By: Ben Kerin & Caylon Knox of WrestlingNewsSource.com
This list of comebacks is in no particular order and will be added to over time.
1. THE ROCK
The WWE Universe had been buzzing like a fistful of bees regarding who WWE Chairman Vince McMahon would select to be the guest host for WrestleMania 27. There were rumors on the Internet that it could be anyone from Bob Barker to Justin Bieber. The live audience, as well as the millions watching around the world, waited patiently for this mysterious someone to walk through the entrance way and reveal themselves to the entire world.
"IF YA SMELL.... WHAT THE ROCK.... IS COOKIN'!"
The trademark entrance music of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson blared throughout the arena, absolutely blowing the roof off the joint! The live audience was stunned! The millions of people watching at home were stunned! People were calling their friends and sending emails. The whole world was absolutely "electrified" by the return of "The Most Electrifying Man In All of Entertainment" The Rock!
The WWE return of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson on the February 14, 2011 edition of WWE Monday Night Raw was truly one of the most shocking and electrifying comebacks of all time!
2. BRET HART
Monday, January 4, 2010 was certainly a big night in professional wrestling. World Wrestling Entertainment head-to-head against Total Nonstop Action Impact Wrestling, who had just recently acquired the biggest name in wrestling history, "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan. But WWE also saw the return of one of the greatest Superstars of all time. "The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be", the legendary Bret "The Hitman" Hart!
For over a decade it was thought that Bret Hart would never make a return to WWE. Ever since the legendary and infamous "Montreal Screwjob" at the 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view involving Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, and Shawn Michaels, many people thought that Hell would freeze over before Bret Hart would ever make another appearance for WWE.
In 2006 Bret Hart began to smooth things over with WWE when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, as well as WWE producing a Bret Hart DVD set. Still though, it seemed unlikely that Bret would ever return to WWE programming to engage in any storylines. But in January of 2010, Hell apparently froze over.
Bret Hart's return in January eventually led to a match-up at WrestleMania 26 between Bret "The Hitman" Hart and none other than the Chairman of the Board himself, Mr. Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr. Bret Hart was successful in this bout.
Bret later went on to defeat Mike "The Miz" Mizanin for the prestigious WWE United States Heavyweight Championship, which Bret had previously held in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Bret continues to have a part-time working relationship with WWE to this day.
3. HULK HOGAN
In October of 2009, Total Nonstop Action Impact Wrestling announced the signing of the biggest acquisition in the company's history. "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan, along with his close friend and business partner Mr. Eric Bischoff, were on their way to TNA Impact Wrestling!
After a few months of anticipation, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff made their TNA debut on Monday, January 4, 2010, going head-to-head against WWE's flagship Monday Night Raw program. Not only did Hogan and Bischoff debut in TNA, but many other familiar faces joined the roster as well, including: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore, Orlando Jordan, Sean Morley, Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags: The Nasty Boys, Scott Hall, and Sean "Syxx-Pac" Waltman.
This incredibly huge Monday night Impact Wrestling program garnered an impressive rating of about a 3.0, which is about what WWE Raw usually averages. Many people were extremely surprised at this high number, especially considering that WWE Raw featured the return of Bret "The Hitman" Hart and earned an extremely high rating of about a 5.0.
Pro wrestling was truly on top of the world once again on Monday, January 4, 2010.
4. TRIPLE H
Monday, January 7, 2002. Madison Square Garden. After a 9-month absence due to a devastating leg injury, Triple H made his epic return to World Wrestling Entertainment. The ovation in MSG was deafening.
Triple H would soon go on to defeat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X8 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for the Undisputed WWE World Championship. After WWE's Brand Extension in 2002, which saw the entire WWE roster get divided between Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown (Thursday Night SmackDown at that time), Triple H found himself on the Raw roster and was soon awarded the former World Championship Wrestling (WCW) World Heavyweight Championship belt by Raw General Manager and former WCW President, Mr. Eric Bischoff.
Triple H has since gone on to achieve legendary status as an extremely successful competitor in WWE, both as a hated heel (villain) and beloved babyface (good guy).
