10 Wrestlers Who Turned Down WWE Contracts

Dream on.

Wrestle Kingdom Zack Sabre Jr ZSJ NEVER
njpw1972.com

Every prospective pro wrestler, even if they grew up kissing a poster of Sting before bed every night, dreams of someday performing in WWE. Love them or loathe them, there's really no question that, at least in a range of measurable, financial metrics, they're the number one company in town.

Yes, the product may not be the best, the working conditions might often be questionable, and you're twice a year asked to act as court jesters to a Saudi Prince, but there's still the prevalent belief that signing with Vince McMahon means you've made it.

You don't have to like it, mind. A brief spell is enough: being able to bill yourself as a 'former WWE superstar' can set you up on the indy scene for life.

But there are some particularly principled - or particularly greedy, in some cases - pros who, in spite of the undeniable benefits to their bank balances, have said "thanks, but no thanks" to the world's biggest wrestling company. It takes a hell of a lot of courage; opportunities like these might never come around again.

That said, they nearly always do. Carlito's pushing it, mind.

10. Kurt Angle

Will Ospreay
WWE.com

Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle might be a WWE Hall of Famer and bonafide professional wrestling legend now, but there was a time when even the thought of entering the industry was totally anathema to his legitimate athletic sensibilities.

Angle's initial flirtations with the business left a sour taste, when, disgusted by a crucifixion angle involving Raven and The Sandman, he walked out on an ECW taping in 1996. As far as he was concerned, wrestling was beneath him - and the Philly incident did little change his tune.

Nor did Vince McMahon's offer of a 10-year WWE contract shortly after his Atlanta triumph. Angle considered his pedigree put him on a pedestal above all the professional fakes, and - medal in tow - told Vince it'd be unrealistic if he lost any matches. "He looked at me like I was crazy," Angle later recalled. McMahon didn't call back, and it'd be two years before Kurt finally put his pomposity to one side.

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Benjamin was born in 1987, and is still not dead. He variously enjoys classical music, old-school adventure games (they're not dead), and walks on the beach (albeit short - asthma, you know). He's currently trying to compile a comprehensive history of video game music, yet denies accusations that he purposefully targets niche audiences. He's often wrong about these things.