In the modern era of professional wrestling, it seems that wrestlers have fewer places to showcase their skills at a national level. In the late 1990s, WCW and the then-named WWF were competing in the Monday Night War. ECW was emerging as a third-place competitor. After the WWF bought out its competition and rebranded as WWE, no other competition has become as much of a threat to the top wrestling organization in the world.
Regardless, the biggest stage for wrestlers to showcase their talent is not necessarily the best stage for everyone. On the contrary, there are other wrestlers working for other promotions, such as TNA/GFW, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, that should work somewhere else. Perhaps their style doesn't fit in with the promotion's brand, or maybe they deserve a larger opportunity. Yet there comes a time when some wrestlers need to take the jump in order to rejuvenate their careers.
At times, wrestlers have famously jumped ship to work with a company that better suited their wrestling style. When Gail Kim wasn't happy being a part of the WWE's Divas division, she left the ring during a battle royal, quit her job and returned to TNA's Knockouts division. When the Hardy Boyz weren't happy with new aspects of a new potential contract with TNA, they returned back to the WWE. In both of these cases, these wrestlers were able to give their careers a new sense of life. Here are 15 wrestlers that need to make a similar move in order to give their career a new sense of life.
15 Dolph Ziggler - Should Be In Ring Of Honor
In the eyes of many WWE fans, Dolph Ziggler is one of the most under-appreciated performers in the company. It's been this way for years, with Ziggler's career not having the flare as it once did a few years ago. Ziggler's recent gimmick involves him stating that while fans may like the glitz and glamour of certain gimmicks over wrestling skills. He also mentions that no one can do what he can in the ring.
While his first statement is up for debate, there's less debate on his second statement. Dolph Ziggler is an extremely talented competitor that is full of charisma. It is a shame that he is not able to showcase his talents at the main event level. With a career full of concussions, it's understandable why the WWE may not want to have him at the top of the card. Yet his talents should provide a case in favor of Ziggler having more world title reigns in the future.
14 Allie - Should be in WWE
Before Allie made her debut on TNA Impact, she was reduced to being a secretary of Maria Kanellis-Bennett who didn't know how to wrestle. In reality, the former Cherry Bomb was one of the most popular women's wrestlers from the independent scene. She also appeared on multiple TNA Knockouts Knockdown pay per views prior to her official debut as a character on TNA programming, competing against the likes of Gail Kim and Velvet Sky.
While Allie does have a Knockouts Championship reign to her credit, she only has it due to a storyline fluke. It's a shame, considering that Allie can genuinely wrestle. Her matches with Rosemary and countless others on the independent circuit prove just that. Before the WWE had its women's revolution showcased on the main roster, Allie was raising the bar for women's wrestling for years. If TNA/GFW continues to lose its talent, don't be surprised to see Allie (alongside her husband, Braxton Sutter) end up in NXT.
13 R-Truth - Should Be In TNA/GFW
In the early 2000s, R-Truth was wrestling for the WWE as K-Kwik. After failing to make a significant dent in the company, K-Kwik would go on to wrestle in TNA under his real name, Ron Killings. In TNA, he would go on to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship not just once, but twice.
After a few years in TNA, Killings would go on to return to his former employer and wrestle as R-Truth. While R-Truth would go on to have some higher-card feuds and multiple Tag Team Championship reigns, he was never able to excel as a singles competitor like he was in TNA. Perhaps if R-Truth returns to the company where he reached his peak for one last run, he may be able to have one last shot at glory.
12 Io Shirai - Should Be In Lucha Underground
A few months ago, Io Shirai shocked fans when she accepted a WWE contract offer. However, after being signed to a WWE deal, she discovered that she had a neck injury during WWE medical tests. When she was cleared to return to the ring, news came out that her contract offer was rescinded, with the WWE allegedly not wanting to hire talent with a history of concussion- or neck-related issues.
Yet before Shirai received an offer from WWE, she competed as Hitokiri on Lucha Underground. For many Americans, this was their first exposure to Shirai. Shirai was able to showcase her talents against a performer twice her size and appear to be a convincing threat, winning the match in the process. While we may not see Shirai in the WWE, her hard-hitting, unique offense should grace future episodes of Lucha Underground.
