Best wrestlers of all time not WWE include Kenny Omega, Jay Lethal, Kazuchika Okada, Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay and Tessa Blanchard.

WWE has risen to global fame garnering a huge fan base across continents with a rich history spanning more than seven decades since the 1950s.

The company has become a powerhouse in the pro wrestling industry, eminent for its high-energy and dramatic matches and featuring some of the world's most skilled wrestlers like Brock Lesnar, Hulk Hogan, Rey Mysterio, and many others.

However, not all professional wrestlers compete exclusively in WWE. Many of them have made their names in other wrestling companies, such as AEW, NJPW, TNA, ROH, etc.

Some wrestlers possess splendid drawing power, capable of attracting substantial numbers of fans and viewers. This can significantly impact WWE and other promotions, increasing ticket sales, TV ratings, and overall revenue.

We have listed the 12 best wrestlers of all time who were never associated with WWE yet attained significant accomplishments over the years.

12. Akira Hokuto

Akira Hokuto began her wrestling career with AJW when she was just 18 years old. She was recognized as a standout performer, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1985. 

Hokuto later made her U.S. debut in 1995 at the World War 3 event, where she teamed up with Bull Nakano and won the match. In 1996, Hokuto left AJW to join Gaea Japan, a new promotion started by Chigusa Nagayo. 

(Left) Sonny Onoo with WCW Women’s Champion Akira Hokuto
Source : instagram

Despite the traditional belief in Japan that female wrestlers should retire when they marry and start a family, Akira returned to the ring in 1999 and won the AAAW Tag Team Championship in 2000 with Mayumi Ozaki. 

Her remarkable talent and contributions to wrestling were acknowledged in 2000 with her induction into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. Some of her notable championships are: 

  • AJW Junior Championship
  • CMLL World Women's Championship
  • AAAW Tag Team Championship
  • WCW Women's Championship
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2020

11. Magnum TA

Magnum TA also known as Terry Allen started his wrestling career in 1978 by joining the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). 

He competed for the Championship Wrestling from Florida and the Pacific Northwest (PNW) territories and won the Global Tag Team Championship five times while in the CWF. 

In 1984, Jim Crockett Promotions of the National Wrestling Alliance signed Allen. After his debut, Magnum started a feud with Wahoo McDaniel and won the US Heavyweight Championship from him on March 23, 1985. 

(Right) Magnum TA with the NWA United States Heavyweight Title (Mid Atlantic Version)
Source : instagram

Magnum retired from wrestling in 1986 and worked as a commentator for the NWA, UWF, and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Allen also served as a manager for Rhodes and Koloff at different points in his career.

Some of his notable accomplishments throughout his career are listed below;

  • Five-time NWA Florida Global Tag Team Championship
  • Two-times NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: 2 times
  • Two-times Mid-South North American Championship: 2 times
  • Two-times Mid-South Tag Team Championship: twice
  • Ranked No. 73 of the "PWI Years" 500 best singles wrestlers in 2003
  • Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2020

10. Tessa Blanchard

Tessa Blanchard is a former Impact Knockouts champion. She worked as a stunt double in the movie Fighting with My Family made about the life of former WWE wrestler Paige

Blanchard entered the wrestling industry in 2014, performing for various independent promotions before signing with Impact Wrestling in 2018. She quickly gained notoriety within the company, achieving the title of Impact Knockouts Champion in 2019. 

Additionally, Blanchard became the first-ever winner of an all-women's pay-per-view event, Impact Wrestling's "Hard to Kill," in January 2020.

Tessa's portrait captured by Kelly Chad Cooper in July 2022
Source : instagram

Before joining Impact Wrestling, Blanchard wrestled for multiple other promotions, including World Wonder Ring Stardom, where she won the World of Stardom Championship in 2019, and Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, where she became the Reina de Reinas Champion in 2019.

Nevertheless, Blanchard also appeared in WWE, competing in her first in-ring match for NXT on April 2, 2016, which she lost to Alexa Bliss. On May 4 of that year, Blanchard also fought Nia Jax but was defeated.

On the other hand, some of her achievements are: 

  • APWA World Ladies Championship
  • ECWA Women's Championship
  • Impact World Championship
  • AAA Reina de Reinas Championship
  • Ranked No. 83 in the PWI 500 singles wrestlers in 2020
  • Ranked No. 2 among the top 10 women's wrestlers in 2019
  • WOW World Championship 

9. Will Ospreay

Will Ospreay is the former and longest-reigning undisputed British Heavyweight Champion. He is the leader of the United Empire stable signed to NJPW. 

