Despite what the more hardcore wrestling fans think, WWE remains the holy grail of pro wrestling. Many indie wrestlers continue to aspire to be WWE stars one day. Of course, with ROH Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Asistencia Asesoría y Administración and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre being able to pay wrestlers almost as much as WWE does, the wrestlers can choose to never wrestle in a WWE ring and still be well-off. However, given the fact that WWE has a huge worldwide fan base, unlike any other promotion, up-and-coming wrestlers naturally gravitate to WWE.
WWE has also revised its stance on indie wrestlers, as they, on the back of Triple H’s receiving more backstage power, actively scour the free agent-market for top talents. They don’t just raid small promotions like Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Revolution Pro Wrestling, as they’ve even managed to lure big names including EC3, Bobby Lashley, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Karl Anderson, Samoa Joe, Kairi Sane, Io Shirai and many others from their competitors. They aren’t going to stop any time soon as well, with the company recently reiterating their monopoly on pro-wrestling by inking a big-money deals with Fox Broadcasting Company and Saudi General Sports Authority.
The following article looks at 20 potential WWE signings’ probable positioning in the pecking order. We classify the 20 wrestlers into two categories: potential main-eventers and jobbers. This isn't necessarily how we feel about their potential, but rather how WWE would see them.
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24 Main Eventer: Pentagon Jr.
Impact Wrestling received a lot of flack until their recent re-branding and deservedly so. One thing they've done right all along, however, is putting Impact World Championship on the right people. They recently put the title on Pentagon Jr. to everyone's surprise, and it proved to be an excellent move for both the company and the wrestler. He added prestige to the title while also making him a relevant name on the U.S. indie scene.
He, who has also won the Lucha Underground Championship twice, is now one of the most popular masked luchadors there are today and, given the dearth of masked main-eventers in WWE, he can well be a long-term Rey Mysterio replacement there.
23 Jobber: Dalton Castle
Dalton Castle has been a sought-after name on the indies for a long time, with ROH Wrestling even putting the ROH World Championship on him ahead of names like Christopher Daniels and Cody. However, WWE, a company that has aging officials making the big decisions, is certain to find his gimmick similar to that of homegrown talent Velveteen Dream, unmarketable to their big fan base despite their fans holding more progressive beliefs than most other fandom.
He'll only be on the same level of Fandango and Tyler Breeze, who despite their talent, only languish in the undercard thanks to their underwhelming gimmicks.
22 Main Eventer: Kazuchika Okada
It's not a secret that Vince McMahon is in awe of the size of the absolute unit Kazuchika Okada. He, a 6ft 3in 240-pounder, also boasts the wrestling ability that's on a par with the world's best wrestler: himself. Impact Wrestling dropped the ball on him when they had him on their roster a few years ago and, WWE, who have much smarter people at the helm, must know that they secure the license to print money in the event that they make him a main-eventer. The WWE head honchos would be stupid not to identify the drawing power of his potential Universal Championship matches with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose or Brock Lesnar.
21 Jobber: Adam Page
Wrestling experts including Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer have all heaped praise at various points on Adam Page.
The NJPW wrestler puts on solid matches, boasts Finn Balor-esque looks and is excellent at character work. However, he seems to lack the amount of popularity required to make it in WWE.
We've already seen WWE underbook Karl Anderson who, despite his looks, in-ring and promo skills, has only been booked as an undercard or tag-team wrestler thanks to his being less popular than what's necessary for WWE to take an indie star seriously. He'll only be a mid-card wrestler at best in WWE.
20 Main-Eventer: Cody
Cody left WWE after being booked as an undercard guy for many months, and it seems he made the right decision to sacrifice guaranteed cheques for trying his luck on the indies. While he became an overnight star on the indie circuit merely because of his family name, he showed the small indie promoters enough reasons to make him a, if not, the central figure in their promotions.
The bigger promotions like ROH Wrestling, Impact Wrestling and NJPW quickly followed suit, and he now comes across as one of the biggest stars not just on the indies but in the industry. He'll fit right into the WWE's main-event scene now.
19 Jobber: Grado
Given Grado's charisma, it's not surprising that he now comes across as one of the most popular wrestlers on the U.K. indie circuit. His popularity, however, isn't confined only to the United Kingdom, for he's earned a good following in the United States as well. He's now become an Impact Wrestling regular, and definitely has what it takes to be a WWE wrestler.
WWE would look at him and only see him as a Santino Marella type figure in the company.
With WWE now lacking an out-and-out comedy figure, however, he'll have a helluva career in WWE.
18 Main Eventer: Tessa Blanchard
Given the amount of success Randy Orton, Charlotte Flair and Bray Wyatt have all had, one can conclude that coming from a wrestling family is as important as wrestling ability to thrive in WWE. Tessa Blanchard is one of the few talents to boast both: family pedigree and wrestling ability. With her partaking in the Mae Young Classic tournament, many expected her to sign for WWE in early 2018; however, she ended up signing for Impact Wrestling and was even made their Impact Knockouts Champion recently. Were she in WWE, she'd definitely find herself contending for and possibly winning the Women's Championships as well.
