We’re about a month removed from WrestleMania 33, but despite there still being another eleven to go until WrestleMania 34 we want to look ahead to the big day in New Orleans. Given the success of WM XXX in the same city, next year’s showcase of the immortals needs to really hit one out of the park – and these guys and girls can help in a big way.
Now before we get into this, not all of the wrestlers named on this list will be coming back in terms of an in-ring bout. It could be a one-off appearance, a Hall of Fame induction or maybe even to be the host of the show, but whatever the case may be, their presence is required heading into the biggest event on the WWE calendar.
Some of the names may come as a bit of a surprise and others may be a tad obvious, but one way or another we believe that they have the ability to make a real impact. Hell, they don’t even have to appear at Mania itself, just so long as they can improve the weekly product in some way prior to that fateful night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
15 Chris Jericho
The Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah, also known as the creator of the List, is our first entry courtesy of how unbelievably fantastic he’s been over the last 12 months in WWE. The former World Champion completely revitalised himself after a few years of meaningless appearances that didn’t really do all too much for the company, and we desperately want to see him return.
It seems pretty likely that he’ll do just that upon concluding his current tour with Fozzy, but we’re incredibly impatient given just how good he’s been during his run with Kevin Owens. His career is certainly starting to wind down and he’s probably only got a few years left, so we want to “drink it in, man” for as long as we possibly can.
14 Zack Ryder
Woo woo woo, you know it. Prior to his injury, Zack Ryder seemed to be gathering some momentum alongside Mojo Rawley with the Hype Bros, which was good to see after he dropped off the face of the earth following WrestleMania 32. Seriously, how can he go from IC Champion to jobber again in just a few months?
Ryder needs to return as a singles star in order to try and get himself back up to the point he was once at, because we all know he’s got the potential. SmackDown Live is the best possible place for him right now despite all the new talent that’s come over, mainly due to how many great matches he can have with top-level guys.
This one might be considered a tad controversial, but we’re huge fans of how Goldberg handled his return to the company. It was clear that the fans were divided regarding his presence with their mixture of cheers and boos, but he took that in his stride and worked just as hard as anyone else on the roster to get himself in shape for his bouts.
For a 50-year-old guy, he seemed in pretty good shape, and his farewell speech on the Raw after WrestleMania 33 leads us to believe that he’ll be back. In an ideal world we’d quite like to see him face a heel Roman Reigns at WM34 in New Orleans, but we aren’t sure how realistic, that is, given the high hopes for Roman as Universal Champion.
12 John Cena
Please stop leaving, John. We understand that he’s transitioning into more of a part-time schedule, but his presence is sorely needed on the blue brand, if the last few weeks of programming are anything to go by. Some fans will argue that he’s past his prime, but the quality of his matches over the last 12 months are enough to make us disagree.
If he removes himself from Nikki Bella from a storyline perspective, then the possibilities are endless, with matches against the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens and more sending fans into a fantasy booking frenzy. If he comes back around Survivor Series time and lasts all the way through until NOLA, then all is forgiven.
Poor old Paige. She’s had a pretty rotten time of things over the last few months with her suspensions and the leaking of her private pictures, and we want to see her return to doing what she does best: wrestling. It may be a tad awkward at first and there are bound to be a few chants, but if Charlotte Flair can come back from it, then why can’t Paige?
She's also currently involved in the filming of a movie about her life co-produced by The Rock, which makes us think that WWE won’t want to get rid of her that easily. It’s certainly a long shot, but the Raw women’s division could certainly benefit from a tweener Paige returning to cause havoc on the red brand.
10 The Rock
Speaking of Rocky, we’d quite like for him to make another appearance on WWE TV sometime soon. It doesn’t have to be anything major and we were actually quite happy that he skipped Mania 33, but it’d be cool to see him pop up on a random edition of Raw, kind of like he did with Rusev a few years back.
He could elevate a younger star (we hope), boosting the ratings and potentially hint at a feud somewhere down the line. Obviously there’s a good chance that he’ll never wrestle again, but we can’t live knowing that his last in-ring display was that sham of a performance against Erick Rowan at WrestleMania 32. It just can’t go down like that.
9 Triple H
The Game is off licking his wounds following a resounding defeat to Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 33, which we’re choosing to believe is a good thing. It makes Seth look like a badass because he was able to dispose of the King of Kings, and it allows for HHH to focus on all of the great work he does outside of the ring with NXT.
