While it’s important for the WWE to continue focusing on the present and the future of their roster, it’s always a nice treat to see a former legend make a return to the WWE Universe. While not in the WWE Hall of Fame, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the return of Goldberg as the match with Brock Lesnar was announced.
Fans get excited whenever a Hall of Fame superstar is announced to make a return to WWE television. It’s not uncommon to have flashbacks of watching our favorite superstars from yesteryear compete. Were you someone who huddled close to the television screen, holding an Ultimate Warrior action figure while watching WWE Superstars on Saturday mornings?
Those are the kinds of memories we have when our favorite legends make a return to the WWE. At the same time, not all WWE Hall of Famer wrestlers have a successful return. In fact, some come back so often that it feels like an overkill. The special feeling of seeing a return begins to lose luster.
And yet there are some legends who would be welcomed back because they are rarely seen on WWE television. This list breaks down eight WWE Hall of Famers who are brought back too often and another eight who don’t come back to WWE enough.
16 Too Much: Lita
It’s nice to see someone from a great era of women’s wrestling still appear once in a while. However, there is such a thing as appearing on WWE television a little too much. Lita’s appearance at WrestleMania 32 didn’t feel as special as it could have been. That’s because Lita is seen on a weekly basis on the RAW pre-show every Monday night on the WWE Network.
Pre-shows are fine, but are not as popular with the wrestling fans. Lita also probably could be better suited for a different role in the WWE. If she was able to act as a training coach at the WWE Performance Center, her occasional appearances on WWE television might mean more than they currently do. If Lita isn’t going to compete, helping train future WWE female superstars would seem like a natural fit.
15 Not Enough: Ron Simmons
Have you missed being able to hear someone say what you were thinking at specific moments on WWE television? Ron Simmons, also known as Faarooq, spent 2006 to 2009 appearing on WWE television on almost a weekly basis. Long removed from his days as a WWE World Tag Team Champion and even a WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Simmons was the personification of simplified comedy. All he had to do was walk in and speak his mind.
During some of the more awkward moments behind the scenes, Simmons would step in with his signature “Damn.” While younger viewers in the WWE Universe might not recognize him, it wouldn’t take long for them to enjoy his one-word promos. While it might be hard to have him appear every week, maybe he could show up once a month for pay-per-views.
14 Too Much: Bret Hart
Bret Hart may have been known as “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be” during his professional wrestling career. But it seems more and more like he’s becoming more of the cantankerous old man who wants us to get off his lawn. He has made comments about how he dislikes different parts of the WWE product – specifically Seth Rollins and how dangerous he seems to be in the ring.
Beyond how fans might feel about his opinion, his sporadic appearances don’t hold the same substance we may have thought they would. He’s mostly been used to introduce a superstar, play the reporter in an interview segment or be a manager. Even his match with Vince McMahon at WrestleMania XXVI was mediocre, as was his brief reign as United States Champion in 2010.
13 Not Enough: Rikishi
While he’s not likely going to compete in the WWE, Rikishi could be a very useful manager for the WWE. The reason is that his sons, The Usos, have recently made a complete change to their gimmick with the recent heel turn. A new look and a new attitude for Jimmy and Jey were really needed for the tag team. It was needed after a few years of being a little bit stale on the main roster.
The only thing they would need now is a manager to help guide them to becoming a more dominant tag team. It would be a fresh angle considering we’ve only seen Rikishi compete in a WWE ring twice in the last five years – a squash victory over Heath Slater in 2012 and a victorious reunion with Too Cool in 2014.
12 Too Much: Kevin Nash
While we haven’t see Kevin Nash on WWE television since WrestleMania 31, it wasn’t necessarily memorable for the right reasons. During the match between Triple H and Sting, Nash was part of the New World Order who came out to support Sting. They went to war with D-Generation X members who were supporting Triple H. The match ended against the wishes of many wrestling fans with Sting losing.
Nash’s involvement in a storyline with Triple H and CM Punk fell flat. After that ended, Nash was then sporadically used in NXT as a “match commissioner” before taking a break and showing up once or twice. Nash has felt forced into WWE programming over the last few years and probably doesn’t fit into anything the WWE will be doing moving forward. That likely won’t stop him from showing up, with Triple H slowly gaining more control.
11 Not Enough: Trish Stratus
The WWE women’s revolution has been a great thing to witness. With the influx of great female talents currently on the WWE roster, it would be nice to see some veterans make a return. The good news is that Mickie James is coming to NXT for a dream match against Asuka. But the bad news is that we aren’t likely going to see Trish Stratus compete anytime soon.
The news of her expecting her second child coming out last month likely means we won’t see Stratus coming out of retirement to give a boost to the women’s division, but she has said in recent interviews that she would love to come back. It’s probably only a matter of time and she would want to only help the WWE women’s division. Fans would likely love to see her up against the likes of Charlotte and Sasha Banks right off the bat.
10 Too Much: Ric Flair
Ric Flair certainly has had a historic career, but it’s also been pretty lengthy since his debut with the American Wrestling Association in 1972 -- maybe a little too long since he’s been on WWE television as recently as earlier this year. Flair was used to help give a boost for his daughter Charlotte making her main roster debut. It was cute at first, in a way -- a father supporting his daughter.
But he was wearing out his welcome as Charlotte continued to establish herself as the top female in the WWE roster. It led to her kicking him to the curb in what seemed like a very passionate promo. Flair likely won’t be gone for long, but there’s not a lot that Flair adds to helping the WWE program.
9 Not Enough: Sting
It’s a shame that in his only two WWE matches, Sting suffered losses. It’s also a shame that he suffered a severe neck injury during a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Seth Rollins last year. This led to his career as an active wrestler being finished. At least the WWE inducted Sting into the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year, but it feels like there’s more Sting can offer to the WWE beyond in-ring competition.
