WWE as a company has been hit by a number of injuries over the past few months, which has forced many superstars on the sidelines for lengthy periods of time. The biggest blows for WWE were the likes of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn who have taken a huge dynamic away from Raw in recent months.
Roman Reigns's departure from WWE back in October was also a body blow for the company and they have been forced to turn to the likes of Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman in the main event picture, but even Strowman is now sidelined following elbow surgery and isn't expected to be cleared until The Royal Rumble. 2018 was definitely a rough year for WWE, but it appears that 2019 could be much better and could see the return of a number of fan favorites ahead of WrestleMania.
WWE has managed well without some of their biggest stars over the past few months, but many of these missing names are now preparing to make their return just in time to be part of WrestleMania season. When faces make their return, there is usually a balance which will see many others disappear from view once again as WWE cherry picks that stars who will be pushed into the spotlight as part of the biggest event of the year.
The following list looks at just 10 WWE superstars who will be making their return to WWE in the coming months, as well as 10 that are expected to be departing. These departures could be because of retirement, lack of creativity for them or even because they are due a break after being at the helm of the company in recent months.
20 Returning Soon: Fandango
Fandango has been out of action since the summer when it was revealed that he had suffered a left labrum tear in his shoulder which would leave him on the sidelines for around six months.
Fandango has now been recovering over the past five months and is expected to return to WWE television very soon. It is thought that his return will be happening soon since Tyler Breeze recently noted in a WWE video that all he wanted for Christmas was for his long-time Fashion Police tag team partner to make his return and he could be getting his wish in the near future.
19 Will Disappear: The Big Show
The Big Show has recently been seen aligning himself with The Bar as a way for Cesaro and Sheamus to counteract the threat of the numbers game when battling The New Day. Big Show hasn't been part of a meaningful WWE storyline since he battled Braun Strowman last year and is now used in more of an ambassador's role on WWE TV.
It's likely that Big Show will be used as an entrant in the 2019 Royal Rumble before disappearing off TV for a number of months, before resurfacing once more to be part of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania.
18 Returning Soon: Luke Harper
Luke Harper has so much potential as a singles competitor, but since his tag team partner Erick Rowan's injury back in the summer, WWE has refused to push Harper as a singles wrestler and the former Intercontinental Champion was recently spotted sporting a cast on his wrist, which has kept him sidelined over the past few weeks since it's reported to have been from minor surgery.
Harper's injury isn't said to be as bad as first feared since the former Wyatt Family member has been spotted backstage at Raw and SmackDown numerous times and there was even speculation that he was dressed as one of Dean Ambrose's purge gang on Raw last month.
17 Will Disappear: Jason Jordan
Jason Jordan has been regularly updating his Instagram account and even has the backing of his on-screen father Kurt Angle when it comes to making a return to the squared circle for the first time in more than a year, but it doesn't appear to be helping his case.
Jordan hasn't been seen on WWE TV since he was sent home by his own father last February and was then forced to undergo neck surgery. His recovery from this surgery has been lengthy and many reports over the past few months have stated that the triple crown Tag Team Champion may never step in a WWE ring again.
16 Returning Soon: Trish Stratus And Lita
Trish Stratus and Lita seem to be a duo that WWE feels they can bring back in certain spots and as they proved at Evolution, both women are fully capable of still putting on a great match. However, now comes a particularly opportune time where WWE could have a great role in WWE by being a part of the tournament to crown the company's first women's tag team champions. It's also conceivable that Trish and Lita (Team Bestie) could make it all the way to the finals and put over a current women's duo. While nothing is set in stone, a return at this stage for a temporary period makes perfect sense.
15 Will Disappear: Aiden English
Aiden English was promoted to the main roster alongside Simon Gotch as The Vaudevillians, but following Gotch's release, he was forgotten by the creative team and had to claw his way to the top alongside Rusev instead. Rusev and English gained popularity all on their own and against the narrative that WWE was pitching to the fanbase.
Now that English and Rusev have gone their separate ways and Rusev is United States Champion, it's easy to see WWE's creative team forgetting all about English once again and pushing him down the pecking order so that he is instead forced to appear on WWE Superstars.
14 Returning Soon: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn has taken a lot of time off from wrestling since he was written off of television following his feud with Bobby Lashley. From his social media pages, one will see that Zayn has traveled around the world and he has said he feels refreshed after his time off. His shoulder injury was seen as fairly serious, but at this point, it might be too late to rush Zayn back to television and try to make him relevant enough for a high profile match at WrestleMania. If he's brought back before WrestleMania, he'd likely be in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. The RAW or SmackDown after WrestleMania may be the target date for his return.
13 Will Disappear: Tamina Snuka
Tamina Snuka was sidelined for most of 2018 through a torn rotator cuff, but she has been able to make her return to TV to align herself with Nia Jax and help in her push towards the Women's Championship. Jax was unable to dethrone Ronda Rousey at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs despite Snuka's help and will now fall to the back of the queue for title opportunities.
Snuka will no longer be needed if Jax isn't looking for Women's Championship gold, which means that it's likely that she may get pulled from television again soon, as she doesn't tend to get featured on TV for very long.
12 Returning Soon: Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels made his surprising return to the ring as part of Crown Jewel late last year, where he teamed with his longtime friend Triple H in a winning effort against Kane and The Undertaker.
Michaels himself stated that the match reminded him of why he had refused to step back in the ring over the past eight years and was then unsure as to whether he would return in the future. Michaels was believed to have had a place in the 2019 Royal Rumble which could have then led to a match between himself and Undertaker at WrestleMania and if there'ss any truth to this, then Michaels will need to return to WWE within the next month.
