WWE is pulling out most, if not all of the stops with the brand extension right around the corner. There's been a significant buzz ever since the brand split was announced, but little has been unveiled on camera as to how it will be executed, other than SmackDown will be going live on Tuesday nights beginning July 19 with its own distinct roster separate from RAW. Stephanie and Shane McMahon have begun squabbling over who will assume power over what show, but behind the scenes, so much more needs to be put in place.
The USA Network decreed to WWE that ratings needed to go up, so the brand split was the logical solution, which got people talking. Only trouble is, the company quickly realized that they didn't have enough talent to fill out two unique rosters without watering down either program.
WWE's first phase in beefing up their roster is to promote from within, so to speak. They are planning to "raid" the NXT roster, with the intention of calling up anywhere from five to ten stars from the WWE's developmental brand, which of course will have a domino effect. The goal will be to pluck enough talent to help with the transition on the main roster while not leaving the cupboard bare for Triple H. And that's why we're seeing the likes of Austin Aries, Bobby Roode,and Eric Young being brought in. They'll be the NXT headliners when Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and American Alpha get promoted to WWE.
Reports of phase two might have people holding their breaths the most. Over the weekend, the Inquisitr indicated that the WWE has reached out to former main event level talent who all have previous experience with the company. Goldberg, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy were all contacted about the idea of a return. They have the most star power, and impact signings like that would make sense for the near-term, but the chances of them all making a WWE comeback are definitely not a certainty by any means.
TNA has been trying to lock up Jeff, along with his brother Matt, Lashley, and Drew Galloway to exclusivity deals, which would come with a significant pay raise. Whether or not that can be accomplished remains to be seen. Goldberg's signing with 2K Sports to appear in WWE 2K17 led many to believe a deal with WWE wouldn't be far behind, but it's not a guarantee. And it's been reported on several occasions that Vince McMahon has previously been against the idea of signing Angle for fear of him getting injured on their watch or even relapsing into his past demons.
Even if all three of those big names miraculously signed on WWE's dotted line, it's still not enough to fill out two distinct rosters. So Vince and company have continued reaching out to other former employees about helping with that cause. According to Daily Wrestling News, the guys that have been contacted are Carlito, MVP and Steven Richards. Those are the confirmed names at this point, with many other names on the list, but not made public as of yet.
The Inquisitr noted in the past that Carlito has been on WWE's radar since the repackaging of Primo and Epico, now using the Shining Stars gimmick. MVP spent a year and a half with TNA from 2014 to 2015, then signed with Lucha Underground before being released a week later for violating company policy unknowingly. Richards was with WWE from 1999 until 2008 before touring the independent scene, TNA, and Ring of Honor.
Those three join John Morrison, Brian Kendrick, and Tajiri as former WWE superstars that the company has shown some interest in. Carlito, Richards, and MVP are all over 40, which contradicts the notion of a "new era," but the WWE needs bodies. One potential roadblock could be that they all likely make more money working the independents than they'd be offered with WWE.
[Image via WWE]