One of the most anticipated indie stars to head to the WWE over the past few years has been Ricochet, one of the most popular and explosive indie superstars of the past decade. Following the past few days out of NJPW, rumors have once again begun to circulate that Ricochet is headed to the WWE, and this time there may be some substance to it – although there has as yet been no confirmation from Ricochet’s camp or any substantial source to offer credence to these reports. But here’s a look at why many are speculating that Ricochet may indeed be headed to the WWE Performance Center sooner than many expected (NOTE: We are not confirming these rumors, merely showing the evidence presented by some speculations as to why it may be happening).
WHAT HAPPENED IN JAPAN
There were two things that happened in the past few days with NJPW, Ricochet’s Japanese home promotion, that triggered these rumors. The first was that Ricochet and his tag team partner in Funky Future, Ryusuke Taguchi, lost their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles on Monday at NJPW’s King of Pro Wrestling PPV event to the debuting Rappongi 3K. The duo of Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu, formerly known as The Tempura Boyz in Ring of Honor, returned to NJPW full time in full force as Rocky Romero‘s new students and capturing their first NJPW Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles. While this news wasn’t exactly a red light that Ricochet may be finishing up with NJPW, the resulting news shortly after seemed to light the fires.
NJPW announced their brackets for the upcoming 2017 Super Junior Tag Tournament and in a shocking twist, Funky Future was left off the list of teams entered. It would be a strange move if he was still with NJPW, as Ricochet has been a standout performer the past two years in the tournament, making it to the semi-finals last year with David Finlay, after winning the 2015 edition with Matt Sydal. Ricochet’s absence wouldn’t seem nearly as unusual if his Funky Future partner, Taguchi, wasn’t announced to be an entrant in the Super Junior Tag Tournament with a brand new partner, former ROH star ACH. While Ricochet has mentioned he’d be taking November off to rest up some niggling injuries, the Super Junior Tag has it’s preliminary matches on October 21 and 25, the semi-finals on October 30 and the finals on November 5, so he could still have performed and taken the rest of November off.
DEVIL’S ADVOCATE: NJPW has rested big stars before amid speculative times, such as Kenny Omega around Royal Rumble season this year, only for them to reappear back in the promotion. This quite easily be the case that Ricochet could return to NJPW in January, perhaps with a new tag partner, or more likely, to move to singles competition and challenge his NJPW rival Will Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title.
HIS LUCHA UNDERGROUND CONTRACT IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE
The fiasco of Lucha Underground‘s awkward contracts and the fact that no-compete clauses don’t kick in until 90 days after the Season 3 finale airs has people scrambling to find out when exactly several of LU’s stars will become available to work elsewhere. And with no sign of Season 4 beginning taping, many speculate more LU stars will be working on getting out of their contracts as well. Well, Ricochet did exercise his option to leave after Season 3 last year, but due to the no-compete clause, he can’t compete until the 90 days after the finale airs, which is this coming Wednesday. That would put his no-compete at January of 2018. While he’s allowed to appear for other indies or on iPPV, his contract forbids him from appearing on US television, such as Raw, Smackdown, NXT, Ring of Honor TV or Impact Wrestling (although a clause due to AAA and Impact’s alliance does allow him to appear on Impact, Ricochet has chosen not to go that route).
HE MENTIONED HE WAS WRAPPING UP WITH PWG
When Ricochet became the first man to win two PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournaments this past September, he mentioned that he had one goal left in PWG – to face Chuck Taylor for the PWG World Championship – before he left “to bigger and better things”. Add this to his seemingly being removed from NJPW events and it seems that perhaps his speculated destination for 2018 – Ring of Honor – is off the table. ROH has a working agreement with both NJPW and PWG, so if he was signing exclusively with ROH in January, he would still be able to perform for both companies.
DEVIL’S ADVOCATE: Ricochet was apparently in “heel mode” giving his speech about going to “bigger and better things”. He could simply have been working the crowd into believing he was pursuing the WWE after he wins a title such as PWG’s World title.
SO IS HE OR ISN’T HE?
That’s the million dollar question. WWE is definitely interested in his services – but then again, every company is interested in his services. Chances are he’s been flooded with offers (or will this week) from just about everyone and we don’t exactly have a clear direction where he’s planning on signing. As mentioned, he’s stated he’s taking November off to rest up from an exhaustive 2017 so far, but where he turns up in December is anyone’s guess. But if he is indeed finishing up with both NJPW and PWG, it would appear that ROH is no longer his prime destination. And having been able to sign with Impact Wrestling for some time now (other LU wrestlers like Johnny Mundo and Taya Valkryie have already shown up), the fact he’s decided against it would seem to indicate they are no longer in the picture. Ricochet and his girlfriend, Tessa Blanchard, both reside in Orlando – they’re roommates with WWE Superstar Apollo Crews. Blanchard has had plenty of NXT experience the past year, including participating in the inaugural Mae Young Classic. WWE would love to land both her and Ricochet and a package deal would certainly be more enticing.
So while there’s still no confirmation of his exact plans, there definitely seems to be some weight behind the speculation. We’ll just have to wait out the next few weeks until King Ricochet finally reveals his future to everyone.
What do you think? Will he be WWE bound in January 2018? Will he return to NJPW and sign with Ring of Honor? Let us know in the comments below!