It can be easy to say that someone is never going to return to work for World Wrestling Entertainment. A backstage incident that involved a fight or a heated argument can lead to the end of a business relationship. An end symbolized not just with a bridge being burned down, but one that was detonated with a nuclear bomb. In other words, there’s never going to be a way to rebuild that bridge.
But how many times has the term “never say never” be used in a number of different situations? Over the years, we’ve seen Bret Hart come back to the WWE and bury the hatchet with Shawn Michaels long after the Montreal Screwjob happened at the 1997 Survivor Series. Then there’s the stories of wrestlers who once sued the WWE having come back to the WWE for a chance to speak to the WWE Universe – e.g. The Ultimate Warrior.
Men and women have come and gone from the WWE. A few of them on bad terms. But despite Vince McMahon and his supporting cast adding them to a blacklist, the door hasn’t completely been shut on them from ever returning. But it seems like Triple H is removing wrestlers and legends from that list and giving them a chance to return to the WWE in one way or another.
The following is 15 wrestlers who have been blacklisted under the McMahon’s reign in WWE and could be brought back when Triple H has the opportunity to do so.
17 Eli Drake
Is it possible to be blacklisted more than once? Apparently, Eli Drake has. In 2008, he had a tryout that he ended up being late to. He said it was partially due to getting some last-minute work done on his shoulder and then getting a workout at a nearby gym to look his best. But then there was another moment when he had issues with one talent scout and remained on a blacklist despite the scout’s termination around 2012.
Drake has found some success during his current run in TNA Wrestling, which includes a reign with the King of the Mountain Championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Drake eventually be signed to be Triple H’s pet project in NXT. While TNA will likely want to build Drake as a main event heel, Triple H can likely lure him to their part of Florida like he did Samoa Joe, Eric Young and other long-time TNA wrestlers.
16 Brian Cage
Brian Cage might be one of the most popular wrestlers currently working on the independent circuit. His work on Lucha Underground and various promotions have received rave reviews for a large, muscular physique to be able to pull off the moves he does in the ring. But he was with the WWE once before as part of the development roster at Florida Championship Wrestling; working as Kris Logan from 2008 to 2009.
Cage has stated a number of times he suffered a groin injury and had a botch in a match he claims he wasn’t cleared for. Since then, his muscles have swelled in a way where people question the use of steroids. He’s been critical of WWE having let him go and saying their loss was Lucha Underground’s gain. One would believe Triple H is keeping an eye on the Machine.
15 Teddy Hart
Just about every major wrestling promotion has dealt with Teddy Hart’s attitude problems. Despite being one of the most athletically gifted people to enter professional wrestling, he’s also been the center of negative attention with his actions in the ring. After his first WWE run, he got a lot of heat for numerous jumps from the cage that were unplanned during a 2003 Ring of Honor show.
One has to think he’s learned his lesson and has become wiser at the age of 37. Hart said in a 2016 interview he would love to work in NXT; where they’ve brought in established veterans like Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode. Triple H could make the shocking acquisition and give a boost to the NXT brand. If it’s going to happen, it would likely have to happen in the next year or two.
14 Colt Cabana
It would seem petty to punish a third party when there is strife between one party and another. But that is part of the reason why Colt Cabana’s stock as a WWE prospect sot of died in 2014. Colt Cabana was apparently being given consideration by the WWE to be an announcer for NXT. This would have been a great role considering they brought in another independent star in Nigel McGuinness.
But when CM Punk left the WWE due to his issues with the company’s creative direction, Cabana was in the middle of a series of tryouts when he was told the company was no longer interested. With the constant turnover of commentators in the WWE, Cabana should be kept on the list of considerations for the future. Triple H likely will make a push sometime in the next few years.
13 Mr. Kennedy
The limits of “never say never” are certainly going to be tested with the odds of Ken Anderson coming back to the WWE. Regardless, he showed a lot of charisma as Mr. Kennedy. Injuries and being viewed as reckless by co-workers John Cena and Randy Orton led to his termination from the WWE. But his stop in TNA saw him evolve as an a**hole who had a face run since fans sort of like rooting for the anti-hero.
But Anderson has also found himself fired from TNA and working mostly on the independent circuit. Considering the promos he has cut against the company, it might seem bleak to impossible of him coming back. He’s even said in 2016 that he hasn’t heard anything from WWE. Then again, the same has been said about the likes of Bret Hart and The Ultimate Warrior as both had their fair share of negative things about the WWE.
12 Gail Kim
Might be understandable the WWE officials wouldn’t be happy with someone eliminated herself from a battle royal seconds into a match because she was told to be eliminated within the first minute. It certainly seemed to have a factor in her 2011 release from the WWE; one where they made kept her from working elsewhere until the end of her contract’s terms. Since then, she has not held back on her criticism about how the WWE treated women wrestlers at the time.
But the WWE she didn’t in 2011 is a lot different than the WWE that is seen today with a women’s roster that has been given more time on both Raw and SmackDown. She has said in a recent interview on Busted Open Radio that there’s a “never say never” stance with WWE now. Triple H might view her as a great veteran addition similar to Mickie James.
10 Jim Cornette
Jim Cornette had a long career in professional wrestling that saw him in just about every major wrestling promotion, including WWE and WCW. He’s managed some of the best tag teams in wrestling history like The Midnight Express and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. But in 2005, Cornette was involved in an incident at Ohio Valley Wrestling where he slapped Santino Marella for not selling The Boogeyman's character at an event.
