Over the years, fans have learned to not be too shocked at who returns to WWE. Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, The Ultimate Warrior, Goldberg, they are all guys who at one point were thought to only be welcomed back when Hell froze over. Instead, they all returned with a few even getting titles out of it. It continues as WWE is still open to bringing back old faces like Lashley and the return of Daniel Bryan. This means fans are more eager at the possibility of past favorites coming back as suddenly the idea of a person “never” returning isn’t as definite as it once was. Many a star still has serious push and promise and their return would be an epic moment to get the fans going. Some may not be guys WWE themselves would want but the fans would go nuts for their return and another shot at stardom.
Of course, a few cases are folks fans are more than happy that WWE let go. They were bad in the first place, terrible workers with poor pushes. Other times, folks who had promise but ruined it and soon known for their egos or other problems. For every star WWE lets go for no good reason is another who deserved the axe and fans agreed they’re better off gone. So while they themselves may claim that “the fans want me back,” the fans themselves re clear on how much they despise that person in WWE. Here are some former stars fans would gladly welcome back to WWE and others they’re glad are history to show not every former WWE star is equal in fan adulation.
24 Welcome Back: CM Punk
It’s unlikely given Punk’s recent statements. However, his failure in UFC has given rise to the idea he might find a return to WWE appealing. Punk is famous for his amazing skills and playing himself a lot in the company with his cocky style. He was elite on the mic and in promos and showed it during his long reign as champion.
Of course, his slamming of the company since his exit makes it highly unlikely he’d come back or be welcomed. Yet with his star power and name, you’d expect a huge pop if he ever returned and a spark that WWE could use. Thus, getting Punk back would be a good move even in the short run to give WWE much-needed fire.
23 Glad Are Gone: Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash may come off a cool guy in person but wrestling fans feel differently. Fans today are savvier to know of all the backstage issues Nash has pulled over the years and his massive ego in interviews carries as well. Thus, he might get a minor pop if he were to briefly return for nostalgia purposes, but in no way does anyone want one of the most notorious locker room presences of all time in a WWE already having problems and “Big Daddy Cool” is better off staying retired. Even in a role as small as an nWo appearance would feel like overkill at this point.
22 Welcome Back: Neville
“The Man That Gravity Forgot” was an early star for NXT when the brand remade itself and one of the first tag team champions. With his incredible high-flying abilities mixed with brawling techniques, Neville was easily over and helped put NXT on the map, winning the title at the very first Takeover special. When WWE restarted the Cruiserweight division, Neville was in the mix and winning the belt. But Neville was not happy about Enzo Amore made the face of 205 Live and that soon led to major conflicts backstage before Neville left the company.
Fans would be eager for his return as he’s just what 205 Live needs in ability and star power.
He can also shine on the main roster with a second chance so fans are hoping the company and Neville can come to terms to let him soar high again.
21 Glad Are Gone: Adam Rose
Even NXT can have some misfires in terms of building guys up. Leo Kruger had promise as an intense heel. Then, he was completely repackaged into Adam Rose, a party guy who came to the ring with a wild entourage following him around. This led to idiotic stuff on the main roster of them carrying him (or opponents) around the ring and just dancing like morons. There was also how a guy in a bunny suit actually got more time wrestling on TV than guys like Zack Ryder.
Rose was put into the Social Outcasts but soon was suspended and eventually released. He just wouldn’t be welcomed today as No Way Jose has stolen the entire “party pack” idea and Rose just wasn’t that over without it, so fans would prefer he party elsewhere.
20 Welcome Back: James Storm
WWE has shown a great ability to get former TNA/Impact guys on the roster. Bobby Roode is yet another example. So most would hope Roode’s long-time partner James Storm would join him in WWE. Storm did have a brief appearance and a tryout in NXT but decided to go back to Impact instead. It’s too bad as the Cowboy has the charisma to carry himself in WWE with his great promos and can go from a pure brawling match to a longer conflict with ease. His TNA tenure has shown his promise which can sure pay off in WWE and fans would adore a reunion with Roode. You can’t fault Storm for being loyalyet a lot of WWE fans would enjoy having him in the WWE full time.
19 Glad Are Gone: Jack Swagger
Maybe if NXT existed to let him work out the kinks, Swagger would have been a bigger deal for the company. But fans were lukewarm on his instant push. Of course, the real reason to dislike him relies on Swagger’s lack of charisma.
Since being released, Swagger has proven to be a weak draw on the indies.
He has since turned to mixed martial arts, signed to Bellator. If Swagger has some success in MMA, the WWE might be tempted to bring him back, but no fan is clamoring for a Swagger return. The WWE likely realizes the window has closed on Swagger being a huge star.
18 Welcome Back: Carlito
As the son of Carlos Colon, Carlito got a big push in WWE as IC and US champion. He had good skills in the ring and was great on the mic. He was rising up more as tag team champion but getting into problems backstage. Carlito has thanked WWE as the firing was the wake-up call he needed to get himself back on track. He made a return to induct his dad into the Hall of Fame in 2014 and seems open for a bigger return.
