Personnel management has always been a priority for WWE, and much like any professional sports team, they're constantly looking for upgrades. In the days before utter dominance on a global level from WWE, it was much more difficult in some cases to snag the top stars from other promotions. Now, all it takes is for the individual wrestlers to be convinced of the opportunity. Even though WWE is by far the most popular promotion in the world, there are still tons of popular wrestlers internationally and in the American Indys that are candidates for making the switch.
Likewise, there are wrestlers on the current WWE main roster that are doing nothing more than eating up space. For most new acquisitions made, they'll have to relinquish a member of the roster that just isn't pulling their weight, and there are plenty of those right now littered throughout the main roster. With the landscape of the roster as it is now, we can predict some exciting new additions, as well as some necessary subtractions. Let's take a look at some of this potential roster shakeup, or at least what would ideally happen.
Ranked below are 8 wrestlers WWE should try to land and 7 that they should release immediately.
15 Jay Lethal (Try To Land)
You'd have to think that a Lethal appearance in WWE will be coming down the pike at some point, given how much of a staple he's been in ROH and TNA over the years, as well as the American wrestling scene in general. He's over with just about any fanbase, and it just makes too much sense for it not to happen. He's be an addition to the roster that would succeed immediately, and could instantly be placed in some kind of main event-caliber situation.
Regardless of how much current interest there is on WWE's end, this would be a pretty safe bet for a successful acquisition. Lethal is still young enough to make an impact on the main roster, and should be considered for an opportunity.
14 Goldust (Release)
There's really nothing left for Dustin Rhodes to do in WWE, after portraying the Goldust character for the last 20 years or so, along with its many variations and spinoffs. At this point, he's just collecting a paycheck, and while you certainly can't blame him for it, you can blame WWE management for not dropping the character all together. At this point, there's little left for the character to prove at all.
It's really just taking up a roster spot, as well as valuable TV time that could be used on a younger wrestler. This is really a no-brainer, as there really is no significant audience for Goldust anymore. The money and time would simply be better spent elsewhere with other talent.
13 Tetsuya Naito (Try To Land)
By any metric, Naito is one of the best and most successful wrestlers in NJPW at the moment, and he deserves a chance to crossover into the American wrestling scene at the highest level. While he may not be the biggest star in NJPW right now (more on that later), he's still in the highest tier of the company, and a move to WWE would be a major shakeup that could pay dividends with more peripheral audiences.
At the very least, you know that most times Naito is going to give you a great match. He's one of the best wrestlers in the world today, and the caliber of matches he could have in WWE would be top-tier against the likes of A.J. Styles and Seth Rollins. This is one that WWE should seek out, as it would up the top-end of their roster quality.
12 Rusev (Release)
Coming off of his inexplicable and embarrassingly-booked loss at SummerSlam, which saw him last less than a minute against Randy Orton, it's clear that there aren't any concrete plans for Rusev moving forward. There hasn't been a thorough burying of a notable WWE name like that in quite some time, and it would be a surprise if he makes through the year on the main roster.
In actuality, Rusev has been running on fumes for a while now. His character is distinctly removed from this era, and while that can definitely be overcome, he doesn't have the wrestling ability that is necessary to make it work. Rusev probably accomplished more than he should have during his run in WWE, but it looks to be coming to an end soon, given recent booking decisions.
11 The Young Bucks (Try To Land)
By far the single biggest tag team in the United States that has never appeared together in a WWE ring, The Young Bucks should be in line for a chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage. Some will say they've been derivative of other tag teams throughout wrestling history (The Hardy Boyz, namely), but there's no denying that Matt and Nick Jackson have had stellar matches all over the world for roughly a decade now.
Whether or not there any kind of imminent plans to bring them into WWE is still up in the air, but there's no doubt they could give a shot in the arm to a still-struggling tag team division. Needless to say, if they were able to sign to WWE, it would be a major acquisition in the wrestling world.
10 Baron Corbin (Release)
It's clear that WWE is trying to make Corbin into a star, and it's also abundantly clear that he doesn't have what it takes. A former NFL (practice squad) football player, it's the classic switch from the gridiron to the wrestling ring that we've seen so many others make. However, unlike Ron Simmons or Bill Goldberg, Corbin doesn't have the natural charisma necessary to make it in the world of wrestling.
Granted, a roller coaster-esque booking situation hasn't helped him any, but just watching him in the ring, it doesn't scream "main event talent." Fan response has been lukewarm at best, and at this point management would be wise to cut their losses and move on. There are a bevy of established stars and other wrestlings within the company who are more deserving of the opportunity.
9 Matt Riddle (Try To Land)
Riddle is one of the most intriguing names on the Indy circuit right now, and a real possibility for a future WWE signing. He's competed notably in MMA and amateur wrestling in the past, and has been building his credentials as a pro wrestler in recent years. Though he got a bit of a late start in the business, Riddle has a great look, has shown some solid in-ring ability, and seems primed to make a WWE run at some point in the relatively near future.
He's already faced off against some notable names in the business, including a match against Cody Rhodes recently. If he keeps stays on the same trajectory, we'll probably see him in a WWE ring within the next two years. There's no telling what his ceiling is, but his raw skills have been nothing short of impressive so far.