The 6 feet 1 inches tall Ospreay started his wrestling career performing on the UK independent circuit in 2015. In 2015, he began working for the Japanese promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) after being recommended by AJ Styles.

One of the best wrestlers not in WWE Will Ospreay debuted in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in 2015 and quickly became known for his electrifying wrestling style.

(Right) Will with his Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship in 2020
Source : instagram

In 2016, Will won the Best of the Super Juniors tournament by defeating top wrestlers such as Ricochet, KUSHIDA, and Kyle O'Reilly. He also became the youngest wrestler to ever hold the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at 23 years old.

Some of his notable championships are:

  • Progress Tag Team Championship
  • ROH World Television Championship
  • WCPW Tag Team Championship
  • SWE Speed King Championship
  • Ranked No. 7 in the PWI 500 singles wrestlers in 2021
  • Ranked No. 5 as the top 10 wrestlers in 2022

8. Jeff Cobb

Jeff Cobb is a two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion who transited as a pro wrestler in 2009. Cobb represented Guam in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens Greece. 

Listed as one of the top all-time not WWE wrestlers, Cobb has worked for various wrestling promotions, including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), Lucha Underground, and Impact Wrestling.

Jeff signed with Ring of Honor in 2018 and won the ROH World Television Championship in his debut match against Punishment Martinez.

In 2019, Cobb debuted in NJPW and gained a significant fan following. He won the NEVER Openweight Championship by defeating Will Ospreay in the main event of the G1 Climax that same year.

Cobb clutching NEVER Open Weight Championship won in 2019
Source : instagram

Cobb signed with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) in 2020 and has been a regular roster member ever since.

On the March 29, 2023, edition of Dynamite, Cobb returned to AEW programming and challenged Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, he lost the match.

His notable achievements till date include;

  • AAW Tag Team Championship
  • APW Universal Heavyweight Championship
  • CCW Tag Team Championship
  • Lucha Underground Championship
  • Ranked No. 23 in the PWI 500 singles wrestlers in 2019
  • ROH World Television Championship

7. Tetsuya Naito

Tetsuya Naito has achieved great success since starting his professional wrestling career in 2005. He joined New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2006. 

Naito's success in wrestling can be attributed to his distinctive style and magnetic personality. However, his journey to the top of NJPW was not without challenges. In 2016, he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship but relinquished the title due to a knee injury.

Despite returning to the ring later that year, he could not reclaim the championship until 2019, when he defeated Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 13.

(Right) Naito's picture from July 2018 while donning the formal attire
Source : twitter

On January 4, 2020, Naito won the Intercontinental Championship. The following night, he defeated Okada and became the first person to hold both the Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships simultaneously.

Over the years, Naito has become one of the most popular and successful wrestlers in NJPW. Some of his notable accolades are listed below:

  • IWGP Heavyweight Champion (2 times)
  • IWGP Intercontinental Champion (5 times)
  • IWGP Tag Team Champion (1 time)
  • G1 Climax winner (2 times)

6. Kazuchika Okada

Kazuchika Okada is a five time IWGP Heavyweight Champion signed to NJPW. He made his professional debut in 2004 aganist Negro Navarro. 

Okada's rise to the top of NJPW was meteoric. He won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the first time in 2012, defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi in a highly acclaimed match. 

He has won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship a record-setting five times, as well as myriad other championships in NJPW and other promotions.

Kazuchika as the PR ambassador for Dudian City in May 2022
Source : instagram

In addition to his in-ring success, Okada has also been acknowledged for his contributions to the sport of professional wrestling.

He has been named the "Wrestler of the Year" by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter four times and has been inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2021. 

Besides, a list of his major accomplishments and championships are: 

  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
  • IWGP Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
  • NJPW G1 Climax (2012, 2014, 2021, 2022)
  • Ranked No. 4 as the top 10 male wrestlers in 2019
  • Ranked No. 1 as top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2017
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2021

5. The Young Bucks

The Young Bucks are a professional wrestling tag team consisting of two brothers, Matthew and Nicholas Massie. They are notable for their acrobatic and high-flying style of wrestling.

The brothers, recognized as pioneers of a new era in wrestling,  gained popularity for their performances in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Ring of Honor, where they joined the Bullet Club faction alongside Kenny Omega, Marty Scrull, and Cody Rhodes.

The Young Bucks have competed for many wrestling promotions, including All Elite Wrestling (AEW), where they also hold the position of executive vice president. 

The Young Bucks striking pose with their AEW World Championship in June 2022
Source : instagram

Likewise, they have won multiple championships, including the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, the ROH World Tag Team Championship, and the AEW World Tag Team Championship.

