The phenomenal one A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows all signed by WWE in the beginning of 2016. Now there are rumors of possible negotiations with New Japan star Kazuchika Okada. These names were some of the biggest wrestlers on the independent scene, but why is WWE just signing them now. I mean A.J. Styles is already 34, Karl Anderson and Shinsuke Nakamura are 36, and Doc Gallows is the youngest of the new signings at 32. I’ve got three major reasons on why WWE waited till now to get these major additions to the roster.
1. Separate brands with Raw and NXT
With the rising popularity of NXT, it’s almost become a separate brand from Raw and Smackdown. NXT has its own stars, midcard, and jobbers, and now there are major stars that are staying in the developmental brand to continue build up their own characters as well as the brand. Essentially, WWE needs two separate rosters for both the main roster and NXT that have to be rather deep. Now the company has made wrestlers due “double duty” in the past working for both sections of the company. These wrestlers include Kevin Owens, Neville, and currently Sami Zayn who recently had a match at the live special Roadblock against Stardust. With a deepened roster they can eliminate the increased chance of injury from working double duty. This leads me to the second reason.
Injuries have always been a plague in professional wrestling. They are one of the few things that writing teams can never see coming and force companies to change plans on an instant. So if injuries are a constant problem that are accommodated for regularly, why are things so different this time that new additions to the roster are necessary? It’s because we lost the champion at the time in Seth Rollins, a 15 time world heavyweight champion in John Cena, a top star in the company in Randy Orton, a top diva in Nikki Bella, former tag team champs Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, and possible career ending injuries for both Daniel Bryan and Sting, all in Wrestlemania Season. WWE had to make a major move to keep fans interested in the show without some of its biggest stars. A.J. Styles has already debuted on the main roster and had a series of matches leading towards Wrestlemania including a victory at Fastlane over Chris Jericho. Shinsuke Nakamura is also set to debut on the main roster very soon but whether it’s before Wrestlemania or after is still unknown.
3. Rising of Independent Promotions of Professional Wrestling
Independent promotions recently have been growing in popularity with New Japan Pro Wrestling and Lucha Underground being the two most popular in the independent scene, as well as many others still growing such as Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. So why would WWE care, because as the independent promotions have growing ratings regularly, WWE’s rating are reaching all-time lows. WWE has been struggling with their Raw ratings on a weekly basis so why not try to fix your issues by taking what’s working for a different company and bring it to their own. A.J. Styles along with Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson where a part of the bullet club, which was the main faction in New Japan as well as one of the best if not the best faction in the independent scene. Now A.J., Doc, and Karl all work for the WWE and the bullet club name is even rumored to possibly be coming with them. Along with them came A.J.’s opponent from Wrestlekingdom 10, Shinsuke Nakamura. Just when New Japan thought they lost as many superstars as they could, rumors of Kazuchika Okada leaving are becoming ever more prevalent. WWE’s vast popularity allows them to provide for their wrestlers more than MOST other competitors can. So why doesn’t the WWE go out and sign contracts with every major independent star out there? Well most independent wrestlers are under contracts with other promotions that they have to finish up before they can even think about moving to WWE developmental. Other major stars are making more money than they’d make in WWE. The best examples of this are the three time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag team Champions the Young Bucks who signed a one year contract exclusively for Ring of Honor back in late October that made history for the highest paid Ring of Honor contract history that has them making more than any NXT wrestler and some midcard wrestlers. So with WWE’s recent signings who are possibilities to be next? Comment to let me know what you think.