If there's one thing we know about wrestling, we know that it's wildly unpredictable, especially for the wrestlers. At one moment, a wrestler could be at the top of the mountain of their division and competing in huge arenas, and only a few short weeks later they could be relegated to competing only on live events, which he have seen time and time again. Alternatively, we have also seen wrestlers who were once considered B-Players turned into overnight success stories based off of how WWE Management is pushing them on television, which is exactly what happened to Jinder Mahal when he was positioned to win the WWE Championship this past year, and has maintained an upper-mid card spot ever since. Things can change at the drop of a hat, and every WWE wrestler needs to be ready to roll with the punches.
Not only do wrestlers need to contend with these swings, but they also need to be aware of new wrestlers being signed to the company, as these hungry wrestlers are more than willing to take the spot of any other wrestler if it means something better for them – we need to remember that professional wrestling is a business, and wrestlers will not hesitate to jump at an opportunity. WWE has brought in some great new faces over the past few years, both through NXT and directly to the main roster who have taken each opportunity given to them – such as AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura – and succeeded very well in WWE’s climate thus far.
The wrestling world is always changing, and we need to be ready for the pushes, burials and signings coming ahead:
24 Push: The Authors of Pain
The NXT Tag Team Division has certainly been the brightest out of each of WWE’s brands for quite some time. However, when many of these teams have transitioned to the main roster they have not experienced anywhere near the same levels of success.
That trend is certainly about to change now that The Authors of Pain have been called up from NXT, as they bring with them all the tools of a team to be successful on the main roster. While other teams have not been successful their gimmick of dual, no nonsense powerhouses is unique enough that they could buck this trend. It's also no secret that both Vince and Triple H are partial to men of their size which will help them positively from a booking standpoint. It's simply a matter of time before they receive their big push.
23 Bury: Daniel Bryan
Bryan’s return to the ring as an active wrestler weeks before WrestleMania 34 was not only unexpected but a welcome breath of fresh air for SmackDown. Since then, he has been involved in a feud with Big Cass, which feels a little anti-climactic for the return of such a huge star.
For those familiar with Bryan’s past in WWE, you know he doesn't have a great track record for being treated justly, and he has often ended up falling into the background despite his connection to the crowd. I sincerely hope WWE realizes this golden opportunity they received following Bryan’s return and that they don't fall in to old habits with his poor booking, however I have my doubts.
WWE Management must still be worried about any potential health risks that Bryan possesses, and this caution could cause them to move Bryan down the ladder for what's left of his WWE career.
22 Signing: Marty Scurll
Out of the current members of the Bullet Club, WWE has made offers to many of them, but have received rejections from all of them including The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega multiple times, which means their ploy has been unsuccessful at this point.
The Bullet Club does have a wide array of members that WWE could make offers to, however they are only interested in the elite members (no pun intended).
One member who has not received an offer yet is undoubtedly the most villainous of them all, The Villain Marty Scurll. At only 29 years old, if Scurll was to be offered a WWE contract this year, he may be one of the only current Bullet Club members to accept the offer.
21 Push: Big E
In his current role as the gyrating powerhouse of The New Day, Big E has been able to show off his comedic stills for the past two years alongside his partners Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, and it has made him one of the most popular wrestlers on the WWE roster. When he originally debuted with WWE, Big E was portrayed simply as a muscle-bound man known for his power-lifting strength both in and out of the ring, but certainly did not display the level of personality he is now known for.
While he has certainly been successful in his role, it's undoubtable that The New Day is gimmick is beginning to run its course.
The wrestler who stands to gain the most from the group disbanding would certainly be Big E, as he has already experienced some great success as a singles wrestler with reigns as NXT and Intercontinental Champion. Now that he has much more experience in the ring, he would certainly experience much more success as a singles wrestler this time around.
20 Bury: Carmella
Carmella plays directly into the heat she receives as a heel very well, but the question continues to come up if it is good heat or bad heat? With reports coming in that she does not wrestle on television as often as other female talent on the SmackDown roster due to her less-than-stellar wrestling abilities, and all signs point to a burial once the Championship comes off of her leopard-print.
I'm a huge proponent for when WWE tries something different and chooses a different wrestler to be at the helm of a division because there's no better way to see who the next stars of your company will be, however, there is always the possibility that the experiment will fail, and I feel that WWE Management may chalk Carmella’s reign into the fail column, which will result in her falling down the card. This could happen sooner than later for the Staten Island Queen.
19 Signing: Dalton Castle
When looking at the influx of talent that has come to NXT over the past several years, those talents have mainly come from two primary wrestling promotions – New Japan Pro Wrestling when looking for over-seas talent, and Ring of Honor when looking for some of the best technical wrestling talent in the world. It goes without saying that holding the ROH Championship can likely lead to a WWE career if you are interested, as they certainly will come calling.
