A new year has begun in WWE and that means that we are now on the Road to WrestleMania. In less than two months time WWE will present their biggest show of the year as they descend upon Orlando, Florida for WrestleMania 33.
The likes of John Cena and Nikki Bella have already stated that they will be taking some time away from the company after the April Extravaganza, which leaves a few places open on the roster for returning superstars. The likes of Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam usually return to WWE following WrestleMania to help the company bridge the gap between the summer and the end of the year, but it seems that Jericho is also leaving WWE for a while after WrestleMania and Rob Van Dam doesn’t look like he will be returning anytime soon.
There are many stars who are currently on WWE’s injured list who could make a return to WWE in the coming months to help support them during the period between SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble. This means that WWE could rely on past superstars making a return to the company as well as injured superstars who could be cleared to wrestle by then, so here are 15 wrestlers that should return to the ring later this year.
The former Divas and Women’s Champion left WWE a few years ago on less than good terms, but since the company decided to rehire Mickie James and open up a storyline about the female revolution, it is hard not to bring Melina into this.
Melina is the current Queen of Southside in the UK and has proved that she can still wrestle just as well as she could when she was contracted to WWE. If Mickie wanted to be taken seriously in her return to WWE then she needs her old partner in crime and WWE need to ask Melina to make a return to the company this year.
14. Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle has already been announced as the headliner for this year’s Hall of Fame class and it seems highly likely that The Wrestling Machine will be rewarded with one last match in WWE around WrestleMania weekend, if not at WrestleMania 33.
Angle has had a lengthy career in TNA over the past decade since he left WWE and is still in peak fighting condition. He is also already a TNA Hall of Famer, which makes him only the second person to pick up the honor with the two companies. It is hard to see WWE denying Kurt the chance for one last match given that it could easily help them sell WrestleMania tickets.
13. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy has become one of the most speculated names on the Internet over the past few months when it comes to superstars that should return to the company. Matt has become a huge star in TNA with his new “Broken Matt Hardy” persona and the WWE Universe want to see him back in WWE.
More than anything the fans want Matt Hardy to face off against Bray Wyatt because they feel the promos could be some of the best ever seen, and now that Bray Wyatt is WWE Champion and John Cena is set to take a break, Matt Hardy could be the perfect person to come in and challenge him.
12. Summer Rae
Summer Rae hasn’t been seen in WWE since being part of the 10-Diva tag team match at WrestleMania 32 back in April 2016. She was however drafted to the Raw roster back in July but is still yet to make an appearance.
Summer has been suffering from a knee injury for the better part of a year, and it doesn’t seem as though she will be returning from that anytime soon. Summer was the first WWE Diva to be cast in a WWE Studios film when she was part of The Marine 4: Moving Target, but it seems her career has gone downhill since then and she needs to return to the company soon before the fans forget all about her.
11. Tamina Snuka
Much like Summer Rae, Tamina has been off WWE TV now for almost a year after undergoing knee surgery back in May 2016. Tamina was part of the main Divas storylines before her injury, but it is unknown how she will fit back into the division now.
Tamina went undrafted as part of the 2016 WWE Draft so it is also unknown where she will fit into either the SmackDown or the Raw roster. Tamina was cleared for ring action back in December and began to make live show appearances, but her father passed away in January, so it seems that WWE is giving her some more time off following this.
Paige became one of the biggest stars of the Women’s Division when she defeated AJ Lee the night after WrestleMania 30 to win her first Divas Championship. Paige then went on to become one of the faces of the Division after AJ Lee later retired.
Paige probably had one of the worst years of her career in 2016, after she failed to win any kind of Championship that year and was suspended twice by WWE, all while also undergoing neck surgery. It is still unclear what timetable Paige is looking at when it comes to a return, but WWE is hoping that it will be at some point this year.
9. Hulk Hogan
A few years ago, WWE decided to distance themselves from anything associated with Hulk Hogan after comments were unearthed that could have put WWE in a bad light if they had kept him contracted to the company.
