If you're a big star in sports or entertainment, chances are you're earning a fair bit of money. While your exact wage might not be common knowledge, in most cases there's often a ball park figure that is. When it comes to the business of professional wrestling, which is a unique blend of both sport and entertainment, what the performers within it are earning has always been somewhat of a grey area. Yes there are schools of thought and in some cases with the bigger stars throughout history even estimated figures. With the likes of guaranteed contracts, per appearance deals and merchandise sales it's tough to pin down an exact figure. Needless to say though if you're in WWE and at the top of your game, you're earning a lot of money.
With that in mind you would think whenever a Superstar outside of WWE's bright lights was offered a way into the big time, they would snatch at it with both hands. Turns out that in many instances it's not as simple as dollars and cents for some wrestlers. For starters wrestling a full time schedule requires a lot of upheaval. In many of the upcoming examples the wrestlers in question are those who have hung up their boots and no amount of money is going to be enough to coax them back into the ring, not even for one more match. The following list details fifteen Superstars who turned down big offers and huge contracts in pro wrestling.
15 Reby Sky
The Hardy Boyz recently made a triumphant return to WWE. While Matt and Jeff were capturing the attention of the wrestling world with their Broken gimmick in TNA they had the help of an entertaining cast of characters. One of those characters was Matt Hardy's real life wife and fellow wrestler, Reby Sky. Since the Broken Universe is yet to become a part of WWE there is currently no place in the company for Reby, but believe it or not Sky was actually offered a place on their roster long before anybody was being deleted. Sky used to host a show called Lucha Libre USA and claimed she turned down a contract offer from WWE as it didn't allow her to finish up her hosting commitments at the time.
Rhyno may have been a part of WWE during the early 2000s after WCW closed its doors, and he may have made a successful return to the fold the last couple of years, adding a SmackDown Tag Team Championship run to his resume. However there was a period of about ten years there where The Man Beast was plying his trade elsewhere, mainly in TNA. Shortly after his first stint at WWE came to an end Vince McMahon and co attempted to reboot ECW, the place where Rhyno shot to prominence. Vince wanted to resign Rhyno to be a part of that reboot in an attempt to add as many wrestlers associated with the brand that he could. Rhyno not only flat out rejected the offer, but he did in a very public manner taking to TNA television at the time to explain he had turned down an offer from them.
13 James Storm
One half of the former TNA tag team Beer Money is currently enjoying enormous success in NXT. That half is Bobby Roode who is currently NXT Champion and let's be honest, has the best entrance theme of anybody in recent times. I can only imagine that the other half of Beer Money, James Storm, must be left in TNA right now kicking himself. Before Roode had ever stepped foot in WWE's developmental territory Storm had wrestled a couple of matches back in 2015. Triple H clearly had big ideas for James as they used him on NXT TV before then offering him a contract, a deal he turned down in favor of returning to TNA. Just months later Roode arrived at the Performance Center and Storm must be thinking that it could have been him.
12 Scott Steiner
You don't have to dig far to find information on Scott Steiner's fractured relationship with WWE. After WCW folded and Big Poppa Pump had to look elsewhere for work, he eventually came back to WWE. Vince McMahon, knowing Steiner's pedigree, inserted the former WCW Champion directly into a top spot against Triple H. To cut a long story short the matches were terrible and Scott's attitude only made things worse. That led to his second stint at the company being a short one. Despite all that, years later WWE still offered Steiner a legends contract. He impolitely declined claiming that the document was basically illegal. Clearly WWE were willing to bury the hatchet but Steiner definitely was not.
11 The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks may be the greatest tag team on the planet right now which begs the question, why on earth aren't they in WWE? Well it isn't as if Vince McMahon, Triple H and others haven't tried to get them there. The extremely popular Bucks have had more than one try out at WWE but if you believe reports, they've either failed to impress or have flat out refused contracts from the company. When you check the Jackson brothers' social media it's certainly something that isn't hard to believe as the two of them don't exactly try to hide their disdain for pro wrestling's biggest company. They claim they make enough money on the independent circuit so it's going to take a pretty big offer if anyone wants to eventually see them in WWE.
10 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is currently the Raw General Manager and was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. A deserved induction following his extremely successful in ring career for the company during the early 2000s. What you may not know is that right after Kurt won his Olympic gold medal at the Atlanta games in 1996 WWE approached him to become a part of the brand, two years before he would actually end up signing for Vince McMahon. At the time Kurt was unsure as to whether he wanted to cross the divide from amateur wrestling to pro, and as well as an offer from WWE he weighed up the option of joining ECW. Angle infamously stormed out of the ECW show he went to disgusted with what he had seen. Thankfully WWE eventually managed to coax him back in and the rest is history.
TNA came about in the early 2000s in the wake of WCW going out of business. There are not many people who can claim they've stuck around with the company through all of its highs and lows but Abyss is one of those few. For those unfamiliar with the TNA stalwart he is a big guy that is a sort of mash up between Mankind and Kane. He's a great character and wrestler and it always baffled me as to why WWE never tried to recruit him. Well turns out at one point they actually did. Abyss revealed that WWE once approached him with not only a very lucrative contract offer, but one that involved him getting a WrestleMania match with The Undertaker. WWE offers don't get much bigger than that yet Abyss turned them down in order to show continued loyalty to TNA.
