If any of you are on social media, there's a good chance you've seen one of those memes along the lines of "Sign One, Fire One, Return One". In that particular one, you'll see three rows of wrestlers, usually stars from Japan or the independent scene, except for the last row, which consists of stars that have left WWE in the last several years. From the first row, you choose one wrestler you'd sign to WWE if you had that power. From the second row, you choose one wrestler you'd "future endeavor". From the third row, you choose one wrestler that you would bring back to WWE. It's a simple premise.
Seeing those memes got me to thinking about wrestlers going from one place to another. Then, some news came out that WWE is looking to send some of their main roster wrestlers to NXT, either to add some "seasoning" or to make sure NXT doesn't get hurt too much when they keep sending people to Raw or Smackdown. That led to more thinking, as I began to wonder about what would happen if WWE had some sort of "foreign exchange program" set up where they could "borrow" wrestlers from other companies, and could also "loan" some of their own wrestlers to said companies from time to time. If you remember the stories from the original ECW, that's the type of business arrangement that Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon were trying to have worked out between their companies. Vince would "borrow" some ECW talents to use on his shows, and he would also send some of his younger talents to ECW, treating it as a developmental territory, of sorts, allowing those younger talents to get better and more well-rounded. The idea was that it would be beneficial to all sides, giving ECW some "star power", and allowing the WWF to have new, fresh matches they could feature.
So, let's play a hypothetical game once again. Let's say that Vince McMahon has worked a deal out with New Japan Pro Wrestling to "trade" wrestlers back and forth. Let's also say that Vince has a similar deal worked out with Ring Of Honor, allowing for multiple options. Any deals would have to be beneficial to both sides, so you can't just send the worst from one company for the best of another company simply because you like one place better than the other. Also, keep in mind that these are not permanent moves. If someone is going from New Japan to WWE, it might be for one big "dream match", or it might be for a couple month "loaner" period. Let's see who I would send where.
Kenny Omega To WWE: This one might be the easiest choice to make. There is a lot of incredible talent on the New Japan roster, but none of them is suited to make an immediate splash on WWE's stage like Omega. He's a charismatic, English-speaking marvel in the ring. As a WWE fan, what isn't to like? As a temporary member of the WWE roster, there are a few different options you could go with for what you'd do with him. Bullet Club leader Omega vs former Bullet Club leader AJ Styles? How about Omega vs another former Bullet Club leader on the WWE roster, Finn Balor? I've even seen some say that he could be Balor's "mystery partner" for a match against Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, who are also former members of the Bullet Club. Now, his match/matches don't have to be involving former members of the group, but it just makes sense if you're only bringing him in for a small amount of time.
The Young Bucks To WWE: Another easy choice to make. There are some talented tag teams in WWE right now, but the money is in a Bucks vs Hardys match on a grand stage, as well as a Bucks vs New Day match. We've seen the Bucks square off with Matt and Jeff Hardy before, most recently at Ring Of Honor's Supercard Of Honor 9 event the night before WrestleMania 33, but seeing them face off in a WWE ring would be incredible. Chances are, it would end up being in a Ladder Match or a TLC, because... well... Hardys. The Bucks' in-ring style is something that would connect with the WWE Universe immediately, even with the members who had never seen or heard of them before.
Dolph Ziggler To New Japan: If you stop and think about it, there was a time, not that long ago, when many a WWE fan would say that Dolph was the best worker on the roster, able to put on entertaining matches no matter who he was facing. Those fans kept calling for Dolph to get pushed as a top guy once again, but it never happened. There are lengthy stretches of time where it seems like Dolph is merely phoning his performances in. It seems like he cares more when WWE management cares more. Sending him to New Japan, even briefly, might provide Ziggler with new motivation. He'd get to wrestle more, and he'd get to wrestle longer matches, against competition that is often world class. If that doesn't light a fire under him, it's difficult to think of anything that would.
Juice Robinson To NXT: Yes, to NXT instead of Raw or Smackdown. If you didn't already know, Robinson used to wrestle as CJ Parker while in NXT, and he wasn't viewed as anything special. The transformation that he has shown in his time with New Japan is remarkable, though. He's been with the company for just under two years now, but he wrestles like a completely different person. It shows the growth that someone can have with experience and variety, which is kind of the entire point of a "talent exchange". Putting him back in an NXT ring, where he has numerous opponents that would make for fresh matchups, would be a lot of fun. He'd get to show the NXT fans, up close and personal, just how far he's come in his transformation from Parker to Robinson.
