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Pro Wrestling: The Sweet 16

This one is for all the pro wrestling fans out there: Pretend a billionaire benefactor gives you the ability to start your own wrestling company. (Hey, part of being a wrestling fan is having the ability to suspend belief, so work with us here.) You have a sizable operating budget and a cable television deal in place. All you need now is a roster of wrestlers.

If you had the ability to hire any wrestlers from around the world to start your company, who would you choose? (Your selections are limited to active performers, so that would leave out The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and other retired stars.) We came up with 16 wrestling talents we’d want to have to make our company a success. It’s a mix of established stars and promising newcomers; powerhouses and aerial artists; and in-ring technicians and larger-than-life personalities. Here’s our sweet sixteen:

1. ROMAN REIGNS – “The Big Dog” will rule this yard. Has the size, look, physique and skill set to be the centerpiece of this company. He is said to be an excellent leader in the locker room.

2. SASHA BANKS – Becky Lynch is on maternity leave, but even if she were available, Sasha would be out top choice to lead our women’s division. She’s got the mat skills and charisma to be a featured performer for years to come.

3. KENNY OMEGA – He’s known as the “Best Bout Machine” for a reason. We’d want our promotion to be known for great wrestling, so Omega would be a lock to be a part of this roster.

4. KAZUCHIKA OKADA – This Japanese superstar might be the best all-around talent in the business today. The popular Okada would add an international flavor to our lineup. His rivalry with Omega has produced some of the most epic matches in the history of the industry. Check out these highlights from one of their matches:

5. CODY RHODES – The son of the legendary “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes has forged his own path in wrestling. Known as the “American Nightmare,” Cody has a brilliant mind for the business and has his old man’s gift of gab.

6. THE YOUNG BUCKS – Some traditionalists don’t like their acrobatic style, but we think it has a place in today’s wrestling. Matt and Nick Jackson are wildly entertaining and would be a focal point of our tag team division. (And yes, we are counting tag teams as a single talent.)

7. FTR – Meet the “anti-Young Bucks.” Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood are old-school wrestlers and a Tag Team Machine. Their battles against the Bucks would be instant classics.

8. DARBY ALLIN – He’s young, enigmatic and simply unique. His style of wrestling borders on reckless at times, but there’s no denying his growing popularity with the younger crowd.

9. JEFF COBB – Again, our company would want the best athletes, and you don’t get more athletic than “Mr. Athletic” himself, Hawaii’s own Jeff Cobb. Check out highlights of a past Cobb-Allin match:

10. TESSA BLANCHARD – The daughter of wrestling legend Tully Blanchard, Tessa is probably the best female wrestler who isn’t in the WWE right now. She made a name for self in Impact Wrestling when she won the men’s world title by beating Sami Callihan. Tough, talented and driven. Here’s a recap of her history-making win:

11. KEITH LEE – The current NXT champion is still just scratching the surface of his potential. The burly strongman would be a big part of our company, wowing audiences with his power moves and natural charisma.

12. NICK ALDIS – Aldis is the current NWA champion and, more than any other wrestler today, carries himself like a champion. Even on this loaded talent roster, Aldis would distinguish himself as one of the elites.

13. MJF – Every wrestling promotion needs a bad guy – a smart-mouthed villain who makes you want to slap him silly. Maxwell Jacob Friedman is today’s version of Roddy Piper. Check out this past interview and see for yourself:

14. WILL OSPREAY – This performer from the U.K. may be the most skilled aerial artist in the business today. He’s not just a “spot monkey,” either, as Ospreay has shown time and again in Japan. Simply one of the best in the business.

15. REY FENIX – This dynamic luchadore is his generation’s answer to the great Rey Misterio Jr. His moves off the ring ropes must be seen to be believed. We’d want our company to employ several of the great stars from Mexico, but Fenix would be at the very top of our wish list.

16 – AJ STYLES – The veteran. Even at age 43, Styles can still go hold for hold with the best wrestlers in the world. We’d want him around to have dream matches against the likes of Omega, Rhodes, Ospreay and Cobb. His years of experience would also be invaluable to help the younger stars of our company.

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