11 Will Disappear: Randy Orton
Randy Orton is a veteran of the squared circle and has been able to sign an impressive contract recently that means that he isn't part of all WWE live events and could also allow him to take a lot of time away from the ring.
Orton has missed a large number of SmackDown Live shows over the past year and even though he is expected to be part of WrestleMania 35, he may not be the main focus of the show, so he could miss a number of episodes of the show once again and then the build to his match could then begin much later in the year instead.
10 Returning Soon: The Bella Twins
Nikki Bella is a former Divas Champion but she's someone who stepped away from the ring full-time following WrestleMania 33 and has since only returned to WWE TV for a handful of matches. The fact that the Women's Royal Rumble is now right around the corner means that Nikki Bella and her sister Brie will return to the show to be part of the 30-woman over the top rope match before leaving against for a few months. With the WWE announcing the Women's Tag Team Titles coming as well, it's obvious that WWE will want them as part of some sort of tournament to crown the inaugural champions.
Nikki and Brie often return to WWE a number of times throughout the year to pick up storylines and could well be used at WrestleMania 35 if WWE can find a place for them on the card.
9 Will Disappear: Vince McMahon
While Vince McMahon's return to RAW in December provided a temporary boost in ratings, it's been well documented that Vince no longer has any desire to be a regular on-screen character. With Vince, his kids and Triple H all being viewed as on-screen authority figures, that's just too many people. Expect Vince to soon pull back on his RAW/SmackDown appearances as WrestleMania rolls around with his son, daughter and son-in-law being more heavily featured. Changes were promised by the four and the change fans had in mind definitely wasn't having more McMahons on screen at all times.
8 Returning Soon: Sin Cara
Sin Cara was once the only masked superstar on WWE TV, but Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado and Kalisto have since taken over the appeal that Sin Cara once had. Rey Mysterio has also made his return to the company this year, which is why Cara hasn't been as much as a missing piece on SmackDown Live.
Cara underwent knee surgery back in the summer and is expected to make his return to WWE in the near future after recovering from the initial injury and is now thought to be another star who could be a surprise entry in the 2019 Royal Rumble.
7 Will Disappear: John Cena
The WWE brought John Cena back to television a lot earlier than they had initially planned, primarily because ratings and fan interest in the product was taking a nosedive. While Cena has now been a part of both RAW and SmackDown, this is definitely just a short-term solution, as Cena will most likely disappear from WWE television again following his WrestleMania program with whoever that may be. Cena has acknowledged he's a part-time star now and it's only a matter of time before his Hollywood commitments come calling again. The WWE simply won't be able to get Cena on their screens for 12 months of the year anymore.
6 Returning Soon: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens has been sidelined ever since the week after WWE Super Show-Down since he was attacked by Bobby Lashley and written off WWE TV with a knee injury and has since undergone surgery to repair both of his injured knees.
The recovery was expected to be long for Owens and initially he wasn't expected to return to WWE until after WrestleMania 35, but last month on Raw it was announced that Owens was set to make his return in the near future and many fans now believe that the former Universal Champion could be one of the surprise entrants in the 2019 Royal Rumble. If not then, Owens could also be brought back in February to start to build to a WrestleMania match.
5 Will Disappear: The Undertaker
Ever since Survivor Series 1990, The Deadman has been one of the most popular WWE superstars and has continued to perform at this level for almost three decades with fans guessing each year will be his last and being wrong on each occasion.
Undertaker was thought to have returned at WrestleMania 33 when he main evented against Roman Reigns, but he was still forced to return earlier this year to wrestle John Cena at the Showcase of the Immortals. This year's WrestleMania is believed to be The Undertaker's last as rumors of a Shawn Michaels return continue to dominate the build towards the biggest event of the year.
4 Returning Soon: Paige
With the McMahons being back in power on-screen across both brands, the role of general manager has been temporarily removed and as a result, Paige was taken off of television. The WWE is merely waiting for the right opportunity to bring Paige back into the fold and assign her a new role. That role could very well be as a manager to a new superstar, as more NXT call-ups are expected to take place soon. With the tag titles tournament set to begin at some point, Paige could also be brought back to re-form Absolution with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville as they try to be crowned the first women's tag team champions.
3 Will Disappear: Heath Slater
Heath Slater is a former Tag Team Champion, but over the past few weeks, he has been forced to drop into an official role in WWE after Baron Corbin decided to pit him against his tag team partner Rhyno and he was able to defeat him with a neckbreaker.
Corbin then told Slater that even though he was able to defeat Rhyno, he wouldn't be working as an active competitor on Raw moving forward and would instead be an official. Slater has since helped to push Corbin out of power on Raw and it is now unknown as to whether or not Slater will have a storyline moving forward.
2 Returning Soon: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt hasn't appeared on WWE TV since he and Matt Hardy lost the Raw Tag Team Championships back in summer, but he was able to appear at Starrcade recently and it was then thought that Wyatt would appear as part of the feud with Baron Corbin but he didn't show up at TLC despite being cleared and ready to return.
Wyatt has been spotted backstage at Raw many times over the past few months but he still hasn't made an appearance which is said to be because the creative team doesn't currently have anything for him.
1 Will Disappear: AJ Styles
Obviously AJ Styles will be there every week on the road to WrestleMania as the WWE needs its top stars on hand now more than any other point of the year. The WWE was negotiating a new contract with Styles through the latter stages of 2018 and a big part of The Phenomenal One's desires was to have more time off going forward. After all, he's now in his 40s and has spent many years in the business. Following a WrestleMania match, it wouldn't be surprising to see Styles take a few months off with a return target of SummerSlam season in mind.