With less than two months remaining before we bid goodbye to 2018, it seems as if WWE has really shied away from its usual practice of mass-releasing wrestlers and other performers to make way for NXT talents ready for a call-up, or new hires from the North American indies, Japan, or Europe. Naturally, nobody within the company's ranks likes it when these mass releases take place, as this means wrestlers will be losing their jobs, while their colleagues will be parting ways with men and women who had become friends. But as fans, we still pay close attention to the dirt sheets and WWE's website when waves of wrestlers get released by the company and react accordingly as the reports are updated and new names get wished the best in their future endeavors.
As more and more wrestling fans are becoming aware of the goings-on in the indy and international scenes, particularly in Ring of Honor and New Japan, there's a good chance 2019 will see several "indy darlings" get snapped up by the WWE. But we also have to go back to what we discussed above – some heads will need to roll in order for WWE to bolster its talent pool with these new hires. So with that in mind, we now present to you 15 wrestlers who are currently rumored to be signing with WWE in 2019, and 10 wrestlers, mostly excluding those who are expected to retire, who may leave the company next year.
25 Rumored To Join: Marty Scurll
He's becoming a well-known name outside of WWE and he has Paul Heyman's seal of approval, but will Marty Scurll buck the trend of talented British wrestlers (Zack Sabre Jr., Will Ospreay, etc.) spurning the company to remain in their comfort zones in New Japan? Many believe he will, and when he does, WWE will need to book him like a star.
Of course, there's a chance that will be too much to ask, as Vince McMahon still runs the show and still hesitates to push smaller wrestlers. But he has the in-ring and on-mic ability and charisma to be a big name in the U.S. wrestling scene, and what better way to do so than to join the WWE?
24 Rumored To Join: Adam "Hangman" Page
Unfortunately, reports suggest that Page recently turned down WWE's contract offer because the company didn't want to sign the entire Bullet Club. This was referenced in a recent episode of Being the Elite, as it appears the ROH and NJPW star remains happy with his current status as one of the hottest young talents in the independent scene and in Japan.
Still, one shouldn't expect the rumors of WWE signing Page (or any other Bullet Club member) to go away just like that. There's a chance at least some of them will be WWE-bound in 2019, and since there's bound to be a huge number of NXT call-ups after WrestleMania, the company might want to restock its developmental ranks sooner rather than later.
23 Leaving: Dana Brooke
Actually, this entry could apply to anyone else in Titus Worldwide, even former member Akira Tozawa. But while Titus O'Neil can be commended for his promo skills and charitable work and Apollo Crews for his in-ring skill and athleticism, Dana Brooke, sadly, does not have much to offer apart from a powerful build that made her believable, at the very least, as somebody's lackey.
We've said it before, but it's come to a point where she's used up all the chances WWE had given her to succeed on the main roster. If WWE doesn't give her the pink slip before the end of 2018, they certainly will in 2019.
22 Rumored To Join: John Morrison
We tried to make the "rumored to join" section focus as much as possible on wrestlers who have never competed for WWE, at least on the main roster. But when it comes to WWE returns, John Morrison is often mentioned as a former WWE talent who could be making his way back to the company sooner rather than later.
It probably won't happen any time this year, and Morrison, as Johnny Impact, appears to be enjoying his run with WWE's top North American rival. We haven't even mentioned how Impact is arguably in the best shape it's been in recent years. But it won't be surprising if Morrison comes back for one final run with the company he first became a star in.
21 Leaving: The Ascension
Konnor fans, and I know there are enough out there for me to count with my fingers, don't get your hopes up. His recent singles wins against Chad Gable and Bobby Roode don't change how The Ascension are looking every bit like an act on its last legs. Konnor and Viktor are the ultimate jobber tag team on Raw and the fact that they're in their late 30s only underscores their status as a lost cause after their hugely successful NXT run.
Kudos to Konnor and Viktor for sticking it out for several years in a situation that would push most others to quit. However, they can't stay employed forever, what with The Undisputed Era and even Heavy Machinery possibly due for a call-up soon.
