On January 4th, 2017, the world of pro wrestling was sent in a buzz following the New Japan PPV event, Wrestle Kingdom 11. The show featured an abundance of A+ players along with a breathtaking main event match that lasted over 46 minutes between the champion Okada and the opponent, the ever so popular Canadian talent Kenny Omega. The match was praised by an abundance of pro wrestlers including the likes of John Cena who posted a picture of Omega. Looking at the facts, the Indie scene is hotter than ever.
Along with New Japan’s emphasis on the strong style, the British invasion is also in full flight with companies like Progress Wrestling thriving in their own style of entertainment using a technical brawling way of combat inside of the ring. The WWE took notice of their improvements and decided to feature some the country’s top stars in the new UK Championship tournament which will result in a UK Championship title holder.
With all this being said, it’s quite obvious the plethora of talent overseas is hotter than ever. This article will take a look at wrestlers the WWE must sign from overseas. The wrestlers in this article come from a variety of promotions including New Japan, Wrestle-1 and Progress Wrestling. Enjoy the article and like always, let us know who you think the WWE should sign ASAP!
15. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano: New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 event was certainly eye opening to say the least. The night was highlighted by several bouts including the crowning of new Tag Team Champions. In the bout, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano were crowned as the new Tag Champions defeating the other two teams of Guerrillas of Destiny and G.B.H.
Both wrestlers maintain the skill of being notorious for their brawling style, something that seems to be trending in the world of pro wrestling nowadays (example, The Revival). Their old school style certainly fits the bill, not to mention that Ishii was regarded as the most underrated wrestler in the world according to Dave Metzler in 2013. Toru Yano is also a very popular figure in the Japanese promotion known for his comedic antics. At the age of 41 and 38, you’d best believe the WWE would use these two down in NXT, although the clock seems to be ticking looking at their ages. Getting these two over would not only bolster the tag division but add yet another great Japanese element to the show.
14. Pete Dunne: Progress Wrestling
One of the names to look out for during the WWE’s United Kingdom Championship tournament is the spectacular 23 year old Pete Dunne. Don’t be fooled by his youth; although Dunne is set to turn 24 in January, the wrestler still has a plethora of experience from his days on the Indie scene. Dunne picked up wrestling at the tender age of 12 and started working for promotions at 13. Already under his belt are stints with Attack! Pro Wrestling, Michinoku Pro, Revolution Pro Wrestling and of course, Progress Wrestling. The Birmingham, England native remains extremely active on the Indie scene and this once in a lifetime opportunity with the WWE can certainly be life changing. Look for Pete to shine during the WWE’s tournament and that can result in a possible signing of the young star.
13. Yusuke Kodama: Wrestle-1
Judging by his look in the picture above, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Yusuke Kodama was trained by the WWE legend Tajiri. The 29 year old wrestler born in Japan is currently enjoying his stint with Wrestle-1 as the company’s elite Cruiserweight Division Champion. Looking at the influx of Cruiserweights at the moment, no doubt the WWE has their eyes on this talent who is blossoming overseas.
Along with his work in Japan, Yusuke has also worked the Indie scene participating in tournaments held in Mexico. At the age of 29 and entering the prime of his career, it might be now or never when it comes to Kodama cracking the WWE’s Cruiserweight Division.
Booking possibility: Obviously, Yusuke would be utilized in the Cruiserweight Division. However, looking at the influx of talent already on the main roster, the company can easily slot Kodama down in development with NXT while bringing other Cruiserweights into the brand as well.
12. Zack Sabre Jr.: Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
The UK wrestling scene continues to hold its own embracing the technical brawling style more so than ever before. Zack Sabre Jr. was a fine blue print of that as the British scene is currently mustering up more overseas.
We got a glimpse of Sabre Jr. over on North American soil but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough. Although the WWE signed a plethora of performers from the tournament, Zack was instead let go after he refused to sign a deal with the company. The result led to Sabre losing the tournament in the Semis, although you truly believe the outcome could have been different had he inked a permanent deal. At the moment, Sabre continues to work his craft wrestling for various promotions across the United Kingdom.
Booking possibility: The easy answer would be to throw Sabre Jr. into the Cruiserweight Division, but we think he’s something more than that given his special technique which is a master class in technical wrestling. Ideally, put him in NXT and make him something special.