Cedric Alexander To Ring Of Honor: Alexander wrestled for Ring Of Honor before coming to WWE as a participant in the Cruiserweight Classic, but he didn't get to do much there. He dropped 20-30 pounds since leaving RoH, became a "smark" favorite with his performances in the CWC, and has been one of the shining stars in WWE's 205 Live division. Sending him back to RoH would be an opportunity to see him against potentially larger opponents, since WWE treats their Cruiserweight wrestlers like lepers who can only associate amongst themselves. Alexander's frame is larger than the average 205'er, so he doesn't look "off" wrestling bigger people. Maybe WWE officials could watch him and see that he could easily be placed into the United States or Intercontinental Title pictures with the proper booking behind him.
Kazuchika Okada To WWE: If you know me, the only surprise here is that it took me so long to say this. It's a pipe dream, yes, but to be fair, seeing Shinsuke Nakamura in a WWE ring was a pipe dream not all that long ago. Watching the ups and downs that we've seen with Nakamura's booking makes me want Okada's WWE run to be brief. They could give him video packages to hype up his arrival, and then, send him to Raw, where none other than Paul Heyman could put him over like nobody else could. Heyman is the master of making live audiences care about someone or something that they otherwise may not have reason to care about. A match between Okada and, say, Seth Rollins would be incredible. If you wanted to follow WWE's formula of having Heyman put over the opposition, a match between Okada and Brock Lesnar would be magnificent. Hey, while we're on that subject...
Brock Lesnar To New Japan: Yes, he wrestled in New Japan before, but that was over a decade ago, meaning he has an entirely different roster of opponents he can face these days. As we've seen time and time again, Brock seems to love being in matches where he can be unleashed in as close to a shoot fight as possible without being bad for business. There's only a small number of people on the WWE roster he can have matches like that with. New Japan, however, opens the doors for him to be in all the pier six donnybrooks that he can handle. Matches against the likes of Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe and Minoru Suzuki would likely end with someone needing a trip to the hospital. Someone like Kenny Omega wrestles a style that makes up for his lack of size, and he could bring the fight to Lesnar. The Lesnar vs Okada match mentioned in the previous entry would work out even better in New Japan, as there is no need for the "who is this guy" attached to it by a percentage of the viewing audience. The possibilities with this one are damn near endless.
Jay Lethal To NXT: This has been something rumored for a long time now, and is something that could actually happen without an "exchange". Realistically, there isn't much left for Lethal to do in RoH. He's been their World Champion, and he's been their Television Champion twice, including a 567-day reign that overlapped his World Title reign. That stint as the World Champion was the fourth-longest in company history, and the longest since Nigel McGuinness held the title for 545 days between October 2007 and April 2009. Even if we aren't going to get him under permanent WWE contract, it would be fun to see him in a temporary role in NXT. Maybe show up as a mystery opponent at a Takeover event, or arrive at the television tapings after a Takeover event to challenge the NXT Champion. Anything could work, really.
Sami Zayn To Ring Of Honor: I thought about putting Samoa Joe in this spot initially, but with multiple returns to the company before signing with WWE, there isn't much left for him to do or prove there. Sami Zayn is in an interesting spot, on the other hand. On Raw, he was generally viewed as misused, and a move to Smackdown was seen as just the blessing his career needed. Well, fast forward a bit, and he's just as misused as ever. He could offer RoH some star power, misuse or not. He's one of the best and most beloved independent wrestlers of the last decade, and seeing him back on the independent scene for a bit would be a lot of fun. If I was in charge, what I would do is have Zayn promoted to appear at one of Ring Of Honor's biggest shows. At the event, the lights would go out, and "¡Olé!" by The Bouncing Souls is heard. The crowd would go ballistic, and as the lights came back on, El Generico would be standing in the ring, returning from his mission of helping orphans in Mexico. It's just something fun that would create some buzz. It would also play into the fact that the fans would be chanting for "Generico" and not "Sami Zayn" in RoH, anyway, so you might as well meet that head-on. When he returns to WWE, I might even let him keep the mask, just to sell more merchandise, but that's a different topic for a different day.
Jason Jordan To Ring Of Honor: It's pretty clear that someone in WWE sees something in Jordan. No matter what you think of him, the fact that he is involved in a high-profile storyline on Raw involving Kurt Angle says it all. I think he has the tools necessary to become a big star in the business, but he just needs a little more seasoning. He started his pro wrestling career under WWE's developmental umbrella, so it might behoove him to get out there and work a different "style" with different sets of opponents for a little while. Management can watch him closely, and see how he handles things. If he does well, he can come back to WWE and begin to climb the proverbial ladder. If he fails, at least he fails on a smaller scale and not in front of a few million people every week. Low risk, high reward.
That's just a few of the moves I'd make. Obviously, this is a scenario that will (probably) never happen, but it doesn't hurt to think about things from time to time. What do you think of my choices? Who would you "trade" if you were running things? Do the usual and hit me up, either in the comments section below or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage).