Back in May, Vince McMahon declared that the WWE would boast its biggest roster ever come the summer of 2016. Ironically, this proclamation came less than a week after the company performed their annual spring cleaning, the term used to describe the WWE’s yearly talent releases. But Vince knew the WWE was about to embark on another brand extension to coincide with the expansion of NXT.
Just as the company was courting former WWE superstars and independent wrestlers alike, notable names like Ryback, Cody Rhodes, and Alberto Del Rio joined those before them as the WWE wished them luck in all their future endeavors. The brand split thinned out two separate rosters on RAW and SmackDown, forcing the WWE to use enhancement talent more frequently until both shows were adequately stocked.
Six months into the brand extension, it’s arguable whether the shows have a sufficient amount of talent. NXT promotions and cruiserweight performers have helped replenish, but it’s clear the WWE wants more. Last week, the Inquisitr reported that the company was ready to raid the Ring of Honor roster to acquire many of their top talents, but aside from Steve Corino, ROH was prepared and able to retain their top names, including The Young Bucks.
It just so happened that The Young Bucks were priority number one for Triple H and the WWE, but Ring of Honor’s offer, although less than main event money in WWE, was substantially more than NXT money with fewer dates, fewer matches, and more time to spend with their families. The WWE hasn’t given up, however, on recruiting independent talent.
We indicated last week that WWE had already signed four significant women from the indie circuit, including Heidi Lovelace, Nixon Newell, Evie and Kimber Lee for the much-anticipated all women’s tournament set to air on the WWE Network in 2017. They are all expected to report to the Performance Center in Orlando by January. Kimber Lee is already in-house, losing a match to Ember Moon on this week’s episode of NXT.
And according to a report from the Daily Wrestling News, WWE officials are expected to sign several more independent wrestlers during the first four months of 2017. There is already another WWE Performance Center tryout scheduled for February, with the remaining unsigned talent set to report to the PC on January 3.
It’s unknown whether this is related to the lack of former WWE superstars agreeing to returns, but WWE officials are said to be in heavy signing mode right now. The perception is that they are working more diligently than ever to sign talent, evaluate potential prospects, and remain in tune with the independent scene.
For years, the WWE has created agent reports on their own live events in order to track the progress of their talent to see both how they’re progressing and the flaws in their abilities. The word is that scouts are doing the same thing for the wrestlers they are recruiting and watching more shows than ever before. The WWE has assigned several agents to watch iPPV events, both live and online, and report back with their detailed findings.
Vince McMahon had recently approved the idea of making deals with several independent wrestling companies for the WWE Network but changed his mind just a few short days later. Behind the scenes, however, the feeling is that he may change his mind again. Keep in mind, though, that these are two separate entities. Vince and the WWE will continue their heavy pursuit of top independent talent to help bolster their roster, but indy wrestling showing up on the WWE Network will only get green-lit if he’s convinced that it will increase subscription numbers.
There is no indication that will happen as of yet, but the WWE is gathering information by sending out frequent surveys to see what their current subscribers want. The idea has been tossed around to make NXT live on the WWE Network, and adding fresh talent to their roster will only help that cause.
[Featured Image by WWE]