Even if he doesn’t wrestle much, he’d be a good figure on the mic or to be an on-screen character in some way. Fans would welcome a guy who got himself back on track to be a star once more.
17 Glad Are Gone: Brodus Clay
Few times has WWE ruined a guy from FCW to the main roster like Clay. He as over in that brand as a big beefy monster and WWE seemed ready to push him more on the main roster. At the last minute, they changed it to Clay becoming a goofy dancer. It became a total joke and not helped by bits like him and Tensai as “Tons of Funk.”
The guy wasn’t bad in the ring but saddled with a lame gimmick that hurt his standing with fans.
He was released for a forgettable TNA run and his standing continued to sink. He might be open for a comeback but it won’t be the same as we have enough dancing guys around so WWE fans aren’t eager for the return of the Funkasaurus.
16 Welcome Back: John Morrison
Morrison was over majorly with his look, his build and his astounding Parkour skills (such as his epic escape from elimination at the 2011 Royal Rumble). His release from the company was a surprise given his abilities and he’s moved onto Lucha Underground and Impact. The man still can captivate fans with his persona and great skills and thus a return to WWE would be welcomed. He can show off in NXT first with the smaller crowds enjoying his acrobatic moves before going back to the main roster. He may be older but Morrison can still rock a crowd and WWE fans would love to see him back pulling off some great matches for the company.
15 Glad Are Gone: Darren Young
Darren Young always had promise in WWE, as shown in FCW and then the main roster. The Prime Time Players were a good team, holding the tag titles but it was obvious Titus O’Neil was the real star of the pair. Young’s singles work was bad, notably teamed with Bob Backlund as a mentor and a bad “Make Darren Young Great Again” gimmick. It just didn’t serve him well and his stock fell fast. Soon, Young was let go and bouncing around the indies and few are really missing him. It seems unlikely he’d come back and if he does, it won’t be to much fanfare as the guy barely made an impact in his first run.
14 Welcome Back: Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett rose up as leader of The Nexus. Sadly, almost every time it looked like Barrett was going to take off, he sustained an injury that curtailed it. The worst had to be when his “Bad News” persona was truly clicking and won the IC title only to have to vacate it after being injured by Jack Swagger. Barrett would make comebacks and his joining The League of Nations had promise but that stable soon fell apart.
Barrett himself left WWE and would give wrestling a break.
The fact is that the man has the ring skills and the mic ability to be a major player and a return to WWE would be very good news for fans to welcome back someone who should have been a major star.
13 Glad Are Gone: Simon Gotch
The Vaudevillians had a great run in NXT with the fun gimmick of guys who dressed and acted like old 1920s grapplers. They had a run as tag team champions and seemed ready for more on the main roster. But the act didn’t take with main WWE fans as it had in NXT and their standing was lowered. Eventually, Simon Gotch was let go while Aiden English found new life thanks to helping create “Rusev Day.”
The fact was, English was always the better of the duo in the ring and on the mic and Gotch’s lack of success on the indie circuit proves it. He just doesn’t work as a singles guy and that’s a reason fans just wouldn’t be that open to seeing him return in any age.
12 Welcome Back: AJ Lee
AJ Lee’s long reign as Divas champion was marked by famously slamming the entire “Divas” mentality in her own version of the pipe bomb that actually preceded how NXT would transform things. The woman is also respected for overcoming slews of personal problems to achieve success and loved as an author and blogger. It’s unclear if she would return but would be more than welcomed back as WWE today is more tuned in to the kind of star Lee was.
She could still pull off some great matches and be interesting seeing her against Charlotte, Alexa, Bayley and others. Again, it’s unlikely but Lee would be welcomed back warmly by fans as a champion of the current women’s format.
11 Glad Are Gone: Big Cass
Big Cass was perfectly fine in a tag team with Enzo Amore, but once the pair split, Cass's shortcomings as a performer became abundantly clear. He couldn't cut an interesting promo on his own and being in one-on-one matches, Cass was exposed as a below average wrestler.
When Daniel Bryan is struggling to get great matches out of you, that's a sign of trouble.
Fans were very disappointed when Cass was Bryan's first major feud in his 2018 comeback and were relieved when it was finally over. Cass's surprise release didn't cause all that big an uproar in the WWE Universe and no one's really missing him.
10 Welcome Back: Gail Kim
For a time, TNA had a much better women’s division than WWE and Gail Kim was a key reason for that. She was terrific in matches even against less than worthy opponents and good as either a heel or a face. She made a brief return to WWE but felt so underutilized that she literally walked out on the company in the middle of a battle royale. Kim returned to TNA for a few more titles and while she’s announced her retirement, she’s still in prime condition. Kim could easily make a WWE return and be a highlight against most anyone and be welcomed to finally get the run most felt she deserved and spark the strong women’s division with her experience.
