It started by entering boardroom meetings with Vince McMahon. The boss would ask Triple H after meetings what his thoughts were. Hunter had the same answer early on and that was the WWE’s lack of talent development. It is safe to say that Hunter has made quite the statement in that regard years later. The company isn’t only developing talent out in Orlando; they have scouts worldwide. Soon enough we’ll be seeing Performance Centers in various places around the world.
New talent is of importance, however, both Triple H and Vince McMahon are no fools to the impact a former veteran can provide. Take the previous episodes of Raw; the best parts featured veterans such as Mick Foley, Triple H, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Now of course these four are of another class, however take nothing away from the impact a released performer can have given a second chance - just ask Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre. The two thrived under both Vince McMahon and Triple H during their second time around. In this article we feature 10 other names both Hunter and Vince might consider bringing back.
On the flip side we’ll also discuss 10 other talents that have simply no chance of returning for various reasons. Enjoy the article folks and like always be sure to share it with a friend. If these returns do happen, it’ll be all because of Vince!
20 Will Return - AJ Lee
“He and I have different views on that for sure. My heart is always gonna have this giant place for wrestling, so I’ll always miss that moment right in the ring where you feel the energy from the crowd, and there’s nothing that can replace that.” (Source: Sportskeeda)
That statement gave WWE fans some hope that a return is a legit possibility. Adding to that, a recent rumor suggests that Vince McMahon himself reached out to Lee for a possible return at the Evolution event. The speculation continues to persist with AJ possibly being a surprise character in the new 2K video game. All this suggests she might ultimately return - even if she doesn’t return in October, Lee’s only 31. She still has plenty of time for a return nonetheless.
19 No Chance - Scott Steiner
“The one Hall of Fame that I refuse to go in is the WWE Hall of Fame because do you know where it's at? Where is it? Do you have an address? If they called me up, I wouldn't go because there's no address; you can't go see it, so, where is it?”
Now that doesn’t sound like a man that seems too concerned with his legacy and how it’s portrayed by the WWE. Steiner has bashed the company repeatedly, especially Triple H, Hulk Hogan, Stephanie and Ric Flair among others. He’s burned every single bridge there is to burn but then again, he isn’t losing any sleep over it anyways.
18 Will Return – Alberto Del Rio
“I have always stayed the same because I have a good relationship with Vince McMahon. I am sure I’ll be back one day before I decide to retire. I’ll return to have a final run. Maybe I’ll be able to work with all those wrestlers I used to work with in that company.”
During an interview Del Rio admitted himself that he plans on making a return before riding off into the sunset for good similar to Rey Mysterio. Although he left on bad terms that sour feeling appears to have subsided. Not only did Del Rio take part in a WWE Headquarters meeting but he also apologized to Triple H for his past comments. Given McMahon’s feelings towards the wrestler he’ll be back for one more run at some point – likely mixing it up with Cien Almas and Rey Mysterio.
17 No Chance - Austin Aries
Getting released after your first run and nearing your 40s isn’t the best sign for a wrestler returning to the WWE someday. It also appears that Aries burned lots of bridges in his time with the company. His former partner Zelina Vega refuses to speak a word about their prior relationship – likely meaning the two ended things off on a bad note.
There was also the elephant in the room of behavioral issues. Creatively it was a struggle to work with Aries. This could have been accepted a decade ago but not in this day and age. The struggle between creative and Aries led to nothing in terms of future storylines – he was later future endeavored by the company. In all likelihood given his track record he won’t return.
16 Will Return – Big Cass
“There's a whole world out there right now. I just want to get out there and see what else is going on, but I will be back, obviously the goal is to get back to WWE." (Source; Wrestlinginc)
In discussion with Booker T it sounded quite clear the Cass plans on making a return to the WWE. He also agreed with the company’s decision to fire him. Clearly he’s trying to stay on the WWE’s good side despite the surprising departure.
Vince was once very high on Cass and that could prove to be true again with a successful run on the indie scene. Cass looks motivated to make an impact and return eventually – given his intention and the company’s past feelings on the wrestler this doesn’t seem like a ban for life.
