For some Superstars WWE is the be all and end all. The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, once they arrived in the big time they stayed there for the rest of their careers, at least up until this point for those three in particular. For others the company can be more like a revolving door. Wrestlers like Kevin Nash and even the immortal Hulk Hogan would come and go seemingly as they please. While Vince McMahon can sometimes be one to hold a grudge, it’s good to know that the chairman doesn’t take it so personally when a talent leaves that the door to his company is shut to them forever.
With that in mind, half of this list will focus on ex WWE Superstars who should perhaps try and take advantage of exactly that. Eight wrestlers who were once under the WWE banner and both themselves and the company would find it mutually beneficial to join forces once again. The roster is pretty packed in WWE right now however, but don’t worry we’ve got that covered too. While half of this list will pick out talent that should return to WWE, we’ve also selected a few Superstars who Vince and co should wish well in their future endeavors. It’s survival of the fittest at pro wrestling’s top table, and the seven stars in this list should really make way for the opposing eight.
15. Re-Hire: Cody Rhodes
No one has had more success on the indy circuit than Cody Rhodes over the past twelve months. After becoming disillusioned with how he was being utilized in WWE the grandson of a plumber eventually said enough was enough and ventured out on his own. Many thought he was crazy to leave the juggernaut that is WWE, and allegedly some even told him so. Any doubters Rhodes had however have very much been proven wrong. It has barely been a year since he washed off his Stardust paint and he has already wrestled most of his dream opponents as well as becoming Ring Of Honor World Champion. No doubt he is much more than a blip on WWE’s radar, and I imagine if given half a chance Vince McMahon would want to re-add Cody to his ranks.
14. Cut: The Colons
They’ve been Los Matadores. They’ve been the Shining Stars. And since making the move to SmackDown Live they have simply been known as the Colons. It’s a name synonymous with professional wrestling so it makes sense. When they arrived on Tuesday nights it was with a bang, yet a mere week later they returned to the mundane duties they had been performing on Raw. It felt like a shift to SmackDown would breathe new life into the Puerto Rican pair, but it has done quite the opposite. If anything we see less of them now than we did on Monday night, I guess since there isn’t that third hour to fill. Primo and Epico could be released today and if it wasn’t reported by WWE I don’t think anyone would even notice.
13. Re-Hire: Trish Stratus
The Women’s division in WWE is better than it has ever been before. The roster is packed with talented female wrestlers from top to bottom and it’s no longer a business that hires women based on looks alone. While the current crop of women gets most of the credit, we shouldn’t forget those who paved the way. One of the main women to do that was Trish Stratus. The Hall of Famer and multiple time Women’s Champion was a trail blazer for the business, and a return is not beyond the realms of possibility for Stratus. There were rumors that Trish would come out of retirement to do battle with Asuka, but Mickie James took her place due to the inventor of Stratusfaction being pregnant at the time.
12. Cut: Curtis Axel
This entry isn’t going to be a paragraph slating Curtis Axel. In fact it’ll be far from it. Axel needs to take a long hard look at what Cody Rhodes has done in the past year and either leave or cross his fingers that WWE will let him go when it comes to the next crop of talent being cut. Curtis is a third generation Superstar, grandson of Larry Henig and son of Mr Perfect, and with a pro wrestling family tree like that he really should be doing more. Axel had his five minutes in the spot light when he followed in his father’s footsteps and won the Intercontinental Championship, but since then it has been a whole lot of nothing. He needs to take to the independents and show WWE exactly what they’re missing out on.
11. Re-Hire: Austin Aries
This one may seem a little crazy as at the time of typing this it has been mere days since Austin Aries was released from WWE. Trouble is I don’t think WWE quite realize what they are letting slip through their fingers with the release of A-Double. The former TNA Champion had a relatively short stay with the company but it was an eventful one. Aries started in NXT, as most Superstars do nowadays, only to be sidelined through injury and re-emerge on the 205 Live roster after announcing for the show while being injured. At the time it made sense but in hindsight it might have been a good idea to let Austin return to NXT once he had healed up. Who knows, Triple H may get in touch with Aries and convince him to return to Full Sail much like he’s done with Mauro Ranallo.
10. Cut: Aiden English
Earlier this year one half of The Vaudevillains was rather unceremoniously cut from the roster, and that man was Simon Gotch. While it came somewhat out of the blue, what was even more surprising was that his now former tag team partner Aiden English remained under WWE’s employ. In NXT English and Gotch were incredibly popular. It was a throwback idea that saw them win the brand’s Tag Team Championships. Upon arrival on SmackDown Live however you could just see Vince McMahon having the concept explained to him and it going straight over his head. Clearly the fans shared that sentiment also as on the main roster the act was a flop. Nevertheless half of it remains, but it’s not really clear as to why. Maybe Vince thinks Aiden’s weekly singing segments are hilarious. If so, he’s the only one.
9. Re-Hire: Damien Sandow
Someone who hasn’t had as much success as Cody Rhodes since going it alone following a stint in WWE is Damien Sandow. For years the fans clamored for Sandow to get the push he so deserved, and for most of that time Vince McMahon teased that he would give us what we wanted. He had Damien win the Money In The Bank only to lose when he cashed in, and than messed up what could have been a huge match between The Miz and Mizdow as Damien was known at the time. While Sandow’s career hasn’t exactly flourished since departing the company that greatly misused him, here’s hoping that one day the powers that be at WWE happen to catch some of their old Sandow footage and get in touch with The Saviour of the Masses upon realizing what they had with him.
