It's a strange time for the WWE. While it's undoubtedly the premier wrestling brand in the world, the quality of its roster has gone through a dip over the past few years.
There are numerous talented performers on the various shows, but not many who possess that extra edge to become the next "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, or The Rock.
Journalist Dave Meltzer summed up the current situation perfectly in a tweet: "WWE is far head of NJPW as a business and that won't change. NJPW is far ahead of WWE in terms of wrestler quality and that also probably won't change. There is a reason for both."
Vince McMahon and his corporate cohorts aren't stupid people, though, and must know there's a necessity to bring in the best talent for their business to prosper. Every week we hear the WWE being linked with big names, both within and outside the industry, and sometimes these reports end up coming true.
So, we've identified some of the big names that have been chucked into rumor mill and whether they'd be "good for business," as Triple H would say.
With that said, here are the 8 WWE Signing Rumors We Hope Are True (And 8 We Hope Aren't).
16 Yay: CM Punk
It's unlikely that we'll see CM Punk doing much else before his second professional UFC fight on June 9, 2018 in Chicago.
After Punk walked out of the WWE in January 2014, he didn't have much good to say about the company nor the industry, and it truly looked like his time as a wrestler was up. Since then, however, his stance has softened.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2016, he recalled his time in the business in a positive light. "Of course I'm happy with my time in professional wrestling. I met some great people, I met my wife, and I wouldn't trade it for the world," he said.
Well, the speculation is rife that he might be on the comeback trail as his purported appearance (in a non-wrestling capacity) at All In in September would mark his first wrestling-related event since he left the WWE.
In that time, he's been frequently mentioned on WWE programming, and even the powers that be have said they can iron out all their problems.
Hey, if Bret "The Hitman" Hart can make peace with Vince McMahon after the infamous Montréal incident, then it's more than likely that "The Best in the World" can make amends, too.
15 Nay: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is one of the most recognized wrestlers in the world, but his legacy was severally tarnished in 2015. There was a public leak in which he was heard using racial slurs and bemoaning the notion of his daughter being with a person of color.
The WWE moved swiftly and terminated his contract, stating it's "committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide".
Hogan released his own apology, saying to People, "Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it."
Hogan's departure from the company wasn't ugly, and both parties have stayed on friendly terms since then. According to TMZ Sports, the Hulkster and WWE officials have been in touch recently and he could be coming back to the organization that made him a household name.
The question is: do we really need him back?
While Hogan appears to have learned from his past mistakes, there isn't much that he can add in the ring anymore and he'll be hanging around for nostalgic purposes.
14 Yay: Eli Drake
Eli Drake is no stranger to the WWE, having had two stints with the company in 2006-2008 and 2013-2014. Sadly, he never received much of a push there and had to leave in order to grow his career in Impact Wrestling.
Now that Drake is a former world champion, there's been reported contact from the WWE. If you believe Meltzer's sources, there is interest and a signing could happen in the near future. The question is, where would Drake fit in?
It's likely that he'll be sent down to NXT first, which isn't a bad move. If he's able to build up momentum there, he'll make more of an impact when he joins up with the Raw or SmackDown Live roster.
Drake turns 36 in November, though, so you have to wonder if he's willing to invest a few years at NXT before he receives the push to the big leagues. Nothing is ever certain in the industry, but Drake would be a major coup for the company.
While his wrestling skills are decent enough, it's his charisma that should excite the WWE.
With the main event lacking in charismatic superstars right now, Drake could be the answer and the next big thing in the industry (if elevated correctly).
13 Nay: Batista
Batista needs no introduction. As a multiple-time world champion and current darling of Hollywood, you'd think that he could waltz in and out of the WWE as he pleases. However, it turns out that that's not the case at all.
Speaking to Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan, he revealed, "[WWE] reached out to me earlier this year to possibly come back and do that thing with Ronda [Rousey]. And I said that I would be willing to do it only if we teased something for me and Hunter to go to 'Mania next year. And they said, 'Yeah, that would be great. I love that idea.'"
Batista added, "I sent a text to Hunter. I was like, ‘Hey man, I don't know if you put any more thought into what's going on. I'm really excited about the possibilities.' And I literally never heard back from them. They just stopped talking to me about it."