Since then it seems that the WWE has decided to brush the incident under the rug and have begun having much more to do with their former World Champion amidst rumors that Hogan could be making a return to WWE at some point this year, with WrestleMania one of the hinted places.
8. Erick Rowan
The former member of The Wyatt Family was destined for great things before he was injured back in October and forced to undergo surgery for a torn rotator cuff. It was reported that Erick Rowan would be out for six months and Luke Harper was then moved over to SmackDown to take over his storylines.
It has been six months since Rowan’s surgery was announced, but it is unclear how he will fit back in with The Wyatt Family. The Family are currently the main story on SmackDown and since Bray is currently WWE Champion, his return could well be an interesting one.
7. Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett announced that he would be taking a break from wrestling following his WWE release back in May 2016 and has stuck to his word ever since. Barrett’s release was somewhat premature given the rise of British Wrestling over the past few months and it would be interesting to see if he does return.
Barrett was the UK’s best hope for a World Champion during his time in WWE and he had much more talent than WWE ever tapped into. As long as Barrett doesn’t harness bad feeling following his release then it would be a great idea to bring him back.
6. Beth Phoenix
The former Divas and Women’s Champion left WWE back in 2012 and has since gone on to marry WWE Hall of Famer Edge and become the mother of their two children, but it seems that she could be the female addition to this year’s Hall of Fame class.
Beth was one of the most dominant female wrestlers in the company’s history and was only the second woman to take part in the annual Royal Rumble match. If she’s returning to WWE for the Hall of Fame with the current storyline about the Women’s Revolution, then you can bet your house on the fact that she will be wrestling at least one more match.
5. Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley has some fond memories of WWE, especially since he was once ECW and WWE Champion. Sadly though he was regarded as one of Vince’s biggest mistakes and that’s why his career then derailed and he headed over to TNA.
Bobby has recently tried his hand at MMA and became quite successful during his time in TNA as well, winning every title possible while over there. Surely Vince McMahon can swallow some humble pie and welcome Lashley back to his brand while he still has one last push in him.
4. Finn Balor
The Demon was injured back in August 2016 when he faced Seth Rollins at SummerSlam for the Universal Championship. It was announced that Finn would have to undergo surgery on his torn labrum and would be out of action for six to nine months.
Finn has already been out for six months and could well make his return to WWE at WrestleMania or even the night afterward. Finn will definitely slide back into the main picture in WWE when he does make his return, he is popular with the WWE Universe, and they will be happy to have him back. He and Seth Rollins could well return to WWE at the same time and the two face superstars will be needed to combat whatever it is Triple H has planned for his new heel stable.
3. Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin was one of the former stars that WWE signed ahead of last year’s brand split because they knew that they needed to bring in more recruits to ensure there were enough stars on each roster.
Sadly, Shelton suffered a torn rotator cuff before he could make his official WWE return and has been out injured since August. WWE decided to keep Shelton signed to the company and said he would be given an opportunity when he is fit again. This means Shelton will be back on WWE TV sometime soon and even before this year’s WrestleMania event.
2. Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly is a former Divas Champion and since she left WWE a few years ago she has married professional Hockey player Sheldon Souray and been part of the E! reality show WAGS. She was recently seen backstage at Monday Night Raw and it seems that WWE have offered her a contract and she could be appearing at WrestleMania this year.
With the current new era versus old era storyline ongoing, Kelly could easily fit into this and has already hinted that she could be making an appearance at this year’s event. Hopefully, her signing is just the beginning and many others follow to prove just how good women’s wrestling can be.
1. Drew Galloway
Drew Galloway was known as Drew McIntyre during his WWE career and after what was an incredible start to his career, he was consistently used as a jobber and put into a jobber group on WWE TV. He proved many times since then that he had the skills to go all the way with the biggest promotion in the world, but the company wouldn’t take the gamble.
Galloway recently broke his neck and it could take a while for him to rehab himself back into wrestling shape, but if WWE came calling again, it would be easy to see them resigning Galloway and allowing him to become a champion on one of their current brands.