Alright, let’s mention the elephant in the room to start with; I do believe that CM Punk will not only return to the WWE for a Hall of Fame induction, but I believe he will again wrestle for the company. We’ve seen Bret Hart, Ultimate Warrior and others hold more visceral grudges towards the WWE, and they all returned, so it may take some time. But with that said, Punk isn’t on this list, because I think he will be back.
The WWE is easily the biggest wrestling company in the world, and after being seen as the biggest (and to some people only) way to make true money in the wrestling industry, there have been a lot of people employed by them, and with the growth of wrestling around the world and the ability to make serious money, a lot of former WWE performers are doing great things all around the world. Some of those guys (Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal) leave the company and come back stronger than ever, while some leave and fade off into obscurity. Out of the current crop of former WWE stars, who won’t ever return to Vince McMahon’s company?
15 Adam Rose
Adam Rose is the perfect example of NXT gimmicks not catching on when being promoted to the main roster (the list is long; The Vaudevillians, The Ascension, even Enzo & Cass), but even despite those odds, it looked like the party boy Rose could get over on the main roster, even if his small amount of popularity was due to the bunny that joined his group on the way to the ring. He then joined the modern day J.O.B. Squad, the Social Outcasts, and after being suspended for violating the WWE’s Wellness Policy, he was let go, and other than questioning his suspension, he hasn’t been heard of since on a big stage. While he may still be wrestling in smaller promotions around the world, Rose’s star power has definitely shrunk, and despite the rumors that he was returning in 2017, it just wouldn’t be worth it for the WWE.
14 Justin Gabriel
In 2016, the WWE booked a phenomenal Cruiserweight Classic, and the fans saw the opportunity to bring back many former stars. WWE chose just Brian Kendrick and (for a short time) Tajiri, and with the way they have booked the cruiserweights since, it’s unlikely you’ll get to see others return. Justin Gabriel (now P.J. Black in Lucha Underground) will be no exception. Since his time in the Nexus, Gabriel was used as nothing more than glorified enhancement talent, and was regarded as one of the biggest wastes of talent in the WWE at the time. Since the time he left, he has become a star all over the world, but his most prominent work has been done in Lucha Underground. LU may not have the exposure of the WWE, but he gets freedom with what he does, and he gets to show off his incredible depth and talent. Don’t expect to see him join the cruiserweights in WWE anytime soon.
13 Wade Barrett
It’s been said time and time again in the past few years, but the current crop of U.K. talents in the wrestling industry is astounding, and guys like Pete Dunne, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre, Marty Scurll and Tyler Bate will no doubt be household names one day. But the first one of this generation to truly make a name for themselves on a worldwide basis was Wade Barrett, who should have been so much more than he was in the WWE. Barrett was a part of the original season of the reality show version of NXT, and as the leader of Nexus, it looked like he was destined to be the companies top heel, and one of the biggest stars they’ve had in quite some time. But that wasn’t to be, and despite several Intercontinental title reigns, Barrett left when his contract was up, and it’s safe to say that you won’t be seeing him in any big wrestling promotion anytime soon.
12 Damien Sandow
The WWE is very weird in some ways, as they often have gimmicks and superstars handed to them on a silver platter. Sometimes they choose to work against their performers like we saw with Zack Ryder, and after getting over a terrible "stunt double" gimmick, they decided to do the exact same thing to Damien Sandow. He was supposed to be used as a background player to make The Miz more interesting, but he completely stole the show, as well as the fans' hearts, but the WWE didn’t even pay off the storyline properly, and after more misuse, Sandow was released by the company. After brief appearances in WCPW and Impact, it seemed that the newly-dubbed Aron Rex was going to prove that WWE made a big mistake letting him go, but the hype has quickly dissipated, and the WWE may have been right after all, and will have no interest in bringing him back.
