World Wrestling Entertainment scouts and executives are constantly on the look for new talents who could be added to the company’s developmental system or could immediately join either Raw or SmackDown once they were signed by the WWE. Of course, any and all important decisions regarding portions of the promotion’s main roster must be run by WWE chairman Vince McMahon. The individuals McMahon selects to be in main events and serve as top babyfaces and top heels are not always embraced by pockets of fans all around the world, but customers and those who spend their money on the product have little choice than to accept that Vince seemingly believes he knows what’s really best for business even if fans try to tell him differently during television shows and other events.
As far as those of us who are on the outside and don’t work for WWE know, there are seemingly a plethora of wrestlers Vince wants nothing to do with and either won’t sign or won’t put into any of his rings as of the summer of 2017. In some cases, however, it appears that wrestlers would rather remain independent acts able to make their own schedules, appear wherever they want all around the world and not be stuck performing underneath only the WWE umbrella. Things often change quickly in the wrestling business and in WWE, which means it’s possible all 15 of the athletes mentioned in this piece could, eventually, perform for the company at a major show. After all, Vince isn’t going to be around forever.
15 Nothing to Do With: Scott Steiner
Odds are some fans, particularly those who only concentrate on following the WWE, are not even aware that “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner is back on national television in the United States via Global Force Wrestling/Impact Wrestling. Steiner is well into his 50s, his last stint in the WWE following the death of World Championship Wrestling did not end well, and the outspoken wrestler has not been shy on criticizing WWE employees in interviews over the years.
It’s difficult to imagine there would be any real upside to the WWE bringing Steiner back even for a promo or two, which is why we guess Vince wants nothing to do with the former champion in August 2017. The biggest shame here is that the company utilized him poorly during the first decade of the 2000s.
14 Can’t Sign: Matt Riddle
It’s possible, all things considered, former Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor and current pro wrestler Matt Riddle is the top free agent in the wrestling business today. In May 2017, Riddle explained that the WWE has expressed interest in him, but also that he doesn’t yet want to work for the biggest pro wrestling promotion on the planet for multiple reasons.
Riddle stated, during an interview, that he would like to work for other organizations around the world before committing to the WWE, and also that he would prefer to be called up to the main roster immediately rather than be forced to go through NXT. While nobody can say, for sure, that Riddle will never work for WWE, we think it’s safe to say he won’t do so in 2017.
13 Nothing to Do With: Alex Riley
Alex Riley had a good look, could cut decent promos, was a fine worker and even had a chance to associate with the Miz on the main roster, and yet he flopped while in the WWE until he and the company parted ways in 2016. During an episode of his own podcast released in January 2017, former WWE performer Ryback possibly gave us some insight into why Riley never made it. Specifically, Ryback explained Riley was buried behind the scenes by none other than John Cena, the company’s biggest star of the past 15 years.
Having any amount of heat with Cena is a figurative kiss of death for a performer, particularly for one who was never a big draw in the first place. We wish Riley all the best in his future endeavors away from the WWE. Not too shocking, he's change fields since departing giving acing a try.
12 Can’t Sign: Kota Ibushi
Wrestling fans around the world couldn’t help but get excited upon learning Kota Ibushi was going to take part in the Cruiserweight Classic that aired on the WWE Network in 2016. Any hopes Ibushi participating in that tournament would result in the talented performer signing a long-term deal with the WWE were squashed by the man himself last October when he released a statement about meeting with the promotion.
Ibushi explained that he simply wasn’t interested in wrestling in the WWE “environment,” and he also made it clear that he didn’t wrestle only to make as much money as possible. Give Ibushi credit for being true to himself even if that means that we won’t see him have great matches in NXT or on a future WrestleMania card.
11 Nothing to Do With: Ryback
We’ve already touched upon “The Big Guy,” so you can probably guess why we feel safe in assuming Vince wants little, if anything, to do with Ryback heading into the final several months of 2017. Ryback not only has not been afraid of burning any bridges that link him with his former employer since leaving the company. It has also been alleged by CM Punk that Ryback was dangerous during matches.
There was a time, years ago, when it appeared Ryback had the goods to get over as the next top babyface in the WWE, but the best days of his run were already in the past when he and the WWE parted ways in 2016. It’s hard to imagine he will wrestle in the company in the foreseeable future, if ever again.
10 Can’t Sign: Zack Sabre Jr.
Just as with Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr. performed for the WWE during the Cruiserweight Classic, and some assumed that would be his opportunity to enter the promotion and become the next big star in NXT. In June 2017, Sabre explained that he's impressed by how the WWE views independent workers today, but he has also made it clear that he has goals he would like to achieve away from the WWE before he would truly consider putting pen to paper on a contract with the promotion.
Arguably one of the top technical workers in the world, Sabre has done well to grow what was already a noteworthy following since the CWC. Maybe 2018 will be the year when Sabre finally believes he’s done all there is to do outside of the WWE.
9 Nothing to Do With: Jeff Jarrett
We’ve come to the point where Jeff Jarrett allegedly holding the WWE up for money before he was willing to drop the Intercontinental Championship to Chyna before making the jump to WCW in 1999 is no longer the main reason Vince probably wants nothing to do with him. Jarrett turned 50-years-old earlier this year, and the wrestler once known as “Double-J” has attempted to create competition for WWE programming on multiple occasions, most recently when his Global Force Wrestling officially merged with Impact Wrestling.
Other than laughing at the idea that GFW could ever take any profits away from the WWE, Vince, more likely than not, wants nothing to do with Jarrett even if the accomplished wrestler could offer some help on the company’s creative team.
