If there’s any one person in the professional wrestling industry who can get whatever it is they want, it’s Vincent Kennedy McMahon. As owner of the WWE Universe, there have been times in McMahon’s life when he was a certified billionaire, and even when his net worth dips down beneath the nine figure mark, he’s always be the most influential person in the industry. No other name commands the same respect, theoretically making it impossible for wrestlers to turn the man down.
Despite this, for one reason or another, countless people within the industry have done exactly that, giving McMahon a big fat “no” when he offered them a contract. Others weren’t quite so bold, but they nonetheless made it clear to the media in one way or another that they have little to no interest in ever signing with the so-called world leaders in sports entertainment. By and large, McMahon responds to the negativity with a shrug, moving on to deal with wrestlers who are actually interested in getting famous and making money.
However, in today’s wintry wrestling climate, McMahon should probably try a bit harder to get some fresh talent on his roster that fans actually want to see. Important as it is for McMahon to hire newcomers to NXT and prepare for the future, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do a little bit of convincing when it comes to the already successful athletes who just won’t give him the time of day. Whether or not they’ll actually be receptive is yet to be seen, but Vince definitely has the money to make an offer. Keep reading to learn about 15 wrestlers Vince McMahon should break the bank to get into WWE.
15 Rocky Romero Needs The Right Price To Switch Jobs
As much as one would like to believe it goes without saying this list is about people Vince McMahon should hire as wrestlers, and not in some other form of backstage role. Unfortunately, the man himself might not always feel this is the perfect job for them, which is why Rocky Romero isn’t currently part of the WWE Universe. Not that long ago, he was offered a contract to become a trainer, a job that would have probably kept him well paid for a long time coming. The catch is that he was only in his early 30s at the time and felt there was still a whole lot of gas in the tank when it came to his in-ring career.
Understandably, Romero believed WWE would never give him what he wanted, and refused the contract. Since then, Mr. Forever continued to flourish in New Japan Pro Wrestling, which he had been doing for years before WWE even showed any interest.
Recently, he’s begun transitioning into a managerial role, which might mean another offer from the McMahon family would look all the more enticing. Short of that, a few extra bucks would probably start inspiring him to make the jump, as well. At the right price, the guy might not even care if Vince lets him stay in the ring when he gets there.
14 These Two Won’t Get Fooled By Low Pay Again
All right, so no matter how much money Vince McMahon throws at the situation, even if he felt like buying the copyright to “Killer Elite Squad,” he probably wouldn’t use the name. That said, the tandem of Davey Boy Smith, Jr. and Lance Archer would be fantastic together under any name. Then again, this wasn’t the case when the two had their first stints in WWE roughly one decade ago, with Harry Smith performing in the Hart Dynasty and Vance Archer meandering in ECW.
These experiences naturally left both men cold to the experience of working for the McMahons, and their subsequent massive success in Japan has most likely lead to them entirely ignoring the American scene.
Regardless of how little interest the team has in WWE, should the tag team division be undergoing a potential revival as now looks possible, there would be no better unit to bolster the ranks than K.E.S. They duo won gold all over the world, winning Tag Team Championships in New Japan, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and the NWA, leaving only WWE left to prove they’re truly at the top of their game. Throw a little extra money from McMahon their way, and it’s hard to picture them refusing the opportunity for a second chance.
13 Dario Cueto Is Worth The Legal Hassle
Technically speaking, Dario Cueto is the one name on this list who isn’t a wrestler. In fact, he’s not even a real “sports entertainer” as it were, having been hired as an actor to play a specific part in Lucha Underground. Nonetheless, the work done by Luis Fernandez-Gil when playing Cueto has been transcendent from the first episode, truly some of the best characterization in wrestling history. At this point, it’s unclear if the man behind the gimmick has any real interest in continuing his career in sports entertainment, but rumor has it his contract with Lucha Underground is set to continue for some time.
Chances are, Vince McMahon doesn’t exactly see the small Mexican wrestling independent company as much of a threat, but if he’s paying attention at all, he knows that Cueto is the sort of character he needs on his roster. Depending on Fernandez-Gil’s interest level, it might not take that much money to get him to jump ship. However, in order for the idea to take full effect, McMahon will need to shell out some extra bucks to the El Rey network to let him keep using the gimmick that made him a star, or at least something darn close to it. Bringing Matanza along with him wouldn’t hurt, either.
