There was a long-held belief by even the most hardcore of wrestling fan that, if a wrestler was not a home-grown talent, he or she would, more than likely, never find mainstream success in the WWE. However, this is a new era in the WWE, with the likes of Fergal Devitt, Tyler Black, Kevin Steen, and El Generico all finding success in the WWE as Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn, respectively.
Ever since the rebranding of NXT from an awkward game show to a legitimate third brand for the WWE, fans have loved to speculate as to who the next signing from the independent wrestling circuit will be. The independent wrestling scene has its fair share of star power, and, for most of those stars, it will only be a matter of time before they are contacted by the WWE and offered a contract. Some of the biggest names in wrestling have made their way to the WWE in the past few years, and they have found an unprecedented level of success that other independent stars that were signed just a few years ago could only dream about.
Not every wrestler is destined for the big stage, though. Some, despite their best efforts, have not caught the eye of the WWE quite yet. While some independent wrestlers are more than happy to stay independent, there are plenty of others that would surely jump at the chance if they were contacted by the WWE. These are some of the wrestlers that the WWE seems to be scouting, and some that they could not care less about.
20 Wants: Chris Brookes
While some may not be familiar with Chris Brookes, WWE clearly know who he is. Brookes has wrestled for promotions all around the world, including Progress, CZW, and Defiant Wrestling, and he was rumored to be one of the wrestlers that the WWE was scouting for the second iteration of their UK tournament this summer.
Brookes was reportedly offered a contract and a spot in the WWE's UK Tournament, but he turned down the contract offer.
This is probably a good thing for Brookes, as it will allow him to build his personal brand a bit more so he doesn't get lost in the shuffle as just another UK wrestler if he ever does decide to sign with the WWE.
19 Not Interested: Jimmy Havoc
Jimmy Havoc is one of the biggest names in UK wrestling that fans in the U.S. have probably never heard of. Havoc was one of the longest reigning Progress World Champions ever, and he also appears frequently for Defiant Wrestling and ICW. Havoc has never been offered a WWE contract despite his popularity, but this is most likely due to his hardcore style, as Havoc is known best for his work as a "death match" wrestler. Therefore, while they have hired hardcore wrestlers before, like Dean Ambrose, WWE might view Havoc as too "gimmick-y" or too dangerous for their PG style.
18 Wants: Bad Luck Fale
As one of the founding members of the Bullet Club, there is no way that the WWE would not want Bad Luck Fale on their roster. Additionally, Fale is a large guy, weighing in around 350 lbs, and WWE loves their big men. The fact that he is from New Zealand must also be a plus, as that means he would be able to cut promos in English.
In 2016, Fale signed a two year contract with NJPW, even though the WWE was also reported to have made him an offer. If WWE could manage to sign Fale, they would have three of the four original Bullet Club members under their employ.
17 Not Interested: Tetsuya Naito
Despite his charisma and in-ring ability, the WWE has never shown any interest in Tetsuya Naito. The former IWGP Intercontinental Champion has proven that he is a very skilled performer after headlining Wrestle Kingdom 12 earlier this year, and he just recently competed against Chris Jericho. However, WWE has no interest in Naito, and the feeling is mutual.
Naito says that he believes that NJPW is the foremost wrestling company in the world and he has no interest in leaving.
It is honestly a shame, as he has a unique character and his flair for the dramatics would certainly make him a standout on the WWE roster.
16 Wants: James Storm
As the WWE has shown with multiple signings over the past few years, they are welcoming stars who made their name in TNA with open arms. Storm was one of the earlier wrestlers who was considering jumping ship, as he appeared in 2 matches on NXT in 2015, but he decided to re-sign with TNA rather than the WWE.
If he were to head over to the WWE, he could reform his old tag team Beer Money with Bobby Roode, which would certainly give Roode a much-needed direction since joining the main roster. Even with their ever-growing roster, the WWE could still use James Storm.
15 Not Interested: Christopher Daniels
Despite signing with the WWE (then WWF) and WCW in the late '90s and early 2000s, Christopher Daniels is one of the biggest independent wrestlers that has never had a fair shake in the WWE. He competed in the very first Ring of Honor show, where he faced Low-Ki and Bryan Danielson, who are former and current WWE wrestlers Kaval and Daniel Bryan, respectively.
