WWE has long had a monopoly on the world's most talented wrestlers - or at least as close as a monopoly that could exist in the world of wrestling. Vince McMahon's company has been far-and-away the No. 1 promotion since he purchased WCW and few have even come close to replicating its success. TNA, at one point, at least attracted high-profile names from the heyday of wrestling in the 1990s and early 2000s, but it was never a threat to WWE and, even now, New Japan, Impact, and ROH really don't present much of a threat to the company. However, that could change if the rumors are true and All Elite Wrestling takes off in 2019.
Obviously, it would be a slow build and it would take years to reach the popularity of WWE if it ever does, but its creation could at least diminish the level of talent in WWE in the not-so-distant future. We've already seen, in recent years, WWE tries to corner the market on prolific independent wrestlers by signing the likes of Ricochet, Matt Riddle, and Keith Lee, among others, to NXT. They did the same thing in years past, but most are now either mismanaged or not over enough with the WWE Universe. That could mean some of those superstars take the opportunity to leave for greener pastures in 2019 or are released as WWE seeks to free up money to improve the product in other areas - we'd all take a handful of decent writers over dozens of awful ones. With that in mind, here are 10 wrestlers who are likely on their way out of WWE in 2019 and 10 we could expect to see sign with the company:
20 Coming To WWE: Trevor Lee
While not worth being 10th on this list in terms of talent, we may as well start with the wrestler who is almost certainly coming to WWE: Trevor Lee. The three-time Impact X Division Champion parted ways with Impact in mid-November and is reportedly close to a deal with WWE. His contract isn't actually up until the beginning of January, but he recently told Sports Illustrated he would love to sign with WWE or New Japan.
Given WWE's willingness to sign young and talented wrestlers to have them shine in NXT, it seems like a no-brainer that Lee, who was underutilized in Impact, signs the contract sooner rather than later. The 25-year-old would be a great replacement for soon-to-be-promoted NXT talents like Johnny Gargano and Velveteen Dream.
19 On Their Way Out: The Ascension
The last time we saw The Ascension it seemed as though they might be on their way to earning a more prominent role as they scored consecutive wins over Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, but that was more than a month ago and they have been off TV ever since.
Their characters are stale and there's likely nothing WWE can do to revive them as formidable competitors in the Tag Team Championship picture either on Raw or SmackDown Live, so it seems the only answer is their release. Perhaps the bigger Konnor is kept and transformed into a singles competitor, but he's no spring chicken at 38-years-old. (Not that Viktor's a kid either, as he just turned 38 himself this month.)
18 Coming To WWE: Pentagon Jr.
Casual wrestling fans (see: WWE) who watched All In were served to some unexpected performances from names they might not have ever heard about, one of which was Pentagon Jr. The luchador fought Kenny Omega and, while Omega was likely the name most tuned in to see, it was Pentagon that might have made the biggest impact.
Pentagon, who has also worked with Impact, AAA, and CMLL as well as Lucha Underground, was tied to WWE by Dave Meltzer in September, which isn't surprised given his coming-out party at All In. Meltzer reported that WWE was interested in both Pentagon and his brother Fenix this past September, around the same time a Major League Wrestling tweet stated "MLW fans may be shocked to see what's NXT" for the LuchaBros. That's either a sign they are NXT-bound or some impressive trolling from whoever runs the MLW Twitter account.
17 On Their Way Out: Curt Hawkins
Curt Hawkins might as well be the new Brooklyn Brawler as he hasn't scored a singles victory in more than 200 matches and is only used sparingly on Raw for comedic purposes; in fact, it's gotten to the point now where his losing streak is essentially his gimmick.
With any hope, he'll score a monumental victory in the near future or else the entire losing streak loses all purpose and meaning but, beyond that, there's really nothing left for Hawkins to do in WWE. He's useful at live events, but he can easily be replaced by an up-and-coming NXT talent or another veteran like Tyler Breeze or Tye Dillinger.
16 Coming To WWE: John Morrison
John Morrison wrestled in WWE from 2002 to 2011 and has since had impressive runs with Lucha Underground and Impact, where he is the reigning World Champion. He is obviously in a good place with Impact, but that doesn't mean a return to WWE is unlikely; in fact, it's expected that he at least returns for another run with WWE in the near future.
Morrison is 39-years-old and is likely on the back-half of his career. While he might not be able to return to WWE and be an immediate main event player, he could at least reunite with The Miz and help elevate the A-Lister to the WWE Championship. This past August, he noted he wasn't yet thinking about a return, but the billion-dollar TV deal WWE received from FOX could help change that.
