We are in week two of the brand split with Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley running Raw and Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan running Smackdown. We can all agree that Raw has the distinct advantage while Smackdown has its work cut out for them, one big problem being the lack of depth past a small main event roster including AJ Styles, John Cena, Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose. (Let’s all agree for arguments sake that Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler are upper midcard, at best)

You could alleviate some pressure from newcomers like Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews by recognising the talent you have in development or had once thrown away. Here are seven names that could elevate the 2016 brand specific depth issues.

Bobby Roode

Technically Roode has never had a proper run with the WWE, but he did sporadically wrestle there between 2003. Close enough.

Roode is best known for his twelve-year run with TNA where he would have two reigns as Heavyweight Champion; one spanning two hundred and fifty-six days, the longest in TNA history. He would also win numerous tag team titles during his run with TNA with the likes of Eric Young, James Storm and Austin Aries. You can trust him in the ring with anyone and he’s great on the stick, which is something the Smackdown brand could really use right about now.

On the downside, he’s thirty-nine years old, time is definitely not on his side. On the plus side, he’s signed to NXT so he’s only a hop away.

Tajiri

This one has been rumoured for weeks since making his return to the WWE as a contestant in the Cruiserweight Classic. Truth is, he didn’t miss a beat in his first round match with Damian Slater and with the return of the Cruiserweight division on Raw, he seems like a shoe-in. Being a veteran who can still work, he could come in and win matches while being believable, at the same time he can get someone over easily if they were to beat him, just on name alone.

Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura

“The King of Strong Style” has more charisma in his pinky finger (Sorry Noam Dar) than anyone else in wrestling today. He has shown that all he has to do is give a look and the crowd will go crazy. It’s insane to think of a world where Nakamura isn’t on the main roster by the end of the summer, but you never know with Vinny Mac. His style is unlike any other in the WWE right now, that could be a big refresher on the main roster, whether it be on Raw or Smackdown it doesn’t really matter.

Imagine a match-up between Shinsuke Nakamura and Seth Rollins, that could blow the roof off of any arena in the world. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the loser of Nakamura vs Samoa Joe at NXT Takeover Brooklyn II ending up on the main roster after Summer Slam weekend. Hell, maybe two.

Drew Galloway

“The Chosen One” was booted from the WWE after being relegated to 3MB in 2014, his run wasn’t necessarily memorable but since leaving he has played a top notch heel in ICW and gave TNA a credible championship match at the most recent Slammiversary pay per view. Apologies if you’re a TNA fan, we will never see eye to eye.

I don’t see the WWE giving him any kind of main event push if he were to ever return, and judging by the return of Jinder Mahal on Raw last night, I’d be willing to bet 3MB would come back for one more reunion tour. In all seriousness, he could fit in well with the likes of Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt if booked correctly. If not, I’m sure he could be a better Intercontinental Champion the Miz in the very least.

Galloway has stated he’s open to a WWE return in the future but contractually he can’t and with him being in high demand these days, is it even worth his while to return with the rumoured low ball figures being thrown out there?

Rey Mysterio

Mysterio has been going through a resurgence as of late since leaving the WWE in 2015. Following his match with Prince Puma at Ultima Lucha Dos, it would be a no-brainer to take Rey back, especially with the return of the Cruiserweights. But it doesn’t stop there, Rey could also challenge for a main event title at the same time and nobody would bat an eyelash, giving a rub to the rest of the cruiserweight division at the same time, if done properly.

I’m assuming he’ll be a part of Lucha Underground Season 3, which means he wouldn’t be available till around the fall of 2017 at the earliest so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

joe

Samoa Joe

“Joe is gonna kill you” can be heard chanted from any crowd that Samoa Joe performs in from of, many believe he’s the best choice to go toe to toe with Brock Lesnar in a high profiled feud, we should be salivating for this. Samoa Joe should be able to walk into the WWE and be over immediately on name alone and if not his character is one that is easily relatable. One look at his face and you just know he could kick your derriere from here to next week and there’s really no one on the roster today that looks like Samoa Joe. He’s different.

I don’t think this is a long shot, hopefully, its soon; being thirty-seven really adds a sense of urgency to the situation. Let’s see what happens after Summer Slam.

Kurt Angle

This one isn’t necessarily a choice to see him wrestle, I do feel however that Angle could greatly improve American Alpha’s chances of getting over on Smackdown. If you look back to 2003 when we had Team Angle he would give these great pep talks to Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin before every big match, he could do the same with Jordan and Gable. That’s just one example, Kurt has a way with the crowd whether he’s a heel or a babyface, telling jokes or saying he’ll rip someone’s head off; he comes off as legitimate — every time

It’s not like he can’t get in the ring, but with a neck like Angle’s, I wouldn’t want to see him taking any German’s from Lesnar that’s for sure. I could see him, Jordan and Gable in a six-man tag against the New Day or team of the like at Wrestlemania where he could get his stuff in and move along. Happy moment for all.

In a nutshell, I’m not surprised in the least with the talent they have brought back given the obvious downfalls that would come with signing on the dotted line with the WWE. The politics, travel and on top of all this, the money being offered would detract even the most optimistic talent.

Who would you like to see return to the WWE following this year’s draft? How about someone who has never been in the WWE? Let us know, leave your comments below and let’s get a good ol’ fashion discussion going!

By Tyler Fudge

Hey guys! I'm Tyler Fudge and I host a weekly podcast on wrestling called the FUDeration Podcast and now I write about wrestling and a bit of music, right here... At VultureHound!