Cornette has also been known to have a few profanity-laced promos over the years where he has done shoots against just about everyone imaginable. However, one would see value in Cornette in being accepted into the WWE Hall of Fame. And maybe Triple H can get Cornette a talk-show like program on the WWE Network. It would certainly get fans interested.
9 Jeff Jarrett
There’s a story about how Jeff Jarrett took advantage of the WWE allowing his contract to expire while keeping the Intercontinental Championship around his waist. He forced the WWE to pay a large sum of money before agreeing to drop the championship to Chyna back in 1999. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of Vince McMahon’s first decisions after buying WCW was to fire Double J.
But in 2015, Jarrett spoke about how he was approached by the WWE about the production of a DVD for Owen Hart. The schedules just didn’t line up for both parties. That is a sign that the two sides are talking, even if it’s for something minor. Who’s to say that the Triple H won’t eventually decide to induct Jarrett into the WWE Hall of Fame? He did win plenty of gold in WWE and WCW.
7 AJ Lee
Being married to someone who became very vocal about his issues with the WWE might lower the company’s interest in a popular women’s wrestler. AJ Lee was definitely one of the best in a time when the women’s roster didn’t have a lot of depth. While she never quite had a shoot interview like her husband, CM Punk, did – one that questioned WWE officials and medical staff – she’s likely on the blacklist more for her guilt of association with such a person.
She hasn’t said much since there was an ongoing litigation between her husband and WWE doctor Chris Amann. About a month ago, Lee was doing a promotion interview on Sirius XM for her recent book and commented about still having a passion for wrestling. This could be viewed as a small window of opportunity for Triple H to send an invitation; but maybe after the litigation between CM Punk and Amann.
6 Lex Luger
Lex Luger was arguably one of the most popular wrestlers to compete in World Championship Wrestling during the early 1990s. He even received quite a buzz during his brief time in the WWE from 1993 to 1995. But Luger had quite a career as a two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, a five-time United States Champion and two-time WCW World Television Champion. He was also part of the New World Order, but not a major player in the faction like Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
But Luger has yet to get a call to the WWE Hall of Fame due to his ties to the death of Miss Elizabeth in 2003. Luger was considered an enabler to her drug and alcohol overdoes. But one has to believe that he will eventually shed the bad rep considering he was never charged of her death. It would also be a feel good moment for someone who has battled paralysis from spinal infarction.
5 Jake “The Snake” Roberts
It’s already begun considering that Jake “The Snake” Roberts made an appearance in a 2014 “Old School” episode of Raw. And that he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. But one thing that would be very entertaining would be to see Roberts have a more regular role in WWE television. While a general manager or commissioner position would not be a good fit, Roberts could find his niche as a manager for a younger superstar.
One fantasy booking option would be to have Roberts become a mentor to Bray Wyatt. The Eater of Worlds has been a favorite of Roberts and both have the same gift of cutting amazing promos. The WWE has already opened their doors to the former substance-addict who has lived a clean life in recent years. Maybe Triple H can open them the rest of the way; similar to Bob Backlund.
4 Jim Ross
The voice of the WWE through the Attitude Era and even the Ruthless Aggression Era deserved a better “retirement” than what he got in the fall of 2013. During a panel symposium for the WWE 2K14 video game, Ross was leading the panel discussion while an intoxicated Ric Flair made several off-color comments. Officials were made with Good Ol’ J.R. and forced him to leave the company. It felt like a non-ceremonial termination.
Ross has since spent most of his days working on his own podcast, writing for Fox Sports and lending his voice for English broadcasts for New Japan Pro Wrestling. But Triple H could always help pull string to bring Ross back in a more regular role. It is obviously possible since Ross was brought in to call the Undertaker’s apparent last match at WrestleMania 33 a few months ago.
3 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was once the biggest name that was synonymous with WWE’s history. The Hulkster was involved in some of the biggest moments in wrestling – from bodyslamming Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III to forming the New World Order. But in the summer of 2015, Hogan was caught in a tornado of media scrutiny after he was recorded saying racial comments as part of the sex tape that went online.
It was his use of the N-word that led to his “legends” contract with the WWE being terminated and his legacy with the company being erased on WWE.com. A few years have passed and it looks like he’s slowly being brought back into WWE. There are now action figures being produced and his matches are back online at WWE.com. This could be the doing of either Vince McMahon or Triple H; maybe a combination of both.
To say Batista has been blacklisted by WWE might be a strong word, but it's not as if the company is seeking him ought like they were in 2014. Sure, they've recently reached out to past stars to help around WrestleMania season, but at this point, Batista has constantly criticized WWE since his 2014 run failed and you have to think he's not in the best graces with the company. That's fine with him, as he's killing it in Hollywood.
Still, one man he has always had on his side is Triple H and you can be rest assured Triple H will be the one making the call when it's time for Batista to go into the Hall of Fame or if he wants to have a proper farewell match.
1 CM Punk
Before sending your condemning messages and comments, consider the fact that we’ve gone over how several wrestlers with burnt bridges and been able to build new ones with WWE. Granted, it might be extremely difficult considering how CM Punk left the WWE in the middle of the run towards WrestleMania XXX in 2014. Then there’s the interview on Colt Cabana’s podcast and the events that followed.
Despite the personal issues that might have developed between Punk and Triple H, he’s shown to make decisions that are best for business. Even Samoa Joe dropped the common “nothing is ever impossible” line when asked about it last February. Triple H could view a Punk return as a way to set up dream matches with the likes of Joe and AJ Styles. People would likely get excited at the idea of Punk having one more run in the WWE.