The wrestling scene has become highly competitive when it comes to signing free agents. WWE is still in a league of its own when it comes to overall size, the reach of its program and the money they can offer. However, things have changed dramatically for the rest of the wrestling world. The success of All In being run by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks led to the show being sold out within minutes. Even conventions and other events led by the show have reached huge success.
Ring of Honor and New Japan joined the mix by putting together an incredible deal to have a show in Madison Square Garden during WrestleMania 35 weekend. The show sold out minutes after being available to the general public. A shocking fact is that they have the first $1 million gate for a non-WWE promotion in the United States. Other promotions like Impact Wrestling are even finding relevance thanks to great talent bringing fans in to give them another chance.
This all matters as the free agent market is red hot with incredible talents from all over the world. Triple H is the man responsible for the new talent coming into the company. Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and many other surprising signings came thanks to his role in that department making the final call. Unfortunately for Triple H, not every wrestler will easily take his offer these days. Find out the landscape for the free agent market with ten wrestlers Triple H wants to bring in along with ten he won’t get.
20 Wants: Brian Cage
WWE used to be known for only wanting jacked up wrestlers with physiques comparable to bodybuilders. Triple H played a big role in wrestlers with unconventional looks getting hired and receiving a chance in NXT. However, there are still some bigger guys getting hired if they are athletic like Braun Strowman and Lars Sullivan.
Brian Cage is the best combination of both immense wrestling talent and a bodybuilding physique.
The success of Cage in Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground and PWG has made him a top name. Triple H will likely jump at the opportunity to land someone like Cage. It makes too much sense not to happen at some point soon.
19 Won’t be able to sign: John Morrison
Another former WWE star doing great things outside of the company is John Morrison. Under various names, he is a big part of both Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground. Other independent promotions book Morrison consistently as well, and he is having consistently great performances.
Morrison is even thriving outside of wrestling with his acting roles and opportunities like appearing on the next season of Survivor making him happier.
His wife Taya Valkyrie works with him at most wrestling promotions to make his career quite convenient. It is extremely unlikely Triple H or anyone in WWE would be able to convince Morrison to come back for another run.
18 Wants: Marty Scurll
The success of the Bullet Club over the past few years has seen WWE sign many former members like Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Adam Cole. However, this recent core has been the most successful incarnation of the group leading to major moments like All In and the ROH/NJPW MSG show selling out.
This is going to culminate with WWE going after all the major members of Bullet Club. Marty Scurll is locked into a contract heading into the middle of 2019, but he is one wrestler that has admitted he had the dream of working for the company. Scurll’s girlfriend Deonna Purrazzo signing with WWE could also tempt him to join NXT under Triple H’s vision.
17 Won’t be able to sign: Kazuchika Okada
Kazuchika Okada is the face of New Japan following his incredible reign as IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. The success of New Japan growing to new peaks internationally has made Okada a massive name in the industry considering the most heavily pushed wrestler gets praise or blame.
Okada visited friends at a couple of WWE shows last year with rumblings of the company wanting him to be their next big Japanese signing. It appears Okada has no interest in leaving New Japan soon due to having a great role and playing a big part in the company potentially growing to another level after the MSG sellout.
16 Wants: Rosemary
A talented female performer with the chance to get signed by WWE is Rosemary. Impact Wrestling struggled for quite a few years before finding new momentum thanks to the ownership and creative team finding success in 2018. Rosemary was among the few gems in Impact in the struggling years standing out as a unique talent for the knockouts division.
There’s no one like her currently on the WWE roster nor has there ever been with the gimmick she brings to the table.
Rosemary’s presence is like Finn Balor’s portrayal of The Demon. Triple H will likely offer her a contract to wrestle in NXT once her Impact contract ends.
15 Won’t be able to sign: Gail Kim
The announcement of the first all-women WWE PPV event called Evolution was a proud moment for Triple H. This segment featured Triple H having tears in his eyes when discussing the historic importance of this show. Between Evolution, the booming women’s division on all WWE brands and the Mae Young Classic success, WWE is looking to sign as many top female performers as possible. Many legends are expected back in the company for the Evolution event with the reveal of 50 wrestlers being a part of the card.
One name that will likely not accept any invite is Gail Kim.
