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Some more than others

6 Wrestlers who turned down WWE Contracts

As 2019 comes to a close, professional wrestling has seen an uptick with the rise of AEW. Other organizations have also prospered with Impact Wrestling finding a new home on AXS TV, NWA creating their own online show Powerrr, and NJPW gaining more traction in the U.S. market.


With that in mind, this has actually provided professional wrestlers with several options to choose from and that's a good thing. While there is no organization that has the massive size of WWE, the company isn't for everyone. Some have turned down contracts because they received a better offer. Others are not interested in the demanding schedule that exists within the WWE structure.


Whatever the reason may be, some have chosen a different path for good or for ill. At the end of the day, the choice is theirs. Here are 6 wrestlers who turned down WWE Contracts.



#6 Eli Drake

Drake went NWA

Eli Drake was one of the more promising talents to come out of Impact Wrestling. While his tenure with the company didn't end well, he did end up at NWA Wrestling. In an interview with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, he said that there has actually been interest from WWE over the past 3 years and that he kept turning them down.


He said that it was mostly due to Impact Wrestling giving him raises each time. He explained,

"There [has] been interest from WWE for the last 3 years, but I kept turning them down because Impact kept giving me raises, which, maybe, in the long term, might not have been the best move only because your up potential in WWE is so crazy. Just the money people are making from the Saudi shows and now with AEW and whatnot, people are getting more money out of that too. But it was kind of to the point for 3 years, I was kind of ringing their bell, and then turned away, and went somewhere else. I probably annoyed the s--t out of them at this point, so I don't know."

Eli Drake also said that he eventually went with NWA because they gave him the best offer and he's loving what he's doing in the company.


#5 Joey Ryan

King of **** style

If infamy had a face in pro wrestling, it would be Joey Ryan. Ryan has established himself as wrestling on the independents, and though he's currently signed to Impact Wrestling, he's still doing his own shows.


Moreover, he has been very active in inter-gender wrestling taking on the likes of Shayna Baszler, Taya Valkyrie and others. He's even wrestled legends like Ken Shamrock and Mick Foley, who were more than willing to take his....unique move set.

With that stated, It was revealed that Ryan turned down an AEW contract, but felt that they could always work together down the line. He was approached about wrestling for WWE and eventually moving into an NXT coaching role. Ryan declined because he felt that the time wasn't right. He explained,

"I try not to overthink on that level. It would always be nice to have job security or a place where you know you can still provide after your time in the ring is done. That does weigh on me because I am 39 now, which is something I think about, but I don't want to get caught up in something that I don't have an urgency to get to."

Ryan looks like he's very comfortable working on the independents. There still might be a move in the future, but it doesn't like it's going to be anytime soon.

#4 Bea Priestley

She had other plans

Bea Priestley is another exciting female wrestler on the AEW Roster. So far, she has had a recent feud with Britt Baker and is certainly over with the fans. She's actually not a full-time wrestler for AEW, as she actually also works in Japan's Stardom promotion.


The schedule allows her the freedom to split her time between both promotions as she still wanted to work in Japan. In an interview, she actually revealed that she turned down a WWE NXT UK deal to work in AEW. She explained,

"So I was going to be signed as a mid-carder and it would have taken me a while to get the spotlight on me. So in my head, I was like ‘Ok, if I stay away – I still want to get a lot more experience in Japan – I still have a lot of other things I want to do’, for me, that was the best decision for me."

Essentially, despite having many friends in the NXT UK promotion like Toni Storm, she decided to go with AEW because of the flexibility that they offered her. With AEW now adding women like Big Swole, Kris Statlander and others, it's only a matter of time before the Women's Division kicks off in the company.


#3 and #2 Santana and Ortiz (Proud-N-Powerful)

They wanted to be part of history...

If there is one thing that AEW has over other promotions, it's that they have some of the best tag teams on the professional wrestling circuit. This includes the Lucha Bros, SCU, Private Party, The Young Bucks, and Proud-N-Powerful.


Santana and Ortiz were known as LAX in Impact Wrestling and were easily one of the more over tag teams there. Their arrival in AEW was not a surprise, but it turns out that WWE did make them a huge offer to sign with NXT over AEW.

In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, they said that they turned WWE down because they felt that they could part of history with AEW and that they would be small fish in a large pond. They explained,

"The ultimate decision was do we wanna be part of something that’s already established or do we want to be something new and make history because no matter what happens with AEW, we will always be part of the first ever main event of the first ever television of AEW. Do we want to be part of history or do we want to fade to black? Best case scenario we would be the small fish in an ocean. There’s so many people there and it would be an uphill battle. "

From their vantage point, it looks like Santana and Ortiz were proven right in this regard. They're one of the best heel stables in AEW and it won't be long before they become AEW Tag Team Champions.

#1 Kenny Omega

It was his destiny

There's not much to say when it comes to Kenny Omega. The man who was the heart and soul of NJPW seemed destined to join The Elite and help establish AEW as a force in the wrestling business.


He essentially chose to work with his friends in a company where he would have immense creative control, and it would be the perfect platform for him to succeed. In addition to being one of the top guys in the promotion, Omega plays a large role in helping book the women's matches and is trying to get that division gain more stability over time.

Now, it was very true that WWE heavily pursued Omega as soon as his contract was up in NJPW. In an interview with Dave Meltzer, Omega said that WWE's offer was fantastic, but it was just that AEW presented something better. He explained,

"I can't deny WWE has a ton of dream matches with guys that I would love to work with, and guys that are my friends. But just AEW is, like, I love the potential of being able to work with all of these incredible, unique talents from every corner of the globe essentially."

It's true that wrestling fans would have gone nuts if Seth Rollins was taking on Kenny Omega at WrestleMania. But AEW just provided the creative freedom that he probably wouldn't have in WWE. In professional wrestling, however, never say never.

Edited by
Michael McClead
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