Now more than ever, wrestlers are able to make a living without being attached to WWE's media machine.
Just in recent years, we've seen several wrestlers leave WWE under the belief they can do better on the independent scene. This is what led Cody Rhodes to leave the company and join up with the Young Bucks and other members of Bullet Club. Companies such as Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling now allowing their talent to keep ownership of their gimmick and appear for other wrestling promotions only increases the appeal of wrestling outside WWE.
All of this means that there are several wrestlers out there who Vince McMahon would love to have but he can't sign them. Unlike how things were after WCW and ECW closed, Vince McMahon is not the only person who can provide a professional wrestler with what it takes to make a living at their craft.
With all of this in mind, here are 15 wrestlers Vince McMahon would love to have in WWE but who simply won't sign with the company.
15 Kenny Omega
As much as Vince McMahon and the WWE may want Kenny Omega, it's not happening anytime soon. In fact, it's possible Kenny Omega never jumps ship to WWE. When asked, he usually expresses his belief that going to WWE would mean becoming a robot who does what he is told. Omega enjoys the freedom wrestling in New Japan Pro Wrestling gives him.
Triple H has indicated WWE would be interested in Omega, who some refer to as the greatest wrestler in the world right now. WWE actually had Omega signed to a developmental deal early in his career but he never panned out and moved to Japan.
Omega is signed to NJPW through to 2019 and has given no indication he plans on ever changing his mind about going to WWE.
Now that Abyss is 44 years old, it's likely WWE isn't as interested in him now as they once were. Abyss has stated before that WWE offered him a deal to not only sign with the company but to take part in a feud with The Undertaker.
Despite the big offer from WWE, Abyss chose to turn them down and stay in Impact Wrestling. While some fans may feel Abyss cost himself an opportunity to make more money and perform on a bigger stage, he's a loyal guy who is still with the company even to this day. It looked as though Abyss was going to be one of the few wrestlers who survived the whole TNA era but somehow the promotion has continued to survive even after losing millions of dollars. Abyss works in a creative capacity for Impact as well.
13 Will Ospreay
Will Ospreay was reportedly offered a WWE contract but turned it down. Ospreay was on the Talk is Jericho podcast recently and said the promotion offered him a contract but he wasn't interested in working the hectic travel schedule WWE requires of their performers.
Instead, Ospreay chose to stay with New Japan Pro Wrestling. He most recently wrestled IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, on the company's anniversary show. In addition to performing with NJPW, Ospreay is able to travel the world wrestling for various promotions. He has most recently stated he would love to help Australia build their pro wrestling scene and he plans to spend more time there.
Unfortunately for fans who would like to see him in WWE, it doesn't seem like he will be accepting their offer anytime soon.
12 The Young Bucks
On any given Raw, SmackDown, NXT, or PPV, there is always more than a few Young Bucks T-shirts in the audience. Don't think for a second Vince McMahon doesn't see the money available with those two, the problem is it doesn't make sense for Matt and Nick Jackson to sign with WWE at this point.
Outside of WWE, the Young Bucks are able to market their own merchandise, run their own angles, and even film their own YouTube series. If they went to WWE, they would have to split their merchandise money with the company and perform in angles the company wants them to. It would mean making less money and having less fun. So unless WWE makes them an offer they can't refuse, don't expect to see Matt or Nick Jackson in a WWE ring ever again.
11 Paige VanZant
WWE has been interested in Paige VanZant ever since she appeared on Dancing with the Stars and pulled in monster ratings. In fact, when Brock Lesnar was allowed to compete at UFC 200, WWE inquired about using Paige VanZant at SummerSlam that year. Although she has expressed interest in signing with WWE sometime in the future, PVZ turned down the SummerSlam invitation. She had a fight upcoming that summer and didn't want to take the time away from camp.
PVZ is devoted to her MMA career and will not be looking at going to WWE anytime soon. Its possible PVZ ends up in WWE someday, especially with her most recent comments expressing interest but it seems unlikely at this point, especially with Ronda recently signing.
10 Kota Ibushi
WWE actually had Kota Ibush in 2016 but they let him get away. Ibushi was part of the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic and made it all the way to the semi-finals. The only thing which kept Ibushi from winning the tournament was that he turned down a contract offer to continue performing in WWE after the tournament ended.
Ibushi didn't want to be tied down to just one organization and also due to the fact he likely would be performing on 205 Live, which may not have interested him that much. Instead, Ibushi decided to go back to New Japan Pro Wrestling where he is currently involved in a rather significant storyline with Kenny Omega. Omega and Ibushi formed the Golden Lovers tag team in DDT Wrestling and have recently reunited in NJPW. This is not sitting well with some of Omega's Bullet Club stablemates.
9 Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. was one of two semi-finalists from the Cruiserweight Classic to turn down a WWE contract offer. WWE wanted to sign ZSJ to compete in 205 Live after the tournament concluded but he was having none of it.
Instead of accepting WWE's contract offer, ZSJ chose to stay with New Japan Pro Wrestling which also allows him to compete for other promotions across Europe. He was someone WWE was high on as well due to the fact that they could use him for both their Cruiserweight and United Kingdom divisions.
You can see Zack Sabre Jr. these days performing in NJPW as part of the Suzuki-Gun faction. While not a regular in NJPW, he is booked strong and even competed in the G1 tournament last summer. One day he could still end up in WWE, just not yet.
8 Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus is only 41 years old. She's a young 41 too. From a strictly athletic perspective, there is no reason Trish Stratus couldn't come back and be a major player in today's WWE women's divisions.