Look no further than current Ring of Honor Champion Dalton Castle, who was contacted by WWE last year but did not end up pursuing a career with them as he claimed to be comfortable with his current status as an independent wrestler, which is not uncommon given the booming market for independent wrestling.
Since turning down WWE, Castle has become ROH World Champion and has only improved in the ring and on the microphone.
It's really only a matter of time until WWE extends another offer, and considering all that he has accomplished he is much more likely to sign with them this time around.
18 Push: Dean Ambrose
A severe triceps injury put Ambrose out of action in December 2017. While the main event scene of WWE has been holding up well in his absence, his talent and character have still been missed and will be welcomed back by both fans and management. The WWE booking team loves to surprise their fans whenever it is possible, and nothing would surprise them more than having one of their favorite talents return from an injury in a grandiose way.
Ambrose has had some success in the main event scene of WWE, including a stint as WWE Champion in 2016. While the reign did include some great matches with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles, there was more left to be desired which could be realized once Ambrose returns from injury. There's so much more main event talent for him to work with now on RAW, including Sami Zayn, Elias or Bobby Lashley who could put on some great matches with him, which means these endless possibilities present a great opportunity for Dean Ambrose.
17 Bury: No Way Jose
While the No Way Jose character may appear very entertaining to live audiences and received a good ovation during his RAW main roster debut, we need to remember that during the RAW after WrestleMania, the reactions for debuting wrestlers are always going to be exacerbated and doesn't necessarily mean it'll be sustained.
Jose began his main roster career dancing up a storm on the way to the ring before beginning a feud with Baron Corbin, however that ended quickly and now he's rarely used on television, other than it is as a throwaway match. Perhaps it's possible Jose can be salvaged into a solid mid-card performer, however since he was not even included in Money in the Bank qualifiers this year, that means WWE Management doesn't feel the same way, and we are much more likely to see him being featured on Main Event and pay-per-view pre-shows instead until he is eventually released.
16 Signing: WALTER
If you have not witnessed WALTER in the ring before, you are certainly in for a real treat once you are able to find him on YouTube. The Austrian wrestler began transitioning to wrestle in the United States consistently in 2017 and has turned a lot of heads with his hard-hitting, yet surprisingly agile style for someone his size. With strikes that rival that of some of WWE’s biggest wrestlers, combined with the in-ring prowess that the United Kingdom has become so popular for, he has earned his stripes as a superstar on the independent circuit, which has allegedly made WWE come calling.
WALTER himself has remained relatively quiet on the subject, only announcing once on Twitter that he had yet to sign a WWE contract, however the only thing that appears to be holding him up is the legality behind being fully employed by an American company given his UK citizenship status. These circumstances usually only end up being a temporary hurdle, and it should only be a matter of time before we finally see his big man in a WWE ring.
15 Push: Samoa Joe
While some fans have been critical of Joe’s main roster experience thus far, it's important to note that he has not been a miss by and definition of the word. While some may not be pleased that he has not achieved World Champion status by now, he has still shown up incredibly well in each program he has been a part of, particularly when he was involved with Universal Champion Brock Lesnar as he showed that he belonged in the role.
Most recently, Joe has been involved in a feud with Roman Reigns and has cut some of the best promos that WWE has seen in a long time, further cementing his spot as a future main eventer.
With the main event scene beginning to get stale, there is certainly room for him to be pushed hard this summer, and then hopefully we will see the full potential of Samoa Joe.
14 Bury: Xavier Woods
It's only natural for a team to end to keep the wrestlers involved fresh, but the question is always asked – who will be the Shawn Michaels and who will be the Marty Jannetty of the team? On one hand, Kofi Kingston is a four-time Intercontinental Champion, a 3-time United States Champion, and a highlight reel full of Royal Rumble performances, and Big E is a former NXT and Intercontinental Champion, not to mention that both men earned these accolades prior to forming The New Day.
That leaves Xavier Woods with a very small resume in comparison to the others, leaving him most likely to become the Jannetty of the group once they break up. While Woods has been the mouthpiece of the group and been very successful in his role, we need to remember what he was able to accomplish as a singles star in WWE, which was absolutely nothing. The best Woods can hope for is that he can hang on to Kofi or Big E as a partner to continue in the tag division.
13 Signing: Jeff Cobb
These days there are very few shows that Jeff Cobb is not booked to be on, particularly in big promotions like Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (where he is one half of the World Tag Team Champions with Matt Riddle) and Lucha Underground, as well as recently branching out in to New Japan Pro Wrestling during this past year’s World Tag League Tournament.
