It should go without saying by now that WWE is desperate to bring talent in due to the WWE brand split coming up later this month. While the WWE Draft will help WWE decide where to put some of the top stars in the company, the issue comes down to actually filling both rosters. The reason for a full roster is not always due to television needs, although it is a factor. Rather, it is live events when the depth of a roster truly comes into play.
WWE knows that they have to bring in a lot of independent talent to help, whether that is due to the raiding of NXT’s roster or not. They would most likely use a good core of the independent talent down in NXT, but it would not be shocking to see some get the chance to bypass NXT and see the main roster on either RAW or SmackDown. According to Ringside News, WWE is aggressively going after talent at this point.
While the company is doing strict background checks on everyone on their radar, most are speculating that if the name is big enough, they may not care as much about what is in the wrestler’s background as long as it is nothing terrible. However, the company did seemingly pass on bringing in Ring of Honor’s Moose after finding out about domestic violence issues from his past. He was one of the expected workers WWE was going to bring in by September, but those issues from his past may have cost him.
Everyone available is on the radar it seems. One name that has been going around is Ricochet, who performs a lot in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. On top of this, he works as the Prince Puma character in Lucha Underground. WWE wanted to bring him in, but contract issues with LU have stopped this move before it could get started. Ricochet did have an out-clause with his LU deal after Season 3 of the show was filmed, which he took.
However, the contract stated that he would have to wait until his last episode of Season 3 concludes before he could sign with another televised American company. Season 2 is not even close to finishing, and Season 3 may end next Spring. Ringside did say that WWE is expected to sign him later this year or early next year, but this truly all depends on contractual situations and how they can go about everything.
Ricochet is not the only person who worked with New Japan that WWE has on their radar. Currently, Kota Ibushi is working the Cruiserweight Classic and is expected that he will sign with the WWE the moment the tournament concludes. However, other reports claim he already signed, but nothing was made official yet. On top of this, WWE is planning to possibly sign a couple people that are in the tournament outside of Ibushi.
It was recently reported that Tajiri would make his return to the company, and it seemed pretty clear that WWE wanted to sign Zack Sabre Jr. as well. Cedric Alexander out of ROH is also possible, and more may be on the radar from the tournament depending on how fans take to them and how impressive they are to management. With various countries represented, WWE would be unwise not to sign some other international workers.
Others may have just popped up on WWE’s radar based on their own words in interviews. New Japan’s Kushida was one of them. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, he was asked about possibly going to WWE, and he had an interesting response.
“Yes. I still remember Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania. I was maybe ten years old, and I cried when Hulk Hogan lost. Pro wrestling is not moves–it is human. It’s not work–it’s heart. Six years ago, I did not have a visa. I really appreciate the fans in America, and thank you very much to the ROH fans. I hope to go to ROH and WWE and measure up against those wrestlers and fight in that ring. Every day, I’m training, training, training. Sometimes, dreams do not come true. But this time, my dreams have come true. I’m so happy, and I want to come back to the U.S.”
WWE has expressed interest in Japanese stars as of late, especially because of the growing popularity of New Japan. Kushida may not be readily available, but he could be signed sooner than some might think. ROH’s Adam Cole and Jay Lethal are also on WWE’s radar among many many others. Expect WWE to offer big deals to people that may not have been offered as much money a couple years back, or even offered a contract at all.
[image via WWE]