When a wrestler departs from the WWE fans sometimes cry, sob, and get all caught up in the moment. It usually comes with a retirement speech but sometimes we wake up, read the news, and get hit with a storyline about a great talent leaving the company (Cody Rhodes). However a wrestler departs from the company, it’s usually a somber moment for their fans. It’s understandable, as fans we follow their careers and watch them grow as performers. We cheer when they win and get angry when they lose.
As one of the longest-running shows in the history of television, it’s easy for fans to get attached. When it comes to former WWE Superstars returning to the company, it’s usually a pleasure to see them back. In 2017, the WWE has brought a lot of talent back, such as Drew McIntyre, Maria Kanellis, and Shelton Benjamin. We have a few names that we think can return in the coming months or for a one-off appearance at WrestleMania.
Regardless if a wrestler is returning or departing, there is always an emotional reaction to the news. As many wrestlers have said during their Hall of Fame speech, if it wasn’t for the fans investing into the product, then there would be no WWE or wrestling industry altogether. Enjoy.
15 Departing - Big Show
When Andre the Giant passed away in 1993, his death left a big hole in the industry. Before him, no one his size, 7 foot 4 inches tall and over 500 pounds, was able to perform in the squared circle the way he did. If you had to have a Mount Rushmore of wrestlers, without a doubt, his face would be on it. This leads us to the Big Show. After training at WCW’s Power Plant, he would make his wrestling debut in 1995 and would fill in that gap left by Andre.
He literally was being told he was the next Andre the Giant and was even given the name, The Giant, in WCW. With tons of pressure on him, Big Show went above and beyond in wrestling and is now considered a legend. He has come out and said he would retire in February of 2018, and it will be one emotional farewell.
14 Returning - Carlito
Carlito was and still is a stud in the ring. As the son of the legendary Carlos Colon, it’s in his blood to wrestle. He would spend seven years with the WWE but he violated the Wellness Program in 2010 and refused to attend rehab, which was the cause of his release. He hasn't returned in a WWE ring since this release.
It doesn’t seem like the WWE has any ill will towards him as he was present during his father’s Hall of Fame induction in 2014. He has worked for many promotions this year and a return to the WWE could happen if a phone call is made. Carlito has made it well known that if the numbers are right, he would come back to the WWE.
13 Departing - R-Truth
R-Truth is 45 years old and unless he finds a mystical pond that can make him young again, his time in the WWE as a wrestler is on its last legs. He was inspired to be a rapper at a young age, however, destiny would take him on a path into wrestling. We can’t knock his skills, as he lasted and performed better than most wrestlers in the world, and we can’t knock his mic skills because he’s actually charismatic.
His personality is beloved by everyone and we never hear any negative rumors about him. We’re pretty sure he’s a great guy to be with backstage and when he does depart from the WWE, many colleagues as well as fans will miss the future Hall of Famer.
12 Returning - Rob Van Dam
At 46 years young, RVD is still taking booking nowadays. Although he works fewer dates in a year than he used to, the ECW legend is still a draw and can work a match. The WWE knows this and that’s why we always hear about RVD returning to the company for another run. When Vince McMahon and the bigwigs decide to keep a wrestler in their video games year in and year out, there’s a good chance that wrestler can return for one match or one run.
His last run in the WWE came between 2013/2014 and he expressed how disappointed he was with the booking, however, that doesn’t mean money doesn’t talk, and we could see him in the next Royal Rumble in a type of one-off cameo.
11 Departing - Goldust
As the grandson of a plumber and the son of legendary Superstar, Dusty Rhodes, Goldust was quickly given an opportunity with WCW in 1988. At 48 years old, Goldust has done nothing but wrestle for most of his life but that could be coming to an end soon. Age catches up to everyone, and because Dustin has been in the business since he was a teenager, 48 years old could seem like 68 years old.
Remember when Goldust decided to be Dustin Rhodes for the night on an episode of Raw not too long ago? That segment could be foreshadowing his retirement. It’s as if he wants to come full circle and maybe end his career as Dustin and not Goldust. It shouldn’t shock anyone that Goldust is one of the main features for Starrcade, after all, his father is one of the main reason why the event became popular.
10 Returning - Wade Barrett
Barrett spent nine years in the WWE before being granted his released following WrestleMania 32. His contract was up, he wasn’t happy with the way things were going creatively, and felt underutilized, so when the WWE offered him an extension he declined. Since then, Barrett stayed out of wrestling, he didn’t quickly book new dates or sign exclusively with a promotion.
In September he would announce his return coming back to the wrestling industry and signing on as the General Manager of Defiant Wrestling. With his batteries recharged and maybe the WWE regretting not allowing him to have a bigger push, the two could come together in the near future. The former King of the Ring winner has a lot of talent and would be a welcomed addition to any show.
9 Departing - Hideo Itami
Itami isn’t the most popular wrestler in the WWE Universe and if fans don’t watch NXT then they may have no idea who he is. However, the fans that knew Itami as KENTA, and followed his career coming over to NXT, had very high hopes for him. All those hopes came to a crashing halt when Itami had setbacks due to several injuries.
His fans know he missed an opportunity due to his injuries and it’s painful to think he could be departing from the company soon. He was signed around the same time as Finn Balor and Kevin Owens and look at how far they’ve gone in the WWE but Itami is still stuck in NXT. The creator of the GTS could be a welcomed addition to 205 Live but there have been no signs of a call-up.