Cobb’s mixture of powerhouse moves and amateur wrestling ability draw a lot of parallels to both Brock Lesnar during his rookie wrestling years, however Cobb has also incorporated high-flying moves in to his arsenal, regularly executing standing Shooting Star Presses and Moonsaults during his matches, which really shows off his repertoire. WWE is well known for scouting talent at PWG shows, and Cobb has been a highly featured member of their roster for the past two years, so there has been a lot of eyes on his recently.
12 Push: Candice LeRae
We have only seen LeRae participate in a handful of matches, as she has primarily been seen alongside her real-life husband Johnny Gargano as he engages in a blood feud with Tomasso Ciampa, even going to far as to get physical in the ring during their matches.
While the Gargano and Ciampa feud has been incredible and seeing Candice on our screens has been very welcome, once this feud is over we will be able to see her in a much different capacity as a great in-ring performer.
Given her talent, she was always likely to receive a great push once she started performing regularly, however the current bench strength of strong, babyface female talent in NXT is very low since Ember Moon and Asuka both transitioned to the main roster, so there's a spot waiting for Candice to shine.
11 Bury: Baron Corbin
Since losing the Money In The Bank briefcase, other than a small reign as United States Champion, Corbin’s stock has dropped considerably as a potential WWE main event talent. The main event scene has remained dominated by the same talent that has been in place throughout Corbin’s run, however on a weekly basis he is not mixing it up with the likes of Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe, but instead using his time to attack talent like Curt Hawkins and No Way Jose, and now as the "Constable" of RAW, making us all wonder what the ultimate plans are for Corbin.
It appears as though WWE management does but fully trust him to be “the guy”, otherwise they would be exposing him to more main event caliber performers – at this point they seem more content with pushing him further down the card than upwards.
10 Signing: James Storm
When The Bearded Outlaw James Storm made his first appearance with WWE in 2015 after a handful of appearances on NXT, he ultimately decided not to sign with the company and return to Impact where he had begun his career.
Now that Storm has distanced himself from Impact, and has made public announcements that he would be looking to reform his famous Beer Money tag team with Bobby Roode, you can bet that WWE has already sent out feelers to him to check how committed he would be to signing.
Storm has proven himself in both tag team and main event situations, and WWE would likely jump at the opportunity to bring in another established Impact wrestler, especially one that could connect instantly with Roode who they already have big plans for.
9 Push: Lio Rush
Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and WWE’s recent treatment of Lio Rush may mean that his recent transgressions have been forgiven. Rush made headlines in the wrestling world when he made one of the biggest faux pas that exist in the wrestling industry – he took it upon himself to make fun of Emma who was leaving the company.
Once his “sentence” was close to being complete, Rush began to be introduced back to wrestling fans during dark matches for NXT, and was even featured in a title match for the NXT North American Championship against Adam Cole, meaning that even though WWE put him in the doghouse over his insensitive nature, they still had big plans for him. Couple these matches with the fact that Rush was just recently transitioned to the 205 Live brand, which is a spot where his wrestling style will truly let him succeed, this shows that it is clear that WWE still has big plans for him. With the 205 Live brand in need of a marquee wrestler to get people talking about the division, Rush has more than enough opportunities to turn some heads with this new platform given to him.
8 Bury: Dolph Ziggler
The current pairing of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre has a lot of people talking, as it is giving the once over-looked McIntyre some great exposure due to Ziggler’s established place in WWE, and many are drawing a lot of comparison to the Shawn Michaels and Diesel pairing that took place in 1995 due to the similar wrestling styles of the pairs.
Given the comparison of Ziggler and McIntyre to the pairing featuring The Heartbreak Kid and Big Daddy Cool, many are wondering what would happen to this team once they eventually split up.
For those that do not remember, it was actually Diesel who ended up taking the mantle of most successful teammate prior to Michaels.
Given how hot of a commodity Drew McIntyre is right now coming off of his run in NXT, it stands to reason that WWE would continue his momentum. WWE has also already proven that Ziggler’s credibility as a performer is not high on their priority list, and would likely suffer the most.
7 Signing: Jessamyn Duke
WWE’s most prized signing over the past year has certainly been “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, as her notoriety from her time as one of the biggest UFC fighters in history has come with both new and renewed fans looking at WWE television so they can see what she is up to in her new career as a wrestler. Overall, the Rousey experiment can be considered a success. Now doesn’t it beg the question, what about the other Four Horsewomen of MMA?
Rousey may be the first one to jump in to WWE, but her fellow Horsewomen have certainly expressed interest joining the WWE alongside Rousey, particularly Jessamyn Duke who has electrified the MMA world since her appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 18 where her match with Raquel Pennington received Fight of the Night honors. Since then, Duke has remained at the side of Rousey and has been seen cheering her and fellow Horsewoman Shayna Baszler on during WWE programming. With her now expressing an interest in beginning her own training, this is another great step for WWE by bringing in another great MMA fighter into the pro wrestling world.
