When it comes to new wrestlers joining WWE, it comes down to one big questions – will they or won’t they? While in the past this question used to be asked only to WWE management in regards to if they would be willing to sign a new wrestler to their roster, it seems that the power is more in the court of the wrestler themselves these days, with many wrestlers opting not to sign to WWE at their first opportunity. Just look at AJ Styles for example, who chose to continue his career in TNA for over ten years before finally singing with WWE. With such a plethora of strong, exciting and entertaining wrestling talent out there, it makes the question of will they or won’t they even more exciting.
Whether you are looking forward to an old wrestling favorite re-debuting with the company, or the prospect of a brand-new face joining WWE after a long stint on the independent circuit, there is the possibility of many new signings for WWE this upcoming year. However, we need to look at all of these individually to understand that not every single rumored signing will happen this year, and some of them will not ever happen.
Here are 8 rumored WWE signings that will happen in 2018 (and 7 that won't):
15 Will Happen: Bobby Lashley
While perhaps not a perennial favorite during his initial run in WWE from 2005 to 2008, there is no denying that Bobby Lashley has improved in the ring and on the microphone leaps and bounds since leaving WWE. Lashley’s time in TNA and in the MMA world have provided him with the athletic confidence and personality that were missing during his WWE run, which could prove successful for him in WWE during his eventual (and highly likely) return.
During Lashley’s WWE run, he was widely seen as over-pushed and a “McMahon Favorite” due to his size, however his lack of wrestling experience held him down from really connecting with fans, and he never reached the level of superstardom that was originally forecasted, and his run ended quietly in 2008, during which he ended up in TNA/Impact/GFW/Whatever it is now. It has been during his time outside of WWE that he has grown into a star, winning multiple World Championships and finally connecting with the audience through his performances. With his newfound stardom and contract with TNA coming to a close, it seems that his WWE return is imminent.
14 Won’t Happen: Kenny Omega
Sorry folks, but anything you have read about Kenny Omega joining WWE is an absolute farce – he is staying exactly where is as one of the biggest stars in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Why, you ask? Simply because Kenny Omega is one of the few wrestling stars outside of WWE that makes a full-time, more-than-comfortable living without enduring the rigors of WWE’s back-breaking live event schedule. While many other wrestlers have stated similar experiences over the years, Omega is certainly one of the more popular ones.
Most recently, Kenny Omega was named Sports Illustrated’s Wrestler of the Year in 2017, proving that he is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and does not need a WWE contract to prove it. In addition to this, Omega has been publicly critical about the WWE product – knowing how big Vince McMahon’s ego is, do you think it is likely that he will hire someone who has made such a name for himself outside of WWE and has been criticizing how he uses his wrestlers?
13 Will Happen: Ethan Carter III
While Kenny Omega not signing with WWE shows that they aren't too interested in stars that have achieved fame outside of their television shows, WWE is sometimes willing to make an exception. Enter Ethan Carter III, who will surely be returning to WWE once his current bookings with Impact Wrestling have been fulfilled. Carter’s stardom in Impact Wrestling has become too big to ignore, and certainly proved that WWE didn't know what they had when he was a part of the roster as Derrick Bateman back in 2010, where he was misused during seasons of NXT (you know, back when it was an awful reality show that WWE will not acknowledge anymore).
Carter showed all the signs of having great potential in WWE – he has a great look with good athletic ability, could work a microphone easily and had a deep love for professional wrestling – but was ultimately released from his contract without anyone batting an eye. Eventually, he resurfaced in Impact Wrestling playing the role of Ethan Carter III, the spoiled nephew of owner Dixie Carter, and has played the part to perfection for the past four years. Now that he has attracted the eye of WWE with his multiple World Championship runs and a three-year streak of being unpinned, WWE has been looking to scoop him back up again. Best of luck this time around, Mr. Carter.
12 Won’t Happen: Gail Kim
With the very first Women’s Royal Rumble being announced so recently, there have been many rumors regarding former WWE female talent that are chomping at the bit to re-sign with the company in order to make a surprise appearance in the historical match. Unfortunately, Gail Kim is not one of them. Gail Kim is a prime example that shows we are not meant to be treated to “nice things” as wrestling fans – due to WWE’s constant misuse of her as a woman and a wrestler, she vowed never to work for them again, which she has stayed true to since her departure in 2011.
Following her time in WWE, Kim experienced a wonderful career in Impact Wrestling, where she finished off with a beautiful swan-song just recently in July 2017, and became the first female inducted into their Hall of Fame after announcing her retirement from wrestling. While Kim has still been making some appearances on the independent circuit, there is no chance that she will be breaking her vow and returning to WWE.
