Wrestling will always be considered one of the greatest sports in the history of the United States. The history of professional wrestling is extensive but the birth of cable in the mid-’80s brought about its second coming. Professional wrestling became more about entertainment to draw in audiences and ensure its longevity. Over the years, many favorites emerged. Some stayed and some left. Often, many that left, would make infamous returns. For some, making a comeback was a great idea. For others, not so much. Here is a list of five wrestlers that fans were glad made a comeback.
10 Glad: Daniel Bryan
Born Bryan Lloyd Danielson, this Washington native knew that he wanted to be a professional wrestler as a high-schooler. In the year 2000, his dream came true when he became part of the WWF. He was let go just over a year and a half later. He wrestled in Japan for a few years and in 2002, returned to what was now the WWE. In 2016, at age 36, Bryan retired. The reason… a long history of work-related concussions. Surprisingly, in 2018, medical professionals cleared him to return to professional wrestling. He did so to the “YES!” cheers of happy fans.
9 Not: Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett hasn’t seen the inside of a ring since 1999. He made the horrible decision to return to wrestling after a two-decade hiatus; too little fanfare. Jarrett wrestled as part of the WWF from 1992 to 1996, when he joined WCW. In the early 2000s, he helped build TNA, where he remained for a dozen years.
With a new contract with the WWE, Jeff Jarrett returned to the world of professional wrestling. After so many years out of the business, it's a relief that he will play a bigger role behind the scenes than he will in the ring.
8 Glad: The Rock
Dwayne Johnson, the Samoan wrestler known as “The Rock,” wrestled as part of the WWE from the mid-’90s to 2004. He later returned on a part-time basis for a two-year run that ended in 2013. With a huge fan base, the excitement when he announced a comeback in 2016 wasn't a surprise.
In an effort to set a WrestleMania record, he used his social media page to share the news with his fans. Many believed that his return was also a last-ditch effort to settle the long-time beef he had with another famous wrestler. Whatever the reason for his return, fans were poised to smell what he was cooking, once again.
7 Not: The Ultimate Warrior
His first run with the WWE will always be heralded as one of the best career runs in professional wrestling. He was one of the few wrestlers to ever pin Hulk Hogan to the mat. The Ultimate Warrior retired after run number two with the WWE. His age was getting the best of him and he wasn’t able to perform as he had at the peak of his career.
Many believed that his decision was final. However, foolishly, he returned to wrestling after signing with WCW. His unimpressive three matches only confirmed that he should have stuck to his first decision. Sadly, the wrestling legend passed in 2014.
6 Glad: Shawn Michaels
On March 28th, 2010, Shawn Michaels entered the WWE ring for what would be the final match of his professional career. His WrestleMania match against the Undertaker will forever be viewed as one of the most memorable and heartbreaking matches of all time. Michaels has always implied that he had no desire to return to competing.
However, in 2018, he shared that he would be returning after nearly a decade of retirement. Fans were overjoyed as he paired up with another favorite, Triple H, to once again perform as D-Generation X. The match against The Undertaker and Kane took place in Saudi Arabia.
5 Not: Ric Flair
Ric Flair was an intricate part of NWA’s success in the early days. He brought in crowds around the world and would later carry that success over to WCW and WWE. He ended his career with a match against Shawn Michaels. The match is often hailed as a going away match that will always be remembered.
After falling on financial troubles, “The Nature Boy” returned to professional wrestling with a TNA contract. However, he was no longer in his prime and he couldn’t hold up to the reputation that he’d worked so had to build. Poor performance ratings and lack of fan base resulted in him being released from his contract.
4 Glad: Bret Hart
This is a hard one. Bret Hart had a rocky departure from WWE because of his involvement is what is known as the “Montreal Screwjob.” The loss of his brother during an accident at a PPV event added more strain on his relationship with the company. Hart began reflecting on how he wanted to be remembered after suffering a concussion and decided to quit.
He worked with the company in 2005 to produce a DVD that chronicled his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame the following year. In 2010, Bret Hart returned to the WWE ring to cheers from an audience that welcomed him with open arms.
3 Not: Hulk Hogan
If there was ever a professional wrestler that didn’t know when to throw in the towel, Hulk Hogan is it. Hulk Hogan will always be a wrestling legend. He helped the WWE become what it is. In the ’80s, he was iconic. His initial retirement was heartbreaking for fans around the world.
Children of the ’80s felt as though they were losing a part of themselves. His first return to the ring was one of the most anticipated returns in wrestling history. Over the years, Hogan has made such a habit of leaving and returning that no one gets excited anymore.
2 Glad: Goldberg (1st Return)
Merciless, Goldberg was always considered a wrestling force to be reckoned with. He reached his peak in the late ’90s, building a reputation around taking down the most legendary in the game. Goldberg returned to wrestling in 2016 to face-off against Brock Lesnar. Fans were ecstatic that he would finally get his man. He was defeated in the WrestleMania title match and left professional wrestling again. Still, his return was one that fans will always be happy about. Goldberg is considered one of the best in the business. This was confirmed with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
As previously stated, sometimes sticking to your first decision is the best move. Coming out of retirement didn’t go over well for these five professional wrestlers.
1 Not: Mae Young
Here is Hogan’s wrestling soulmate. Mae Young is another wrestler that simply didn’t know she should walk away. During her prime, she was considered one of the best to ever set foot in a ring. It was visible each time she came out of retirement, that she was way past it. The roles she assumed outside of the ring are recollected more than her meetups during the Attitude and Ruthless Eras. Her legacy is forever tarnished by matches that were simply unnecessary. As a result, instead of being remembered for an illustrious career, she is seen as one of the biggest jokes in wrestling.