and somehow throughout their decade long tenure in Ring of Honor, fans have never become tired of the genuinely tough, hard hitting duo. Now, it may be time for them to move on for the end of their illustrious careers. Their loyalty to Ring of Honor may prevent this, but with the lack of star teams on the main roster, or even NXT, these guys would fit in perfectly, and would provide unique foil to the likes of American Alpha, DIY, The Revival or even the Authors of Pain.
11 Kyle O’Reilly
Kyle O’Reilly is a phenomenal technical talent, and because that style isn’t as talked about as much as the high-flying or hard-hitting style, Kyle has been incredibly underrated in his time with Ring of Honor, PWG and even New Japan. Whether he is competing on his own en route to winning his first ever Ring of Honor World Title in early 2017 or as a team with Bobby Fish as part of the very successful ReDragon, O’Reilly always manages to have good matches, as he is very talented at switching his styles to work successfully with any style of opponent. He would be perfect for NXT where there are many talented performers to compete with, and he could become a huge star for the company.
10 Drew Galloway
Drew McIntyre made his debut in WWE to high expectations which came all the way from the Boss, Vince McMahon himself, but after failing to really connect with the fans, he was reduced to jobber as a part of 3MB and eventually released, putting him back on the independent scene once again. Not one to be discouraged, Galloway promised that he would return U.K. wrestling to what it once was, and he has definitely not failed at that task thus far. He has brought star power to every company he has worked for, and is putting on great matches with everyone. This is an example of what a performer can do with the freedom that WWE doesn’t often allow, but if they brought him in again and let him be himself, the "Chosen One" may finally live up to those lofty expectations.
9 Nixon Newell
Over the past year, the WWE has done a good job presenting the women in their company as equal to the men, which is a big step forward compared to the early Divas Revolution of 2015. But with all the promotions to the main roster, NXT’s division has been struggling, with the exception of Asuka, Ember Moon and Nikki Cross. With that, and the upcoming women’s tournament booked in the vein of the Cruiserweight Classic, WWE may need to to restock its women’s division with talented and experienced performers, and one of the best out there is the U.K.’s Nixon Newell. Unlike others on this list, Newell hasn’t travelled the world and performed for every promotion in the U.K, but she is incredibly talented both in the ring and on the mic. With a great look, she would make a great addition to any roster WWE would love to put her on.
8 Marty Scurll
We all know that the European wrestling scene is heating up big-time, with many new stars and great wrestling promotions rising to worldwide prominence. One of the brightest young stars among them is the Villain, Marty Scurll. He has a very unique look and is one of the most technically sound performers in the entire world, and he has starred in Ring of Honor, Rev Pro, WCPW and even PWG. He has also racked up several Championships along the way. He is one of few on this list that would be able to make the jump straight to the main roster, as he can work with any kind of performer inside a wrestling ring. Still, NXT would be the perfect starting point for him, as he could develop his promo skills more, which would make him one of the most impressive and well-rounded performers in the world.
7 War Machine
The tag team division in WWE is very up and down, as there is talent with DIY, The Revival, American Alpha and the Club, but they just aren’t booked the same as singles competitors, with the divisions and their stars often ending up as nothing more than afterthoughts. It’s gotten so bad that current tag champs The Usos are reportedly not even having a title match at WrestleMania, meaning the company needs to promote some teams from NXT and restock there, or bring some teams straight to the main roster. Either way, one team that could slot in perfectly would be Raymond and Hanson Rowe, also known as Ring of Honor’s War Machine. The two are talented performers and quite young in the business, and if the WWE wanted to sculpt them at the Performance Center, they would be future Tag Team Champions for sure.
6 Candice LeRae
When wrestling fans talk about women they’d love to see join the current women’s revolution, the name they always come to first is Candice LeRae, as she is quite possibly the best female performer in the world. With the upcoming women’s tournament, this is the chance for WWE to pull the trigger, as she could add some star power too it, as she is one of the most diverse and impressive in-ring performers out there. Legitimacy is something the WWE has lacked also, and with a performer who often competes against men, that legitimacy comes in spades with LeRae. With her husband Johnny Gargano in NXT at the moment, it would be the perfect time to bring her in as the next challenger to Asuka or Ember Moon.
5 Matt Riddle
Matt Riddle may be ridiculously young in the wrestling business, with just two years combined between his training and wrestling after his UFC career came to an end, but he has already become one of the best independent wrestlers in the entire world. It's only a matter of time until the WWE come calling. He has a unique and likeable look, and has perfected strong style, which would make him a great opponent for the likes of Kassius Ohno, Bobby Roode or any top star in NXT, which is where he would undoubtedly land. This one isn’t as likely as his fans would hope, as he has expressed his love for the independent wrestling landscape and lifestyle, but if Triple H gets on the phone with him, it may be hard to resist.
4 Kota Ibushi
When Kota Ibushi was listed as an official competitor in the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016, fans worldwide rejoiced, because it seemed that one of the best cruiserweights in wrestling history was about to make his way into the WWE. However, he had unfinished business to tend to in Japan, and he didn’t stay on with the company following his tremendous run in the tournament. With the division struggling to retain the attention and adulation of the crowd, now would be a perfect time to make the Golden Star an offer he can’t refuse, as he would bring major star power and legitimacy to the division. If that’s not the route WWE want to follow, they could have him head to NXT, where he would also have the same effect, and no doubt win back fans that have been losing interest in the current product. Either way, signing a big name like Ibushi would definitely bring new (or return old) fans to the product.
3 Joe Hendry
Basically every person on this list makes it due to their diversity, but their in ring performance is their strong suit, but that isn’t the case with the "Local Hero," Joe Hendry, who is one of the most charismatic and entertaining performers that the independent wrestling scene has ever seen. With his unique take on the Rock’s charisma and his song parodies, Hendry is just made for WWE, as he could become the huge star they have been waiting to find, and with fellow U.K and ICW stars like Big Damo and Noam Dar now in WWE, Hendry has to be on their radar. He is still young in life and the business, but if he could get to the Performance Center to develop his in ring game, Hendry could become a megastar.
Up until Austin Aries debuted in the division, the Cruiserweights have mostly faltered on Monday Night RAW (although the blame is shared with the writing team), and the main reasons for that is the lack of time given to matches and character development, and the fact that they no longer stand out from the rest of the show, due to limitations being put on their in-ring work. The one person in the world that could truly make a change to that is Ricochet, who has solidified himself as the best pure high-flyer in wrestling today, perhaps in recent memory, and since he has now been freed up by his Lucha Underground contract, the timing is perfect. Of course these limitations need to become more lenient or be lifted altogether, but the sight of Ricochet up against the likes of Austin Aries, Neville or even Cedric Alexander means that the division could truly become must-see TV.
1 Adam Cole
There is a lot of big names that we could put at this spot, names like the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega or even Kazuchika Okada, but simply put, those men are all better off in Japan and Ring of Honor and PWG, whereas someone like Adam Cole (who is very successful in those places too) would thrive in the WWE, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Simply put, Adam Cole is built for the WWE, and he has made no secrets about his desires to join the company. As it seems, he would make a perfect addition to NXT following WrestleMania 33. The great thing about Adam is that he may not excel at any one phase of wrestling, but he is above average at absolutely everything, possessing great in ring work, a great look and he is talented at playing either a babyface or a heel, making him perfect to work the main events of NXT in late 2017 and beyond.