So we all know WWE is always looking for new talent to keep NXT great then ruin on the main roster. Seriously, not counting Styles, Daniel Bryan Danielson, or Finn, how many indy darlings ever break to the top of the card? They have to overcome Vince’s innate dislike of 1) Small men, as guys like HBK did long ago and Styles/Finn/Daniel have all done, and 2) Overcome Vince’s screwed up idea that ONLY stars HE created from scratch should be pushed, like Roman Reigns and Strowman and Lesnar. But even Vince knows there HAS to always be an influx of new talent to keep the product fresh. Year to year this has brought us Roode, Shinsuke, Asuka, Roderick Strong, Alastair Black, and many others, with varying results.
But what about the ones the ‘E has been really trying to get their grubby little mitts on lately that keep declining the offer? What about those hot non-WWE talents whose popularity has transcended just one company who even WWE fans would completely lose their shit to see come through the curtain on NXT or Raw or Smackdown? The ones who fuel SOOO many rumours about them jumping ship to the ‘E who WWE have actually made serious pushes for? Well today I’m going to talk about three international/Indy/Non-WWE stars that WWE has repeatedly tried to sign who declined the offer, why they turned the WWE down, how they’ve thrived without WWE, and whether they should ever cave in and jump ship. As with Yesterday’s post about the Hall of Fame, I’ll use a specific format here, which is as follows;
Why Did They Say No?
Are They Successful?
Should They Ever Sign?
So let’s get started with likely the biggest non-WWE star on this list.
Kenny Omega; Star in New Japan, RoH, and various indy feds, took over the international faction The Bullet Club from AJ Styles, Canadian, bane of Jim Cornette’s existence, has dozens of 5 star matches on his resume, good enough to lure Chris Jericho to New Japan for easily the match of the year so far. Fans at WWE shows have been known to do the Terminator Clap.
Why Did He Say No? – The first publicly known attempt to sign him away from New Japan was in January 2017 when his NJPW contract was coming up. While fans went batshit with rumours that The Cleaner would be a surprise entrant in the 2017 Royal Rumble, those paying attention knew that would never happen even if WWE had succeeded in wooing him away, because his NJPW contract didn’t expire until 2 days AFTER the Rumble. John Cena himself trolled fans by posting photos of Kenny on his Instagram, further fuelling belief that the signing was a done deal, but in the end, Kenny decided to stay in New Japan to follow his friend Kota Ibushi’s example. (Kota himself is on this list further down). Come THIS year, once again his NJPW contract was set to expire a few days after the Royal Rumble and WWE again tried to sign him, but after his 5Star MOTY throwdown with Jericho broke the goddamned internet, Kenny again decided it wasn’t the right time, given the success he’s having in New Japan, and his obligations to the Bullet Club, and once again declined. However the current Bullet Club storyline has he and Cody Rhodes fighting over control of the Bullet Club, and should Kenny lose that fight, when his contract comes up again NEXT January, he might finally be willing to take WWE’s offer.
Is He Successful? – Oh bloody hell yes. Jim Cornette loses sleep over how over Kenny and the “Ballet Club” are. (Jim, like Vince, has a strange sad blind irrational hatred of “that flippy shit”). Kenny specific merch sells like gangbusters worldwide, You literally CANNOT watch a WWE show without seeing a few Kenny shirts in the crowd. As I said earlier, the Terminator clap frequently shows up at WWE events, though Kevin Beaverteeth mutes it like he mutes boos for Roman. Kenny is a top draw who draws great money and has a world-wide following, and ESPECIALLY after his MOTY with Jericho he can pretty much write his own ticket. Honestly he doesn’t NEED the WWE. AT ALL. He could easily be like Sting and go almost his entire career without ever setting foot in a Raw ring.
