With WrestleMania season slowly looming, you know what that means, folks! Rumored returns and plenty of them, that is! Not only is WrestleMania on the horizon but a special Raw Anniversary show is also being planned with several returns set to take place. That’ll only intensify the rumor mill that much more. In this article, we take a look at eight rumored names the WWE might consider bringing back. All eight names mentioned have a realistic chance of returning based off of the recent stories we’ve heard.
We’ll also look at the other side of the spectrum - now, for the first time in a long time, wrestlers are betting on their talent with options available elsewhere. Cody Rhodes broke the mold and the likes of Neville are following suit. We’ll look at seven names that might walk out of the company given their creative frustrations with the WWE.
Enjoy the article folks and like always, be sure to share the link with a friend. Without further ado, here are eight rumored names the WWE might consider bring back and seven that might walk out of the company. We begin with a name that hasn’t been attached to the WWE since the early 2000s.
15 Return – Earl Hebner
Here’s a name you likely weren’t thinking about, the great Earl Hebner has officially left Impact Wrestling and has stated that he is in fact open to returning in order to pay his dues as a thank you to the WWE. Of course, Hebner is regarded as one of the greatest WWE officials of all-time starting with the company in the 80s. It seemed obvious that he’d stay with the company for life, however, a shocking incident took place that caused his departure as Earl was caught illegally selling WWE merchandise, leading to his shocking departure.
We've seen the WWE bring back lots of personalities we thought burned bridges with the company and Earl can be another example of that. At the very least, we expect the veteran referee to get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at some point. With his recent Impact release, that can happen sooner rather than later.
14 Walk Out – Daniel Bryan
Back in February of 2016, we thought we’d seen the last of Daniel Bryan as he was forced into retirement due to WWE doctors unwilling to clear him. As you probably already know, Daniel is eager to return and it seems as though the WWE might be feeling the same way. According to the latest gossip, Bryan might be slated for a return match as early as next SummerSlam along with working a limited schedule similar to other WWE legends such as Kurt Angle and Goldberg. The big question here; is that good enough?
We can see a scenario of Bryan leaving due to not agreeing on terms. It also doesn’t help things that his contract is set to expire at the end 2018, making him free to perform with an indie promotion. The WWE needs to be careful with the terms of his return or it can cost them big time with Bryan walking out of the company.
13 Return – James Storm
A journeyman in the wrestling business, WWE fans were shocked to see James Storm appear at an NXT taping. Many believed it was the beginning of something big though surprisingly, he would opt to walk and return back to TNA, something we rarely ever see. It must have been a bitter pill to swallow for Storm, seeing his good buddy Bobby Roode not only leave Impact but absolutely thrive with the WWE, becoming the NXT Champion.
Just recently, Storm announced his official departure from Impact, claiming it was time to move on. He even filmed a departure promo, one that he’s unsure about whether it’ll air or not.
What’s next for Storm is still up in the air. At the age of 40, he isn’t getting any younger. With familiarity of being a part of NXT, perhaps a return seems like a possibility and one Triple H might welcome openly given Storm’s wealth of experience.
12 Walk Out – Dolph Ziggler
During a recent revealing podcast interview alongside hosts Edge and Christian, Ziggler admitted to hating his current role in the company and seriously, can you blame the guy? His character is seemingly going nowhere with no end in sight. According to Ziggler, he even asked for time off in order to resurface his brand, though the WWE was unwilling to match his demands as he’s regarded as a valuable asset for shows and live events.
With such frustrations, we have reason to believe that if things don’t get better, we can easily see Dolph walking away from the WWE with absolutely no regrets. In fact, Dolph also stated in the past that he was interested in working overseas in Japan; Nakamura confirmed this fact during an interview. At the age of 37 and still so talented, the decision to walk away needs to happen sooner rather than later.
11 Return – Batista
Once again, Batista expressed interest in returning to the WWE during a recent interview. Unlike those veterans who’ve returned in the past, Batista has stated that he’s interested in returning on a full-time basis, similar to Chris Jericho working various dates a week (including live events). You’ve got to admire his passion for the business even now as a successful actor and in his late 40s. Batista has also expressed his desire to work a long-term program against Triple H and ending his career with a match against The Game.
Vince is never opposed to adding star power from the past and his familiarity with Batista certainly helps. With the Raw Anniversary show on the horizon, perhaps the company can use the possible cameo as a launching pad for his in-ring return.
10 Walk Out – Hideo Itami
The next chapter written in Hideo Itami’s WWE career can either make or break his career once and for all. Itami is set to debut for the Cruiserweight Division and according to the rumor mill, Hideo is to play a huge role as the face of the 205 Live Brand. Stuck in NXT for quite some time, Hideo must be excited for the change.
However, Itami’s promotion can go one of two ways. One, he helps resurrect the division and brings it back to relevancy. Or, he becomes just another name to flounder in the division. However, unlike the others, Itami can’t afford the lost time as he’s already been with the company since 2014 and at the age of 36, he isn’t getting any younger. If he flounders with the 205 Live brand, we can expect Itami to ask for his resignation and his career back home in Japan.
9 Return – Michelle McCool
Another name expressing interest to return, the two-time Diva's and two-time Women’s Champion Michelle McCool recently spoke out about wanting to return. Michelle took exception to a challenge made by Charlotte, claiming she was licking her chops for someone to finally call her out.
When it comes to the Women’s Division, the company usually takes the NXT route in order to add to the roster, wanting to create new stars. For that reason, returns have been few and far between. Aside from Paige who returned to the ring, and Mickie who was brought back by the company, the WWE instead focuses on new talents. However, with a connection to The Deadman, it’s very possible that Michelle’s demands are met simply because of Taker’s high powered status with the company.
