It’s the most wonderful time of the year again.
Thanksgiving? Christmas? No, dear fans, I’m talking about that magical time of year when New Japan’s contracts start coming up for renewal and WWE attempts to pillage talent that may be interested in “greener pastures”. Ever since successfully signing AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Shinsuke Nakamura in 2016, WWE’s higher ups have made a point of focusing attention on their competition in the East around this point in the year. Rumors of deals being offered have already started to flood the wrestling dirt sheets over the past several weeks, and it’s safe to say this is only going to continue as we get closer to the new year.
With huge names like Tetsuya Naito and the Elite reporting recent offers from WWE and their subsequent rejections, my very own powers that be decided to offer me a challenge: “If WWE can’t secure some of this New Japan talent they’re gunning for, who would you like to see them sign outside of NJPW?” So, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here today to give you my top suggestions for stars WWE should be trying to sign outside of New Japan. Let’s get started!
1. David Starr
“The Cream in your Coffee,
Your Favorite Wrestler’s Favorite Wrestler,
the Jewish Cannon,
the Physical Embodiment of Charisma,
the Bernie Sanders of Professional Wrestling,
the Most Entertaining Man in Professional Wrestling,
the 104 Minute Man,
the Main Event,
He’s really good at Twitter,
the King of Taunts,
My apologies, had to get all that out of the way. What can I say about David Starr that he hasn’t already insisted on making ring announcers across the globe say?
This 27-year old Philadelphia native has gained quite the following throughout the independent wrestling circuit over the last few years, working for promotions such as CZW, Evolve, RevPro, and Defiant. Starr is quickly becoming the perfect example of what it means to be a “journeyman” wrestler. The Product utilizes a more technical variation of the cruiserweight style reminiscent of Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho in WCW’s original lightweight division.
Now, why does David Starr deserve a contract offer from the land of giants? Well, for starters, he already had a tryout back in March of 2014. If there was any kind of interest in Starr at that point, I’d have to imagine four years of honing his skills on the Indy circuits would only serve to increase his odds of being signed now. Oh, and did I mention that Starr was trained by Adam Cole and Drew Gulak? Or how about his two best friends being Tyler Bate and Jordan Devlin? In my opinion, David Starr will work for WWE one day. It’s just a matter of when…
Anyone well versed in the history of professional wrestling can tell you that the roots of the sport lie deep within the world of carnivals. Decades ago it wasn’t unusual to see a man wrestling a live bear as part of a sideshow attraction. Now, if that’s something that interests you in our modern age, then the closest you could come is attending a Walter match.
At 6’4″ and weighing in at 310lbs, this Austrian born, 31 year old colossus is an undeniable force inside the squared circle. As if his stature isn’t intimidating enough on it’s own, Walter also has the distinction of being a student of New Japan’s “Stone Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii. The Pitbull’s tutelage has resulted in Walter quickly becoming known as one of the hardest strikers performing outside the land of the rising sun. No joke, I watched a Walter match on television a few nights ago and the behemoth landed a chop on his opponent so hard, my teeth rattled! Also, I’d be failing as a fan if I didn’t mention that Walter is the current Progress World Champion, OTT World Champion, and Defiant Wrestling’s Internet Champion. When three separate promotions decide to put titles on you simultaneously, people should probably be paying close attention to you.
So, why should WWE consider signing the “Ring General”? Go watch one of his recent matches and tell me why they shouldn’t! WWE is the proverbial “Land of Giants”, and Walter is the next step in the evolutionary chain of giant. In the past, men of this size would’ve been utilized for their sheer power alone. Walter backs up sheer power with destructive strikes and pure wrestling ability. However, I will say that his gimmick would have to be handled very carefully. We don’t want to risk another Heidenreich or Vladimir Kozlov debacle. All in all, Walter would be a huge get for WWE and he is definitely someone they should be keeping their eyes on.
When beauty meets brutality, the end result is Viper. Many WWE fans will most likely recognize Viper from her stellar performance in 2017’s Mae Young Classic under the ring name “Piper Niven”. At 27 years old, this Scottish goddess has quickly carved a name for herself in the wrestling business while still remaining a relatively new face. Utilizing an in ring style similar to that of Nia Jax or Bull Nakano, Niven is a unique contrast to the typical “all out” style we see used by many female wrestlers currently. I also have to bring up the fact that Viper was ICW’s inaugural Women’s champion. A company that’s seen talent like Finn Balor and Pete Dunne grace its roster decided to create a Women’s division, and management thought Viper would be the best choice for first champion…you can’t tell me that doesn’t speak volumes about this young lady.
Why should WWE sign Viper? The real question is: Why didn’t they sign her when they had the chance?! Now, I do realize that signing with WWE after the first Mae Young tournament would’ve seen Niven most likely sent to NXT. I can’t say that at 27 I would’ve been too quick to move to a completely different country for a job. That being said, the creation of NXT’s U.K. brand comes with an all new opportunity to capitalize on the growing popularity of Viper. As part of the U.K. brand, Niven could travel while still not being an extreme distance from home, and also could become the powerhouse of the fledgling Women’s division. Oh, and did I mention who eliminated Viper from the first Mae Young Classic? It was NXT U.K’s own Toni Storm. Rivalries like that are what great women’s divisions are made of, just saying.
4. Sami Callihan
Now, let me start by saying, I haven’t forgotten Callihan’s failed NXT run as “Solomon Crowe”. It always seemed like WWE had no idea what to do with the 31 year old Ohio native. Truthfully, WWE hasn’t known what to do with hardcore style wrestlers since the end of the attitude era. That all being said, a lot has changed since Sami’s first WWE run. Callihan has spent the last few years making an infamous name for himself in organizations such as Impact, MLW, Evolve, ROH, and Dragon Gate USA. He has quickly become one of the names that can’t helped but be mentioned anytime the conversation is about Indy wrestling.
I have to admit that the main reason I’d like to see Callihan sign with WWE is just for the chance of seeing him pair with former CZW partner, Dean Ambrose. Dean’s recent heel turn is the perfect opportunity to have Sami make a dramatic entrance back into the company. You know that if Dean was taking a beating, and suddenly Callihan hit the ring to come to Ambrose’s defense, you’d pop!
And there you have it, folks. Four young stars that WWE should definitely be pursuing before NJPW’s talent.