11 Will Happen: Ronda Rousey
While we will not be seeing Gail Kim wrestle for WWE again, the rumors circulating regarding “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey joining WWE have been top of the list since her appearance during WWE’s Mae Young Classic tournament in the summer of 2017. Rousey has been an avid supporter and fan of professional wrestling, and whenever she has been asked about a potential cross-over into WWE, she has always remained excited about the opportunity. Now that she has made some non-wrestling appearances for WWE, including a “tease” pitting the MMA Four Horsewomen (fighters Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir) against the WWE’s Four Horsewomen (Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Bayley), those rumors have reached a fever-pitch, with many expecting Rousey to make a surprise appearance in the first female Royal Rumble this year.
Rumors have ranged from hot to cold, with Triple H most recently stating that news of Rousey being in negotiations with WWE was “news to him”. While it seems plausible that Triple H was kayfabing the interviewer, all of these rumors have the wrestling world buzzing about whether or not we will see her in a WWE ring in 2018, and if I were a betting man I would say yes.
10 Won’t Happen: Jeff Jarrett
I literally did a spit-take of water when this rumor emerged – are there actually people out there that think Jeff Jarrett has a chance of returning to WWE programming? The main basis for this rumor is that Jarrett recently completed a WWE sponsored round of rehab for alcohol addiction after an embarrassing showing at a Canadian independent show – does anyone really think that this has given him an opportunity at a second run in WWE?
Did we all forget that Vince McMahon literally fired him on live television when he purchased WCW? If someone were to make a list of wrestlers who do not have a chance of ever returning to WWE (discounting the fact that Jarrett is 50 years old and retired from competition), Jarrett would always be near the top of that list. If you take a look at his accomplishments standing alone, Jarrett has amassed an impressive career in wrestling, but his personal relationship with Vince McMahon would never allow even an appearance on WWE programming again, let alone a re-debut with the company.
9 Will Happen: Rockstar Spud
To hear that Rockstar Spud has already been signed to a WWE contact is exciting, which means that his television debut is imminent. During his time in TNA, Spud was not necessarily known for being a world-class in-ring technician, but for having one of the most outgoing personalities and characters on the roster, which has made him very entertaining for fans. Taking the form of an insufferable rock star persona, he is incredibly entertaining and would easily fit in with some of the larger personalities that WWE has on their main rosters, or could add in some color to a withering NXT roster upon his debut. I think I speak for many fans when I say, I'm looking forward to this star making his debut with WWE, as it is inevitable at this point.
8 Won’t Happen: Zack Sabre Jr.
While it appears that Rockstar Spud is only a Visa away from making his WWE debut, there are other United Kingdom talent whom are more than happy to be working outside of WWE, including one of the best in the world in Zack Sabre Jr. Despite making an appearance for WWE during their Cruiserweight Classic tournament this past year, Sabre Jr has yet to appear for WWE since, despite them now having a United Kingdom Championship on their roster. According to the various sources, Sabre Jr is one of several Cruiserweight Classic competitors who turned down a WWE contract during the tournament.
Sabre Jr. is currently one of the hottest acts on the independent circuit and is frequently travelling the world and making a very comfortable living outside of WWE, and has made it clear that he is not looking to be tied down to a WWE contact at this point in his career. Have things changed for him in a year following his appearance in WWE? Not very likely, as Sabre Jr has only increased his presence on the independent circuit in promotions like Evolve, NJPW and various Mexico promotions.
7 Will Happen: Ricochet
While several top independent wrestling talents have made it known that they are not interested in working for WWE at this stage in their career, there are some that are currently willing to make a jump to the “big time”. After logging so many years and miles in promotions like Lucha Underground, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Evolve, Ricochet appears to have succumbed to WWE’s offers and will surely be making a debut for the company in the upcoming months.
Reportedly, while signed to a contract with Lucha Underground he turned down a very handsome contract extension after being courted by WWE with an offer, and will not be returning to the promotion. In addition to this, during his most recent appearances for NJPW and Dragon Gate USA, Ricochet announced that these would be his last appearances with those companies, which is another indicator of his eventual move to WWE. Ricochet joining the roster would be a major acquisition for WWE because there are few people that can do with Ricochet does in the ring.
6 Won’t Happen: Broken/Woken Universe
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it does not look like the other members of Matt Hardy’s Broken (or Woken) universe will be appearing alongside him during his current WWE run. WWE is clearly not afraid of introducing Hardy’s character to WWE audiences as they have given him some excellent creative freedom thus far, but taking the steps of including the various other characters seems farfetched at this point. While the characters of Senor Benjamin or King Maxel have a very “B-Movie” charm to them, we need to remember that WWE is a publicly traded company and is unlikely to give untrained actors the opportunity to be on their screens when they are currently suffering from lower than average television ratings.
