If you observe the history of WWE, you'll notice that they've always had a cluster of wrestlers who can be categorized as "their guys." Ones that will remained tenured with the company, and be cast in a variety of roles to suit the present moment. However, there are only a few who remained truly and solely loyal to the WWE cause, hardly making any other appearances with other promotions throughout most of their career. This is a noted difference from the wrestlers who were only loyal to WWE up to a certain point.
In the modern day, loyalty in wrestling is something that's increasingly difficult to find. There are pros and cons to the nomadic philosophy of switching promotions to get a fresh start, wrestle dream matches and the like, but staying with one company for the vast majority of a career is admirable in its own way. While WWE can lay claim to their own circle of consistently available talent, there are also many wrestlers who choose to move on definitively before their career is over. Let's see some examples of both.
Ranked below are 8 wrestlers who will always be loyal to WWE, and 7 who won't be or haven't been.
15 John Cena (Loyal)
It's no surprise that Cena hasn't wrestled for another promotion since being called up to the main roster in 2002. Given the disdain that most of the independent fanbase has for him, it wouldn't really work, and his character simply fits best in WWE. Make no mistake; Cena will never wrestle in another ring. He's simply too valuable to the WWE landscape, and it wouldn't benefit him to do so. He's aware of his limitations as a wrestler, and wouldn't risk the ridicule.
While it's easy to poke fun at Cena, and his dominance in eras of WWE that were far from their best work, it's difficult to argue with how consistent of a main event draw he's been when under their control. Even when he retires from in-ring action, he'll use that popularity to parlay his wrestling career into a role backstage, or as an announcer.
14 A.J. Styles (Not Loyal)
This one is obvious, because Styles has been just about everywhere else, before he ever came to WWE just a few years ago. He had already established a reputation as one of the greatest wrestlers in the world through his work in...well, everywhere. Styles not only was a main event title-winner in TNA, he also helped kickstart ROH in their early days. He's been all over the Indys, and also wrestled in Japan. He had basically done all there was to do except wrestle in WWE.
Even though he's had some nice success during his run so far, you can expect him to move on to another promotion before retirement. Styles has too many connections to not have that happen, it's just a matter of when. Even if he retires in a WWE ring, it's unlikely he takes a backstage role with the company.
13 Randy Orton (Loyal)
Orton's essentially been a WWE lifer, and a lot of it has to do with his father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton giving him his start in the business. Within a year of training, Orton was already in WWE developmental territories, and he was able to ascend through the ranks very quickly because of his namesake. He's been a certified star on WWE programming for the last 15 years or so, and even though it would be a major storyline that would generate a ton of excitement, there's little chance he leaves.
And really, with well over a dozen titles to his name since his debut in 2002 for WWE, why would he want to go? It makes sense why Orton would want to continue on his current trajectory and retire, having essentially only wrestled in a WWE ring. He knows he'll never lose his main event status.
12 Brock Lesnar (Not Loyal)
Since his debut in 2002, Lesnar has been in and out of the WWE ranks, trying his hand with several different promotions, including a foray into the world of MMA. He simply follows the money, and if he feels that he can be booked on a better card, or face an opponent who will help him be a bigger draw, then he'll leave any promotion he's in at the drop of a hat.
Lesnar will likely keep switching back and forth between MMA and WWE for the rest of his career until retirement. He's made no bones about the fact that he's about the bottom line, so while it isn't necessarily disloyalty to WWE in particular, it's more that he has extreme loyalty to the almighty dollar, wherever he has to fight to get the most out of it. You'll see Lesnar in a WWE ring again, but as usual, it won't be for long until he changes it up yet again.
11 The Big Show (Loyal)
Disillusioned with the way WCW was operating back in 1999, Paul Wight decided to make the jump to WWE, and since then he hasn't looked back. He changed his characters name to the Big Show, and the rest was history, as he's become one of the most popular WWE stars over the past 20 years or so. Initially seen as a harkening back to Andre The Giant, he's developed his character to the point where his resume includes some of the greatest individual WWE moments of all-time.
While his career is definitely winding down, it's unlikely that he'll ever work for another company, in any kind of a role. Having been one of the most loyal WWE wrestlers up to this point, there's really no reason for him to change now. Show will continue to be a part of the WWE world for a long time to come.
10 Seth Rollins (Not Loyal)
First making his name in wrestling as Tyler Black in ROH, Rollins may currently be in WWE, but the long-term situation is a bit more complicated. Recent injuries may have halted his progression to the absolute top of the main event ranks, and he may be looking for greener pastures depending on how the year finishes out.
Rollins could draw anywhere on the independent circuit, and would be a major star internationally as well. He's only 31-years-old, and the possibilities are frankly endless for him right now if he were to move on from WWE. While it has yet to be seen, he's a prime candidate for a switch to another promotion within the next two years. He didn't get his start in WWE, and if there's a better opportunity for him out there, it's hard to see Rollins not changing it up while his career allows him to.
9 John Bradshaw Layfield (Loyal)
One of the longest tenured WWE wrestlers/employees of all-time, Layfield has played numerous characters over the years, from one-half of The New Blackjacks, to one-half of The Acolytes, to his singles career which finally saw him win the WWE Title. He's been employed by WWE for essentially the last 25 years, and has been one of the most consistent members of the company.
Now established as a commentator, Layfield is still working on a regular basis for WWE, and likely won't leave any time soon. His wrestling days are definitely over, but as a personality and announcer there's no reason of him to give up the gig. This has been the only wrestling promotion Layfield has been employed with for the majority of his career, and there's little he can prove elsewhere.
