The influx of talent to WWE has been happening for years now. From Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, and Kevin Owens from the independents to Finn Balor, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura from New Japan and Bobby Roode from TNA/IMPACT, WWE has been absorbing talent at a ridiculous rate since 2013.
While that new talent has squeezed out the likes of Ryback and Wade Barrett and saturated the rosters, there is seemingly no end to the thirst of WWE for new talent. That thirst is potentially about to land the biggest fish in the independent scene. Ricochet.
Who is Ricochet?
Born October 11, 1988, Ricochet is arguably the best high flyer in wrestling today. That title alone should bring a lot of expectations, and yet he is so much more than that too. Technically savvy, a good striker, endlessly charismatic… Ricochet is the total package.
Making his debut in 2003, he is also insanely experienced. He has been working in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) since 2010, a promotion that has had champions from Zayn and Owens to current NXT stars Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, and Adam Cole. He is the only man to win their “Battle of Los Angeles” tournament twice. He has been working in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) since 2013, winning the Junior Heavyweight tag titles on multiple occasions as well as being one of only a handful on gaijin to win the Best of Super Junior tournament.
His athleticism is otherworldly, but as I said he is so much more than just a flippy-doo wrestler. Capable of holding his own in mat work with Zack Sabre Jr and of striking in Japan, he has gotten over wherever he has worked and has been one of the most consistent draws on the indie circuit in the last few years.
Why was he still unsigned?
His contract with NJPW has always prevented him from signing with WWE, but that is a rolling one-year deal. The biggest barrier to his entry was a deal signed with Lucha Underground.
A seven-year deal with an opt-out after three, Ricochet was tied to the unique and wonderful promotion from it's inception. He was strongly positioned in Lucha Underground though, becoming it's inaugural champion and really being the face of the first season. Working under a mask as Prince Puma, he was the underdog babyface being mentored by Konnan, and it worked wonderfully. However, the constraints of the contract and the hard recording schedule wore on him.
Ricochet had to miss NJPW's G1 Special in Long Beach this year as his deal prevented him working televised matches on US soil for another promotion. He cut a promo there all-but confirming his displeasure with Lucha Underground.
With the airing of the finale of Lucha Underground season three last night, Ricochet's 90-day non-compete is now ticking, meaning we could see him in WWE in time for WrestleMania season.
How would Ricochet fit in WWE?
Only AJ Styles and the tag team of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have forgone NXT, so you would have to think that he would head to Orlando for a while. Having just turned 29 time is certainly on his side as well.
How long he stays there would really depend on Vince McMahon. Kevin Owens was barely in NXT six months before his 'promotion'. Conversely Finn Balor was there for some 18 months.
Ricochet would technically qualify for 205 Live, but that would be a huge waste of his talents. While he would certainly put on quality matches with Kalisto, Rich Swann, and the others (not you Enzo!), it would severely limit his potential. He is a Finn Balor-Seth Rollins type star in the making, and to immediately impose a ceiling on his position on the card and his championship potential would be deeply foolish. But when has that stopped WWE from doing something?
I'm sure Ricochet will be just as anxious to avoid the fate of Neville and Austin Aries, especially given his reputation for flips and cruiser/junior work.
Ricochet finally won the PWG World Championship at All Star Weekend 13 after defeating now former champion Chuck Taylor. Several reports from the show indicated that Ricochet, who worked that event as a heel, berated the crowd after the match about being wrong about him. He insisted that he's going nowhere and that winning the belt proves this. However, there's still speculation that this is a going away present from the place he really established himself as an elite player in world wrestling.
He has already given a farewell speech in NJPW, though his 90-days does extend past the January 4 Tokyo Dome show, so he could still appear at Wrestle Kingdom XII.
Whatever happens with Ricochet over the next few weeks and months, his talent is undeniable and if he ends up coming to WWE then I hope they find a place for him atop the NXT mountain and on the main roster. The world needs to see him take on AJ Styles, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins.
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