Following two disappointing runs with the company, Kim has been adamant she has no desire to return to a place that disrespected her.
14 Wants: The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks are the most important wrestlers to the success of the Bullet Club reaching new levels. Brothers Matt and Nick Jackson creating the hit YouTube show Being the Elite and getting merchandising deals with Hot Topic and Funko all played a role in the rise of ROH and New Japan. It is no secret that the Young Bucks will become free agents when their ROH contracts expire at the end of 2018.
Matt and Nick have each already stated they will listen to all offers, and you better believe WWE will be interested.
Not only would Triple H be able to sign the hottest free agents on the market, but it would remove them from the ROH/NJPW MSG show. Time will tell where the Young Bucks end up at the end of the year leading to huge ramifications in 2019.
13 Won’t be able to sign: Zack Sabre Jr.
The Cruiserweight Classic led to many stars getting signed from the independent circuit like Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar and Drew Gulak. However, the rumor mill was that the wrestlers to take these deals were not getting impressive contract figures compared to the other full-time main roster stars.
One wrestler to turn down the deal for business reasons was Zack Sabre Jr. Many fans wanted to see Sabre join the cruiserweight division due to his great run in the Cruiserweight Classic reaching the semi-finals. Sabre decided he was worth more and continued wrestling on the independent circuit. New Japan ended up signing him since then where he is happy to work as an upper card act with potential to be a bigger star without ever signing with WWE.
12 Wants: Pentagon Jr.
The biggest new star to emerge from Lucha Underground has been Pentagon Jr. His career has skyrocketed in recent years by becoming a top fixture in fun independent wrestling promotions like PWG and AAW.
Impact Wrestling making him a top name in 2018 helped both Pentagon Jr. and the company each develop more momentum together. WWE is already reportedly showing interest in Pentagon Jr. due to his already impressive reputation and the potential to become an even better performer. Triple H would likely make Pentagon Jr. a top talent in NXT as the luchador with the most potential since Rey Mysterio.
11 Won’t be able to sign: Kota Ibushi
Kota Ibushi is one of the top names in New Japan that translates to a North American audience. His role in a tremendous storyline with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks showed his outstanding talent this past year. However, Ibushi had a chance to sign with WWE back in 2016.
Triple H wanted Ibushi on board following his success in the Cruiserweight Classic. Ibushi turned down the deal believing he’d have more fun in Japan. Unlike most other wrestlers, he has no dream of joining WWE and reportedly didn’t even know Vince McMahon when meeting him backstage at an NXT show. Ibushi is said to come from a wealthy background which also takes away WWE’s money being enough to get him under contract.
10 Wants: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio is arguably the biggest free agent name on the wrestling circuit right now. Two WWE appearances in the Royal Rumble and the Greatest Royal Rumble each reminded the company how much fans love him all over the world. Mysterio’s Royal Rumble appearance had more online views than Ronda Rousey’s debut with the company.
WWE has already made Mysterio a big part of their 2K video game slated for release in a few months.
Triple H has been negotiating a contract with Rey with the belief of a deal being confirmed for October. Mysterio’s commitments to New Japan, All In and Chris Jericho’s cruise will be fulfilled by then to return home to WWE.
9 Won’t be able to sign: Tessa Blanchard
Tessa Blanchard has become a top women’s wrestling talent outside of WWE. The daughter of the legendary Tully Blanchard is only 23 years old, but she already has a reputation for being one of the best in the world. Tessa was selected as the first non-Bullet Club wrestler to be announced for All In.
Impact Wrestling brought her in as one of the first major free agent acquisitions under the new management.
It turned out to be a genius move making Blanchard a face the company is building around. WWE has reportedly been interest in Tessa for years but never offered a contract. She recently signed a two-year contract with Impact and is showing she’s just happy wrestling outside of WWE for the foreseeable future.
8 Wants: Dalton Castle
Dalton Castle is one of the top names in Ring of Honor as the company wants to build around him. The recent ROH Championship reign of Castle ended faster than expected due to injuries forcing the company’s hand. Castle is someone that was reportedly on WWE’s radar a few years ago.
The unique character of Castle presents a new layer of storytelling that has already proven to be successful in NXT with Velveteen Dream.
