Since Triple H took over as the head of Talent Relations, WWE has continued to use an aggressive approach on recruiting talent. Not only are scouts looking at athletes from different sports, but they’re also keeping an eye on various independent wrestlers from around the world.
With the expansion to FOX looming, the WWE is looking to bolster their roster. However, a big problem is that talent isn’t as easy to acquire these days. Some, are locked down to some strict long-term contracts while others, just aren’t willing to sign given their status elsewhere. In this article, we feature both wrestling stars and athletes that would refuse a WWE deal. We have actual quotes to back up their desires against a WWE deal.
On the flip side, we’ll also include talents that would jump on a WWE contract immediately. This side of the list features a plethora of former WWE talent along with those that have envisioned joining the company for quite some time. For these wrestlers, it might be a waiting game and one that’s dependant on the WWE.
Enjoy the article folks as we take a look at 10 people outside of the WWE that would refuse a contract and 10 that would sign immediately. Like always, be sure to share the page with a friend. We start the article off with a major UFC star. According to the fighter himself WWE offered a deal – however, this UFC Champion signing might be unlikely. Let’s begin!
20 Refuse – Khabib Nurmagomedov
@WWE ask me to jump inside. What do you think guys? #SmashLesnar #FakeFights
Khabib caused quite the stir when he issued out this tweet. He already has a finishing move in place performing the Finn Balor like stomp following his UFC victory against Conor McGregor.
According to Give Me Sport, the contract was actually extended prior to the fight. WWE wants to put on a major show in Russia. Khabib can be the perfect face needed in order to fill out an arena. However, with all that being said, Khabib joining the WWE seems highly unlikely. The tweet was met with a joking tone more than anything else.
19 Would Sign - Paige VanZant
Speaking of MMA, Paige VanZant is another name that might be joining sooner rather than later. According to the popular fighter, WWE reached out in the past with some serious interest. Unlike Khabib, VanZant loves the industry and is more that open to joining in the future;
"I believe they [WWE] reached out to my management," VanZant said. "That'd be something I'd love to eventually venture into. I've always been a big fan of the WWE. They're a huge organization and a very successful organization. It'd be great. There have been lots of successful crossovers from Brock Lesnar going back and forth and now CM Punk coming over, it seems like a successful match up and it seems like I would fit really well in that area." (Source: Flocombat)
18 Refuse - Tetsuya Naito
When asked about a possible matchup against Brock Lesnar or John Cena, Naito let his feelings be known during an interview with Sports Illustrated:
“Of course, I know of them, but, unfortunately, I have no interest,” said Naito. “To me, New Japan is the foremost pro wrestling in the world. Entering the ring here means you are the world’s best, so to be a New Japan wrestler speaks for itself.”
He isn’t the only Japanese star to feel that way. Mega New Japan star Okada poked fun at a possible WWE debut. He compared what a thrill it would be if he was in Nakamura’s shoes taking on the likes of Jinder Mahal... an obvious shot at the promotion.
17 Would Sign - Big Cass
The recent Big Cass release was a surprising one. He was once looked upon as a possible WWE Champion in the future. However, due to his immaturity behind the scenes Cass stock completely plummeted. It got so bad that he was released by the company.
Since the release, Cass has said all the right things completely agreeing with the WWE for their decision. His goal is to make a WWE return one day, he admitted to this during his interview with Booker T. For the time being, he’ll resurface his name out on the indie scene. He recently returned to the ring with his no-compete clause expiring.
16 Refuse - Enzo Amore
Unlike his former tag partner Enzo Amore has no desire to make a return to the WWE. Although things ended on a sour note, injury difficulties also play a part in his current feelings:
"I blocked every number that had 203 in it. Straight up. I couldn't go back anyway. I have sciatica. I can't walk, bro. I can't do things physically that I once could do." (Source: Wrestlinginc)
He continues to enjoy his time away from the ring entering the music industry. He’s also doing quite a bit of sightseeing these days alongside his dog. Wrestling seems to be far from his mind for the time being.