8 Returning - Rey Mysterio
Rumors about Rey Mysterio returning to the WWE pop up several times a year but that’s because he’s just one phone call away from having another run in the company. In December of 2016, he talked about a return to the WWE stating, “"You never say never, but I am very, very comfortable in the position I’m in with Lucha Underground. I love their schedule, I love their style, I love what they have to offer. I don’t think there will ever be another company that has what Lucha Underground has. It’s very unique, exciting, and fresh—this is really something new."
Mysterio is correct about LU, they have a great schedule and aren’t shy about their television-based storylines. However, Mysterio wouldn’t turn down a pay from the WWE and the company needs to make the Cruiserweight Division better, so a pairing would work beautifully.
7 Departing - Kane
Kane’s run in the WWE almost never happened because the big guy originally pursued basketball and football before the squared circle. After stints in different promotions, he would land a job with the WWE in 1995. It wasn’t all roses and sunshine in the beginning, and anyone that knows Kane can tell you he never liked his heel dentist gimmick, Isaac Yankem, or even fake Diesel. His career would change in a positive way when he debuted as Kane in 1997.
The rest is history and Kane will go down as one of the best of his generation. At 50 years old and a potential career in politics, Kane’s retirement could come sooner than later. He recently returned after a long hiatus and is now involved in the top storyline on Raw. Could this be his last run in the WWE? Only time will tell.
6 Returning - Ronda Rousey
She’s only worked for the WWE for one night and that was at WrestleMania 31, she also made several appearances at the Mae Young Classic. Rousey returning once again and coming over to the WWE seems more likely every day, especially after being seen in actual storylines during the WWE’s Mae Young Classic. One of her best friends, Shayna Baszler was a key talent in the tournament and signed with the WWE and no doubt she wants Rousey to join her.
It’s a no-brainer for Rousey to sign with the WWE. She has the physical capabilities, the credibility, and fame to make her a draw in the industry. Who cares she lost twice in the UFC, you try your hand at that and see what happens. The only thing that would stop this from happening is if she decides to stay in the UFC.
5 Departing - Cesaro
Cesaro has the size, speed, and backbone to be the greatest in-ring worker on the planet. There aren’t many talents that can physically do what Cesaro can and anyone in the business knows he’s championship material. The only problem is Vince McMahon and the WWE don’t see it that way. Apparently, his charisma isn’t good enough so he's regulated to mid-card status, as a tag team act currently.
Not only does everyone know he’s great, he also gets paid peanuts compared to other performers that can’t pull off more than half the things he does. As a workhorse, he has been underutilized until recently, his involvement with The Shield is a step in the right direction but it might be too late. The Swiss Superman can easily go to another promotion, make more money, and become champion if he wanted to. He's also made the claim of wanting to end his career with Chikara, so it remains to be seen when he'll make a return to that company.
4 Returning - Hulk Hogan
Say your prayers, take your vitamins and train brother! Hogan has more lives than a black cat. He’s dodged so many bullets over his career and even at 64 years old, Hogan can dominate the headlines if he wanted to. He got in major trouble a few years ago for saying some racial remarks which were caught on tape. The scandal got him in hot water with the WWE and the company had to let him go.
Pretty much everyone knows the story about Hogan and even African-American wrestlers such as The Rock, Kamala, and Virgil has defended his remarks. If you noticed, Hogan has been slightly referenced or seen in some vignette packages and it’s only a matter a time before we see him rocking red and yellow colors in the squared circle once again.
3 Departing - Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler signed a three-year deal in 2015 and even then, rumors were swirling he was jumping off the ship. From now until the end of his contract in 2018, we can see the WWE and Ziggler coming to terms for a release. He was once white hot in the WWE but creative and the powers at be, Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon, decided to not capitalize on his popularity.
He has been stuck on the mid-card for years but everyone knows he was a main event talent. A major reason why he would leave is Ziggler has become more involved in outside projects such as comedy in the entertainment business and other forms of media. Leaving the WWE allows for him to work harder on his other projects while he still can be a wrestler on the independent circuit.
2 Returning - The Rock
Do you smell that? That’s the smell of something cooking. Something huge, so huge, it would draw big-time numbers. The Rock is one busy individual and is absolutely killing it in Hollywood but we all know he still has a lot left in the tank. Rumors have been going back for two years now that Triple H and The Rock will have one final showdown at WrestleMania.
The two have talked extensively about a match and both know that scheduling is the biggest hurdle. Triple H was quoted saying in a Facebook Live interview, “It’s something we’ve discussed. It’s just making schedules work, he’s pretty busy I am too. But hey, right place, right time? I’ll dance one more time with The Great One, Rock.”
1 Departing - Daniel Bryan
Will just say it right now, if the WWE doesn’t allow Daniel Bryan to wrestle, he is going to depart the company when his contract is up so he can get back in the ring. Ever since calling it a career in early 2016, rumors have been swirling that Bryan is trying to make a return but WWE just doesn’t want him to take a chance. Concussions have become a PR nightmare for the company and we doubt they want to take a risk on one of their greatest talents getting another concussion while performing.
There have been sudden hints that Bryan wants to wrestle. The WWE stopped a video from being released showing Bryan taking wrestling bumps in the background of a Brie Bella project. He even tweeted about challenging Cody Rhodes for the ROH Championship at the ROH Final Battle event in 2018. Heck, Cody's mocking Bryan building the match as we speak. If he does leave the WWE, it’s going to be one of the most emotional roller coaster like departures ever.