One of the cool parts of wrestling for WWE fans, is guessing who will turn up next in Vince’s wacky world of entertainment. Fantasy booking is a major part of the fandom, and with WWE’s big chequebook, the fantasy often turns into reality. Cue Chris Jericho turning up in NJPW, Cody becoming a major player in ROH (and more importantly making as much money, if not more then he was before) and talk of Daniel Bryan wanting to leave WWE to go and wrestle again, it now seems the proverbial shoe is on the other foot to a degree. Thanks to the internet, wrestlers such as the young bucks are self promoting better then ever before. Add in NJPW’s steamrolling success, and a life outside of the WWE is becoming a more viable option for wrestlers again, not only for those who are stuck in lower card obscurity, but main eventers looking to branch out their legacy. Suddenly fans aren’t just fantasy booking Kenny Omega at Wrestlemania, they’re wandering what the top WWE guys would look like at the Tokyo Dome. In this list we’re looking at both WWE superstars who would perhaps benefit from jumping ship, and those who would simply just be the perfect fit for the product. Those who have had substantial tenures with NJPW in the past will be excluded from this list though, so no AJ Styles or Nakamura. With that in mind here’s ten WWE superstars that would do well in NJPW.
1. Luke Harper-
Just looking at Luke Harper stirs up images of bruiser brody and other 80s brawler heels that made it big in Japan. An incredible and highly underrated talent, he can brawl with the best but does the basics well too, plus he’s clearly got a creative streak in him just waiting to be set loose. Luke has seemed destined for that big singles (and tag team) push several times in WWE, only for it to disappear quietly each time. Part of the problem is that he’ll always be a Wyatt Family henchman in many people’s eyes. NJPW could bring about a fresh start for Harper, allowing him shine outside of his (Kayfabe) family’s shadow. He’d certainly suit some of those G1 climax arena brawls.
Probably the most likely of anyone on this list to actually step foot in an NJPW ring. Neville’s tenure in WWE has been frustrating at times, and it seems that both he and many of his fans would like to see him wrestling somewhere else. The NJPW Junior division would be a perfect fit for Neville for obvious reasons, however if his NXT days are anything to go by, he could make a go at the heavyweight division too. His snarling, brooding heel character would sit well in a group such as bullet club, especially with the whole anti-wwe narrative surrounding the group. It’s worth mentioning this tweet Marty Scrull sent out some time ago too.
Japanese fans love big guys with athletic ability, and they also love their strongmen. In Cesaro you really do get the best of both worlds. The Swing and those uppercuts would be just as over in NJPW as it is in WWE too. Now no one wants to see the Bar broken up, but with Sheamus’s injuries pilling up, and WWE’s love of breaking up teams, at some point that wonderful combination is going to end. Cesaro has always struggled to break the glass ceiling WWE have put on him, and while it’s highly unlikely he’d ever be IWGP Champion, you could certainly see him making a big run on an NJPW roster.
4. the ascension-
OK so a bit of a cheat here because it’s two wrestlers, but with these two, you’ve either got to take both or nothing. Now the ascension might not be the first WWE team you think of in a list like this, but they have been chosen here above other more popular teams, since this would be the most mutually beneficial move. The ascension are mostly thought of as a comedy side act to breezango skits these days, but as any NXT fan will tell you, there’s a lot more to these face painted warriors. They were the longest NXT champions in history, dismantling opponents week after week and simply dominating the division. Once that Main Roster call-up was made however, everything when south real fast for the duo and they’ve been toiling away on the lower reaches of the card ever since. Their jobber status in WWE means they are unlikely to ever become IWGP tag champions in NJPW, but NJPW needs teams to fill out the division and the Ascension could certainly use a restart somewhere else.
5. Seth Rollins
Nevermind the cheesy slogans, Seth ‘freakin’ Rollins is a beast in that ring, Athletic and hard hitting, with a moveset and style clearly influenced by Japanese wrestling. Seth has found a lot of success between the WWE ropes, so a move is unlikely, but it sure would be a lot of fun to see Rollins curb stomping his way through the NJPW elite. We’ve seen him have great matches with the likes of former NJPW alumni Fin Balor, one can only wander what matches against the likes of Omega, Jay White & Okada would look like.
Rusev has had some shoddy booking in the WWE, thankfully for him he’s managed to get over thanks to a meme. Think about that for a second though, Rusev a monster athlete had to rely on a meme to get over. Now Rusev day is great and all, but flashback to his early days and you may agree that Rusev the unstoppable destroyer was even better. With a fresh start in NJPW he could maybe return to being that monster again. NJPW have a lack of big men on their roster, and Rusev would be the perfect fit to rectify that.
7. Tommaso Ciampa
Does this one even need explaining? Just look at Ciampa in the ring, everything he does from the stiff kicks to the painful submissions personifies strong style. There’s a worry with ciampa that without D.I.Y he may struggle to move up the card once on the main roster, since he’s not a prototypical WWE guy. If that happens maybe NJPW would be a better fit for him. Just imagine how brutal his matches against the likes of Ishii & Suzuki would be.
8. Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe has dabbled in Puroresu before, most notably a 2007 tour cultimating in a GHC title match, against the legendary Misawa no less. It was a lot of fun then and it would be just as much fun now in NJPW. A big man who can fly with a knack for suplexing people into oblivion and choking people out, how could you not want to see this?
9. Hideo Itami
The man once know as KENTA has suffered a string of bad luck since coming to WWE. Injuries have sidelined him time and time again, damaging his momentum. He’s now set for a run in the Cruiserweight division, but many feel the former GHC Champion deserves better then that. If he were to return to Japan, a return to NOAH would be the most likely choice of promotion. A lot has changed in the last four years though, and there’s always the chance he might consider NJPW instead, even if only as a freelancer.
10. John Cena
OK, hold up, just wait a second and hear this one out. Yes John Cena, the face of the WWE, the one wearing the Jorts and the brightly coloured wristbands. The disciplined company man lives breathes and dies WWE. John Cean however, at heart, is a wrestling fan. Just go watch an interview featuring this man and you can clearly see he has a passion for the sport. Like Jericho he’s all in a WWE guy and also like Jericho he certainly doesn’t need the money or recognition. The fact is though, deep down he’d probably really like to, if only for one big Tokyo Dome match. We all know who he would be facing too, the ace of NJPW- Hiroshi Tanahashi. Their career’s almost mirror each other in many way: both have dominated their brands biggest show (Mania & Wrestlekingdom) for over ten years each, both have dominated the world title scene in their respective promotions and both are seen as men who carried said promotions on their backs through difficult times. John Cena’s style isn’t really a good fit for a NJPW ring but that doesn’t matter, it would be a spectacle like no other.
Agree with this list? Which WWE superstars do you think would fit the NJPW product? Comment below! If you enjoyed this list don’t forget to like and share.