11 CJ Parker
NXT has been a phenomenon for the WWE over the past several years, with performers like Baron Corbin and The Revival going on to do big things, as well as showcasing the top independent stars from around the world like Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor, but for all the good NXT does for its superstars, they sometimes miss the boat on certain wrestlers. We will include a few more on this list, but none were misused more than C.J Parker, and upon his release, he went to train as a young boy in New Japan. In recent times, he has been given a chance to show off his skills, and he looks like an absolute superstar. Under the name Juice Robinson, the former Parker has had amazing matches with the likes of Zack Sabre Jr. and Tetsuya Naito, and while he may never win a World Title like Cody Rhodes, he is carving out a great spot for himself in NJPW, and that should motivate him to stay there, rather than return to WWE.
10 Chavo Guerrero
The Guerrero dynasty is one of the best and most renowned in the entire wrestling industry, and while Eddie was climbing to the top of the mountain and becoming one of the most popular stars in WWE, his nephew was struggling to find his footing, and even when he did, Chavo was never taken seriously, and left the company to little fan fare. Since that point, he has continued to wrestle for Impact, Lucha Underground and several Mexican promotions, as well as working closely with Netflix’s new show GLOW, so he is keeping very busy, and doesn’t need the WWE pay check anytime soon. We may see another Mexican sensation in Rey Mysterio return in the near future, but unfortunately, Chavo could never live up to the hype that his last name required of him, and there’s just no desire from the fans to see him return.
9 Solomon Crowe
NXT in recent years has been showcasing some of the top independent talent from all around the world, so when indie superstar Sami Calihan made his way to NXT, it seemed like only a matter of time until he was on top. However, that’s not even close to how it turned out. He was rebranded Solomon Crowe, and showed up with a hacker gimmick that seemed unique enough to work. But there were always questions about it under the PG era in the WWE, and it didn’t work well. He only appeared on a handful of occasions, and the gimmick just didn’t click with those opportunities. With the plethora of new signees, he decided to ask for his release, and has gone out to success on the indie scene since, so it’s unlikely he’ll be interested in a return.
8 Evan Bourne
The WWE is now promoting the cruiserweights as an integral part of their show (despite the horrible booking for the most part on Monday Night RAW), and that’s surprising to some people, because the company has had several great cruiserweights over the past decade who’ve been booked horribly among the big men. One that stands out among that group is Evan Bourne. He won several tag team titles during his WWE run, and while he wrestled very well and had great matches, his run was plagued with injuries and Wellness Policy violations, and that led to him leaving the company to little fanfare. He then returned to ROH, PWG and New Japan as "Reborn" Matt Sydal, and both as a singles competitor and a tag team performer alongside Ricochet, and has been phenomenal every step of the way, and he’s just doing way too good to need a return to WWE.
7 Trent Barretta
The WWE’s tag team division has always been a struggle, especially in recent times, and one of those forgotten teams is The Dude Busters, who consisted of Caylen Croft and Trent Baretta. Although they looked fairly generic, they were fantastic, but the WWE still had no interest in them, and they were released before they even began to scratch the surface of their potential. Since they were both released, Baretta's potential outside of the WWE was questionable, but he went out into the world of independent professional wrestling, and that led him to New Japan and a team with Rocky Romero, and together the two have become four-time IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions. At New Japan's first ever U.S show (Night 2) this past week, Romero revealed that Roppongi Vice were breaking up so that Trent could pursue his dreams as a heavyweight in New Japan, and while you may not think of Trent as a former WWE guy, there’s no chance at all he will make a return.
The Ruthless Aggression Era was quite a unique one in the WWE, and there were several performers who looks like future World Champions that amounted to nothing, from guys like MVP to John Morrison, but the most disappointing of the lot was the second generation superstar Carlito. Mr. Caribbean Cool showed flashes of greatness, and was incredibly charismatic in the ring and on the microphone, but he was accused of being lazy and taking his spot for granted, and that ended up costing him his job with the WWE. There were rumors he could return to join The Shining Stars around the time of the brand split in 2016, but those never came to fruition, and unfortunately for fans of Carlito, it’s unlikely that the company will ever want to bring him back.
