The RAW after Wrestlemania has become something of an institution, ever since Mankind showed up in 1996 to lay a lot of hurt on the Undertaker. This set up over twenty years of surprise debuts and returns that the WWE have quite happily indulged us with.
So much so in fact, that we've kind of become spoiled and expect not only a rambunctious audience, singing their hearts out to the rafters, but a slew of new and returning Superstars. Now not all of these have been successful in the long run, whether or not that was fans eventually turning on the performer or the company managing to book them horribly, but what follows is a look at the best returns, as they happened, on the post-Mania Raw.
Having last been seen on RAW way back in 1999, side by side with his charges the Legion of Doom, it was quite a nostalgic kick when legendary manager Paul Ellering walked out on Monday night, flanked by the Authors of Pain. But one that would, strangely, be short-lived.
After the A.O.P made quick work of Heath Slater and Rhyno they headed towards the back, pausing to put their fists out to stop Ellering following them. No real explanation has ever been given for this and considering where they are now, they'd have been better off keeping him by their side.
The wrestler formerly known as Festus had been missing from the WWE since 2010. Having left the company he'd gone on to be a huge success in NJPW as part of the Bullet Club, teaming with Karl Anderson as one of that company's most dominant tag teams.
When they left Japan and headed for Stamford it would be the night after Wrestlemania 32 that he'd make his long-awaited return. Running in out of the crowd, the two would decimate the Uso's, laying down a marker to the rest of the division. One that would, sadly, never come to fruition.
Having been out since the previous November, due to a build-up of injuries, when the Celtic Warrior returned he was given a hero's welcome. Running to the ring to save Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler from a post-match beatdown at the hands of Wade Barrett, the crowd would roar him on. Until he kicked D-Bry right in the face.
He would go on to open up a huge can of whoop ass on the pair, slapping the taste out of Ziggler's mouth before dropping him with the Celtic Cross, and in doing so becoming a bonafide heel in the process.
The RAW after Wrestlemania 34 would see The Dominator return to the WWE, some ten years after he left for pastures new. Having been quite a success in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, and having had a stellar run for Impact wrestling where his badass gimmick was one of the main things that helped keep that company afloat when he walked out and destroyed Elias, hopes were high.
But like most things in WWE, his time since has been mismanaged and considering what they had on their hands when he first walked back through their doors, it's a massive waste.
On the same night that Bobby Lashley would return so would the Enigmatic Enigma. Having undergone rotator cuff surgery the previous fall it was always touch and go as to whether or not Jeff Hardy would ever step back inside the squared circle. But that question was answered on the night after Wrestlemania 34.
With both Finn Balor and Seth Rollins in the ring, the Miztourage made their way out and they were spoiling for a fight. When it looked like the faces were outnumbered, that familiar music hit and Jeff would make his way down to thunderous applause.
To round out the trifecta of returns on that show, Samoa Joe showed up to set a date with Roman Reigns at Backlash. Having been out with a foot injury for the previous few months, the Samoan Submission Machine was treated like a returning conquering hero.
This was more to do with the fact of who he was sharing the ring with, as at this time Reigns was drawing heat comparable to a popsicle, but it didn't take away from the fact that we were all glad to see Joe back in the WWE. Just a shame that they still don't seem to know what to do with him.
The Dead Man's return on the latest post-Mania RAW was a hell of a shock, considering that this was the first time in years that he'd missed the Show of Shows, leading many to surmise that we wouldn't be seeing 'Taker anytime soon, if ever again.
But when Elias, who is now something of the go-to guy if you need someone beaten down, warned that the next person to come out from the back to interrupt him would face dire consequences, the familiar tolling of the bell would soon be followed by a big boot to the face and a brutal looking Tombstone.
“It turns out WWE is a super toxic environment. It’s not because of the McMahons. And it ain’t because of the other WWE Superstars, it’s because of this audience, and your ugliness!” And with that simple turn of phrase, Sami Zayn was back on RAW and still being a glorious douchebag.
Having been out for a long time, many fans had hoped that the Underdog from the Underground would return as a face and for a short while, it looked like that was the case. But having lost his return match against Finn Balor, Zayn soon switched tact and went back to being a monumental heel.
When Finn Balor beat Seth Rollins to become the first ever Universal Champion the world lost its collective mind. Here was our champion, at long last, someone we all believed in. And then the next night it was all stripped away from him as he had to vacate the title due to needing major surgery.
So when he returned as Kurt Angle's choice in 2017 to team with the guy who'd, inadvertently, put him on the shelf against, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe, the roar that accompanied him down to the ring was so loud it could be heard all the way to Jupiter.
Watching Brock Lesnar destroy anyone is highly entertaining at the best of times but when that person just so happens to be John Cena, well, that's just the icing on the cake.
With the leader of the Cenation stood in the ring, talking about how much he respected The Rock after losing to him the night before, everyone expected Dwayne to show up and have the cool face to face, I respect you, standoff. But it was the Beast Incarnate who would answer the call and proceed to F5 Cena out of his highly expensive sneakers to rapturous applause.