To make use of a common modern expression, haters gonna hate. Despite what the 'real' sports fans want wrestling fans to believe, professional wrestling does have a lot in common with competitive sports such as football and soccer. If it didn't, why would FOX shell out billions of dollars to air what is believed to be WWE's B show?
Certain nuances, however, set wrestling apart; it respects contracts. Sports team juggernauts across leagues like the NFL, NBA and MLB seek ways to get out of contracts they regret signing, and soccer teams in Europe buy out contracts of players from smaller clubs whom they deem good enough to improve them. Even though it's common knowledge WWE and NJPW scout talents constantly, they hardly ever discuss the prospect of a move when a contracted wrestler actively performs for someone else.
Anyway, WWE is constantly on the lookout for new talents. Naturally, the person responsible for recruiting talents at WWE, Triple H, real name Paul Levesque, must always have a few names on his notes, whom he wants at NXT or the main roster even; however, he may not be able to get them all due to a multitude of reasons.
The following article looks at 10 such individuals Triple H has been zeroing in on, likely in vain. We'll also look at 10 names you, the fans or WWE Universe, if you will, want to see perform for WWE but won’t probably get to see them on Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT, NXT UK or 205 Live in the near future.
20 Triple H: Cody
Cody’s been a revelation since leaving WWE. Most wrestling observers touted him to be an upper mid-card act on the indies at best. His second name did help him get the foot in the door, but his sheer talent and creativity has seen him become a phenomenon. Selling 10,000 tickets and playing a key role in revolutionizing the industry, he’s kept his father’s legacy going.
Triple H, a shrewd businessman who must be keeping tabs on his progress, must be desperate to have him working under him as he won’t just better WWE, for signing him also eliminates potential competition. Cody, however, is keen on building his own brand and changing the industry now.
19 Fans: Hiroshi Tanahasi
The recent rise in popularity of wrestling promotions in Japan has made even hardcore WWE fans familiar with the works of the biggest names there. While fans aren’t currently expecting names like Kazuchika Okada to sign for WWE, they’re definitely hoping the mature and aging stars would have a crack at WWE fame. The WWE Universe wants no other NJPW wrestler performing in a WWE ring as much as they want Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The Ace, for those unaware, is NJPW’s John Cena, and the fans have been desperate to watch him lock horns with Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns while he can still go. The Ace, however, has shown no signs of wanting to leave NJPW.
18 Triple H: Tetsuya Naito
Triple H hasn’t kept his interest in Tetsuya Naito secret. Recent reports from reliable wrestling news outlets have suggested Triple H and co. tried signing him, but to no avail. With Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black all expected to move to the main roster soon, The Game has been scouring the market for replacements and, in the former IWGP Intercontinental Champion, he has a wrestler who can seamlessly enter the NXT Championship title scene. However, as revealed by the reports, he isn’t keen on leaving NJPW as of now, with the company set to reward his loyalty by making him the IWGP Heavyweight Champion soon.
17 Fans: Emma
While some expected Emma to fail after her WWE exit, some touted her to become the next big indie women's wrestler. While she hasn’t set the indie scene alight, she hasn’t had great success either. Her fans, however, haven’t given up on her yet, as most wrestling boards actively discuss her matches and career every now and then. We also see a good number of fans stating they’d be delighted to see her wrestle for WWE again considering her role in revolutionizing women’s wrestling in WWE. While she must be willing to open talks with WWE, it’s unlikely the company will want her back, especially when their women’s roster is as stacked as it’s never been.
16 Triple H: The Young Bucks
WWE is trying to please The Young Bucks like they've never done before, with their mentioning Bullet Club on their official website and YouTube channel. It's now common knowledge that WWE are actively trying to sign a good number of Bullet Club members and Triple H is believed to be a keen admirer.
However, despite WWE's readiness to break the bank for them, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson will opt against signing for WWE, as they, who relish having complete control over their dates, are currently said to be working on their own wrestling promotion, alongside Cody, Chris Jericho and Jim Ross.
