Every year, WWE tries to shake up things by bringing back former WWE Superstars who've been away from the spotlight. While many of them compete in the ring, others just appear during segments to interact with new Superstars or some old peers. In the wrestling business, there aren't many things that sell like nostalgia as seen in recent times with The Rock and Goldberg. Fans love to see retired stars return to compete in one more match, but the WWE is starting to run out of names to bring back.
It's for that very reason why fans have been complaining for years, hoping that WWE will create new stars instead of relying on past generations to sell tickets. Despite the influx of new talents, there are still many veterans present in WWE who have been with the company for over a decade, but rumors claim that the end may be near for them. There is someone who hangs up the boots almost every single year, but there may be multiple names who leave in-ring action this upcoming year.
In 2017, we witnessed what many believed to be The Undertaker's retirement match against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33. But the company also brought back some names, such as Kane who returned in October during a steel cage match between Reigns and Braun Strowman. With today's list, we look at 8 retired WWE Superstars rumored to be returning in 2018 and 7 that might retire.
15 Returning: Kelly Kelly
WWE has significantly changed since the last time we saw Kelly Kelly on TV. A neck injury put her out of action in 2012, but the women's division is completely different today compared to the previous era. When Kelly debuted in 2006, her gimmick was to come out to perform a striptease for the fans. It ran for weeks before she eventually moved on to something else, but it was her sex appeal that kept her relevant throughout the years.
WWE have shifted their focus to women wrestling instead of eye candies, and have several talents that can compete with the best. During her run with the company, Kelly Kelly never had to rely on her wrestling ability nor did she have to impress on the mic, but times have changed since then. Kelly has indicated that she is open for another run, and the interest appears to be mutual with WWE, so you may see her in some capacity next year.
14 Retiring: Kane
Kane had been away from WWE for a while before he recently returned on Raw. He had traded his wrestling career for a political one, but it seems like Kane has more run left in him. According to some rumors, Kane may be on the way out in 2018. He will have the chance to compete with the younger talents, and will probably likely just serve in helping them get over. We have already witnessed some previews of Kane against Braun Strowman and you can expect many more meetings during the upcoming months.
His current contract status is unknown, but Kane's loyalty and professionalism will be rewarded by Vince McMahon when the time comes Although some believe he could have achieved much more, there is no doubt that Kane has had a Hall of Fame career, and will likely be inducted in the next couple years.
13 Returning: Batista
Since his last appearance with the company, there has been speculation about the return of Batista to compete for the WWE once again. For years, Batista had been one of the main eventers and most popular Superstars on the roster. His 2014 return at the Royal Rumble didn't go as he had imagined after being booed out of the building by the WWE Universe. Fans were disappointed to not see Daniel Bryan, and their frustration only grew once Batista won the Rumble.
Batista would go on to main event WrestleMania although he failed to add another title to his resume. He quit the company soon after due to disagreements over creative decisions. It was a bad run that somewhat tarnished his legacy, but Batista has kept the door open for one last run as long as he agrees with his booking. Batista has become the most successful wrestler in Hollywood since The Rock, so the company is said to be intrigued by a 2018 return.
12 Retiring: Goldust
Goldust has been in WWE for so long and managed to stay relevant throughout the years. Although he has never been one of the top guys, he has retained his popularity in every run he had with the company. Despite his impressive longevity, it might be time for him to call it a career. Rumors indicate that 2018 might be the last we see of Goldust, which doesn't come as a surprise.
After forming a team with his brother Cody Rhodes and then later on R-Truth, Goldust finds himself in the middle of nowhere and making very few appearances. Goldust is another name who's set for life, WWE will certainly keep him around once he retires, as he could have a bigger role backstage than he currently does as a wrestler. Goldust is one of the few remaining faces from the '90s, but he will soon be joining his peers in retirement.
11 Returning: Shawn Michaels
It's been almost eight years since we last saw Shawn Michaels compete in a wrestling match. His last bout was an iconic battle against The Undertaker, which forced him to retire due to match stipulation. Michaels hasn't been completely away from the company, as he has been involved in several storylines. He has also returned for random appearances, including promos and backstage segments.
This past WrestleMania, Michaels considered coming out of retirement to face off arguably the best wrestler today in AJ Styles. Vince McMahon had personally approached him about the match, but Michaels turned down the opportunity after giving it some thought. Fans are still asking him for one more match, and Michaels has admitted to being interested although it must make creative sense for his character to compete. With WWE running out of legends to bring back, you may get to see Michaels taken on AJ Styles or another current Superstar in 2018.
10 Retiring: John Cena
When John Cena lost to Roman Reigns at No Mercy, fans thought that it was a sign of him passing the torch. Others were convinced that Cena had retired following his goodbye gestures to the crowd. After having one of the most dominant runs in WWE history, Cena has stepped away from being a full-time wrestler to transition into a part-timer. With Cena moving towards a career as an actor, his projects have increased in recent years.
Rumors have indicated that Cena might be following The Rock's footsteps to land bigger roles, meaning he would have to retire from wrestling for the time being. Cena has always maintained that he will never leave WWE, but with the influx of new talents, the company might be in good hands. He's going to be competing in a match at Survivor Series after taking some time off before he possibly leaves the company next year.
9 Returning: Hulk Hogan
With Raw's upcoming 25th anniversary in January, WWE has started contacting legends to make an appearance. Among them is Hulk Hogan who has been away from the company since his release in 2015. Arguably the most popular wrestler of all-time, Hogan's legacy has been tarnished following the leak of a tape where he made racist comments about the boyfriend of his daughter.
While some fans may be willing to overlook that, others have moved on from their former hero. WWE was quick to release Hogan upon the leak and even erased him from its history. It's quite difficult to do so when you consider his impact on the wrestling world. His absence may be coming to an end soon, and fans have mixed feelings about it. With the ongoing negotiations between Hogan and the company, the reaction of the WWE Universe is going to be unpredictable until he appears.
