With every new year, WWE fans get excited about possible new signees for the company. As with most other sports, competitors usually sign contracts that last a few years at most, with some contracts only lasting a year. Even more, some wrestlers compete on a per-appearance basis, getting paid not through a contract but directly by the promoter after they compete. However, all contracts and agreements eventually expire, and every expiration comes with new possibilities and new options.
The best example is from 2016, when AJ Styles famously made his unannounced debut as the third entrant into the Royal Rumble. His ability to bypass NXT is unheard of, as he and his fellow Bullet Club brothers, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, are the only wrestlers from the past few years that have been able to do so, with some wrestlers even having to go through NXT multiple times.
Styles signing with the WWE was groundbreaking, in that it marked the WWE’s willingness to use someone’s former independent name, as they have done with Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Eric Young, and Lio Rush, and it also showed that one of the most respected indie performers on the planet viewed the WWE as a viable employer.
With 2019 just around the corner, is another groundbreaking signing like AJ Styles in the works? Who are the WWE going to target going into the new year? Triple H and Vince McMahon have notoriously different tastes, so here are just some of the wrestlers that each man is likely interested in.
20 Vince Wants: Matt Morgan
Matt Morgan was one of TNA/Impact’s biggest stars. He even competed with TNA as recently as 2017, as part of Team Jeremy Borash in the weird feud between Borash and Josh Matthews. The WWE have shown mild interest in Matt Morgan since 2013, and they have attempted to court him on and off since then. He has an extremely impressive physique, something that Vince surely loves about him.
While some may think it's unlikely that Matt Morgan will sign with the WWE, as he is currently focusing on other endeavors, the WWE also has a working relationship with Kane, who has similar outside responsibilities to Morgan, so never say never.
19 Triple H Wants: Trevor Lee
Trevor Lee is a big name in Impact. He is one of their most valuable cruiserweights, as he is a 3-time X Division Champion. Trevor Lee is also one of their more reliable talents, as he is currently the leader of “The Cult of Lee,” on Impact. Trevor Lee is extremely decorated performer, as he has competed against multiple current WWE stars in the past few years, including Ricochet, Matt Hardy, Tommaso Ciampa, and Matt Riddle, just to name a few. With Triple H’s desire to populate the 205 Live roster and give it new life, Trevor Lee is undoubtedly on his radar.
18 Vince Wants: Maxwell Jacob Friedman
Maxwell Jacob Friedman, also known as MJF, was a relatively unknown talent before competing at All In this year, even though it was losing effort against Matt Cross. He is currently CZW Champion, a belt that has been held by the likes of Taijiri, Lio Rush, Drew Gulak, and former WWE Champion Dean Ambrose. Vince McMahon surely loves MJF’s gimmick as well, as he is billed as Major League Wrestling’s “top 1-percent,” a gimmick currently used by another of Vince’s favorites, EC3. As MJF is also a fairly young and unknown talent in the wider indie scene, he could be a steal for the WWE if they are able to sign him early.
17 Triple H Wants: Darby Allin
Another big Major League Wrestling star that the WWE is likely interested in is Darby Allin. However, unlike MJF and others, there is nothing particularly flashy about Darby Allin that would draw Vince McMahon’s eye, but his in-ring ability has already caught the eye of Triple H.
Current NXT star Velveteen Dream faced off against Darby Allin at Evolve 113, and this match was surprisingly promoted by the WWE, and everyone knows that WWE doesn't like to give attention to many other promotions. As mentioned with Shane Strickland, WWE has a working relationship with Evolve, so Triple H surely has his eye on Allin.
16 Vince Wants: Hannibal
Also known as Devon Nicholson, Hannibal has been on the WWE’s radar for well over a decade. He competed for them in the mid-2000s, with a match on WWE Heat and Smackdown. He had a tryout match in 2014 in Iowa, a match that the WWE themselves went to as opposed to having Nicholson come to them. However, he left the WWE only a couple of years ago after an incident with head trainer Bill DeMott and Luke Gallows.
Due to this, Hannibal is likely to have no interest in returning to work in NXT with DeMott, but if Vince could give him some sort of preferential treatment, Hannibal could return ot the WWE.
