WWE is still the biggest wrestling company in the world but there are more alternatives than ever before. Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor have been around for 17 years now, New Japan remains a major force in international wrestling, and All Elite Wrestling will launch with their first show this month from Las Vegas.
With so many alternatives, fans have a lot more wrestlers that they can fall in love with other than just those who work within WWE. With that said, it might interest some fans to learn that some of their indie favorites in the various promotions around the world at one time worked for WWE. Here is a look at 10 current indie darlings you forgot wrestled in WWE.
10 KENNY OMEGA
Kenny Omega is one of the top stars in the new AEW and was the biggest signing for the company after only Chris Jericho. He is such a major star that his first match in AEW will be against Jericho at Double or Nothing on May 25. In New Japan, he was a multi-time champion, including a long reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
In 2005, Kenny Omega worked for WWE. He was part of their Deep South Wrestling developmental system and got a full-time deal in that system. However, he asked for his release in 2006 due to a conflict with trainers Bill DeMott and Jody Hamilton and never looked back.
9 CHRISTOPHER DANIELS
"The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels was an Impact Wrestling original and part of the original faction there in SEX. He was also one of the first stars in Ring of Honor, appearing on their first ever PPV and leading the faction The Prophesy. He is now part of AEW and is their Head of Talent Relations.
However, before he helped launch both Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor, he worked in WCW and before that he was in the developmental system in WWE from 1998 until 2001. He worked dark matches and was a jobber on the WWE shows like Sunday Night Heat, Shotgun Saturday Night, and WWF Jakked.
8 TEDDY HART
Teddy Hary is the controversial nephew to Bret "The Hitman" Hart and is part of the New Era Hart Foundation with Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Brian Pillman Jr. in Major League Wrestling. Teddy is actually the current MLW World Middleweight Champion for MLW. However, he is someone whose big mouth has kept him from achieving huge mainstream success.
With that said, Hart did have a shot in WWE at one time. From 1998 until 2002, he was under a developmental deal with WWE and trained at the Funkin' Conservatory with Dory Funk Jr. At the age of 18, he was the youngest wrestler at the time to sign with WWE but was released due to a perceived bad attitude. He returned in 2006 and worked in Ohio Valley and Florida Championship Wrestling but was released again.
7 COLT CABANA
When it comes to WWE fans, Colt Cabana was almost always just known as CM Punk's friend. While the two are no longer friends after legal problems came between them, Cabana will likely always keep that title for many WWE fans who never watch indie wrestling.
The current NWA National Champion was actually part of WWE at one time, although he used a different name. In 2007, Cabana signed on with Ohio Valley Wrestling and worked as Colt Cabana there before he was brought up to SmackDown Live in 2008 and renamed Scotty Goldman. His stint was short as a wrestler and he was released in 2009.
6 JUICE ROBINSON
Juice Robinson is currently a major star in Ring of Honor, running his own faction called Lifeblood with wrestlers like Tracy Williams and Mark Haskins by his side. He was a huge signing for Ring of Honor, as he enjoyed great success in New Japan Pro Wrestling and held their IWGP United States Championship -- the first American to hold the title.
He even beat Cody Rhodes to win the title a second time. However, before this, he worked in WWE NXT under the name C.J. Parker. He was given an environmental gimmick and struggled with it, failing to capture fans' attention and eventually asking for his release in 2015.
PCO is one of the most interesting and crazy wrestlers in Ring of Honor right now. He is a monster star and his gimmick has him playing a monster -- a Frankenstein styled character that came back from the dead, rebuilt and stronger than ever. He won the Ring of Honor and NWA World tag team titles at the age of 51.
It is a career resurgence similar to the one Terry Funk had when he went to ECW. See, old-school fans will know PCO by his name -- Pierre Carl Ouellet. In WWE he was a member of The Quebecers and won three WWE tag team titles with Jacques Rougeau over 20 years ago.
4 KENNY KING
Kenny King has been a member of the Ring of Honor roster for over 10 years now, outside of leaving for a short time for a stint in Impact Wrestling. He has done everything from working in a young tag team with Rhett Titus to working as an ROH TV champion and competing in the X-Division where he held that title twice.
However, it all started out when he was 21 and tried out for the second season of the WWE reality competition series Tough Enough. He ended up training under Al Snow, Chavo Geurrero Jr., Bob Holly, and Ivory. He ended up as one of the finalists.
3 BRIAN CAGE
Brian Cage just won the Impact Wrestling world championship from Johnny Impact and is starting his reign as the new face of the company. Before that, Cage made a huge impression when he worked on Lucha Underground as a huge, hulking monster and took that to Mexico for a stint in Lucha Libre AAA.
For Cage, it all started when he worked with WWE in Deep South Wrestling, where he worked without a WWE contract and then eventually earned a developmental deal with Florida Championship Wrestling. He worked there from 2008-2009 and even held the tag titles at one point with Justin Gabriel before his release.
2 EDDIE EDWARDS
Eddie Edwards has been one of the top indie wrestling stars for over a decade. He gained his biggest acclaim when he worked in Ring of Honor and developed an alliance and rivalry with Davey Richards. The two formed a tag team called The American Wolves and both men were ROH world champions at one point.
Now, Edwards is competing in Impact Wrestling and held their world title on one occasion and was also a five-time tag team champion with Davey there. Interestingly, before he and Davey made their way to Impact, they stopped off at WWE NXT and tried out for the company. They even worked an NXT TV taping, losing to The Ascension, before choosing not to sign with WWE.
1 TESSA BLANCHARD
Charlotte Flair is one of the biggest women stars in WWE, a second generation wrestler and the daughter of Four Horsemen member Nature Boy Ric Flair. In Impact Wrestling, their biggest female star is also a second-generation daughter of a Four Horsemen member -- this one Tully Blanchard's daughter Tessa Blanchard.
Tessa is a former Knockout's Champion, a former Shimmer Tag Team Champion, and the current WOW World Champion. She also had a chance to work for WWE. In 2016, she worked on the NXT brand as enhancement talent and then was eliminated in the first round in the Mae Young Classic.