The WWE roster is currently loaded with talent from all different backgrounds. There are independent wrestling legends that found their way to the top of the company like Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and A.J. Styles. Some wrestlers came from other sports and are thriving now such as Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman. WWE is constantly looking to improve their talent by consistently hiring people. This means a lot of talent get pushed to the side and eventually fade away. Some wrestlers just can’t keep up with the new stars and will either get released or lose their spot on the road.
We'll look at both sides of the roster changes as we approach 2018. Many wrestlers currently outside of WWE are thriving, including talent that used to work there. The wrestlers that could end up back in WWE in a great storyline will be viewed as to what they bring to the table. Other stars currently on the roster that will in turn fade away with the addition of new talent will also be part of the equation here. Find out which of your favorites is on the rise and which are trending downwards. These are eight former WWE stars that can return in a storyline soon along with seven that will fade away.
15 Return: Batista as Brock Lesnar’s Next Dream Match
Batista is one of the biggest former WWE stars following his success in the movie industry. The dream role of playing Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy will see him appear in the highly anticipated Avengers movie in 2018. Batista revealed on Jim Ross’ podcast that he has been talking to WWE about a return and has strong interest in one final run to end his career on a high note. WWE would be fools to turn this down.
14 Fade Away: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler’s career is in terrible shape right now. The fact that he was added to the United States Championship picture in a feud with Bobby Roode and Baron Corbin annoyed fans. Ziggler would have been considered the most exciting person in the match here many years ago, but now he is just someone that fans don’t want to see at all.
13 Return: The Bella Twins as Royal Rumble Surprises
Brie Bella and Nikki Bella have both been off WWE television for quite some time. Nikki’s final appearance came at WrestleMania 33 when John Cena proposed to her after their win over The Miz and Maryse. Brie’s last match took place one year prior at WrestleMania 32 when she led her team to victory in another feel-good moment.
12 Fade Away: Zack Ryder
The recent heel turn by Mojo Rawley ending the Hype Brothers tag team is not a good sign for Zack Ryder. Both men were irrelevant in the tag, but the potential of Mojo is clearly WWE’s biggest motive here. The company views Rawley as a potential future star due to his background in football and the friendship with Rob Gronkowski.
11 Return: Ethan Carter III as A New Member of Undisputed Era
One rumor currently going around focuses on the future of Ethan Carter III. The former WWE talent made his name in Impact Wrestling as a rare success story from the promotion in recent years. Carter’s momentum has dwindled over the last year or two due to the lack of viewers for Impact. The contract of EC3 is reportedly coming to an end at some point in the next few months.
10 Fade Away: Rusev
The career of Rusev has gone downhill consistently over the past few years. Many experts expected him to become the next top heel after a dominant first year in WWE. However, things changed fast when WWE split him and Lana up. Rusev fell from a potential main eventer to a lower card act. Even though they reunited, Rusev never rebounded and is still struggling.
9 Return: Carlito, Leader of Family Stable
Primo and Epico are currently on the SmackDown brand doing absolutely nothing. WWE loves them and has tried to give them many different character changes over the past few years. Unfortunately, nothing has worked, and they're struggling immensely to even get television time. Carlito is on the free agent market years after WWE released him for not wanting to go to rehab after violating the Wellness Policy.
8 Fade Away: Big Show
The career of Big Show is starting to fade away already, but it is going to take the next step soon. Big Show appeared in a handful of relevant feuds this year against young stars. WWE tried to use the legend to help get over Braun Strowman and Big Cass. The work with Strowman was viewed as a success, but the Cass stuff was a complete disaster.
7 Return: Michelle McCool Facing Charlotte Flair in One More Match
Michelle McCool and Charlotte Flair recently had an interest interaction on social media that teased a potential match. The retired McCool has a great relationship with WWE considering she is the wife of Vince McMahon’s most trusted wrestler The Undertaker. McCool revealed on Twitter that she does want to have one more match as she never had a true retirement.
6 Fade Away: Mickie James
One women’s wrestling legend to return in late 2015 for a run in 2016 was Mickie James. The return of James saw her wrestle in the SmackDown Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania 33 and get in a Raw Women’s Championship feud with Alexa Bliss towards the end of the year. James however is clearly at the latter stage of her career while most of her peers are just now entering their prime.
5 Return: John Morrison For World Title Redemption
John Morrison was one of the most talented wrestlers to leave WWE after an impressive run. The work of Morrison saw him win the Intercontinental Championship a few times. Morrison even impressed in a few main event opportunities against The Miz and Sheamus. However, he wanted to leave when it was obvious he wouldn’t make it to the top of the card.
4 Fade Away: Big Cass
One wrestler to have a horrible year for WWE in 2017 was Big Cass. WWE split up the popular tag team of Big Cass and Enzo Amore to try to push Cass as a singles star. The company expected Cass to become a major player and a main eventer at some point in the near future. Enzo was planned to be a forgotten man, but things have gone in the opposite direction.
3 Return: Lashley as the Balor Club Enforcer
This one will need a lot of things to go right, but it could be a genius move to help four wrestlers. Vince McMahon has reportedly given up on Finn Balor as a main event face. Both Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows have become absolute jokes in the worst possible way. It makes too much sense for WWE to unite them as the Balor Club soon.
2 Fade Away: Natalya
The SmackDown Women’s Championship run of Natalya was rather disappointing given the hype behind the moment of her getting the big win. Natalya held the title for about three months before dropping it to Charlotte Flair on an episode of SmackDown. The landscape changed after the PPV with the call-up of Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan as the Riott Squad.
1 Return: Rey Mysterio as the Cruiserweight Savior
The Cruiserweight division is failing miserably right now with WWE looking to Enzo Amore and Hideo Itami to save. As talented as Itami is and as over as Enzo used to be, they won't be enough to make fans tune into 205 Live after SmackDown. WWE badly needs someone with star power to join the division and carry it until there’s finally interest in it.
Rey Mysterio is a free agent right now after his Lucha Underground contract expired and Impact Wrestling failed to offer him a deal he liked. Following his departure from WWE, Mysterio has remained insistent there’s no drama between the two sides and he would like to return one day. This is the perfect situation where Mysterio could only work Raw and 205 Live with a limited schedule while doing WWE a favor by putting the Cruiserweight division on the map like he did in his prime.
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