Due to all the recent injuries, WWE has been forced to reshuffle some storylines. Take this upcoming Survivor Series as an example. The plan wasn’t for a team Raw versus SmackDown type of event. However, with the loss of Roman Reigns and various others, WWE was forced to head towards this direction.
Although the rosters are loaded, so many marquee names currently sit on the sidelines. For wrestlers such as Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, the injuries might be a blessing in disguise. In truth, both weren’t going anywhere prior to their injuries. We’ll forecast the way they should be booked when returning and what the company needs to avoid.
Along with wrestlers that are currently rehabbing for a return, we’ll also feature performers from the past that might be making a return in the near future. Some might be set for WrestleMania while the timeline for some others remains unclear. Nonetheless, we’ll discuss the ideal way to book these returning stars and what wouldn’t work at all. In some cases, leaving the wrestlers out of the ring altogether might be the best option.
From John Cena to Triple H to heck, even Goldust, enjoy this article as we take a look at 10 storylines WWE should run for returning Superstars and 10 that need be avoided. We start the article off with an important figure in the company to recently sustain a brutal pectoral injury. Let’s get started!
20 Triple H: Leader Of NXT Invasion
During the finale of the Crown Jewel Tag match, cameras caught Shawn Michaels telling Triple H, “we’re too old for this stuff.” Michaels might have a point with Triple H sustaining a brutal pectoral injury.
He needs to return in a non-wrestling capacity. This time around, he should let his boys from NXT do the talking. With a rumored NXT invasion to take place in 2019, it can be the perfect way to reintroduce The Game while setting up a battle against his father-in-law. This one has the potential to be a top storyline of 2019. If Triple H is at the center of it, it would be that much better.
19 Avoid: Another Feud With A Veteran Wrestler
Hunter needs to focus on what he does best these days, and that’s putting over younger talent behind the scenes. There really is no need for The Game to climb back into the ring for another meaningless match. Sure, it would be great for nostalgia to see Hunter lock up versus Batista but in the grand scheme of things, what does it do for long-term storyline purposes? Nothing.
Hunter needs to return by putting the new talent first. Another feud with a past star needs to be avoided – we’ve seen it one too many times already.
18 John Cena: Road to Seventeen
John Cena. What can we say? This is the real face that runs the place (no offense, AJ). Although he hasn’t been on television all that regularly, take nothing away from Cena’s draw value. When he’s on TV, the ratings go up.
For his next return, WWE needs to promote this wrestler’s greatness. No more jobbing out to younger talent. WWE needs to book Cena’s road to title win number 17 before it’s too late. Have him go on a winning streak, and end it with a historic championship victory in front of the bright WrestleMania lights. Having him return for anything else isn’t worth it at this point. More defeats might harm his legacy.
17 Avoid: Losing Marquee Matches
Let’s not get it twisted. Some wrestlers from the past can help the career of younger talent by putting them over. However, John Cena is a different breed. At this point, there is no purpose whatsoever in having him return in order to make others look good. After all, take a look at both rosters, who is worthy of a victory over Cena? Honestly, there aren’t very many.
Racking up the loses, as we stated, can only hurt his legacy. We’ve seen him suffer numerous defeats in his recent outings and it is time for that to change. His return needs to show him rising from the ashes as he pursues that historical 17th title.
16 Batista: Challenging Samoa Joe
Prior to his return, some speculated a match between Batista and Samoa Joe. This would make perfect sense. At this point, Batista doesn’t need to be facing veteran talent like Triple H any longer. Instead, he can benefit by having a match with Joe. Such a bout can put Batista over big time while securing Joe’s name as one of the most dominant villains in WWE.
This would be a match everyone wants to see and it can also give Joe something to do outside of the championship picture. Such a match would be ideal for a show like WrestleMania.
15 Avoid: Another Feud With Triple H
We’ve seen it before. Batista puts the thumbs down, slams the SmackDown contract on the floor and "Batista Bombs" Triple H threw a table. It was a great feud on route to their WrestleMania clash that saw Batista get his hand raised in victory.