8 Kenny Omega
The Bullet Club is the hottest thing in wrestling outside of WWE right now, and Vince McMahon knows it. You can tell he and the rest of WWE knows that because they continually ravage the club of their best talent. Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Gallows and Anderson, they were all Bullet Club members who have since been signed to WWE. One man WWE can't seem to tempt to their supposed greener pastures however is the faction's current leader, Kenny Omega. According to reports in 2015 WWE actually offered Omega a contract on three separate occasions, and you can only imagine the offer went up significantly each time. Kenny cites opponents he's not yet faced in New Japan yet as the reason he wants to stay put for now.
For those of you who were Taz fans back at the height of his wrestling and announcing career who don't already, I'd recommend you listen to the former ECW Champion's daily Taz Show that he currently hosts for CBS. On the show Taz tells all sorts of tales from his career and one particularly interesting one is a time when Vince McMahon attempted to convince the Human Suplex Machine to take a trip to Suplex City. Taz had already transitioned to an announcer for the company but Vince saw big money in a comeback match at Madison Square Garden between him and Brock Lesnar. Taz flat out refused due to his injuries and explained that Vince thought he was a terrible businessman as he didn't even ask how much he was willing to offer for him to step back between the ropes.
6 Nikita Koloff
Nikita Koloff, nephew of the pro wrestling legend Ivan Koloff and of course a huge star in his own right, wrestled the majority of his career for NWA which would later become WCW. During the mid 1980s Nikita was becoming a big deal in NWA so naturally Vince McMahon came knocking. Not only did Vince offer Koloff a big contract, he also promised him a WrestleMania match with the one and only Hulk Hogan. In keeping with this list, Koloff declined. A year later after Nikita had only garnered more fame in NWA, WWE looked to sign him once again offering him even more money. Once again he declined, never to be offered a place on WWE's roster after that.
5 AJ Styles
AJ Styles has taken WWE by storm. The Phenomenal One has been with the company less than 18 months and has already had a run with the WWE Championship as well as making it feel like he's been with the company for years and years. Well turns out that could have actually been the case. Believe it or not AJ has been wrestling for so long that he actually spent a very short spell in WCW. Then in early 2002 he made his way to WWE for the first time. The company wanted to sign AJ then, a full 14 years before he would eventually come to WWE for real. Styles passed up the contract at the time due to the relocation required interfering with his wife's college plans.
4 Shawn Michaels
While we're on the subject of AJ Styles let's segue on to the man who we all wish had hung around a few years more so that we could see the two of them go one on one, The Heart Break Kid, Shawn Michaels. In the build to the 2017 Royal Rumble AJ tweeted out the above image. He in no way claimed that the match was booked, simply that he'd love it to happen, and it certainly got the WWE Universe talking. Well turns out WWE actually tried to put the match together. They approached Shawn with an idea and an offer that they thought might tempt Mr WrestleMania back into the squared circle but had no luck. Michaels has no desire whatsoever to come out of retirement regardless of the price or the opponent.
The one man that held out on WWE for the longest before eventually giving in was Sting. A man synonymous with WCW who apparently turned down multiple offers from Vince McMahon throughout his career, even after WCW went out of business and The Icon opted to take his chances with TNA rather than join the enemy. Sting recalled the biggest offer he received from WWE during an interview with the Daily Star, claiming that WWE offered him the opportunity so sign with them and face The Undertaker in a main event match at WrestleMania XXVII. Just knowing that this could have happened but never did breaks my heart. As I mentioned Sting eventually gave in, but due to his age and injuries his in ring run with WWE lasted a matter of months. Better late than never I suppose.
Ryback's tenure with WWE was pretty turbulent, especially the last few months of it. The Big Guy had not only been accused of being an unsafe worker, but was also regularly being relegated to the kick off show of pay per views and was forthright about his disappointment with that. Eventually Ryback had enough and decided to leave. Rumors circulated as to what exactly was the final straw for the former Intercontinental Champion and many believed it to be money. Ryback has since put that rumor very much to bed by revealing exactly how much money he left on the table when he departed the company, an impressive $1.5 million. If you believe what Ryback is claiming, Vince McMahon offered him that mammoth amount of money for a three year contract and he walked away, very much proving that his disillusionment with the company was never about the money.
1 CM Punk
Safe to say that CM Punk wrestled for long enough that he's probably pretty comfortable right now, especially when you add the money he would have earned for his short appearance in the octagon for UFC in 2016. All that aside even for a man like Punk who claims to have very much fallen out of love with the wrestling business, it must have been difficult for him to pass up the latest offer he received. Apparently a wrestling company in the UK approached Punk with a $1 million offer to wrestle for them this summer, and The Straight Edge Superstar said no. Any of you fans who thought Punk may have been on the verge of returning to the ring may have a much longer wait on their hands judging by this news. If he won't come back to a company that weren't even the ones that wronged him for a seven figure sum, then the future looks bleak for any sort of return any time soon.