It does sound like Triple H ghosted Batista, and plans changed down the line somewhere. The truth is that Batista is doing incredibly well in Hollywood and any contract with the WWE would be short term or limited.
With Brock Lesnar already working an almost non-existent schedule, there's no need for more main-event guys who'll only rock up for the big paydays.
12 Yay: The Young Bucks
The Young Buck have built themselves a brand without the need of the WWE's corporate machine. They're the hottest tag team in the world, and this generation's Hardy Boyz.
In fact, it's unfathomable how McMahon's empire let Nick and Matt Jackson slip through their fingers on two occasions.
The thing is, though, that the WWE is noticing them now. Even if they did send them a cease-and-desist letter for their use of the "Too Sweet" hand gesture, it means they're watching what they're up to and keeping a close eye on the brothers.
The rumors have gone into overdrive recently, as the duo's contract with Ring of Honor is almost up-- something that was confirmed by Nick when asked by a fan about the possibility of them jumping ship.
He tweeted, "Not possible right now. We have six months left on our current contracts. Never say never but we're very happy with what we’re doing."
While the WWE's tag-team division is in one of the best states it has been in a long time, the addition of The Young Bucks is exactly what it needs. This is the type of team that can define an era, and everyone in the wrestling business knows it.
11 Nay: Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Davey Boy Smith Jr. didn't have a bad stint in the WWE as David Hart Smith and one-third of the Hart Dynasty. Still, it wasn't comparable to what his father, "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, achieved in his memorable tenure.
Since Smith's departure from the company, he's made a home for himself on the indie circuit and in NJPW. His career hasn't exactly skyrocketed, but he's still getting work and bookings – most likely because of his heritage.
Recently, Natalya shared a behind-the-scenes photo of her with Tyson Kidd and Smith at a Raw in London, prompting fans to speculate that Smith could be on his way back to the company.
Unfortunately, for those wanting a Hart Dynasty reunion, Kidd is retired and acts as a producer in the WWE now.
While fans might be excited by the nostalgic value of the team, Smith doesn't have the prowess or charisma of his father and is a dark-match or mid-card performer at best. There's already an abundance of similar wrestlers in the same position as him, and just because he has Hart and Smith blood shouldn't mean he gets a free ride here.
He's better off sticking to what he's doing right now.
10 Yay: Elijah Burke
Elijah Burke was last seen in the WWE in 2008. There was a time in 2007, however, when he was on the ECW brand as the leader of the New Breed faction, and it looked like his major breakthrough was about to arrive. He had some terrific matches with the likes of CM Punk and it seemed like he'd be one for the future.
Unfortunately, his momentum slowed down and he left the company quietly after months of inactivity. He found limited success in TNA/Impact Wrestling under the name D'Angelo Dinero and Da Pope, building his brand and being seen as a decent – although not great – performer.
Burke left Impact in 2017, but he's been spotted backstage at a SmackDown Live show recently. Naturally, this has led to speculation that he might be on the verge of penning a deal with the WWE.
If it does happen, though, both Burke and his fans need to temper their expectations.
There's a possibility for him to elevate through the ranks, but the reality is that he's likely to remain a mid-card performer at best.
At 40 years old, the time for main-event stardom might be past him. This doesn't mean that he can't find at least some success in the WWE.
9 Nay: Chris Jericho
As a WWE legend, Chris Jericho can decide when he works and who he works with. Over the past few years, we've seen him slow down and go in and out of the company, working a limited schedule and dividing his time between the ring and the stage with his band Fozzy.
Recently, Jericho made a special return at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia, where he entered the contest at number 50. After the match, he spoke candidly to Daily Mirror about the wrestlers he'd like to face going forward.
"Working with [Braun] Strowman would be great, working with Daniel Bryan would be great, working with any of those guys would be great, I love Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins and all of those dudes. But what's the story behind it? If we can come up with a good story, then I'm all in. If not, then I will just continue doing what I'm doing right now and having a lot of fun doing it," he said.
Obviously, this shows that Y2J has a lot of freedom and can come and go as he pleases.
