Another year has come and gone and Vince McMahon’s WWE Universe rages on as the top company in sports entertainment. Plenty changed throughout 2017, but one thing that may always remain the same is McMahon’s dominance over the wrestling world, keeping his company firmly on top of the industry. What this means for the future is that all young, up and coming, would be wrestling superstars still believe the best place to make a living will be Vince McMahon’s billion-dollar empire.
Of course, not every wrestler in the world is going to be so lucky as to live this dream. Even a few of the wrestlers who have achieved greatness by wrestling for WWE over the past several years might not get the chance to do so for much longer. For every great new wrestler WWE hires, they need to release an old one who hasn’t been doing much lately, clearing up airtime and some space in the locker room. There’s little job security in wrestling, especially when a sudden trend could make a once-necessary member of the WWE roster almost irrelevant and McMahon becomes desperate to replace them.
All that said, the surprising reality is that not every single wrestler actually wants to work for WWE. Some would prefer to wrestle for independent promotions or WWE-sized equivalents in Mexico or Japan, both for financial and fame-related reasons. Eventually, though, any superstar worth their weight in gold will get a phone call or two from Vince McMahon, and if his offer is large enough, they just might make their way to the WWE Universe after all. Keep reading to learn about 8 wrestlers who could sign with WWE in 2018 and 7 who currently work for them but might get fired soon.
15 COULD SIGN: Marty Scurll
Pro wrestling has always been about heroes and villains, but there’s something particularly bold about Ring of Honor and New Japan Wrestling standout Marty Scurll claiming he’s “the Villain,” reigning supreme amongst all others. Scurll has gradually been building to this reputation over the past several years, first wowing on the British independence scene before heading toward America to impress in RoH and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. His profile continued to rise when he won the RoH Television Championship, wrestling great matches against future and former WWE stars like Frankie Kazarian, Ken Anderson, and Adam Cole. It was a feud against Cole that brought Scurll firmly into the Ring of Honor spotlight, joining Bullet Club and becoming a key member in the process. Scurll would hardly be the first wrestler to use a position in Bullet Club to catch WWE’s interest, and his villainous antics will probably make the company act fast once they notice him.
14 ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Apollo Crews
Almost two full years into his stint on the main roster, it feels safe to say WWE simply has no idea what to do with poor Apollo Crews. Back when he was wrestling in Japan under the name Uhaa Nation, Crews was one of the most innovative and exciting performers on the scene. For whatever reason, WWE had the guy tone back his in-ring creativity significantly, losing a great deal of personality along with it. All Crews does these days is smile when walking to the ring, never offering anything on the microphone during interviews to make him seem like a real person. The character shake up in joining Titus O’Neil and representing his brand didn’t work in the slightest, as Crews himself is still wooden and forgettable. Crews actually serves a lot to gain from getting fired, as a return to the indy scene will mean he’ll at least get to impress inside the ring once again.
13 COULD SIGN: Juice Robinson
Just a few years ago, Juice Robinson would be the last person anyone would expect to get rehired by WWE. When he performed for the company as CJ Parker for three years, Robinson was almost entirely forgettable, never once wrestling a noteworthy match or cutting a memorable promo. Amazingly, the former hippie character has greatly reformed himself as a competent wrestler around the world, specifically during his time in Mexico’s Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Robinson is also showing much more character with his new name than he ever did as Parker, shining far brighter than anyone who saw his WWE work ever could have imagined. Following the path of redemption several others have been going on these years, Robinson could easily reappear in WWE or NXT and erase everything that happened as CJ Parker in just a few short matches.
12 ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Mojo Rawley
From the day he started wrestling for WWE, it has felt like Mojo Rawley only earned his job because of the slight notoriety he had as a former NFL player. Injuries forced him off the football field for good and Vince McMahon was so touched the hyped bro would prefer wrestling rings to rehabbing his injury and returning to the pigskin, he gave him a job for the past 5 years. This is despite the fact Rawley shows no promise in the ring, hasn’t made anything resembling a connection with the fans, and continues to bore audiences in the mostly irrelevant feuds he gets caught up with. Regardless of all the negativity, WWE gave Rawley a handful of big chances in 2017, including a huge André the Giant Battle Royal victory and yet, the wrestling community at large still doesn’t care about him in the slightest. Should his problems with Zack Ryder still fail to entertain any fans, Rawley’s borrowed time in WWE may be over.
