“Never say never” is the most common phrase you’ll hear whenever the subject of a former WWE performer returning to the company is brought up. That may sound like a nice, neat public relations appropriate statement, but there is an element of truth to it as well. WWE’s history is filled with stars that returned after swearing off the business forever and, with the company becoming more and more open to re-opening burnt bridges, it’s likely that will continue to be the case for years to come.
The fact of the matter is that as long as there is money to be made on both sides, few people are ever going to completely rule out the possibility of a return.
But that’s not always the case. While those wrestlers who pack up their bags and never return to WWE are quickly becoming the exception to the rule, there are still plenty of them that exist. For some it is because they have walked away from the business of pro wrestling for good and will not make an appearance period. Others simply found happiness after a failed stint in WWE and have sworn off the company.
Then you have the exceptional cases. The wrestlers who burnt their bridges so thoroughly that the thought of WWE welcoming them back into the fold seems about as likely as the XFL giving it another go. Their exits from the company and subsequent time away were such spectacular disasters that they have since become cautionary tales to young wrestlers regarding what not to do should you ever with to work with WWE again.
Whatever the reason for their departure, however, these are the wrestlers we feel confident saying “never” for when it comes to working with WWE again.
20 Mr. Kennedy
For some time, it looked like Mr. Kennedy was going to climb to the top of the WWE mountain. He had the looks, the charisma and even seemingly had the support of WWE management. Unfortunately, he also had a tendency to work pretty sloppy matches. Kennedy drew quite a bit of heat in his later days for almost injuring wrestlers with poorly executed maneuvers. A particularly bad suplex on Randy Orton allegedly led to his WWE release, and several of WWE’s biggest names have since stated that they hope Kennedy never returns to a WWE ring ever again.
19 Perry Saturn
As a member of The Radicalz alongside Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn looked primed for greatness when he first entered WWE. Unfortunately for Saturn, his legendary short temper got the better of him one night when he started to legitimately beat up on wrestler Mike Bell over a botched move. This incident put Saturn in WWE’s dog house for the remainder of his time in the company, and his post-WWE life has featured a few too many run-ins with the law and drug issues for the recently sober Saturn to ever find himself in WWE’s good graces again.
18 Rob Van Dam
Unlike many of the performers on this list whose chances of not working with WWE again result from an incident or series of incidents, Rob Van Dam’s situation is based more on a general lack of interest on Van Dam’s part. While Van Dam’s run-ins with the law over his fondness for certain recreational drugs isn’t something WWE is probably thrilled about, Van Dam has stated time and again that he would only return to WWE should a major opportunity present itself. For WWE’s part, it’s highlight doubtful they would ever put the aging Van Dam into a major onscreen role again.
Bill Goldberg’s relationship with WWE is a strange one. While he is often rumored to be making a guest return and addresses the rumors with a “You never know” kind of tone, the general consensus seems to be that Goldberg and WWE are not on the same page. Goldberg has mentioned speaking to Triple H about doing business again, but it sounds like the differences in business philosophy that the two parties have has not gotten any better with time. While Goldberg is not at the very top of WWE’s blacklist, if a WWE return was going to happen it probably would have happened by now.
16 Jeff Jarrett
The funny thing about Jeff Jarrett and WWE is that it seems like the two simply never got along at any point during their time together. Jarrett’s time in WWE was filled with stories of hostile confrontations with management and other performers, up until his eventual departure from the company which was highlighted by Jarrett blackmailing Vince out of money so he would drop the Intercontinental Championship before leaving. Since then, Jarrett has served as a founding member of two organizations designed to compete with WWE directly and has remained outspoken regarding his general disinterest in working with them again.
15 Marty Jannetty
In his last WWE appearance in 2005, Marty Jannetty shocked many fans by showcasing a level of in-ring talent that few expected from a man that has only wrestled sporadically since his prime. If you’re wondering why WWE hasn’t made further appearance offers to him since then, the answer is, “they have. “ Jannetty no-showed several WWE events due to his drug problems and eventually forced WWE to sever ties with him for good. The fact that he has recently sent out mysterious tweets regarding the real father of Stephanie McMahon’s children probably doesn’t help his chances for a return either.
14 Teddy Hart
Once upon a time, Teddy Hart shocked the wrestling world by signing a WWE developmental contract at the age of 18. Whatever potential the young star may have had was apparently flushed away as WWE released in four years after his contract signing for alleged attitude problems. Since then, Hart has made enemies nearly everywhere he has gone through a deadly combination of immature in-ring and real life decisions. Teddy just can’t stay out of trouble in his life and would have to be considered far too great of a liability to ever be considered by WWE again.
13 Juventud Guerrera
There comes a point when a wrestler’s reputation just becomes too much of an obstacle for them to ever possibly get past, and that is the situation that Juventud Guerrera finds himself in now. Reportedly released from WWE following a series of in-ring and backstage attitude problems, Guerrera has since garnered a reputation for being a generally difficult person to deal with. Both fans and fellow wrestlers have shared stories of Guerrera’s poor behavior, and its reached a point where his very name has become synonymous with the kind of toxic presence WWE tends to shy away from.
12 Gail Kim
Gail Kim helped to elevate the standard of women’s wrestling through her groundbreaking work as a member of TNA and WWE in the early 2000s. Even though she’s a founding mother of the original “Divas Revolution,” don’t expect to see her in a WWE ring again any time soon. Kim decided to end her second WWE run by eliminating herself from a battle royal, walking to the back and telling John Laurinaitis she quit. Needless to say, this left her with quite a bit of heat among WWE's top brass. Her less-than-favorable comments regarding her time in WWE since then certainly sealed her fate.
