World Wrestling Entertainment is a fascinating company at the start of spring 2017. The company has a trio of touring brands, each of which is important for business and for pushing storylines that are featured either on television or via the WWE Network. Truth be told, the entire WWE roster, as a whole, may be deeper than it’s ever been, and yet the company could still use an influx of talent to provide sparks for the Raw, SmackDown and NXT divisions. WWE boss Vince McMahon has, in recent memory, been more open to signing wide varieties of independent wrestling talents, and, thus, some fans may have lists of potential sports entertainers the company could acquire before the end of the year and the start of the 2018 WrestleMania season.
With that said, there nevertheless remains a list of sports entertainers the WWE should probably shy away from as of the posting of this piece. This includes wrestlers who currently perform for promotions such as Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, not to mention people who previously enjoyed stints working underneath the WWE umbrella in one way or another. Those who believe the WWE should simply raid other companies and acquire talent need to remember the company does have its own developmental system. Just like with any sports team, a combination of growing your own stars while at the same time paying for other performers is often, to steal the often-used phrase, what is ultimately best for business.
15 Hulk Hogan
Unless you chose to completely ignore the professional wrestling and entertainment industries over the past several years, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the controversy that resulted in the WWE and Hulk Hogan parting ways in 2015. Time heals all wounds, so the saying goes, but that old adage doesn’t answer the following question: What could Hulk Hogan possibly offer the WWE as an on-air personality in 2017?
The WWE already has the bulk of Hogan’s career available via the WWE Network, so nostalgic fans can go back whenever they want and re-live his glory days. He shouldn’t have another match in a WWE ring. Other than the massive pop he’d draw for a one-off, there is no reason to bring Hogan back.
14 Alberto Del Rio
That the WWE should probably stay away from Alberto Del Rio has nothing to do with his relationship with Paige or any alleged leaked photos and/or videos that surfaced in March 2017. The WWE and Del Rio have come together multiple times during his career, and both of those stints ended with Del Rio parting ways with the company. There are some business endeavors and relationships that just aren’t meant to be, and that seems to be the case as it pertains to Del Rio and the WWE.
The shame is that Del Rio could be a great babyface or heel in the WWE if given the proper opportunities, but what’s done is done. Both parties have seemingly moved on, and that is probably the right call for everybody involved.
13 Kelly Kelly
Even the thought of former WWE Diva Kelly Kelly teasing that she could have one more run as a member of the company’s roster may make some wrestling fans cringe. Kelly performed on the roster before the supposed “revolution” that was meant to signal a shift in how the company presented women’s wrestling, and the result has been the likes of Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley becoming major figures on episodes of Raw.
It should also only be a matter of time before Asuka joins the main roster as a member of either Raw or SmackDown. Kelly is not a star as was either Trish Stratus or Lita, and she likely wouldn’t draw pops from in-arena crowds following her initial return assuming fans actually remembered her in the first place.
12 Juice Robinson
The wrestler who was introduced to WWE fans as C.J. Parker in NXT did not find all that much success as a member of that brand before parting ways with the company. Now going as Juice Robinson, the former Parker has impressed working in multiple promotions, most notably New Japan Pro Wrestling.
While Robinson should be praised for not giving up on his craft and for showing noteworthy improvement as a worker, the WWE would not be all that much better a product if he worked in NXT, SmackDown or Raw. There may, after 2017, come a time when Robinson and the WWE can and will reunite. For now, though, Robinson should continue working on getting better inside the ring and as a performer who may one day be ready for the bright lights of a WrestleMania.
Carlito wouldn’t be a negative on Raw, SmackDown or NXT, but that doesn’t mean signing him would be worth it for the WWE. The company’s current roster actually already has multiple versions of what Carlito would likely be if he were to return to the WWE in 2017.
Dolph Ziggler may be the first example that comes to mind. Ziggler can orchestrate entertaining matches, and he can, when booked properly, cut serious and engaging promos. He has repeatedly failed to get to the level occupied by the top-tier people on the roster, though, and we feel Carlito would experience a similar work environment. Would it really shock you all that much if Carlito became SmackDown’s equivalent of what Jinder Mahal is on Raw shows? Why bother?
10 Daniel Bryan
Those of you who do not watch the Talking Smack shows that air on the WWE Network after SmackDown may be confused upon seeing Daniel Bryan on this list. Bryan has repeatedly teased he's going to make a return to the ring in the future, and it has been hinted, on occasion, he could enter a program versus The Miz.
It's public knowledge Bryan retired as an active wrestler due to issues stemming from the concussions and brain traumas he suffered throughout his amazing career, and even seeing him take a single bump in a WWE ring would be uncomfortable. The WWE cannot stop him from wrestling once his current contract is up, but that doesn’t mean Vince or anybody else within the company should allow him to do so as a member of Raw or SmackDown.
9 Damien Sandow
It really doesn’t feel like it was all that long ago when Damien Sandow was the latest “Internet Darling” similar to what Zack Ryder became after he launched his own YouTube show. That did not last long, however, as Sandow's star fizzled even before he and the WWE parted ways and before he showed up at Impact Wrestling as Aron Rex.
