Throughout the years, there have been a number of WWE superstars who have left the company for a number of years, worked elsewhere, then returned to a much greater push within the company. On the other hand, we’ve seeen a few who keep returning and looking like fools in the process, but those are the more legendary wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Goldberg, and Batista. I’m looking at the younger guys who are still in their prime and good to go in the ring as well as on mic and ooze charisma.
The earliest name that comes to mind for me is R-Truth. He’s not a main event superstar, but his singles career with the WWE was so much better than when he was K-Kwik and tagging with Road Dogg. His time away from the WWE was great for him and helped him grow into one of the longest-running and beloved superstars who continues to entertain us every week with his crazy antics.
Jeff Hardy is one of the first superstars on WWE Raw, as a jobber, who continues to wrestle on a regular basis. He was quite the troubled young man who let his demons get in the way of his career. Finally, the WWE had enough and let him go because he wouldn’t get the help he needed, which was heartbreaking for fans as he was such a bright and shining star. All the work he did with Matt and those TLC matches with the Dudley Boyz and E&C was just fantastic. It seemed as though that would be the end of Jeff’s career in the WWE, but then, with the help of his brother, he got the help he needed, cleaned up his act, and returned to the WWE after three years away. That time gave Jeff what he needed to grow up, get past those demons, and he became an amazing main event superstar, soaring to heights few expected to see when he was part of the Tag Division. Sadly, Jeff is still dealing with those demons and caused his latest return to not be as good as everyone had hoped.
Neither Truth or Jeff Hardy were huge surprises to me, but Christian was. He always came off as Edge’s sidekick, someone who would never make it to the main event, the Matt to his Jeff, the Marty to his Shawn, but I was proven wrong and so glad I was. While in TNA, Christian Cage really came into his own, grew as a singles competitor, and definitely found himself and his voice being well away from his ‘brother’ in the WWE. I was excited to tune into Impact each week to see Christian each week but really thought of him as a big fish in a small pond who wouldn’t fare half as well in THE big pond. I’m so glad I was wrong! Christian proved that he could be the big fish in the big pond and that one more chance was a beautiful thing to behold.
Another superstar I was unsure of was Drew McIntyre. He came in with a big head of steam during his first run with the WWE but didn’t even live up to James Ellsworth’s level of work. He was young, has no personality, no mic skills, and came across on TV as a dead fish flopping around without a clue. I was extremely apprehensive about his return and was not at all happy, but quickly changed my tune when I saw his first appearance in the front row at an NXT show. He was obviously a very different man who had grown quite a bit and seemed to have acquired all the skills he’d been missing the first time around and even looked like a top superstar – something he didn’t originally. While McIntyre hasn’t received the push he so truly deserves, I have my fingers crossed that he will be winning the Royal Rumble Match in 2020 and go on to take out Lesnar at WrestleMania because it’s more than his time to shine!
Then, there are the two newest returnees that have us all wondering and guessing.
I’m going to start with Punk as he did arrive on air first. Now, we don’t honestly know if Punk will be stepping into a WWE ring and wrestle again, but that appears to be the direction they are going in. Just thinking about the matches we could see, Punk versus The Fiend being the first to come to mind, makes me giddy. Further, this is Punk, someone with more charisma in his little finger than most people have their entire bodies. I’ll be shocked if Punk doesn’t get back in the ring, and further shocked if he isn’t as great as he was five years ago. Honestly, given the pride Punk takes in his work, I expect that if he does get back in the ring, he will be even better than his first run, and I believe a big part of it will be the WWE knowing what they are getting with Punk and giving him the leeway he needs to show how great he can be again.
Then, there is the name that got the ball rolling for this whole article, John Morrison. Yes, he’s the only Tough Enough winner to truly make anything of himself in the industry. We know he was supposed to be the breakout star when he and Miz’s tag team broke up. He was the Royal Rumble spot monkey before Kofi Kingston stepped up and showed just how crazy avoiding the floor really can be. I was in awe watching JoMo live in the 40 Man Royal Rumble, but that was one move out of an amazing night for me. JoMo has the look, his moves are really solid, but he was always lacking in the personality, charisma, and mic skills. When he and Miz did their promos and vignettes it was Miz who carried the segments but is so good at it that he made JoMo look much better than he was in the process. Then there is his lack of backbone. I don’t want to dive into the gossipy side of things, but the way he let Melina walk all over him made me think much less of him as a man and a human being.
While I went through a number of superstars who left the WWE for three to five years and have returned to much greater things, they are not the norm in this industry. Most who return go the way of Batista and Goldberg, where they have a push, maybe a bit of excitement in the main event, but only because of how big they were previously. The mid-card players who return usually end up getting a bit of a push but end up jobbing in the end. As far as JoMo is concerned, I have to admit I have less faith in him than I did in any an all the other names here combined. I don’t think he has what it takes to be anything more than a mid-card player on his best of days.