The free agent list in wrestling right now has given us a few huge signings by WWE. Many of the recent WWE signings have featured formerly employed talent returning to the company for another attempt at bigger success. Drew McIntyre won the NXT Championship after a successful independent wrestling run gave him the momentum to return to NXT in a major way. The recent news of Ethan Carter III possibly signing with WWE could see him return to NXT as well. Shelton Benjamin and Mickie James returned in roles that saw them get back on the main roster.
There are quite a few wrestlers on the free agent market that want to return to WWE. Sadly, Vince McMahon will not allow them to return based on either having an ugly falling out with them or just not believing they don’t have it takes to succeed today. The other side of WWE signings features former WWE stars doing well that Triple H would want to bring back. Triple H tries to sign all the top names available on the free agent market. Unfortunately for him, not everyone wants to join the company. We will look at both sides with eight wrestlers that want to return to WWE but will be rejected by Vince McMahon along with seven that Triple H wants to bring back with little hope of it happening.
15 Vince won’t approve: Bobby Lashley
Most fans would believe Vince McMahon wants Bobby Lashley back considering he is a jacked muscle head with talent. Lashley was actually the top prospect of McMahon at one point. Vince viewed Lashley as the next big star to join John Cena and Batista as the faces of the company in 2007. Therefore Lashley represented Donald Trump against Umaga in the Battle of the Billionaires match as a major opportunity to become a star.
14 Triple H won’t be able to sign: Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes is thriving outside of WWE after being told the company wanted him to work as Stardust for the foreseeable future. The request of Rhodes to be released from his contract was granted. Cody was inspired to change the legacy of his wrestling career. Instant success came with Rhodes working in promotions all over the world before making his home in Ring of Honor and New Japan.
13 Vince won’t approve: Batista
The recent rumors of Batista wanting to return to WWE are a bit misleading. Batista has confirmed that he wants to return to WWE, but he wants a few guarantees. The 2014 run of Batista was a huge failure with it falling apart right away. Batista felt the booking failed him and it is hard to argue with that. A future return would have Batista making demands as a bigger star than ever before thanks to his acting career.
12 Triple H won’t be able to sign: Emma
Emma was one of Triple H’s first projects in the NXT women’s division. It is no coincidence that Triple H went with Paige and Emma as his first two homegrown stars in the women’s division to show to the world. We saw Triple H’s belief in Emma when she was saved from being fired a few years ago. Emma was accused of shoplifting leading to WWE releasing her right after the news broke. Triple H stepped in to help her get rehired hours later when more information came out in her defense.
11 Vince won’t approve: Melina
The run of Melina saw her become one of the top women’s wrestlers in WWE. Melina played a great heel character that brought a new level of athleticism to the women’s division at a time when the others settled on just being attractive. Despite the talent and hard work of Melina, the backstage issues hurt her career. Melina was known for being a drama queen leading to drama with the rest of the roster.
10 Triple H won’t be able to sign: James Storm
James Storm leaving Impact Wrestling has opened the opportunity for him to return to NXT or even the WWE main roster. Triple H gave Storm the chance in NXT with a handful of appearances on NXT TV that received positive attention. Storm ultimately chose to return to Impact Wrestling due to a bigger contract offer. However, Impact continued to fall further down the totem pole hurting his momentum.
9 Vince won’t approve: Ken Shamrock
A random name to talk about his desire to return to WWE in recent months is Ken Shamrock. The former UFC star received a mid-card push in WWE. Shamrock had some memorable matches against The Rock, Shawn Michaels and other top names. The career of Shamrock was always on the verge of moving up the card, but he could never truly become a main eventer.
8 Triple H won’t be able to sign: Zack Sabre Jr.
The Cruiserweight Classic was a success for WWE Network. Unfortunately, the decision to bring the Cruiserweight division to the main roster with no build turned into a disaster right away. It has been over a year and the cruiserweights are still struggling to get over. One of the few wrestlers to turn down a WWE contract for the Cruiserweight division was Zack Sabre Jr.
7 Vince won’t approve: Carlito
Carlito was one of the biggest examples of wasted potential in WWE. Vince McMahon wanted to push him as a big star with huge plans for a main event run. To put it in perspective, Carlito defeated John Cena for the United States Championship on his first night in the company during Cena’s run as a popular face rising to the top of WWE. The career of Carlito saw him get a few chances that never led him above the mid-card.
6 Triple H won’t be able to sign: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio is clearly one of the top free agents on the market right now. Triple H loves to acquire anyone with name value to add to his success as the vice president of talent relations. Mysterio has remained healthy and is back to full health wrestling on his own schedule. Lucha Underground was the home of Rey for a few years before his contract expired last year.
5 Vince won’t approve: Vince Russo
The names to come out for returns to WWE for Raw 25 have featured former backstage personnel such as Bruce Prichard and Eric Bischoff. Both guys have podcasts today that help keep them relevant. Another pundit with hot takes on his own podcast is former WWE head writer Vince Russo. The reputation of Russo is negative, but he did write a lot of the most memorable segments on Raw during the Attitude Era.
4 Triple H won’t be able to sign: Kenny Omega
The top active wrestling name on the market right now is Kenny Omega. New Japan is seeing Omega deliver classic match after classic. Omega is elite enough to have convinced Chris Jericho wrestle outside of WWE for the first time in decades. Everyone is talking about Omega in a way that hasn’t happened for a wrestler outside of WWE in many years.
3 Vince won’t approve: Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio has become one of the most controversial men in wrestling after his 2016 departure from WWE. Following backstage issues over his relationship with Paige and getting suspended for violating the Wellness Policy, Del Rio requested his release from WWE. Since then, we have seen Alberto trash WWE and curse out Triple H every chance he gets.
2 Triple H won’t be able to sign: CM Punk
CM Punk is one name that will never go away when it comes to wrestlers that fans want to see return to WWE. The legacy Punk left is something that connected with many fans and it still lives on today. Fans will chant for Punk when upset about the things they are watching on the current product. Triple H was the person that Punk most clashed with backstage causing him to leave, but he may be our best hope to get Punk back.
1 Vince won’t approve: Hulk Hogan
The legendary Hulk Hogan is arguably the most important star in WWE history. Hogan’s star power and Vince McMahon’s vision helped get WWE to the mainstream spotlight it needed to take over the wrestling industry. WWE brought Hogan back in 2014 to end his career with the company that he found the most success in.
A sex tape leak featuring Hogan saying racist things caused WWE to part ways with him in 2015. Hogan has tried to prove he didn’t mean those things he said and has remained adamant about wanting to come back to WWE. Recent reports have made it clear that McMahon doesn’t want to do business with Hogan after the bad publicity hurt him again. We will likely never see Vince bring back Hogan again.
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