15 No Chance – Enzo Amore
"I blocked every number that had 203 in it. Straight up. I couldn't go back anyway. I have sciatica. I can't walk, bro. I can't do things physically that I once could do." (Source; Wrestlinginc)
This is just one of the reasons Enzo has no interest in going back. However the company likely feels the same way given his controversial past. His release wasn’t under the best of circumstances and as we know the company hates any type of public drama. It also didn’t help that Enzo was viewed as nuisance behind the scenes.
If he decides to return to wrestling it’ll be outside of the company for a big pay day. As JR pointed out Cass and Enzo can do lots of damage together independently – however Cass has no desire to rekindle the friendship while Amore is also content on remaining outside of the squared circle. However, money talks kids...
14 Will Return - Eva Marie
"You never know, I could show up on a Monday Night Raw, I could come down to SmackDown Live and snatch that title real quick. Never leave me out, you never know what's creeping around the corner, if you know what I mean."(Source:Sportskeeda)
She left the WWE with this cliff-hanger of a statement. Unfortunately most pure wrestling fans didn’t really care for it given her performances inside of the ring. One thing that didn’t change was the amount of faith the company had in her abilities despite the ring rust. If Eva makes it in Hollywood look for McMahon to rekindle the relationship immediately whether we like it or not – perhaps she can rewrite some of her wrongs?
13 No Chance – Cameron
She might return for an anniversary show as a guest, however the chances of Cameron returning for in-ring action are rather slim. Given the plethora of talent available why on earth would the company even consider this? After all Cameron did pin her opponent the opposite way not to mention that she considers a bout between Melina and Alicia Fox among one of the best matches she’s ever watched...
She’s doing quite fine herself and wisely Cameron chose to leave the business and enter the entertainment business with various acting gigs. We commend her decision and wish her all the success in the world – however that success should not be considered back in the ring at any point.
12 Will Return - James Ellsworth
“It was one of those things where WWE and I parted ways the first time I knew I’d be back. I didn’t think it’d be that quick. After hearing the crowd, I was like wow, I guess they missed me.” (Source: Ringside News)
You always knew Ellsworth was going to return. Even now with his recent departure it’s inevitable that he’ll be back once again for another run. He’s easygoing behind the scenes and among the more beloved personalities – this definitely helps his future. Not only that, the dude is also darn entertaining and let’s be honest, he adds legitimacy to Carmella’s act.
11 No Chance - Gail Kim
“Stephanie (McMahon) could have been fighting for us a long time ago. She was there every single time I worked there and she had zero interest in fighting for the women back then. So, for them, everything is business motivated.” (Source: Wrestlinginc)
Unfortunately that statement alone is the biggest reason why we’ll never see Gail back with the WWE – not even for the Hall Of Fame. Kim isn’t shy about speaking her mind and she’s been quite critical when it comes to Vince and Stephanie and their involvement during the Women’s Revolution. However she has praised Triple H for his work with the female talent and always believing in them even when it wasn’t apparently “best for business.”
10 Will Return - Tenille Dashwood
Similar to Big Cass Emma took her WWE release with the utmost amount of professionalism. She hasn’t had a bad thing to say about her WWE departure and she continues to work a packed schedule with Ring of Honor and various indie promotions.
As we discussed earlier the WWE is always looking out how released talents react to their pink slip. Emma is without a doubt among the top of the list at the moment. That matched with Triple H’s appreciation for her work, this can all lead to a future contract with NXT. Hunter loves to employ veterans with his developmental brand and Emma can play that role to perfection when the time is right.
9 No Chance - Cryme Tyme
It wouldn’t be the worst thing for WWE to add some new tag teams especially on Raw. However the key here is new. No disrespect to the former WWE duo but there are so many teams we’d rather see up on the main roster. This includes Undisputed Era, TM61, Heavy Machinery and Mustache Mountain. Heck, in terms of returns, we’d rather see a Gable and Jordan comeback before Cryme Tyme.
The duo had a decent run while it lasted. However it seems unlikely the company revisits this duo unless it’s for a short nostalgia run similar to The Headbangers (how random was that?).
8 Will Return - Neville
It was a bitter ending for Neville and his relationship with the WWE. However take nothing away from the talent; he was among the top tier during his final run with the company. It was a shame the way things ended given his talent level.
