WWE and The Indies: WWE Superstars at Indie Events

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This weekend it was announced that WWE Superstar Cedric Alexander – a standout at last year’s WWE Cruiserweight Classic who ended up getting signed and assigned to the new Cruiserweight Division and it’s spinoff show, 205 Live – was going to be appearing for indie promotion EVOLVE this weekend, replacing former Impact star Davey Richards on the cards for EVOLVE 92 and 93. And while many were shocked that WWE would allow one of their main roster stars to appear at an indie event, it’s actually been a regular occurrence for nearly a year now.

While the WWE has always allowed newly signed indie stars to finish out obligations to other promotions before starting with the WWE, such as Donovan Dijak competing at this year’s PWG Battle of Los Angeles after being signed to NXT, for years they’ve blocked their performers from taking appearances at other indie promotions while under contract to the WWE. But thanks hugely in part to working agreements with promotions like EVOLVE, ICW, PROGRESS and Ireland’s OTT, WWE is now affording their talents to make special appearances (and in most cases compete in matches) with some of these indie promotions. Here’s a look at this weekend’s match-ups for Cedric Alexander and the past year of WWE Superstars showing up at other indie promotions events while under WWE contract.

Cedric Alexander, EVOLVE 92/EVOLVE 93, September 22/23, 2017

Cedric Alexander makes his return to EVOLVE tonight and Saturday night after a brief stint with the company following his departure from Ring of Honor last year. Tonight he challenges EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. in a non-title match, while on Saturday he’s facing off against Fred Yehi.

Photo: EVOLVE

Kassius Ohno, ICW, September 17, 2017

Earlier this week, NXT’s Big Man Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) appeared on a card in Newcastle, England for Scottish promotion ICW, facing ICW Heavyweight Champion Joe Coffey in a battle of two rough and tumble brutes.

Photo: ICW

AJ Styles, NWA Wildside, September 9, 2017

AJ Styles began his wrestling career with Georgia’s NWA Wildside, long before his appearance with TNA or even WCW. It surprised everyone when the current WWE United States Champion appeared at the NWA Wildside reunion show in small town Cornelia, Georgia to pay respects to his original stomping grounds.

Jack Gallagher, PROGRESS NYC/Boston, August 12/13, 2017

205 Live star Jack Gallagher returned to his UK roots by appearing on PROGRESS’ two US dates this summer, first in New York City, then the following day in Boston. Although his New York opponent was originally a match for the WWE United Kingdom Championship against champion Pete Dunne, an injury to the “Bruiserweight” nixed that match. But Gallagher still performed, facing Zack Gibson instead in New York City, and Travis Banks the next night in Boston.

Photo: PROGRESS

Noam Dar, ICW, July 29, 2017

Scottish WWE Superstar Noam Dar returned hame to reunite with his former Pinky Party partner Sha Samuels at ICW’s Shug’s Hoose Party 3 in Glasgow, facing off against Grado and Joe Coffey. At the same event, WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne defended his WWE title against Wolfgang, Trent Seven and ICW’s BT Gunn. While Dunne is on a more open contract than the others, it was still interesting to allow Dunne to defend a WWE title outside of a WWE event.

Photo: ICW

Aleister Black and Finn Balor, PROGRESS, January 15, 2017

Photo: WWE

It was the same weekend as WWE’s UK Championship tournament (where Black appeared under his indie name of Tommy End to face Neville in a non-tournament match-up), but Black’s prior alter ego Tommy End took part in PROGRESS Chapter 42 later that same day when he answered Jimmy Havoc‘s open challenge. Finn Balor, who was also in town for the WWE event, also appeared, competing in a friendly match…of musical chairs.

Finn Balor, OTT, December 17, 2016

During Finn Balor’s time off from the injury that robbed him of his WWE Universal title, the Irish Superstar spent a lot of time back in the British Isles recuperating with family and friends. On one special night in Dublin, Ireland, Finn Balor appeared at an OTT event.

Finn Balor, ICW, November 20, 2016

Originally, Raw General Manager Mick Foley was to be a special guest for ICW’s Fear & Loathing IX in Glasgow, but had to pull out last minute. Instead, Finn Balor (again on his injury leave) filled in as the special enforcer in the main event tag match over ICW ownership, getting confrontational with current NXT Champion Drew McIntyre (then Drew Galloway).

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