12 Pentagón Jr. Has Never Had Greater Value As A Performer
Every couple years, rumors swirl about how WWE is looking for a new star to help tap into the Spanish speaking market. They’ve had great success in the past with Eddie Guerrero, Pedro Morales, and Rey Mysterio, and if they want to keep the trend going into, they should seriously look into former Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground Champion, Pentagón Jr. (also known as Pentagón Dark). In contrast to these other Hispanic stars, Pentagón Jr. primarily wrestlers as a heel, but that hasn’t stopped him from winning a considerable number of fans everywhere he goes. Especially since his destructive Cero Miedo match against Vampiro, Pentagón has been one of the most discussed wrestlers on the independent scene for his unique style and dark presence, both of which could flourish in WWE.
Vince McMahon has yet to show any particular interest in Pentagón Jr., but the wrestler in question has offered his thoughts on the idea of wrestling for the executive. Speaking with Rolling Stone, Pentagón Dark stated,
Obviously, the right amount of money would make that a particularly easy choice to make. It might be necessary, too, since it’s hard to walk from two promotions paying him World Championship money.
11 Minoru Suzuki Is Getting Too Old To Ignore Dollar Signs
Of all the names on this list, Minoru Suzuki is least like to ever appear in a WWE ring for any reason. Nearly 50 years old, the man is definitely too old to catch Vince McMahon’s attention at this point. This is a darn shame, because he’s still one of the greatest wrestlers in the world, which he proves with every match he competes for New Japan Pro Wrestling and various independent promotions around the world.
His age didn’t even stop him from winning the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, continuing his past success as one of only a few men to challenge for all major Japanese heavyweight championships.
The catch to all this is that Suzuki’s style is decidedly Japanese, focused on hard hitting action and terse, angry interviews that get his vicious demeanor across in as few words as possible. This doesn’t always work in WWE, even after Shinsuke Nakamura has tried bringing Strong Style to America. More importantly, Suzuki has also been very loyal to his homeland for several decades now, showing no interest at all in heading to the states. The only reason this feels possible is that his former status in MMA would give a match against Brock Lesnar some serious crossover appeal if promoted correctly, and with UFC crushing WWE’s ratings, it might be worth the money.
10 Jay White Will Only Get More Expensive Over Time
Having produced more bona fide WWE superstars than we could possibly list in this article, there’s no denying that NXT has been a massive success as a training ground. That said, it might not actually be the best developmental program in all of sports entertainment, as the NJPW Dojo has been absolutely knocking it out of the park for decades, as well. One of the most recent success stories has been “Switchblade” Jay White, who at 25 years young recently defeated top NJPW star Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Championship in a match that immediately earned rave reviews.
In fact, almost every match White’s been involved with has been the talk of the wrestling press, suggesting an extremely bright future for this rising star.
One person who probably saw this coming was Fínn Balor, who helped train White before he even got involved with the NJPW Dojo. The two are apparently still friends to this day, which may grease the wheels a little bit when getting White to sit down for an interview with McMahon. Even so, the speed at which he’s shooting up the card in NJPW suggests the company won’t want to let him go any time soon, so McMahon will need to spend a decent amount to get him to jump ship before it’s too late.
9 Wade Barrett Wouldn’t Be Bad News For Vince’s Bank Account
It was only two short years ago that Wade Barrett parted ways with the WWE Universe, and the full explanation for his departure is still slightly unclear. Things seemed to be going reasonably well, with Barrett returning to a top level position in the League of Nations, albeit one that was heavily maligned by fans. Apparently, Barrett actually hadn’t been happy about his position in the company for some time up to that point, and the meaningless angle was the final straw, making him decide to take a prolonged break from the industry. There was also talk of Barrett wanting to attempt an acting career, although this never came to life for him in a significant way.
After the promised extended hiatus, Barrett reappeared in the wrestling world for Defiance Wrestling, now known as What Culture Pro Wrestling, first as an announcer and then as the upstart’s new General Manager. A full-time return to the ring almost feels inevitable at this point, with the only question being whether he’ll do it for WCPW, WWE, or another promotion altogether. With how popular Barrett could be before his departure, McMahon might want to remind everyone who’s on top by offering the British Bull Hammer a contract that no other wrestling promotion around could match.