More than a decade has passed since then. No need to revisit this type of match. We respect Batista wanting to get back in there but another feud with Triple H really makes no sense, especially in the long-term picture. With Hunter out with an injury maybe it will open the door for a more desirable match, at least from a fans perspective against Joe.
14 Sami Zayn: The Return Of The Underdog From The Underground
In 2018, NXT has grown into a brand of its own. However, what fans cannot forget is that a guy by the name of Sami Zayn helped to put the developmental brand on the map way back in 2013. He was arguably the greatest fan favorite in the brand’s history. Unfortunately, the main roster hasn’t recaptured that magic - not even close.
Scrap that heel gimmick and instead go back to his NXT persona. Build up montages of Zayn getting back to health while showing his humble beginnings to get where he is today. That will create a great anticipation while restoring his underdog gimmick. Have him pursue a championship with the entire universe by his side.
13 Avoid: Comedic Mid-Upper Card Enhancement Talent
According to Sean Waltman, Triple H laughed at the notion of Sami Zayn turning heel, yet it didn’t stop Vince McMahon any less. To Vince’s credit, Zayn did a great job with the gimmick. However, he wasn’t climbing up the card and instead, was constantly losing matches to the likes of Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman.
Creative needs to push reset button on Zayn and avoid this path once he returns to the ring. Let’s hope he gets rid of that silly smile and he’s back to doing what he does best; compete in the ring as a beloved fan favorite.
12 Kevin Owens; Back In The Universal Champiuonship Picture
We can’t talk about Sami Zayn without discussing Kevin Owens. It is hard to believe, but closing out 2018, both veteran wrestlers are one the sidelines nursing injuries.
It might have been a blessing in disguise for KO who was losing his way a bit. Perhaps once he returns, he will feel fresh both to the fans and himself. KO needs to return back in the Universal Championship picture. Arguably no champion to hold the title has done as good of a job in comparison to Kevin’s run in the fall of 2016.
11 Avoid: Losing To Babyfaces Regularly
Basically, WWE needs to avoid booking Owens in the same regard prior to his injury. KO was on the constant end of defeats whether it be to Bobby Lashley or Braun Strowman. The last thing he needs is more of that once he returns.
Throw away the comedic side as well. Make him a more serious competitor driven to the win the Universal Championship back. Have him do whatever it takes, including heel like tactics, in order to climb back into the championship picture. No more loses or funny promos.
10 Bray Wyatt: Reunited With Luke Harper
According to Pro Fight DB, the last time we saw Bray Wyatt in a wrestling ring was in mid-August. Making matters that much worse, it was a losing effort to his real-life brother Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.
He isn’t injured, creative just seems to be taking their time plotting his return. Wyatt is in desperate need of a re-launch. However, there is no need to go off the rails with a new persona. Have him return to the gimmick he portrayed best alongside Wyatt Family member, Luke Harper. That will put Wyatt back where he belongs while giving the talented Harper a much needed boost as well. Once Rowan returns from injury, he can join the two.
9 Avoid: Entirely Different Babyface Gimmick
The reason for Wyatt’s departure was initially intended for the purpose of a new gimmick. According to the online gossip, WWE was planning on changing his gimmick entirely while turning Bray into an upper-card heel with the persona.
His gimmick has only hit a road block. It just needs a little bit of tweaking. Completely changing everything just isn’t needed and perhaps WWE creative reps have realized this with the new rumor emerging that he’s set to reunite with The Wyatt Family to potentially taking on Sanity. Now that would be a great storyline for Wyatt's return.
8 Trish Stratus and Lita: Putting Over The Tag Team Division
The Women's Tag Team Division is set to launch sooner rather than later. With rumors circulating pertaining to a Trish Stratus and Lita return on route to WrestleMania 35, we hope it is for the purpose of the Tag Team Championship scene.