11 CM Punk
There have been few WWE departures in history as infamous as CM Punk’s. Punk stunned fans everywhere by leaving WWE at a time when he was generally considered to be entrenched as one of the promotions top guys. Had Punk simply walked away from the company at that time and moved on to other pursuits, the bridge for a return perhaps would have been left open. However, CM Punk remains one of WWE’s most vocal detractors, and never seems to miss the chance to throw a few hostile words their way. Every time he speaks about his time in WWE, it becomes less and less likely that a CM Punk return will ever happen.
10 Colt Cabana
There are just some wrestlers that were never meant to work in WWE no matter how talented they are. Colt Cabana has managed to become a fan favorite nearly everywhere he has gone, but his time in WWE as Scotty Goldman is best remembered for the amount of podcast material it has given Cabana since. Put simply, Colt Cabana and WWE just do not agree on what Cabana’s value or role as a professional wrestler should be. Although Cabana hasn’t done or said anything that would completely ruin his chances for a WWE appearance, the two parties simply couldn’t be further apart on a business level.
9 Christopher Nowinski
While Christopher Nowinski’s run as a Harvard educated professional wrestler wasn’t exactly memorable, his time away from WWE has been simply unforgettable. Nowinski’s post-WWE career has seen him transform into an outspoken figurehead for a group of foundations all attempting to raise awareness of the dangers of sports concussions. Given that the subject of concussions is something of a sore spot for WWE – and that Nowinski has targeted them specifically as a major violator of concussion etiquette – it’s fair to say that they two aren’t on speaking terms at the moment.
WWE’s concussion policies have improved tremendously in recent years, but there’s probably still too much bad blood here for a Nowinski appearance, or office job with the company, to be considered.
8 Jeff Hardy
Few wrestlers have received more second chances than Jeff Hardy has. The incredibly eccentric Hardy manages to still find work as a top-TNA talent despite his history of drug abuse, burnout and generally poor professional behavior. Still, it’s difficult to imagine that WWE would welcome him back with open arms anytime soon. Hardy’s antics have only become more detrimental since leaving WWE, and it’s reached a point where the superstar is simply too much of a public relations liability for WWE to consider taking a risk on. Whether WWE even bothers to give Hardy a Hall of Fame induction one day is up for debate.
It’s almost too sad to even talk about the fall of Sunny. There are times when it seems a week doesn’t go by without hearing of some new incident the former WWE star has gotten into that is improbably worse than the last. From DUIs to pornographic publicity stunts, Sunny’s life has become an increasingly more tragic series of bad decisions. Her life has begun to resemble WWE’s list of personal conduct violations. While already a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, it feels safe to say that WWE’s doors are forever closed to the highly controversial Sunny.
6 Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura was just one of those guys destined to be a professional wrestler. His impeccable physique, style and promo skills made him one of the most notable wrestlers of the ‘80s, although many fans are likely to remember him more for his stint as an incredible WWE announcer. Sadly, the relationship between WWE and Ventura has been downhill ever since Ventura sued WWE over usage royalties in the early ‘90s. Given that Ventura won the high-profile case – and that he continues to battle with WWE over the use of his material in WWE Network content –it’s starting to look like Ventura’s token 2004 Hall of Fame induction will be the last we see of him in WWE again.
5 Zahra Schreiber
Contrary to popular belief, WWE is actually a company that believes in second chances. That is, of course, unless you mess up the first chance so bad that you’ve pretty much left them no choice but to end the relationship permanently. That appears to be the case with Zahra Schreiber who was released from her NXT contract after controversial Instagram photos surfaced that showed Schreiber posing with Nazi memorabilia in the background. Though Zahra posted a lengthy apology and explanation of the event, her reputation among WWE fans was permanently tarnished. Her breakup with Seth Rollins shortly thereafter probably didn’t help her chances of being welcomed back either.
4 Scott Steiner
Remember when Scott Steiner was simply an incredibly gifted tag-team wrestler? That certainly seems like a lifetime ago now, as anyone who mentions Scott Steiner today tends to speak only of the performer’s incredibly controversial statements regarding…well just about everything, honestly. While Steiner hasn’t said anything that couldn’t possibly be taken back – and still draws favorable words from many of the wrestlers he’s worked with – Big Poppa Pump nevertheless retains almost no interest in ever working with WWE again even if WWE were willing to overlook certain statements and moments. It probably also doesn’t help that Steiner considers signing a WWE Legends contract the equivalent of selling your soul.
3 Paul London
In what is one of those “only in pro-wrestling” moments, Paul London was released from WWE largely because he chose to smile during what was supposed to be a serious backstage segment involving Vince McMahon. As you might imagine, Paul London was less than thrilled to lose his job over such an infraction. His time away from WWE has been highlighted by simply venomous comments regarding his former employer and many of their top brass. Few wrestlers have ever done quite as much to ensure they will never be welcomed back into WWE as London has.
As a featured player in the ECW revolution, Raven is generally agreed to be one of the most important characters and greatest talkers in wrestling history. Although his battles with drugs and alcohol as well as his generally combative nature have earned him quite the negative reputation over the years, the truth is that WWE may have still been willing to work with Raven were it not for his lawsuit against them. When Raven sued WWE over their treatment of performers as “independent contractors,” he effectively announced that he would never again be working with the world’s largest wrestling company again.
Although there probably aren’t many fans clamoring for the return of former WWE performer Nailz, anyone that does hold a particular piece of nostalgia in their heart for the performer will be saddened to learn that a return is simply never going to happen. Not only did he allegedly attack Vince McMahon and almost kill him in the process, but also provided a damning testimonial against McMahon and WWE during the company’s steroid trials. If there were ever a WWE blacklist Hal of Fame, Nailz would be a first ballot inductee. Outside of that, don’t expect to see any association between the two.