One could make the argument Sandow lost even more momentum since starting up in Impact, so much so that it could be a struggle to produce sufficient reasoning for why the WWE would pursue him. The hope is that Sandow finds money and a successful gimmick now that he isn’t working for the WWE, but the ship that was his future endeavors as a performer within the company has sailed far off into the distance.
8 Rey Mysterio
The WWE is known for looking into the past and bringing back stars from previous eras, but here is one instance where the company should pass. Rey Mysterio is not an accomplished mixed martial artist who once held the UFC Heavyweight Championship as did Brock Lesnar, nor does he have a larger-than-life aura like Goldberg.
It also cannot be ignored Mysterio is not the performer he was in his prime. Putting Mysterio on the cover of a video game may help that product sell to some fans, and Mysterio merchandise may also hold value at live events. Unless it’s for one final goodbye match or a moment at a WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, the company can rest easy staying away from re-signing Mysterio.
7 James Storm
It’s important for any entity to learn lessons from previous decisions. James Storm had a cup of coffee as a member of the NXT brand back in 2015 before electing to return to Impact Wrestling, and that portion of the WWE roster went on just fine without him. Sure, it could have been fun to watch Storm reunite with Bobby Roode for the WWE version of “Beer Money,” but Roode has found a home as the “Glorious” champion of NXT as of the start of spring.
Roode could have a future as a top heel for either Raw or SmackDown, but we don’t need to see any type of Roode versus Storm match in WWE. Once was enough for the brief relationship between Storm and WWE.
6 Bobby Lashley
For all of the (many) things TNA Wrestling/Impact Wrestling messed up over the years, the company’s prior administration does deserve some credit for building Lashley into a dominant monster worthy of carrying the promotion's top championship. That doesn’t mean Lashley would immediately be a hit if he were to return to the WWE. The WWE already has Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and even Goldberg to serve as dominant characters who feud with smaller wrestlers.
Lashley is, in Impact Wrestling, a big fish in a small pond, but he’d probably just get lost in the shuffle and become another body were he to sign with the WWE. He likely wouldn’t be worth any significant investment, even if he was unveiled as the next “Paul Heyman Guy.”
5 Zack Sabre Jr.
We understand why some fans out there may be shocked to see Zack Sabre Jr. on a list of sports entertainers Vince and the WWE should stay away from. Sabre would probably do well as a member of the NXT roster, but we cannot help but think of Sami Zayn upon considering how Vince and WWE writers would position somebody such as Sabre on the main roster.
Zayn has repeatedly been buried in programs with workers such as Braun Strowman and Kevin Owens, and we have to imagine Sabre would receive similar treatment as a member of either Raw or SmackDown. Sabre is doing just fine for himself away from the WWE, which is another reason why spending to obtain his services probably wouldn’t be worth it.
4 The Briscoe Brothers
Imagine what could have been had the WWE signed Mark and Jay Briscoe earlier this decade. It's theoretically possible that they could have been the two members of the Wyatt Family who debuted with Bray Wyatt on an episode of Raw. There comes a time when the shine disappears from the figurative apple, though, and neither of the Briscoes is now what he was when the duo routinely generated attention as part of independent shows.
Remember, also, that Jay Briscoe has a history of causing controversy via social media accounts. Fair or not, the WWE has frowned on such activities in the past, and it serves as yet another reason for why the company should elect to stay away from the Briscoes and instead do better with both Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.
3 Christopher Daniels
Wrestling fans may sometimes wish they could go back in time and make changes to the WWE roster that existed years ago. One example involves Christopher Daniels. The veteran of the ring has had tremendous matches with some of the biggest names in the industry during his lengthy career, and he won the Ring of Honor World Championship in March 2017.
Daniels had the goods on the microphone and inside the ring to be a star in the WWE a decade ago, but the harsh reality is that he's likely in the twilight of his career. We love the idea of Daniels eventually signing for WWE and serving as a trainer for the company’s developmental program, but the company should probably stay away from him as it pertains to on-air sports entertainment.
2 Cody Rhodes
It's not all that crazy to believe that, before the end of 2017, the WWE would entertain the idea of bringing Cody Rhodes back to the company to work mid-card feuds on either Raw or SmackDown. Cody has been making his way through the independent scene and multiple promotions, and he has shown throughout the years that he can go inside the ring with all kinds of opponents.
The problem with the WWE going down this route, though, is that we have already seen this movie play out before us, and we know how the story ends. Cody failed to become a significant star in the WWE for whatever reasons, and there is no indication he would become any sort of Superstar in main events if he and the company came to terms on a new deal.
1 The Broken Hardys
It was widely reported in the opening half of March 2017 that the owners of Impact Wrestling sent a cease and desist regarding the use of the “Broken” Hardy characters that brought much attention to what used to be publicly known as TNA Wrestling. Until that matter is concluded and the WWE is able to showcase the “Broken” universe on its shows, the company should probably elect to stay away from Matt and Jeff Hardy for the time being.
WWE doesn’t need to bother itself dealing with any unnecessary legal or financial battles, and there are better tag team acts out there for the signing. The hope, of course, is that fans around the world will eventually be able to watch Matt’s broken brilliance on either Raw or SmackDown, but it doesn’t appear that will be an option in the foreseeable future.