Daniels has wrestled for ROH, TNA/Impact, Chikara, and even AAA. Daniels has won heavyweight and world champions all across the country, but, in spite of his worldwide success, the WWE just do not seem to be interested in The Fallen Angel.
14 Wants: WALTER
As stated with Bad Luck Fale, the WWE loves their big men, and Big Daddy Walter is no exception. Weighing just over 300 lbs, Walter is one of the best big men in the business today. Not only did he put on a five-star match with Zack Sabre Jr. last year, but Walter is also a former champion in Progress, PWG, and wXw.
Walter performed at WrestleMania Axxess, something that wrestlers usually only do if the WWE is interested in them.
While he has denied being offered a WWE contract, many consider it unlikely that he would sign with the WWE, given that he is currently the head trainer at wXw.
13 Not Interested: Joe Hendry
While he has had a tryout match with the WWE and has appeared on-screen for them on multiple occasions, the WWE does not seem to have any interest in The Local Hero. Hendry is a star on the UK independent scene, and is a legitimate wrestler as well, as he was Scotland's national champion before competing in the Commonwealth Games. Hendry also has a background in music, as he was formerly a signed artist with Sony.
The WWE loves singing gimmicks and, if done right, they can get over. The Prestigious One also has a natural charisma about him. If given the opportunity, Hendry could be the next John Cena, if only the WWE liked him.
12 Wants: Kazuchika Okada
As the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada helped put NJPW on the map. He headlined the past two Wrestle Kingdoms, and he is probably the closest thing that NJPW has to a John Cena type of character. After his four matches with Kenny Omega broke Dave Metlzer's star rating scale, Okada has been on every wrestling fan's lips.
While there has never been any official news of the WWE offering him a contract, there is no doubt that they would love to have The Rainmaker.
After seeing the success of Shinsuke Nakamura, Okada has even said that he might be open to going to the WWE. Who knows what the future holds?
11 Not Interested: Cheeseburger
Despite his short tenure on the independent circuit, as he has only been a wrestler for 6 years, Cheeseburger is a fan favorite no matter where he goes. He was been an entrant in the New Japan Rumble at both Wrestle Kingdom 10 and 11, where he made it to the final 2 competitors. He is also recognized for his skill in ROH, where he is an assistant trainer at the ROH Dojo.
Cheeseburger hasn't appeared in NJPW since January of this year, and hasn't been on ROH tv since January of 2016, as he is most likely dedicating his time to training. In an interview with Wrestling Inc., Cheeseburger expressed an interest in going to WWE, but he has not reportedly received any offers.
10 Wants: Kota Ibushi
By now, it is no secret that the WWE wants to sign Kota Ibushi. After his memorable performance in the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016, fans were clamoring for Ibushi to sign with the WWE. When he turned them down, the fans were cheated out of the final match that everyone wanted, which was Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
After seeing how the WWE handled the cruiserweight division right after their rebirth, it might be a good thing that Ibushi didn't sign right away. However, there is still time for him to make his way to the WWE, but he might no longer be interested after seeing 205 Live.
9 Not Interested: UltraMantis Black
The former leader of the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple is definitely one of the strangest acts in professional wrestling. Debuting in 2002 under the name UltraMantis, UMB was part of the first Chikara show, one of only five wrestlers still with the company who were a part of that show.
While wrestling almost exclusively for Chikara for his 16 year career, UltraMantisBlack has wrestled some of the best on the independent scene.
Some notable opponents include Mike Quackenbush, Chuck Taylor, and former NXT Tag Team Champion Johnny Gargano, just to name a few.
Additionally, UltraMantisBlack also has a budding metal music career, and he is openly straight-edge, much like CM Punk. In spite of his popularity and skill, the neither the WWE nor UMB have ever expressed any interest in each other.
8 Wants: Zack Sabre Jr.
On the topic of cruiserweights, Zack Sabre Jr. is a man that WWE themselves once called the best wrestler on the planet that they didn't have signed. After looking at his resume, it is hard to argue against it. At 30 years old, Sabre has done more in his career than most independent wrestlers ever get to do. The Technical Wizard has won titles in PWG, Evolve, wXw, and RevPro, just to name some of the many accomplishments he has to his name. ZSJ was one of the competitors in the Cruiserweight Classic that didn't sign with the WWE, even though they wanted him to stick around. Sabre currently has a working relationship with Evolve, though, so never say never.