15 Fans: Christopher Daniels
Christopher Daniels has been in the wrestling business for so long, and not many fans realize that Daniels was employed by the WWE in the late 90s as an enhancement talent. There was even one point where Daniels was pegged as a possible 'Greater Power' candidate for The Corporate Ministry, before the WWE copped out with Vince McMahon. Daniels is in his late 40s, so it's unlikely WWE would sign him as a full-time talent, but even in an NXT like capacity, Daniels would be a solid veteran hand to work with some young talents and he still has some great matches left in him.
14 Triple H: Kazuchika Okada
While Kenny Omega has maintained that he might even end his wrestling career without a proper WWE run, his nemesis Kazuchika Okada has claimed to be open to signing for WWE. His dropping the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, fans believed, signalled the end of his NJPW stint. Triple H, a shrewd business who knows where the money is, must have pondered capitalizing on the situation by luring him to WWE. However, he must wait for a few more years, as NJPW's Gedo seems keen on keeping him given that The Rainmaker continues to be featured prominently despite his being away from the title scene.
13 Fans: Kenny Omega
We've discussed how Triple H may be itching to sign the Bullet Club guys for WWE. The fans, however, seem to be okay with the idea of The Young Bucks' never signing for WWE, as Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson won't be given the creative freedom that they currently enjoy. They seem convinced Kenny Omega would be positioned as a top star even at the Vince McMahon-managed promotion thanks to his popularity and talent.
The fans want him to face off against Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and other super talented wrestlers in a WWE ring. However, with his stocks continuing to rise at NJPW, he'll want to wait a few more years before signing for WWE.
12 Triple H: Brian Cage
We've now established that Triple H is a smart businessman. A smart businessman would never fail to notice what Brian Cage has been doing on the indie circuit. Although no company he's worked for has put major titles on him, he's proved to be a solid draw, given his work with Impact Wrestling, Lucha Libre AAA Worlwide and Lucha Underground. Plus, he'll be a throwback to the Attitude Era, as WWE seems to shy away from signing big former bodybuilders as of late. However, the former FCW talent seems to hold a grudge against WWE for mistreating him during his first employment with them.
11 Fans: Rosemary
WWE's women's roster now has more talent than it's ever had at any point. One can even go as far as claiming that their roster is on a par with or better than that of World Wonder Ring Stardom, Shimmer Women Athletes and Shine Wrestling. However, while everyone's super talented, what they lack is interesting characters. Somehow everyone's just a lifetime wrestling fan who's just happy to be there. That's where Rosemary comes in.
While she's not as good as say, Bayley in the ring, her character work makes her one of the best women in wrestling today. The fans want her at WWE, but WWE have never shown in interest in her, strangely.
10 Triple H: Kota Ibushi
While Triple H does have a say in who bypasses NXT to become a main-roster talent straightaway, only NXT and 205 Live are under his complete control. He's been super successful when it comes to NXT, but he's yet to make 205 Live as relevant as it was when Enzo Amore was there. One wrestler he must know would put a lot of eyes on 205 Live is Kota Ibushi. He had a fantastic showing in the Cruiserweight Classic, losing only to eventual winner TJP in the semi-finals. However, the NJPW wrestler has always claimed to be happy working a light schedule, which WWE can never offer.
9 Fans: Pentagon Jr.
This is a case where both the WWE brass and the fans would agree. Triple H has made it a priority to go after international talents and Pentagon Jr. provides the opportunity for WWE to have a marketable latino star besides Rey Mysterio. It's unknown how long Mysterio has signed for, but now would be the ideal time for Pentagon to come into the WWE, either to be a short-term pairing with Rey, or to eventually be the one that retires Rey from the WWE for good. Either way, he definitely has to be a top target for WWE.
8 Triple H: Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels stated just weeks before teaming up with long-term mate Triple H to face off against The Brothers of Destruction his working with the NXT talents had rekindled his love for professional wrestling. He did seem to have plenty of fun at Crown Jewel and looked he could still go in the ring, as he effectively carried the match when Triple H was out with a torn pec. However, after the bell, while embracing Triple H, a camera caught him saying, “We’re too old to be doing this.” Triple H, the youngest and healthiest of the two, must want to have fun with his buddy one more time, but HBK probably knows his time’s up.
