As fans are well aware, WWE are reviving their brand split which first began way back in 2002 before being abandoned in the 2010s, and many things need to be done or changed within the company to ensure that this venture is as successful as possible, such as better (not 50/50 style) booking, more creative writing and the most important of all, more talent to fill out the separate rosters that will need to fill 5 hours of TV a week. The latter is what this article will be focused on, as rumor has it WWE is reaching out to former stars, looking to raid the NXT roster, which is full of main roster-ready talents like Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, American Alpha and Bayley, as well as scouring the independent scene to fill out these rosters.
Many independent talents have come to WWE over the course of the last few years, like Prince Devitt, Kevin Steen, El Generico and AJ Styles, which has influenced a new era in the organization, which they are aiming to capitalize on with the brand split. While those wrestlers came from New Japan Pro Wrestling, TNA or Ring of Honor, there is one source that WWE has had much interest in but has yet to come to terms with, and that is talent from the highly acclaimed Lucha Underground. And while no stars have jumped to WWE yet, the money offer may be too much to turn down.
Here are the 15 Lucha Underground stars who could thrive within the WWE if they were to make the jump in the near future.
29 PJ Black
The first of several former WWE performers, Justin Gabriel was never given a fair run despite his obvious talents in WWE, whether it be with the Nexus, the Corre or on his own, he remained a fan favorite until the day he was released by the company in order to reinvent himself again on the independent scene. And reinvent himself he has done, reverting to his old moniker of PJ Black, he has been wrestling around the world as the ‘Darewolf’ in the UK, all over America, and most importantly in Lucha Underground, where he currently holds the Trios Championship. While there may be friction with the former Gabriel and COO Triple H which could definitely prevent a return to the company, it would be in their best interests to pursue the South African daredevil to fill the roster with the upcoming brand split, as he would make a fantastic addition to the mid-card scene on either show.
A new comer to the Temple, Killshot has a background as a soldier and it has become a big part of his Lucha Underground persona, however most fans probably know him as Shane Strickland who competes all around the world, most prominently CZW where he is one of the better and more promising young athletes in that promotion. While he is quite new in Lucha Underground, he has shown promise both in the ring and with his character work, where he was given the background of a military veteran who always has dog tags present in his matches in memory of fallen comrades, which has become the centerpiece of his first major feud on the show with Marty “The Moth” Martinez. Whether it be as masked Killshot or his CZW/independent moniker of Shane Strickland, he would make a fantastic addition to the NXT roster as he has fantastic in ring ability, potential as a character and brings with him 7 years of professional wrestling experience.
Though not an in ring competitor, Catrina has added something to the act of Mil Muertes since his first appearance in Lucha Underground, and whether she accompanies Mil to the WWE, or is used as a manager for another competitor, there is no doubt that she can work a crowd and use her intimidating sex appeal to great advantage, which would help any star she is partnered with (just look at how good the Miz has been since the return of Maryse to help his act). Although the full act that Catrina portrays in LU (which includes the very seductive ‘kiss of death’) would not be deemed appropriate for the modern day PG WWE, a managerial role in the same vain as Lana for Rusev would net her a very important role in the company and would no doubt elevate her partner, whether baby face or heel.
23 Rey Mysterio
Perhaps the biggest name on this list from a star power perspective, Mysterio competed in the WWE during the original brand split, and despite poor booking he became one of the most popular stars in the modern day WWE, winning the respect of fans and peers alike, becoming a merchandise machine for the company due to his recognisable mask. Obviously a name as big as Mysterio, who left WWE on good terms would be on the radar of the company to return when talent is desperately needed for the brand split, but whether the 41 year old who has had a long, illustrious career riddled with injury wants to return is another thing. If however, Mysterio made his grand return to the WWE, he would no doubt be a fantastic mentor in the ring for guys like Neville, Sami Zayn and Finn Balor, and of course a match featuring the most famous mask of all time vs. Kalisto, WWE’s attempt to replicate Mysterio’s success could do great business for the company.
