Ever since the WWE put Triple H in charge of running their developmental territory, NXT went from a basic farm system to arguably the hottest wrestling brand in the world. Instead of signing the typical meathead or model, Triple H went down a different path-ya know, signing actual wrestlers. Now, top competitors from around the globe have joined on with WWE, which is why both NXT and the WWE is what it is today. Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Adrian Neville, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami and Samoa Joe were all top names on the independent circuit before joining the company.
Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX. Rollins is the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and has been for five months. Owens, Cesaro and Neville are three great talents shown on WWE television each week. Zayn, Balor, Itami and Samoa Joe all have either been on top, or are currently on top of the NXT card.
Triple H has shifted the focus tremendously since taking over and one after another, his signings have proven to be hits. Sure, he had his share of busts, including Mistico and Awesome Kong, but he's turned the corner and he's had more hits than misses. Triple H's amazing work in NXT and with talent has somewhat redeemed his image in the eyes of the IWC, who have generally long been Triple H critics/haters. Now though, the WWE looks like it will be in good hands if/when Triple H takes over all wrestling operations.
While the entire WWE brand currently features some of the best talent in wrestling, you are sorely mistaken if you think there are wrestlers out there that could give the group above a run for their money. Here is a group of 15 wrestlers that the WWE needs to sign.
When it comes to wrestlers that the WWE needs to sign, you should look no further than ACH, currently in Ring of Honor. Wrestling for notable independent companies like Chikara, Combat Zone Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Dragon Gate USA in the past, ACH has done just about everything he could before heading to Florida and making NXT his next conquest.
A combination of high-flying maneuvers and strong impact styles, ACH would be a welcomed addition to the company. Although he’s on the small side (5-foot-9), Triple H has done a fantastic job looking past the physique of wrestlers, as he’s concentrated more on their in-ring performance. With that being said, ACH would bring great competition and in-ring prowess to either the tag-team division or mid card scene.
14 Michael Bennett
Continuing with the theme of ROH, the next man WWE should look into signing is Michael Bennett. As one half of “The Kingdom” (one of ROH’s best tag-teams), Bennett has gone from a basic talent to someone who has not only garnered the respect of the ROH fan base, but also has established himself as one of the best talents in their company. Not only has he found success in ROH, but also had the chance to work in New Japan Pro Wrestling – the world's second biggest wrestling company – and even went on to capture the IWGP Tag-Team Championships. Whether it is his strong technical skill, charisma or the way he speaks on the microphone, Bennett looks the part of a prototypical WWE wrestler – and someone who I could see eventually signing there.
13 Ethan Carter III
If Ethan Carter III looks familiar to some WWE fans, it’s for good reason; before making his way to TNA Impact Wrestling, Carter spent time on the fourth season of NXT as Derrick Bateman. After being released from the WWE, he joined the ranks of TNA, where he rose to the top rather quickly, and is not only seen as one of their best talents, but is also the current TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Getting let go by the WWE may have been best for him in the long run, as he was able improve all across the board, including in the ring and on the mic. Don’t be surprised if the WWE’s higher ups have noticed his vast improvements while in TNA, and eventually giving him a second chance with the company.
12 Jay Briscoe
Jay Briscoe isn’t foreign to WWE rumors; there were many times where he and his brother Mark were “close” to signing a deal. However, after re-upping with ROH in April, it seems like he will be there for the foreseeable future. That’s unfortunate for WWE, as he would automatically be one of NXT’s top stars. He won’t get confused with Bret Hart; a mat technician he is not. However, he is truly one of the great brawlers in all of the independents. On top of that, his mic skills are tantalizing, as he displays his raw emotions through his words. If he didn’t have such loyalty with his brother, I’m sure he would have already signed on to the WWE. Although he is older, the WWE could still take a look at him as a Samoa Joe-like talent.
11 Rich Swann
Although there are strong rumors that he has inked a developmental contract with the WWE, nothing has been confirmed; hence, Rich Swann’s inclusion on the list. Still young (24 years old), Swann has traveled the world as a wrestler, gaining experience in Dragon Gate (Japan) before joining the World Wrestling Network and performing for companies like Dragon Gate USA and Evolve. Swann, like ACH, is on the small side, yet his supreme athleticism and high-flying skillet are a joy to watch and make him a must-see talent. If the rumors are true and he has indeed signed a developmental deal, the sky is truly the limit for Rich Swann, as he has years of experience in his corner, yet is still young and ready to learn.
10 Biff Busick
Like Swann, Busick is also rumored to have signed with the WWE on a developmental contract. However, like Swann, those rumors have yet to be confirmed. If the WWE has indeed signed Busick, it would be a major coup – after all, he is arguably one of the best talents that isn’t a part of the WWE. Competing for Evolve, Dragon Gate USA, Combat Zone Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Busick has done his best to separate himself from the others, as he can brawl, work technically, display power and even throw in some high spots into his matches. He hasn’t had the biggest of opportunities to display himself on the microphone, but that will come with time, especially if the rumors are true.