11 Johnny Impact - Should Be In WWE
From Johnny Nitro to Johnny Impact, the man best known as John Morrison has held a wide variety of gimmicks over his 15 year career in the business. However, after leaving the WWE in 2011, Johnny has gone on to become one of the most in-demand names in the entire business.
After a six year break from the WWE, it's time to see Johnny Impact make his return to the company. With multiple World Title reigns across multiple promotions, he's become more credible of a threat than ever. He could also have matches with the likes of AJ Styles, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe on a regular basis. If the WWE were to bring back Johnny, they would be smart to use him to his fullest potential.
10 Hideo Itami - Should Be In Pro Wrestling Noah
WWE's developmental territory has taken plenty of risks that have finally launched itself into a thriving, third brand for the company. Yet the company has also had certain performers not live up to expectations into the developmental facility. The biggest bust of them all may very well be the man formerly known as Kenta.
Itami gained prominence wrestling in Japan for companies such as All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah. For years, he was regarded as one of the top wrestlers in the entire world. When he debuted in NXT in 2014, Itami was expected to be the WWE's star of the future. Instead, Itami has suffered two major injuries that left him out of action for more than a year and a half. In other words, Itami has been out of the ring for half of his time in NXT, and his momentum has been halted multiple times. Itami has not had the opportunity to be built as a major star, and with other top talent being signed to the company, it doesn't appear like Itami will get that chance anytime soon.
9 Sin Cara - Should Be In Chikara
The second Sin Cara has largely failed to live up to the expectations of the former Mistico (and first man to play Sin Cara), whom also failed to reach the highly set demands set for him. When the first Sin Cara left the WWE, the WWE wanted to retain the character. So, they decided to give the gimmick to Hunico and re-brand him as the second Sin Cara.
It didn't work. It hasn't worked. Even when the former Hunico was paired with Kalisto to form the Lucha Dragons, Kalisto always outshined the newer Sin Cara. Yet right before Sin Cara was signed to a WWE developmental contract, he was working for CHIKARA. It was there where WWE talent officials noticed him, and it may be there where he allows his career to be resurged.
8 Laurel Van Ness - Should Be In WWE
A graduate of Lance Storm's wrestling school, Laurel Van Ness was first introduced to national wrestling fans by Stephanie McMahon as the woman Daniel Bryan was allegedly having an affair with. This was during the first few months of her career. She would go on to be cast in the WWE's 2015 edition of Tough Enough, only to be eliminated after a judge saved a fellow contestant.
It wouldn't take long for TNA/GFW executives to take notice of Laurel, and she would later be signed on as Laurel Van Ness. She's become one of the most entertaining characters on the entire program and has considerably grown as an in-ring talent. Yet considering the direction the company's Knockouts division is headed, Laurel may want to consider jumping ship. She has multiple connections with the company, including her boyfriend, Zach Ryder, multiple friends employed by the company and her Megan Miller storyline. When Brie Bella comes back, the perfect opportunity may open up for Laurel.
7 Apollo Crews - Should Be In Dragon Gate
When fans think of Apollo Crews, they likely have two thoughts: he's super talented in the ring, and he lacks charisma. All Crews seems to do is smile way too much, and there has not been a significant reason to invest in his character throughout his time in the WWE.
Before Crews signed with the WWE, he was known as Uhaa Nation and wowed crowds with his performances at Dragon Gate shows. Yet Crews hasn't been able to keep up with the WWE's increased focus on promos and character development. Either Crews needs to return to NXT and properly develop a character, or his time on the main roster will be limited. It doesn't seem he's ever going to be any bigger than he is now, so he might as well go somewhere where he has a higher ceiling.
6 Cesaro - Should Be In New Japan Pro Wrestling
Cesaro has been recognized by the Wrestling Observer Newslestter as the most underrated wrestler for the last four years. If that does not tell you how Cesaro isn't achieving the success that he should be achieving in the company, then I don't know what else might not.
