Watching WWE can be frustrating at times, especially when our favourite Superstars don't get the push and attention that we believe they deserve. If it's annoying for us, imagine how annoying it is for them. The hard truth of the matter is that there is not room for everybody at the top. Vince McMahon and Triple H can promise new signees the world but at the end of the day, those promises and plans might not work out. For some Superstars that is absolutely fine.
They're happy to never reach their full potential because they have a comfortable job and are still making so much more than the average person. That's not good enough for everyone though, and in the present day more than ever before, pro wrestlers are making names for themselves outside of WWE. Most of those names are ones that WWE higher-ups desperately want to get their hands on.
Which of those wrestlers should consider trading in their accomplished careers away from Mr. McMahon in order to take a chance with WWE though? And on the flip side which Superstars currently on the roster should make way and maybe consider trying to find luck elsewhere in the industry?
16 Shouldn't Have Signed: Bobby Lashley
Another man Vince McMahon seemingly once had high hopes for was Bobby Lashley. Ten years ago the MMA star's first stint with WWE came to an end, and it ended with a whimper. That was after a promising run during which he held the ECW Championship and it looked like a given that he would one day be WWE Champion too. It never happened though. Instead, Lashley went looking for success elsewhere and he found it.
Impact Wrestling took him in and there he honed his craft, worked on his weaknesses and became a terrific heel.
On top of that, he also continued his MMA career with Bellator. Basically, Lashley should be portrayed as an unforgiving butt kicker. That's what most of us were expecting when he returned to WWE a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, we are yet to see that. At the time of typing this Lashley is being booked in a joke angle alongside Sami Zayn and it is making for some painful viewing. Hopefully the former Impact Wrestling World Champion is just finding his feet, otherwise, he will likely be wishing he stuck with Impact and Bellator sooner rather than later.
15 Roster Replacement: Dalton Castle
For the most part, the business of pro wrestling has been viewed as a very masculine line of work for decades. Wrestlers over six feet tall that weigh around 300 lbs performing amazing feats in the ring. In all honesty though men like that are a dime a dozen in the business. If you want to stand out you have to be different, and some of the most memorable wrestlers of all time have been very different from your stereotypical competitors. Take Goldust for instance. The bizarre Superstar broke the mold when it came to wrestling personas and some would argue his weird and wonderful antics really kick-started the Attitude Era.
You could also argue that Ring Of Honor's Dalton Castle is a modern day version of WWE's Goldust. The perfect word to describe the ROH World Champion would be androgynous, and it's plain to see that he has taken inspiration from Goldust. If WWE managed to tempt him to NXT or even the main roster somehow, who knows what they could do with him and his character. A Castle run in WWE could even lead to a change in the industry, much like the one Goldust had a part in over 20 years ago.
14 Shouldn't Have Signed: Gallows And Anderson
As discussed previously in this article during the Marty Scurll entry, the Bullet Club is the biggest thing in wrestling outside of WWE right now. That's why it's no coincidence that WWE has signed a lot of their members away from New Japan and the incredibly popular faction. AJ Styles was a former leader of the Bullet Club and is now not only a two time WWE Champion but one of Vince McMahon's biggest stars. Finn Balor has also enjoyed a lot of success in WWE after being signed away from Japan. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, on the other hand, haven't had the impact that most fans hoped they would.
Yes, they have held the Raw Tag Team Titles, but it didn't feel like a significant reign. Outside of being reunited with Styles, Gallows and Anderson have been poorly booked in WWE. There was a glimmer of hope recently when they began teaming with Balor, but that came to an end when the team was drafted to SmackDown Live and the Irishman remained on Raw. It must ring all too familiar for Gallows following on from his first run with the company as Festus.
13 Roster Replacement: The Young Bucks
There is perhaps no act outside of WWE right now more adverse to the idea of working for Vince McMahon than The Young Bucks. Believe it or not, though, Matt and Nick Jackson have actually appeared on WWE television. Long before they were the kings of the tag team indie wrestling scene, they dressed up as DX so that John Morrison and The Miz could beat them up. They have also had an unsuccessful try out with WWE. Fast forward to 2018 and The Bucks are about the furthest thing you'll find in the wrestling business from a WWE Superstar.