Triple H will likely go after Castle again when his contract expires with ROH. The fact that Dalton already had a world title reign with ROH may have been enough to close that chapter of his career positively leading to the move to WWE.
7 Won’t be able to sign: Juice Robinson
The run of Juice Robinson in NXT as CJ Parker saw him play an entertaining character, but his ceiling was an enhancement talent with no chances to move up. This led to Robinson requesting his release to leave WWE. Juice wanted to travel the world and learn how to become a better performer like his friends Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins.
It has been a massive success for Robinson in New Japan. He is currently the NJPW United States Champion with a fan base following him. Recent reports indicated that WWE is interested in bringing Juice back, but he has already responded publicly saying he does not want to return any time soon.
6 Wants: Shane Strickland
The latest independent wrestling name on the free agent market to be rumored on WWE’s radar is Shane Strickland. Things have been picking up for Strickland over the past year. It took him some time to gain momentum, but Strickland has been thriving as one of the hottest stars for MLW and Evolve Wrestling among other indies.
The youth, athleticism and general talent of Strickland makes him someone WWE wants to add to their roster.
Strickland would instantly be a relevant player on the NXT roster if he does decide to accept Triple H’s offer to join the company soon.
5 Won’t be able to sign: Will Ospreay
Wrestlers are doing things we’ve never witnessed before when it comes to high-flying moves. Ricochet joining WWE has him as a top talent for the NXT brand. Triple H clearly is a fan of wrestlers like this when it comes to adding new names to NXT.
The biggest competitor to Ricochet as the top high-flyer in wrestling today is Will Ospreay.
At the young age of 25, Ospreay has already accomplished a lot as an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion and the face of the division for New Japan. WWE would obviously want someone of his caliber on the roster, but Ospreay has stated WWE isn’t a goal for him as he loves wrestling on his own schedule.
4 Wants: Rey Fenix
There are a few names to be on the WWE radar in recent months with Triple H hoping to add some more top talent to NXT. One market WWE wants to improve with their roster is adding more Mexican talent. The wrestlers in AAA, CMLL or even making the jump to the United States scene are coveted if they can perform.
Rey Fenix is among the top wrestlers on the independent scene after making the move from Mexico to the United States for most of his schedule.
Television promotions Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground are spotlighting him in big roles. Fenix also gets booked at places like PWG delivering great matches. At just 27 years old, Fenix is the ideal talent Triple H would want in NXT.
3 Won’t be able to sign: Adam Page
The Bullet Club mainstays in 2018 have changed the wrestling business with the market for independent wrestling shows becoming bigger than ever before. Adam Page does not get the same amount of coverage as some of his other Bullet Club teammates, but he may have the highest potential.
At 27 years old, Page is already stepping up as a top new star for ROH and New Japan. Both promotions see him becoming a big player for them in the very near future. Page recently shut down any rumors of WWE potentially going after him. The claims of Page were that WWE is not a goal for him at all anymore and he wants to continue building something special with ROH and New Japan.
2 Wants: Matt Riddle
The UFC career of Matt Riddle is remembered for ending following his refusal to give up marijuana. Riddle made a move to professional wrestling by becoming a top independent wrestling superstar. WWE helped get him a relationship with Evolve Wrestling which became his home promotion over the past few years.
Riddle turned out to be a natural and became a huge star for various promotions all over the world in a short time.
Triple H finally wants him to make the move to WWE or NXT by reportedly offering him a contract recently. There are rumblings that Riddle committed to WWE over a New Japan offer and will be starting with the company very soon.
1 Won’t be able to sign: Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega is the top singles star and the leader of the Bullet Club during this important time. The in-ring work of Omega has seen him become the objective choice as the best wrestler in the world. Omega consistently has matches rated five stars, and he even broke legendary wrestling reporter Dave Meltzer’s scale going all the way up to seven stars.
Much like the Young Bucks, Omega will be a free agent entering 2019.
Triple H has spoken out glowingly about Omega when asked in conference calls. There’s no doubt WWE will make a great offer. Omega is however one of the least likely wrestlers to take the deal due to his passion for the art being his main driving force. New Japan recently making him IWGP Heavyweight Champion means he likely won’t head to WWE any time soon.