20 Rumored To Join: Chelsea Green
She's come a long way from the time WWE tried to create their own version of Claire Lynch by debuting her as Daniel Bryan's "physical therapist" Megan Miller. After failing to win the last Tough Enough, Chelsea Green moved over to Impact Wrestling, where, under the ring name Laurel Van Ness, she won one Knockouts Championship before leaving the company earlier this year. Now she's one of the top female free agents in the indy scene.
With several of WWE's main roster women rumored to be on the way out due to age and/or creative having little to nothing for them, Green could be one of many hired to eventually replace them. Let's just hope WWE gives her something closer to her Impact gimmick than the one she unofficially debuted with.
19 Rumored To Join: Eli Drake
About a decade ago, Eli Drake was a young prospect hoping for a shot at wrestling for WWE. However, his tardiness apparently led to WWE blacklisting him for several years, and he's since become a highly sought-after prospect, thanks to his successful run in Impact Wrestling.
As we mentioned in another entry, things are finally looking up for Impact for a change. The fact that Drake recently signed a contract extension with the company could delay any potential WWE debut for at least a year, but he recently admitted to being open to signing with WWE if the right offer comes along.
18 Leaving: Mickie James
Instead of adding to her five Women's Championships when she returned to WWE early last year, Mickie James has mainly been used in a similar way to male returnees such as The Dudley Boyz and Shelton Benjamin – to put younger wrestlers over. Whether working as a face or a heel, James invariably takes the pin in tag team matches, and at 39, it's doubtful she'll get another big push in the WWE.
That said, Alexa Bliss might need to find a new lackey if and when James gets released by, or chooses not to re-sign with WWE. It's also possible she could choose to close the book on her Hall of Fame-caliber career and retire, or remain with the company in a backstage capacity.
17 Rumored To Join: WALTER
He may not be too keen on leaving Europe and wrestling in the United States on a full-time basis, but Austrian big man WALTER is one name from the indy scene who has reportedly caught the eye of WWE scouts. The current PWG World Champion is a burly 300-pounder with the agility of a much smaller man, and that's at least part of what Vince McMahon still insists on when looking for potential WWE superstars.
Earlier this year, WALTER was featured at WrestleMania Axxess, where he had a match against his fellow big man, Keith Lee. WWE recently signed Lee and debuted him on NXT, so why not give a chance to his former PWG rival?
16 Leaving: Breezango
The reasons for keeping Tyler Breeze and Fandango on WWE's roster keep getting fewer each day. While pairing them up as a comedy tag team of fashion policemen helped buy them a few extra months of relevance, they've since been riding the proverbial bench on Monday Night Raw, especially now that Fandango is on the injured list.
Fandango will be turning 38 next year, and while Breeze is still in his early 30s, whatever upside he had coming out of NXT has long been a thing of the past. It looks like the next case for the Fashion Police to solve would be finding out the date of their eventual WWE release.
15 Rumored To Join: Shane Strickland
Two months ago, Strickland defeated Matt Riddle for the Evolve Championship, essentially paving the way for Riddle to join WWE through the developmental ranks. It wasn't long after when Dave Meltzer reported that WWE is interested in signing the exciting high-flyer, who also had a notable stint in Lucha Underground under the ring name Killshot.
Given the fact that he tips the scales at less than 200 pounds, there's a chance that Strickland will eventually be featured in 205 Live. If WWE can make its Cruiserweight Division feel even more relevant, that should work out for him, but otherwise, it just might be another waste of young, athletic, yet undersized talent.
14 Rumored To Join: Kaitlyn
Despite all the hype that surrounded her return at this year's Mae Young Classic, former WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn didn't make it past the second round, where she was defeated by recent NXT signing and (former Knockouts Champion) Mia Yim. She also happens to be one of several MYC competitors from this year's batch who have yet to officially sign with WWE.