It's great for fans, but Jericho is also stealing the spot from wrestlers who want to do it every single day of the year. Is that really fair on them?
8 Yay: James Storm
James Storm is no stranger to the WWE, having appeared on NXT in 2015. However, he chose not to sign with the company and returned to TNA/Impact Wrestling instead.
Once again, this proved how WWE management overlooks talented superstars and allows them to leave, scoring an own goal by letting the opposition have them.
In April, Paige posted a video of Storm backstage at Raw. Additionally, there were reports that he had appeared backstage at SmackDown Live, and was staying at a WWE hotel in New Orleans, as well. It's all a little too coincidental for our liking, so something must be up.
Storm did note on Twitter that he's booked up for the next few months, but anything can happen in wrestling.
With a host of old TNA/Impact alumni, such as Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, and Bobby Roode, in the WWE now, he'd feel right at home if he signed up with the company.
We're holding thumbs that it does happen, because Storm can bring something different to the game. There are too many wrestlers who do the same shtick in the WWE, and the Cowboy could be a breath of fresh air on whichever show the company sticks him on.
7 Nay: MVP
When MVP debuted in the WWE in 2006, he was given a considerable push and won the United States Championship in no time. Four years later, though, he was released from the company that placed so much trust in him.
Earlier this year, MVP made a special appearance on the 25th anniversary of Raw, joining a host of superstars both past and present in the show's history.
Naturally, this prompted many fans to think he might be back for an extended period of time; however, this proved to be a once-off appearance.
That didn't stop MVP from adding fuel to the fire when Bobby Lashley returned to the WWE later this year. He tweeted: "So Lashley is back in WWE? I could be persuaded to return. If WWE is interested in such a dynamic. If…"
This is an obvious come-and-get-me plea from MVP.
That said, is there a spot for him on the roster right now? While he did display a lot of charisma in the first few months after his debut, he quickly lost steam.
Unfortunately, there are just many more talented performers, within and outside the WWE, who deserve the opportunity more than he does. MVP is good, but he's not that good.
6 Yay: Rey Mysterio
Since Rey Mysterio left the WWE in 2015, there's been a void. There isn't one single wrestler who possesses the skill set that Mysterio has in his arsenal. He's a real livewire and crowd-pleaser; in other words, he's someone the current roster could learn from.
His surprise appearance at this year's Royal Rumble and Greatest Royal Rumble brought joy to his fans who've missed seeing the 619 in action.
Speaking to Daily Mirror after his Royal Rumble bow, Mysterio addressed the possibility of a return.
"I want to say that there is a big possibility that I will be back. [We're] figuring out what the situation is, you know from both ends. But there is definitely a positive feedback on behalf of the fans, on behalf of the WWE staff and behalf of myself, man. I think we're possibly going to sit down and negotiate something where we can both work together and have a good time and enjoy," he said.
While Mysterio has other commitments at the time, we wouldn't write off the possibility of him signing a contract towards the end of the year, or early in 2019.
Look, the WWE would be a better place with everyone's favorite high flyer in its ranks.
5 Nay: Conor McGregor
While Conor McGregor has insulted WWE for being fake in the past, he's a businessman at the end of the day. After such a massive payday when he battled Floyd Mayweather last year, he could easily seek out bigger opportunities.
Speaking to reporters outside of his vehicle, McGregor praised Ronda Rousey's venture into the squared circle. "I'm delighted for her. Absolutely over the moon for her. She looked like she really enjoyed herself at the [Royal Rumble], and I was very, very happy to see her," he stated.
Legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross added fuel to the fire, stating, "There's no way you can convince me [McGregor] will not earn a massive check from Vince McMahon some day in the future. It will not be a career deal; it will be a one-off special occasion, massive promotion."
"I would suggest maybe at a WrestleMania somewhere down the road. The attraction's there, the marketing's there, the money's there… Why not make it happen? And so, I think Conor is guaranteed for that, and I also think that Conor's not done in the octagon, either. I think that he's a competitor. He likes to prove he's the alpha male," he said.
While it all sounds good and dandy, it reminds us of CM Punk's infamous pipe-bomb where he bemoaned the company's tendency to overlook the current roster in favor of special guests at the big events.
