Free Agent Season Is About To Heat Up

This weekend saw a flurry of releases by the WWE on Sunday – Emma, Darren Young and Summer Rae – plus news that Rockstar Spud was granted his release from Impact Wrestling. Add in Neville‘s impending departure from the WWE, the finale of Lucha Underground sending many of its stars into their 90-day no compete before final departure, and other names entering the world of indies, there’s suddenly an influx of talent about to become a free agent for the major promotions. With NJPW and ROH‘s alliance beginning to put some fire back into WWE’s competitive belly, Impact Wrestling’s refuelling and the WWE jockeying to reshuffle it’s rosters, we could see a lot of roster moves in the coming months between now and January of 2018. Here’s a look at some of the top free agents floating around right now who could find themselves on new television shows in the coming months.

NEVILLE

Photo: WWE

We looked extensively at some of Neville’s options should he return to the indies soon, but it’s clear that Neville – who will most likely return to his pre-WWE moniker of PAC – will be a hot commodity on the indie circuit once he’s free of his WWE no-compete. The UK scene has exploded internationally since he left it back in 2012, so a run through many of them, including PROGRESS, ICW, OTT and RevPro (amongst others) would seem to make sense, but joining Ring of Honor full time would make the sense for him. This would allow him to work with NJPW (for a spot in next year’s Best of the Super Juniors) as well as PWG and RevPro in England, amongst others.

REY MYSTERIO JR

Photo: WWE

Ever since it was announced early in the year that Rey was not returning for Lucha Underground’s near mythical Season Four, reports have bounced around that he was in talks with both the WWE and Impact Wrestling for a return to more prominent television. Rumours died down when it seemed that Rey had no desire to return to the WWE schedule grind and that Impact couldn’t meet his salary demands. While both options remain open, he may just chose to remain an independent contractor and work multiple indies on a farewell tour of sorts in 2018. He may eventually end up with the WWE for a final bow, possibly even on a limited dates contract to wind down with.

AUSTIN ARIES

Photo: WWE

Aries’ no-compete expired recently and he’s already taking indie bookings a plenty, but so far no news on whether he’s considering a return to television with anyone. His status with Ring of Honor has been suspect as he seemed to leave them abruptly to join NXT in early 2016, but in wrestling “never say never”. He was a hugely popular former World Champion in Impact Wrestling and they could use some of his star power to help the product, but again, at his age, Aries may opt to explore all his indie options and remain an independent to maximize his earning potential, much like Cody’s run of last year.

PENTA EL 0M & FENIX

Both Lucha Brothers left Lucha Underground this year, first Fenix and then Penta El 0M (who did it shockingly at a Crash Lucha show). Both have done well with indie bookings the past year, with the duo the current reigning PWG World Tag Team Champions, but once their no-compete expires in January of 2018, expect both to become targets for all the majors. A ROH deal could keep them available for PWG as well as get them into NJPW (Fenix could be a star in the BOTSJ), but either one could be potential additions to NXT or 205 Live as well.

SUMMER RAE

Photo: WWE

Summer Rae doesn’t have the indie background as most of these free agents, as she was a WWE homegrown from their Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) developmental days starting in 2011. She became one of FCW and then NXT’s top heels in the women’s division, whose BFFs faction helped establish both Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair as viable talents. While her main roster run from 2013 to 2017 has been subpar (including an injury that kept her off the past year), she was a far better hand than many on the internet gave her credit for. She could easily end up with Impact Wrestling to add to the impressive Knockouts division, or simply work occasional indie bookings with the likes of SHIMMER or other local promotions. She’s also hinted getting more into modeling, so Summer Rae also has the most chance of perhaps not continuing on in the wrestling industry.

ROCKSTAR SPUD

Photo: Impact Wrestling

While his release was only broken yesterday, reports suggest he was actually granted his release about 2-3 weeks ago. He’s already been doing indie bookings, including PROGRESS and WrestleCircus. Prior to joining Impact Wrestling in 2013, Spud was working multiple UK indie promotions, most notably RevPro, IPW:UK, Fight Club: PRO, SWE and PCW. He could easily slide back into the UK scene and work the North American independents, but rumors are surfacing that WWE has some interest in adding him to their 205 Live Cruiserweight Division.

DARREN YOUNG

Photo: twitter.com/DarrenYoungWWE

Most people don’t realize that Young had a 7-year indie career prior to joining the WWE in 2009, working primarily with Chaotic Wrestling, IWF, NYWC and ECWA as Fred Samson. Since then he’s become a beacon of inspiration for becoming the first major wrestler to come out as homosexual and doing countless charity work and promotion for the WWE for many causes. Young will most likely regroup and return to the indies, where he will continue to work for many worthwhile causes. He could easily become the next Juice Robinson and find a more rewarding career with a different company like ROH or NJPW, or even in Impact Wrestling.

JACK SWAGGER

Photo: WWE

Jack Swagger has been on the indies for a while now since his release earlier this year, appearing for Tommy Dreamer‘s House of Hardcore, AAW, Northeast Wrestling, CWFH, plus UK dates with WCPW, RevPro, SWE and WAW. He’s yet to commit to one of the major TV promotions, but there are reports that Impact Wrestling has been hoping to reunite Swagger with his former WWE advocate, Dutch Mantell (aka Zeb Colter).

EMMA

Photo: WWE

Emma was an emerging women’s star on the North American indies after she moved to the continent from her native Australia. She was working with SHIMMER in the US and ECCW in Canada as Tenille Dashwood before signing with the WWE in 2012. Over her WWE career, she’s developed a huge cult following with the internet community, which will probably translate into one of the more successful indie returns for a women’s wrestler. She could easily return to SHIMMER or possibly make her Japanese debut with Stardom. Impact Wrestling is always an option, as they have a better track record of pushing women’s talent in North America.

RICOCHET

Photo: twitter.com/KingRicochet

Still arguably the top free agent available, we also discussed his options a while back. Since then, promoters have been saying that he’s told them he won’t be taking bookings past January of 2018, only fuelling the reports of him heading to NXT (perhaps with his real life girlfriend and frequent NXT performer Tessa Blanchard). It was recently mentioned that Impact Wrestling were entering negotiations as well, but considering that Impact has always been an option (AAA is allied with Impact and has ownership in Lucha Underground), it would stand to reason that he could have already signed or debuted with them if that was the case. While many would prefer he signed with Ring of Honor so he can remain with NJPW and PWG, his seeming farewell speech with NJPW last month has many speculating that the NXT rumours are more than just that.

Where do you see these free agents showing up? Who are some other free agents you think may make big moves? Let us know in the comments below!