There has been an air of unpredictability surrounding the WWE recently, as they seem to be doing things fans wouldn’t imagine taking place a few years ago. Be it actually allowing their talent to feature on other promotions, hiring more and more Independent wrestlers, as well as expanding their roster like crazy, the company is really looking to increase its reach all around the world. To make sure that their product doesn’t become stale, WWE makes sure to constantly change up or add to their roster that make for fresh matches, with new storylines which can take place because of the unique gimmicks of their superstars.
It’s because of the revolving roster that we see more and more promising talent being snatched up by the company nowadays, with most of them having to go through NXT. Most of WWE’s new signings go on to succeed at NXT before getting the main roster call. WWE has become a place where debuts and returns tend to happen quite often, and we can expect to see them take place even more next year.
2019 is going to be a big year for WWE, with Fox starting to broadcast Smackdown; this created a demand to broadcast the best superstars on their show. It is also certain that many releases will happen next year, getting rid of some underperforming wrestlers that add nothing to the product. Here are our predictions at the debuts, returns and releases the fans can expect next year in the WWE.
21 Release: Tye Dillinger
Tye Dillinger hasn’t really been able to retain the hype of his “Perfect 10” gimmick on the main roster. Despite being a hit on NXT, he’s failed to impress on Smackdown. Dillinger appears very occasionally on the blue brand and mostly acts as a jobber to the stars. It doesn’t seem like creative knows what to do with Tye right now and is booking him very weirdly, pairing him with R-Truth and making him do some comic skits. Dillinger hasn’t really shown much improvement in the ring or popularity wise since making the jump and if he cannot get over, WWE might be compelled to release Dillinger in 2019 as he’s wasting a crucial spot on Smackdown.
20 Return: The Rock
It's been a while since The Rock has shown up in WWE, but it’s a guarantee that he still brings a lot of eyes to the product whenever he appears on WWE television. There are rumors about him planning to come back for a short stint next year. The Rock is currently among the favorites to win the Royal Rumble match in 2019 and going on to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35. WWE is doing all they can to bring the Brahma Bull back during Mania season and if they can pull it off, their ratings will definitely pick up in early 2019.
19 Debut: Marty Scurll
“The Villain” Marty Scurll has become a real fan favorite in the Independent scene because of his amazing work as part of Bullet Club over the years. Scurll is not only a technically gifted wrestler but has some amazing charisma and fantastic ability to play a great heel. Scurll might look to be Bullet Club for life, but there seem to be cracks developing in his alliance with them. After the All In show, Cody Rhodes thanked every Bullet Club member apart from Scurll, which indicated that WWE might be calling. Scurll could be a real asset for WWE and fit right into their programming because of his amazing talent, as The Villain’s introduction could take NXT to a whole new level.
18 Release: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke has been a really underwhelming part of the Women’s Revolution in WWE, as she has failed to show any signs of improvement and is still very green in the ring. Brooke recently left as the manager of “Titus Worldwide” and could receive a push as a singles star, but seeing as how many women are much better than her, Brooke will find it difficult to consolidate a place on Raw. Brooke might be a strong, hard-hitting wrestler but is very average in the ring, putting on some very bland matches in the process. WWE could let her go next year after putting faith in her for too long.
17 Return: Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio has had a really bittersweet relationship with WWE over the years and after being on great terms with them during previous stints, he started bashing them as soon as he was fired. Del Rio has been released on two occasions by WWE. He has since gone on to shine on Impact Wrestling and in Mexican promotions and despite all the controversy, WWE still wants him back. Vince McMahon apparently had a meeting with him earlier this year and wants to improve their Hispanic base of wrestlers, which could allow the talented Del Rio to return to WWE programming sometime in 2019.
16 Debut: Nick Aldis
Nick Aldis might have recently lost his NWA World Heavyweight Championship to Cody Rhodes in the “All In” event, but in that match itself, he proved how much potential he has. Not only does Aldis have the ability to garner a lot of heat as an arrogant heel, but he’s very good in the ring and can use his size to his advantage. He almost seems to be tailor-made for the WWE, with his wrestling style, gimmick, and charisma all being perfect for him to succeed in WWE. Aldis is now a free agent after he finished all of his Independent obligations; WWE might sign him in 2019 to add a terrific heel to their programming.