11 COULD SIGN: Ricochet
According to Ricochet, the only reason he hasn’t signed with a major company like WWE is that a certain other establishment was “holding him back” from doing so. Many fans took this as a reference to his time with Lucha Underground, which in defence of that organization, was pretty phenomenal from day one. Ricochet, or Prince Puma as they called him, was treated like a main-event talent starting with the very first episode and kept that status all three seasons he stayed on the show. However, it appears his contract with them is now over, meaning WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling, or any other top promotion can swoop in and pick up Ricochet now that his profile is higher than ever. Thus far, it looks like NJPW was the first to try and capitalize on this, but there’s still plenty of time for WWE to take advantage as well and offer him a contract in the near future.
10 ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Curtis Axel
Well before Curtis Axel was ever born, WWE has been a company strongly committed to nepotism and family lineage. Unfortunately, the Axe Man has been living proof this concept doesn’t always pay off, having spent the past several years of his WWE tenure as a forgettable, outcast lackey to a number of other superstars also offering diminishing returns. Truth be told, Axel has pretty much been treated like a joke his entire WWE career, never respected on nearly the same level of his father Mr. Perfect or grandfather Larry Hennig. Not even pairing up Axel with the great Paul Heyman could do anything to raise his prospects, merely contributing to his continued downfall. Nowadays, Axel is entirely disposable as a member of the Miztourage, merely there to take beatings because his new leader is a high-profile name. Axel has been defeated so many times, it’s basically meaningless when new wrestlers destroy him and fans wouldn’t find it believable if he won anything at this point, so they might as well fire him.
9 COULD SIGN: Nick Aldis
Recently, Nick Aldis has been somewhat of a strange topic with WWE, considering his wife Mickie James works for the company, he’s a high-profile free agent and for some strange reason, Vince McMahon apparently has absolutely no interest in the guy. Anyone who has seen Aldis’s work, either as Magnus or TNA or since he’s begun using his own name on the independent scene, is no doubt aware that he has the skills necessary to be a noteworthy WWE superstar. Aldis’s latest accomplishment is attempting to bring the NWA Championship back to prominence, having defeated Tim Storm for the gold in December of 2017. WWE has a long reputation of stealing from any would-be “competition” that attempts to challenge them, so this may finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of WWE acknowledging Aldis might be worth their time.
8 ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Enzo Amore
Forget about how annoying he is on the microphone or the fact he’s the least technically proficient member of the current 205 Live roster. The real reason Enzo Amore is on the chopping block relates to the fact that apparently everyone backstage hates the guy, a status he’s held for nearly a full year at this point. Ever since he broke up with Big Cass on screen, rumors have been floating that Amore has virtually no friends backstage, and the fact Triple H and Vince McMahon keep pushing him into championship contention is only serving to annoy his coworkers further. Amore is apparently getting the horrible treatment where he’s not allowed in the locker room, given the cold shoulder by anyone he attempts to talk to. All WWE is doing by keeping him employed and in a high-profile position is damaging their own company morale, so if only to make everyone else happy, they should just get rid of Enzo already.
7 COULD SIGN: Cody Rhodes
Anyone on the other half of this list worried that leaving WWE might not work out that well for them, look no further than Cody Rhodes for the potential upside. Since leaving the company less than 2 years ago, Rhodes has gone from a relatively unnoticed midcarder to one of the biggest names on the independent scene. In no time at all, he climbed to the top of Ring of Honor and won that company’s World Championship, which in one sense makes it unlikely he’d want to return to WWE any time soon. However, the current era is clearly one of redemption, with others like Bobby Roode and Drew McIntyre going through similar paths of having meandered in WWE, succeeded elsewhere, and then returned to great critical acclaim. On top of this, Vince McMahon might want to prove he “totally got it” with Cody all along, hiring him back and finally using his talents correctly.
6 ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Curt Hawkins
Most sources have openly lost count on how many matches in a row Curt Hawkins has lost during his current WWE run. The number is well over 100 and it’s highly unlikely his miracle upset is going to happen any time soon. Hawkins has been losing to names big and small, from Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins all the way down to Jason Jordan and Heath Slater. Throughout it all, Hawkins barely has any character to speak of aside from being a dude who loses a whole lot and doesn’t even think it’s possible anymore for him to pick up a win. Aside from the potential he could set an all new record in the Barry Horowitz Hall of Fame, there’s really no way Hawkins is going to turn his prospects around and suddenly become a noteworthy wrestler in 2018 or the foreseeable future. His absolute only chance is getting out of WWE and going someplace where he might actually pick up a win, so if he doesn’t get fired soon, he should probably just quit.
