Functioning as the WWE’s developmental brand, NXT is often viewed as a throwback to the days of territorial wrestling, where new talent can be groomed over time rather than thrown before millions while they are still green. As such, fans of NXT tend to be die-hards privy to the product and inner-workings of the business. This can not only produce raucous crowds but with time, bonafide stars.
In recent years this method has led to the rise of guys like Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Austin Aries and so on. But who out there on the indie scene could lead the next wave of WWE talent? Here are the five indie wrestlers we’d like to see in NXT.
An English professional wrestler, Martin Kirby has been around for some time now. Debuting in 2006, Kirby eventually made his mark as one-half of the tag team Project Ego with partner Kris Travis. The two won multiple tag team championships over the years before the tag team came to an end in March 2016 upon Travis’s death.
While Kirby does not have the size or traditional look of WWE’s mold, he does bring about a unique charisma that and story-telling ability that captivates those who watch him. From his finisher, the Sable Bomb, to his as-yet landed “ultra finisher,” the Zoidberg Elbow, Kirby could prove to be just the guy NXT is looking for.
Joe Hendry makes things better. He can wrestle. He can sing. So says the man himself. While Hendry is admittedly the greenest of the names on this list, debuting professionally only about five years ago, he does bring an innate charisma that few can match. The self-proclaimed “Local Hero,” Hendry is famous for using his gifted vocals to create custom entrance themes and videos for each of his big matches. Some of the best can be found below.
Given Hendry is still in his 20s, WWE would certainly have the time to develop and work him into better ring shape. A big plus for Hendry on this list is that he has the size and strength to contend as a believable heavyweight, something Kirby and others on this list could certainly struggle with.
WWE’s Women’s Revolution has certainly revitalized the division over the past year but it has struggled to make stars out of those not on the Raw brand. Sure, Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss are great talents, but the Smackdown brand could use their own Bayley, and Nixon Newell fits that bill perfectly. What’s better, she can bring a hardnosed edge that hasn’t been seen yet from Bayley.
Ricochet, AKA Trevor Mann, is a phenomenal talent that frankly WWE should’ve signed already. At 28 years old, Mann is more than polished enough to not only electrify in NXT, but compete on the main brand as part of the Cruiserweight division. What’s even better is that he has the size and build to pass as a serious contender for either the Intercontinental or United States championships. Here he is wrestling WWE legend Rey Mysterio under the name Prince Puma for Lucha Underground:
Not only is Ricochet a 10-year vet, but if used properly and brought in with the next entry, he would could immediately compete for rivalry of the year, a la Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
Will Ospreay, the 23-year old phenom of the indie wrestling scene over the past year, is exactly the talent and buzz signing WWE needs right now. This kid is flat out poetry in motion in the ring. And while some believe his match last year with Ricochet in New Japan Pro Wrestling was “too much flippy shit,” it’s important to note the match itself got people talking. Not only that, it brought attention to two of the best pure athletes in the wrestling world today. And if you don’t like the excessive “flippy shit,” guess what? You can teach the men to scale it back a bit. Again, Ospreay is 23. He’s yours to mold however you please, just for the love of God don’t take away the things that make him the Aerial Assassin.
Ospreay vs Richochet is a match the world over promotions want to book. If WWE was smart, it would jump in now and sign the two men while they’re both young and healthy enough to create this generation’s Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels. Too high of expectations you say? Check out the video for yourself and tell me this rivalry can’t define the new era.
Have any suggestions for other indie stars we may have missed? If so, tell us below!