However, he does serve a good purpose and he needs to return in time for WM34. He can have his yearly match on the grandest stage of them all as he always does, but in addition to that, we think seeing him on a weekly basis from the Royal Rumble onwards would be best for business. After all, he is a WWE legend at this stage and a bit of a nostalgia act.
8 Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin, also known as one of the most underrated talents in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment, needs to make his long-awaited return to the company. The Gold Standard was set to come back following the brand split last summer, but a horribly timed shoulder injury ensured that those plans wouldn’t come to fruition.
Now, however, he’s back at full health and is ready to add to his already flourishing legacy with the company. We aren’t suggesting that he can go on to become a World Champion or anything like that, but he’s a great hand to have around in the midcard, as we saw during his initial run in WWE.
7 The Undertaker
We know what you’re thinking – the Deadman probably retired at WrestleMania 33 and it needs to stay that way. Whilst we understand that point to a degree, it still feels like a bit of an anti-climax to believe that he’s just going to walk off into the sunset without a proper goodbye. After all, the guy has been around for well over 25 years.
Whether it’s for a farewell match against John Cena or to headline the WWE Hall of Fame 2018 class, Taker needs to make another appearance during WrestleMania week. It’ll almost certainly be his last, which is going to make for an emotional weekend, but at least we’ll know in advance, as opposed to what happened this year.
This one seems to have been hinted at for a few years now, but we’d love for the trigger to finally be pulled. Lita is one of the most influential WWE women of the last few decades, and as such, we want to see her have one more match against a younger star – and no, we don’t mean Heath Slater again.
Sasha Banks seems like the most logical choice from our perspective, but a good backup would be Becky Lynch, who has spoken about how she idolised Lita in her youth. Either way, it would be a good way to elevate one of today’s best talents, and she’s still young enough to put on a solid match on the grandest stage of them all. At least, we think she is.
"The Animal" Batista got the raw end of the deal when he returned back in 2014, with smarky fans around the world attempting to ruin his second run with the company. It was a pretty awful thing for them to do considering how much Big Dave had given to the business, but such was the power of the almighty Yes Movement.
On a recent edition of Talk Is Jericho, the former World Champion made it known that he’s been interested in coming back for quite some time, with his desired program being a retirement match against former mentor Triple H. He’s also mentioned working with the likes of Titus O’Neil and Bray Wyatt, but they seem just a tad too random.
4 AJ Lee
When people talk about the women’s revolution, AJ Lee needs to be involved in the conversation when it comes to trailblazers who changed the way that people view females in the industry. The former Divas Champion did some truly sensational things during her tenure with the company, and we want to see her expand on that.
She’s admitted to missing wrestling in recent interviews, and there are so many dream matches out there for her to have in 2017 and beyond. One that sticks out to us would be a bout against Bayley, with the two having a long history dating back to when they actually squared off in NXT a few years back.
3 Johnny Nitro
Boy oh boy, could Johnny Mundo have been huge if he’d stayed in WWE. There were quite a few factors that led to the man formerly known as John Morrison leaving back in late 2011, but it was still sad to see how far he’d fallen after initially competing for the WWE Championship at the start of that year.
If he returned, Mundo would soon realize that the talent pool is a lot deeper than it was when he left, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still make an impact. After all, he’s done a fairly solid job of putting himself on the map over in Lucha Underground, and the majority of fans will already know who he is if he decides to cross back over to WWE.
2 Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam, also known as one of the most underrated stars in the history of professional wrestling, has been absent from the public eye for a few years now after leaving WWE for a second time. He did pretty well during his latest stint, putting over a number of younger stars whilst still managing to stay relevant himself.
He’s probably slowed down a bit in the last few years which is understandable, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for him on the card. RVD can still work a crowd just as well as he could a decade ago, meaning that opening the show on any WWE pay-per-view with a top-quality match would be a pretty solid bet. If not, you could always have him take finishers like an absolute pro (which he does better than Ziggler, FYI).
1 Hulk Hogan
Oh Hulkster, why did you have to go and say all those things? Hulk Hogan will forever be known as one of the greatest professional wrestlers ever no matter what anyone says, but his controversies have led to him being exiled from WWE for well over a year now. That’s hardly surprising considering what he said, to be honest.
But it’s time to forgive and forget by having Hogan come back once again, four years after he initially returned to be the host of WrestleMania 30 – in the same building that WM34 will be held in. Despite his advanced age, he still has a lot of juice left in the tank when it comes to his charisma, and we want WWE to get every ounce of quality he’s got left in him.