State of major U.S. non-WWE promotions and their rosters
Everyone and their mother knows that WWE has the most stacked roster in the world both by talent and sheer numbers with well over 100 contracted wrestlers across 4-5 different brands and two different PCs.
But what about the other major promotions, aka the other big players in the U.S. behind the E? Let's take a closer look.
AEW: Obviously the new kid on the block and with tons of investment behind them, but I'd say AEW have assembled a pretty damn good roster considering they're just 9 months into their existence, haven't had a TV show yet, and the limited options they had to pick people up in this time frame. Their tag division is probably the best anywhere right now, including WWE, with teams like YB, Lucha Bros, Best Friends, Ortiz & Santana, SCU, and others making up that scene. No debate that's the strongest area of their roster.
The singles and women's divisions, however, could use some more polishing. I've seen claims that they don't have enough name power in their ranks to draw in new and/or lapsed fans, but as mentioned earlier, their options have been limited with most big names tied down to WWE, NJPW, or elsewhere at the moment. And yet still, they could form a main event scene with guys like Cody, Omega, PAC, Jericho, and Moxley with others like MJF and Page having the potential to enter that group eventually as well. Could they use more big names? Absolutely. But what they have at the moment is not bad for a start up company and you can be sure that things will look a lot better in 2-3 years time if this project turns out to be a success.
The women's division only really has Baker, Kong, Priestley, and Rose in the way of real talent, as well as a few of the Joshi girls who don't really stick out at first sight even if they are very good. Not sure what they could do to address this when the pool of options isn't too deep so I guess they just have to work with what they have and if the opportunity comes up to sign someone like a Tessa Blanchard or Sasha Banks, they need to jump all over it.
IMPACT: They've lost a lot of key players this year, but still have a nice looking roster at first glance. In the singles division, you have guys like Callihan, Mack, Swann, Cage, Crist, Elgin, and Edwards and underneath them you have Moose, Daga, and Austin. Not bad at all.
The tag division has oVe, The North, and The Rascalz, not sure what else, so that does need work as they are lacking depth since the departures of LAX and the Lucha Bros. The women's division has Tessa, Taya, Grace, and Dashwood as their main players, plus a few gimmicks, not bad as they're in a similar boat to AEW there despite having far less resources to work with but again, could be better.
With the forthcoming move to AXS TV and the exposure they'll get with that move, plus their link with OVW, they should have better chances of keeping their top talent and even adding on to that roster they already have. It all depends on Anthem and how much they're willing to invest in the end, but judging by recent events, it seems like they're serious about making Impact the #3 promotion in the U.S. again and that can only bode well for the promotion going forward.
NJPW: Probably possess the best singles division in the industry behind WWE with so many names like Okada, Ibushi, Naito, Tanahashi, Ospreay, Sabre, and many others in their ranks. Their biggest weakness has to be their tag division though which isn't really much at the moment beyond Evil/Sanada and G.O.D. Not really sure who they could pick up to improve that realistically so they may just have to create and experiment with different pairings from the people they have to strengthen this area. All in all though, even with the departure of the Elite and a few others earlier this year, their roster is still in fantastic shape and their product shouldn't suffer going forward, although their popularity in other parts of the world may wane without those guys. But then again they have options to use Jericho and Moxley so maybe that bridges that gap anyways. Who knows.
ROH: They are really struggling from a business and fan interest perspective with so much buzz going on elsewhere, but they still have a solid roster of people with guys like Lethal, Rush, Bandido, Scurll, Cobb, Gordon, Castle, Brody, the Briscoes, and others there. What kills them is the garbage WOH division which probably won't improve any time soon, Bully Ray's involvement in every show which is beyond played out at this point, and Delirious' questionable booking like the ROH portion of G1 Supercard showed. I'm not sure where they go from here with practically no momentum while other companies are making moves and picking up steam. It'll be hard to regain fan interest and retain their top assets the way things are going and with Sinclair not looking like they're really interested in making changes to improve the situation, it may not be long before we see ROH fold or mesh with another promotion altogether because it's difficult to see where they fit in the U.S. wrestling landscape at this point in time. Especially if their partnership with NJPW gets cut in the future which, the way things are going, might be a very likely course of action for the Japanese.
MLW: The promotion that was brought back to life 2 years ago and has slowly grown and steadily climbed up the ranks since. They have a weekly show on beIN Sports, an increasing number of partnerships with other companies, and are preparing to produce their first ever PPV in just over a month's time. They've provided a good platform for people like MJF to showcase their talents on a televised program and they still have a good roster intact with the likes of Fatu, Lawlor, Hammerstone, Aries, and others there. It's hard to say how far MLW can go on a business level, but if they keep growing at the pace they have been since their revival, they could definitely at least be a healthy 3rd/4th option for wrestlers around the world to go to behind the big guns in the country.
NWA: This one's hard to really analyze because no one really knows what their roster actually looks like and what the plans Corgan has in store there. But they're doing tapings for a TV show this week, something you'd have been laughed at if you suggested that a year ago. Hell, even 3 months ago. Their insistence on bringing back studio and 80s style wrestling makes them intriguing as they could offer something different to the rest on the table and we at least know that guys like Drake, Aldis, and Kingston will be there so not a bad platform to build upon. The rest is merely a guessing game right now as we wait on them to kick start their new journey.
What do you guys think? How do you view the state of each company and national pro wrestling in the U.S. as a whole right now and going forward?