WWE fans have learned lately to never say never. It used to be that if you were cut from WWE, that was it, you were done, no second chances. Vince McMahon is infamous for holding a grudge and many a worker has paid for getting on his bad side. But there has been an odd trend that some people you thought would never work for WWE in a million years not only are welcomed back but pushed well. Bret Hart, the Ultimate Warrior, the Hardyz, Bruno Sammartino, Kur Angle, the list is impressive. Even secondary folks like Drew McIntyre are getting a second shot as it seems WWE is more open to giving someone a new chance to shine. True, some folks are forever never going to come back (Jeff Jarrett springs to mind) but it’s still amazing how others can return.
It leads to questions of who else can come back. Again, some seem unlikely but then, most figured the likes of Bret or Angle would never make WWE returns. With NXT, the company gives a good push to fresher faces to boost them up nicely and let them shine more and some female workers can benefit from the new push for women. While a few of these may never happen, it’s still notable how there are people out there WWE would do well to reach out to in order to give the company a boost regardless of past issues. Here are 20 people WWE is unlikely to work with again but should as everyone deserves another shot.
20 Solomon Crowe
A rare misfire for NXT, Crowe had been a good worker for ROH and other indies and seemed ready to take off with that brand. As Sami Callihan, he clicked nicely in CZW and Dragon Gate and it looked like he could rise up more. NXT seemed up his alley but Crowe failed to click as well as fans had hoped for. He clashed with Kevin Owens and others but his act just didn’t work out and in late 2015, he asked for his release. He’s been up front on how he was “overthinking” things and thus didn’t take the chances he should have to make his character work.
Given that failure, it may be unlikely he returns but he seems open for a comeback. Maybe now, allowed to be more himself, he could rise up and be a good star after all as many believed he should have had a bigger run with the company and could be a good addition to the current NXT roster.
19 Santino Marella
When Santino got his break in WWE, it wasn’t good. He won the IC title in his debut but putting him over as the “Milan Miracle” didn’t win him fans. It took his heel turn to get going as his promos of broken Italian were pretty fun to listen to. The real genius was his transition into a goofball idiot that had fans howling at his antics. From the Cobra to nutty dancing, Santino was good as a tag team and US champ but more loveable just doing some wacky comedy bit. He had to retire due to a neck injury and has been on the convention circuit, including the now infamous bit of arguing with Jim Cornette.
He wouldn't be fit for a return to the ring, but Santino would be funny to have back with his comedic genius as making him a whacky backstage interviewer would be a nice touch and lighten the show up nicely.
18 Low Ki
One of the Founding Fathers of ROH, Low Ki impressed from the start with his fantastic skills and amazing work. He also helped put TNA on the map as X Division champion, impressing many with his great high-flying, hard-hitting style and carrying most anyone to great matches. In 2008, he got a WWE contract and worked with FCW into is transition to NXT. However, his run was short and he returned to the indies. He eventually made his way back to TNA and with the cool “suited killer” idea that’s led to a career renaissance. He has had great reigns as X Division champion and his clashes with various workers get huge attention and often the best part of the show.
Thus, a return to WWE might be good as they would be more likely to welcome him in NXT which fits his style better. Bring that “hitman” motif over and Low Ki can get over nicely to impress fans more.
17 Jack Swagger
The problem with Jack Swagger was that he was a decent mid-card guy pushed to the main event too soon. The “All-American American” had some good skills in the ring but trying to have him as World champion didn’t fit. He actually seemed to improve with his later runs as a face and really pushing a heroic edge with some fan heat but it ended with him being released from WWE.
On the indies, Swagger has shown a new drive and seems to be enjoying himself more. In NXT, he could get more work, a bigger fish in the smaller pond and better suited for his level of work. That could lead him back to RAW or SmackDown with WWE smartly using him more on the mid-card than main event as you need some support there. It can redeem Swagger's early run a bit and show he could make it in WWE after all with his work.
Some may complain but the fact is that the guy had some great charm to him. As a goofy leprechaun character, he took off with his nutty antics and fans liked it. True, he did run the Cruiserweight title into the ground with his bad run as champion but still got pushes. From the DX mascot to various feuds, the guy was great getting folks laughing and even when he was allowed to talk, showed a fun style. He was released after violations of the wellness policy and runs in TNA and other places. Welcoming him back would be a return to comedy antics but Hornswoggle was good with those and would be a nice winner to spice up things. This wouldn’t be huge for the main event scene but some comedy would be good and Hornswoggle knew how to keep the fans laughing no matter what.
15 15 Alberto Del Rio
The issues of Del Rio and WWE are very well known. He had a good start, pushed winning the Rumble and World title but the fans didn’t respond as hoped. The issue was Del Rio ranting about his “destiny” but not really able to back it up in the ring. A face turn didn’t work out well either although he still had promise. He gained huge sympathy being fired after slapping a guy for a racist slur, so much that WWE had to hire him back. That second run was good with promise in the League of Nations but eventually released. Traveling to TNA/GFW, Del Rio won their title and it looked like he was ready to rise up more before the ugly incident with Paige came up.