So why doesn't she return? She's raising two kids and that is her priority. Shortly after retiring in 2006, Trish married her high school sweetheart. The two had been dating since they were kids in high school. That means her high school boyfriend had to witness her go through all those segments while she was Vince McMahon's scantily clad assistant. The Attitude Era must have been a stressful time for him.
She came back shortly for the Royal Rumble but unfortunately, Trish's priorities are outside WWE now and that probably won't change.
Rumors suggested Carlito might have rejoined the WWE during the brand split, though for one reason or another that did not take place. The Colons needed a boost and some thought Carlito might have helped fill the void but it never went down.
It doesn't make sense for Carlito to return to the company, he's a gooddraw in Puerto Rico and can simply stay there. His father runs the World Wrestling Council and Carlito most likely prefers the reduced travel schedule.
Carlito left WWE in 2010 after he failed a Wellness Test and refused to go to rehab. Instead, he decided to go back to Puerto Rico to work for his dad. You can still find him working independents in the US including for Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore promotion.
6 Kazuchika Okada
Some wrestling fans consider Kazuchika Okada to be the best wrestler on the planet. He's had nothing but stellar matches throughout his 600+ day reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion. For Okada to have held such a prestigious title longer than anyone in history is significant. Even CM Punk's 400+ day reign as WWE Champion can't hold a candle to what Okada is accomplishing in Japan right now.
While he once appeared in TNA as Samoa Joe's bodyguard, Okada won't wrestle in WWE for the time being. NJPW has too much invested in him to ever allow that to happen. They will let Kenny Omega and others go but not Kazuchika Okada for now. He's the company's next Hiroshi Tanahashi and will be for the next decade.
5 Rob Gronkowski
Triple H and Stephanie have made no secret of their desire to sign the New England Patriots', Rob Gronkowski. There is only one problem, he's signed to the New England Patriots. When that deal ends, expect WWE to go after Gronk and try and get him in a WWE ring. They will probably use his friend, Mojo Rawley, to help convince him to sign with the company.
So right now, Gronk is more into playing in the NFL than the WWE but will that always be the case? Probably not but by the time Gronk is ready for WWE, it's possible they won't be as interested in him anymore. Gronk's playing days should extend for some time considering how good he is, though injuries might lead to an early NFL exit. WWE would hope for his availability sooner rather than later.
4 Chael Sonnen
Another non-WWE athlete that Vince McMahon would love to sign is Chael Sonnen. According to Chael himself, Vince McMahon once offered him a $5 million contract to jump ship from the UFC to WWE. Now, Chael is not exactly one of the most reliable sources, however, it does make sense that WWE would have some interest in him. What isn't clear, however, is if WWE was looking for him to come in as a performer or a broadcaster. Sonnen can do either, though it is not clear how well he would do in either role.
As the story goes, Sonnen told WWE he wasn't interested. A few years later, Jeff Jarrett signed Sonnen as both a board member and a broadcaster for his new Global Force Wrestling promotion. Sonnen is currently both a broadcaster and a fighter for Bellator.
3 Brian Cage
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Brian Cage was signed to a WWE contract in 2008 but evidently, the company saw little in him at the time. He competed on Tough Enough as well but in the end, WWE wasn't interested. It should be noted, however, that Cage altered his look drastically.
According to Cage, he was back on WWE's radar just before he signed on with Lucha Underground in 2014. Cage says he had his flight booked for the tryout match and at the last moment decided not to go, inking a deal with Lucha Underground instead. Perhaps, Cage had been thrown off by his poor experience with WWE from nearly a decade earlier. Instead, Cage signed with Lucha Underground and is now becoming a key player for Impact Wrestling as well. WWE may have burned their bridge with Cage when they gave up on him before.
2 Conor McGregor
The @conormcgregorfast conditioning program is the true animal. 10 TRUE weeks long this camp was. To reach THAT shape. On the MCGREGOR FAST program. 10 weeks. Amazing! Sign up for this program at mcgregorfast.com. For the real only. It's ten fucking weeks. And for the not real trust me. I will see every single person that attempts to utilise these methods without respect. Pay your respect. McGregor FAST. 10 week camp. Look at the fucking shape I am in. I am like a statue on Dublin's O'Connell street. I might put one there someday.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon want Conor McGregor at WrestleMania. In fact, Triple H has outright said as much to media. According to Hunter, Conor is a giant star and could easily do at WrestleMania what Floyd Mayweather once did - a smoke and mirrors match which hides the fact he doesn't actually know how to wrestle.
Conor knows there is some money waiting for him in WWE but it would take a lot for him to move away from his MMA career. He's the highest paid fighter in the sport's history and has taken PPV sales to a level previously unheard of for MMA events.
Unfortunately for those who want to see it happen, he won't end up in WWE until he's significantly older. Unless Vince McMahon makes him an offer he can't get anywhere else, he might never end up going to WWE.
1 The Rock
The rumors are that WWE wanted The Rock at WrestleMania this year. The role they wanted was as Ronda Rousey's tag team partner to go up against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. This was to play off the encounter the four had at WrestleMania 31.
Unfortunately, Hollywood and WWE were not able to negotiate a deal. The Rock's people don't want him going back to the wrestling world. There is said to be great concern among his management team about what would happen if he got injured while wrestling.
Considering the amount of money the guy is worth, production companies have insurance policies on him which wouldn't be covered if he went back to WWE. So for the Rock to end up wrestling again, he needs approval from a lot of people who really don't want him to do it, a risk that really isn't all that worth it at this point.