Not to say they couldn't cut it with the promotion, they are just earning way too much money and having way too much fun on the independent circuit. Just imagine it for a second though. The Young Bucks in NXT or maybe even the main roster. The dream matches against teams like The Undisputed Era, The Bar, The New Day, and The Revival would all be unmissable. There are so many talented tag teams in WWE right now but a lot of them aren't being booked to their full potential. Maybe that's what's putting them off.
12 Shouldn't Have Signed: Curt Hawkins
R-Truth isn't the only WWE Superstar on the current roster who appears to be a glutton for punishment. Curt Hawkins is another man who didn't particularly have the greatest time when he was first under the employ of WWE, and even though his latest run has arguably been even worse, he has stuck around. Hawkins initial run with WWE lasted eight years and the highlight of that was a Tag Team Title reign. Even NXT didn't really have much for him despite the pretty much universal consensus among his peers that he is a terrific performer. After two years away, Hawkins returned.
Judging by the build-up that WWE creative put together for him they intended on his second run being bigger and better than his first.
Unfortunately, that idea was short lived. Instead, Hawkins has become famous for being on an incredibly long losing streak. So long that at the time of typing this he has lost over 200 matches in a row. It wouldn't be as bad as it sounds if WWE had plans to end the streak in an epic way, perhaps marking the beginning of a winning streak. That is unlikely though.
11 Roster Replacement: Marty Scurll
When it comes to professional wrestling in the 21st century, there hasn't really been much to get excited about outside of WWE. Impact Wrestling tried to fill the boots of WCW and become the number two company but that dream never quite became a reality. In 2018 however, the future is looking bright for promotions outside of WWE. New Japan, Ring Of Honor, the top companies in the UK, business is booming. Nothing outside of WWE is bigger than the Bullet Club right now though, and a member of the iconic faction who is all too often overlooked is Marty Scurll.
The British wrestler is a terrific performer and, above all else, has a tonne of charisma. When it comes to signing top stars, Triple H in particular is looking to bring in unique and charismatic performers. Just take a look at Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura for examples of that. Scurll could very well be the next man to fill those shoes in NXT. The fans at Full Sail would love his gimmick and without the rest of the Bullet Club overshadowing him, who knows what he could achieve at the Performance Center? An NXT Championship perhaps?
10 Shouldn't Have Signed: Kassius Ohno
There are a number of names who are synonymous with the indie circuit, even after they sign with WWE. Take Chris Hero for instance. The big, athletic wrestler's performances are the stuff of legend on the independents. That's why they signed him to FCW in 2011, and when FCW became NXT Hero was there ready and raring to go. In WWE Hero is not known as Chris Hero, he is named Kassius Ohno. Two years later, Ohno was released from WWE. It wasn't goodbye though. In fact, he was told during his exit interview that the door would be open for him to return sometime in the future.
Ohno went back onto the indie circuit, continued to hone his craft, and a further three years down the line that return did come. The trouble is, he hasn't really been treated any differently to the first time he was in NXT. The brand has become much bigger, Ohno is now even better, yet for some reason he doesn't even warrant a top spot. There is the story that CM Punk suggested Ohno for Roman Reigns spot in The Shield. If that had happened, WWE would be a very different place right now.
9 Roster Replacement: Tenille Dashwood
The name Tenille Dashwood might not ring a bell to many of you reading this, but the name Emma probably will. Before Dashwood returned to the independent scene and started going by her real name once again, she was a WWE Superstar who went by the name of Emma. While under the umbrella of Vince McMahon, Dashwood enjoyed quite a few highs and a fair few lows too. She was briefly fired for shoplifting, and there was the extremely long and pointless saga that saw her transfer into Emmalina and then back into Emma once again.