Additionally, they have won several tournaments, such as the DDT4 tag team tournament and the Super J-Cup. Some of their championships and accomplishments are: 

  • AEW World Tag Team Championship (2 times)
  • AWS Tag Team Championship (1 time)
  • Open the United Gate Championship (1 time)
  • FWE Tag Team Championship (1 time)
  • Ranked  No. 1 in the PWI Tag Team 50 in 2021
  • WSW Tag Team Championship (1 time)

4. Zack Sabre Jr.

Zack Sabre Jr. is signed to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) as a member of The Mighty Don't Kneel stable. 

Sabre Jr. has been ranked as one of the best wrestlers not in WWE by various publications, including Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

The 35-year-old began his wrestling training at 14 with NWA-UK Hammerlock, where he learned the fundamentals of catch wrestling.

Zack has credited his success to his rigorous training regimen, which includes weightlifting, cardio, and yoga, as well as his dedication to improving his technique.

(Right) Zack clutching his NJPW World Championship in 2022
Source : twitter

Besides, Sabre Jr. has won multiple championships in various promotions, including the RevPro British Heavyweight Championship, the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Championship, the Evolve Championship, and the NJPW Junior Heavyweight Championship.

He has also won several tournaments, including the 2015 PWG Battle of Los Angeles and the 2018 New Japan Cup; some are listed below. 

  • Defiant/WCPW Internet Championship (1 time)
  • GSW Breakthrough Championship (1 time)
  • IPW: UK Tag Team Championship (2 times)
  • NWA United Kingdom Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • PWF Middleweight Championship (1 time)
  • British Heavyweight Championship (4 times)

3. Kota Ibushi

Kota Ibushi started his career in Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) in 2004. He has worked for various promotions, including NJPW.

Ibushi signed with DDT in 2009 and became a multi-time DDT KO-D Openweight Champion and Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion. He also wrestled for NJPW part-time and signed a full-time contract in 2013. 

In NJPW, Ibushi won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship twice and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship thrice. He has faced top stars such as Kazuchika Okada and Shinsuke Nakamura in high-profile matches. 

Ibushi holding his championship title while pictured in Februray 2021
Source : twitter

Ibushi has won multiple championships, including the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He has won the G1 Climax back-to-back, which is a rare feat. 

His major achievements in professional wrestling are:

  • NJPW Wrestler of the Year (2018)
  • IMGP World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship (3 times)
  • KO-D Tag Team Championship (5 times)
  • Ranked No. 6 in the ITR 50 in 2020

2. Jay Lethal

Jay Lethal began his wrestling career in 2001, wrestling in independent promotions in New Jersey. Jay made his debut for Ring of Honor in 2003. 

Lethal has won several championships, including the ROH World Championship, the TNA X Division Championship, and the TNA World Tag Team Championship. 

Lethal holding his ROH World Championship in 2005
Source : instagram

Besides, the 37-year-old is known for his Machismo gimmick, which he used to great comedic effect in segments with wrestling legends like Ric Flair. In 2021, Lethal signed with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and debuted on AEW Dynamite. 

Additionally, here are some achievements and honors he received throughout his career:

  • TNA World Tag Team Championship
  • MWF Television Championship
  • JAPW Tag Team Championship
  • FWE Heavyweight Championship
  • Ranked No. 5 in the PWI 500 singles wrestlers in 2016

1. Kenny Omega

AEW Kenny Omega is a professional wrestler born in Canada. Omega debuted in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) in 2010. 

He won his first major championship in NJPW in 2014 as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Kenny teamed up with Kota Ibushi as "The Golden Lovers" and twice won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. 

Omega left NJPW in 2019 to co-found and compete in All Elite Wrestling (AEW), where he has twice won the AEW World Championship.

However, in 2021, the 6 feet tall athlete took a break from competing due to injuries and had to undergo hernia and knee surgeries, per Bleacher Report

(Left) Omega pictured with his Heavyweight Championship
Source : instagram

Omega is an executive vice president and wrestler at All Elite Wrestling (AEW), a wrestling promotion he helped establish in 2019. He is rightly regarded as one of the best wrestlers globally, having achieved significant success outside of WWE.

Some of his notable achievements are stated below;

  • AEW World Championship
  • World Junior Heavyweight Championship
  • DDT Extreme ChampionshipImpact World Championship
  • JAPW Heavyweight Championship
  • IWGP Heavyweight Championship
  • AAA Mega Championship
  • Ranked No. 1 in the PWI 500 male singles wrestlers in 2018 and 2021
  • Ranked No. 2 among the top 10 men's wrestlers in 2018