The backstage life in WWE will see wrestlers have to find a good storyline to maintain success on television. A good story allows a performer to shine and keeps fans entertained. If the storyline is bad, it may hurt the wrestler’s momentum and take away from their credibility. One of the biggest complaints is that WWE wrestlers no longer take risks or speak up for themselves when it comes to poor writing. The lack of competition means WWE is the one place you will guaranteed make good money in wrestling. However, a few wrestlers have gone out of their way to shut down a story in this time frame.
We will look at some of the wrestlers that felt their angles weren’t good enough to represent them on WWE television. The stories range from wrestlers walking out in anger to just politely suggesting another idea. It takes a lot of guts to stand against Vince McMahon with little leverage, but these wrestlers felt it was important. Many legends like Steve Austin and Chris Jericho state that saying no to bad ideas is effective to success in wrestling. The following fifteen wrestlers believe that as they turned down storylines pitched to them backstage in WWE.
15 Kevin Owens not wanting to join League of Nations
The League of Nations is barely remembered as the stable turned out to be a massive flop. Upper card performers from various countries outside of the United States such as Rusev, Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio worked together as a heel faction. A short feud with Roman Reigns saw them move down the card and become glorified enhancement talents.
Kevin Owens was sick the night the faction was born and had to miss the show. Various insiders reported that Owens was supposed to join the group as the last member. Owens reportedly didn’t want to join the following week as it made no sense to be the only extra member to join a week later. Maybe he was smart enough to realize this was a lost cause as his career has thrived while the others have fallen drastically since the League of Nations flop.
14 Chris Jericho not returning to face Finn Balor at TLC
The dream match between A.J. Styles and Finn Balor was one of the best WWE matches of 2017. Styles came over to the Raw PPV from SmackDown as a replacement for the ill Bray Wyatt. No one would wish illness on Wyatt, but fans weren’t complaining about getting to see Balor and Styles battle it out in a match between two former Bullet Club members.
Vince McMahon originally wanted Chris Jericho to face Balor rather than Styles. Jericho was called and pitched the idea of having the one-off match with Finn at TLC. The storyline of it just being a cool match with nothing at stake convinced Jericho to shut it down. Jericho was in the middle of his Fozzy tour and thought it was better to avoid this return. Instead, he went to New Japan to have a classic match with Kenny Omega and add more momentum to his name. It worked out best for all involved.
13 John Cena requesting WWE change Nexus storyline direction
John Cena is relatively respected by the wrestlers to work with him in WWE. Despite having major power backstage, Cena endeared himself to most of his peers. However, there is one skeleton in the closet of Cena for those that want to bash him for holding down young talent. The Nexus faction was the hottest thing in WWE in 2010 and had a huge chance to be something special.
A massive Summerslam main event for Nexus saw the team all together in an elimination match facing the past, present and future of WWE stars led by Cena. It came down to two members of Nexus against Cena at the end of the match. Cena defeated both Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel to win the match. The original plan was for Nexus to win easily and continue their dominance. Cena thought it was the wrong way to go and convinced WWE to change plans. It hurt the careers of the Nexus wrestlers going forward.
12 AJ Lee not wanting to play mental patient
The successful autobiography of AJ Lee revealed her battles with mental illness and how she overcame it to become a huge WWE star. Lee went into detail discussing how her mother’s mental illness impacted her family. WWE was aware of this during her career and tried to make it part of her character. A storyline was pitched that Lee would be a character that hallucinated and took part in “wacky skits” like making out with leprechauns and seeing dinosaurs.
AJ turned down the storyline feeling it would hit too close to home in a negative way. WWE responded by punishing her. Lee was kept off television for months due to saying no to the storyline. Things eventually changed when she received another chance and became a massive star. Still, the fact that WWE tried to punish her for saying no shows how cruel they can be.
11 Austin Aries saying no to more 205 Live feuds
Austin Aries was one of the big signings by WWE in 2016 when he joined the roster for NXT. WWE called him up to the main roster for a spot in the Cruiserweight division at the end of his first year. Aries worked as a commentator during an injury before wrestling in the division on Raw and 205 Live. A feud with Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship saw them have a couple of great matches.
Aries had nothing else left to do in the division when he lost the title feud. WWE tried placing him in an angle with Jack Gallagher, but it didn’t take off. Aries was removed from television after a week of the feud being teased and never returned. It turns out Aries had no interest in continuing to work on 205 Live due to the lack of opportunities to make big money or move up the card. WWE responded to him turning down their storyline by firing him.
10 Triple H doesn't want to continue storyline with Booker T after WrestleMania XIX
Triple H’s WrestleMania XIX feud with Booker T is one of the worst storylines of his career. We witnessed Triple H cut racist promos playing into stereotypes and saying people like Booker couldn’t be champions. The offensive promos led to a World Championship match at the WrestleMania event that is forgotten today. A lackluster match shockingly ended with Triple H retaining after all the horrible things he said.
Booker was apparently supposed to continue feuding with Triple H for a few more months and eventually win the title. Triple H wanted it to end there so he could feud with his friends. Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels became the main contenders for the title as Booker moved back down the card. This is one of the stories that makes it easy to call Triple H a selfish glory hog of a wrestler that used his power to hold down others.
9 Kristal Marshall didn't want romantic storyline with Edge
Edge was arguably the best WWE heel of the 2000s. A romantic pairing with Lita helped him dramatically after their real-life affair made the most hated people in WWE. Edge took the ball and ran with it all the way into the main event picture. Lita didn’t have the same success and hated playing the overly sexual heel character that fans referred to in cruel ways. It led to her retiring sooner than expected in 2007.