17 Jobber: Joey Ryan
Joey Ryan is easily one of the most popular wrestlers on the indie scene today. While he hasn't wrestled for the bigger non-WWE promotions like NJPW, Impact Wrestling or ROH Wrestling in a long time, he's found himself wrestling for most indie promotions in the United States and the United Kingdom. He even claims to receive so many bookings that he doesn't ever need a WWE contract.
However, in the event that he finds himself becoming a WWE wrestler at some point, he must know that he isn't going to ever be a main-event wrestler there. He's won the admiration of the IWC only because of his gimmick, but his gimmick is also the reason why he'd never be a successful mainstream wrestler.
16 Main Eventer: Kenny Omega
If a wrestler's super talented and the Internet Wrestling Community acknowledges their talent, they're going to be successful in WWE even if WWE doesn't have big plans for them.
We've seen Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles both upset the odds to become two of the biggest names in the company.
One wrestler who already has as much star power as them both is IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega.
The Canada-born superstar deserves to be near or at the top of the card of any wrestling promotion he chooses to be at, and WWE is no exception. That said, it seems his fans need to wait a long wait before they see him in a WWE ring.
15 Jobber: Tomohiro Ishii
We established earlier it 's the best time to be a top-class Japanese wrestler. However, merely being super talented isn't going to help a wrestler be a top star in WWE, for one needs to be crazy popular to be as successful as Kairi Sane, Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura are in WWE. His lack of popularity is probably one reason that will hold Tomohiro Ishii back should he find himself wrestling for WWE now. He, a fantastic wrestler in his own right, doesn't receive the plaudits he deserves even by most hardcore wrestling fans, and it'd be stupid to expect the WWE officials to position him as a main-eventer.
14 Main Eventer: Marty Scurll
Despite the landscape of wrestling industry changing, you seldom see small wrestlers making it big. Only a fortunate few have been able to break the stereotypes to receive the push they deserve, and Marty Scurll definitely looks set to turn into one of those fortunate few.
Many wrestling experts, including Paul Heyman, who has an eye for outstanding talent, have expressed their admiration for his work.
He hasn't found himself winning the world titles at the bigger promotions like ROH Wrestling and NJPW, but he's been deservedly crowned a world champion in Britain and is a two-time Progress World Champion. In WWE, he'll definitely be in the main event more often than most wrestlers of his size will ever do.
13 Jobber: Eddie Edwards
Eddie Edwards’ stocks have been on the rise in the recent times, with his winning Impact World Championship and GHC Heavyweight Championship and securing wins against few of the biggest names Impact Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah has to offer, including EC3, Bobby Lashley, Cody, Naomichi Marufuji, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Eli Drake. Even after dropping the titles, he's found himself working with high-profile wrestlers like Tommy Dreamer. Despite his talent though, he lacks what's essential to make it in WWE: charisma.
Should he find himself working for WWE, he'll find hanging with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose super difficult. In WWE, he'd only be a tag-team wrestler or a mid-carder if he's lucky.
12 Main Eventer: Tetsuya Naito
Tetsuya Naito's only IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign lasted only 70 minutes, with his reign being the shortest since mid-2009. Many believe NJPW must treat the 36-year-old better. However, given his multiple IWGP Intercontinental Championship and G1 Climax wins, it's now common knowledge that he, a certified main-eventer at NJPW, will embark on a long title reign sooner than later.
While his chances of winning Universal Championship or WWE Championship would be slim, he certainly would be main-eventing alongside Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns should he find himself in WWE. After all, WWE is all about charisma, and no wrestler from Japan, perhaps except for Shinsuke Nakamura, has ever been as charismatic as him.
11 Jobber: Chuck Taylor
Chuck Taylor has been one of the most entertaining figures on the indie scene, and he's been everything that indie wrestling has been said to lack: charismatic, solid promo and funny.
He's essentially become as popular as he is today thanks to the fun spots and segments he does; however, they're also the reason why he'd never be booked seriously by WWE.
While most indie wrestlers are capable of creating much funnier segments than what WWE have put out in the recent times, perhaps except for The New Day, the type of comedy indie wrestlers do won't ever impress the aging WWE decision makers. He'll only find himself near the bottom of the card unless he drops his funny antics.
10 Main-Eventer: Mayu Iwatani
With the growing popularity of wrestling in Japan, WWE have been forced to push their stars from there. Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Akira Tozawa have all won major titles while Hideo Itami and Io Shirai have been booked as dominant figures.
It's only a matter of time before WWE signs a few more performers to form an all-Japan faction.
