The professional wrestling world is always brimming with questions. Who is the best wrestler of all time? How is the best wrestler working today? However, in the last few years, the most common question is who will be the next star of the independent scene to join WWE?
More often than not, the quartet that this is most commonly asked of is The Young Bucks, Cody (Rhodes) and current IWGP heavyweight champion Kenny Omega. They are four of the most talented and popular wrestlers on the planet and are making money most wrestlers could dream of. However, at the moment they are the biggest fishes in a small pond? Before long there might be nothing left for them to do on the independent scene, so logically the next step must be WWE? This begs the question though. How well would each of these wrestlers do in WWE? Would it even be worth going?
The Young Bucks
Matt and Nick Jackson are true innovators of the crafts of tag team wrestling. Supremely athletic and criminally underrated in-ring storytellers, it is unsurprising that the brothers from California have found success. Unfortunately, quite a few factors might affect their chances of success in WWE. Many high fliers who have moved to WWE have had to limit their high-flying style in the ring in order to fit the WWE style. Neville is a recent example of this, and one would expect the same might happen to Ricochet. The high-risk moves are a large part of the Young Bucks appeal, hence their unfair reputation for being ‘spot monkeys.’ Another factor that might dissuade the brother to leave for WWE is the brand of the young bucks being so immense. The Bullet Club and Young Bucks T-shirts are some of the most popular pieces of wrestling merchandise around. WWE would love to cash in on this success no doubt but would the Young Bucks want to give that up for a smaller piece of the merchandising profit? Take a guess. The Young Bucks brand will inevitably be underutilised by WWE and the idea of the Young Bucks giving up their clothing brand as well as other projects like Being The Elite is presumably not a very attractive for the brothers. The idea that Vince McMahon would value the Californian natives more than the Hardy Boyz, The New Day or The Shield is farcical. Finally, The Young Bucks earn so much money on a much lighter schedule than many of the wrestlers in WWE. If they did sign there is no doubt it would be less money, for more shows. Why on earth would The Bucks agree to that?
Would the Young bucks be a success in WWE? Probably, but nowhere near as much as they should be.
Verdict: Leaving would be a bad idea.
Out of all of the ‘main’ Bullet Club members, Hangman page is perhaps one of the least well-known and by the same virtue, one of the least attractive BC acquisitions in the eyes of the WWE. Page is solid in the ring but not spectacular, which the same can be said about the aura around him. He could conceivably sign for WWE but in a company where you need to be a unique character to stand out among other spectacular wrestlers, one would wonder if the move would be wise on the part of Page considering his lack of character in comparison to many main roster stars. The same thing had also been said about current NXT champion Tomasso Ciampa. He was always a great wrestler but never set the world on fire during his time on the independent scene; since joining NXT and turning heel however, he has arguably become one of the greatest heel characters in the company. Perhaps in NXT Page could make as similar transformation.
Hangman Page is doing well for himself in ROH and NJPW at the moment but this might be as high as his star might go whilst on the independent scene.
Verdict: He could go to WWE if he wants. It’s a risk, but if he bets on himself and puts the effort in, he could exceed everyone’s expectations.
There is arguably no bigger full-time wrestling star on the planet right now than Kenny Omega. Charismatic, good-looking and very talented in the ring, Kenny Omega is everything you would want in a wrestler. He is constantly delivering match of the year bouts and although the ridiculous 7-star match ratings he receives from Dave Meltzer may cause some ire among wrestling fans; there is no denying how talented he is. The question isn’t if he is good enough for WWE but rather, should he go? There is no doubt the success of a star like AJ Styles is attainable in the company. In the end the only thing that might dissuade Omega is his love and loyalty to New Japan Pro Wrestling. He has imbedded himself into the Japanese culture learning the language fluently as well as living in Tokyo full time. He has become the company’s ace in the hole and is rewarded handsomely both financially and creatively for it.
In WWE many of the wrestlers are lucky to have a match longer than 20 or 30 minutes. Due to this, more often than not, the match climaxes do not live up to expectations. This is not a problem in New Japan, look no further than the recent 64-minute epic between Omega and Kazuchika Okada. Omega has so much creative freedom and is allowed to showcase his incredible cardio-vascular endurance often. There is not much preventing Omega having success in WWE, but the time perhaps is just not now. When his body starts to break down due to New Japan’s extreme style the safer WWE style might become more appealing for him. Omega is the face of NJPW’s global brand and the longer he has success in that role, the more attractive an acquisition he becomes to WWE. Because of this Omega might have more of a say creatively than other performers coming in.
Success in WWE is attainable for Omega if he wants it. One would assume/hope that his much-rumoured bisexuality wouldn’t affect his standing in the politically conservative WWE. Ultimately, it is Omegas choice.
Verdict: Leaving is probably a good option soon, but staying doesn’t hurt him.
One of the more recent new members of the Bullet Club, Marty Scurll is a star for the future. The 29-year-old is one of the brightest talents to come out of Britain in the past couple of years, everything about ‘The Villain’ is special. The Villain is one of the most original gimmicks in recent years and he has the technical ability to back it up. He could go to WWE if he wants but he still has the potential to grow as a wrestler on the independent scene. Currently a star of ROH and the NJPW Junior heavyweight division he has the potential to move up to the heavyweight class as he gets older.
Marty Scurll has no reason to leave ROH/NJPW but a move to WWE won’t hurt him either.
Verdict: Could go if he really wanted to but there’s still more left to do on the independent scene.
Ever since Cody left Vince McMahon’s Juggernaut promotion, rumours of his return have been a common point of discussion among wrestling fans. Since leaving WWE he has greatly improved his in-ring work, thanks to working with many talented NJPW performers. Perhaps, more importantly, he has finally found his character and boosted his brand. Whilst in WWE he struggled occasionally to find his groove character wise. His most successful character was the “Dashing” Cody Rhodes gimmick, where he became a staple of the WWE midcard. He would soon be repacked as Stardust, however, which produced mixed results, he was due to be repackaged again before he left. But now as the “American Nightmare”, he has carved out a perfect niche. Cody is a consistently solid wrestler, but it was his personality that helped him stand head and shoulders above many his fellow wrestlers. There have always been flashes of it when he in WWE, but now on the independent scene, his light is shining a consistent bright light.
Cody could go back to WWE any day he wants. However, the main roster is stacked with so much outstanding main-event potential talent, moving over could be a risk considering how difficult opportunities can be to come by. Although his dynamic character, WWE history and family pedigree could provide him with several opportunities to prove his worth. Another aspect worth considering, however, concerns the previously mentioned Kenny Omega. If Kenny Omega does leave for WWE, he leaves behind a huge hole in NJPW as the company has no international space.
Cody, however, is mostly considered to be more of an ROH talent than New Japan, he could be much more valuable to NJPW in future than he could be to ROH. Omega’s departure would be a considerable blow for the company as arguably no other wrestler is more capable of filling that role than Cody. Besides Cody, stars like Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll and Juice Robinson might be seen as the closest candidates to fill the role. Whilst they are fantastic wrestlers, they are either too young or don’t possess the requisite star power yet to fulfil the role. Cody is by no means the total package, but he possesses the potential to grow into the role.
Success might be waiting for Cody in WWE, but that is unguaranteed, Cody has so much left to do in NJPW and Ring of Honor.
Verdict: Could leave, but probably shouldn’t.