Wrestlers’ returns are easily one of the most exciting aspects of professional wrestling.
WWE were known for making high-profile returns more exciting than those deserved to be with their impeccable timing, storytelling and unpredictability. The returns of Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels at different points made the audience go berserk. However, in the recent times, they have been botching their returns big-time, with Shane McMahon’s return proving the only holy s**t return in recent memory.
When it’s female wrestlers, they put in even less effort to make the returns seem a big deal, with Mickie James’ return to the main roster treated like a joke. WWE, thanks to their employing – and releasing – a plethora of female talents, have numerous keen talents on record they can bring down to woo their fans.
However, not everyone is going to get a call from Vince McMahon as he remains incredibly choosy as far as bringing talents back is concerned. Chyna never made her way back. Vince Russo’s mails seemingly go unanswered. Even the legendary Randy Savage failed to give him reasons to hire him again. On the other hand, those who have filed lawsuits against WWE such as Brock Lesnar and Sable have been able to earn a WWE contract thanks to a myriad of reasons.
The following article will discuss which WWE alumni the McMahons would contemplate signing again and those who have absolutely no chance in hell. If you disagree with my reasoning, you can kick-start a debate in the comments’ section. If you think I have failed to mention a more serious case, you can point that out as well.
21 Return: NXT Alumni
Despite helping WWE mold independent wrestlers, NXT has also been helping such talents secure more high-profile indie bookings. Tessa Blanchard, Rachael Ellering and Santana Garrett were already popular names amongst hardcore wrestling fans, and their wrestling a handful of NXT matches each, in which they were used chiefly as enhancement talents, has benefitted either party in more ways than one.
The former two being daughters of WWE Hall of Famers, their WWE returns are set-in-stone; they boast exceptional wrestling skills and top-level indy experience to boot. The third of the above-mentioned three, a second-generation wrestler, also seems to boast every skill needed to return to NXT. Aged 21, 24 and 28, expect two or, perhaps, all three to become notable WWE wrestlers in the future. Additionally, Austin Aries’ fiance Thea Trinidad and Johnny Gargano’s wife Candice LeRae will also sign on the dotted lines soon as they seemingly remain in WWE’s good books.
20 No Chance: Christy Hemme
Christy Hemme, who earned a $250,000 WWE contract in 2004 on the heels of her Diva Search triumph, looked as though she was cut out to be a Ruthless Aggression Era WWE wrestler thanks to her unbelievable physique and Playboy links. However, thanks to a multitude of untold reasons, she got the boot a little more than a year into her stint. Many dirt sheets alleged that her illicit relationship with Triple H led to her early departure.
Stephanie McMahon and co. proved that they would never do business with any female who had been romantically associated with Triple H. Chyna’s continual efforts to return to WWE were knocked down. Similarly, a miracle needs to happen for her to return to a WWE ring, especially since the mother-of-one has already called time on her full-time wrestling career.
18 Return: Melina
Between 2005 and 2011, Melina accomplished everything there is to do at WWE, embarking on five title reigns. Thanks to her commendable wrestling ability and sex appeal, she came across as a complete package. She even earned plaudits from Mick Foley and Bret Hart for her work. However, six years after her release, she has been unable to claw her way back to WWE.
She has been an active performer unlike most other wrestlers of her batch, wrestling for Lucha Underground and numerous British and American indie promotions. Despite turning 38 in March, she continues to be an exciting talent both in the ring and on the eyes. As the WWE Universe would definitely love to witness her notorious split one more time, one can expect WWE to bring The Paparazzi Princess back.
17 No Chance: Ariel
Everything about WWE’s ECW irked many fans, so it’s not a surprise that the WWE dreams of an up-and-coming wrestler Ariel, real name Shelly Leonor Martinez, died a premature death with it. Kevin Thorn’s valet, she spent just one year a year on the main roster after going through the Ohio Valley Wrestling wringer for two years. After a relatively successful stint with Impact Wrestling, she now performs for UFC-inspired Lingerie Fighting Championship.
WWE has distanced themselves from ex-adult stars as of late. As she has acted in a few adult flicks during her time away from the company means the odds of her return is virtually zero. At 37, she will likely not be bothered much as she seems keen on furthering her adult film career.
16 Return: Kelly Kelly
Signed in 2006, Kelly Kelly managed to remain a WWE employee for six years, winning the Divas Championship toward the tail end of her career. A neck injury and a burning desire to become a model forced her to retire at the tender age of 25. She has since thrived, managing numerous high-profile photoshoots and marrying former NFL defenceman Sheldon Souray.