7 Not Interested: David Starr
David Starr's resume is just as impressive as nearly every other wrestler on this list, as he has won titles in RevPro, CZW, and wXw. The Physical Embodiment of Charisma is another name that he goes by, and Starr definitely has charisma to spare, something that some stars in the WWE most certainly lack. However, Starr had a tryout in 2016, along with current WWE superstars Kevin Owens and Roderick Strong. Evolve did not even want to sign him. It appears that WWE doesn't quite care for The Product which is somewhat surprising considering is attributes.
6 Wants: Will Ospreay
Perhaps the most exciting wrestler on the planet, Will Ospreay is undoubtedly one of the WWE's top prospects. Ospreay made a name for himself after becoming the youngest ever winner of the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament in NJPW in 2016.
He is the first British man to ever win the BOSJ and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
In 2016, Paul Heyman offered Will Ospreay an Evolve contract at a live interview. Clearly, the WWE is in love with Ospreay. However, Ospreay has said that he currently enjoys his reduced schedule and is not interested in joining the WWE anytime soon.
5 Not Interested: Marty Scurll
The Villain is one of the most popular superstars on the independent circuit today. After joining the Bullet Club, Scurll has become increasingly popular. Unlike most cruiserweights, Marty Scurll does not rely solely on high flying and impressive aerial acrobatics. Scurll has been recognized for being a great heel and delivering similarly great character work on an extremely consistent basis.
Scurll currently does work for NJPW, ROH, and PWG, and he is a former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. However, even though a Villain Club shirt is visible at almost every WWE taping, the WWE seemingly doesn't have any interest in Marty Scurll.
4 Wants: The Young Bucks
Even though the WWE, specifically Vince McMahon, do not seem to have a liking for tag team wrestling, they would surely love to sign Matt and Nick Jackson. The Young Bucks were in a legal war with the WWE over the "Too Sweet" hand symbol and use of the phrase in merchandise, so the WWE clearly know who they are, especially since they have aligned themselves with Cody Rhodes after his departure from the company. Because of all of the legal drama, it is hard to say whether or not the Bucks would accept a contract from the WWE. More importantly, The Young Bucks seem to have a mind for business, so they are making plenty of money on their own terms without having to come to the WWE.
3 Not Interested: Pentagon Jr.
Whether you know him as Pentagon Jr., Pentagon Dark, or Penta el 0M, Pentagon Jr. is the most popular luchador on the independent circuit.
At one point, he was just another lucha star gaining popularity in the U.S.
However, after his 3-way match with Austin Aries and his brother Rey Fenix where Pentagon Jr. won the Impact World Championship, he has made himself more popular than ever. Despite their love for luchadors, like Sin Cara, Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado, the WWE do not seem to be interested in Pentagon Jr., which is a shame. If promoted correctly, he could be the next Rey Mysterio.
2 Wants: Kenny Omega
Could the top spot really go to anyone else? Though usually conservative about courting wrestlers, the WWE have not been scared to show how much they want Kenny Omega to sign with them. They have name dropped Kenny Omega twice on their YouTube channel, something entirely unheard of for any other performer. After Chris Jericho faced him at Wrestle Kingdom 12 earlier this year, many saw that match as a sign of good will from the WWE that they might be able to use to get Kenny to sign with them.
However, Kenny Omega has made it clear that he feels like there is more for him to do in NJPW and he has no interest in leaving them yet.
1 Not Interested: Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal might be the most accomplished wrestler to have never even appeared on WWE television. Lethal debuted in 2001, so he is also one of the most veteraned wrestlers on the independent circuit to have never signed a WWE contract. Lethal has made his name in TNA/Impact Wrestling, where is a 6-time X Division Champion, and ROH, where he is a former World Champion, Pure Champion, and a 2-time Television Champion. Lethal has made head turns before, like during his Black Machismo gimmick and his intense feud with Adam Cole for the ROH Championship, but it seems like the heads that run WWE still were not interested.