7 Fans: AJ Lee
With Asuka, The Four Horsewomen, Alexa Bliss and Ruby Riott all tearing up the women's division, the fans have been clamouring for the return of the women who'd paved way for the Women's Revolution to happen, in Emma, Paige and AJ Lee. Emma had a stinker on the main roster while Paige's retirement has stopped her from performing. That leaves us with only AJ Lee. The fans want her to lock horns with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Mickie James, but it seems her being married to CM Punk will stop her from signing for WWE in the near future.
6 Triple H: Will Ospreay
With Ricochet recently signing for WWE, Triple H must have turned his attention to the wrestler with whom Ricochet has had the best matches of his career with: Will Ospreay. The London-born wrestler has had massive success with Ring of Honor, NJPW and on the British indie scene, and WWE have reportedly been keen on bringing him to WWE. He, a two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, however, has claimed that he can't do WWE's schedule that expects their wrestlers to work on Christmas and New Year's. As he's still only 25, he may very well sign for WWE, but we'll have to wait several more years for that to happen.
5 Fans: Jimmy Jacobs
SmackDown Live's writing has been improving gradually, but there’s still a lot to be desired. One person who could make the task at least mildly easier is Jimmy Jacobs, and the more informed fans seem to know it. He was booted after posting a picture with his Bullet Club friends at the back of their impromptu RAW invasion. He's now producing shows for Impact Wrestling, a promotion that's on an upswing as of late. It's unlikely that he'll want to go back after leaving the way he did and WWE will never want a seemingly unprofessional individual back as well.
4 Triple H: Zack Sabre Jr.
When WWE announced the participants of the first Cruiserweight Classic, everyone was pencilling in Zack Sabre Jr. to win hands down. However, owing to his refusing sign a full-time contract with WWE, the company was forced to book him to lose in the semi-finals. His stocks have only continued to rise since; he's secured wins over Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi, won the 2018 New Japan Cup and even challenged Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
With NJPW now clearly behind him and Progress Wrestling and PWG positioning him at the top of the card, it seems unlikely he'll want to negotiate a deal with WWE despite Triple H's interest.
3 Fans: Chris Sabin
With most indie names having a run or two with WWE, surprisingly Motor City Machine Guns never had even an NXT run. They tore the non-WWE promotions up, and those who followed their runs with Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling and NJPW all wanted them to make the big leagues. However, Alex Shelley’s forced retirement proved it never became a possibility. That hasn’t stopped the fans from clamousing for Chris Sabin’s WWE debut, however. The former Impact Wrestling man, however, is injury prone, and WWE, having dealt with Hideo Itami, will look to avoid wrestlers with a history of that.
2 Triple H: Mercedes Martinez
Triple H respects industry veterans given his signing Rhyno and Mickie James for NXT before the main-roster writers chose to call them up and having Jushin Thunder Liger wrestle in NXT. The most recent instance of his wanting to sign an industry veteran must have happened at Mae Young Classic. Mercedes Martinez, a veteran with 18 years’ experience, tore the house down in her match with Meiko Satamura and had the internet wrestling community talking. Triple H, who get a hang of the hardcore fan base, must want the 38-year-old in NXT, but it’s unlikely the other decision makers will agree to sign her considering her age.
1 Fans: Batista
Batista has time and again stated his desire to return to WWE and, given his newfound Guardians of the Galaxy fame, one might expect WWE to be keen on producing a programme for him. However, WWE, Vince McMahon and Triple H, who have proven to be petty at times, are apparently not ready to give him creative freedom, which they rarely give their talents these days. The fans, however, are yearning for his return, and they likely won't boo him out of the building this time out should they book him well. The fans aren't against part-timers despite the consensus, as evidenced by the hero’s welcome they gave Goldberg. As long as Batista doesn't come in and grab main event spots, or title shots, fans would definitely embrace him.