Top 10 Greatest Wrestling Returns Of All Time

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Top 10 Greatest Wrestling Returns Of All Time

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
These epic returns sent shockwaves across the wrestling world! For this list, we'll be looking at the most memorable instances where stars of the wrestling world made a triumphant return to the industry. Our countdown includes Chris Jericho, John Cena, CM Punk, and more!
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Top 10 Greatest Wrestling Returns


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Wrestling Returns. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most memorable instances where stars of the wrestling world made a triumphant return to the industry.

What wrestling comeback do you think packed the biggest punch? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Shane McMahon

Here comes the money! In February of 2016, it had been nearly ten years since Shane McMahon was last seen in a WWE ring. So, when the prodigal son appeared practically out of nowhere on an episode of “Monday Night Raw,” it was a pretty big deal. The audience’s reaction to Shane’s music blaring was truly something to behold. Confronting his father, Vince, and sister, Stephanie, Shane stepped right back into the fold in a major way. The segment basically served as one big “welcome back party” for Shane O’Mac, and the “WWE Universe” couldn’t have been happier to see him dance down the aisle again. What a sight!

#9: John Cena

It’s always a feel-good moment when a fan favourite wrestler makes a return from injury. For the performer, there’s a real satisfaction in coming back from an unfortunate, and sometimes career threatening, situation. John Cena has experienced this feeling a couple of times during his career, but it was his surprise entry into the 2008 “Royal Rumble” that ranks among the best. The “You can’t see me” athlete had torn his pectoral muscle during a match with Mr. Kennedy just three months prior. Talk about superhuman recovery time. And, “Big Match John” looked great out there, eliminating competitors and staring down Triple H as if nothing had ever happened. We see you John Cena!

#8: Goldberg

Was Goldberg’s 2016 return to the WWE carefully telegraphed to coincide with pre-order announcements for the company’s “WWE 2K17” video game? Probably - but this didn’t diminish the impact of his comeback match. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar had been teasing this rematch via some back-and-forth online discourse for a while. And, when Big Bill finally made his way back to a WWE ring for the first time since 2004, it didn’t disappoint! Goldberg came out to his classic entrance music, complete with that long, dramatic walk from the locker room. Oh, and about the subsequent “squash match” between Lesnar and Goldberg at “Survivor Series?” Perfection.

#7: Edge

It’s perhaps the most unexpected return yet, while also being the most joyous. Edge’s diagnosis of cervical spinal stenosis and subsequent retirement didn’t leave a dry eye in the house when the superstar announced his plans to hang up his tights. But, that’s what made “The Rated R Superstar’s” dazzling return at the 2020 “Royal Rumble” so darn special. The crowd was legitimately beyond shocked, not to mention over the moon, at the sight of their idol back in action. And, for his part, Edge seemed equally excited. And this wasn’t just a “one and done” either, as the “Ultimate Opportunist” still competes to this today.

#6: The Hardy Boyz

They say that anything can happen at “WrestleMania,” and that’s because it usually does. Case in point - the Hardy Boyz’s shocking return to the WWE at “WrestleMania 33.” Jeff and Matt had been doing some great work over at “Impact Wrestling” with a number of viral vignettes and matches that truly captured the imaginations of the wrestling community at large. But, there’s nothing quite like going back home again. When the brothers made their WWE comeback, the mammoth crowd was absolutely there for it, riding a wave of nostalgia in the process. Plus, Matt and Jeff were returning for a tag team ladder match, a match type the Hardys helped redefine years earlier. Talk about a perfect fit.

#5: Chris Jericho

There are few WWE debuts as memorable as Chris Jericho’s infamous “countdown to the Millenium” segment in 1999. There are also few pro wrestlers who are better at reinventing themselves than the “Ayatollah of Rock ‘n Rollah.” Look no further than the “second coming” of Chris Jericho in 2007. Ditching the “Y2J” theme of the past, Jericho returned to “break the code” and interrupted Randy Orton on an episode of “Monday Night Raw.” Now, we’re fairly certain that Chris Jericho can basically do whatever he wants at this point in his career and it’ll be great, but this will always be top of our “Demo God” moments. No one “breaks the walls down” better than Jericho!

#4: Triple H

Triple H suffered a horrific injury on the May 21st, 2001 episode of “Monday Night Raw” - a quad tear that could’ve easily put the “King of Kings” on the shelf for good. Fast forward over eight months later, and Triple H returned to a deafening pop at WWE’s spiritual home, Madison Square Garden. What followed was perhaps the best run of Trips’ career. The fans were one hundred percent invested in HHH’s comeback story, cheering him every step of the way. The fact that Triple H returned looking like an absolute beast left no doubt in anyone’s mind that “The Game” was BACK.

#3: Brock Lesnar

Both Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar left the WWE under, shall we say, acrimonious circumstances in 2004. There were some serious sour grapes during their “WrestleMania XX” main event, with both men being booed out of the building by a crowd that was smart to their impending departure. All seemed to be forgiven for Brock Lesnar in 2012, however, when he returned to take out John Cena with a destructive F-5. The WWE crowd, who had largely soured on Cena’s “show up and win” routine at this point, were all too happy to cheer for Lesnar. The audience reaction would get a bit more split later on though, as Brock took aim at their hero, “The Undertaker.” If anyone was going to end the “Dead Man’s” legendary “WrestleMania” win streak, you best believe it was going to be Brock Lesnar!

#2: The Rock

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson certainly wasn’t the first professional wrestler to try his hand at acting, but he is by far the most successful. This initially didn’t sit well with the WWE audience, setting up Johnson’s “heel turn” in the early 2000s. This, of course, was right before “The Rock” headed to Hollywood, leaving the ring behind. Skip to 2011, and Johnson was back, setting up a feud with John Cena for a major marquee match. The electrical sound effects that signaled “The Rock’s” appearance mimicked the electricity in the crowd as Johnson hit the stage to deafening applause. It was a truly special, goosebump-inducing moment. “The Rock” was back in the sport he loved, and no one was going to stand in his way - not even John Cena!

#1: CM Punk

It’s the only non-WWE moment on this list, but that’s what makes this return so incredible. Yes, fans were excited to see CM Punk return to WWE programming as an on-air analyst, but what they really wanted to see was the superstar wrestle again! So, when CM Punk made his return to the ring on “AEW Rampage” in 2021, it was a moment of sheer bliss for wrestling enthusiasts. Punk was returning to the sport he loved and at a place that loves the sport. If you want to see grown men weeping in their seats, families hugging and friends high-fiving, then this one’s for you. Heck, this moment is for everybody!
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