Those instances aside, however, and the fact that she never won a title in WWE, Dashwood's time with the promotion was pretty good. In NXT, Emma had a terrific rivalry and series of matches with Paige, and it was in developmental that she reinvented herself. Her final two matches were Asuka's first on the main roster, and it's still a little unclear as to why exactly she was released. Dashwood's in-ring work is terrific and the Australian star was a real asset to WWE. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of her in the company and she will return one day.
8 Shouldn't Have Signed: Curtis Axel
Having famous wrestling relatives can be both a blessing and a curse if you want to get into the industry yourself. If your parents, grandparents, or for that matter any other relatives wrestled at a high level prior to you, then the likelihood is that they can help you get your foot in the door. Beyond that point, you're on your own. If you don't have the wrestling genes that your other family members had then you will soon be found out. Also, having a famous last name doesn't guarantee a high place on the roster, no matter how good a wrestler you are. Take Curtis Axel for example.
The Raw Superstar's father is the legendary Mr. Perfect, and his grandfather is Larry Hennig.
Despite that incredible lineage, Axel is pretty much a joke Superstar in WWE right now. His father was far from it and even though both of them are former Intercontinental Champions, Axel is far from leaving behind the legacy that his dad did. It's not because he doesn't have talent either. Axel should really venture away from WWE for a little while in order to show them exactly what they're missing.
7 Roster Replacement: Zack Sabre Jr
Since WWE has been in the business of signing the independent scene's biggest and best wrestlers, hardcore wrestling fans have basically been on the edges of their seats waiting to see who is coming next. From Kevin Owens to Asuka to Finn Balor, all huge stars that have changed the face of WWE in one way or another. Then along came the Cruiserweight Classic. The best wrestlers under 205 lbs from all around the world competing under WWE's roof, some of them without contracts. Understandably, one of the most exciting names to grace the ring for the tournament was Zack Sabre Jr. In fact, Sabre Jr was one of the favourites.
He only made it to the semi-finals though, and why that is soon became clear. TJ Perkins and Gran Metalik were the finalists and they had signed contracts with WWE. Sabre Jr had not. He hasn't returned to WWE since. That has proved to be more of an issue than anyone could have managed, for WWE as opposed to Sabre Jr. The CWC became a weekly show in 205 Live and the cruiserweight show is struggling. If it had some of the unsigned talents from 2016's CWC that might be a different case.
6 Shouldn't Have Signed: Apollo Crews
Vince McMahon may not come out and say it himself, but it is pretty plain to see that he looks for certain things when he is trying to select his next top star. Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, John Cena, Roman Reigns, all of them and more are WWE Superstars who were hand-selected by the WWE Chairman. They may not all look identical but all of them have a certain look and a certain presence. Over six feet tall, extremely muscular, and basically far beyond what your average human being looks like. That's why when Apollo Crews was called up from NXT fans wondered why the graduation happened so early, it was pretty obvious that Mr.
McMahon had sent word to Triple H after getting word of the man formerly known as Uhaa Nation. Not only is Crews a physical specimen but he can perform moves that a man of his size and stature shouldn't be able to. Crews has gotten lost on Raw though, and at this point, it feels as if McMahon may have forgotten he even exists. Talent like that should not be sitting on the sidelines and Crews could main event elsewhere if he were to leave.
5 Roster Replacement: Kazichuka Okada
WWE has managed to get their hands on quite a few of the top talents from New Japan Pro Wrestling, and at one point it felt like they were positively raiding their Far Eastern rivals. AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Sinsuke Nakamura. Lucky for New Japan, they have a pretty stacked roster right now. For every top star Vince McMahon tempted away from them there was another to step into their place. There are also a few big names who just seem unattainable for McMahon and The Game.
We will cover more of them later on in this list, but in this entry we will focus on the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada. Who exactly the greatest wrestler on the planet right now is a hotly debated topic, and fans would be remiss if they didn't mention Okada in that list. The New Japan star has held the promotion's top prize for almost two full years, and has held the title for more days than anyone else in history when you combine all four of his reigns. Just imagine him having a showdown with John Cena one day if WWE does ever manage to coax him to the US.