5. THE UNDERTAKER
At the 2000 WWE Judgment Day pay-per-view, there was a heated contest going on between The Rock and Triple H over the WWE Championship. However, this was not just any ordinary match. This was a 60-minute Iron Man Match. The rules of an Iron Man Match are that two Superstars compete non-stop for 60 minutes and can pick up victories by pin-fall, submission, count-out, or disqualification. Whichever Superstar has the most victories at the end of the 60-minute time limit is declared the winner of the bout.
The Undertaker hadn't been seen on WWE programming in nearly a year. Some fans speculated that perhaps "The Phenom" had retired after a lengthy 10-year WWE career. However, this was not the case.
Near the end of the 60-minute time limit, mysterious music began to play throughout the arena. Something was about to happen. Suddenly, Kid Rock's "American Bad Ass" began to echo throughout the arena, and a figure soared through the entrance ramp on a motorcycle. The Undertaker had made his long-awaited return to WWE.
Triple H's D-Generation X stable had filled the ring. The Undertaker tore through D-X before finally getting to Triple H himself, forcing Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels to award a DQ victory to Triple H, which effectively sealed a victory for "The Game."
The Undertaker's return to WWE in 2000 was one of the biggest moments in WWE's Attitude Era.
6. "STONE COLD" STEVE AUSTIN
At the 1999 WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, WWE's biggest Superstar at the time, was run over by a vehicle in the parking lot backstage. This forced "The Texas Rattlesnake" to take nearly a year off from WWE competition.
Steve Austin did eventually make his return to WWE, and was a man on a mission. Who had run him down in the parking lot? Every WWE employee was a suspect. Could it have been Triple H? Vince McMahon? Shane McMahon? Could it have possibly been The Rock?
The man who had run Austin down was the extremely popular and beloved 400-pound Samoan member of the Too Cool stable, Rikishi Phatu. Rikishi claimed that his motives were somewhat racial, and that he had done it to give a non-white Superstar such as The Rock (half black, half Samoan) an opportunity to shine as WWE's biggest Superstar.
Steve Austin would later go on to turn heel (villainous) at WrestleMania 17 in 2001 in a match against The Rock. Austin joined forces with his longtime rival Mr. Vince McMahon, and a stable was formed between McMahon, Austin, Triple H, and Kurt Angle. However, this was also at the same time that WWE has purchased their biggest competitor, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where Austin had previously worked.
Austin would go on to turn his back on WWE and become the leader of the WCW/Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) Alliance faction. However, after all was said and done, WWE emerged victorious in this battle of brand supremacy. Steve Austin would soon return to WWE as a babyface (good guy) once again.
In 2002, Steve Austin left WWE after conflicting interests with WWE's creative department. Austin was gone for about a year until he finally smoothed things over with WWE once again and made another return. His first match back was against then-Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff, who Austin had previously worked for in WCW. Austin promptly destroyed Bischoff.
Steve Austin's last match took place at WrestleMania XIX against The Rock in 2003. Austin has had an on-again-off-again relationship with WWE ever since, but is currently in a part-time working relationship with the company.
7. CHRIS JERICHO
In August of 2005, Chris Jericho left WWE after 6 years, and a 15-year-long career altogether. Jericho's last match was on Monday Night Raw against WWE Champion John Cena, who had just recently been moved from SmackDown toRaw. After losing against Cena, Jericho was fired from WWE by Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff.
Y2J took over two years off, touring around the world with his band Fozzy and also participating in various television programs, as well as a Syfy original movie, Android Apocalypse.
During his time away from WWE, two of Jericho's closest friends had passed away while under WWE contract. Eddie Guerrero passed away in November of 2005, and Chris Benoit committed a murder-suicide in the summer of 2007, not only taking his own life, but the lives of his wife and son as well. Jericho also finished his very first autobiography, A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex.
In November of 2007, after months of mysterious commercial video packages, Chris Jericho made his return to WWE, live on Monday Night Raw, confronting WWE Champion Randy Orton.
Jericho would later go on to win the prestigious Intercontinental Championship, as well as the World Heavyweight Championship, battling top Superstars such as John Cena, Randy Orton, Edge, and many others.
8. BOOKER T AND KEVIN NASH
You never know who might make a surprise return during WWE's legendary Royal Rumble match! Superstars such as Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, The Honky Tonk Man, Goldust, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, Rob Van Dam, and others, have all made surprise comebacks during the Royal Rumble!