8 Can’t Sign: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio being listed among wrestlers WWE cannot sign in 2017 may be up to interpretation. It was reported during the summer the WWE and Mysterio were interested in working together ahead of the upcoming WrestleMania season, but Justin Barrasso Sports Illustrated claimed the promotion does not want to negotiate with Konnan, a former WWE performer who serves as Mysterio’s representation.
Another reason it’s possible the WWE cannot re-sign Mysterio is that the former champion and legend of the industry may want a lighter schedule than one the company is willing to offer him. Either way, it seems as if Mysterio and the WWE coming together on any agreement is unlikely, meaning the door is open for the 42-year-old to sign with GFW later this year.
7 Nothing to Do With: Alberto Del Rio
Today we go celebrate this mans birthday. My best friend, my agent and my lawyer. The full package. He's there for me in the worst times and the very best. I owe so much to this guy. Thanks for everything you do for me and my family.. thanks for always being there.. I hope this is an amazing birthday for you amigo because you deserve it!! Happy birthday @keithrtw
One may need more than just a section of a piece to explain why Vince and the WWE want nothing to do with Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio and the WWE have experienced falling outs on multiple occasions, he was suspended by the company for allegedly violating the promotion’s Wellness Policy in August 2016, and he and his significant other, WWE personality Paige, have generated controversial and negative headlines away from the ring on multiple occasions over the past year.
Say whatever you will about how the company booked Del Rio and about what he could provide the organization. All indications are that he isn’t worth the headache for a public company such as the WWE. We’d be surprised if he and the WWE ever worked together again down the road.
6 Can’t Sign: Young Bucks
Back in May of this year, Matt Jackson explained during an appearance on Edge and Christian’s podcast that he and his brother, Nick, believe it currently “doesn’t seem cool” to go to WWE since so many other recognizable names have signed for the promotion in the past couple of years. It’s understandable why Nick and Matt would like to keep their options open ahead of future contract negotiations. The Young Bucks make their own schedules, they are largely protected in multiple companies, they are able to cash-in on their own merchandise sales and they have creative freedom they wouldn’t receive in the WWE.
While the Bucks have left an eventual move to the WWE open, it seems the company would have to make them quite the impressive offer to convince them to give up their careers as they exist at the moment.
5 Nothing to Do With: A.J. Lee
Sometimes, the personal life of an individual has serious affects on her career, and that is seemingly the case with A.J. Lee. The former champion retired from the WWE in April 2015, and the fact she is married to CM Punk, who walked out of the company and away from pro wrestling in 2014, will likely prevent her from ever making a return to the promotion.
Earlier this year, it was revealed damage to her cervical spine played a significant role in her deciding to retire. Even if she did, one day, wish to have another run in the WWE, it’s possible doctors working for the company wouldn’t clear her. There is also the matter regarding her husband’s very real feud with the WWE standing between her appearing on either Raw or SmackDown.
4 Nothing to Do With: Cody Rhodes
If Vince and the WWE are interested in doing business with the wrestler once known as Cody Rhodes in the future, the company sure has a funny way of showing it. Most notably, the promotion has, per Cody’s words, not allowed him to use the Rhodes name while performing for organizations such as Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and, thus, “The American Nightmare” has gone by Cody while working for those companies.
The Rhodes name was obviously famous well before Cody’s father, Dusty, ever stepped foot inside of a WWE ring, which makes the promotion’s stance on this issue seem particularly petty. In short, it’s not the type of decision one would make if he wanted to keep Cody interested in making a return to the WWE.
3 Can’t Sign: Kenny Omega
In January 2017, Kenny Omega told the Wrestling Observer he was not going to be attending that month’s Royal Rumble, and he instead re-upped with NJPW. Just as with the Young Bucks, Omega is currently in a tremendous position as it pertains to his career. Omega is the storyline leader of Bullet Club, he is arguably the top star of NJPW and maybe the best overall wrestler in the world who is able to expand upon his creativity outside of the WWE, and he has only increased his worth and value since this past January.
One also cannot help but wonder if Omega and the Bucks have noticed how acts such as A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and the team of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have been treated since making their jumps to the WWE, and if those booking decisions will affect their career choices.
2 Nothing to Do With: Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan’s situation is unique because he is currently signed by the company and is working as an on-air character, but we still felt the need to list him as a wrestler Vince wants nothing to do with because it’s obvious Bryan wishes he was still able to create matches. We now know the WWE forced Bryan to retire as a wrestler because of the numerous concussions and other brain injuries he suffered during his career, but the former champion has not been quiet about the fact he would be interested in wrestling once his current contract with the WWE expires.
Bryan may still have at least one more match left in the tank, but we don’t believe Vince or anybody else in the WWE will allow him to have that match as long as he still works for the promotion.
1 Nothing to Do With: CM Punk
CM Punk leaving the WWE in 2014 is only one reason Vince and the company probably aren’t high on bringing him back. Punk and Colt Cabana were sued by WWE Dr. Chris Amann for comments the two made during an episode of the Art of Wrestling podcast that went public in November 2014, and there is currently no sign Punk and the WWE are on good terms. After leaving WWE, Punk made the jump to the UFC, but he was dominated by Mickey Gall in a one-sided match in September 2016.
Perhaps things would be different between WWE and Punk if he looked like a star in his UFC debut, but the strained relationship between the two entities along with Punk repeatedly telling anybody who will listen he retired from pro wrestling has us expecting Vince wants to keep away from the “Straightedge Superstar.”