Getting to WWE isn’t easy. You’d think that working for the largest wrestling company in the world would be a simple matter of being a great wrestler. You’d be wrong. There are many factors that determine who WWE decides to work with and - historically speaking - talent isn’t even one of the biggest ones. Instead, things like politics, need, financial opportunity, and good old favoritism have generally impacted a wrestler’s employability more than whether or not they had the chops in the ring or on the mic. It’s enough to make you wonder what WWE is ever really looking for in a competitor.
In fact, it’s usually much easier to determine why a wrestler wouldn’t work for WWE than why they would. That’s because wrestlers who don’t wish to work with WWE - or wrestlers who WWE doesn’t want to work with - are usually never shy about telling people why they aren’t working for the company. Because of that, it’s pretty easy to identify those wrestlers who will likely never step foot in the company for various reasons. These are the 15 wrestlers who will NEVER work for WWE and the reasons why.
15 The Briscoe Brothers - Not Interested in WWE Travel Schedule
There was a time when the Briscoe Brothers were considered to be the best tag team in the world. Their combination of old-school tag wrestling, modern-day tandem moves, and southern attitude made them a unique duo who captivated the wrestling world. Everyone expected them to join WWE at some point. As the years went on, though, that never materialized.
The Briscoe Brothers have reportedly had offers from WWE, but they’ve turned them down at every opportunity.
It seems that the two just aren’t that interested in living the WWE lifestyle. They have outside of the ring interests that would be hard to maintain with the heavy travel schedule that WWE demands. There are also rumors which suggest their...checkered personal histories wouldn’t hold up under the WWE spotlight.
14 The Young Bucks - Making Too Much Money On Their Own
The Young Bucks are the other major tag team who have seemingly been on WWE’s radar for quite some time. If you’re not familiar with the pair, think of Matt and Nick Jackson as the modern-day Rockers with DX attitude. They generally have no regard for traditional wrestling psychology, yet they put on some of the best tag matches you’ll ever see. They’re pure entertainers. Naturally, that makes them ideal WWE signees.
Unfortunately for WWE fans, the Young Bucks are quite comfortable where they are at. As it stands, they are just making way too much money to ever consider wrestling exclusively for WWE. The brothers’ business acumen has allowed them to turn themselves into a brand that doesn’t really have to share any of the profits with anyone else. It’s hard to imagine the offer that would persuade them to give that up.
13 Kazuchika Okada - Already a Huge Star
Kazuchika Okada is the undisputed ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling. The 30-year-old star routinely headlines the promotion’s biggest shows and has remained loyal - and at the top - while other stars have wandered elsewhere or left the scene altogether. Okada has also been seen hanging around WWE shows where he has caught the attention of Vince McMahon himself.
We know that WWE would love to sign Okada, but it’s highly doubtful that ever happens.
First off, Okada is one of the highest-paid singles wrestlers in the world. The guy makes more money than nearly all of WWE’s top stars. For that to change, NJPW would either need to lose faith in him - not likely - or WWE would need to be willing to make him a top guy right away (also not likely).
12 Joey Ryan - Age/Financial Stability/Character Changes
Joey Ryan is a throwback wrestler. There’s a long history of guys (Rick Rude, Val Venis, etc.) who have relied on their perceived hyper-masculine sexuality to snag the attention of the crowds. Ryan is one of those guys, but he’s also added an element of sleaziness to the character that makes him stand out from the rest. In the indies, he’s able to flip people using his crotch, assault women, and make lewd gestures to the crowd. It’s incredibly difficult to imagine Ryan would be able to do any of that in WWE without watering his character down. On top of that, Ryan is 38. That’s not ancient, but that is the point where WWE is hesitant to sign anyone that might end up being kind of a project.
11 Zack Sabre Jr. - WWE Won’t Offer Him Enough Money
Some people felt that the entire Cruiserweight Classic Tournament was just an elaborate way to introduce Zack Sabre Jr. to the WWE fanbase. In the years leading up to the CWC tournament, Sabre established himself as the best technical professional wrestler in the world. Sabre’s old-school, mat-based wrestling style isn’t quite like anything else out there at the moment. When Sabre didn’t win that tournament and didn’t sign with WWE afterwards, fans started to wonder what happened. Well, it seems that Sabre figured that there really isn’t any incentive for him to join WWE. Sabre gets to be the star of the exploding U.K. wrestling scene as well as the headliner of most other major non-WWE promotions. Sabre is young, but he’d need a lot of incentive to join WWE.
10 Ryback - Ongoing Tirades Against WWE
Ryback’s WWE career was a strange one. It was clear the company felt that he could be their next big “big” guy. However, they also seemingly grew weary of his lack of in-ring progress and inability to turn his pre-packaged character into anything special.
Even though such wrestlers tend to linger, Ryback left WWE in a seeming hurry. He wasted no time in telling everyone why.
Yes, Ryback immediately decided to go on tirades regarding many of WWE’s top performers and management. The theme of these tirades was that Ryback seemed to think he was a little bit better than WWE’s best. Now, we’re not going to pretend that WWE doesn’t invite people with attitude problems back into the fold, but in the case of Ryback, what could he possibly offer?
9 Scott Steiner - Also Lost His Mind
You don’t really associate Scott Steiner with WWE. Steiner’s most memorable matches occurred in NWA, WCW, and even Japan. In fact, he was arguably WCW’s top guy towards the end of that company’s run. That’s a big part of the reason why so many WWE fans wanted to see him jump ship. Steiner eventually returned to WWE and rewarded fans with some awful matches, bizarre promos, and a plethora of attitude problems. That last one was the real sticking point in WWE’s mind. Between Steiner’s diva attitude and his fondness for threatening people and their girlfriends - seriously - the company quickly figured out that the guy was just too much of a loose cannon to ever consider keeping around. Unfortunately, Steiner really hasn’t changed much over the years.
