Last week, Ricochet did what no wrestler in the history of PWG‘s Battle of Los Angeles accomplished – he became the tournament’s first 2x winner. While elite level superstars such as NXT’s Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly, WWE’s Sami Zayn, NJPW’s Kenny Omega and such others as Davey Richards, Low Ki and UK stars Zack Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurrl have also won it, no one has accomplished the feat twice. And not only did he do it twice, it’s his 2nd win in 4 years (he also won the 2014 edition). And while the accomplishment is one of the highest order – BOLA is stepping stone for many top indie wrestlers on their way to international success – it was Ricochet’s comments after the win that has some people buzzing. Following his win, he declared that he had his sights on one more thing to do – win the PWG World Heavyweight Championship off of mentor Chuck Taylor – before he moves on “to bigger and better things”.
BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS
So what exactly does Ricochet mean by “bigger and better things”? Granted it was in full heel mode – Chuck Taylor is as beloved as they come in PWG – but many, including Dave Meltzer recently, believe there is a spark of fire behind the smoke of those comments. With his Lucha Underground contract finished, he’s now playing the waiting game to sign on with another major promotion. Unfortunately, he has a no-compete clause that prevents him from signing until 90 days after the last episode of Season 3, which is his last (he exercised his out clause). The season 3 finale, the 4th part of Ultima Lucha Tres, is scheduled to air on October 18, 2017, just over a month away. That would mean that on January 18, 2018, Ricochet would be available to sign with any promotion he chooses. But what, realistically, are his options?
GLOBAL FORCE WRESTLING
Of the four major promotions he is expected to sign with, GFW is probably the least likely – although not because GFW wouldn’t be interested. Let’s be honest here; all four of the players in question – WWE, NJPW, Ring of Honor and Global Force Wrestling – are definitely interested in the full time services of King Ricochet. But Ricochet, like his Lucha Underground co-stars Johnny Mundo, Drago, and Taya Valkyrie, currently have the ability to work for GFW, due to GFW’s working agreement with LU’s parent company, AAA. If he was interested in heading to GFW following his LU no-compete, he’d most likely already be getting his feet wet in the company. It definitely feels like he’s holding out for other options at this point (or perhaps for GFW to stabilize a little more under Anthem).
NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING (NJPW)
Ricochet is no stranger to NJPW by any means – in fact, he’s currently one half of the NJPW Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Funky Future, alongside 6x Tag Team Champion Ryusuke Taguchi (who famously tagged with Finn Balor in Apollo 55). He’s been a stand out the past few years in NJPW’s Battle of the Super Juniors (his match last year with Will Ospreay was a MOTY candidate), and he continues to get some solid outings in Japan. But as Meltzer pointed out in his discussion on the situation, Ricochet is stuck in the Junior Heavyweight Division of the company. And while it’s booked miles above WWE’s Cruiserweight Division, it’s still a glass ceiling for the wrestlers in it. While you compete in that division, you cannot go for any of the heavyweight titles (hence the big production of Roppongi Vice breaking up as Junior Tag Team challengers in order for Trent Baretta to move up to the Heavyweight division as a singles competitor). And while Ricochet could always break off and capture his first IWGP Junior Heavyweight title (something he’s hinted at wanting), the main event for that title is already getting crowded, with current champion KUSHIDA still battling Hiromu Takahashi, plus contenders like Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr. and Will Ospreay possibly joining the hunt. And if Ricochet was indeed to move up to the Heavyweight division, he’s got the long reigning Kazuchika Okada to contend with, not to mention more established challengers such as Kenny Omega, Minoru Suzuki and more ahead of him. While he could sign a deal to stay with NJPW, it’s probably not going to be long term. He’s more likely to sign on for a year only if he can achieve his goal of winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, but he’s probably not going to hold out on getting any real shot at the IWGP Heavyweight title around Okada’s waist.
RING OF HONOR
Ring of Honor would seem to be the odds on favourite for the destination Ricochet would prefer to sign with, at least for a year or two. With ROH’s working alliances, he could still perform with PWG as well as NJPW, and could potentially see more singles hardware come his way. A run against Chuck Taylor for the PWG World title – and possibly winning it – paired with the potential to claim the ROH World Championship from Cody Rhodes (or whomever is wearing it this time next year) would be a deserving accolade for one of the indie’s greatest performers, not to mention battles who could have over the ROH Television title. It’s clear he wants to wrestle more frequently with Ring of Honor, having stated as such when it was announced that Lucha Underground contracted performers could sign for GFW earlier this year.
While purists will argue till they’re blue in the face that he should go straight to the main roster, unless your name is AJ Styles, we all know that everyone has do at least a short conditioning stint with NXT first. This isn’t due to their ability at all, but more to acclimatize themselves to the way WWE produces and films their television – everyone from AJ to Bobby Roode to Samoa Joe have stated that the camera and set-ups are vastly different and definitely take some getting used to. And there’s no reason to think that Ricochet would be any different – and quite frankly, he’d be a better fit in NXT anyway. Facing off against the potential cast of Adam Cole, Aleister Black, Kassius Ohno, Drew McIntyre and recent signees like Donovan Dijak and Lio Rush, all present great potential feuds for Ricochet. And whether it’s the WWE or NXT, consider his “freedom” date – January 18, 2017. That’s only two weeks before NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia (Saturday January 27) and the WWE Royal Rumble (Sunday January 28). Ricochet debuting at either TakeOver (or wishful thinking, as an AJ Styles type entrant in the Rumble) would be a major buzz factor. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if he holds off signing ANYWHERE when he becomes a free agent on January 18, just so that the buzz factor alone of “Could he…?” can infiltrate the hype factor (much like Kenny Omega did this past January before re-signing with NJPW).
So where do you think Ricochet will land when he’s finally free and clear from Lucha Underground? Who would you see him feud with when he’s found his new permanent home, either in ROH, GFW, NJPW or WWE/NXT? Let us know in the comments below!