WWE, given her mainstream popularity in light of her WAGS appearances and glamor, would love to have her back. At 30, she might have at least two years of top-level wrestling under her belt. She already works as an ambassador for WWE, so convincing her to work as an in-ring talent, valet, interviewer, or commentator should be on the McMahons’ mind. With many Ruthless Aggression Era stars returning, she might come out to Desiree Jackson’s Holla in the near future.
15 No Chance: Cameron
Cameron was a long shot to succeed in WWE from the get-go, as she infamously was eliminated first on WWE's 2011 edition of Tough Enough, after she answered Melina vs. Alicia Fox was her favorite match ever to Steve Austin. From there, Carmeron eventually worked her way into being a Funkadactyl and got a role on Total Divas. However Cameron never really improved in the ring as the women's division grew in talent and the WWE eventually didn't see a use for her.
The division has only gotten better and Cameron has joined the likes of Ryback in criticizing the WWE. It first led to her release and you have to believe that coupled with her not being a good performer to begin with, will lead to her being blackballed.
14 Return: Eden Stiles (Brandi Rhodes)
Eden Stiles was used primarily as a ring announcer during her WWE stint. However, upon following in the footsteps of her husband Cody Rhodes out of WWE, she has evolved into a wrestler, even winning the notorious Ironman Heavymetal Championship and penning an Impact Wrestling contract. Despite not proving a decent wrestler, she seems keen on learning the nuances of the art, given the number of bookings she takes per month.
WWE now hosts more couples than ever before, with John Cena, The Miz, Dean Ambrose, Rusev, Naomi, Sasha Banks, Daniel Bryan and Natalya all finding their spouses working in their workplace. Given the trend, Brandi Rhodes’ overall improvement and the couple’s marketability, one can tip her to return to WWE along with her husband in the future.
12 No Chance: Tiffany
WWE definitely seemed to have high hopes for Tiffany. On the heels of her OVW training, they made her ECW General Manager, a post she held for two years. Five months into her in-ring career, WWE even sanctioned her a Women’s Championship match. However, she blew everything away when she was arrested for assaulting her then-husband Drew McIntyre. She denied giving up on her wrestling career, though, as she proceeded to wrestle for numerous indy promotions, OVW and Impact Wrestling for six years.
Despite featuring Steve Austin, Matt Hardy, Charlotte and Goldust, WWE claims to be stringent when it comes to hiring talents with a history of domestic abuse, so the former Knockouts Champion might never return to WWE. She herself has ensured her returning to WWE is an unlikely scenario having stated she regrets becoming a professional wrestler.
11 Return: Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn achieved mammoth success in her short spell with WWE. Five months into her main roster run, she defeated Eve Torres to win Divas Championship on the heels of an extended, engaging program with the defending champion. Her 153-day title reign ended when AJ Lee beat her after weeks of buildup. She only had two programs before deciding to resume her bodybuilding career in 2014.
WWE seems proud of their alumni as they have featured her on their website and UpUpDownDown, lauding her accomplishments on the fitness front. At 30, she has managed to remain in a shape that puts every female talent to shame. Her three-year marriage recently ended, so there’s a possibility she may want to wrestle again. Given her fitness and the ever-improving state of women’s wrestling in WWE, the McMahons would love to welcome her back with open arms.
9 No Chance: Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massaro, Diva Search 2005 winner, was one of the many eye candies WWE unearthed with the aid of the talent show. Much like most other Diva Search alumnae, she proved inept in the ring, often banking on her glamour to remain a WWE employee. At 38, her in-ring career is almost over as he now works as an authority figure for a small all-female promotion.
She was one of the myriad of wrestlers who chose to file a lawsuit against WWE, stating they had kept them in the dark about the possibility of concussions in professional wrestling. The mother-of-one did not stop there as she made public WWE’s alleged attempt to keep her being sexually assaulted during a Tribute to the Troops show in the dark. It’s safe to say that the three-time Playboy covergirl will not walk down a WWE ramp ever again.
8 Return: Brie Bella
Brie Bella never officially retired, but her leaving in 2016 was clearly to start a family with Daniel Bryan, as just over a year later, she gave birth to a baby girl named Birdie Danielson. Brie hinted on Total Divas toward her retirement that part of her decision to step away was also due to her feeling that nothing in her career will ever top the feud she had with Stephanie McMahon back in 2014.