8 Jim Cornette - Hates Everyone
Sure, Jim’s not a wrestler - never a full-time one - but the guy has been associated with professional wrestling for decades. Cornette has always been thought of as an old-school wrestling genius.
He has a mind for pure professional wrestling that few can match. He’s also an incredibly difficult person to work with.
Cornette is the kind of guy that seems to hate everyone. He thinks that a lot of indie wrestlers have killed the business with their flips, he has said more bad words about Vince McMahon than the rest of the internet put together, and he generally thinks we’d be better off going back in time. Cornette’s contempt for the evolution of professional wrestling has made it hard for WWE to justify extending him any kind of invitation.
7 Alberto Del Rio - Hates Everyone and Has A Temper
Alberto Del Rio was brought into WWE as a really big deal. WWE had every hope that Del Rio was going to be their next major Mexican star and help them recapture the imagination of that sizeable market. At first, everything worked beautifully. Del Rio was a great heel who was pushed to the moon as a star. Then came the problems. Del Rio was initially let go because he slapped someone for being racist - understandable - and started to garner a reputation as someone with a bit of an attitude problem.
Del Rio works without an attitude filter.
The problem is that his lack of a filter manifests itself as violent outbursts. He’s an incredibly dangerous person to keep around and has probably burnt his last bridge to WWE.
6 Gail Kim - Had a Terrible Time in WWE
Gail Kim actually retired recently after a long and proud career. Kim broke into the wrestling world at a time when women wrestlers were expected to be little more than eye candy. She and a select few of others began putting on the kind of matches that showed women wrestling was every bit as viable as men’s wrestling. WWE fans might not remember her that way. In WWE, Kim struggled to break beyond the barriers imposed by management. Actually, she once infamously eliminated herself from a battle royal match. Don’t expect WWE to invite Kim back or for Kim to accept a trainer’s role. She had such a terrible time working with Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn that it’s impossible to imagine her ever working with WWE again.
5 Davey Richards - Not That Interested in Being a Full-Time Wrestler
Davey Richards was once one of the hottest names in the wrestling world. His hard-hitting style and solid mat work made him an indie darling who was catching the attention of WWE fans everywhere. He seemed like a lock to sign with WWE during NXT’s early days. However, Richards opted to go with TNA instead. Unfortunately, he did so at a time when TNA was in no position to make him a true star.
Soon, a combination of injuries and bad booking dimmed Richards’ star and caused him to lose interest in even being a professional wrestler.
Richards has stated he has a desire to pursue several non-wrestling interests that WWE’s demanding schedule would cut into. It’s highly doubtful that WWE see him as a valuable signing at this point.
4 Kenny Omega - Living Comfortably In New Japan
Much like the Young Bucks mentioned earlier, Kenny Omega isn't too keen on working with the WWE because he's managed to make a great living without confining himself to WWE's hectic schedule. Omega also has a lot more creative freedom with his character than he ever would under the rigid structure of the WWE. The company definitely would be interested in bringing Omega in, particularly Triple H, who seems to have an appreciation for wrestlers who make names for themselves outside of WWE, but Omega has continuously declined to join WWE when he's had the chance. The only way Omega would consider WWE at this point would be if his name all of a sudden loses a ton of steam and he's left with less options, but that's unlikely.
3 Ivelisse Vélez - Was Fired For Reporting That WWE’s Head Trainer Abused Her
Ivelisse Vélez’s time in WWE wasn’t really that memorable. She was part of Tough Enough, NXT, and FCW, but never really got a chance to shine on her own.
When WWE announced they had parted ways with her, nobody was really that surprised/upset. That all changed when the circumstances of her release were revealed.
It seems that Velez was one of many trainees who was verbally, physically, and possibly sexually abused by trainer Bill DeMott while she was in WWE. She fully believes that because she reported Demott, WWE let her go. Now, WWE might want to extend an offer to Velez to help clean up that bad blood, but we tend to think that there’s no way that Velez would accept the offer even if it was made.
2 Jay Lethal - WWE Just Doesn’t Want Him
It’s strange to think that Jay Lethal is only 32. It feels like Jay has been around for decades retaining his status as perhaps the most underrated pure performer on the wrestling scene. Lethal can work face, heel, comedy, serious...whatever it takes. He’s even had guys like Samoa Joe and Ric Flair ask why he’s not in WWE. So what’s the answer? Well...nobody is entirely sure. There really haven’t even been that many rumors that suggest WWE has offered Lethal a lowball contract over the years. We’re at this point where it’s becoming clear that if WWE wanted Jay Lethal, they’d have him by now. Whatever it is they may be looking for in Lethal probably isn’t going to materialize if it hasn’t now.
1 CM Punk - Loves to Burn Bridges With WWE More Than he Loves WWE
There’s really no need to relay the full story of CM Punk’s career. He came in as an indie darling, was overlooked, clawed his way to being a fan favorite, dropped a pipe bomb promo, became a legit star, and then shockingly left the company. Since then, some have questioned whether or not the problem was WWE or the problem was Punk. There’s an argument to be made regarding the answer to that question.
What we can tell you, though, is that WWE sooner take Punk back than Punk would ever ask to return to WWE.
Punk loved professional wrestling, but WWE completely drained his desire to ever just be known as a professional wrestler. He probably won’t become a UFC star, but we can guarantee you that CM Punk will never assume an active role with WWE again.