8 Tetsuya Naito May Value Respect Over Money
As leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Tetsuya Naito has gradually earned a reputation for being the single greatest wrestler in the Land of the Rising Sun today. Two years in a row, he has been voted the top superstar in the world by Tokyo Sports, while wrestling no less than four matches rated five stars or higher by Dave Melzter in under a year’s time. Along the way, Naito reaffirmed his status as a true great by winning the IWGP World, Intercontinental and NEVER Openweight Championships. Understandably, like any athlete truly attempting to be the best at their craft, Naito is very proud of the success and acclaim he’s achieved. The side effect of this is that he’s justifiably worried some of the veneer would begin to fade if he left New Japan Pro Wrestling for the WWE Universe, a company he clearly sees as secondary. When asked if he ever wanted to wrestle John Cena or Brock Lesnar, Naito replied,
“Of course, I know of them, but, unfortunately, I have no interest. 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.”
With words that strong, it’s hard to see him changing his mind without serious dollar signs getting involved.
7 Zack Sabre Jr. Needs More Money To Give A Truly Classic Performance
More so than anyone else on this list, British superstar Zack Sabre Jr. was actually remarkably close to becoming a WWE superstar very recently. In the summer of 2016, Sabre Jr. went so far as to participate in the company’s Cruiserweight Classic Tournament, with early reports suggesting he was even a favorite to win the whole thing. While he made it all the way to the semi-finals, Sabre Jr. eventually lost to Gran Metalik, and hasn’t been seen in the WWE Universe since. The same reporters who claimed he was a potential winner then switched their tune to explain plans changed when Sabre Jr. wouldn’t sign a full-time contract.
At this point, it’s not entirely clear what made Sabre Jr. decide becoming a WWE superstar wasn’t in his best interests. Money may have been a major factor from the get-go, with his current success on the independent scene surely raking in the big bucks.
As a self-proclaimed “Technical Wizard,” he could also be worried Vince McMahon won’t fully appreciate his talents. Of course, a decent paycheck would go a long way in proving McMahon is well aware of what Sabre Jr. has to offer, but it might not be enough to combat earning shots at the IWGP Championship in New Japan.
6 Kenny Omega Wants A Contract That Cleans House
At this point, it could easily be argued that Kenny Omega is the single most successful North American wrestler in the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling. While he’s yet to reach the upper echelon that is the IWGP Championship, Omega’s status as the former leader of Bullet Club made him an international superstar that got the entire wrestling world talking. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has been especially kind, revamping the entire star rating system to give Omega a truly impressive amount of snowflakes after his matches.
On top of this incredible in-ring talent, Omega also has an overwhelming amount of charisma, which has been the real key to his crossover success in American independent promotions.
Ultimately, though, none of this really matters to Vince McMahon, because when asked about leaving NJPW for WWE, Omega was very clear. Speaking to fans during a broadcast on Twitch.tv, Omega responded to the WWE question by saying, “Right now the answer is no. I’m just having too much fun doing what I am doing.” More than that, he went on to explain, “I don’t want to be a robot. I don’t want to be controlled.” With concerns like that, it’s hard to imagine Omega changing his mind anytime soon, but if anything has the power to do that, it’s a bigger paycheck.
5 CM Punk Will Need Some Convincing
Quite frankly, more than four years removed from his dramatic decision to walk out on WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble, it seems highly unlikely that CM Punk will ever return to the squared circle. This is especially true now that he’s begun preparing for his second UFC fight, which fans are hoping will at least go better than the first, when he was knocked out in mere minutes. Even if it doesn’t, the way Punk was treated upon his exit combined with the incredible strain WWE demanded he put on his body up until that point completely killed his passion for the business. Speaking about the situation, Punk’s former manager and friend Paul Heyman put it in typically blunt fashion by saying, “I don’t think Phil Brooks thinks about WWE at all anymore.” While all of that may be the case, it’s also abundantly clear that WWE fans desperately want the Voice of the Voiceless to make a comeback anyway.
Rather than any current superstar, its Punk’s name that gets chanted at Raw, SmackDown, and even WrestleMania, suggesting he’s still the man audiences are dying to see.
The absolute only way McMahon could ever change his mind is through the almighty dollar, and unlikely as him trying may be, he certainly has the sort of money hat sways opinions if he chooses to do so.