8 Walk Out – Neville
Yes, he walked out once and we believe that if he returns and things go in the same direction, he can possibly walk out again. Due to creative frustrations of being stuck in the Cruiserweight Division, Neville demanded out of the WWE. Though this time around, Vince stepped in and assured him that this would not be the case. The rumor mill also indicated that both sides had a meaningful talk and it could have possibly contributed to a Neville return in the near future. For now, he remains on the shelf and it’s rumored that he won’t return till 2018.
As we’ve seen with talents like Cody Rhodes, betting on yourself has become one of the best options, with a plethora of choices now available outside of the WWE. If things sour for Neville again following a return, he’ll likely walk out for good.
7 Return – Hulk Hogan
His WWE departure back in 2015 was truly shocking. Hogan was immediately released following racial slurs that were caught on tape. He hasn’t been seen on WWE TV ever since, however, the company is slowly easing in with the Hogan content which seems to be a good sign. Another positive note, Triple H also stated that the WWE would be open to bringing the Hulkster back; it seems more like a timing thing at this point.
John Cena recently added fuel to the fire dropping the classic Vince McMahon line, “never say never” pertaining to a WrestleMania rematch between Hulk and Rock. Now, well all know that’s a long shot to begin with, but Cena acknowledging Hogan back in a WWE ring is a positive sign. Like others on this list, Hogan is rumored as a possible guest during the Raw Anniversary show.
6 Walk Out – Gallows & Anderson
Old school style heels walking into the WWE hotter than ever, it seemed impossible for Gallows and Anderson to fail on WWE television. As we’ve seen in the past however, the WWE at times never seizes to amaze us with how badly they can falter with certain talents, and that’s been exactly the case for both former New Japan stars who’ve been relegated to lower tier comedic work. Yikes.
If such booking is to continue, we can see both asking for a release or at least, walking out of the company. With families and of older ages, the two might be content to just settle, however fans can agree that shouldn’t be their decision. Returning to New Japan might be the best option for the duo in order to resurface their brand if things don’t pick up.
5 Return – AJ Lee
She retired and left the WWE in 2015, yet she’s still only 30; with that in mind, rumors will always swirl around linking the talent to a WWE return, no matter how badly Punk burned bridges with the company. She’s even still in touch with the current WWE crop; just recently on December 5th a couple of current Raw Divas issued some comments under her tweet (both Paige and Bayley replied along with Big E himself, dropping in a classic sarcastic comment). With connections still in the company perhaps a return can be facilitated?
As we touched base on earlier, WWE isn’t the most eager when it comes to bringing back former Divas, though one as young and talented as AJ can certainly be as an exception. It’ll be interesting to see how her future’s going to play out and if she’ll return to pro wrestling in any capacity.
4 Walk Out – Sami Zayn
When you assess current under-utilized or under-appreciated stars on the WWE roster, the name Sami Zayn will always come up. He’s regarded as the pioneer star of NXT helping to give the brand wings, though somehow, his developmental success hasn’t translated to much on the main roster. He’s taking part in some epic battles against Kevin Owens but asides from that, it’s been all shortcomings. In fact, try to think about a championship Zayn has won during his main roster run... Nope, not a single championship to his name.
Zayn can easily decide to walk away and nobody would blame him for taking such a leap. The likes of ROH, New Japan or any indie promotion would take Sami in with open arms. We hope the WWE can book Zayn with proper care before this nightmare for the WWE becomes a reality.
3 Return – Rey Mysterio
It’s hard to believe that we haven’t seen Rey Mysterio in a WWE ring since his bitter departure in 2015. The WWE wasn’t thrilled with Mysterio leaving as he was a huge merchandise seller, particularly with the younger demographic. However, Rey wasn’t about to let the merchandise bonuses affect his decision as he was burned out from the rigorous WWE schedule - desperately needing to get away and that’s exactly what he did.
Unlike most released wrestlers, Mysterio has opted to not burn bridges with the WWE and instead, keep a cool head. Many believe this is huge when it comes to a possible Mysterio return down the road as the WWE loves wrestlers that steer away from controversy. Rey has also admitted that he’s open to returning on a lighter schedule so this scenario seems inevitable to take place at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.
2 Walk Out – Finn Balor
The WWE Universe became incensed with the booking of Daniel Bryan, it got so bad that the fans actually hijacked shows till they got their way with Bryan’s character. The WWE had no other choice than to book Bryan into the WrestleMania XXX main event, providing us with one of the greatest WrestleMania moments ever.
So what does Finn have to do with this, you ask? Well, it seems like Balor is walking into a similar trajectory as despite the fact that he’s insanely over with the audience, the WWE and Vince in particular remains hesitant to book him properly. The rumor mill even indicates that Vince looks at Finn similar to Ziggler. If such treatment is to continue, we can definitely see Finn walking away, similar to Neville. Just imagine a future match in New Japan featuring the current leader Kenny Omega versus the former leader Finn Balor? With that in mind, the WWE best be careful...
1 Return – Goldberg
After a 13 year hiatus, Goldberg returned to the WWE. His match was supposed to be a one deal occurrence, though it would turn into a lengthier stay till WrestleMania. His return was admirable as not only was Goldberg still capable in the ring but he also looked the part which is insane given his age.
Goldberg recently addressed a possible return and once again, he said it’s all up to Vince. Goldberg discussed the fact that he was open to returning again, even making the claim that this time around training wouldn’t be as difficult given the amount of work he recently put in. Again, with the Raw Anniversary show and WrestleMania on the helm, Goldberg can easily be added back into the mix with a phone call by the boss man.