8 Retiring: R-Truth
R-Truth has been done as a serious wrestler for years with WWE using him for comedy roles and segments along with Goldust. He has served as a jobber for the past few years, and he has very little to offer at this point. His reputation is beyond repair and moving into a staff role seems to be the best fit at this point. He definitely would like to continue having the WWE paychecks rolling in for as long as possible, but he may soon be released from the roster. Rumors indicate that his time is almost up, and unless R-Truth decides to continue wrestling elsewhere, he likely has a job for life with WWE. Earlier this year, he did some commentary before being replaced. Some of his peers have recently moved into backstage roles, and you should probably expect that for R-Truth in the near future.
7 Returning: Michelle McCool
Since 2011, Michelle McCool has mostly stayed away from the spotlight after leaving WWE. Most have assumed that she is retired and unlikely to return, but she just opened the door earlier this month. After tweeting about Ric and Charlotte Flair's newest book, the latter replied to thank her and even extended an invitation for an in-ring return. They both teased one more match for McCool with their tweets, who called out the WWE Universe to see their interest.
In 2018, McCool may give it another go to compete with the newest talents in WWE. She left on good terms with the company, and that's not to mention she's married to The Undertaker so she has the green light to return at any time. McCool won several titles during her first run at a time when women's wrestling was more about looks than talent, although she did improve towards the end of her career.
6 Retiring: Big Show
We have been hearing rumors about Big Show's retirement for years, but it seems like the time has come for him to step down. Last WrestleMania, he was supposed to be competing against Shaquille O'Neal in his final match, but plans were canceled due to Shaq's change of heart. Big Show would later claim that he's aiming for 2018 to be his final year as a wrestler before he eventually moves on to different ventures.
Last month, he was injured during a match on Monday Night Raw, which means his retirement plans might be slightly delayed. It hasn't been confirmed whether he will be able to compete at WrestleMania, meaning he might have his final match at another Pay-Per-View. This year, Big Show returned in the best shape since his younger days and had some memorable matches against Braun Strowman. While he may not get to wrestle Shaq, WWE will surely give him a proper send off.
5 Returning: Rob Van Dam
RVD is one of the most popular wrestlers of the past 20 years, although he hasn't accomplished much since 2006. He has returned a couple times to receive cheers from the fans, but he hasn't been able to overcome the mediocre storylines that WWE has booked him in. RVD still wrestles on the independent scene from time to time, but the clock is ticking fast for him, especially when you consider his style of wrestling.
In the past year, RVD has been teasing a return to the company but nothing has materialized to date. He is currently unofficially retired from the WWE with his last appearance being in 2014 during a run where he mostly put over younger talents. RVD is a month shy of being 47 years old, so you can possibly expect the flaunting rumors to come true with a return next year.
4 Retiring: Nikki Bella
Rumors have been claiming that Nikki Bella has retired, which she has denied during an interview. She hasn't made an appearance since WrestleMania 33 in which she teamed up with John Cena to defeat The Miz and Maryse. Afterwards, Cena proposed to her in the ring which made headlines in every news outlet. Nikki has been taking time off since then to participate in Dancing With the Stars. She also won't be returning to a full-time schedule due to an injury that has previously kept her out.
Nikki won't be wrestling as much either, she will likely have a final run in 2018 before pursuing new ventures. With an upcoming wedding to John Cena, that will certainly keep her busy especially when you consider her involvement in Total Bellas. The Bellas are expected to reunite in 2018 to compete in the ring again before they likely quit the business.
3 Returning: Daniel Bryan
Ever since Daniel Bryan was forced to retire due to an injury, he's been rumored to return to in-ring action. He has taken on the role of SmackDown's general manager, but fans are waiting for more and it may come in 2018. WWE teased his return the past year and a half through his involvement in a storyline against The Miz, but the build-up never paid off with a match.
WWE doctors have refused to clear Byran to wrestle again, but he claims that several other doctors have allowed him to resume his career. With Kurt Angle recently being given the green light to compete, Bryan has gotten his hopes up and even teased a return on Twitter before deleting the post. Rumors suggest that Bryan may be allowed to compete once again in 2018, and if WWE insists on not clearing him, he might take his talents elsewhere.
2 Retiring: Dolph Ziggler
It's quite impressive that Dolph Ziggler has managed to have a 10-year career after starting with The Spirit Squad. While all group members have failed to achieve any success with the company, Ziggler has had an impressive run until recent times. He's been struggling to find an identity and place on the roster this year, and rumors indicate that he is upset and ready to move on from WWE.
In 2015, Ziggler replied to a fan question on Twitter about retirement, noting that he would wrestle for two more years. It seems like Ziggler will be hanging up his boots sooner than expected due to his growing frustration with his booking, as well as interests outside of wrestling. Ziggler's newest gimmick hasn't exactly been well received by fans, and the interest in him has been fading away with every passing year. 2018 may very likely be the last time you see Ziggler wrestle in WWE.
1 Returning: The Undertaker
For years, we have heard rumors about The Undertaker possibly retiring until he came back to compete again. His appearances have decreased as he got older, and he appeared to have hung up his boots after losing to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33. Rumors have it that The Undertaker's retirement won't last too long as he is set to wrestle again in 2018. While his recent matches have been underwhelming and he hasn't been in top shape, fans care very little as they would love to see The Deadman again.
As for his next opponent, there are plenty of possible names floating around including John Cena and Sting. You also have younger talents being suggested, but fans might not want to see Taker lose another bout following his last two WrestleMania appearances. If The Undertaker does return as expected, then you can surely expect this to be his final run.