15 On Their Way Out: Dana Brooke
All signs point to Dana Brooke leaving WWE in the near future, even if she actually impresses during the occasional instance in which she is booked for a match on Raw. Brooke was the only main roster woman left off of last year's Royal Rumble poster and later voiced her displeasure when she wasn't included in the first ever Women's Elimination Chamber match.
On any given night, she could either be heel or babyface, and it's clear WWE has no direction or plans for her. She even voiced her disappointment again just a few days ago by commenting "forgotten and underused" in a WWE Instagram post for TLC that included most of the Raw women's roster. She's better off following the example of Emma, who was released and has since thrived in ROH.
14 Coming To WWE: Will Ospreay
Will Ospreay is one of the most talented wrestlers outside of WWE and is often considered for these lists with good reason. The 25-year-old has had success in every promotion in which he has starred and is considered among the most talented in-ring performers by fans and his peers. The New Japan star is a two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and his in-ring style would certainly add an element of excitement to WWE TV.
Earlier this year, Ospreay revealed he received a contract offer from WWE in 2015 but instead chose New Japan to become a more "well-rounded performer." Some took that as a slight against WWE, but it sounds more as if he wanted to make sure he was ready for WWE and he certainly is now.
13 On Their Way Out: Mojo Rawley
The Hype Bros might not be one of the most memorable tag teams in WWE history, but we thought their separation might lead to a bigger push for Mojo Rawley. Instead of squashing Zack Ryder and moving on to bigger and better things as a powerful heel, Rawley has instead been lost in the shuffle on Raw and is often relegated to performing on Main Event.
He had a brief program with No Way Jose, which did nothing for his character, and hasn't really been seen since. His size, combined with his unorthodox technique in the ring, could make him a formidable heel if booked right, but that simply hasn't happened since he has been on Raw.
12 Coming To WWE: Scarlett Bordeaux
Scarlett Bordeaux once competed with Ohio Valley Wrestling and had several house show matches with WWE from 2014 to 2016 so it's hard to believe she's currently not signed to a WWE contract. That's because, in addition to being relatively talented in the ring, she's an absolute beauty who fits Vince McMahon's '90s-esque vision of a women's wrestler; upon signing her, Impact has been booking her similar to how Sable was used by WWE.
Would she be able to keep up with the likes of Asuka and Becky Lynch in WWE? Probably not, but she would certainly be a better heel champion - or even performer - than Carmella and probably on par with Alexa Bliss. You can bet Vince would love to put her on FOX in 2019.
11 On Their Way Out: Alicia Fox
With the likely arrival of one female superstar comes the long-awaited departure of Alicia Fox. Let's be honest, the 32-year-old on-time Divas Champion could have been let go in each of the past three or four years, but she has proven herself to be a decent depth performer with the company, filling the role of an accomplice to heel personalities like Alexa Bliss and Mickie James.
She could be useful in that role for another year or two, but the women's division is in the midst of major transformation and NXT talent like Shayna Baszler, Kari Sane, and Nikki Cross are likely due for a main roster promotion in the new year. There's simply going to be no space for Foxy.
10 Coming To WWE: Jeff Cobb
Unlike some of the others on this list, Jeff Cobb isn't a young, up-and-coming talent. The 36-year-old has been wrestling for more than a decade and has seen his value skyrocket in recent years due to his performances with PWG, New Japan, and Ring of Honor; in fact, he's a former PWG Tag Team Champion with current NXT star Matt Riddle and, in 2016, was ranked as the 50th best singles wrestler in the world by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
In a recent interview on X-Pac 12360, Cobb stated he was a passionate WWE fan growing up and that it was his dream to compete for Vince McMahon's company. He clarified that he was happy where he was now, but said that if the stars aligned he would be more than happy to compete in WWE. That seems almost like a sure thing heading into 2019.
9 On Their Way Out: Jeff Hardy
For those of us watching the SmackDown Live segment celebrating Jeff Hardy's 20-year career, it seemed as if all signs were pointing to a retirement for the Enigma; after all, his brother Matt has all but retired from in-ring action. However, it was instead used to launch a program between him and Samoa Joe in which Joe is using Hardy's past indiscretions to draw heat.
While the feud has some potential, there really isn't much more for Hardy to do in WWE, save for serving as veteran enhancement talent to put over younger superstars. If he's fine with that then he could stick around for as long as his body holds up, but if not he should receive one more WrestleMania moment and then be transitioned to a backstage role if he wants it.
8 Coming To WWE: WALTER
A 31-year-old native of Vienna, Austria, Walter is one of the most highly-regarded wrestlers outside of North America as the big man - he's listed at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds - is incredibly agile for his size similar to Keith Lee. It would be great to see him work with some of the talent in WWE or NXT, but that might take some time.