At the 2011 Royal Rumble, Booker T and Kevin Nash both made surprise returns to WWE during the Rumble after years away from the company. Kevin Nash had been with TNA Impact Wrestling since 2004, and Booker T left WWE and joined TNA from 2007 to 2009. Both of these legendary Superstars got standing ovations for their returns at the 2011 Royal Rumble. Booker T especially appeared to be absolutely on fire, cleaning house in the ring and delivering his trademark Spin-A-Roonie dance!
Booker T has since gone on to become a ringside commentator on WWE Friday Night SmackDown, and Kevin Nash has made his return to Monday Night Raw in a heated conflict involving his best friend Triple H and the ever outspoken C.M. Punk.
"The Icon" Sting was one of the greatest Superstars in the history of WCW: World Championship Wrestling for over a decade until WCW was purchased and put out of business by Vince McMahon WWE in 2001. Sting would continue to wrestle part-time in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and the international World Wrestling All-Stars promotion, where he was the WWA World Champion. However, WWA went out of business in 2003, and Sting only made a few appearances for TNA in 2003 and 2004.
In October of 2005, TNA made their debut on Spike TV. And in January of 2006, Sting made a full-time return to pro wrestling after five years, signing a one-year contract with TNA. Sting's debut in TNA was a truly magical moment.
Sting has since continued to re-sign with TNA every year and continues to be a contribution to the TNA brand. He has also captured multiple TNA World Championships, and is one of the longest-reigning Champions in TNA history.
In 2002 there was a villainous anti-American alliance wreaking havoc in WWE. Calling themselves "The Un-Americans", this Canadian stable consisted of Lance Storm, Christian Cage, and the powerhouse known as Test.
On a September 2002 edition of WWE Monday Night Raw, the Un-Americans were preparing to commit the heinous act of burning the American flag with a blowtorch. However, they were temporarily halted by the team of Booker T & Goldust. However, the three-on-two numbers proved to be too much for Booker T & Goldust, and they were overpowered by the Canadians.
For weeks on Raw and SmackDown, commercial vignettes had appeared warning the WWE Universe of the return of "The Big Red Monster" Kane, who had taken time off due to injury. On this night, before Booker T & Goldust hit the ring, an explosion of Kane's signature pyro had gone off in the arena, once again hinting that Kane's return was imminent. However, Kane did not make his way towards the ring.
After the Un-Americans had disposed of Booker T & Goldust, Test was about to ignite the American flag, when a second explosion blasted in the arena. A remake of Kane's familiar entrance music blared throughout the arena, and the nearly 7-foot monster made his official return to WWE. Kane cleared the ring of Test, Storm, and Christian, and even celebrated with Booker T & Goldust by doing his own version of Booker T's trademark Spin-A-Roonie dance!
11. SHAWN MICHAELS
In 1998, Shawn Michaels suffered a severe back injury in a Casket Match against The Undertaker. Between this devastating injury and Shawn's personal demons, it appeared as though "The Heartbreak Kid's" career was officially over. Shawn was appointed as the WWE Commissioner at one point, and made a few special appearances throughout 1999 and 2000, but eventually Shawn was forced to leave WWE to take care of his personal issues.
However, in 2002, Shawn Michaels made his shocking return to WWE programming, joining the New World Order (nWo) faction with one of his best and oldest friends, Kevin Nash. However, the nWo disbanded soon after Shawn's return, which then lead to one of the greatest comeback stories in WWE history.
It appeared as though Shawn Michaels and Triple H would be reforming their legendary D-Generation X team. However, Triple H betrayed Shawn Michaels, taking him out with his finisher The Pedigree in the middle of the ring. This lead to one of the greatest and most magical matches in WWE history at the 2002 SummerSlam pay-per-view.
Shawn Michaels battled his former best friend Triple H in what was labeled as an "unsanctioned street fight." The two engaged in a very athletic and incredibly violent match, which culminated with Shawn Michaels countering Triple H's Pedigree finisher into a pin-fall and scoring the upset victory! It was a truly amazing performance, especially considering that Shawn had not wrestled a match in over four years. However, the celebration was short-lived, as Triple H viciously assaulted "The Heartbreak Kid" with a brutal shot to the back with a sledgehammer. Shawn was carried out on a stretcher, but this match is still regarded as one of Shawn's true highlight moments.