5 COULD SIGN: Kenny Omega
Without any question, the highest profile wrestler in sports entertainment today not actively signed to WWE is NJPW superstar Kenny Omega. The Cleaner has been gradually climbing towards this status for several years, his greatest heights coming after assuming the position as leader of Bullet Club in early 2016. Despite that accolade coming in January, and all of 2016 being pretty great for him, Omega’s 2017 has been even better, participating in a solid 5 or 6 matches considered among the best of all time. Omega’s opponents have largely been NJPW legends, who don’t share the same level of crossover appeal he has due to their general lack of English language skills. As a native Canadian, Omega would have no problem whatsoever adapting to a WWE audience, continuing to wrestle outrageously great matches in the ring while showing off his boundless charisma on the mic. The only question is whether or not WWE will make him a big enough offer to convince him to leave Japan, which they’ve so far been unable or unwilling to do.
4 ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Rich Swann
At this point, it’s honestly a little bit surprising that Rich Swann still has his job with WWE. In fairness to the company, he’s been suspended indefinitely since December 10, 2017, due to a domestic dispute incident with his wife, fellow wrestler Su Yung, real name Vannarah Riggs. The only reason Swann still has a job is that the investigation into what exactly happened is still pending, as WWE understandably doesn’t see fit to completely blackball the guy and ruin his career until they’re sure he did something wrong. Either way though, his name and legacy have been heavily tarnished for the time being, so even if Swann comes out of this incident relatively clean, he probably won’t be winning back the WWE Cruiserweight Championship any time soon. Because it’s highly unlikely he’ll move up to the heavyweight roster, WWE might just want to cut their losses and move on with Swann no matter what happens.
3 COULD SIGN: Piper Niven
With all due respect to Piper Niven’s considerable talents, her entry on this list is largely symbolic. Whether or not WWE actually hires Niven herself to a long-term contract, which has been a slight point of controversy given her very unique look compared to the average female working for Vince McMahon, the point is that she’s merely one of several women who participated in the Mae Young Classic and deserve a second look. Obviously, the winner of that tournament, Kairi Sane and MMA expat runner-up Shayna Baszler, have both been given full-time contracts with WWE and big things can be expected to come from both. They aren’t the only women who benefitted, though, with Niven and many others who didn’t yet earn contracts nonetheless having a higher profile than ever before. Niven in particular has been using the spotlight to her advantage, only getting better in the ring and increasing the odds WWE will hire her regardless of how she looks. Even if they don’t, one of her former enemies might be so lucky.
2 ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: Mike Kanellis
Of all the names on this list, Mike Kanellis has had by far the least amount of time to prove himself in WWE. He only recently signed with WWE in the summer of 2017, but it already feels very safe to say the company is never going to do anything of note with his talents. The first warning sign was switching his name, rebranding the fairly well-known indy wrestler Michael Bennett after his wife, former WWE diva Maria Kanellis. Had this been some sort of statement toward equality, it would be all well and good, but unfortunately, it was actually a sign that Vince McMahon would always define the guy through who his wife is. Because Maria Kanellis, for all her appeal, hasn’t really done anything of note in WWE since her return, there’s no way her husband is going to stand out in a meaningful way, either. The faster everyone realizes this and moves on, the less damage it will do to the Kanellis families prospects elsewhere.
1 COULD SIGN: Ronda Rousey
The issue of Ronda Rousey signing with WWE has merely been a matter of timing for several years now, ever since she stood toe to toe with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon just a few WrestleMania’s ago. That wasn’t Rousey’s only appearance in WWE, either, as she’s also popped up during an NXT TakeOver and the Mae Young Classic tournament, both signs that Rousey is far from done in the WWE Universe. The only question is whether or not she has the time for it given her many outside commitments, but all signs are pointing toward 2018 being the year she finally makes things official. Women are getting more attention in wrestling than ever before and this should be all it takes for Rousey to realize jumping to sports entertainment officially could be great for her career. Of course, there’s nothing stopping her from waiting a year or two, making this far from a guarantee.