Known to have an eye for talent, WWE's Chief Operating Officer Triple H wanted to sign several AEW stars. He has signed and re-signed many superstars to WWE in the past few years, including Samoa Joe, who was released and re-signed in a few days.
In addition to former WWE Superstars, The King of Kings wanted to sign a few wrestlers from other promotions. Nonetheless, he failed to convince many to rejoin Vince McMahon's company. Instead, many snubbed his offer in favor of joining AEW.
Here are seven AEW stars Triple H wanted to bring to WWE.
#7. AEW World Champion Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega was one of the names on Triple H's wish list. The Game wanted to sign the AEW World Champion right before the latter joined Tony Khan's company. During that time, Triple revealed his interest in Omega in a conference call.
"As far as Kenny Omega goes, I’m interested in talent period and if someone is talented as a performer and they want to come work for the WWE. If they want to work for the best in the world. If they want to come to the largest platform where they can truly show what they do off on a global basis then WWE is the choice for them (...) So, to me, anytime anyone questions me on a talent and if I’m interested in them…the fact that you are questioning me on it means that person is pretty talented so yes I’m interested," Triple H said.
As his NJPW contract approached its expiry date, Omega received several offers from different promotions, including WWE and AEW. Despite the positive negotiations between Omega and Triple H, the former turned down his offer.
Omega joined AEW in February 2019. In early 2020, he captured the AEW World Tag Team Championships, alongside Adam Page, after defeating SoCal Uncensored. However, they lost their titles to FTR in November of that same year.
A month after losing the Tag Team Titles, Omega defeated Jon Moxley at Winter is Coming to capture the AEW World Championship. The 37-year-old recently defended his title against Christian Cage at All Out. He then had an epic match with Bryan Danielson on AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam, ending in a draw.
#6. AEW star Matt Hardy
AEW star Matt Hardy has a long history with WWE and Triple H. He had several WWE runs throughout his career, the latest ending in 2020.
Hardy left WWE in March 2020 after his contract expired. Following his departure, the 47-year-old received a call from Triple H. The Game tried to convince him to return to WWE, but the former WWE Tag Team Champion was determined:
"Even days after I left, I talked to Triple H... It’s just like he was cool, and I feel like if Triple H would have been the guy that was solely in power, I would have probably had a much better opportunity of kind of getting to do what I wanted creatively, but it is what it is," Hardy said (H/T The Sun)
Matt Hardy debuted in AEW two months following his WWE departure. He teamed up with Kenny Omega in his debut match to fight Sammy Guevara and Chris Jericho but lost.
The 47-year-old is currently the leader of The Hardy Office stable, which includes Private Party and The Hybrid 2. The faction recently lost to Best Friends and Jurassic Express at All Out.
#5 & #4. AEW stars The Young Bucks
Before they became two of the biggest stars of AEW, The Young Bucks dreamed of becoming WWE Superstars. The two brothers appeared on WWE TV a few times in 2008 as extras. They also participated in a tryout in 2011 but failed to make it.
While they continued to prove their value in other promotions, the Jackson brothers captured the attention of Triple H right before they signed with AEW.
The COO called Matt Jackson on vacation to discuss the possibility of having the Young Bucks come to WWE. But the brothers turned down Triple H's offer.
"I was so protective of our brand because we had done so much at that point and we’d just done the All In show. So it was still scary to just hand over the keys to someone else and that was probably the biggest reason we didn’t go to WWE at the time because it was like ‘what are they going to do with this?’ We were almost over-protective of what we created," Matt told. (H/T TalkSPORT.)
Instead of signing with WWE, The Young Bucks decided to join AEW after meeting Tony Khan. They debuted at the 2019 Double or Nothing pay-per-view. In addition to being in-ring competitors, Matt and Nick Jackson are AEW's Executive Vice Presidents.
#3 & #2. AEW stars FTR
FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood) were also on Triple H's wishlist before joining AEW.
Wheeler and Harwood spent several years in WWE before the company released them in April 2020. During their time in Vince McMahon's company, the two wrestlers held the tag team titles of RAW, SmackDown, and NXT.
After deciding to leave WWE, Wheeler and Harwood received an offer from Triple H himself. The Game asked them to return and rejoin NXT.
"We talked to Hunter at length, there were offers on the table that were very tempting because we loved NXT and we loved our time there, but at the end of the day, we knew that our time there was done. We didn’t want to go back to the past – we’d done that. We wanted to come here [AEW]," Wheeler said.(H/T TalkSport).
FTR joined AEW just a month after leaving WWE. They debuted on the June 10, 2020, episode of Dynamite, defeating The Butcher and The Blade. After defeating Kenny Omega and Adam Page, they captured the AEW Tag Team Titles at All Out 2020.
Two months later, the team lost their titles to The Young Bucks at Full Gear. FTR are currently members of The Pinnacle on AEW.
#1. AEW star CM Punk
Before he came out of retirement to join AEW, CM Punk was on Triple H's list of superstars he wanted back in WWE. Although one of the most accomplished superstars in WWE history, Punk left the company on bad terms in 2014.
Despite the troubled relationship between Punk and WWE, Triple H and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, wanted to see The Straight Edge Superstar return to the company. Triple H also disclosed earlier this year that he had spoken with Punk.
"Last time I talked to (Punk)? A year and a half, a year and three quarters ago. A funny thing that people will constantly will say when his return is, but in some way, that has to be what he wants. People go, 'make the call.' Who says if we make the call that he wants to answer? What if we make the call and he's like, 'I'm not interested in doing that anymore.' Maybe he's just done with it," The Game said in an interview with Pardon My Take.
Triple H then explained that if Punk wanted to return to the squared circle, they would start negotiations.CM Punk, now in AEW, recently confirmed that he rejected an offer from WWE before he signed with Tony Khan's company.
"I remember one of the first things I ever said to them was, 'Above all, don’t play games', and they played games. Some things never change… When you enter a conversation with people you have a past with and you know who they are, how seriously can you take it? I know exactly who they are and they just continue to prove it. I’m trying to be as diplomatic as I possibly can," he told ESPN.
Punk made his AEW debut on the August 20 episode of Rampage. He has competed in two AEW matches so far, defeating Darby Allin and Powerhouse Hobbs, respectively.