WWE never stands idly by and is always looking to acquire new talent or re-sign old favorites. WWE initially built its empire by buying the competition’s best talent or by simply buying their competition. They signed away regional promoters’ top talents, like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Randy Savage, who would go on to become WWE legends. They signed away diamonds in the rough that other promoters gave up on, like The Dingo Warrior, Stunning Steve Austin, and Mean Mark Callous, who evolved into WWE legends The Ultimate Warrior, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Undertaker. They also signed away their main competition’s best talent, like Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, Lex Luger, and The Steiner Brothers. WWE has also been great at bringing back old WWE and WCW favorites at just the right time. When fans started buzzing about wanting to see former superstars such as The Rock, Hollywood Hogan, Goldberg and Sting, WWE brought these great stars back for another big run. Which former WWE Superstars are on WWE’s radar in 2017, and where will the next John Cena, Trish Stratus, or Brock Lesnar come from? There is no doubt that WWE is currently searching the globe with their checkbooks open, ready to sign talent to their roster in 2017.
Let’s take a look at 8 male and 8 female wrestling stars WWE will try to sign this year.
16 Mandy Leon
Mandy Leon is currently a part of ROH’s Women of Honor. Leon has been gaining more and more experience and has become one of the more popular WOH stars. Combine that with the fact that she definitely has the look WWE covets and it shouldn’t be long before WWE comes knocking at her door again. Leon actually isn’t a stranger to WWE. She made several appearances as one of Adam Rose’s Rosebuds in 2014 and 2015, which culminated in a WWE tryout. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the talented and beautiful Leon get signed to a WWE contract in 2017. WWE will potentially have a number of key women spots to fill on Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT, and possibly it’s rumored all women WWE Network show.
Ricochet aka Prince Puma doesn’t appear to be signing with WWE anytime soon. He has been busy with commitments to Lucha Underground, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and he has no shortage of independent bookings around the world. However, the talented high flyer, like most professional wrestlers, has indicated that WWE is a goal for him and he would fit in perfectly in the newly revived WWE Cruiserweight Division. Furthermore, he has decided not to re-sign with Lucha Underground beyond season three. To add more fuel to the WWE fire, Ricochet is in a relationship with Tessa Blanchard who has her foot in the WWE door and they live with current WWE Superstar Apollo Crews. It’s not a stretch to say that Ricochet could be doing business with WWE by the end of 2017.
14 Tessa Blanchard
Tessa Blanchard is the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer and member of the legendary Four Horsemen Tully Blanchard. Blanchard has been toiling away on the independent wrestling circuit since 2014 for promotions such as Women Superstars Uncensored, Shine, and Shimmer. Recently, Blanchard was part of a dark match for Lucha Underground and has been knocking harder and harder at WWE’s door. She has appeared as one of Adam Rose’s Rosebuds and has had several matches for NXT against the likes of Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, and Carmella. It would appear that it is only a matter of time before Blanchard officially signs with WWE and 2017 could be the year it happens. Putting Blanchard in a program with Charlotte would be a natural and interesting way to use the Four Horsemen to introduce her to the WWE fan base.
13 Chris Hero
Chris Hero is currently in negotiation with WWE for a return and Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer is reporting that a deal is all but done. Hero wrestled as Kassius Ohno in NXT from 2012 to 2013 before being released. At a recent Pro Wrestling Guerilla event, Hero expressed his displeasure at news of a WWE return being leaked out. He did confirm his WWE return was eminent but also cautioned that a deal hadn’t been finalized just yet. There are several interesting questions about Hero landing in WWE again. What will his new WWE ring name be? More than likely, he will not take his old NXT ring name because Kevin Owens is the new “KO”. Also, it is no secret that Hero and current WWE Superstar Cesaro were once a great tag team called The Kings of Wrestling. Is Hero’s signing an indication that Cesaro has agreed to re-sign and will that mean a Kings of Wrestling reunion? Only time will tell.
