10 Wrestlers Who Turned Down WWE Contracts

Dream on.

Wrestle Kingdom Zack Sabre Jr ZSJ NEVER

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

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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Will Ospreay
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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.