15 Release: Rowan
Rowan has been a really terrorizing force in WWE’s Tag Team Division over the past few years and displays his hard-hitting brute force in the ring, but things start to crumble just as he gains some momentum. Rowan has gone through a lot of injuries over the past few years and just when the Bludgeon Brothers were being booked as this unstoppable unit, his injury had to force WWE to make them drop the titles. Rowan might be an intimidating wrestler, but his injury-prone nature must be annoying for officials to handle. Rowan will again need to be repackaged upon returning to WWE and frustrated officials might be compelled to release him next year because of his lack of consistency and injury-prone nature.
14 Return: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is very close to a return to WWE after regaining the trust of WWE officials and it seems like all his past controversies have become water under the bridge. Hogan was allegedly backstage at the Extreme Rules PPV earlier this year and has been discussing a return to WWE programming soon. With every slot being filled in WWE right now, they will probably take things slowly with Hogan and mark his return for sometime before WrestleMania. They could advertise Hogan for Mania to help increase ticket sales, but knowing the relationship which has re-formed between WWE and Hogan, it’s only a matter of time before he returns to WWE programming in a non-wrestling role.
13 Debut: Taya Valkyrie
Taya Valkyrie has been one of the most exciting female wrestlers in the world for the past few years, in which she’s impressed at Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling. Valkyrie is a versatile wrestler who has a hard-hitting moveset and can play a bit of a crazy heel character really well. Valkyrie must be on WWE’s radar because of how impressive she’s been in recent years and could do really well to bring something new to WWE’s Women’s Division. Valkyrie can put her dominant wrestling ability to good use in lighting up the Women’s Division in WWE and they are probably interested in having Taya debut on NXT and show off her incredible talent next year.
12 Release: Rhyno
Rhyno has lost that viciousness which made him so dangerous many years ago, and his latest stint in WWE hasn’t really been that fruitful. Rhyno has really declined over the past year and after becoming the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champion, he’s slowly become a jobber to the stars. Rhyno’s only job nowadays is to put over other Tag Teams and he barely even appears on WWE programming anymore. He doesn’t look as agile as he once was and is wasting a spot on the Raw roster. WWE has retained Rhyno for so long because of his prior popularity, but seeing how weary his work has become, the “Man Beast” might end up being released sometime next year.
11 Return: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho has become the hottest property in the Independent wrestling scene ever since appearing at New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he even won the IWGP Intercontinental Title a few months ago. Jericho even appeared at All In and looks set to wrestle for Impact Wrestling in the near future, proving just how high in demand he is. Jericho is doing some excellent work as this psychotic heel and without the limitations of WWE is flying high. But his former employers must be watching his excellent work and will want to bring him back as soon as possible. Despite being riddled with work for his band Fozzy, Y2J will want to return to WWE in 2019 and finish some “unfinished business” in the process.
10 Debut: Dalton Castle
Dalton Castle has been quite the flamboyant wrestler in Ring of Honor over the past few years, with his unique gimmick helping add to the entertainment of the product. Castle is packed with charisma and his gimmick is similar to Velveteen Dream’s, but his fancy costumes and mannerism makes him perfect for WWE programming. The company was allegedly serious in signing Castle last year, but he opted to stay in Ring of Honor back then. He’s gone onto win the ROH Championship since, but after falling down the ladder, he might want to make the switch after all. It wouldn’t be surprising if we see Castle debuting on NXT after Dream gets the main-roster call, and his stylish gimmick could really succeed in WWE.
9 Release: The Colons
The Colons have declined into becoming a highly irrelevant tag team on Smackdown Live! and despite having a lot of talent, their lack of a proper gimmick has haunted them in recent years. Primo and Epico have been repackaged so many times in recent years that the fans haven’t even paid much attention to them and become bored with their work. Their recent work as “The Colons” has been underwhelming and due to injury issues, they haven’t been able to improve either. Primo and Epico were allegedly looking for a release earlier this year, and despite not being granted that, with more tag teams coming up from NXT, the Colons will mostly be given their release sometime next year.
8 Return: Tenille Dashwood
Tenille Dashwood has been doing pretty well in the Independent scene since leaving WWE and despite her stint as “Emma” didn’t work out at WWE, she’s doing some great work in Ring of Honor’s Women’s Division. Dashwood has implemented herself as one of the stars of the division and putting out some great matches for their improving females division. She must be making WWE officials regret releasing her with such impressive work at ROH and knowing the amazing talent they lost, WWE might want her back soon. Emma was, without a shadow of a doubt, a superb worker in the ring for WWE and if they give her proper terms this time, we might see her back on WWE programming in 2019.