12 Christina Von Eerie
Christina Von Eerie is the current GFW Women’s Champion and one of the best women wrestlers on the independent circuit. Von Eerie has been wrestling since 2006 and has made a name for herself around the world in promotions such as TNA Wrestling where her ring name was Toxxin, AAA in Mexico, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Shimmer, Combat Zone Wrestling, Dragon Gate USA, and World Wonder Ring Stardom in Japan. There haven’t been any hot Von Eerie to WWE rumors as of late but it’s hard not to believe that she’s not somehow on WWE’s radar. Von Eerie is a punk rocker with a unique look that would definitely stand out in WWE. It would come as no surprise if WWE did decide to offer her a contract in 2017.
11 Eli Drake
Eli Drake is another former WWE farm hand currently wrestling in TNA Wrestling. Drake is also another former talent that WWE might be starting to realize that they let go way too soon. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity in WWE and according to Drake he was the victim of some nasty backstage politics before being given his release in 2014. WWE officials reportedly were not pleased with his use of Twitter and email. Since joining TNA in 2015, Drake has shown a lot of promise. He debuted as a baby face in The Rising faction along with Drew Galloway and Micah aka Tanga Roa of Guerillas of Destiny. However, Drake has really hit his stride since turning heel and becoming one of TNA’s key villains. Time is said to heel all wounds and WWE is reportedly interested in brining him back.
10 Taeler Hendrix
Taeler Hendrix gained national recognition after winning TNA Wrestling’s Gut Check. Hendrix left TNA a short time later but quickly established herself as one of the top women wrestlers on the independent pro wrestling circuit. She then made a nice home for herself in Ring of Honor as a part of Truth Martini’s House of Truth in addition to competing for the newly formed Women of Honor. Hendrix has appeared on WWE television in recent years as one of Adam Rose’s Rosebuds and she also received a WWE tryout in 2015. 2017 might be the year that Hendrix finally lands a full time WWE contract. With the brand split and NXT, there is a demand in WWE for experienced women superstars and Hendrix definitely fits the bill.
There are no hot rumors about “Magnus” Nick Aldis and WWE. The former TNA Wrestling Heavyweight Champion and current GFW Global Champion has been one of the few former TNA stars not to be involved in some type of WWE rumor. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. The 30-year old is in the prime of his pro wrestling career and it would be foolish of WWE to not consider the chiseled 6’3 240 lb native of England. Aldis has spoke of his desire to be a part of WWE and 2017 could be the year it happens. It is also interesting to note that his wife is former WWE Divas and Women’s Champion Mickie James who just re-signed with WWE. Could James’ signing help Aldis find his way into WWE? It wouldn’t be a shock to see him in WWE by the end of 2017.
8 Marti Bell
TNA Wrestling Knockout Marti Bell is under contract to a company that is about to be sold by very early 2017. This could make the talented and experienced Bell available for WWE to acquire at some point. The arrival of multiple former TNA stars to WWE should make it much easier for Bell to make an immediate jump from the Impact Zone to one of WWE’s women’s divisions. It would be a very smart move for WWE to get Bell under contract. With all her experience, she would be a great acquisition for WWE. She has been wrestling since 2008 and has also had success in promotions such as Evolve, Shimmer, Shine, and Women Superstars Uncensored. She had her greatest success as a member of the popular TNA Wrestling faction called The Dollhouse.
7 Ethan Carter III
Two-time TNA Wrestling Heavyweight Champion Ethan Carter III has been rumored to be on WWE’s wish list for quite some time. They have probably seen that releasing Carter aka Derrick Bateman in 2013 was a bit premature. Carter has definitely exceeded expectations in TNA. He has been one of the bright spots on a sinking ship. Carter has demonstrated that he has the charisma and in ring ability to be a big star anywhere in the world. WWE has a need for roster depth due to their latest brand split and their desire for NXT to be more than just a feeder system. Without a doubt, Carter would be a key player on Raw, SmackDown Live, or NXT. A sign that a reunion could be on the way in 2017 is a recent Evolve Wrestling promo that Carter cut on Triple H. Carter ripped The Game and WWE for the way he was treated during his run with them. However, there is a working agreement between WWE and Evolve. The promo was reportedly a worked shoot, which could indicate that Carter has one foot out the TNA door and one foot in WWE’s.