11. Tetsuya Naito: New Japan Pro Wrestling
This one is more of a long shot given his failed North American experience with TNA, but man, oh man what a treat it would be to have Tetsuya Naito over in the WWE. Naito is an absolute legend of the game. The Tokyo native has won just about everything with the New Japan Promotion from the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to being crowned the IWGP Heavyweight Champion this past year. The guy just oozes with charisma and has become yet another popular face home grown by the promotion. 2016 was a spectacular year for the wrestler as he was named the wrestler of the year from Tokyo Sports. Looking at all the talent that shined this past year, that’s certainly saying a lot.
Booking possibility: Like Nakamura, make the crowd get to know his unique style. Let him build momentum with the brand and later, give him a call up as a prominent face on the main roster. However, looking at his brief North American involvement, this seems pretty unlikely.
10. Cody Rhodes: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Pretty sad that in just a couple of months of working the Indie scene, Rhodes has had more of an impact on the wrestling scene than he did in the last couple of years dawning that terrible Stardust gimmick. Without doubt, the entire process has been eye-opening for not only Cody, but for the fans who have witnessed Rhodes resurface his name value in the last couple of months.
Cody began his post WWE journey working Indie events alongside the likes of Kurt Angle. He also made some pit stops with TNA, ROH and a variety of other Indie promotions. His most significant move just recently took place as Rhodes added New Japan to his resume. Not only did he compete at Wrestle Kingdom 11 defeating Juice Robinson, but he was also unveiled as the newest member of the Bullet Club. Safe to say things are looking quite well for the 31 year old.
9. Kamaitachi: New Japan Pro Wrestling
The return of Kamaitachi in 2016 only helped to bolster the Japanese scene that much more. Fans celebrated his return as he came back to the Japanese scene sporting an entirely different look. Kamaitachi made a huge statement at Wrestle Kingdom 11 winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career. The victory was absolutely huge as it was his first Championship victory with the promotion in his entire career. The victory came after his CMLL stint back in Mexico, along with a brief North American stop appearing with the likes of ROH and PWG. At the age of 27, Kamaitachi has a huge year ahead of him as he’s beginning to enter his pro wrestling prime.
8. Trent Steven: Progress Wrestling
Along with the previously mentioned Pete Dunne, Trent Steven is another big name to look out for during the WWE’s UK tournament as they crown the first ever United Kingdom Champion.
Trent’s story is quite unique and one that deserves some discussion. Steven actually revisited the avenue of sports and entertainment later in his life. Despite the fact that he bloomed late, the 35 year old is now peaking, proving that age is just a number. Trent is currently working the British scene wrestling for Progress Wrestling. He also spent time with Chikara Pro, the same promotion that developed WWE favorite Cesaro.
Booking possibility: With the two night tournament set to kick off January 14th and end the 15th, look for Trent to become a big story in the 16-man tournament. Without a doubt, the WWE will use his inexperience to provide the viewer with a great underdog story. If he goes all the way, look for the WWE to quickly pounce on the mustache man welcoming him into the world of NXT as a prominent act on the roster.
7. Ricochet: New Japan Pro Wrestling
2016 was a pretty sweet year for Ricochet who dominated the headlines a couple of times, which is a rarity for a wrestler outside of the WWE. His huge turning point came on May 27th, 2016 when he fought Will Ospreay in a New Japan tournament match. The encounter was not only regarded as the match of the year, but many saw that match at the greatest in pro wrestling history with both men using insane acrobatics throughout the bout. His momentum only intensified once The Rock acknowledged Ricochet through his social media. After refusing to renew a deal with Lucha Underground, it seems highly unlikely that Prince Puma will finally make the jump to the WWE.
6. The Young Bucks: New Japan Pro Wrestling
It seems like for years now, the rumor mill has been swirling with the possibility of the Young Bucks joining the WWE. Sadly, the rumors are now laid to rest for the next couple of years as the popular Tag Team duo inked a two-year deal to stay on board with both ROH and NJPW. Along with the increases in pay, the duo are allowed to take bookings from other promotions like PWG. As most of you know by now, the Young Bucks have dominated the entire Indie scene winning gold wherever they chose to go. Looking at the WWE’s depth in the Tag Division, we can only wish the veteran team would join the company, but that just doesn’t look likely for the time being.
Booking possibility: Lock down the team once their ROH and New Japan deals expire in 2018. Give them the big bucks and bolster them onto the main roster ASAP, dominating the division for years to come.