8. Cut: Summer Rae
This one I don’t feel like I have to do much lobbying for, because I feel like it must be coming like a freight train by now. When’s the last time you remember seeing Summer Rae on WWE television? It’s been a while right? Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the last time Summer was involved in an angle it was when she dated Rusev and the two of them feuded with The Bulgarian Brute’s real life wife Lana along with Dolph Ziggler. Following that story line it’s no wonder Summer has been absent from the spot light for so long. Rae simply doesn’t fit in with the current state of Women’s wrestling in WWE, and because of that it won’t be long before she’s looking for work elsewhere.
7. Re-Hire: Batista
This entry may raise a few eyebrows, especially considering the disdain Big Dave’s last return to WWE was met with courtesy of the fans. I’ve got what I believe is a strong argument for Batista to be brought back for another run however. The former WWE Champion returned to the company in order to raise awareness of his appearance as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy. Little did we know how good Batista would actually turn out to be in the hit Marvel film, and even more so in its sequel. Even more than that though is how WWE brought him back into the fold. He left as a heel and should have been brought back as one. Instead Vince and co just assumed we would be happy to see him and had him win the Royal Rumble. He’s a bad guy WWE, if you bring him back again make sure you don’t forget that.
6. Cut: Curt Hawkins
What on earth are WWE doing with Curt Hawkins? Whenever you hear Curt’s peers talk about him he is revered as being a terrific wrestler who is currently far below his station. I’m not sure what Hawkins himself thinks about his current status in WWE, but if he’s half as good others make him out to be then he can’t be happy. As of right now he is effectively a jobber to the stars, coming out at least every other week to be squashed by a bigger Superstar who’s on their way to better things. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but Curt if you’re reading this, you could be 2018’s Cody Rhodes. Think about it.
5. Re-Hire: Bubba Ray Dudley
It really doesn’t feel like that long ago when Bubba Ray Dudley shocked the WWE Universe by returning to the company via the 2015 Royal Rumble. It was shortly followed by one final run for him and D-Von which most of us assumed would see the veteran tag team win the WWE Tag Team Championships one final time. Alas it was not to be, and The Dudley Boyz job upon their return was to simply make other teams look better. WWE missed a trick, but the opportunity may not have passed. With The Hardy Boyz back now would be the perfect time to bring back Bubba, team him up with D-Von who still works back stage for WWE, and have the ultimate tag team nostalgia match between The Hardyz and The Dudleyz.
4. Cut: James Ellsworth
As I type this James Ellsworth is currently story line suspended from SmackDown Live, so much to my delight he is off of WWE television. I didn’t particularly get the appeal when he was first brought in, and whatever novelty he brought the table at first has since disappeared. His feud with AJ Styles was hard to watch, and his work with Carmella has been downright awful. I understand that the whole point of Ellsworth is to annoy us the fans, but there has to be a limit as when he’s on screen currently I want to change the channel. It was fun while it lasted, for some I guess, but cut James loose now and let’s not bring him back from this kayfabe suspension.
3. Re-Hire: Kenny Omega
There are a lot of big names who made appearances for WWE years ago that went on to become huge names without Vince McMahon’s help. The chairman has managed to get most of them back, the likes of AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and Bobby Roode, but one man who he once had under contract continues to evade him, Kenny Omega. All the way back in the fall of 2005, The Cleaner was signed to a developmental contract with WWE. He never made it as far as the main roster, but he was under contract nonetheless. It obviously wasn’t the right time for Omega who has gone on to bigger and better things, but now WWE want him back. Kenny has revealed that they’ve attempted to sign him back a number of times recently, but as of right now he’s not interested.
2. Cut: John Bradshaw Layfield
Here is a man that should have been cut from the WWE roster about 100 times over, yet he remains to call the action on SmackDown Live every single Tuesday night. The latest controversy between JBL and now NXT announcer Mauro Ranallo is just the latest in a long line of incidents that should have had WWE at least questioning why they keep this guy around. You could argue that JBL should have been cut from the roster long before he even joined the announce team. When he was WWE Champion and SmackDown’s top guy the brand was a flop. He is known for being one of the worst drawing champ’s in the company’s history. One more bullying incident that makes it into the mainstream media and WWE will have no choice but to let Bradshaw go.
1. Re-Hire: CM Punk
There was only ever going to be one Superstar that topped this list, and it is undoubtedly the one that WWE would take back in a heartbeat if they could, no matter what they might say. CM Punk was one of the biggest and best pro wrestlers of the modern era, and there was an awful lot for him left to do when he walked out back in 2014. If The Second City Saint’s music hit on a Raw one night, it would get one of the biggest pops in history, especially if WWE could manage to keep the return under their hats. One thing is for certain, it’s going to take an awful lot of persuasion to get Punk back in a WWE ring. It likely wouldn’t even be a case of Vince McMahon throwing money at the former WWE Champion, but a guarantee of how he would be used if and when he did return. There is no rift too big between a wrestler and WWE that can’t be fixed, and chances are one way or another CM Punk will return.
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