Cesaro has more than the talent in the ring. He also can get the crowd behind him with his ring antics and his infamous Swing. Although Cesaro has not reached the top of the card as a singles performer, he does have multiple Championship reigns to his credit. But what matters the most is that Cesaro is not where he should be. Cesaro should be allowed to showcase his hard-hitting uppercuts on a platform that won't hold him back. New Japan Pro Wrestling is the best place for him to do just that.
5 Alicia Fox - Should Be In TNA/GFW
Now, some people may say that TNA/GFW is a sinking ship. However, the company does have one saving grace - it's Knockout's Division. It's pioneer, Gail Kim, was a former WWE talent who was criminally misused during her time with the promotion. Alicia Fox also shares that distinction.
Fox has been with the WWE for eleven years, with nine of those years spent on the main roster. She has been used to put other talents over and to fill in for other storylines, most recently as Noam Dar's girlfriend on 205 Live. While their alliance was the most entertaining offering on the show, it still hasn't allowed Fox to show what she can do in the ring. Like Gail Kim, Victoria and Tiffany before her, Fox should consider heading over to TNA and providing its legendary Knockouts division with a revival. Many of the newer Knockouts, like Ava Storie and MJ Jenkins, are still relatively green and could use the guidance of an established veteran like The Foxxy One.
4 Eddie Edwards - Should Be In Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
There are very few things that TNA/GFW had going for it in 2017. One of those things was Eddie Edwards' storyline involving his wife, Davey Richards and Angelina Love. Now that Richards and Love are no longer with the company, it feels that Eddie Edwards and his wife are lost in the shuffle.
The most shocking thing about this is that Eddie Edwards is a former TNA/GFW World Heavyweight Champion. While his reign didn't last long, it was clear that the company did see potential in him at some point. Yet that potential has clearly faded, as Edwards has faded into relative obscurity. Edwards should consider returning to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, where he achieved some of his greatest success on the independent circuit, to reboot his career.
3 Candice LeRae - Should Be In WWE
With one of the most contagious personalities in all of wrestling, Candice LeRae has become a major fan favorite. Her rise to fame would come in large part due to her tag team with Joey Ryan, but Candice has proven that she can more than handle her own in singles competition. She received some of the largest crowd reactions during the Mae Young Classic tapings and has one of the largest followings of any wrestler on the indies.
If there is one female name the WWE needs to sign from the indies, it is Candice. They could do so much with her. Even if she had to give up the Ballsplex, Candice's personality and wrestling abilities could make her the biggest female name in the company since at least AJ Lee, if not Trish Stratus and Lita.
2 Aiden English - Should Be In ROH
What in the world has happened to Aiden English? With one of the worst wrestling records of the year, Aiden English just seems to be lost after losing his former tag-team partner, Simon Gotch. English's gimmick seems to be as much of a joke as Jillian Hall's ear-cringing singing gimmick from the late 2000s, which took away from her credibility as a wrestler. The same is happening to English, and it is a damn shame.
A stint with Ring of Honor may help give English his career a second wind. While English is not a terrible in-ring performer, he doesn't particularly stand out among his peers. A run in the indies, especially Ring of Honor, may allow that to change over time. Then he could possibly return to WWE as a bigger star. Much like...
1 Cody - Should Be In WWE
Stardust was one of the most awkward gimmicks to ever be introduced to the WWE Universe. It was clear that Cody Rhodes was frustrated with it and wanted to be free. The WWE was foolish to release Cody from his contract, but it most definitely proved to be the blessing that his career so desperately needed.
In the last year, Cody has dominated wrestling all throughout the world. He's wrestled at Wrestle Kingdom, won the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Title, wrestled at Bound for Glory and became a member of the Bullet Club all within one calendar year. This will likely never be repeated again. The WWE won't even let Cody use the Rhodes name. That should tell you how big of a star Cody has become. It should also tell you that the WWE is aware of how much of a mistake it was to let such a strong talent go. The WWE would be wise to rectify their mistake and re-sign him as soon as they can.