Vince McMahon is a sucker for a big return; we’ve seen this play several times in the past. Skeptics believe this is a big problem with the current product, still relying on old faces like The Undertaker instead of pushing the likes of Black and Ricochet.
It should be noted that not every legend or wrestler from the past accepts a pitch from McMahon – instead, we’ve seen the opposite hold true a lot of times in the past. In this article, we’ll take a look at WWE stars who turned down Vince, along with what was planned for the return. Clearly, some were a wasted opportunity at a special moment, while others are really nothing special and rushed concepts more than anything else.
Enjoy the article, folks!
15 The Bellas – WrestleMania 35 Match Versus The IIconics
The Bellas recently announced this potential blockbuster match via their podcast. According to the twins, they were penciled in for a WrestleMania clash against The IIconics.
The match came so close to going down that the Bellas were even getting their gear prepared for the encounter. Ultimately, the twins turned down the match due to Nikki’s health.
14 Batista – WrestleMania 32 Cameo With HBK, Stone Cold & Mick Foley
Batista decided to turn this cameo down, wanting a match against Triple H instead. It does make sense that Batista turned down the offer; it was weird seeing the three legends in the ring while the League Of Nations were a group of four.
It would’ve been cool to see Batista in the ring with the other three – though his heart was set on a return match against Triple H, one that finally took place three years later.
13 The Rock – Sing-Off With Elias At WrestleMania 35
For the longest time, Rock was rumored to return at WrestleMania 35. A match against Roman Reigns was the initial rumor, a bout that could have highlighted the entire program.
During the later months, it turned into a potential sing-off against Elias. Ultimately, Rock had to decline given his packed schedule. Though once again, he’s all over the rumor mill for WrestleMania 36.
12 Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 33 Match Versus AJ Styles
HBK himself would announce that this was actually pitched by McMahon for WrestleMania 33. It was a big money offer from the boss to place this dream match on the biggest show of the year.
Ultimately, Michaels declined as he really didn’t see a payoff on a one-match return. AJ understood the decision given their conversation on Table For Three – fans, however, weren’t as understanding!
11 Sable – Turned Down Women’s Evolution Appearance
We haven’t seen Sable on WWE programming since the early 2000s. She decided to distance herself from the company, and that holds true to this day. As Eric Bischoff admitted on his podcast, Sable was always a quiet and reserved person in real-life, despite her on-screen persona.
WWE had several legends return during the Women’s Evolution, unfortunately Sable wasn’t one of them, declining the invite.
10 Chris Jericho – SummerSlam Versus Seth Rollins
Jericho almost made a huge return to WWE. No, we’re not talking about some backstage promo during a RAW Anniversary show, we're talking an actual match with a title from another promotion.
Jericho pitched the idea of showing up with his New Japan title while taking on WWE’s IC Champion, Seth Rollins. Ultimately, talks broke down between the sides; how unfortunate...
9 Chris Jericho – Replacing Bray At TLC
Because of an untimely injury to Bray Wyatt, WWE needed to find a quick replacement for the Eater of Worlds in his match against Finn Balor. With a lack of interest on the card, WWE wanted to make a splash, having someone from the past return.
Jericho got a phone call from McMahon, though he would decline the one-off match. AJ Styles would eventually take Wyatt’s place.
8 Neville – Return To SmackDown Live
Neville leaving WWE was a tough blow. We saw his true value as a heel on 205 Live. Everything came crashing down following a loss to Enzo – it caused Neville to leave.
Several attempts were made, including Neville returning under an entirely different brand with SmackDown Live. He opted to turn down the offer and leave the company instead, once his deal expired.
7 Trish Stratus & Lita – WrestleMania 35 Match Versus Sasha & Bayley
For the longest time, this seemed to be the plan – WWE would even plant some seeds at the Royal Rumble, hinting a possible match between Sasha and Trish.
Following the Evolution event, we only saw Trish and Lita once more. We’re not entirely sure why talks broke down – ultimately WWE decided on a multi-team match for WrestleMania, one that the IIconics won.
6 The Rock – Teaming With Ronda Rousey At WM 34
For the longest time, The Rock was supposed to be Ronda’s partner at WrestleMania. WWE planted the first storyline seed at WrestleMania 31, a confrontation between the four took place.
Again, scheduling was the biggest factor and Rock would once again decline the invite. He would be replaced by Kurt Angle. Given the way the match went, it was a great decision.
5 Shawn Michaels – Greatest Battle Royal Rumble Match
Shawn returning to the ring took multiple failed attempts. According to Sean Waltman, McMahon made another pitch at HBK prior to the Greatest Royal Rumble PPV over in Saudi Arabia. Waltman described the offer as a significant one – though again HBK wasn’t interested.
He would ultimately accept a huge offer for another show, Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia teaming up with his best bud, Triple H.
4 AJ Lee – Women’s Evolution Appearance
We’ll never really know for sure, but according to Ring Side News, McMahon himself made a pitch to AJ Lee. The appearance was meant for the main event, perhaps as a possible run-in or something of the sort.
Despite the no-show, AJ remains optimistic about a return, at the very least, she isn’t taking it off the table completely.
3 Rey Mysterio – WrestleMania 34 Verus John Cena
Cena was supposed to take on The Undertaker, though once those plans were nixed, Rey Mysterio appeared to be the front-runner (out of nowhere).
Because of a conflicting schedule, Rey would pull out of the match. Instead, we got Undertaker and Cena in what was a condensed less-than-three-minute encounter. Safe to say we would have rather Mysterio given the way that match went.
2 Goldberg – Andre The Giant Battle Royal
WrestleMania 34 started with the Andre The Giant Battle Royal. Had Goldberg been in the match, we have reason to believe it would have made the main card and not the pre-show.
Nonetheless, the rumors proved to be false. Perhaps the cameo wasn’t big enough for Goldberg? It was the first match of the night on the pre-show with Matt Hardy taking home the victory thanks to Bray Wyatt.
1 The Undertaker – WrestleMania 31 Match Versus Sting
This one might be the biggest missed opportunity. Sting was set to debut at WrestleMania while Undertaker was returning to the event following his first ‘Mania defeat to Brock.
It seemed like a match made in heaven, though ultimately, it wasn’t meant to be. Rumors insist that Undertaker turned it down. Sting would face Triple H on the night instead while Undertaker defeated Bray Wyatt.
Sources – YouTube, Ring Side News & Cagesideseats