This past week, Billy Corgan bought the rights to the National Wrestling Alliance name, which raised some eyebrows in the wrestling world. What are his plans? Does he have any backers from his stint in TNA? Can he get television at some point? It certainly raises a lot of interesting questions.
It led to some interesting fantasy booking ideas as well. If one were to try to relaunch the NWA, which wrestlers not under contract, which rules out Marty Scurll and Drew Galloway who signed with ROH and WWE respectively, would be worth trying to pick up to exclusive or semi-exclusive deals? The following list is the top five wrestlers that would be worth starting a new promotion around. A few names have been left out because either deals with other promotions seem imminent (e.g. Adam Cole) or they seem to have no interest in contracts (e.g. Kota Ibushi).
5. Jeff Cobb
Every roster needs a powerhouse, and Jeff Cobb certainly fits that bill. Beyond the power, he also has youth and athleticism, especially for his build, on his side. He could be a mainstay in a company for many years. He could play a monster heel as evidenced by his work as Matanza on Lucha Underground, or he could play the old school powerhouse babyface a la Bruno Sammartino. He’s versatile and talented, and even scarier, he’s still learning. Check out highlights of his power and moves in a match with TJ Perkins below.
4. Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. is one of the top money earners in independent wrestling, commanding large amounts of money for appearances. However, as the indies are heating up, especially England, that drawing power is going to diminish a little, and this could be the right time to grab up one of the top grapplers in the world. Sabre’s talent and knowledge of submissions and catch wrestling is unquestioned, but his personality and demeanor are often a Rorschach Test for fans – they either love him and his style or hate him and his style. He’s slow, methodical, and sometimes undersells, but he’s always unique and captivating. Having him come in starting as a upper card heel would be a great way to get him started. If you’ve never seen Sabre wrestle, the below match gives a good sample of what he’s about. The second video shows you his unique submission and grappling moveset.
3. Matt Riddle
Matt Riddle is a unique guy. At first, he might be a little off-putting to some due to his broski, lackadaisical attitude. However, Riddle’s charisma and chill demeanor quickly become charismatic, and once he’s in the ring, it’s all forgotten anyway because Riddle can go. He’s a MMA trained fighter who left UFC with an 8-5 record to move into professional wrestling. He’s been wrestling some of the best independents in the world since he debuted in 2015, and he’s quickly become one of the best wrestlers in the world. Bringing him in as another top babyface would be a great move as he could wrestle with anyone to a good match. See the highlights in the first clip or a sample match in the second against Marty Scurll.
Ricochet is one of those names that keeps getting rumored to New Japan and WWE consistently, yet never goes. He’s wrapped up with his Lucha Underground contract where he wrestled as the masked Prince Puma. Ricochet has an incredible high-flying moveset, a charming demeanor, and produces high quality, high spot matches. Check out the clip below for a taste of his work and moves or the second video for a look at his extensive moveset. He would perfectly fit the role of a top fiery babyface in a fledgling company.
1. “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes
Restarting the NWA would require Cody Rhodes for a number of reasons. He’s potentially the best mic guy on the independent circuit right now. Watch the first clip below to see the passion and intensity he can carry in a promo. Next, his family legacy is intertwined with the NWA’s legacy as his father was one of the mainstays of the NWA territories and held the World Title multiple times. Third, he’s a classical ring worker. That’s not to say he’s boring: he is slow, methodical, purposed, but without being a throwback. In the ideal, he could be brought in as the opposite of his working man father and cast in more of a Ric Flair vein. Ironically, he fits more into that mold of the rich, hot and cold playboy than he does that of his father’s. Check out some of his current heel work in the second clip below. He could carry the title for a year with babyfaces chasing him and not have it get old.