15 Triple H Wants: Pentagon Jr.
While initially showing no interest in the former Impact Champion, the WWE have recently shown much interest in signing the luchador of many names. This interest is almost surely all from Triple H, as Vince has likely has his sights on a different luchador. However, the fact that Pentagon Jr. was booked in a match with Kenny Omega in September’s All In show and held his own was surely a sign of how he is viewed by his fellow indie stars. Pentagon Jr. currently has a packed schedule, working consistently for 4 different promotions. However, if the money is right, he could surely make his way to the WWE.
14 Vince Wants: Bandido
While Vince has managed to sign Rey Mysterio, as stated earlier, he likely wants a luchador that he can groom to take Rey’s place once he leaves. Vince likely views Pentagon Jr. as too dark to be the next big luchador in the WWE’s PG era. However, with Bandido being a relative unknown on the scene before his match in the main event of All In, it is highly likely that Vince sees Bandido as more groom-able. Bandido’s lack of notoriety will allow him to reinvent himself in the WWE into a luchador that can be the next big thing after Mysterio eventually retires.
13 Triple H Wants: Tessa Blanchard
Ever since April of 2018, the WWE have shown varying levels of interest in Tessa Blanchard, daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard and girlfriend of current NXT North American Champion, Ricochet. The WWE likely wanted Tessa for the second iteration of the May Young Classic. Tessa Blanchard was a prominent name during the first May Young Classic in 2017, but she was eventually eliminated by Kairi Sane and did not sign a developmental deal.
As Triple H is the force behind NXT, the birthplace of the women’s revolution in the WWE, it's more than likely that Triple H is very interested in Tessa Blanchard.
12 Vince Wants: Brian Pillman Jr.
Though he hasn’t been an in-ring competitor for very long, Brian Pillman Jr., son of the late Canadian Hall of Fame wrestler Brian Pillman, has already begun to turn heads in both the WWE and NJPW. Pillman Jr. currently wrestles for Major League Wrestling, like many other wrestlers on this list, and the WWE seem to be using MLW as an unofficial feeding ground for new talent. If the WWE do go after Brian Pillman Jr., it is likely that Vince McMahon himself would be the one to court the young wrestler, if only out of respect for his late father, who died while under Vince’s employ.
11 Triple H Wants: Marty Scurll
Marty Scurll is without a doubt one of the most popular, if not the most popular, cruiserweight on the scene today, whether you count WWE or not. Scurll currently wrestles for Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, and New Japan. While WWE has not shown interest in him as much as they have most other members of the Bullet Club, Scurll is one of the most likely to sign with the WWE. He is a hot British talent that the WWE would likely love to steal from World of Sport Wrestling and he would be a welcome addition to NXT UK, Triple H’s latest pet project.
10 Vince Wants: Bad Luck Fale
Fale is one of the few Bullet Club members that the WWE has failed to get to jump ship in the past few years. The WWE would undoubtedly love to have Fale on their roster. He is a decorated NJPW veteran, as he has been with the company for only 6 years but is already a former IWGP Intercontinental Champion and a 3-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. He is also a very experienced wrestler, as he opened his own dojo in 2017. What makes Fale most appealing to the WWE, particularly Vince, is the fact that Fale stands at an imposing 6’4” and tips the scales at nearly 350 pounds.
9 Triple H Wants: Fred Yehi
The WWE has been interested in Fred Yehi as far back as October of 2017. Yehi is not as well known as a lot of the other wrestlers on this list, but he has done a lot in in his short tenure. Most notably, Yehi is a former Evolve Tag Team Champion, a title which is held by current NXT stars the Street Profits. In his short stint on the indie scene, Yehi has defeated people like Tony Neese, Ricochet, Chris Brookes, and Simon Gotch. Yehi is not a big guy, though, as he comes in at just over 200 lbs, surely making Triple H’s radar as a future 205 Live roster member.