21 Sexy Star
While this one may be one of the least likely on the list, due to the announcement that sexy star is off to the world of boxing after her Lucha Underground commitments are done, but what an addition she would make to the Women’s roster. At the age of 33, Star (born Dulce Rivas, a AAA standout for years) would bring a veteran presence for the young women looking to solidify female wrestling in the industry for years to come, and would still be able to put on amazing matches with the likes of Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha Banks. In a male dominated promotion where a women’s championship is non existent, Star separated herself from the get go with her never say die matches, winning the Gift of the Gods Championship, and out wrestling many men who she came to blows with, one can only hope to see her in WWE one day, or at least back into LU if her career as a boxer does not pan out the way she hopes.
One of the more underrated and consistent performers in the early days of Lucha Underground has been masked sensation Fenix, who continually puts on breath taking performances for the believers in the Temple, and even won the Lucha Underground Championship, being just the third man after Prince Puma and Mil Muertes to hold the belt, eventually dropping it in the second ever Aztec Warfare match. Though WWE don’t have a great track record of booking smaller, masked wrestlers (Rey Mysterio was one of the worst booked World Champions since the Attitude Era and Kalisto had quite the forgettable run as US Champion recently), a run in NXT in front of the loyal Full Sail crowd would do wonders for the career of Fenix, as he would be given an opportunity to show off his incredible move set, and would further help WWE appeal to the Latino market.
The stand out female performer in the first few seasons of Lucha Underground, Ivelisse, a former WWE prospect has undergone a major character arc, much like many competitors within the company, and is now one of the more bad ass, respected characters on the show, alongside her boys Angelico and Son of Havoc. To buck the norm that WWE has set, Lucha Underground often features male on female wrestling, and no one in the company holds her own with the men like Ivelisse, perhaps why she called herself the baddest bitch in the room, and a credible star like this would boost the depth and caliber of the women’s division in the upcoming brand split, especially if they go the route which has been teased which is splitting the division into two like the rest of the roster.
One of the stand out competitors in the Temple over the first two seasons from an in ring perspective is South African flier Angelico, who uses a combination of death defying aerial assaults and stiff kicks with his long legs, and has become a fan favorite due to this and his character development with partners Ivelisse and Son of Havoc. While Angelico has been able to show off more of his character in Lucha Underground, one only has to check out his multitude of great matches from Pro Wrestling Guerilla to see just how amazing he is in the ring, and with WWE’s greater emphasis on this ability he would make a perfect fit to fill the upcoming void in NXT, with talents such as Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Austin Aries expected to leave for the brand split or shortly thereafter.
13 Johnny Mundo
Another former WWE superstar, competing as John Morrison/Jonny Nitro, Mundo had everything a star could need to succeed in WWE, the looks, the ability and the star power, but never received much recognition for this all around package, other than a main event here or there and a few Intercontinental Championship reigns. After a hiatus from the professional wrestling business, which he had been a part of for the better part of a decade, where he tried his hand at acting, Morrison returned to a huge baby face following in the first stages of Lucha Underground, competing in the first ever LU main event, a well received match with his first season rival, Prince Puma. The two battled it out on and off for the rest of the season and even had a heart wrenching Ironman match which ended 5-4 dramatically in favor of Puma, but this match and every one Mundo competed in proved he still has what it takes to be a star in the industry, and WWE would be wise to capitalize on this, as he could potentially have a run as a main eventer on either main roster show, or be a valued member of the IC/US title picture.
11 Mil Muertes
Although he is quite advanced in age, the resurgence of El Judas Mesias from Puerto Rico and Total Nonstop Action has been plain for all to see as the ‘man of 1000 deaths’ from the beginning of Lucha Underground until the present day. Flanked by the gorgeous Catrina in combination with his intimidating size, Muertes has risen to the top of the food chain in Lucha Underground after performing all around the world during his long illustrious career. The one place that he has not competed is the WWE, and at an advanced age of 40+, a long run is not on the cards, yet a man with the experience and knowledge that he possesses would help beyond just the in ring aspect of the business, and he could be a perfect mentor for the Wyatt Family or another mixed role where he can combine in ring competition and on screen influence.