That might make him too much of a risk but let’s face it, WWE has hired on guys with worse records than his. The fact remains Del Rio is still a good worker with charisma and if he can be redeemed for his personal issues, WWE can use him well at last.
14 Cody Rhodes
Cody’s run in WWE was interesting. He had memorable runs as tag team and IC champion and seemed to do his best getting out from the shadow of his famous father. Cody was a top worker, great on the mic and showing his skills up more. That’s why it was annoying when he was stuck with the terrible Stardust persona that he clearly hated, made up and acting like a nut. That led to his departure and he’s been bad mouthing WWE since on their treatment of him and how they ignored his star power. His run in TNA was fair with some interesting pushes but short-lived. It’s in ROH that Rhodes has risen up, the American Nightmare reigning as champion, terrific on the mic and clearly using his anger at WWE to push him more.
Sure, it seems very unlikely he would return to WWE, especially after all his bad mouthing of the company. But Cody has shown himself a terrific star after all and WWE would do well by hiring him back as they could use the star heel he is now and have a Rhodes on top again.
13 13 Hulk Hogan
Yes there are issues. There’s that massive ego and demands to be the center of attention. There’s how his fan heat has dropped. There’s the racist rants, the ugly legal stuff and all of that. But…it’s Hulk Hogan. It’s the man who helped elevate WWE to a huge international and mainstream level and helped make the entire company a success. It’s a man who is more familiar to non-wrestling fans than anyone on the current roster and gets major press. Despite all that’s gone down between them, Vince does have a respect for Hogan to get him back and even push it as a “redemption” bit for his misdeeds.
Like it or not, Hogan has power and influence and commands major attention. With ratings so poor, that’s something WWE can use desperately and Hogan always has folks watching and talking about him. So some may complain about this but bringing back the Hulkster would get eyes on WWE big time.
12 Damien Sandow
After a variety of gimmicks and names in OVW and FCW, Damien Sandow did get a good push in WWE. As an intellectual guy, he was clicking well with his arrogant promos and fantastic skill on the mic that got him a good following. He won Money in the Bank but failed his cash-in and suffered despite his work with Cody Rhodes. But his tag team with The Miz was terrific, fans loving the two as champions and he really took off when he began his run of Miz's stunt double that had fans howling. Many believed he deserved a bigger singles run and thus a huge disappointment when he was released. Sandow has been around the scene since, including a poor TNA run but seems to hold out hope for a return to WWE. A second shot would be good to boost him up and smarten the scene up nicely.
11 Wade Barrett
Originally, Daniel Bryan was to be the leader of the Nexus but he was fired for choking Justin Roberts in their famed debut. So Wade Barrett stepped up and soon doing a great job. He was amazing on the mic with his promos and great in the ring and soon winning several titles. Sadly, Barrett had a streak of bad luck as just when it looked like he was going to rise up well, he was hit by an injury. He was taking off with his “Bad News” persona and winning the IC title but had to vacate it for injury. He seemed to get more as King Barrett and the League of Nations but WWE seemed reluctant to give him more of a push, leading to his departure. He’s stated he wants to return and it would be good although it doesn’t sound like WWE is interested. But Barrett deserves another shot as a good heel and WWE can push him much better for a run not so bad after all.
It’s rare you hear someone thanking WWE for firing them but Carlito does. The son of Carlos Colon, Carlito got a big entrance in WWE, beating John Cena for the US title. With his wild hair, arrogant attitude and fun mic work, Carlito was clicking as a heel, with runs as IC and tag team champion and boosting himself up. He and Primo were good as tag team champions but Carlito was soon in trouble for his addictions. He was told several times he needed to get himself into rehab but refused and was eventually fired.
Carlito is up front on how that was the wake-up call he needed to finally get himself cleaned up and is grateful to the company for offering help. He worked with WWE to induct his father in the Hall of Fame and has been working across the world so a return would be a good move. He can still go in the ring and on the mic and be more dependable to once more remind fans how cool Carlito was.
9 Evan Bourne
After breaking out in ROH, Matt Sydal got the nod from WWE and seemed to do well as Evan Bourne. He was small but known for his great in-ring work, especially his high-flying and that fantastic shooting star press finisher. He got great success in WWE as a tag team champion with Kofi Kingston and doing great with his drive. But just as he was rising up, Bourne hit issues with breaking the wellness policy and an injury from a car crash curtailed his work further. He’s been on the indie scene since and does seem to have issues with WWE regarding his run. But given the rise of cruiserweights since his departure, Bourne would benefit being back in WWE, still able to fly high and a good run with the company could redeem his earlier run. The man deserved to soar higher in his first run and this would be a great push for his return.
8 Rey Mysterio
True, this would be more of a nostalgia run but still deserved. It is overlooked how Mysterio is now 42 years old and injuries are seriously taking their toll on him. He is still legendary for his work in ECW and then WCW (aside from the terrible unmasking) that got him a major push to WWE. There, he excelled as multiple champion, even a World title run despite his small size as well as winning the Royal Rumble and great Mania matches. Of course, it helped that his masks were a major source of merchandising revenue and quite popular with the crowds.
