WWE is the end game for the majority of wrestlers in the industry today. Every young talent entering the business grew up watching WWE, considering the changes in the business. WCW and ECW went out of business in 2001, making WWE the only mainstream promotion of the time to have a strong presence in cultivating new fans. The absolute truth of the matter is that WWE also provides the biggest opportunity to achieve the most fame and make the most money as a wrestler. Both personal and professional success at the highest level in wrestling comes from being a top WWE Superstar.
Despite all of these facts, not everyone wants to work for WWE. Some wrestlers have worked there in the past and did not find personal happiness. A move outside of the company opened their eyes. Others just have better situations making good money in smaller promotions or as free agents on the open market. The boom period of international and independent wrestling success have contributed to wrestlers not having to join WWE to be happy. We'll take a look at both sides of the story when it comes to wrestlers today with eight that want to join WWE and seven that just don’t.
16 Wants To Join WWE: Melina
The brand split in 2016 made it clear that WWE was looking for talent more than ever before. If you factor in the rise of the Women’s Division, there has never been a better time to be a women’s wrestler in WWE. This has influenced many free agents to try even harder to get noticed by WWE. Former talent Mickie James returned in 2016 proving WWE will bring back capable names.
15 Does Not: Gail Kim
Gail Kim is one of the greatest female wrestlers of all time. Sadly, WWE never realized it during her two tenures with the company and it led to a bitter falling out. Kim left the company the second time after requesting her release to return to TNA. The recent years have seen TNA fall to new lows and WWE finally start treating women’s wrestling with respect.
14 Wants To Join WWE: Ricochet
Ricochet attended a WWE tryout a few years ago but did not get signed. Many fans were shocked at such a talent being snubbed. WWE just didn’t think he was ready for the big stage and they may have been right. Ricochet has improved dramatically over the past few years from just a freakishly talented high-flyer into one of the most entertaining wrestlers in the industry.
13 Does Not: The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks may very well be the best tag team in the world right now looking at their track record. Matt and Nick Jackson were snubbed from WWE after having a horrible TNA run. It could have been a career killer but the talented brothers decided to find inspiration. The Young Bucks started to take their game to another level and found huge success.
12 Wants To Join WWE: Batista
The success outside of WWE in the movie industry has made Batista an even bigger star than his wrestling days. Batista’s role as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise for Marvel has helped him become a credible actor in Hollywood. Despite not needing wrestling at all, Batista has admitted to wanting to sign with WWE for one final run before his official retirement.
11 Does Not: Colt Cabana
Independent wrestling stand out Colt Cabana likely would have achieved more success in WWE if he signed today. A prior run saw him fail badly with a short stint on the main roster as Scotty Goldman. WWE did not see his value and released him. The chances of Cabana returning to WWE took a hit when his former best friend CM Punk walked out of the company on poor terms.
10 Wants To Join WWE: Shelton Benjamin
The horrible luck of a badly timed injury ended the verbal agreement WWE made with Shelton Benjamin. WWE signed Benjamin to join the SmackDown Live brand following the brand split in the summer of 2016. Benjamin realized he needed surgery from an injury suffered in Japan to take him off the schedule. WWE did not make any guarantees to sign him back, but Benjamin badly wants to return.
9 Does Not: Davey Richards
Davey Richards is currently one of the top stars in TNA after many years of success in Ring of Honor and various independent promotions. The technical wrestling skills of Richards made him stand out enough to get noticed by WWE at one point. Richards and tag team partner Eddie Edwards of the American Wolves were a top tier team on the free agent market.
8 Wants To Join WWE: Kyle O'Reilly
Ring of Honor was in for a huge shock when Kyle O'Reilly decided to leave the company a few weeks after winning the ROH World Championship on the biggest show of the year Final Battle 2016. O’Reilly would lose the title back to Adam Cole in his first defense at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom. The decision of O’Reilly leave ROH after his contract expired came at the desire of wanting to join WWE.
7 Does Not: Cody Rhodes
One former WWE Superstar that has no interest in joining the company once again is Cody Rhodes. The request of his release ended up being the best wrestling decision of Cody’s career. Fan momentum started to grow on his side after he chose to leave a great contract in favor of showing his talent without restriction.
Rhodes has become one of the most successful independent stars wrestling for just about every major promotion such as NJPW, ROH, TNA, Impact Wrestling, PWG and Evolve. Rumors are circulating that Cody has verbally agreed to a contract specifically with ROH and New Japan for the foreseeable future. Both companies want to build around him. Rhodes has revealed he's making more money outside of WWE and is much happier.
5 Wants To Join WWE: Kelly Kelly
One former women’s wrestler that benefited from the prior approach to women’s wrestling was Kelly Kelly. WWE pushed her at a young age due to her good looks and marketed her through sex appeal rather than in-ring talent. Kelly had a strong career before making the decision to step away from the ring. The past few months have seen Kelly get back in touch with the WWE world.
4 Does Not: Zack Sabre Jr.
The presence of Zack Sabre Jr. in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic made fans assume he would get signed to a long term contract. Sabre did well in the tournament but was one of the few standout names to not agree to a deal to join the Cruiserweight Division. It ended up being the best decision considering how badly the division has gone and how successful Sabre has been since the tournament.
3 Wants To Join WWE: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan appeared to finally be on good terms with WWE for the rest of his life back in 2014-2015. The signing of Hogan to become an ambassador for the company saw him return to television occasionally in non-wrestling roles along with other promotional work representing WWE. Things went awry once again for Hogan when a sex tape leaked featuring him unleashing a racist tirade.
2 Does Not: Kenny Omega
The biggest star in the wrestling industry today outside of WWE that has no desire to sign with the company is Kenny Omega. A recent star-making performance against Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 2017 made Omega the hottest name in the wrestling business. Rumors were out that Omega’s contract expired right after the match and he would sign with WWE to enter the Royal Rumble.
1 Wants To Join WWE: Adam Cole
One former Bullet Club member that does want to join WWE is Adam Cole. The 27 year old star made history as the only three-time ROH World Champion in company history. That is a huge accomplishment given the number of legends that have worked for ROH and the young age of Cole. Despite being only 27, Cole has achieved just about everything one could outside of WWE becoming a huge name.
Cole was recently written out of ROH and PWG as he became a free agent. The likelihood is he will sign with WWE in the upcoming months. Every interview Cole has done in his career with questions about WWE revealed his ultimate goals are to one day win the WWE Championship and have a WrestleMania moment. Cole is the ideal WWE wrestler with his combination of storytelling, talent and in-ring work. There is no doubt WWE will eventually bring Cole to the company and this is what he has always dreamed of.
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