4 Shouldn't Have Signed: R-Truth
While some Superstars that struggle to hold down their spot once they make it to WWE, there are others who have a job for life, even if they come and go a number of times. Wrestlers like Kane, Big Show, Chris Jericho and of course, The Undertaker. What most fans likely don't realize is how much of his career R-Truth has spent with WWE. The SmackDown Live Superstar made his main roster debut all the way back in 2000 and wrestled for the promotion's developmental territories before that. Why you might not have known that is because Truth has wrestled under different names in WWE.
Back then, for example, he was known as K-Kwik.
Ringing any bells yet? Truth's tenure under Vince McMahon hasn't been one unbroken eighteen-year stretch, however. The former United States Champion left in 2002 and returned in 2008. He hasn't left the company since. Despite having a cumulative eleven years of WWE experience under his belt, Truth has never really risen up the ranks. Even though he has won championships he has been something of a joke character the entire time. Nowadays he is barely even on TV but he remains under contract.
3 Roster Replacement: Will Ospreay
Zack Sabre Jr isn't the only British star that has competed on WWE television recently. Following the success of the Cruiserweight Classic, Triple H put together another tournament. Sixteen men from the United Kingdom all vying to become WWE's first ever UK Champion. Since then, talented wrestlers such as Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate have become mainstays across various brands in the company. One glaring ommission from the CWC and the WWE's UK division is Will Ospreay. The high flier may very well be the most talented British wrestler on the planet right now, and for the most part there haven't even been murmurs of him coming to WWE.
You would have to imagine that he has been approached and perhaps at this time he isn't interested. Ospreary is currently making quite the name for himself in New Japan, competing in big matches against big name talents. He is even the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion right now. Right now it looks as if Ospreay is more than happy where he is, and who can blame him since he is continuing his ascent up the New Japan card. Maybe he wants to be as big as he possibly can be before succumbing to WWE.
2 Shouldn't Have Signed: Hideo Itami
One of the most exciting times to be an NXT fan came when Triple H managed to capture three huge names pretty much all at the same time. In one fell swoop, The Game announced that he had managed to recruit Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, and Hideo Itami to the Performance Center. Since then, both Owens and Balor have gone on to become NXT Champions, Universal Champions, and those are only the things at the very top of their resume. Meanwhile, Itami is on 205 Live feuding with Akira Tozawa, and the man formerly known as Kenta was supposed to be the best and most promising of the trio when the signings took place.
Unfortunately for Itami, his time with WWE has been peppered with long-term injuries that have derailed his momentum. Every time the Japanese star begins to gain some momentum, he is struck down with injuries. The nasty scar on his shoulder is evidence of that. Most fans would likely not blame Itami if he decided to cut his losses and head back to Japan at this point. He is sticking with WWE though, and clearly, he thinks that there is still something significant for him stateside.
1 Roster Replacement: Cody Rhodes
There are some wrestlers on the indie circuit right now that must have Vince McMahon and Triple H kicking themselves. Performers who were once WWE Superstars but because they weren't booked the way that they felt they deserved to be, they ventured out on their own to find someone who saw the potential in them. Right now there will be no one instilling that feeling into WWE's higher-ups quite like Cody Rhodes. While in WWE the second generation star was given terrible gimmick after terrible gimmick. That ended with Stardust.
It was the one thing Rhodes didn't want to do, but he still powered through with it for quite a while. Eventually, he couldn't stand it anymore and left for the indies. There he has discovered that he isn't the only one who thought he had a lot more potential. In the relatively short time that The American Nightmare has been away from WWE he has become the leader of the Bullet Club and won the Ring Of Honor World Championship. on top of that, he has put together what will be one of the biggest indie shows of all time, selling out a 10,000 seat arena in less than 30 minutes.