These two can make those belts feel that much more special given their draw values combined. They can also help put over any talent, whether it be Sasha Banks and Bayley, The Bellas, or a younger team like The Riott Squad. In order to maximize their return potential, this needs to be the path taken.
7 Avoid: Splitting Them Up In Single Feuds
There might be the temptation to go back down the Alexa Bliss and Trish Stratus road. Due to Bliss' untimely injury prior to their Evolution Tag match, the plans for these two to finally lock up were nixed.
WWE might decide to revisit this storyline once Trish returns. That won’t be a wise idea. The company is already planning a marquee singles match for WrestleMania featuring Rousey and whoever else steps up to the plate. The show needs diversity and a Tag match with a purpose.
6 Goldust: One Last Championship Pursuit
Aside from minor cameos with 205 Live, we haven’t seen much of Goldust following WrestleMania 34. According to Pro Fight HB, he’s only appeared on one show since the Greatest Royal Rumble.
He’s inching towards the age of 50 and Goldust himself admits his career is slowly coming to an end. However, this guy can still move in the ring. His foot work alone is on par with any other wrestler on either of the rosters. A title that has eluded him is the World Championship. Give the guy a short-term storyline in one last effort to claim the title. Even if he doesn’t win, it will be a great and meaningful way to bow out.
5 Avoid: More Lower-Card Matches
Out of Goldust’s final 10 appearances, almost half took place on WWE’s pre-show prior to Raw or Main Event. If he is to return, there is just no point in placing him back in that role. Goldust needs to be used, if not, he might be better off remaining off-screen and helping the younger talents backstage as an agent.
It is unclear when he will return, but according to the latest news, he’s currently involved in a film project. Once that’s over with, more pre-show duty needs to be avoided. Give him one last impactful storyline before riding off into the sunset.
4 Hulk Hogan: Ambassador Role Off-Screen
Hulk Hogan is back in WWE. He officially returned as the host for the Crown Jewel event. Given the fan reaction, it is still way too soon.
Instead of giving Hulk a returning storyline, keep him on the sidelines for a little longer. Have him take part in off-screen roles such as charitable work. He needs to be a brand ambassador for time-being while clearing his name a little more. Doing anything on-screen might not be the best idea, unless it is somewhere far away.
3 Avoid: Anything In-Ring Related
The plan, or at least the speculated plan is to have Hogan return alongside his fellow nWo members. That’s a wise move from WWE and one that might lessen the heat. However, it just all feels too soon. Not to mention the plethora of returning talent in the last couple months, it just won’t feel as special.
It might be best to prolong this return and perhaps have them inducted into the 2020 Hall of Fame. Hogan also stated he wants a match with Braun Strowman, but no such thing should even be considered with Hulk set to turn 66 next summer.
2 Shawn Michaels: Once-In A-Lifetime Match With AJ Styles
We’re making a big assumption here. However, seeing as though Shawn Michaels made seven figures for his Crown jewel match, we’re assuming Vince wants at least one bout out of Shawn. That will become a lot clearer in the next couple of weeks.
Two storylines exist as it pertains to a HBK return. One of them involves a match against AJ Styles. Given the rarity of this match, featuring the best from now versus the best of then, such an encounter and storyline can sell itself without even needing to build it up. We hope if Shawn returns for one more match, it is for the purpose of this program. He can’t move like he used but surely, AJ can bring the best out of him.
1 Avoid: Another Match With The Undertaker
Shawn Michaels' matches against The Undertaker at WrestleMania are considered some of the greatest in the history of the company. So the question is, why on earth would the company try to recreate this almost a decade later with both men a lot older and slower?
We got a reality check at the Crown Jewel. The match was really slow and sloppy. Clearly, these men aren’t the same compared to their previous years. Shawn needs a quicker opponent if he is to have one more match. Leave those memories of encounters against The Undertaker in the past. No need to tarnish them even further.