WWE Draft Free-Agent Signings, NXT Japan Rumor, Usos and Naomi Update

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2019

TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 29: Cesaro enters the ring during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 29, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe. 

WWE Announces Brands for Draft Free Agents

On Wednesday, WWE announced where several of the Superstars who went unselected in the WWE draft will compete for the foreseeable future.

No Way Jose, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, The IIconics and Sarah Logan were placed on Raw, while Luke Harper, Cesaro, Drake Maverick, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville and Dana Brooke were signed to SmackDown.

While many of the Superstars who went undrafted are mid-to-low card performers currently, some newsworthy moves were made.

Perhaps most notable is the fact that Harper was put on SmackDown after Erick Rowan was drafted to Raw. Harper returned a few weeks ago to aid Rowan in his feud with Roman Reigns, but after Rowan and Harper lost to Reigns and Daniel Bryan at Hell in a Cell, the team was apparently dissolved.

Since Harper was off television for months until he reunited with Rowan, it is fair to wonder if a similar fate awaits him once again.

Other key moves include The IIconics going to Raw where they can possibly feud with The Kabuki Warriors in an effort to win back the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships, and Maverick going to SmackDown, which means he is no longer on the same brand as 24/7 champion R-Truth and could mark the end of his pursuit of that title.

Cesaro is arguably the biggest name of the bunch, and now that he is on SmackDown, the possibility of matches against the likes of Bryan, Ali, Shinsuke Nakamura, Chad Gable and other strong workers is present.

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WWE Reportedly Interested in Creating NXT Japan Brand

WWE is reportedly attempting to launch an NXT Japan brand similar to its NXT UK brand.

According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), WWE has even attempted to buy a Japanese promotion to aid in the launch of NXT Japan, and discussions were reportedly had with Pro Wrestling NOAH, although no deal was reached.

Meltzer added that WWE is reportedly trying to sign some Japanese talent to work as trainers for NXT Japan, and he specifically mentioned WWE targeting two top Japanese talents, but didn't provide the names.

With NXT UK, WWE has significantly increased its reach by signing some of the top stars in the United Kingdom to appear on the brand. They have even held two of their own TakeOver events with stars like Walter, Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley appearing on them.

If WWE can do something similar with Japan, it may allow the company to be legitimate competition in the country to the likes of New Japan Pro Wrestling or Pro Wrestling NOAH.

Even if a potential NXT Japan brand just becomes a breeding ground for young Japanese wrestling talent, it could be a major coup for WWE and shake up the dojo system that has existed in Japanese wrestling for many years.

WWE Reportedly Has No Imminent Plans for Usos, Naomi to Return

After they weren't included in the WWE draft, there are reportedly no immediate plans in place for The Usos and Naomi to return to WWE programming.

According to Meltzer (h/t Felix Upton of Ringside News), there is "no creative for them nor return date, nor a decision regarding which brand they will be with."

None of them have appeared on WWE TV since shortly after Jimmy Uso was arrested for DUI in July. It marked Jimmy's second arrest in five months as he was previously arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice during a traffic stop while his wife, Naomi, was driving.

The Usos last wrestled on the July 29 edition of Raw, losing to Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a Raw Tag Team Championship match that also included The Revival.

Naomi's last bout was on the July 22 edition of Main Event, and her most recent appearance on a major show was a Fatal 4-Way match involving Natalya, Alexa Bliss and Carmella on the July 15 Raw.

The Usos are one of the preeminent tag teams in wrestling, and they would undoubtedly provide a major boost to the Raw or SmackDown tag team divisions, especially against new opponents such as the Raw Tag Team champion Viking Raiders or AOP when they return to in-ring competition.

Naomi is a former SmackDown Women's champion who could add depth to the women's division on either show. She is also a babyface with some credibility, which is largely lacking in the women's divisions currently aside from Becky Lynch.

The sooner The Usos and Naomi return, the better it will be for WWE's tag team and women's divisions as a whole.


Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).

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