For several years, WWE chairman Vince McMahon has been almost dead-set on not bringing guys into WWE who were major names in TNA. Sure, there have been exceptions, but almost every exception has been someone who has worked for WWE and been a big name for them in the past, including guys like Jeff Hardy, Rhyno, Rob Van Dam, and the Dudley Boyz.
When longtime TNA star Samoa Joe became a free agent earlier this year, many were hoping that he’d end up in WWE. However, it seemed like a long shot due to Vince McMahon’s bias towards the brand’s major stars. But, this past May, Joe ended up in NXT and immediately challenged Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship.
Joe’s deal with WWE is a unique one, where he’s able to keep his name while being under contract, and he’s able to work for independent promotions as long as they don’t feature him on television.
Last week, WWE brought in another major TNA name, James Storm. There have been reports that WWE doesn’t have James Storm signed to any kind of a deal, and that he can go back to TNA if he wants to. However, those reports were refuted by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer on Thursday’s Wrestling Observer Radio.
“When someone gets an NXT deal like Samoa Joe or Rhyno has, it’s very much a contract, and not a handshake deal. Everybody has to be under contract. They’re not putting people on TV who can walk away. There’s the idea that James Storm did the NXT tapings without a contract, and he can just go back to TNA if he wants. But I don’t buy that. Put it this way, if that’s the case, then Triple H made an incredible rookie mistake.”
With the signing of James Storm, there has been some talk of Storm’s old tag-team partner Bobby Roode making the jump to NXT. For several years, Roode was considered as one of the best performers in TNA, and he’s had an incredibly successful singles run ever since himself and James Storm split up.
Now, if Roode or any ex-TNA star signs with WWE and heads to NXT, they would be brought in under the Samoa Joe contract, which means that they won’t be called up to the main roster, despite how ready they are, but they would be allowed to wrestle on non-televised independent shows.
WWE being against bringing guys like Storm and Joe up to the main roster is due to the fact that both of them have been on a national cable network under their respective names. So, if Joe or Storm wanted to be brought up to the main roster, they’d have to be willing to change their names so WWE could own the copyright to their characters, merchandise, and everything else that comes with being a full-time WWE superstar on the main roster.
There have been rumors of ex-TNA World Champion Ethan Carter making the jump to WWE. However, in a recent interview, EC3 said that he believes that, if he went to WWE, he could be the top guy. As of right now, though, he’s completely focused on being the top guy in TNA, and he’s not even thinking about going to WWE.
“I believe I could be at the top in WWE, or wherever I am, and right now that is TNA, and TNA is my only focus.”
Expect more TNA names to be added to the “signing with WWE” rumor mill over the next couple of weeks and months, as almost everyone in TNA is working without a contract and is free to make the jump to NXT or WWE at any time.