4 Kazuchika Okada Needs Vince To Redefine Rainmaker
One can truly never say never in the WWE Universe, not to mention pro wrestling in general. Barely five years ago, Shinsuke Nakamura was redefining Strong Style for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and now he’s regularly competing for the WWE Championship as a top name on SmackDown Live. Standing along side Nakamura as an athlete truly changing the business was Kazuchika Okada, who has since earned designation as the longest reigning IWGP Champion in history by holding the belt for nearly two full years. Given Okada’s unbridled success, it’s unlikely he’ll be changing the status quo any time soon, but then again, the man himself has recently been quoted as suggesting otherwise. Speaking to the PWI podcast about a potential future in WWE, Okada stated,
“there’s really no telling what could happen. But just as much as I might feel the desire and the drive to be in a match against Jinder or something at that level at SummerSlam, I might also want to jump into UFC. I might also want to go to Hollywood and try my luck there.”
Basically, the guy likes keeping his options open. It looks like all Vince McMahon, or maybe someone like Dana White, would need to drag Okada away from his job is the right amount of cash.
3 Alberto Del Rio Could Become The Boss Of Making Comebacks
With more ups and downs than almost any other wrestler in recent history, it’s a valid question whether or not fans actually want Alberto Del Rio back in the WWE Universe. None of his four World Championship reigns exactly set the world on fire, nor was he involved in any major angles in a noteworthy way. Okay, so he was there during CM Punk’s big win at Money in the Bank, but all he did was get his head kicked in and leave.
Despite all this, Del Rio still clearly has some name value, since he’s one of the most sought after talents on the independent scene. Wherever Del Rio goes, he’s instantly in position to become a main-event star.
In April 2018, it was announced that Del Rio was fired from Impact Wrestling for failing to appear at major events. This was shortly after a lengthy suspension for a legal incident that also caused him to get stripped of the GFW World Championship. Quite frankly, Del Rio’s stock is rapidly diminishing, but this means WWE basically has two options. Swoop him up and rebuild now that he’s a relatively cheaper, at least compared to other names on this list, or just give up and deem him a lost cause.
2 The Young Bucks Would Probably Even Turn Down A Five-Star Contract
Considering how long they’ve been boasting about rejecting WWE contracts, the fact neither of The Young Bucks want to work for Vince McMahon has basically become part of their gimmicks. This is partially what makes them so effective as key members of Bullet Club, not to make them such hot properties on the independent scene. So long as Matt and Nick Jackson have time in their schedules, just about any independent promotion around would be lucky to have them as Tag Team Champions for a little while, knowing there was no threat they’d ever leave the company high and dry. Even when WWE does show interest, the Jacksons generally ignore their offers.
Given this past history, its extremely unlikely The Bucks will be changing their minds any time soon. More so than anyone else on this list, showing up in WWE would genuinely feel like selling out for them, which means if Vince McMahon has any interest in getting the team to do that, he’ll need to shell out some seriously hefty contracts. It may just be worth it, though, especially with the WWE tag division desperately needs entertaining faces to shake things up. The Bucks have already done this everywhere else, so they may as well cement their talent by doing it one last time, where it counts.
1 Cody Rhodes Wants Vince To Cover His Contract In More Gold
From the very beginning, people paying attention already knew Cody Rhodes was rapidly turning into one of the biggest missed opportunities in WWE. For whatever reason, Vince McMahon seemed completely blind to Cody’s talents, only letting him shine in rare moments of greatness that rarely lead to anything meaningful. This is hard to understand, considering Cody is the son of Dusty Rhodes and just as creatively ambitious, having attempted to write multiple storylines and angles that better utilized his talents.
Now that Ring of Honor, New Japan, and other companies are all letting Cody do what he wants, it’s becoming extra clear how big a mistake McMahon made by letting him go. Unfortunately for the WWE Universe, it also looks like the ship may have already sailed in regards to a potential reconciliation. When a fan on Twitter asked Rhodes “Any chance you will ever return to the WWE?” he quickly replied, “Unlikely.
They have a huge place in my heart. They raised me. But my music is my music and I play it how I want, I am literally incapable of taking direction.”
Especially with that last comment, its almost equally unlikely McMahon would ever want Cody back. If he keeps making enough waves on the indy scene, though, Vince might just have to dole out the money — and freedom — he demands.