15 Would Sign – Alberto Del Rio
“I am sure I’ll be back one day before I decide to retire. I’ll return to have a final run. Maybe I’ll be able to work with all those wrestlers I used to work with in that company.” (Source: Comic Book)
Del Rio didn’t leave on the greatest of terms. However, after apologizing to Triple H and visiting the WWE HQ a couple of months back things might not be as bad as they once were these days. Del Rio seems completely open to a returning. At the moment, this is more of a matter of if the WWE wants him back in the company. With Paige as the GM of SmackDown a return doesn’t seem likely for 2018.
14 Refuse - Scott Steiner
Usually, a Hall of Fame induction is welcomed by a former WWE star. Scott Steiner however, doesn’t feel the same way. Unless WWE pays the big bucks he has absolutely no desire to be inducted, calling the Hall of Fame a joke:
"Can you go someplace and say that it is legit when it doesn't exist? How can you say it is legit? It defies all odds. You cannot have a Hall of Fame if you cannot visit. It is the creation of someone's mind. It boggles my mind that people care about being in the Hall of Fame when it doesn't even exist.” (Source: Wrestlinginc)
13 Would Sign - James Storm
"It's one of those things. I kinda threw it out there and only time will tell, we'll see what happens. Right now I'm getting in the best shape I can get in. Like you said, I'm getting it together. It was more my personal and my family life that I had to get together and all that's taken care of.” (Source: Sportskeeda)
Storm made these comments just months ago. He continues to tease a possible return taking photos with members of the WWE production staff. Storm has made it clear he’s ready for the road life with the company, this, after he turned down the WWE following a brief NXT cameo. Given how things ended up with Impact, he’s more than ready to rewrite his wrongs with the WWE.
12 Refuse - Walter
Back in the day, it was unthinkable for a wrestler to turn down the WWE, especially since the purchase of WCW. However, these days, the indie scene is booming and lots of wrestlers love the creative freedom that’s attached to it. One of those wrestlers happens to be a guy WWE has tried to sign in the past, Walter. Despite the interest the indie star claims he has no desire to join either of the main rosters;
“I don’t know if I mentioned this but being a part of the Raw or SmackDown roster is nothing I am interested in. I don’t want to live in the US.” (Source: Wrestlinginc)
He did indicate that NXT deal might be something of interest in the future but not right now.
11 Would Sign - James Ellsworth
He wears a #ReHireEllsworth shirt on the indie scene. Clearly, James would be open to rejoining the WWE at any point. He briefly returned alongside Carmella. Once again Ellsworth did a great job in the role.
Looking at his Instagram account alone James clearly wants back in with the company. He didn’t receive an actual contract in his recent return. Instead, he was booked for various dates. He’s hoping for a full-time return and one with guarantees the next time around. For now, he’ll continue on as a wrestler with lots of bookings on the indie scene.
10 Refuse - Will Ospreay
"As a kid you'd always want your WrestleMania, you always wanted to be like yourself (Jericho), John Cena or any of those guys. It's always been in the back of my mind but as I've come here (NJPW) I've grown up more. I had a phone call the other day actually asking about my contacts and stuff like that. I appreciate it but I'm happy here and I love being a part of Japan." (Source: Sportskeeda)
This one stings a little given Will’s obvious talent. Ospreay seems to like his wrestling a lot more elsewhere. He also admitted on the Chris Jericho podcast that the WWE travel schedule would be impossible for him to keep up with. Will despises the travel aspect of the business. For that reason, a WWE contract seems to be a long shot at this point.
9 Would Sign - Ryback
"I have not had any discussions; not from my end or their end. It is just not even in my mind right now. Not to say years from now it won't be, I just don't know. I am focused on growing my brand and my business right now.” (Source: Wrestlinginc)
That’s Ryback’s current mindset on a WWE return. The key from the statement is the “years from now” part. Surely, Ryback has interest in returning, especially given his limited lower-end gigs on the indie scene. We wouldn’t be surprised if Ryback jumped on a deal at this instant if it was offered by the company, despite his recent comments saying otherwise.
8 Refuse - Adam Page
He is one of the hottest Bullet Club members on the indie scene. Given his stock rising in the recent years, ESPN asked Page about his desire to join the WWE. Fans of the product won’t be too happy with his response:
“Going to WWE doesn’t feel important to me anymore. It’s not something I’m interested in. I really feel like in the past few years my goals have shifted from, ‘I want to accomplish X, Y, Z,’ to I want to make a good living for my family. “I want to have fun and I want to bring something new and fresh to fan’s eyes and have it be something they enjoy, no matter where it is, no matter what capacity. To have an outlet for creativity. That’s been my goal.”
