The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WrestlingINC.com or its staff.
With all the talk swirling around AJ Styles' recent contract negotiations with TNA, along with the constant rumors of TNA going out of business, there is a lot of speculation about how certain TNA talents would fare if they were to go to the WWE. Nobody has any clue what the actual financial situation of TNA is, but I thought it would at least be fun to hypothetically predict how certain notable TNA talents would fare if they were eventually going to end up in the WWE.
One little note I want to make is that this breakdown is going to be restricted only towards guys who have never spent any extended time in the WWE. So there will be no breakdowns for Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Bully Ray, or even Sting for that matter because at this point, we basically all know what they can/could do in the WWE.
Roode is a guy that seems to fit the WWE mold very well. He has a great build, a masterful knowledge on in-ring psychology and can really work the microphone. Because of his look and move-set, Roode has often been compared to current WWE head-honcho Triple H, so it is possible that HHH is a big fan of Roode, and as Sheamus showed us, being on HHH's good side can get you a long way in the WWE.
Out of all TNA talent, I think that Roode is the surest thing about being the WWE. All of the other talents have a few things that could hold them back, but I don't really see any conceivable holes in Roode. At 36 he isn't necessarily a young guy, but Roode, like most of TNA's talent, has already had years of experience working on TV regularly, cutting promos and main-eventing ppvs. TNA guys would not need much time in NXT, if they need any at all. That experience factor can help nullify the age of some of the wrestlers.
Both TNA and the WWE could have had Aries before he signed with TNA for the long term in 2011. For whatever reason neither organization pulled the trigger until Aries was already 33 years old.
That being said, the emergence of Austin Aries as a potential star for TNA has been one of the few bright spots for the company over the last couple years. Aries has proven himself to be a smooth talker and a top-notch in-ring performer, and someone that had a real connection with the TNA fans, just watch Destination X 2012, which was probably TNA's finest moment in several years.
That being said, the WWE had the perfect opportunity to sign Aries, but they passed on him. This puzzled a lot of fans because Aries' ability was hardly a secret; anyone that saw him tear it up in Ring of Honor knew what he was capable of. Yet the WWE never thought about signing Aries, for one reason or another.
I personally think that the WWE may have never signed Aries because they already had CM Punk. Aries and Punk have been drawing comparisons to each other for a while, and it is obvious to see why. Both men are fantastic in-ring technicians and natural speakers on the microphone. Hell, even their facial hair is similar. In the long run, the WWE might not like to have someone encroaching on Punk's character, even if they were as talented as Aries is.
Out of all the talent that currently has never been in the WWE, Samoa Joe is probably the biggest slight. Joe's charisma, in-ring ability and intensity have made him one of the most popular wrestlers anywhere for about a decade now. Samoa Joe is the biggest star that TNA came up with that was never affiliated with a larger wrestling promotion aside from a match in WWE on Jakked, so naturally it seemed like he was going to take the next step up. Somehow, that has yet to happen. Couple that in with the fact that Joe has been basically an afterthought in TNA over the last few years and it is a real head-scratcher why Joe has yet to go somewhere else.
The obvious knock on Joe is that his physique is not what the WWE has in mind when it thinks of one of its "superstars". Of course, what Joe lacks in muscularity he makes up in almost every other category, and he is probably one of the most athletic men his size in wrestling. With the recent success of Bray Wyatt, someone built just like Joe but not nearly as athletic or versatile, perhaps the WWE can look past the pudginess of Samoa Joe.
Joe's stock in the WWE has been boosted mightily by the recent successes of both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Punk and Bryan are both among Joe's fiercest rivals from the independent circuit, and the WWE has acknowledged Joe's rivalry with both men on their website and in Punk's DVD. With Punk reported to have more of an influence backstage, it might be only a matter of time before we see the two square off again, this time in the WWE.
The man who perhaps filtered with the WWE recently re-signed with TNA for what appears to be at least through Bound For Glory in TNA. Samoa Joe may be the biggest original star TNA ever created, but AJ is still it's most identifiable face. If one man was to represent what TNA is (or more accurately, was) all about, it would be AJ Styles. Quite frankly, AJ Styles is TNA.
Unlike the men listed above him, AJ does not really have that undeniable charisma that makes him an obvious choice to be signed by the WWE. AJ just isn't on that top level with Roode and Aries and Joe. His mic-skills are just okay, and his character as never really been a major focus for his performances. What AJ does have is an unbelievable amount of wrestling talent, so much so that I personally believe that he is hands down the best pure wrester of the last decade. Even if AJ's never has the charisma to be a world champion, he at least could have great matches with a slew of the WWE's stars.
In a lot of ways, AJ is similar to Seth Rollins. Nobody raved about Rollin's microphone ability or charisma when the WWE signed him, but he has hardly been a flop in the WWE. Because of strong booking and his in-ring talent, Rollins has quickly become one of the WWE's fastest rising stars. AJ could easily fill a role similar to Rollins', so he going to the WWE, from a fan's perspective at least, is a no-brainer.
Comparatively to last year, Storm has lost a lot of momentum in TNA. He has gone from being a championship contender and main event performer to being a minor player holding a rarely defended tag-team championship. Storm's stock has been falling so fast that some people may wonder why he is even being considered here amongst TNA's most elite company. In reality though, Storm is only a little more than a year removed from being the most popular wrestler in TNA.
Storm is 36 and he doesn't have the greatest physique, but he brings a lot of other useful attributes that he brings to the table. Storm has a lot of charisma, a decent gimmick and can get a crowd behind him. He is also a versatile wrestler, capable of trading holds on the mat or brawling on the outside. Storm and Roode formed one of the most well-rounded and popular tag teams in a long time in Beer Money Incorporated, and also teamed with Chris Harris earlier in his career in America's Most Wanted, one of the founding features of TNA. Even at his age, Storm can do a lot of different things for any wrestling company, so if he ended up in the WWE, he could be very useful.
TNA has a lot of hope in Magnus, so it is unlikely to see him let go unless the company went under for real. Unlike almost every single other performer in TNA, Magnus is not 35 or older, but just 26 years old. Better year, Magnus has 10 years of experience under his belt, giving him a great combination of youth and experience. With both of those things going for him, Magnus would be a prize for any wrestling organization.
Magnus has proven himself to be an excellent in-ring technician and has good size and a good look. If you ask TNA President Dixie Carter about TNA's future, Magus's name always comes up, which shows you how much faith TNA has in the young man from England. If he ever were to become available, the WWE would probably be all over Magnus. However, Magnus is far from a slam dunk to be a huge success in the WWE. He shares a lot in common in Wade Barrett, but Barrett has really struggled in the WWE as of late. For whatever reason, the WWE is hesitant to push British Wrestlers like Barrett or William Regal, no matter how talented they are.