5 Scott Steiner
There have been plenty of stars that left the WWE to act bitter about the biggest wrestling company in the world, but after a while, most of that animosity goes away. For Big Poppa Pump, it looks like that will NEVER be the case. He recently resurfaced in Impact Wrestling (now known as GFW), and with a live microphone in his hand doing promotional work for their upcoming Slammiversary card, Steiner didn't hesitate to take some shots at WWE, more specifically Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Scott is getting up there in age (and has been for a while), and although he’s been a big help for ratings with Impact, he just wouldn’t fit in with the current WWE product, and that, combined with his boisterous verbal bashing of the company and it’s higher-ups, it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing him on RAW anytime soon.
4 Joey Ryan
There are plenty of controversial wrestlers in the world of independent professional wrestling today, from The Young Bucks to Will Ospreay and Ricochet, and they all divide fan opinion, but none draw more divisive heat from fans and industry legends than Joey Ryan, otherwise known as “The King of Dong Style.” This has drawn very harsh criticism from old-school guys like Jim Cornette, but wherever Ryan works, the fans want to see him do several "dong" related spots, so whether you like it or not, that’s what works for him, and he will continue doing it. You won’t think of Ryan as a former WWE guy, but he had several dark matches for the main roster years ago, as well as a short stint in developmental, and with the new fame that he has garnered from this controversial style, as well as his affiliation with Lucha Underground, he is doing well for himself, and it seems there would be no interest from either party to make a return happen.
Over the years, Vince McMahon has become obsessed with superstars of the bigger and more muscular build, so why Ryback came into the WWE as Skip Sheffield with the Nexus, it looked like he had a bright future ahead of himself. When he repackaged himself as Ryback, he shot to the top of the WWE card, and looked like he would be a future World Champion. Unfortunately, the WWE as usual seemed too interested in booking other stars, and despite the massive “feed me more” chants that followed The Big Guy everywhere he went, he slipped down to the midcard, and was then let go, ending a good, but somewhat disappointing run with the WWE. While he hasn’t exactly been anti-WWE since leaving, he hasn’t painted the company in a great light on his podcast, and with that and independent bookings here and there, don’t expect him back anytime soon.
2 Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio should have been a megastar in the WWE, but the company's inability to book stars correctly in the modern day hindered him, and when he turned face during his original run, he was doomed. After being fired in 2014 for a backstage altercation, he returned to the independent scene and was so hot that a return to the company occurred at Hell in a Cell, and unfortunately, that went nowhere. After the incredibly horrific Mex-America gimmick and the mediocre League of Nations, Del Rio returned to his "El Patron" roots, and has joined GFW. With his outspoken nature and plenty of ways to earn big money outside of the WWE, he shouldn’t and won’t return ever again. His girlfriend Paige is another story, as she should and may be returning soon, but with El Patron winning the Impact World title at Slammiversary, he should stay there until retirement to make that promotion as great as it can be.
1 Kenny Omega
Outside of Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega is probably the biggest worldwide name currently in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and has forged almost his entire reputation in the wrestling business through his work in Japan (mainly NJPW and DDT), so it might surprise you to know that Omega spent quite a bit of time in WWE’s developmental system in the mid-2000s. We never got to see Omega on the WWE main roster, and perhaps if Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles didn’t sign with the WWE in early 2016, we would have seen it already by now. But those guys leaving New Japan left a gaping hole at the top of the card, and that’s one that Omega has slotted right into, and it’s unlikely he’ll give that up anytime soon. There were rumors that "The Cleaner" was headed to the WWE around the time of the 2017 Royal Rumble, but with an epic rivalry against Okada still going, plus a looming story with Cody Rhodes for Bullet Club supremacy, there’s a lot for him to do in The Land of the Rising Sun, and it’s doubtful we’ll ever see him in the WWE.