8 Rey Mysterio Jr. (Not Loyal)
While Mysterio made his name in WCW and WWE, both obviously mainstream American promotions, he cut his teeth in AAA in Mexico. Mysterio Sr. was a major player on the Mexican wrestling circuit, and that's where the namesake was the greatest draw, until Mysterio Jr. started winning titles on a consistent basis in the United States. Even though Mysterio lasted over a decade in WWE, it's not surprising that he's since gone on to wrestle in the likes of CMLL and Lucha Underground after departing.
There's probably no bad blood between Mysterio and WWE, but they still don't have that kind of bond that other wrestlers have showcased after finishing the prime of their careers. As it stands, Mysterio's legacy is just as much in Mexico as it is in WWE. And we've also got to take into account the persistent rumors he may be signing with GFW after his Lucha Underground deal ends.
7 The Undertaker (Loyal)
It took only one great gimmick change to turn Mark Callous' career around from a mid-card WCW tag team wrestler, to one of the most dominant singles wrestlers in WWE history, and a confirmed hallmark of the company. Almost immediately upon debuting as The Undertaker, he was able to become a main event-caliber talent, and it sparked a career that no wrestling fan will soon forget.
As such, having The Undertaker appear in character for any other promotion just wouldn't make any sense. It may be the single biggest WWE-sanctioned gimmick of all-time, and he's become synonymous with the company at this point. Though he appears to be retired from in-ring action after the last WrestleMania, he'll still be a part of the WWE framework going forward.
6 Hulk Hogan (Not Loyal)
Hogan may have been the first mega-star when WWE finally went national in the mid-80s, but he wasn't the most loyal of the roster. Consider the fact that before he established a consistent working relationship with WWE, he was a regular in the AWA and NJPW. Of course, after he left his first big WWE run, he became a main event staple in WCW, and founded the nWo. After that, he did a run in TNA which lasted a few years.
So Hogan has never had any real marriage to WWE as a wrestler or performer in general, and frankly he's another one who will follow the money if it suits them the best. Just because he was their biggest star of the era, it doesn't mean that he had a completely harmonious relationship with the company.
5 Roman Reigns (Loyal)
Although he may be the single most maligned wrestler on the roster right now, you can bet that Reigns won't be going anywhere, at any point in his career. He's only ever wrestled under the WWE banner, from developmental territories up to the main roster, where he resides now. On top of that, as a member of the legendary Anoa'i family, he's a legacy in one of the most prestigious wrestling families that there's ever been, and one that's worked extensively for WWE.
Going to the Indys or a run for NJPW just wouldn't serve his career as well as staying where he is now. As much as he's disliked by large portions of the WWE fanbase, he would be absolutely berated by fans of any other peripheral promotion. Consider him a lock to stay.
4 Shinsuke Nakamura (Not Loyal)
There's been a lot made of Nakamura's mini-push as of late, and the title shot he received at SummerSlam. While this is definitely a good move by management, it doesn't mean that Nakamura is going to stay in the WWE ranks for the rest of his career. Regardless of anything he does at this point in his career, he's still a NJPW talent through and through. It's unlikely that he won't venture back to the promotion at some point, again, whether he ends up getting a title run in WWE or not.
This isn't uncommon for international talents coming over to WWE. For them, going to WWE is the switch-up for their career, not the be-all end-all of their career. So while it's a good decision to give Nakamura some kind of a push, don't expect him to stay in WWE exclusively for the rest of his career.
3 Shawn Michaels (Loyal)
He's been under a WWE contract since 1988, and has seen all of the good and bad that has come in that span of time. While turning Michaels from one-half of The Rockers to a main event talent may have seemed obvious, it was still a savvy move by WWE at the time. It paid off in the form of a frontline star that carried the company through some of its worst times in history.
Now, Michaels is a trainer for WWE, continuing on his employment well into the third decade that he's been with the company. That's simply remarkable in this day and age, and it's safe to say that The Heartbreak Kid is going to stay affiliated with them as long as he's working in the business at all.
2 Cesaro (Not Loyal)
Unlike some others, Cesaro's first allegiance was not anywhere close to WWE, having wrestled extensively in the Indys, as well as overseas as Claudio Castagnoli. He has a lot to gain from a critical perspective by returning to any of the promotions he previously wrestled for, after being away from them for so long.
What's more, is that most of his earlier success came as a singles wrestler; something he's never been given a fair crack at in WWE. While he's been a notable tag wrestler (in a sub-par tag division of course), he hasn't been given much chance at singles success, other than a lone United States Title run, which was quickly forgotten about. If WWE doesn't want to give him some kind of a singles push, and they probably won't, expect him to leave sometime relatively soon.
1 Triple H (Loyal)
No wrestler has done more to embed himself in the management and operations of WWE than Triple H has since his debut with the company in 1995. Of course, he's married to Stephanie, and as Vince's son-in-law who also happened to be a main event star with the company, he's undoubtedly going to have more clout attached to his name than most other people that walk into the office. He's maintained his position and cemented his loyalty by only wrestling in a WWE ring post-1995.
So, there is a zero percent chance of Triple H ever working for another company. He's been heavily involved in all of wrestling, creative, management, talent scouting, among many other things, and given he family ties to the McMahons, there's simply no chance he'd ever set foot in another ring, or work for another promotion. He'll have a significant role in the operations of WWE for as long as he wants it.
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