9 Glad Are Gone: Alberto Del Rio
WWE backed this guy majorly a few times but he just never connected with fans as hoped. He had skill and was great as a heel on the mic but it just came off poorly with the non-stop pushes. It’s still astounding he won the Royal Rumble but couldn’t pay it off with a title victory and his reigns were forgettable. Of course, what’s gotten Del Rio a bad rep is his off-camera actions.
The fact is that the man didn’t become the “Latino Hero” WWE wanted him to be and it’s harder to sell him given his infamous drama. Thus, fans aren’t exactly screaming for a Del Rio WWE return and it's better for WWE to just ignore him.
8 Welcome Back: Austin Aries
Austin Aries should have been another great acquisition by WWE. Whether face or heel, Aries was great on the mic and a terrific worker. He showed it in NXT with many thinking he should have been champion and primed for the main roster. Instead, WWE stuck him in 205 Live and had him playing second fiddle to Enzo. That led to a mess and it’s still up in the air whether Aries was fired or quit.
Either way, he’s back in Impact and despite the Bound For Glory finish, has proven himself as a performer yet again. He’d be more than welcomed back by fans.
7 Glad Are Gone: Eva Marie
If there’s been one major miss of the ladies of NXT, Eva Marie is it. She had the look, but she came around in the wrong era. She was sloppy in the ring with bad promos and her non-stop botching soon became a highlight of YouTube.
It looked like she was pushed on looks alone, not a good move when the women’s division was fighting to be taken seriously and thus more than a few fans were glad to see her released.
It’s hard to find any WWE fans that would be eager to see her return.
6 Welcome Back: Damien Sandow
Rising up nicely in WWE, Damien Sandow had a great gimmick as an arrogant intellectual that led to succes. He really hit his stride with The Miz, reigning as tag team champions and then the great “stunt double” act that was really starting to click. So fans were quite upset when Sandow was released as they felt his gift for impersonations still had tons of potential. Sandow has seen his standing lowered thanks to his underwhelming Impact run. However, he would be welcomed back in WWE by fans who remember him for his past successes. Seeing him imitate other stars would be fun and backed by his own skills to make a second WWE run better appreciated than the first.
5 Glad Are Gone: Hulk Hogan
This can be tricky. Hogan still has his mega-fame, of course, a man who can win back his doubters and show off in the ring. However, his stock has majorly fallen with a lot of fans, for obvious reasons. Given the heat on other famous stars over such incidents , that’s a huge amount of baggage than even Hogan’s amazing charisma can’t totally overcome. There’s also how he’d want to be the center of things and let's face it, the man is long past the ability to be productive in the ring. Sure, he may have gotten a pop in his recent return at Crown Jewel but it won't be long for the backlash to begin and a lot of fans are happier with WWE keeping their distance from the Hulkster.
4 Welcome Back: Cody Rhodes
If there’s one star that WWE seems to have truly given away, it’s Cody Rhodes. Just as it looked like Cody was on the verge of taking off, WWE saddled him with the Stardust character that lowered him majorly. It was clear how he hated it and it soon drove Cody to leave the company.
He’s shown how badly WWE blew it by becoming a star in ROH and a great heel champion.
A return to WWE would be terrific. Cody would be welcomed by fans thanks to his new drive and use it to take off more on the main roster. He’d be welcomed back warmly by fans who know of his true star power that he could show majorly on the main roster.
3 Glad Are Gone: Ryback
It’s always bad when wrestling tries to present a guy as a blatant rip-off of a bigger star. Ryback is a major example. He was a clear take on Goldberg but lacked the charisma that made that man take off so well. WWE kept on pushing him but injuries and backstage issues took their toll. Ryback has been very outspoken on the company since his release. Combine that with how bad he came off in the ring and the entire act a huge rip-off (intensified when the real Goldberg returned) and it’s unlikely Ryback would be better off with another run in the company.
2 Welcome Back: Emma
NXT has been great in pushing up women wrestlers and Emma had shown a nice evolution. She started off getting over with her goofy dancing but further training showed a truly promising worker who could handle the likes of Asuka and others. WWE began building her up as a classic “arrogant Diva,” a move she could have handled.
The entire “Emmalina” thing was dropped in no time, a huge letdown of a build.
Still, Emma had the potential to rise up which was why her sudden release took many by surprise. WWE missed the boat on a lady who could give the division more of a boost. She’s currently in ROH and showing her skills but a return to WWE would be welcomed.
1 Glad Are Gone: Enzo Amore
Enzo Amore is a great example of a bad wrestler, but who got over with his mic skills. His wild promos and fun entrance lines got the fans going in NXT and soon worked in WWE. He was hampered by a concussion but those mic abilities kept him going. However, Enzo was not making friends backstage. He just wasn’t a huge star in the ring and fans weren’t happy with him becoming Cruiserweight Champion in an obvious move to enhance 205 Live’s ratings. That, of course, was ended by Enzo's personal issues. A return to WWE just wouldn't be a good idea.