Rey is on the indie scene now in Lucha Underground and it seems unlikely he might come to WWE again given he’s already done most everything he can with that company. However, it would be good to see him return for just a brief run, one more shot at the big time and he can still pull off a good match. Just seeing Rey give the 205 Live guys a rub would be good and show how his legacy lives on.
7 John Morrison
At first, Johnny Nitro was a tag team worker as MNM held the titles a few times and looked great. As a singles worker, he showed real promise as IC champion but took off when he changed his act to John Morrison. His great style won fans over along with his amazing parkour moves and got him a push. His tag team with The Miz was terrific and Morrison seemed ready to get more of a push on the singles roster. However, he hit some snags and released amid talk of him unhappy with his direction. He did time in Lucha Underground and is now with TNA/GFW as Johnny Impact. Today, WWE could do better with him in NXT and be nice to see him finish his career where it started as he still has a great ring ability and charm which WWE could use.
When Melina started off, she was a hot face with MNM, a good manager and looker. Of course, she got attention for that fantastic split-legged ring entrance that got her over nicely. She soon improved as a wrestler, showing some great form, expert as heel or face and holding several titles. However, backstage, Melina was not popular with her diva behavior and there were reports of a “Wreslter’s Court” hearing that went quite badly.
She left in 2011 and has been around the indie scene for a while. Given her past issues, it’s unlikely she’ll be returning yet she still looks great and would fit in well with the push for female workers in WWE. The company is open for second chances and giving on to Melina would be good to at least enjoy that fantastic entrance once more.
5 Colt Cabana
Today, it might be a lot different. Cabana took off as a huge name in Ring of Honor, holding the tag titles with CM Punk and some sensational matches at times with terrific feuds with Punk and others. In 2007, he joined WWE, some time in OVW before moving onto SmackDown as Scotty Goldman. However, his lame gimmick (dressed like a college wrestler with headgear) and goofy promos didn’t do him any good. He was eventually cut and returning to the indies to continue his work.
Today, with NXT, Cabana would get a much better shot, with Triple H probably willing to let him be himself rather than a lame character. Cabana didn't enjoy his run with the company, bad-mouthing it a lot but returning would be a good second shot and bring his great work to a wider audience and redeem his legacy a bit.
4 Gail Kim
Kim broke out with WWE in 2003 winning the Women’s title in a battle royal in her debut. She was pushed as a cool fighter with her exotic looks but seemed a bit lost in the mix afterward and ignored too much. In 2005, she made her way to TNA where she helped create the Knockouts Division and has been its backbone ever since. She made a return to WWE in 2008 but very badly used to the point she literally walked out on the company during a battle royal and returned to TNA. Since then, she’s been a huge star and dependable worker with TNA.
Given her ugly exit and how she’s more comfortable in TNA, a return to WWE is very unlikely. But Kim is seen as one of the best female wrestlers out there and a return would be a nice spark to bring her career full circle and be a reminder of what WWE missed out on too long ago.
3 Justin Roberts
A good announcer, Roberts had a following as coming off smarter on the mic than others and sounding good doing ring announcements and such. He seemed to be doing well, not as famous as others but still a steady voice to help broadcasts out. Roberts also got attention attacked during the Nexus debut to get strangled by Daniel Bryan as part of the infamous angle.
However, in 2014, Roberts left in a cloud with reports of him talking out against the direction the company was going in. He then wrote a book that ripped WWE a lot on some rough stuff and bad booking which means a return is unlikely. But Roberts has his fans and his voice was always good so if WWE can bring him back, it’d be a good way to mend fences.
2 CM Punk
The pop of his return would be absolutely epic. Punk is still regarded as a huge star by fans thanks to how he was great in the ring and the mic but he was also amazing with how he bucked the system. This is a man who openly challenged WWE and Vince McMahon on numerous occasions. Even his own WWE-produced documentary was like an independent project, with the man being up front on his personal issues and loving showing his style off.
Of course, Punk has his detractors due to his massive ego and often acting like a huge jerk and being up front about it. However, he’s still hailed for things and sympathy given how he was fired on his wedding day. Given his trashing of WWE constantly, it’s very unlikely Punk is going to ever return but he still has a presence that would mean a huge boost to ratings and fan heat and thus fans can dream.
1 Austin Aries
The signing of Aries was a big move by WWE as the man was a huge star for TNA and ROH with great title runs. However, his pushes weren’t as good as hoped as his work on 205 Live was good but not sensational. His exit was ugly as it sounded like a mutual release but it’s come out that he was basically fired. Word was Aries was not popular backstage and rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. He’s been trashing the company a lot and thus it's quite unlikely he gets an invite back. It's a shame as Aries is a fantastic worker and his brief time in WWE showed him good on the mic as well. It’s really one of WWE’s biggest missteps that they couldn’t get Aries to work as the guy could have been a fine star for them and bringing him back would be a good move.