As she turns 32 this month, Kaitlyn is slightly older than the average female wrestler in WWE. But as someone who's come back from personal issues and a legitimate retirement from the ring, she deserves to be given a second chance, even on NXT, where she could provide a veteran presence on the developmental brand's women's roster.
13 Leaving: Rhyno
It was a good run for an older, previously mid-card wrestler returning after years away from the main roster, and quite a fun one too, as we saw when he was the straight man to Heath Slater in their unlikely partnership. But Father Time and non-wrestling endeavors are both catching up with Rhyno, who turns 43 this month and, like Slater, is barely featured on Monday Night Raw nowadays.
He may choose to retire, he may be waived as part of a big group of "future endeavored" talents, or he may simply choose not to re-sign with the WWE. Either way, the Man-Beast's months, if not days, in WWE seem to be numbered.
12 Rumored To Join: Jeff Cobb
In a list filled with independent standouts in the "rumored to join" category, Cobb is one of the older entries at 36-years-old. That means the clock is ticking as far as debuting in the WWE and having a lengthy, successful run is concerned, though he has indeed been mentioned a few times as a potential 2018/19 signee.
He's a former Olympic wrestler with some serious skills for a man his size, and definitely has more upside than the comparable, older likes of Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar. We're not saying he'll get a Brock-like push if he signs with WWE, but he could make a good mid-card/upper mid-card talent on NXT, then the main roster if he chooses WWE's big bucks over the lighter, less restrictive indy schedule he normally prefers.
11 Leaving: Alicia Fox
It's been mentioned several times in recent months, but Alicia Fox is right up there with the likes of Natalya, Mickie James, and the Bella Twins when it comes to her tenure in WWE's women's divisions. While she's getting TV time once again, thanks to her alliance with Alexa Bliss and her Mixed Match Challenge partnership with Jinder Mahal, we're still of the belief that she might not be much longer for the WWE.
While far from being the least skilled woman in the company, Fox is clearly far behind many of her younger contemporaries in terms of in-ring ability and is mainly used to put newer stars over. That sounds like someone who could be surplus to WWE's needs by next year, if not before 2018 ends.
10 Rumored To Join: Dalton Castle
In January, Dalton Castle said in an interview with Sam Roberts that he wasn't planning to leave Ring of Honor just yet, as he had another year guaranteed with the company and still wanted to help ROH grow. That, plus the fact he was ROH World Champion at that time, put the kibosh on any hopes he'd be heading to the WWE. But if he's really headed for free agency next year, the time may be right to bring him in.
Considering that the Velveteen Dream works a similarly flamboyant gimmick and may likely be main roster-bound at some point early next year, Castle would make a perfect replacement down in NXT. His mix of charisma and in-ring skills should be a great fit for WWE's product.
9 Rumored To Join: Tessa Blanchard
It's not surprising that pundits still believe there's a decent chance the WWE Universe will get to see Tessa Blanchard leave Impact Wrestling and return to the company for the first time since last year's Mae Young Classic. As the current Knockouts Champion, she's one of the reasons Impact is doing much better these days, and at 23-years-old, she can only get better in the years to come.
While there were rumors suggesting that WWE might have passed on signing her due to attitude issues, Blanchard's stock has definitely gone up in what has been a successful Impact run thus far. She'll almost certainly be considered by WWE once her Impact contract comes up.
8 Leaving: The Colons
Let this article serve as yet another reminder that Primo and Epico still have jobs with the WWE. They've almost replaced JTG as the quintessential wrestlers whose continued employment with WWE despite a sheer lack of exposure has become a running joke. And you better believe they've been with the company for what seems like forever.
Unless it's another goofy, low-upside gimmick like Los Matadores or the Shining Stars, creative has practically nothing for the Colons. Looks like their days of hiding out in catering lest the McMahons find out they're still receiving paychecks may soon be over. (Our bad, that was JTG.)
7 Rumored To Join: Allysin Kay
Although she had quite a successful run on Impact Wrestling as Sienna, having won two Knockouts Championships for the company, Allysin Kay was an early elimination in this year's Mae Young Classic, having lost to Mia Yim in the first round. On one end, that could be a sign WWE isn't too keen on signing her now, but next year could be another story.
