For years, WWE has relied on storyline “power struggles” to generate buzz. Whether it was Vince and Shane battling over the rights to WCW or two factions battling for control, WWE knows that there is just something compelling about watching two capable sides with two very different viewpoints do battle. Of course, there are few fictional power struggles as compelling as real-life power struggles. When the outcome of the battle can have a tremendous impact on our world, it adds an element of drama you don’t get from fictional storylines.
As it stands, there is a very interesting real-life power struggle happening within WWE. While Vince McMahon and Triple H certainly love each other, there is no denying that they have fundamentally different views on the future of the business. One look at NXT will show you how Triple H envisions the future of WWE while an episode of Raw essentially captures what Vince thinks of the business. Because of their differences, each man views some of the hottest indie wrestlers in the world a bit differently. Sure, they might both think these individuals are talented, but you get the feeling that one of them wants to acquire these stars more than the other. These are the eight current wrestlers Triple H would want to sign and seven Vince would want.
15 Triple H Wants - Ricochet
205 Live has Triple H’s fingerprints all over it. Granted, the show hasn’t been a huge success, but Triple H has long believed that cruiserweight style competitors can become stars if they are presented in the right way. Meanwhile, Vince has traditionally shied away from bringing in and pushing cruiserweights. You have to believe that it is Triple H who sees the potential in Ricochet. Whether he’s going by Ricochet or Prince Puma, this is one wrestler who manages to surpass the expectations of even veteran wrestling fans. Ricochet doesn’t just do some of the best looking high-flying moves in wrestling; he knows how to tell a story while he’s doing them. He’s one of the absolute best in the business and someone that would look good in NXT, 205 Live, or on the main roster.
14 Vince McMahon Wants - Jay Lethal
To help understand this pick, you need to understand the way that Vince McMahon thinks. Vince looks at wrestlers as investments. Maybe not all of the time, but there’s a part of him that thinks “What kind of money will this performer make me over time?” Jay Lethal has to be seen as a pretty good investment by Vince at this point because he has been around and is veteran enough to maybe work for cheap just to finish off his years in WWE. Beyond that, Vince probably sees Lethal as a guy that he could slot in with The New Day or turn into a comedy character that can also wrestle (one of Vince’s favorite types of wrestlers). Lethal may not become a main eventer under Vince’s rule, but he can still become a star.
13 Triple H Wants - Marty Scurll
If there are two things that Triple H loves, it’s good heels and old-school style wrestlers. Maybe it’s because Triple H was never the flashiest of guys, but he does seem to genuinely believe that wrestlers who tell a story in the ring are the best kind of main eventers. By that metric, Mary Scurll is a future main eventer. He’s kind of a mini-Conor McGregor in that he relies on his tenacity to backup some serious statements. That comparison aside, Scurll is kind of a unique guy. He’s not bad in the ring, but the thing he really brings to the table is his charisma, looks, and general aura. He makes a match feel big, and that’s something that not even WWE can teach someone to do.
12 Vince Wants - Ethan Carter III
Here’s one of those guys that could be on both men’s lists, but we think that he works best as a “Vince guy.” Part of that has to do with his status as a former WWE employee who went on to do great things once he left WWE. Say what you will about Vince, but he’s historically been a guy that has given priority to former employees who go out and make a name for themselves. ECIII is that guy. He’s a little generic in the ring and will have to drop certain aspects of his character that wouldn’t make sense in WWE, but he’s got a good look, is reliable, and has been in the WWE system before. As an investment, ECIII is likely to pay dividends.
11 Triple H Wants - Cody Rhodes
Remember when we said that Vince doesn’t typically hold grudges against former WWE stars just for leaving? Well...that’s mostly true. While we don’t know the full details of Vince’s relationship with Cody Rhodes when Rhodes left, we do know that Rhodes left largely because Vince and others were against him just being Cody Rhodes. You know who wasn’t opposed to that? Triple H. Again, Triple H loves simple stories and old-school wrestlers. What story is better to work with than the son of Dusty Rhodes trying to restore glory to his family name? Vince might be okay with Rhodes returning, but it’s Triple H who probably truly wants Rhodes to return just because there are so many storylines WWE could create around him.
10 Vince Wants - Kazuchika Okada
Kazuchika Okada is probably the best in-ring wrestlers in the world today, and there’s a good chance Vince McMahon wants him more than Triple H does. Yes, we’re serious. That isn’t to say that Triple H wouldn’t gladly welcome Okada, but rather that Triple H probably recognizes that there is a limit to how big Okada could be with WWE’s audience vs. how much money he’d ask for. Vince sees things differently. First off, Vince was reportedly stunned to see how tall Okada was - he’s 6’3’’ - and went on and on about his looks. That’s a pretty good sign Vince thinks you’re money. More importantly, Vince knows that Okada is huge money for another company that is rapidly expanding. Okada would be a “jewel in the crown” acquisition.
9 Triple H Wants - Kenny Omega
Vince might be gaga over Okada, but Triple H no doubt has his eyes on another New Japan star. If you haven’t been following Kenny Omega in 2017, you are missing out on some of the best pure wrestling matches of the year. There is nothing the guy can’t do in the ring. That’s not the part that matters, though. See, Kenny Omega has crafted one of those characters that is hard to describe. He’s basically a wrestling anime villain/video game character. There’s a very good chance that Vince doesn’t understand a word that comes out of Omega’s mouth. The same might be true of Triple H, but remember that Triple H is willing to accept that there are certain guys who can be stars even if he doesn’t “get” them. Triple H has to know Omega is one of those guys.