In all likelihood he’ll only enhance his name even further out on the indie scene. Depending on what Neville has to say about the company if he keeps things classy WWE might revisit the King of the Cruiserweights at some point. With NXT UK launching he can fit perfectly into the show. Who’s to say he doesn’t make an impact on either of the main rosters at some point down the line as well. For this particular return only time will tell.
7 No Chance - Ryback
“I still have a little ways to go, but still, like I said, never say never, but it is just not in my radar right now," he continued. "I have not had any discussions; not from my end or their end. It is just not even in my mind right now. Not to say years from now it won't be, I just don't know. I am focused on growing my brand and my business right now.” (Source: Wrestlinginc)
Now that sounds like a man that plans to make a WWE return in the future. The only issue here is that he didn’t leave on the best of terms requesting wrestlers get paid equally despite their position on the card. McMahon didn’t want to deal with that then nor will he forget when Ryback’s name once again comes up.
6 Will Return - Tessa Blanchard
"Honestly, I had spoken with [WWE]," Blanchard said. "I am still in touch with them. We are both on very good terms, contrary to what people think, we are on very good terms. I don't get my hopes up or anything, I am really enjoying what I am doing right now by having the matches, the inter-gender matches that I am having. “
It is very clear both WWE and Tessa Blanchard have lots of interest in one another. However she’s still only 23 so it might be best for business the talent continue on and earn her stripes away from the WWE. She’s already performing at an elite level and she’ll be even better once the time comes to return. Tessa has future NXT and WWE Women’s Champion written all over her. Stay tuned folks.
5 No Chance – Ken Anderson
There are certain individuals you do not cross in the wrestling business. Obviously Vince McMahon, Stephanie and Triple H are at the very top of the totem pole. However, there is another WWE star that stands among those names and that’s John Cena. We’ve seen it time and time again if there’s an issue between John and a certain individual it usually spells the end. Wade Barrett, Mickie James, Ken Anderson and Alex Riley are just a couple of examples.
That said WWE is unlikely to reach out to Ken Anderson. Not only was he a liability in the squared circle but he’s also 42 these days. For those two reasons he won’t get another WWE contract – that ship has sailed.
4 Will Return - Cody Rhodes
Cody leaving the WWE proved to be the correct decision. It isn’t easy to walk away from your dream job. However Cody saw greater opportunity outside of the company. He achieved the ultimate goal by setting up his own PPV event All In alongside the Young Bucks. Cody continues to do his family name proud these days becoming one of the top names outside of WWE.
It’ll come time when he returns to the WWE and finally endures a proper push in the upper card. However that time isn’t now. He’ll continue to thrive outside of the company and when the time is right he’ll have the role he should have been given years ago.
3 No Chance - CM Punk
“It's not even a matter of not going to wrestling because I'm busy doing other stuff, there's just nothing that interests me in wrestling.”
Punk has said it time and time again; he has no interest in making a return to pro wrestling in general let alone WWE. Of course, this is a never say never business however it tends seem less and less likely as time passes by. Punk’s no spring chicken about to enter his 40s. Factor in Triple H and Stephanie gaining power within the company and realm of possibility only furthers. The court trial between the two sides might be the final association between the company and Punk.
2 Will Return - Juice Robinson
It isn’t every day that a developmental talent chooses to leave the WWE. That was the case with Juice Robinson formerly known as NXT’s CJ Parker. Robinson wanted to explore options outside of the company with greater opportunity to blossom. The talent hit a stalemate with NXT and in truth he picked the perfect time to leave.
His development has flourished since joining New Japan. He’s among the top acts of the company along with being recognized as one of the top promo workers in the entire wrestling business – a sentiment echoed by wrestling pundit Dave Meltzer and WWE’s Kevin Owens, a guy that knows a thing or two about indie talent. He’ll be offered a second chance once he’s willing to leave New Japan.
1 No Chance - Bull Dempsey
Unlike Robinson, Dempsey was released during his developmental days. His gimmick under the Bull Fit moniker turned into a laughing stock more than anything else. Bull completely went off the map following his NXT run. His gigs continue to be lackluster ones with lower scale promotions.
The WWE is always keeping an eye on talent – given his career trajectory since leaving the company a second chance seems rather unlikely. Instead NXT talent relations are breathing a sigh of relief that they made the right decision. Maybe he’ll make a one-time only appearance but a contract is just way too far-fetched.