7 Debut: Jay White
Jay White was one of the breakthrough stars for New Japan Pro Wrestling last year when his “Switchblade” gimmick got over and attained him a lot of success in the company. White went onto win the IWGP United States Championship last year and his psychopathic heel tendencies made him a really dangerous character in New Japan. WWE must be impressed by White’s work in Japan in the past year or so and knowing how well he could work in WWE programming, they must have him under their radar. We could see White debut on NXT sometime next year, as his "Switchblade" character can really impress at WWE and allow him to further improve his reputation as a wrestler.
6 Release: Mike Kanellis
Mike Kanellis has completely failed to live up to the hype he was riding on prior to joining WWE and despite being a potent heel in other promotions, he’s just kept on falling down the ladder in WWE. Kanellis has had the bad luck of having to deal with some personal problems and his lack of ability to get over hurting his chances to become a star on the roster. Kanellis is now a jobber to the stars who barely even appears on WWE programming and is doing himself no good with his underwhelming work. Kanellis is finding life to be very difficult in WWE and might want his own release some-time next year if things continue like this.
5 Return: John Morrison
John Morrison has gone onto increase his stardom since leaving WWE and his excellent work in Mexico earned him back the reputation of being one of the most dazzling wrestlers in the work. Morrison’s work at Lucha Underground was mainly which brought back the spotlight on him, as he wrestled some amazing matches and put over the show. He’s also worked with Impact Wrestling recently and attained some mainstream attention with his work in Netflix’s “Glow”. The Shaman of Sexy is definitely on WWE’s radar and they might want him back after his contractual obligations with Lucha Underground and Impact are fulfilled. They could put Morrison on Smackdown Live! to improve its star-power, as Morrison can help add charm and excitement to the show.
4 Debut: Flip Gordon
Flip Gordon been a really exciting wrestler in the Independent wrestler and proved his credentials at All In, where he had a great match against Jay Lethal for the Ring of Honor Championship. Gordon’s got a lot of charisma and stunning wrestling ability, but something which makes him a hit is that he’s a former marine. Gordon used to work for the U.S. National Guard, something which makes him tailor-made for WWE. The company loves to promote wrestlers with former army history and knowing his amazing talent, WWE probably wants to sign him up as soon as possible. But Gordon recently signed a new deal with ROH, meaning WWE will have to wait until 2019 to introduce the dazzling high-flyer to their programming.
3 Release: Kassius Ohno
Kassius Ohno has seemingly transitioned into this cocky, “knockout artist” of NXT who himself admits to being the welcoming party for all the new talents which come into the show. Ohno has been in NXT for almost two years now and it doesn’t seem like officials are that impressed by him to give him a main-roster call. Ohno’s lack of improvement or a proper gimmick, along with his physical issues is not helping his case at all. He needs to make something do with this new gimmick of his, or else risk disaster in the upcoming year. With NXT even becoming highly competitive, Ohno might soon lose his place if he can’t stand out and might again be released next year.
2 Return: Juice Robinson
Juice Robinson might be more fondly remembered by WWE fans as CJ Parker, this eco-warrior who wanted to increase awareness about the environment. He worked as an enhancement talent at NXT before being released and Robinson has taken strides into improving after that. After being signed up by New Japan, Robinson has gone onto become one of their most popular American stars and impressed many with his work. He’s currently the IWGP United States Champion and doing some great work in Japan, something which has been noticed by WWE. Triple H definitely regrets letting go of Robinson so prematurely, but if rumors of him wanting to bring back Robinson are serious, we could see Robinson come back to redeem himself at NXT sometime in 2019.
1 Debut: Eli Drake
Eli Drake has played his role as this annoying heel on Impact wrestling quite successfully over the past year or so, and he recently established himself as a main eventer with some great work at Impact. Not only does Drake have a lot of charisma, but his infuriating heel mannerism and impressive working ability in the ring makes him perfect for WWE’s product. Drake has apparently garnered interest from WWE with his work recently and after his contract is up at Impact, they could look into signing him. Drake would be a great addition to WWE and use his charisma to the fullest in being the cocky heel NXT needs to maintain its excellent product in 2019.