While the Broken Universe was very popular in Impact Wrestling, not every wrestling fan is privy to the gimmick and including some of these characters could make WWE audience members tune out, so it is more likely that these aspects of the character will be left by the wayside while Matt finds what the “Woken Universe” means to him as a character.
5 Will Happen: Rey Mysterio
If there is one thing that WWE likes, it is a comeback story that will sell merchandise, and who better to do that for them then one of their biggest merchandise machines from the past – Rey Mysterio. While Mysterio and WWE have a slightly rocky past stemming from Mysterio’s final months with WWE in 2015, he has stated on several occasions that he is interested in returning to WWE for a final run before retiring. As we have seen many times in the past, WWE is willing to negotiate with former wrestlers if the bridges have not been burned beyond repair, and Mysterio falls under this category. While some of the shine may have been removed from his star in recent years, WWE surely still sees some value in bringing Mysterio back, especially to assist with the floundering Cruiserweight division, where he can surely be of assistance for some of the talent.
4 Won’t Happen: Matt Riddle
Not each and every hot independent wrestling talent is going to be scooped up by WWE during their rookie years, which is unfortunately the case of Matt Riddle. While Riddle has had a spectacular year on the independent circuit wrestling for companies such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Progress and Evolve wrestling, some other things need to be taken in to account beyond his wrestling ability. Riddle’s previous engagements with the UFC are well known, especially how his MMA career ended under shady circumstances after testing positive multiple times for drugs during his post-fight tests. WWE would be aware of this as well, and would certainly be unwilling to take a chance on a wrestler with these types of issues, especially since he has shown no remorse for them. Riddle is still very young in life and his professional wrestling career, and if things continue to progress for him like they are, then a WWE career is not out of the question but certainly not under these current circumstances, as WWE is much more careful with the talent they select at the moment.
3 Will Happen: War Machine
If you have not seen War Machine perform before, you are in for a real treat in 2018 as they are essentially a lock for joining the WWE roster. Consisting of power-house wrestlers Hanson and Raymond Rowe, War Machine are a tag team that WWE dreams of – they are hard-hitting, big men who play their characters of large brutes to perfection as previous Ring of Honor and NJPW Tag Team Champions. Both Hanson and Rowe were performing for Ring of Honor without a contract, and after showcasing their talents both in the States and in Japan, WWE got wind of the tag team over their four years of competing and have allegedly made them an offer that puts them in their system in the next year.
Both Hanson and Rowe have been working on the independent scene for years, so it's great to see them get a chance in WWE, and hopefully all will pan out well for them. It is easy to recall other tag teams that have been put on WWE television and have floundered (most recently The Club comes to mind), but hopefully this will tell a different story for the power-house tag team.
2 Won’t Happen: The Young Bucks
Hearing that Jeff Jarrett was on deck for a WWE return was a hilarious rumor to come across, but this one may take the cake as the silliest debut possible. There is no way in the world that The Young Bucks will be debuting in WWE in 2018, or very likely in the next couple of years for a multitude of reasons, with a simple one being at the top of the list – they do not want to. Just like so many other wrestlers on this list, The Young Bucks have been able to craft a supreme living for themselves outside of WWE with appearances for Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Guerilla rounding out their schedule which gives them great pay-days without dealing with WWE’s vigorous schedule, which is a great deal for them.
Couple this with the legal interactions they experienced with WWE, including a cease and desist letter being issued for their use of the “Too Sweet” gesture, and you can essentially guarantee that The Bucks will not be joining WWE anytime soon. I applaud them for creating a life for themselves without using WWE as a platform, as it gives hope to all independent wrestlers that WWE is not the only avenue for becoming a superstar.
1 Will Happen: James Storm
Again, some of these signings are only a matter of time, especially when they have already been so close to happening already. James Storm is a great example of a wrestler who made a big name for themselves as a home-grown TNA talent, but just like others before him – like AJ Styles and Bobby Roode – have become too big for the company and are looking to branch out further in their career with WWE. While Storm did have a cup of coffee as a wrestler on the NXT roster in 2015, he opted to return to TNA for another couple of years before formally announcing that he was leaving the company in 2017.
While we may never know what truly caused him to return to TNA instead of signing with WWE in the first place, now that he has made his intentions clear about moving on from Impact Wrestling permanently, it is very likely that WWE will sign him up quickly now that he is a free agent. Storm has shown to be a very capable tag team competitor as well as an established singles wrestler, having held multiple championships in both divisions, making him someone that could help WWE or NXT in both of their divisions.