Kristal Marshall was eventually slated to be a replacement to Lita when WWE decided Edge needed another lady by his side. The character was going to be similar to what Lita was doing. Kristal felt uncomfortable with this idea and turned down the storyline of getting with Edge. It eventually led to WWE releasing her for not wanting to go through with their plans.
8 Neville walking out when asked to lose to Enzo Amore again
Neville was placed into the Cruiserweight division as one of the few normal main roster guys to mix it up on 205 Live. The move was great at first as Neville at least gave one performer on Raw and PPVs that fans were aware of from the division. Neville also played a heel character for the first time and it became one of the best acts on the show.
Much like Austin Aries, Neville however grew frustrated about how he wasn’t moving up in the company. 205 Live guys make less money and have less chances to shine like the other wrestlers. Neville lost the Cruiserweight Championship to Enzo Amore and was expected to lose a rematch a week later. The anger from the story working against him with little chances to succeed caused Neville to walk out and request his release. WWE is choosing to have him sit at home until the contract expires or he agrees to return.
7 Brock Lesnar not wanting to work with smaller wrestlers
The position of Brock Lesnar has him as the most powerful man on the WWE roster. Lesnar has only lost to The Undertaker and Goldberg in recent years aka two legends that he respects. We have seen him run over most of the roster as the Universal Champion and the highest paid performer on the roster. Lesnar also gets more input to call his own shots in his storylines.
The smaller wrestlers on the roster are less respected by Lesnar as he prefers wrestling the larger talents. Finn Balor never getting a Universal Championship rematch against Brock was Vince McMahon’s decision, but Brock not wanting to work with a wrestler that small likely makes sense. The fact that Brock is set to take on both Kane and Braun truly shows his preference.
6 Abyss turned down WWE storyline with The Undertaker
A ridiculous instance of a wrestler turning down a storyline features Impact Wrestling star Abyss saying no to WWE. Abyss was reportedly offered a chance to come into WWE for a feud with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 22. This was the year that Undertaker faced Mark Henry in a last minute feud at the big event.
Tommy Dreamer has confirmed Abyss’ unbelievable story as he worked in the office there at the time. WWE wanted Abyss to be the next monster that posed a threat to Undertaker with a huge match at WrestleMania helping cement him as a star. Abyss stated he turned it down to continue working for Impact out of loyalty. This looks like one of the dumbest decisions in wrestling history considering Impact has been a failure and Abyss lost out of a lot of money to have a huge match against a legend in WWE.
5 Batista didn't want to have angry foster child background
Vince McMahon comes up with some of the most ridiculous ideas that the average person would never think about. Batista was starting to get momentum in WWE as a heel in Evolution. McMahon wanted Batista to have a backstory regarding his anger issues in WWE. The plan was for Batista to be revealed as being a foster child that had a tough upbringing.
McMahon’s vision was that Ric Flair would become the father figure in Evolution that Batista lacked growing up. There was a huge backstory with a lot of elements pitched regarding Batista being an “angry foster child” all his life before getting into WWE. Batista hated it and was relieved when the plan was no longer in motion. The career of Batista could have gone in a different direction if Vince went through with it.
4 Stephanie McMahon not wanting to have angle with Vince McMahon
The McMahon family has given us some of the most bizarre moments in WWE history. One that would have topped the list due to Stephanie McMahon putting an end to it. The sick mind of Vince McMahon came up with a storyline that would use Stephanie’s real-life pregnancy on WWE television. Vince wanted to be revealed as the father of Stephanie’s unborn baby.
WWE tried incest storylines a couple of times in the past with the Burchill family and Beaver Cleavage, but both ended quickly. Vince wanted to be a part of the incest storyline leading to a match with the real-life father of the baby, Triple H. Stephanie instantly shut down the idea and had no desire to be a part of a storyline like this.
3 The Undertaker not wanting to face Sting
One dream match that never took place despite years of hype for it was Sting versus The Undertaker. Many mysterious angles regarding Undertaker’s various WrestleMania opponents always led to Sting being considered the big rumor. There were huge rumors about the match finally happening at WrestleMania 31 when Sting signed with the company and needed a big match.
Undertaker was coming off his first WrestleMania loss to Brock Lesnar a year prior. Instead of a dream match with Sting, he faced Bray Wyatt in a lackluster match. Sting ended up having a match with Triple H. A recent interview with Sting suggested that Undertaker showed no interest in the match when it was pitched. Undertaker didn’t want to work with the WCW icon for whatever reason and now it’s too late.
2 Daivari shut down George Bush gimmick
The WWE career of Shawn Daivari is not as memorable as he would have hoped. WWE paired him with Muhammad Hassan cutting the anti-American promos about the discrimination they faced as Arab-Americans. Controversy forced WWE to end the characters early and Daivari moved into a traditional managing role for a bit.
However, there was an even more controversial idea in mind for Daivari before he was called up from developmental. Vince McMahon wanted him to play a character named George W. Bush and pretend to be the President of the time with no end game in plan. Daivari turned this down when Stephanie McMahon pitched it to him. WWE didn’t call him back until many months later for the role with Hassan. It is more surprising Vince didn’t fire him for refusing to do one of his dumb ideas.
1 CM Punk shutting down WrestleMania program with Triple H and Kane
CM Punk leaving WWE is still one of the most talked about stories in wrestling. Wrestling fans want him to return even though it has been four years. Punk grew frustrated with various aspects of WWE life like being lied to and asked to do more than he wanted to. It all culminated on the road to WrestleMania XXX. Punk walked out of the company after Royal Rumble 2014.
The WrestleMania XXX match was going to see Punk face Triple H in one of the attraction bouts. Punk was also going to wrestle Kane for months leading up to the event before battling Triple H. This influenced him to leave the company months before the biggest pay day of the year. Punk felt disrespected and it led to him shutting down WWE’s storyline while quitting in the process.