9 Prince Puma
This one has been making its way around the rumor mill recently, with reports that Puma (Ricochet to most independent fans) will not return for the next season of Lucha Underground, and while WWE can not offer him a contract due to his LU situation, he is definitely on their radar. For years now, Ricochet has been a stand out on the independent scene, travelling all over Europe, the U.S, Mexico and Japan, and has been known as the best high flier in the entire wrestling business, and was seen as a great business decision by the new Lucha Underground when they decided to make him, as his new persona Prince Puma the corner stone of season 1, where he won the first ever main event, the first ever Aztec Warfare and of course, the first ever Lucha Underground Championship. There is no doubt that WWE would drop the Prince Puma name, and may or may not let him use his Ricochet name, but there is no doubt that he would shoot right to the top of the ladder in NXT upon arrival, and with some patience, that is something the Full Sail crowd should be witnessing within the next year or two.
7 Dario Cueto
Its not only in ring Lucha Underground talent that make it one of the best wrestling shows on TV, but the on air authority figure who actually plays his role well and enhances the product in the form of Dario Cueto, who has made his mark on the company as both a baby face and a heel. Starting out as a ruthless owner of Lucha Underground, Cueto made his appetite for violence and blood known from the get go, and with his background experience as an actor made life hell for the baby faces on the roster, yet did it in a positive way, which enhanced the talent rather than made it about the main authority figure which WWE certainly has the propensity to do. As was announced on RAW this week, the two shows will be having GM’s to work under Shane and Stephanie who are the commissioners on Smackdown and RAW respectively, and this role would be perfectly suited for Cueto to breathe new life into the product, which one would imagine is one of the main reasons for the brand split to be going ahead in the first place.
5 The Mack
Willie Mack has been wrestling on the American independent scene for the better part of the last decade, thriving in PWG and many other smaller promotions, before WWE noticed his size, charisma and athletic ability and signed him to a developmental deal in 2014. However this deal was short lived, and the Mack ended up back travelling the indy scene with promotions such as PWG, before he ended up in Lucha Underground, where he has been an integral fan favorite in the Temple due to his fun loving nature and hart hitting, explosive offense. Despite his body type (which has proven not to be a problem when you look at Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens), he could be a major player on the main roster for WWE, and for a performer with the all around ability of the Mack, who is yet to hit 30 and has been wrestling for over a decade, WWE would be wise to bring him in and slowly pull the trigger on him as a top guy in the company, as he could do great business for them inside and out of the ring.
3 Pentagon Jr.
Perhaps the most popular star in the entire promotion, Pentagon Jr. became a cult hero with his meteoric rise during the first season of the show, with a phenomenal character and a great storyline which culminated in his master being revealed as Vampiro, the announcer with whom he had just had a brutal hardcore match. The believers in the Temple were absolutely captivated and enthralled by the entire storyline, and when he returned in season 2 he was greeted as a hero, and while this hasn’t resulted in a LU Championship yet, Pentagon has still shown the ability to carry a show as the top guy, with a great character and brutal in ring ability. Rumor has it that WWE is showing much interest in the Mexican sensation that won AAA wrestler of the year, and is the current Lucha Underground champion, and while WWE may not be in his immediate future due to the obvious success he is experiencing in AAA and LU, if ever he made the trip to NXT, there is no doubt Triple H and the team in Orlando would take full advantage of Pentagon’s talent.
Cage had a brief run in WWE in developmental, but never reached the main roster, which is a surprise given his jacked physique and surprisingly agile wrestling ability, all of which have been taken full advantage of during the first 2 seasons in the Temple. With one of the most intimidating bodies in all of wrestling, with the ability to wrestle like a Seth Rollins, it is quite puzzling why WWE have never given Cage another offer since his departure from developmental, especially given the lack of true main event stars in recent time, which Cage could definitely be if booked as the monster technician he is, while given an interesting story line and character to connect immediately with the fans. At the age of 32 with over a decade of pro wrestling under his belt, he is in the prime of his career, and a return to the WWE during this brand split could give WWE a full time monster heel which could anchor the main event scene of one show, while also having the wrestling ability to match up with huge baby face stars like Sami Zayn, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins (like it or not WWE, Seth is a baby face).
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