Arn Anderson is considered one of the greatest wrestlers to never win a world title. There are some who would argue he was a better performer in the ring and a better interview than his Four Horsemen partner and best friend, Ric Flair.
Anderson isn’t the only one who never won a world title. There was Tito Santana, Don Muraco and Roddy Piper. Great performers in the ring and could cut a promo better than most who competed over a career. Professional wrestling is as political as any business – with many great superstars failing to achieve the ultimate success.
Today, WWE is the largest entity in this business. The most stable. The one with more pomp and circumstance. The brand people know worldwide. Winning the company’s top honor is just as political as it would be in any other business. For that reason, choosing the one who becomes the face of Vince McMahon’s is as precise as a surgeon making the perfect incision.
The McMahon’s took a chance by signing AJ Styles to a contract after a storied career in TNA and in Japan. The thought was Styles would first start in NXT and make his way to the main roster. After a showing at the Royal Rumble that far exceeded expectations, the plan was ditched and Styles became the best signing the company had made since bringing in CM Punk.
There are wrestlers today who could have the same kind of success Styles – the new kid on the block who took the brand by storm to become the face that runs the place.
Here are five wrestlers who are working in other promotions who could come into WWE and become a world champion.
Ethan Carter III – He is as close as a home-grown product TNA has had since the days of Bobby Roode and Eric Young. Carter is a star who actually got his start in WWE in Championship Wrestling from Florida. He is a former TNA World Champion, but began his quest to the main event in 2006. He was assigned to WWE’s developmental territories Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) and won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship with Johnny Curtis. He competed in the fourth and fifth seasons of NXT. Carter has a solid look and has improved his in-ring skills and his delivery on the mic since becoming a regular in TNA as Dixie Carter’s nephew in 2013. If Carter returned to WWE he would could be an immediate success and a challenger for either the red or blue brand titles.
Kurt Angle – The thing with Angle is he has already been at the business’s highest stage and showed he could be a world champion many time over. There has been talk for some time about the former WWE Champion making a return to the ring. And if he were to return, would he become a contender for the WWE World Title, or would he become a part of a stable that might include American Alpha. For the moment, Angle is a free agent and not looking to return to the ring anytime soon. Between WWF/WWE, TNA, and Japan, Angle has won 13 world championships and 21 total championships. He is the only professional wrestler in history to have won the WWE, World heavyweight, WCW, TNA, and IWGP world championships. It remains to be seen if he and the McMahons can work out a contract to have him end his career where it all began.
Drew Galloway – I never thought Galloway was given the opportunity he deserved in WWE. Now a fixture in TNA, Galloway has tasted victory and world title success. Once given the moniker “The Chosen One,” he never developed into the star Vince McMahon envisioned. Galloway held the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championship once each, as well as winning the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship and FCW Florida Tag Team Championship on two occasions. He is a three-time world champion, having held the TNA World Heavyweight Championship once and the ICW World Heavyweight Championship twice. Galloway was also part of a cartoonish stable of 3MB which included Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater. Galloway has a look and ability that I see as a poor-man’s Barry Windham. He could be an immediate success if he made his return to Stamford.
Cody Rhodes – At some point, I believe Rhodes makes his way back to WWE and becomes the star he should have been. The son of the late Dusty Rhodes has been traveling the promotion circuit. At 31-years-old he is still young enough to forge a lengthy title run. The well-traveled Rhodes has found plenty of success after leaving WWE. He has been a performer in WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW), for where he is the current WCPW Internet Champion, and Global Force Wrestling (GFW), where he is also the current GFW NEX*GEN Champion. Rhodes was a solid performer and had a modicum of success in WWE. Rhodes was a two-time Intercontinental Champion. As a tag team wrestler, Rhodes has won six tag team championships (three World Tag Team Championships and three WWE Tag Team Championships) with four separate tag team partners.
Jay Lethal – First, the name itself is a home run. There is a lot to like in Lethal’s performance. A star billed at 215 pounds, Lethal could become a fixture in the Cruiserweight division if he were to drop a few lbs. His mic work is on point. His ability to wrestle as a babyface or heel makes him a valuable commodity. Lethal is no stranger to winning world titles. He is a former ROH World Champion.
Lethal was also a record-setting two-time and longest reigning ROH World Television Champion holding the title for 567 days and the only man to hold the Television title concurrently with the World title. While in TNA, he was a six-time X Division Champion and a one-time World Tag Team Champion with Consequences Creed. Between ROH and TNA, Lethal has won 11 total championships.