5. Marty Scurll: Progress Wrestling
Scurll continues to build his brand away from the WWE, being regarded as a huge prospect outside of the company. Since the 28 year old joined ROH, more eyes have watched Scurll showcase his tremendous talents. He picked up a monumental victory in the battle of Los Angeles defeating Cody Rhodes in a huge upset victory. He would go on to win the entire tournament defeating Mark Haskins in the finals.
For those of you that are unaware of his work, Marty made his name working for Progress Wrestling becoming a two-time World Champion for the promotion. His gimmick is of a heel wrestler who supports a persona similar to the Joker meets the Penguin. As weird as it sounds, it seems to be working.
Booking possibility: We recommend the WWE pounces on the master of the umbrella ASAP as he remains hotter than ever on the Indie scene. The last thing the company wants is NJPW pouncing on another great Indie talent. Sign him quickly, and make him the heel face of NXT.
4. Kazuchika Okada: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Last year the rumor mill was red hot with the speculation of Okada possibly joining the WWE. Despite the fact that several NJPW stars defected, Okada did not. The speculation was finally closed after Okada claimed he would not join the WWE as his intent was to stay in Japan in an attempt to grow the product overseas.
With that said, and his recent main event win at Wrestle Kingdom 11, you’d figure him joining the WWE is pretty much impossible. Along with his comments, the rumor mill suggests that Okada is in the midst of signing a mega five-year deal that would keep him in New Japan for life while making him very wealthy. With all this in mind, signing the talent seems impossible, but again, it’s the WWE so never say never.
Booking possibility: If he would join the WWE, the goal would be to make the Rainmaker special in a hurry. Okada had a horrible stint with TNA which saw the company struggle to find a character for the Japanese sensation. If the WWE were to take him this cannot happen. Booking-wise: throw him onto the main roster ASAP feuding with the company’s best.
3. Will Ospreay: New Japan Pro Wrestling
2016 was a special year for Will Ospreay who continues to dominate the Indie scene at the age of 23. Not only did Will participate in the ground-breaking matchup of the year against Ricochet but he also got the prestigious honor of winning the 2016 NJPW Best of the Super Juniors tournament. What makes it all that much more impressive is the fact that he did so at the age of 23. Man, what a future the London native has in the wrestling business!
At the moment, Will is keeping busy adding to his name value with the likes of Ring of Honor, Progress Wrestling, New Japan and various other Indie promotions. Harsh not to see his name in the WWE’s UK tournament but you best believe we’ll be seeing his face one day as a prominent star for the company.
2. Adam Cole: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Wrestle Kingdom 11 held a plethora of awesome moments and one of them saw Adam Cole defeat Kyle O’Reilly for the ROH Championship. Historically, the victory was monumental as Cole became a three-time ROH Champion. Looking at the history books, nobody had ever accomplished such a feat.
As the unofficial leader of the Bullet Club, Cole continues to establish his name outside of the WWE as a big time player. Following his recent win, Cole told the media that he hasn’t even reached his peak yet. At 27, Cole is undoubtedly leaving a window of opportunity for a future WWE run. He’s admitted that having a WrestleMania moment is certainly something he’s interested in. At this point, Cole claims the decision is not in his hands.
Booking possibility: Without a doubt, Cole will in fact end up with the WWE. It might sound harsh, but dominating the NXT roster before getting the call up seems like a fitting scenario for the ROH legend.
1. Kenny Omega: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Last year it was A.J. Styles who jumped ship and joined the WWE; this year, all eyes are on the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada native Kenny Omega to make the jump to the WWE roster with his stock higher than ever.
Following his epic 46 minute encounter against Okada in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 11, fans once again marvelled at the skill of this wrestler who oozes with charisma and makes everything look just so effortless inside of the squared circle. His entrance on the night was chilling to say the least with a Terminator-inspired theme.
Speculation only rose when John Cena posted a picture of Omega. Immediately the rumor mill ran rampant. Omega was honored with the shoutout and praised Cena for his incredible work over the years. He concluded by saying his future remains up in the air as he plans to continue his journey in an attempt to change wrestling. At this point, his faith is in his own hands as the WWE awaits with open arms.
Booking possibility: Let him become the face of the company and perhaps the leader of the next greatest faction in sports and entertainment.