6 Push: War Raiders
The NXT Tag Team division is in need of an overhaul. The War Raider’s unique brand of offense that combines scary power with a surprising amount of agility for two big men leaves them in a league of their own, and watching them run through the competition in NXT before finally capturing the Tag Team Championships will be an absolute pleasure. Seeing these two men break through the ranks of both the Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling sure was a sight to see, and after their initial debut where they dismantled Heavy Machinery was only a taste of what is to come.
WWE Management has really embraced the acts that are incredibly popular on the independent circuit, and with The War Raiders being as unique as they come, you can expect big things from them in the near future.
5 Bury: Sonya Deville/Mandy Rose
Following Paige’s transition to General Manager, fellow Absolution member Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose were really left without a place in WWE and have been treading water ever since being drafted to SmackDown.
Both Deville and Rose are still featured weekly on television, however not in the way that they had initially hoped.
Absolution may have been pushed as a group to bring in a lot of wins, however the duo has been losing steadily since the group disbanded and do not appear to be in WWE's plans for the women’s division. Both women were green when they were brought up from NXT, and without Paige, their inexperience has been exposed to the audience. While we don't wish any ill-will on any wrestler with WWE living out their dream, we know that both Deville and Rose could certainly use some more seasoning with their wrestling skills and would be better utilized with more time at the WWE Performance Center before being brought on television again.
4 Push: The IIconics
While Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose will not be getting a push anytime soon, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce spent several years in NXT before making the jump to SmackDown and made an immediate impression.
In addition to their strong first impression, the other things WWE would need to look at is how the merchandise of these wrestlers is trending among fans, which reports state that The IIconics have sold much more merchandise that initially anticipated, making WWE Management look at them in a different way since they started producing money as a team. Rumor has it that the WWE is now looking at Royce and Kay in the same light that they viewed the LayCool team at in the mid-2000s, meaning that there are big things ahead for them. At their height, LayCool ruled the women’s division as a duo, and if that's what is in the cards for Royce and Kay, they will have a very good year coming up on SmackDown.
3 Bury: Alexa Bliss
Little Miss Bliss has been on top of both the RAW and SmackDown Live Women’s divisions since being called up from NXT in 2016, and has been one of the greatest NXT success stories to come up to the main roster. With so many other women on both rosters looking to overtake the top of the division, ranging from Ember Moon to The IIconics, it's only a matter of time that Bliss gets moved down the ladder. Look at Sasha Banks, who was once on top of the women’s division directly from her main roster debut but has since been relegated to the bottom of the pyramid. That's not saying Alexa will be completely removed from her spot on the roster altogether, but will have her role reduced quite a bit.
Given how much she has been featured over the years, it's more likely that she's just holding the title to drop it to Rousey at a big event, like SummerSlam.
2 Push: Andrade “Cien” Almas
Due to WWE’s global presence, they are always searching to ensure that they have a wrestler who represents every culture that is watching WWE programming, especially the Latino market. Wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio have held this mantle in the past, however with both these talents gone, they are in need of someone else to fill this void. When Andrade “Cien” Almas was able to spread his wings while on NXT and develop a character that fit in very well as NXT Champion, WWE management must have been incredibly relieved that they had found their wrestler.
Almas has a rich wrestling history in Mexico from before his WWE career, where he wrestled as the masked La Sombra for many years with the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre brand, becoming a highly decorated luchador during his time in Mexico, before eventually transitioning to the United States in 2015 after a lengthy career. When taking his past skills and WWE’s need for a Hispanic star into account, as well as the fact that his current valet Zelina Vega is heavily involved in the WWE Studios movie Fighting with my Family, we should be seeing a lot more from Almas.
1 Bury: Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy has always been on the brink of being of the most popular wrestlers on the planet, but his own personal demons have prevented him from unlocking his full potential. Each time he gets close to achieving absolute superstardom, he makes a mistake which sets him back down the totem pole.
While I certainly don't wish any ill will on anyone, and hope that everyone has the strength to overcome their demons, history has a higher likelihood of repeating itself when it comes to Jeff Hardy, as when we always think that he has taken a turn for the better, he unfortunately proves us wrong. For instance, since returning to WWE in a surprise appearance at WrestleMania 33, Jeff may have become United States Champion in the past few months, but he has also already had an encounter with the law on March 10th 2018, where he was arrested for impaired driving, marking his second arrest. Hopefully Jeff will prove me wrong and overcome his demons, but if he continues down this path he will also be knocked down from his current spot in WWE.