In the world of professional wrestling, WWE is the top of the mountain, but it’s not the only mountain in the landscape. Over the last few years the independent wrestling scene has grown, and right now it seems to be thriving.
Wrestlers such as The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes and others have proved that it’s possible for wrestlers to make big things happen without the WWE machine behind them, and it’s made the world of professional wrestling more interesting as a result.
When Cody left WWE in 2016, he took a chance on himself and it paid off big time. Here are a few more wrestlers who we think could find similar success if they put in the work and followed in his footsteps.
#5 – Neville
To be fair, Neville kind of already did leave WWE when he reportedly walked out a few months ago, so it seems that he has every intention of blazing his own trail on the independent scene.
Unfortunately for Neville, it doesn’t look like the company has any interest in letting him out of his contract, so his wrestling career is currently at a standstill.
Neville is one of the best athletes in the business right now, and even though he was one of the biggest attractions in the cruiserweight division, it’s not hard to see why working on 205 Live might not have been his cup of tea.
Neville knocked it out of the park with the opportunities he was given in WWE, and it would be nice to see him eventually seize other opportunities elsewhere.
#4 – Hideo Itami
When KENTA first signed with NXT, there was a huge buzz around him. KENTA was a big deal in Japan, but he hasn’t found the same level of success working as Hideo Itami in the United States.
It seemed like a NXT Title run was a sure thing for Hideo Itami, but unfortunately his momentum was halted by a few untimely injuries.
When he first arrived, Hideo Itami was promoted as being something special, but now he’s just another wrestler on 205 Live.
Itami wasn’t able to have the exciting NXT run that some of his peers have had, which hurt him in the long run. It’s rumored that he may be interested in returning to Japan once his WWE contract expires, and that might not be the worst move for him at this point.
#3 – Zack Ryder
In a lot of ways Zack Ryder was ahead of his time when he launched his YouTube show years ago, and unfortunately for Zack he was punished for it. After the fans demanded that Ryder get a push, WWE finally gave it to him, and then they literally had Kane push him off the stage while he was in a wheelchair.
Ryder has proved that he knows how to connect with an audience on his terms, and he seems to be pretty good at marketing himself without the WWE machine behind him.
Zack took a chance on himself when he launched his YouTube channel, and that chance paid off. Perhaps it’s time for him to take a chance on himself once again.
#2 – Daniel Bryan
First off, this doesn’t mean that we’re rooting for Daniel Bryan’s in-ring return, as that’s a decision only he can make, and we hope that he does whatever is best for his health when the time comes.
But Bryan has been pretty open about the fact that he’s interested in leaving WWE when his contract expires, and the future is wide open for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Bryan is one of the biggest stars to make it to the top of WWE over the last few years, and even though he’s not currently cleared for in-ring competition, he’s just as popular as he’s ever been.
If Daniel Bryan does decide to leave WWE later this year, it doesn’t really matter where he goes, because whatever he does is sure to create a huge buzz in the world of professional wrestling.
#1 – Dolph Ziggler
Here we go again. Will he, or won’t he leave?
It seems that every time Dolph Ziggler’s contract is nearing its end, there’s always talk about the former World Heavyweight Champion leaving the company.
Dolph himself teased a few months ago that he would have to make an important decision regarding his future soon, and it seemed that WWE tried to turn the tease into an interesting storyline when he vacated the US Title and walked out.
But Dolph then randomly appeared in the Royal Rumble match, and so far there’s been no explanation regarding where this storyline is headed.
Every time it seems that Dolph is being set up for something big, the ball gets dropped, and at this point it’s just hard to get emotionally invested in his storylines when you know they aren’t going anywhere.
Dolph Ziggler is a special talent, but there’s no reason to believe that anything is going to change in regards to his position in WWE.
He may not be a big player on SmackDown Live, but Dolph would certainly make a great addition to the NJPW roster or the ROH roster. Ziggler is the type of star that could be an interesting addition to The Bullet Club, and a run with the group would go a long way in terms of people seeing him as a serious threat once again.
One way or another, Ziggler needs to take some chances and bet on himself.