Jade is another TNA Wrestling Knockout that just might end up on the free agent market in 2017 due to the impending sale of TNA Wrestling. She is best known for her time in the TNA Wrestling faction The Dollhouse. WWE would be extremely wise to make a run at acquiring the talented Korean-American pro wrestler. The former TNA Knockouts Champion has been wrestling since 2009 and has had success in a number of pro wrestling promotions such as Jersey All Pro Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, Shine, Shimmer, and Women Superstars Uncensored. She also briefly wrestled for NXT in 2014. With the stigma of being a TNA Wrestler in WWE all but gone due in large part to AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, Jade being signed to a WWE contract in 2017 could be a reality.
5 Drew Galloway
Drew Galloway’s TNA Wrestling contract is set to expire and a return to WWE could be in the works. Galloway recently confirmed that he has yet to re-sign with TNA and would have to consider other offers that are out there. The most interesting offer of course would have to be WWE and TNA would be naïve to think WWE isn’t in strong contention for Galloway’s services. There would also be a lot of motivation on both sides to make a return a reality. WWE needs to improve it’s roster depth and Galloway would like to erase the memories of his last run with a run to super stardom. The talented big man is still young enough to be a major star in WWE and the brand split should make it easier for him to climb the WWE ladder of success.
4 Angelina Love
With TNA Wrestling talent making it to WWE no longer being taboo thanks to former TNA stars such as current WWE Champion AJ Styles and Xavier Woods, would it really be a surprise to see Angelina Love step through WWE ropes in 2017? The brand split and a potential exclusive women’s wrestling show on the WWE Network adds up to a need for veteran talent. Love has tons of experience including stints in TNA Wrestling, AAA in Mexico, and WWE’s old farm systems, Deep South Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. Love is solid in the ring and has the charisma to stand out in WWE. WWE would be wise to jump on signing Love soon because her in ring career could be starting to wind down. This is a big reason why we may see the former member of The Beautiful People signed by WWE in 2017.
3 Hardy Boyz
The Hardy Boyz's contract with TNA Wrestling is reportedly set to expire in a few months. Although the brothers have totally reinvented themselves in TNA Wrestling with the Broken Matt and Brother Nero personas, they will forever be known as one of WWE’s greatest tag teams. WWE has been very big on nostalgia acts in recent years, which led to the debut of Sting, the return of the Dudley Boyz, and the return of Goldberg. It would be naïve to think that WWE doesn’t also have plans on capitalizing on a return by The Hardy Boyz. Another factor in favor of a Hardy Boyz return could be the impending sale of TNA Wrestling. They have been high paid key players in Dixie Carter’s TNA and that could all change under new ownership.
2 Velvet Sky
There were white hot rumors of Velvet Sky debuting in WWE when The Dudley Boyz made their return in 2015. Sky is dating Bubba Ray Dudley and there were even rumors that Sky would assume the persona of The Duchess of Dudleyville. It never happened and The Dudley Boyz recently exited WWE. However, this doesn’t mean that we won’t see the experienced Sky signed by WWE in 2017. She has wrestled for TNA Wrestling for many years, most notably as a member of The Beautiful People as well as Mexico’s AAA and Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council. With a need within WWE for veteran women wrestlers to fill spots in several women divisions, it is more likely than not that she will land in one of WWE’s women divisions.
1 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle finally looks to be on his way back to WWE. Angle has reportedly put a hold on his independent wrestling bookings and told promoters that he expects to be back in WWE in the spring of 2017. Since Angle finished up with TNA Wrestling, his WWE return has been hotly debated but ultimately anticipated. There have been reported WWE concerns about bringing back Angle due to many legal issues the Olympic Gold medalist has had over the years. However, Angle has been wrestling high quality matches against stars such as Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio on the independent circuit and has more importantly been staying out of trouble. With Angle cleaning up his act and WWE’s willingness to sign talent to part time deals, the timing is right for a reunion. A spring signing would set Angle up to be a big part of WWE’s road to SummerSlam.