It’s likely that he would like to be a great authority figure. In the event the WWE decides to let Mick Foley or Daniel Bryan take some time off, maybe Sting could be a fill-in as the general manager of either RAW or SmackDown Live. Part of helping make the WWE more appealing is allowing things to be shaken up a bit.
8 Too Much: Mick Foley
There’s nothing wrong with Mick Foley. In fact, he’s been great working on RAW as the general manager. Fans love Foley since he’s been on regular television since the summer. The thing is that he was somewhat of a predictable choice. Foley has been a regular for several years in the WWE. He’s virtually done everything in the promotion – champion, commissioner, commentator and general manager.
While it would be nice to see some different legends get regular air time like Sting, Foley is on the side that should get some extended time away from WWE. That’s not to say that Foley shouldn’t be involved in the WWE. In fact, he would be a great candidate to be a coach at the WWE Performance Center. His experience would be valuable to the new talent that WWE recruits.
7 Not Enough: Edge
The Rated-R Superstar has certainly remained active since he was forced to medically retire from in-ring competition in 2011. It’s a shame because Edge fought for years to finally break out of his mid-card status to become one of the most successful world champions in the Ruthless Aggression era. But in retirement, Edge has found a new calling with a career in acting. As Adam Copeland, he’s found some roles on successful television shows.
He’s also been seen on the WWE Network in a show that “totally reeks of awesomeness” with his long-time tag team partner Christian. It just seems like Edge could have been a good choice to be an authority figure on the main roster -- or maybe even a color commentator with more experience than some of the recent announcer call-ups. That's no offense to guys like Corey Graves -- plenty towards someone like David Otunga.
6 Too Much: Shawn Michaels
Wrestling fans around the world love the Heartbreak Kid. There’s a reason many of us got excited about the possibility that Shawn Michaels might return for a potential match with AJ Styles in the near future. While it would be a dream match for many wrestling fans, one has to begin wondering if maybe he’s been in the spotlight a little too much after his retirement. In fact, we’re starting to get close to the same kind of post-wrestling run that Ric Flair has had since losing to Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV.
It’s understandable for someone like Michaels to leave wrestling completely. He’s talked openly about how much of a passion he has for the business, but it feels like he’s sticking around maybe a little too often. Eventually, his surprise appearances like the one at WrestleMania 32 will begin to feel less special to watch.
5 Not Enough: Booker T
For wrestling fans who don’t usually watch the RAW pre-show on the WWE Network may be surprised to see Booker T is still with the company. He hasn’t been on WWE television since his days were numbered as a color commentator on SmackDown after the move to the USA Network. While his charisma might actually annoy some fans, he actually should be admired for having a lot of energy when on the camera.
It’s been a long time since he was seen on either RAW or SmackDown. It’s hard to say he deserves to be an authority figure when you consider how many other options there are, but he could be a likely candidate moving forward. The problem is that he could be very well suited to at least be a manager on the WWE roster.
4 Too Much: Bob Backlund
Putting Bob Backlund on the “too much” list has more to do with how his return to WWE television was wasted. While he would be a great manager for a younger WWE superstar in need of that extra little push, Darren Young just doesn’t seem like the right choice. The slogan “Make Darren Young Great Again” is laughable at best -- not sure when he was ever considered “great,” or even “average.”
The execution for Backlund’s return was marred and it now seems like a wasted opportunity. Considering one of his previous gimmicks involved going into politics, he could have had an interesting story line for him to be one of the authority figures for the new brand extension. Maybe they can go with that as a timely option about four years from now.
3 Not Enough: Jake “The Snake” Roberts
About five years ago, there were many wrestling fans who felt that Jake “The Snake” Roberts was on the road to passing away. He had issues with drugs and alcohol that led to his rapidly declining health. But after being saved by Diamond Dallas Page, Roberts has been the personification of a positive turnaround. After so many years of hard times, he was finally able to make a triumphant return to the WWE in 2014 during an Old School episode of RAW.
Roberts could be useful in today’s generation of the WWE as a manager. Based on the character he was able to develop, it’s not hard to imagine the Snake aligning with someone like Bray Wyatt. It would actually be a perfect pairing that would provide the Eater of Worlds a veteran mind that could relate and guide the New Face of Fear.
2 Too Much: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
There was once a time when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was considered the biggest name in professional wrestling. He still maintained a large amount of popularity well after the Monday Night War had ended. Over the years, he’s been a constant on WWE programming in different ways. However, it seems the once defiant Austin is slowly becoming more corporate with every appearance.
Austin is mostly seen being the interviewer of his own WWE Network show. It doesn’t come across as natural as the podcast he does. It’s not the same “Stone Cold” fans fell in love with during the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s unfortunate because we are more likely never going to see the beer-drinking, Stone Cold Stunning “S.O.B.” beat up on heel authorities as years continue to pass.
1 Not Enough: Jim Ross
Someone who should have gotten a better exit from the WWE than he did is Jim Ross. There’s likely a large number of professional wrestling fans who wish the WWE would let Good Ol’ J.R. get his last moment to call a WrestleMania match. His voice would have been perfect for the match between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker at last year’s WrestleMania match. Ross’ voice is synonymous with the lore of Hell in a Cell. YouTube videos showing the likes of Mankind, Triple H and the Deadman will support that.
Ross has kept himself busy outside of the WWE with his podcast and through independent bookings and also New Japan Pro Wrestling, but it would be nice to see him have one final call. Maybe if The Undertaker was facing John Cena at WrestleMania 33 for his final match, Ross would be the perfect voice due to his history with both men.