Thursday, September 3, 2015

WWE Allegedly Signs Everyone from WWN Live's Main Event

Swann is among the rumored signees in the latest culling of the indie scene
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Aside from mining Jessicka Havok's Twitter for ill-advised, racially-insensitive in-jokes, little news came from the WWE tryouts that took place between June 5 and 7. A who's-who of indie stars made their way down to Orlando for a rigorous weekend of evaluation by WWE officials, but no news leaked on whom those officials wanted to sign until recently. Rumored signing leaked to include nearly everyone who has been involved in a Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE main event over the last few years and then some. I will take a look at everyone mentioned after the jump.
  • Rich Swann - Swann was actually part of tryouts from last year that was famously documented on YouTube (the video apparently has been removed). Anyway, he's a no-brainer fit for WWE, an athletic, charismatic high-flyer who can do a standing 450 splash. I'll miss him coming to the ring to "All Night Long" while leading the audience in rhythmic clapping, but if it means he's getting paid, that's a good thing. Swann, along with the next guy on the list, has been reported as definitely in pending a physical.
  • Biff Busick - Busick, also reportedly signed pending a physical, is the most versatile member of the #grapplefuck Gang. He's been the backbone for Beyond Wrestling in the last two years, and he's also made inroads in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Combat Zone Wrestling, and EVOLVE. He's been referred to as "the next Bryan Danielson," which is a freakishly apt comparison, even if I hate calling people "the next [so and so]." The only stumbling block I can see to his signing is a knee injury he suffered early in 2014. He never got surgery on it, and WWE has released wrestlers for injuries that didn't heal to its liking (see Mack, Willie). Still, if he's in, he's definitely a marquee signing.
  • Chuck Taylor - Although he's been denying it since the rumors broke, Taylor is actually a snug fit for WWE. His personality can make him a transcendent star, especially as a heel if he plays up his "making children cry" side. The signing rumors make sense for him as well given his "retirement tour" of late. Bonus, if/when Taylor gets to NXT, he can potentially feud with Kevin Owens over who is bigger friends with The Rock.
  • Drew Gulak - Gulak is another member of the #grapplefuck Gang, and while he's gotten a rep of being dry thanks to his in-ring feud with Timothy Thatcher, he actually could excel in a WWE environment. He's also more versatile than his rep. His "Campaign for a Better Combat Zone" angle perhaps showed his best fit for a WWE career.
  • Johnny Gargano
  • Tommaso Ciampa - Technically, they've already debuted in NXT as a tag team for the Dusty Classic. However, when they taped their appearances, they were on per-appearance, "Rhyno/Joe/Blue Pants" deals. Both wrestlers have been linked to full-time developmental contracts, although Ciampa allegedly has heat on him for complaining about Tyler Breeze "stiffing" him during his tryout match. For those who aren't familiar with Gargano, he's a typical junior heavyweight-influenced indie workrate guy. Ciampa has a rough, strike-heavy edge to him.
  • Athena - Athena owns perhaps the most spectacular finisher in wrestling today, the O-Face, which is a jumping stunner from the top rope. She's been a staple in SHIMMER and Texas for the last few years for good reason. She's mostly modeled herself as a strong-style prestige wrestler, but she's proven she can brawl with the best of them, especially in matches against Havok in Anarchy Championship Wrestling and Mercedes Martinez in SHIMMER.
  • Nikki Storm - The self-styled "Best in the Galaxy," Storm has enough personality for everyone on the NXT women's roster, which is saying something. Her bombastic personality will allow her to fit right in on television, and her wrestling ability precedes her, both in her visiting stints in SHIMMER as well as her resume in her home promotions in the United Kingdom.
  • Sarah Stock - This one isn't a wrestler signing but a trainer signing. Stock, who has wrestled in TNA as Sarita, brings heavy lucha libre experience to the Performance Center, and she will be able to cultivate the next generation of high flyers. I would love to see her work with Alexa Bliss, who has shown a capacity for athletic endeavors.
If that list is completely true, then WWE has pretty much mined the indies for a huge portion of its name talent. Also, the WWN Live rumors from a couple of months back come into clearer focus. However, EVOLVE is hardly the only promotion affected here. The male talents all work Pro Wrestling Guerrilla quite regularly as well. Gargano is a staple in the Midwest indie scene. Gulak and Busick are both integral parts of both Beyond Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling, and Gulak and Taylor are major players in Chikara. Athena and Storm have risen in the ranks in SHIMMER and to lesser extents SHINE and Women's Superstars Uncensored.

But as with any time WWE signs a major star or multiple players, the results need not necessarily be catastrophic. Wrestling is an ecosystem, and when someone is moved from one habitat to the other, another wrestler will step up and take his or her place. WWE can't sign everyone, and with the rumored cuts on their way, some valuable wrestlers may make their way back into the indie portion of the cycle. WWE does not act as a responsible caretaker in intent, but the natural order of things ends up sustaining the lifecycle. Drew Galloway, Chris Hero, Bill Carr, Juice Robinson, Trent?, Brian Cage, Su Yung, Colt Cabana, Johnny Mundo, Alberto el Patron, Angela Fong, and Brian Myers are all big parts of the non-WWE scene who have come from WWE contracts (even if guys like Hero and Cabana were also names before they went to the big company).

As for the alleged signees, WWE has gotten a damn good crop of wrestlers. The brain drain onto the main roster should be nerfed by this group, which is diverse in style and personality. The future of NXT looks pretty good right now.