Should He Ever Sign? – SHOULD he? Well in Kenny’s case that’s pretty subjective. A lot of fans think he should but just as many think he shouldn’t. But he’s potentially the only star on this list who would be all but guaranteed to overcome the Vince Ceiling I spoke of at the start, the way HBK and AJ and Daniel all did. He has the talent, the charisma, and he’s insanely over with crowds worldwide. There’s basically NO chance of him getting buried or lost in the shuffle because Tripsy CLEARLY knows how much money Kenny can make the company. But again, he doesn’t NEED the WWE. He can easily still make good money and have success without them. So in Kenny’s case, there is no should or should not. There is only whether or not HE someday decides to.
Kota Ibushi; MULTIPLE championships worldwide, kicked ass and took name’s in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic but decline a permanent contract offer to stay in New Japan, highly sought after by companies everywhere, legit martial artist, longtime friend and foe of Kenny with whom he held a tag championship, all around stiff vicious competitor.
Why Did He Say No? – While he got over HUGE in the CWC, he chose to decline WWE’s offer of a full-time contract because he felt he had more to accomplish back in New Japan and wasn’t ready to move the the US full time to work a WWE schedule. That hasn’t stopped Tripsy from putting out feelers every so often to see if he’s ready to change his mind, as he was easily one of the single most over guys in the entire CWC tournament. Someday he might reach out for those feelers, but for now he’s content where he is. If Kenny ever signs with them though that may change, as Kenny is widely considered to be Kota’s best friend.
Is He Successful? – Pretty much yes. Like Kenny he doesn’t NEED WWE to make money. He’s one of New Japan’s top stars, the fans adore him, and UNLIKE Kenny, his following outside Japan is less massive. RoH and Chikara fans know and love him, but WWE fans might only know him if they watched the CWC or watch New Japan. He’s very successful and comfortable where he is.
Should He Ever Sign? – Honestly no. Odds are if he does he’ll go the way of Hideo. He’ll coast along in NXT then be shunted off to 205 live where he’ll just be more flotsam in a sea of “why should the fans care if the bookers don’t”. It’s in Kota’s best interests to stay precisely where he is.
Rosemary; Multiple championships worldwide, equally international fanbase, made worldwide news after the Sexxy Star incident, creepy nightmare dreamgirl, subject of much fan speculation.
Why Did She Say No? Because she’s happy where she is and has no interest in going to WWE where her creative control of herself would likely be stunted greatly, although with Woken Matt succeeding in WWE and being given full creative control of HIS character, and them being real life friends after working together in TNA/Impact, (Delete or Decay), it IS possible Matt could stick up for her creative genius and get her that creative control. Regardless, WWE has tried to sign her every time her TNA/Impact contract has come up for renewal and every time she has declined to even negotiate, resigning with TNA/Impact every time. WWE is unlikely to stop trying given the money she can draw, but so far, she has no interest in taking the call.
Is She Successful? – Yes. She is hands down one of TNA/Impact’s most over and top-drawing Knockouts. She’s main-evented Impact. Entire storylines have been built around her, and in a company known for rampant inconsistency, she’s probably the most consistent thing ON Impact tv. She’s in high demand all over the world, and makes appearances in companies everywhere. People have been spotted in WWE audiences wearing her style of facepaint, and you can’t go to ANY wrestling show ANYWHERE now without seeing at least a few Demon Bunny or Rosemary shirts. She’s something completely unique and special and fans worldwide plop down good money to watch her be her.
Should She Ever Sign? – Oh good fucking GODDESS no. NO NO NO. Not now not ever. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love and adore Rosemary and the fangirl in me would go batshit if she showed up on WWE TV. But I’m also a smart fan and a realist, and I know if she ever did sign with WWE, she’d be criminally misused because WWE Bookers just WILL NOT know what to do with her, and unless Matt fights for her to have creative control, she’ll either get lost in the shuffle and be a weird midcard novelty act used as enhancement talent but never pushed to the top because she’s “too weird”, or worse, she’ll be cast as Sister Abigail and be forever ruined by bad booking. I love Rosemary to bits as a fan, and that’s why I hope she NEVER sets foot in WWE.
Well that’s it for today. Join me tomorrow as we discuss Daniel Bryan Danielson’s unretirement and the potential rewards and consequences therein.