McGregor would be there only for the money, not the love of the business or the fans.
4 Yay: Kenny Omega
If you're a manager at the WWE, you should feel ashamed for letting Kenny Omega go at such a young age. The talent was there but the company missed it.
Since that time, Omega has gone on to become arguably the greatest wrestler in the world – and he isn't a part of the WWE.
Omega has claimed that the company has approached him numerous times over the years, with a contract in hand, but he's turned them down every single time.
It makes sense, though. Why would he give up all he's achieved to go back to the WWE where nothing is certain and he'd be jobbing to Roman Reigns every pay-per-view?
According to Meltzer, Omega might be taking the leap soon-- well, not this year, but maybe in 2019. As expected, Omega has decided to stay with NJPW for the rest of 2018, but his time in the WWE could be just around the corner.
There's the risk that Omega's style might not fit in with what the WWE wants from its performers, but there's no way that the company could pass up this opportunity.
Omega is the sort of name that could bring back fans who've given up on the sports entertainment brand in recent years.
3 Nay: Rob Gronkowski
After the Patriots' 41-33 loss to the Eagles at Super Bowl LII, Rob Gronkowski admitted that he was contemplating his future after losing the biggest game of the season. Naturally, this led to speculation of what he would do in the future.
There's been whispers that he might go into the movie business, but his pro-wrestling friend Mojo Rawley believes it's "not a matter of if, it's a matter of when" as to Gronk joining the WWE.
It wouldn't be the first time that Gronk has appeared at a WWE event, but it does sound rather wild and out there.
Meltzer, though, thinks there's truth to the chatter. He states that the WWE is actively trying to sign Gronk. Plus, the company is willing to offer him a similar deal to what they offered Ronda Rousey.
Again, we need to question what Gronk could offer the WWE in return. While he's undoubtedly a recognized sportsman and public figure, he's not a wrestler.
Additionally, he'll receive a major push if he joins the company, and we're a little sick of seeing non-wrestlers in the headlines. It's been a few years, but we still haven't forgotten that awful storyline where David Arquette was the WCW Champion.
2 Yay: Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes had the odds stacked against him for a long time. As the son of Dusty Rhodes and the brother of Goldust, he had a steep mountain to climb and shake off any suggestions of nepotism.
Yet, in his WWE run, he put his head down and got the job done. Even when the company took the stupid decision to make him Stardust and pair him up with his brother in a tag team.
In 2016, he finally received his release and went on to make a name for himself in other organizations, establishing himself as one of the hottest talents in the world.
According to Meltzer, he believes that the WWE is keeping tabs on Rhodes and his contract situation: "The reason [indie wrestling] got so strong is because it is a star-driven business. Some of these guys are not easily replaceable as far as the star power goes."
"WWE's going to be after all of them. So that's the situation. I'll tell you what, as far as Cody and The Young Bucks go, I don't know how long Cody's contract is but obviously the Young Bucks' contract ends at the end of this year," he said.
Rhodes has said that he's unlikely to return to the WWE; however, we all know that's wrestler-speak for "give me more money and a championship run."
1 Nay: Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio has had a tumultuous affair with the WWE. He's been in and out of the organization several times, and it's not been pretty as he's gone off on rants about the management there.
In an interview with Mediotiempo, though, Del Rio apologized for his behavior towards the company.
"As you guys know, I'm a stand-up guy and I know when I've made a mistake. I've been in touch with them – everyone knows about my beef with Triple H – and I'm one of those guys who admits my mistakes... When it first came out I admitted my mistake and I apologized to Triple H for the issues we had when I was with my ex-girlfriend [Paige]," he said.
"She made me believe that the videos and everything that was out there were because of Triple H and the company. At the time I believed her because she was my girlfriend, obviously I defended her tooth and nail. The truth of what happened was totally different, so I had to apologize to him and his family and they understood," Del Rio stated.
Del Rio added that he's likely to make a return to the company, emphasizing that it might be a little difficult this year but possible in 2019.
Unfortunately, Del Rio's temper is likely to flair up again, and his return will probably be short-lived. He's said that he plans on retiring soon, so this could be one final payday for him.
Are there any other names that you'd like to see in the WWE? Let us know in the comments!
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