One need look no further than the aforementioned Yim as an example of an MYC entrant by way of Impact who had to wait for the all-female tournament's next edition before getting her big break with WWE. That too may be the case with Kay, but it shouldn't surprise anyone if she gets signed anyway before next year's MYC.
6 Leaving: Apollo Crews
Titus Worldwide is no more, which means it's likely time for WWE to give Crews another chance with another gimmick, as the company tries once again to find something that works for him. But even if they find something that works, it might be too little, too late for this onetime top prospect.
Unfortunately, it looks like Crews is the WWE's equivalent of a top high school or college athlete who joined the draft too early, got picked outside the first round, and ended up riding the bench for most, if not all of his career in the big leagues. Crews would be better off returning to the indies to further hone his skills, particularly in the promo department.
5 Rumored To Join: Cody Rhodes
Yes, we know he's reportedly working with the Young Bucks as they hope to hold a sequel to All In. We realize that he's achieved so much more in the indies than he ever had in all those years in the WWE. He's happy with where he is, and there's a good chance he'll re-sign with ROH once his contract expires next year, but the operative words here are "rumored to join." Or, in Cody's case, rejoin.
Indeed, there are a lot of fans and pundits who believe Cody's return to the WWE is mostly a matter of "when" rather than "if." Honestly, it sounds like a long shot in 2019, but if he does return to his old employer, it would behoove WWE's creative team to do right by him and give him the main event push he deserves.
4 Rumored To Join: Kenny Omega
While we personally don't believe that Kenny Omega would want to sacrifice his megastardom in New Japan for what might be (knowing Vince and co.) an unsatisfying upper mid-card (at best) push in the WWE, that hasn't stopped the rumors that have long suggested the Cleaner will soon be making his way back to the company that gave up on him over a decade ago when he was a developmental talent.
Omega's reputation in the international scene means there's definitely a lot of demand from fans who want to see him bring back the art of the five-star match to the WWE. But if he does sign, and that's a very big "if," keep your expectations reasonable and remember the fate of many an ex-Bullet Club member not named AJ Styles.
3 Leaving: Gallows and Anderson
Most fans should be aware by now that the contracts of ex-NJPW stars AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson are due to expire early next year. Styles should be a cinch to re-sign, and there's a fairly good chance Nakamura wants to return, despite his start-stop booking. It may be a different story, however, with Gallows and Anderson.
While they did hold the Raw Tag Team Championships at one point last year, the two former Bullet Club members have mostly been booked as chumps, and are so far removed from the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championship picture at the moment. The Good Brothers deserve better, and will likely be flying back to Japan once their WWE deals expire.
2 Rumored To Join: The Young Bucks
When talking about rumored WWE signings for 2019, no names have been mentioned as often as Matt and Nick Jackson, aka the Young Bucks. We don't need to orient you on their credentials and the many titles they've won in the independent scene. With their ROH contracts due to expire in 2019, will they sign with WWE?
At this point in the game, there are so many moving parts that could influence their decision to sign with WWE or remain in the indies/New Japan. But with the Young Bucks seemingly more open than ever before to the idea of joining the company, we sincerely hope they won't meet the same fate others have, due to Vince McMahon's traditional disdain for tag team wrestling.
1 Leaving: Brock Lesnar
Just when you thought he quietly left WWE and was busy preparing for a UFC match against Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar came back at Hell in a Cell, interfering in Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman's Universal Championship match, causing the match to be called a no-contest, ensuring Reigns remained champion, and wasting Strowman's Money in the Bank cash-in. Yep, that was Paul Heyman's client, BOO-rock Lesnar.
Obviously, WWE sees Lesnar as a huge draw, which is why he will be facing Reigns and Strowman for the Universal title in a Triple Threat Match at Crown Jewel. But the UFC bug has long bitten the Beast, and it will be more surprising than not if he remains in WWE beyond 2019.