However, it is all but confirmed that Walter will begin competing with NXT UK in January, so if you were putting off following another WWE-affiliated show, you may want to reconsider. The agreement will allow him to continue working with other promotions and might even see him come over to North America for NXT TV tapings or TakeOver events, but a key to contract negotiations was his unwillingness to relocate - that was also why he turned down New Japan.
7 On Their Way Out: Goldust
It's amazing to think that Goldust made his WWE debut all the way back in 1995 and, prior to that, Dustin Runnels had been wrestling since 1988. His 30-year career is one of the most impressive in wrestling history, mostly because of the nature of his character and commitment to which he has shown in portraying it. It doesn't hurt that he's a three-time Intercontinental Champion and three-time Tag Team Champion.
Yet, Goldust has been an enhancement talent for the better part of the past five years and is currently sidelined while recovering from knee surgery. Credit to Runnels for keeping himself in great shape over the past decade, but the 49-year-old is nearing the end of his impressive career. Hopefully, he receives a proper send-off in 2019.
6 Coming To WWE: Brian Cage
Brian Cage has the look of a Vince McMahon-approved Superstar. His physique is similar to Drew McIntyre, EC3, and Bobby Lashley and, if signed, would almost certainly be pushed to the main event because of that - even if his in-ring talent isn't necessarily up to the standards of the aforementioned wrestlers.
That isn't to say Cage is void of talent. The 34-year-old is constantly improving in the ring and was previously ranked among the top 100 wrestlers in the world by PWI. He signed with Impact Wrestling last January and has been the Impact X Division Champion since July 22. He recently revealed his dream match would be against AJ Styles, so here's hoping WWE can make that happen.
5 On Their Way Out: Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode worked as the cocky and confident heel NXT Champion, but he has been anything but successful on the main roster. After a decent babyface run upon his debut on SmackDown Live, Roode's momentum stalled after fans lost interest in his theme music and entrance. Sadly, he hasn't been any more over on Raw.
Now paired with Chad Gable, it first seemed as though the partnership was a device for Roode to turn heel, but those plans seem to have stalled. A heel turn could still save his WWE career, but don't be surprised to see WWE let The Glorious One go after WrestleMania if they can't find anything for him. He is, after all, turning 42 next year.
4 Coming To WWE: Adam Page
Adam Page is another wrestler casual fans might not have heard about who had a great showing at All In. The 27-year-old, better known as Hangman Page in New Japan, put on an impressive match with Joey Janela at the Chicago show and has since garnered more attention on the independent scene, largely due to his affiliation with the Bullet Club.
Dave Meltzer recently stated that Page previously turned down a contract offer with WWE, but that could change in early 2019 when his contract is up. If All Elite Wrestling comes to fruition, it would make sense for Page to be involved, but there's also something to be said about a guaranteed contract with WWE.
3 On Their Way Out: Jinder Mahal
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It's a good thing Jinder Mahal has adopted the Shanti method of finding inner peace, because the former WWE Champion has been severely under-utilized on Raw. In reality, Mahal is in the right spot considering his talent, but if Vince McMahon was going to push him as a longtime WWE Champion, he should have at least been considered a threat for another year, or even a few months.
The right thing to do would have been to book Mahal as a legitimate Intercontinental Title contender on Raw and then have him work his way back to the Tag Team division, but he has instead been booked as a joke. It's hard to see him still working for WWE in 2019 with all the influx of talent en route from NXT and independent promotions.
2 Coming To WWE: Kenny Omega
This is either a dream come true or a nightmare depending on what kind of wrestling fan you are. Those who prefer New Japan and other smaller promotions would hate to see someone as talented as Kenny Omega go to WWE only to be used as a mid-card superstar. However, if booked right, there's a chance he could further elevate his status and become one of the most popular and over wrestlers on the planet.
Popular thinking suggests that he would join Cody and The Young Bucks in All Elite Wrestling, but if there's any wrestler affiliated with The Elite that Vince would push for hardest, it's Omega. HBO recently announced it was working on an Omega documentary for 2019 and joining WWE could further bring the Winnipeg native into the mainstream.
1 On Their Way Out: AJ Styles
Is it likely that AJ Styles leaves WWE in 2019? Maybe not yet, but it's beginning to at least lean that way. A lot of people forget that Styles is 41-years-old. Not to mention the fact he has a wife and four children at home who he wants to spend more time with. He has even expressed as much in WWE documentaries and specials, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him leave in the near future or at least take on a Brock Lesnar-like schedule.
However, news has recently come out that negotiations for his new contract might be a lot more difficult than originally believed. Some have reported that Styles, whose contract expires in April, is receiving interest from other promotions like All Elite Wrestling and Ring of Honor. Although those same reports stated he could just be using those as leverage to receive more money from WWE.