There are several WWE Superstars today from the independent scene. Given how the independent wrestling scene evolved from 2010 onwards, several Superstars were WWE-ready well before they were signed.
This list focuses on many such Superstars who could have actually been with WWE longer before they actually ended up signing with the promotion.
#8. Daniel Bryan - signed with WWE in 2000 and 2009
Daniel Bryan was technically signed to a WWE developmental deal in 2000 and even had a match against John Cena before his departure in 2003. After that, he became one of the pillars of Ring of Honor, where he helped take the relatively new promotion to new heights.
At its peak, Ring of Honor had the best in-ring product in wrestling, and Daniel Bryan (then called by his real name Bryan Danielson) was also one of the most highly-touted stars in the independent scene.
In 2009, Daniel Bryan signed with WWE again, being a part of NXT in its infancy stage. He was a part of the famous Nexus invasion angle in 2010 but was infamously fired by WWE after choking announcer Justin Roberts too hard in the segment.
It didn't take too long for WWE to re-hire him, and since then, he has been one of the most integral stars of the company. A consistent main-event-level star, Daniel Bryan was one of the people credited for WWE changing their perception about smaller-sized wrestlers.
While Daniel Bryan may have been hired by WWE in 2000 at first, it didn't seem like the right time. The six years he spent on the independent scene is what made him one of wrestling's top talents. Daniel Bryan was ready for WWE even by 2005 when he had begun his 15-month reign as ROH World Championship.
But in hindsight, it's good that he wasn't signed by WWE then. Being ready for WWE doesn't mean that he would have thrived, especially in the midst of the Ruthless Aggression era, where big men still dominated the main event scene.