8 Apollo Crews (Release)
At this point, it doesn't look like WWE is intent on doing anything notable with Crews, as he continues to stagnate. Having been on the main roster for well over a year now, there hasn't been any kind of effort to display him as a top talent, and now his time is likely running thin. It doesn't look like there will be any opportunity for him to earn an upper-tier role in the company.
In a way, WWE is doing him a disservice by keeping him on the roster, and refusing to give him a significant push. Crews is in the prime of his career at 30-years-old, and could easily latch on elsewhere. For now, they haven't been able to generate anything notable regarding his character.
7 Jay Briscoe (Try To Land)
Both of the Briscoes have been world-class wrestlers since their debut in the early-2000s, and one of the best tag teams in the world. They've done notable work for many promotions, but WWE is the lone significant absence on their resume. While Mark is still wrestling as well, Jay has been the one with more singles success, including two runs with the ROH World Title.
His natural charisma and multi-layered wrestling ability would go over instantly in WWE, and there would be a fair amount of fan recognition as well. Whether or not either of the Briscoes would ever entertain a move to WWE is up in the air, but if they did it would be a talent addition with a ton of potential, and a long time coming for one of the best wrestlers in the world.
6 Rhyno (Release)
While he's had several solid stints in WWE, it's really time to cut ties with Rhyno. The booking surrounding him has been haphazard at best, and it's clear that he's pretty much being used as enhancement talent at this point. With little in the way of creative storylines or marquee matches to his name anymore, it's really not worth keeping him on the roster just for the name.
Teaming with Heath Slater pretty much cemented the fact that he would be on his way out sooner than later, and now it's just a matter of time. With no real hope for any kind of ascension through the ranks at this point in his career, WWE is better off just cutting him all together, and his name should be announced on the next major wave of roster cuts.
5 Ethan Carter III (Try To Land)
Impact Wrestling and GFW may be a trash heap of bad decisions, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't produce any worthwhile talent. Carter is one of the more intriguing stars in the wrestling world right now, and a trip to WWE wouldn't be out of the question. In fact, it was in WWE that he got his first major exposure in wrestling as Derrick Bateman. Unfortunately, Carter wasn't able to make it past the developmental territories, and later on, NXT.
But there's been some significant time between then and now, and another run seems to be in order at some point down the line. The fact is that Carter is one of the most notable stars in the business right now, and there exists a lot of possibilities for storylines and angles with his presence on the WWE roster.
4 Brian Kendrick (Release)
Kendrick is nothing more than an over-the-hill cruiserweight right now, and is frankly taking up a roster space where a better one could be. This cut would be a no-brainer, as Kendrick is now on his third WWE run during his career, and decidedly out of his prime. Management seems to know this, as he hasn't been given a significant storyline to work with, but that just means that he's wasting space.
With all of the confirmed great juniors and crusierweights all over the world, this one is just foolish. Cut ties with Kendrick and get a wrestler with more potential to perform on 205 Live. Kendrick has worked previous as a trainer for WWE, and that seems to be a better use of his talents at this point.
3 Kazuchika Okada (Try To Land)
Japanese wrestling's biggest star should be a primary target for WWE right now, at least if they want to capitalize on the resurgence of NJPW that's currently happening. Okada is not only the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, he's also one of the fastest-rising stars in all of wrestling. It remains to be seen how WWE would use him in a potential run with the company, but talent-wise there are few, if any, young wrestlers who are more desirable right now.
So Okada should at least be on WWE's radar as a top-notch talent who would come in and make waves immediately. This likely won't happen for a while, but eventually it could be the biggest acquisition WWE has seen since signing A.J. Styles. Something to keep an eye on for sure.
2 Roman Reigns (Release)
OK, so it's probably not likely that WWE is just going to outright release Reigns, who has a familial history with the company going back generations (as a part of the legendary Anoa'i family). Still, he really is one of the worst main event-labeled wrestlers most fans have ever seen. He's clearly the weak link in the Anoa'i family in terms of wrestling ability, with an extremely limited move set, and poor in-ring presence during high-caliber matches.
For now, however, Reigns remains an integral part of the main event scene, with most everybody wishing that it would end. There are so many elite talents that could be signed and swapped out with him, but it looks like we'll have to endure more "falcon punches" for the foreseeable future with Reigns' place in the company seemingly entrenched.
1 Kenny Omega
Omega had actually spent time in WWE developmental territories way back in 2006, but hasn't been involved with the company whatsoever since then. It's not an exaggeration to categorize Omega as one of the premier talents in the wrestling world today. He's gone on to have successful runs in ROH and PWG and is currently dominating NJPW, where he's really begun to establish himself as a complete star. For Omega, he's one of the most notable names in the business right now, and he may not have even hit his ceiling yet.
Whether or not he's interested in a WWE run depends a lot on what ends up happening with NJPW's international expansion. Omega is a top-flight star right now, but if WWE can manage to attain an influx of NJPW wrestlers over the next year or two, or if NJPW falters internationally, Omega may be more tempted to jump ship.
For right now, it merely stands as a really good idea with a ton of upside for both Omega and WWE. We'd all like to see him on the biggest possible stage, and one day that might just happen.