7 Would Sign - Chelsea Green
She joined the WWE family during Tough Enough. These days, her only connection with the company is her real-life boyfriend Zack Ryder. However, this hasn’t hindered her ability one bit. Green continues to grow on the indie scene.
Like lots of other female talent, Green’s end goal is to join the WWE. In fact, the talent recently visited the WWE Performance Center getting a shot during a professional tryout. She hasn’t heard from the company since. However, with the female division constantly expanding a WWE contract seems inevitable in the future.
6 Refuse - Rosemary
Not all the pro wrestling women are as optimistic as Chelsea Green when it comes to a WWE contract. Gail Kim is an example of that. Looking at the current crop, the talented Rosemary doesn’t seem overly excited either. The Impact talent has been skeptical about the WWE and the way they book talent.
She has also responded to lots of Twitter questions pertaining to a future with the WWE. She isn’t shy about shutting down the speculation. The talent claims to be more than happy with her current role in Impact Wrestling. If that mind-set changes, look for WWE to take advantage quickly.
5 Would Sign - Robbie E
“I just want to be wrestling full-time. I want to say my job is wrestling. I drive a nice car, live in a nice house. I want to stay busy traveling the world wrestling. Of course, everyone’s number one is WWE. Again, if the situation is right. I’d be happy to be anywhere. There are so many options out there.” (Source: Pro Wrestling)
Shortly after the comments made Robbie E accepted a WWE tryout. At the age of 35, the performer realizes that the time to join the company is now. Along with Chelsea Green, we really haven’t heard much following the PC tryout. However, if WWE does come back with an offer, Robbie E is surely going to accept given his current desires.
4 Refuse - Juice Robinson
"Fast-forward three years, WWE / NXT, all that s---, everything that you guys constantly ask me about, I know because that's what we talk about," Robinson said. That's what we talk about, we talk about WWE, but that's in the rear view mirror now, and guess what? I ain't goin' back. I ain't ever going back.” (Source: Wrestlinginc)
Clearly, the desire to return isn’t there. Can you blame Robinson? The talent was severely underutilized with NXT turning into an enhancement talent for upcoming stars. Once he decided to leave, that trajectory completely shifted. Robinson is now a major star with New Japan, let alone his promos are top class and comparable to any great in the business these days.
3 Would Sign - Marty Scurll
The Elite joining the WWE seems to be inevitable. However, the members of the group remain pretty hush on the matter. Marty Scurll is a talent closely associated to The Elite, the wrestler has huge potential. He’s one of the top acts away from the WWE.
Unlike his peers, Marty has thought about joining the company. One of his favorite aspects of signing would be getting the chance to pick Vince McMahon’s brain;
“I would love to pick the brain of Vince McMahon. ‘The Villain’ and the ‘Evil Genius’ discussing the business over a steak dinner sounds divine.” (Source: Sescoops)
2 Refuse - CM Punk
This was the more obvious entry on the list. Not only does Punk have no desire to rejoin the WWE but he doesn’t miss the wrestling industry altogether. Punk had a chance to return during the All In event. This could have been a perfect scenario especially with the show in his neck of the woods. Instead, he did not appear.
His MMA career seems to be done, at least with the UFC. Nonetheless, Punk continues to take on other projects like an acting gig. The world of pro wrestling clearly left a bitter taste in his mouth. Whatever the offer would be, chances are, Punk would not accept, not any time soon.
1 Would Sign - Cris Cyborg
“If it is happening, maybe we can give all fans the fight they’ve never seen. “Of course it won’t be [in] UFC, it won’t be MMA; it will be [in] WWE. “I think it would be great for all the fans that would like to watch, but I’m not sure about that 100 per cent.“I don’t know. Maybe it happens, maybe not. It would be great.” (Source: Express)
Clearly, Cyborg is down for such a super fight against Ronda Rousey. Adding to that, Mick Foley put in a good word with Vince McMahon himself pertaining to the potential of such a signing. If the WWE decided to extend a deal, she’ll accept no doubt.