It is something that has been happening for a few years now. You have someone who has seemingly walked away from the business, only to come back for one more run. While I’m sure it’s been going on throughout wrestling history, the recent trend started with Chris Jericho. He made a surprise return to WWE in 2007 after a two year hiatus from the ring. Jericho has since left, and come back, and left again. It’s to the point now that any time he isn’t currently wrestling, there are rumors of a Y2J return. Now I’m not knocking him for it. I’m a huge fan of Chris Jericho and if he can balance his wrestling career with his music career, more power to him. But he’s someone who has only taken at most, two or three years off before returning. And he’s enjoyed some of his biggest successes upon returning to the ring. But when does a return to the ring stop being for the love of the business and start being a cash grab? I understand that a major name returning to wrestling after several years away from the ring is a big ratings booster. It can sell pay-per-views and it can supply the fans with some interesting matches, particularly if the talent pool has changed greatly since a superstars initial departure. But how often is that the reason for a comeback?
The most well known and publicised return of a former superstar has of course been The Rock. I have to admit, as much as I complained about it at the time, it was very well executed. I don’t hate The Rock, I’ve just never been the biggest fan of his. But to have his return to the ring last two and a half years and span three Wrestlemanias was impressive. Although, I still don’t like that they put the WWE Title on him if he couldn’t commit to a regular work schedule. I mean, back in the kayfabe days of the 80s, a champion had to defend his title every 30 days. I suppose Rocky did do that, but in a company that has no less than three weekly television shows, it certainly seemed like “The Brahma Bull” wasn’t around very much. I’m not saying he had to wrestle every week but as the WWE Champion, I feel he should have at least made the TV appearances. You want to save his matches for the pay-per-views? Sure, go for it. That makes sense. But to have the World Title barely be on television for over two months, that’s ridiculous to me. Then again, is it really that much different than the title being held in abeyance for the same length of time? Probably not.
Despite Jericho’s multiple returns, and subsequent success, it really has been The Rock who has spurred the trend on, with Brock Lesnar returning to WWE after his retirement from mixed martial arts. Brock only working part time is something that I completely understand. Lesnar was a beast during his initial run with WWE. After being UFC Champion, if nothing else, he is seen as an even bigger monster. It is understandable that he would have sporadic appearances. You don’t want to overuse a weapon like that. But, in his most recent re-emergence, his manager, Paul Heyman expressed Brock Lesnar’s interest in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Is this simply something to occupy a storyline spot, until we get closer to Wrestlemania and see the real angle take shape, or might we see a repeat of last year, with a champion who is hardly there?
And speaking of a returning superstar’s interest in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, there has been a lot of talk about Dave Batista’s upcoming return to the squared circle, and where exactly he will fit in. Batista has worked hard since his departure from WWE in 2010 to build an acting career for himself. Something he has done fairly well, with a résumé that includes roles in “The Man With The Iron Fists”, “Riddick” and the upcoming “Guardians Of The Galaxy” from Marvel. So it surprised me a little to see him choose to come back now, as his acting career seems to be on an upswing. It’s not like Marvel and Disney need the promotional help. But maybe it was Triple H and WWE who approached Batista. Maybe hoping for the same mainstream attention they garnered by The Rock’s return to the ring. But it still begs the question, where will Dave Batista fit in? With Orton in The Authority’s back pocket, will Triple H try to bring Evolution back together? Will Batista express the same interest in the World Title as Lesnar has, now that there is only one World Title? And how will the return of part timers such as Batista and Brock Lesnar affect the rest of the roster? Will someone lose their spot, or will these returning veterans of the ring be used to enhance and push the young talent? There have even been rumours of Hulk Hogan returning. Maybe to challenge John Cena? Who knows. One thing is for certain though. With Brock Lesnar back, and Batista set to return in a couple of weeks, the Royal Rumble and the road to Wrestlemania just got a lot more interesting.
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