9 Adam Cole
The next man on the list is another ROH mainstay and someone who could slide right into the WWE’s plans, Adam Cole. There aren’t many other wrestlers that are as smooth as Cole inside the squared circle, as he is one of those talents that has the ability to do it all. However, one thing that stands out about Cole more than others is his charisma. There aren’t many independent talents that truly grasps how important it is to have interaction with the fans, and Cole has seemed to master that with his character. The combination of strong wrestling skill and getting the little things, and the WWE could have a top heel on their hands at some point down the road.
8 Kenny King
Although TNA Impact Wrestling is, unfortunately, a dying company, they do have some great talent on their roster – and that includes Kenny King. King, the former competitor on two Tough Enough seasons, has the charisma, look and ability to make it with the WWE. Although he started out as a very generic character, his time spent in TNA with the Beat Down Clan has done wonders for King. Whether it is his array of unique kicks, imposing athleticism, or swagger of a top heel, King can become one of the top mid card acts if he were ever to sign with the WWE.
7 Kazuchika Okada
To put it frankly, there aren’t many other wrestlers that are as gifted as Kazuchika Okada. Training and wrestling in Mexico, the United States and his native Japan, Okada has gained the necessary tools and experience to become a star in the WWE, yet he still has yet to cut his teeth with the company. He is among the best with technical skill and in-ring psychology, and doing so has made him one of the best talents in New Japan Pro Wrestling. To add to that, Okada has the perfect presence and look that the WWE loves in their talent. At only 27 years old, there’s still time for Okada to get even better. Don’t be surprised if he eventually does become a WWE Superstar.
6 Austin Aries
Austin Aries' age could be a factor in this, as 37 isn’t necessarily the ripest of ages in the pro wrestling business. However, Aries has the all the tools to make it in the WWE. After establishing himself as a solid all-around performer in ROH, he really came into his own in Impact Wrestling as one of the best wrestlers today. His wrestling skills are top-notch; while being rather short, he has the highflying skills to pull off an impressive 450 splash, while also having no problems showing off his strength and dropping someone with a brainbuster. There’s no need to talk about his mic skills; he could have given CM Punk a run for his money. Enough said.
Ricochet, also know as Prince Puma in Lucha Underground, would have never had a shot in the WWE if this were 2006. Fortunately for him, if he could do so, this would be a great time to make a move to the company. The first thing you will notice is his aerial skillset; he is just as good, if not better, than Neville. On top of that, he has vastly improved his in-ring skills while working for Lucha Underground, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Dragon Gate USA. He is someone who also has tons of charisma, while making himself a must see performer. He hasn’t been given much of a chance to talk, but he could develop those skills over time in NXT.
4 The Young Bucks
It may be odd to see a tag-team on the list, as the WWE doesn’t usually sign talent as a tandem. However, if any group should never split up, it is Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks. Standout talents in ROH, New Japan and many other independent promotions, the Young Bucks are a brash, cocky, and fun team when you watch them in the ring. Although they could be viewed as wrestlers who just do too many high spots, there is no denying their charisma and in-ring talent. As key members of the Bullet Club, the brothers are as hot as they’ve ever been and with a sudden resurgence of the WWE tag team divison, The Young Bucks would slide right into the action.
3 Shinsuke Nakamura
If a list is made of the top wrestling promotions after WWE, you can’t start anywhere else but New Japan. And if there is one man from New Japan who could fit into the WWE, it’s Shinsuke Nakamura. The fact of the matter is Nakamura could easily slide into the American professional wrestling culture and succeed without any hiccups. He already speaks English, has tons of charisma, is one of the top in-ring performers and has accomplished pretty much everything he can with New Japan. Plus, he has ready-made feuds in NXT/WWE, as he has wrestled the likes of Kevin Owens and Hideo Itami, while also being referenced by Bryan as a dream opponent.
2 Jay Lethal
Has there been anyone in recent memory that has transformed himself as well as Jay Lethal has? A part of TNA Impact Wrestling during its hey day (was there ever one?), Lethal made a name for himself as “Black Machismo”, where he mimicked Macho Man Randy Savage. And while he was a very good talent in the ring, it was really the gimmick and his oozing charisma that made him so popular. However, ever since returning to ROH in 2011, he has grown in all aspects of professional wrestling – in the ring, on the mic, with the audience and even charisma. This culminated in 2015, as he was already the most successful television champion in ROH history, but is also currently their World Champion as well. Lethal is at the top of his game right now, and he would be a star if he joined the WWE.
1 AJ Styles
When you think AJ Styles, you think of probably the greatest wrestler in TNA Impact Wrestling history. And while the WWE has opted to steer away from signing big-time TNA talent, the precedent was set with Samoa Joe – and no one else should be next but Styles. Although the “Phenomenal One” impressed everyone while in TNA, at 37 years old, Styles is the best he’s ever been while competing in ROH and New Japan. Although never looking comfortable in stints as a heel in TNA, as the head of the Bullet Club, Styles has shown that he has what it takes to be any type of character on television. While he is doing well where he is now, there is only one place left to go; and the WWE needs to make that happen.
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