They'll eventually get to the big names from NJPW, but one signing they'll make sooner than later is Mayu Iwatani.
She, the face of World Wonder Ring Stardom, already boasts the tools to outwork most WWE wrestlers, and her talent will surely triumph WWE's potential attempts at under-booking her.
9 Jobber: Nick Aldis
Not all Impact World Champions are fantastic wrestlers. Perhaps, the only exception, at least according to the IWC, is Nick Aldis, who went by the name Magnus while he was there. He has managed to have a decent amount of success since his departure from Impact Wrestling, even winning the prestigious NWA World Championship once.
However, he still seems to lack what it takes to be a major star despite his outstanding looks, experience and resume. While his wife, Mickie James, is now regarded as a WWE legend, he will only be a Nick James at best under the WWE umbrella.
8 Main Eventer: Tama Tonga
One wrestler who's just as talented as Nick Aldis but looks destined to have more success than him in WWE is Tama Tonga. What the Bullet Club man lacks in in-ring ability, he makes up for in mic work.
He's easily one of the best talkers in the industry today.
In fact, it's easily what makes him one of the biggest stars in NJPW today besides the fact that he looks like a hybrid of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. As we know, you don't need to be an in-ring technician to be successful in WWE; all you need is family pedigree, charisma and looks, and he, Haku's adopted son, has all three.
7 Jobber: Joe Hendry
Even when Joe Hendry was making corny yet amazing entrance videos for ICW and Defiant Wrestling, many wrestling enthusiasts tipped him to become a WWE wrestler one day. With his now wrestling regularly for Impact Wrestling in the United States now, even wrestling fans in North America seem to see why he'll be a natural fit in WWE. While he, a charismatic worker, was wrestling for big titles in England, he'd only be used in filler matches and comedic segments in WWE. In the event that he has no problem with being used a comedic jobber, however, he'll be on WWE's payroll for longer than many other comedic jobbers before him.
6 Main Eventer: Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. is easily one of the most polarizing figures in wrestling today. His diehard fans claim that no one gets him and his critics call him useless.
The wrestling experts and bookers, however, consider him a top star, and their opinions definitely matter more than your average Joe.
Most wrestling promotions, including Evolve, Revolution Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Noah, NJPW, PWG and Progress Wrestling have all booked him as a dominant figure. Dave Meltzer has even named him Best Technical Wrestler four years in a row. WWE would be foolish not to hand him a big push.
5 Jobber: Eli Drake
Former Impact World Champion Eli Drake is one of the most entertaining acts in wrestling today. He's had fantastic feuds with numerous big names including Austin Aries, Alberto El Patron and Pentagon Jr. In the event that he continues to improve, he will find himself signing for NXT in the near future. However, he seems to lack the it-factor that a wrestler needs to make it in WWE so, while it's a given that he'll challenge for the N.A. Championship or Tag Team Championship in NXT, he'll likely be rotting near the bottom of the card on the main roster.
4 Main Eventer: Rey Mysterio
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Vince McMahon seems to have realized by now that Mysterio truly was one of a kind, as all of his attempts at replacing the legendary luchador have failed.
Mysterio has made several one-off appearances for WWE and you have to think it's partly because of Vince seeing the value Rey brings.
If he were brought back on a long-term deal, Mysterio wouldn't be given a world title run, but he may very well find his way back in the main event scene, occasionally headlining PPVs, much like he did in his first WWE stint.
3 Jobber: The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks are arguably the best tag team in the world and there have long been reports of WWE trying to bring them in. The Young Bucks have so far steered clear of a WWE contract primarily because of how well they've done on the indies. They feel they have more freedom creatively and financially, they claim to be very well set.
We've seen the WWE bungle plenty of tag teams before. Even tag teams that came in with tons of hype have quickly floundered once on the main roster. The Young Bucks are probably right to worry that if they were to go to WWE, they'd eventually get lost in the shuffle.
2 Main Eventer: Rosemary
Rosemary has a unique character and that's something that Vince McMahon loves in his talents. She could easily step into WWE and land some big feuds with the likes of Sasha Banks, Charlotte or even a tweener Becky Lynch. Rosemary is doing well in Impact and has reportedly caught the attention of those in WWE.
Rosemary has been outspoken against WWE before, particularly when the first Women's Royal Rumble took place, but then again, that could've just been her staying in character. Either way, Rosemary would be a welcome addition to the women's roster.
1 Jobber: Matt Sydal
While Matt Sydal has reinvented himself somewhat on the indies since his WWE stint, at this point, it's difficult to imagine that WWE would use him much differently than they did back when he was with the company. With Sydal's work the past few years, he's probably earned a second chance with WWE if he wants it, but the best he could hope for is to stay in NXT, where he'd be better used. On the main roster, Sydal would get lost in the shuffle, much like he did as Evan Bourne. That, or he'd get teamed with R-Truth.