8 Vince Wants: Jeff Cobb
The recent signing of Matt Riddle is just one in a long list of WWE wrestlers who have an MMA background. It is without a doubt that Vince likes all of these legitimate fighters going to the WWE, as it adds an air of legitimacy to the company, therefore Matt Riddle’s former tag team partner Jeff Cobb is likely on Vince’s radar. Cobb has had a successful run in multiple promotions around the world, including PROGRESS, a company that the WWE are known to have a professional relationship with. Cobb also competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics in the men’s 84 kg class. Cobb is most definitely on Vince’s short list for 2019.
7 Triple H Wants: Cody
When Cody Rhodes left the WWE, not that many fans batted an eye at first. Sure, he was a reliable hand and won his fair share of gold, but his run as Stardust had been lackluster at best. Cody cited creative frustrations as one of the major reasons why he left. However, after the release of the latest run of the new and final “Bullet Club” shirts, many are speculating that 2019 will see the return of Cody to the WWE.
If Cody is recruited by Triple H, a man who surely sees the talent that main roster creative overlooked, Cody is more likely to make his return.
6 Vince Wants: Michael Elgin
Reports as early as 2015 said that the WWE were interested in Michael Elgin. Elgin has had a very successful run in NJPW and PWG, while also starting his own promotion, Glory Pro. Sadly, Elgin is known as being sort of a problem backstage, drawing major heat in the New Japan locker room in the beginning of 2018. However, as true WWE fans know, the company has never been scared of abiding questionable backstage figures.
Additionally, while Elgin is a shorter guy, standing just under six feet tall, he is billed as being just under 250 lbs. Everyone knows that Vince loves big guys, and Elgin certainly isn’t small.
5 Triple H Wants: Adam Page
Adam Page might just be the best kept secret out of all of the members of the Bullet Club. After putting on an insane performance against Joey Janela at All In this year, many of the more casual fans had a renewed sense of respect for Page. While he doesn’t have the same notoriety as many of the other Bullet Club members, Triple H definitely was keeping an eye of All In and, if he didn’t who how Adam Page was before, he does now. Also, it was recently reported that Page rejected a contract offer from his long-time home, ROH. Perhaps Triple H has already reached out to Adam Page for 2019.
4 Vince Wants: WALTER
Big Daddy Walter was nearly going to go down as the best big man to never wrestle for the WWE. At 6’4” and 310 lbs, Walter is certainly no small man. Everyone knows that Vince McMahon loves big men whether they can wrestle or not, and the WWE has been interested in Walter for all of 2018, attempting to sign him around the same time that they hired Keith Lee earlier this year. However, with the formation of NXT UK, it's looking more likely that Walter is willing to sign with the WWE as a part of the NXT UK roster.
3 Triple H Wants: The Young Bucks
While they worked as enhancement talent in the WWE before, briefly appearing on SmackDown and the revived ECW in 2008, Matt and Nick Jackson have become the most famous tag team in all of WWE. Just like their Elite friends, The Young Bucks’ contract expires soon, and there are hints that the Bucks might be on their way to the WWE in 2019. However, while Vince is known not to be too high on tag team wrestling, Triple H quite obviously is. When looking at the tag teams that have come through NXT over the past few years it is true that, when the tag teams are handled by Triple H, they can work very well.
2 Vince Wants: Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega just becomes more and more famous the longer he stays away from WWE and, love him or hate him, Vince McMahon has his finger on the pulse of the world of wrestling. Vince definitely feels threatened by NJPW, which is obvious from the lawsuit that the WWE filed in regards to the “Too Sweet” phrase and hand gesture. Omega is currently the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, but he could easily drop the belt at Wrestle Kingdom 13, which takes place the same month that his contract expires. When Omega’s contract expires, it is a safe bet that Vince will have already made an offer to Kenny Omega.
1 Triple H Wants: Shane Strickland
According to reports from August of 2018, the WWE is very interested in signing Shane Strickland. Currently, he holds the MLW World Heavyweight Championship, but he still has plenty of time to lose that championship before he signs with the WWE. Perhaps the most telling sign that he will sign with the WWE in 2019 is the fact that Strickland, wrestling as Killshot, lost his mask vs. mask match with Son of Havoc at Ultima Lucha Cuatro, Lucha Underground’s version of WrestleMania. Strickland is currently the Evolve Champion, and Evolve is a company with a well-known working relationship with the WWE.