While Brie will undoubtedly be busy raising her baby for the foreseeable future she has hinted that she would return to a WWE ring if the opportunity presented itself. We know that WWE thinks highly of the Bella Twin brand, so there's no doubt they'd be happy to bring Brie back.
6 No Chance: Kharma
Awesome Kong’s work with Impact and Japanese promotions left many fans clamouring for her WWE debut in late 00s. 'Papa Hunter' Triple H rightly delivered in 2010 when he signed her in 2011. She began attacking female talents randomly, without any explanation. An untimely pregnancy drew the curtain upon her push prematurely, though. It looked as though WWE were on to something big with her, as they even made her only the third woman to enter a Royal Rumble match. However, they did nothing of note with her otherwise.
She has since tried reclaiming her position in the business in vain thanks to her perpetual injury concerns. Even her acting in Netflix show GLOW will likely generate no interest from WWE as the 39-year-old has regressed greatly lately.
5 Return: Eve Torres
WWE has had mixed results as far as Diva Search contestants are concerned. They managed to cultivate absolute gems such as Maryse, Michelle McCool and Layla despite also signing Amy Weber and Carmella DeCesare. Eve Torres qualifies as a success, courtesy of her winning Divas Championship thrice. After being crowned Diva Search 2007 winner, she proceeded to wrestle until 2013. She has not cut ties with the company, though, as she has been serving as an ambassador for over three years now.
At 32, she remains in perfect shape. Despite her never wrestling since early 2013, she can make a wrestling comeback at least as a non-wrestling on-air talent thanks to her popularity. It will surely be a win-win scenario as she can then use her renewed WWE fame to further her acting career.
4 No Chance: Gail Kim
Gail Kim hit her prime when WWE considered Asian talents unmarketable, much to her dismay. Her wrestling ability was overlooked in favor of pushing traditional looking American blondes. Despite putting on more-than-decent matches regularly, she only managed a solitary Women’s Championship reign. She found solace in Impact Wrestling as they sanctioned her six Knockouts Championship reigns before making her the first and only female Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee.
Aged 40, she continues to wrestle; she hasn’t wrestled since early 2017 thanks to injury concerns, though. Given her 15-year top-level experience and WWE Universe’s penchant for cheering Asian wrestlers on, she could prove a valuable asset to WWE. However, she has burned more bridges than she could mend having lambasted WWE and Vince McMahon at every opportunity she got.
3 Return: Paige
This is the most confusing entry, because it simply remains a mystery if Paige is going to be held under contract and/or if WWE is interested in bringing her back to television.
While Gail Kim being on the wrong side of 40 is certain to keep her off WWE’s books, Paige, a 24-year-old veteran, definitely has ample time under her belt to convince the WWE head honchos to offer her a new contract.
Eric Bischoff once said: “Controversy creates cash.” Paige has been involved in a fair share of controversy, violating Wellness Policy twice, having her private content leaked, appearing on indy promotions with Alberto El Patron and siding with him as he censures WWE and big-nosed Triple H on Periscope. She cuts a relevant figure and will continue to be one as long as her leaks remain accessible (read: forever). It’s only a matter of time before she makes her return, especially since WWE will need her on their television to promote WWE Studios-co-produced Fighting With My Family.
2 No Chance: Sunny
Sunny is easily the most denigrated female Hall of Famer. Despite spending only a handful of years with the company, she managed to be a widely-popular; one needs a certain level of popularity to be hot-potatoed among Shawn Michaels, British Bulldog and numerous other talents. She continues to remain relevant, albeit for all the wrong reasons. To make ends meet and fuel her – alleged – drug addiction, she performed favours for wrestling fans online before acting in Sunny Side Up: In Through The Backdoor.
As discussed above, WWE, in the wake of going TV-PG, have refrained from brining former stars who have been a disgrace in the eyes of the public. With their daring to blacklist megastar Hulk Hogan, Sunny’s chances of returning in any capacity is close to zero.
1 Return: AJ Lee
AJ Lee, much like her husband CM Punk, has left a lasting mark on the product despite calling time on her career prematurely. WWE booked the petite New Jersey native like a big deal as they made her Raw General Manager, handed her the then-longest Divas Championship reign (which was one of her three title reigns) and teamed her up with John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.
In her autobiography Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules, she stated that a permanent damage to her cervival spine prompted an early retirement in 2015. She has since claimed that she would not pass up the opportunity to return to the ring, though. Should she be medically and CM Punk-ically cleared, WWE would likely bring her back despite her outspoken nature.