8 Vince Wants - The Young Bucks
At first, you’re probably wondering whether or not Vince McMahon really does like the Young Bucks. There’s just something about that idea that doesn’t sit right. Well, first off, remember that Vince has a soft spot for immature, highly-charismatic stars, and the Young Bucks fit that billing. Yes, they may not fit in with the “PG WWE world,” but the Bucks wouldn’t need to censor themselves too much to fit in. Besides, the Young Bucks are one of the highest-earning acts in wrestling that aren’t currently signed to WWE. Vince knows that the moment he signs them is the moment that he starts selling t-shirts to a demographic that hasn’t been as active as they once were. This is just a great business deal for WWE.
7 Triple H Wants - Matt Riddle
Here’s another guy who could be on both men’s lists, but we tend to think this one skews more towards Triple H’s preferences. The first thing you need to know about Matt Riddle is that he was a former UFC star. Well...maybe star isn’t the ideal word. Riddle was a good UFC competitor (his 8-3 record is more than respectable) but he was mostly known for his brash persona. A couple years back, Riddle began his professional wrestling career. Since then, he has learned to embrace the showmanship side of the business. Simply put, Riddle has molded himself into a prototypical WWE star. He looks like a million bucks, he’s got a simple character, and he could work reasonably well. Typically, that makes you a Vince guy, but Triple H has to see there’s more to this kid than just a somewhat familiar name.
6 Vince Wants - Bobby Lashley
Again, Vince McMahon has no problems bringing in former pieces of talent so long as a few conditions are met. Chief among those conditions is whether or not Vince believes that you are going to be able to make money for him the moment that you walk back in the door. Bobby Lashley is a guy who can do that. When Lashley left WWE, he left as a disgraced “Lesnar wannabe” who never really connected with fans. Now, however, Lashley is a fairly well-respected MMA fighter who has improved by leaps and bounds in the professional wrestling ring. Lashley is a guy who can replace Brock Lesnar in Lesnar’s particular role, which is an idea that Vince has to love given that there is no way he is keeping Lesnar for much longer.
5 Triple H Wants - Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. is not a very exciting wrestler. Actually, let’s rephrase that. Zack Sabre Jr. is not a very exciting wrestler by WWE standards. He’s not exactly a high-flyer - although he can take to the top rope - and he’s definitely not a power wrestler. What Sabre can do, however, is tie people in knots. We’ve never really seen a WWE wrestler who can perform amateur wrestling moves quite as innovative as the ones that Sabre Jr. can pull off. He’s the kind of guy that a UFC fan might appreciate more than a WWE fan. While that makes him a lost cause in Vince’s mind, Triple H might see the value in having one guy on the roster who isn’t quite like anyone else.
4 Vince Wants - Keith Lee
Not too long ago, nobody cared about Keith Lee. He was seen as a decent enough big guy who was far from being the best big guy on the indies. Then...something happened. Not an actual event, mind you, but rather the switch in Lee’s head seemingly clicked to on mode, and the guy just became a force of nature. While Lee still isn’t the best big guy worker out there, he is a guy who knows how to play up his showmanship side while tossing people around. In case you haven’t noticed, big guys still rule the Raw roster, and that’s likely because Vince McMahon still has a say in Raw’s creative direction. A guy like Lee will certainly have a home in WWE so long as that is the case.
3 Triple H Wants - Naito
Naito is one of those guys who is hard to “get” the first time you see him. He’s Japanese, but he acts like a really old-school Mexican heel. He’s not really an amateur wrestler, a high-flyer, or a power guy in the ring. In fact, most of Naito’s strategies revolve around avoiding fair fights as much as possible. He’s a guy that someone like Vince might look at and instantly forget. Triple H knows better. He knows that Naito is one of the smartest, most talented, and best overall wrestlers in the business today. Naito is someone who grows on you, but he still has enough name value to make a splash were he to sign with WWE today. The right guy could turn Naito into a top heel.
2 Vince Wants - Hulk Hogan
Before we end, let’s look at two former WWE stars who have seemingly been ousted from the fold forever. One of them is a little wrestler known as Hulk Hogan. Now, you’re probably well aware that Hulk Hogan basically wrote his ticket out of WWE years ago when his racist tirades were caught on tape. WWE distanced themselves from Hogan as much as possible. Of course, this isn’t the first time that WWE has kicked Hogan to the curb. You know what has happened every time? Vince found a reason to bring him back. Vince knows there is a good chunk of money in his bank account that can be traced back to the contributions of Hulk Hogan. He also knows that Hogan can still draw curious eyes if used properly. Vince wants Hogan back even if others prefer to stay away.
1 Triple H Wants - CM Punk
Now, we don’t know if it’s fair to say that Triple H likes CM Punk. By all account, the two had some creative differences. Then again, CM Punk had a lot of creative differences with a lot of different people. The guy he really didn’t get along with was Vince McMahon. Even still, Vince would probably be open to the idea of CM Punk returning just because of the money aspect of the deal. However, Triple H probably appreciates what CM Punk can do beyond that big return on Raw or on a PPV. Triple H understands that Punk can be used as the centerpiece for a generation power shift that will allow Triple H to put all of his guys in prominent positions. He’s a key piece in a bigger game.