Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson recently dove into the Invasion pay-per-view on Something To Wrestle With. There was a lot going on in WWE at that time. The WCW purchase went through and they were days away from WrestleMania 17. Vince McMahon also had a side project with the first incarnation of the XFL. During the podcast, Bruce and Conrad discussed some talent WWE didn't bring into the company right away and the various reasons why.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported at the time that Hulk Hogan was gauging WWE's interest about a return. It was said Hogan thought he would have leverage if WWE was going to buy WCW. Prichard revealed this was one of the few times he can remember when Vince McMahon wasn't interested in bringing in Hogan.
"First off, Hogan's name used to always seem to come up with his contract was coming up and he was sending out feelers to see if there was any interest. At this time it was one of the few times Vince wasn't really interested.
"He was thinking maybe if we would have gotten the deal done a month or two months early... maybe he might have considered it. He might have thought about it. But during this time there was so much going on with the XFL and just our company exploding in general. There wasn't a whole lot of interest in Hulk at that time. We figured we can wait. Let Turner do their thing and maybe it would be good for Hulk to sit out a little while."
Rey Mysterio was another star WWE didn't bring in during their acquisition of WCW. Mysterio had some people pulling for him to get hired, but Prichard explained that Mysterio didn't have the name he does now. He hadn't become Mr. 6-1-9 yet, therefore WWE didn't find the reasoning for paying for his services at that time.
"[Mysterio] wasn't a hot property for WCW either. So it wasn't like, 'oh my god you're missing out on this huge hot property of Rey Mysterio that WCW has dawn all this money [with].' Rey hadn't done anything yet.
"He was truly a great talent and tremendous talent, but what the hell had he done?" Prichard said he never heard a rumor about Mysterio having a bad attitude and it all boiled down to money.
"The whole thing with Rey Mysterio was that Rey was asking for a lot of money that Vince didn't feel that he warranted. Vince didn't know him, felt he was small. He didn't like masked wrestlers and again, what had Rey Mysterio done in WCW to make him worth all of this money? Plus he had a contract he was being paid out on. So he wasn't interested in coming to WWE for less money."
When WWE bought WCW fans immediately booked dream matches in their heads. Prichard said they had their own dream matches in the writers' room. However, several factors kept some of the biggest ones from becoming a reality.
A number of wrestlers were still under contract with Turner Broadcasting and were being paid after the company was sold. They didn't want to give up guaranteed money from Turner to sign with WWE at the time. Prichard noted that there were a lot of big matches that WWE wanted to put together, however the contract situation prevented those from happening.
"I think again without all the particulars, the first match that comes to mind was Austin vs. Goldberg. To have that matchup at some point. To be able to build to it. Same thing with Undertaker and Sting. There was thinking, 'okay do you bring back Hall and Nash and put them back into the fold?' There were a lot of what if's.
"It all becomes mental masturbation at that point. Because with the exception of JR, I don't think there was anyone who had really dealt with Goldberg and Goldberg showed zero desire, nil, zilch to come in. He had his deal [with Turner] and was going to be paid out. He didn't want to come in so the fact that he didn't want to come in -- we sure as hell wasn't gonna go after him. We didn't want anybody that didn't want to be here."
If you use any portion of the quotes in this article please credit Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription