Failed Returns: A Look at WWE's Most Ridiculous Comebacks of the Last Year
Legendary Wrestlers, Disappointing Returns
In the last year the WWE has seen several legendary Superstars return to the company. Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, The Rock, Lord Tensai (A-Train), and Kevin Nash all resurfaced on WWE programming since the beginning of last year. As a longtime wrestling fan, all five comebacks intrigued and excited me. It was good to have Y2J back in the mix to shake things up with his bold antics. It shocked us all to see The Rock return to RAW, kick off a rivalry with John Cena, and create an ultimate dream feud. The return of Brock Lesnar brought a different level of “legitimacy” to the company when he showed up after Wrestlemania 28 and reintroduced a heightened level of attitude to the programs. The revamped character of A-Train was both refreshing and frightening. Kevin Nash, the real veteran of the bunch, made a surprise return to WWE last summer and brought an all but forgotten sense of nostalgia into the picture (at least for me). Like I said before, I was enthralled to see all five of these men pop back onto the scene to mix the world of WWE up a bit and to draw in new and old fans alike. There is one big problem with the resurfacing of these legends, however. With the exception of The Rock beating John Cena at Wrestlemania, none of these Superstars have really accomplished anything. Worse than that, we hardly ever see them on WWE programming anymore at all. Basically, they made a glorified return only to peter out once again after only a few months. With the ratings level as low as they have been recently, don’t you think that having some of these stars appear and wrestle regularly would’ve kept those ratings higher? In this article I will break down each Superstar’s comeback, highlighting the highs and lows (mostly lows) of each one.
Perhaps the most incredible thing in recent memory happened in 2011 when The Rock “finally” returned live to RAW and immediately butted heads with John Cena. A dream match for the ages was born and fans old and new were ecstatic. It was announced that in one year, at Wrestlemania 28 in Miami, Florida, the match would truly take place: The Rock vs. John Cena. As the months went on, we got very little from The Rock other than the infamous “via satellite” segments. Other than that, he made a few live appearances and wrestled one match, tagging with Cena to battle The Miz and R-Truth at Survivor Series. As the weeks dwindled down towards Wrestlemania, we saw more of The Great One on RAW, but still he did very little other than sings songs and crack jokes.
Then the big event came. Cena and The Rock had a match for the ages, a contest that will forever be highlighted in the annals of WWE history. The Rock won the match and settled the rivalry once and for all before appearing at the following RAW and saying he wants a shot at the WWE title in the near future. Then, yet again, he vanished. Since April 2nd, The Brahma Bull has been completely absent from WWE programming and storylines. So, after finally returning to the WWE and perhaps getting more fans behind him than ever, The Rock is seemingly gone again, and so are the ratings.
The WWE Universe got perhaps its biggest shock in recent years when Brock Lesnar burst onto the RAW scene after Wrestlemania and decimated John Cena. After the news that Brock had suddenly quit UFC, the speculation was rampant that he was on his way to WWE. That night, April 2nd 2012, that speculation ended abruptly, and the crowd in attendance went crazy when his infamous music hit and Lesnar came to the ring and annihilated John Cena. Lesnar was applauded at first, but quickly became known as the villainous brute he always was. He denounced the fans and cowardly attacked John Cena night in, night out. The match between Cena and Lesnar, however, was set for the Extreme Rules pay-per-view in none other than an Extreme Rules match. The match was truly brutal as it should have been. Foreign objects and both men bloody as hell were some of the sights seen in the match. In the end, however, after dozens of times of hearing Brock say he was an "asskicker" and that he was going to destroy Cena at the PPV, Brock ends up losing the match. The following night on RAW, Brock showed up alongside then GM John Laurinaitis and boasted ridiculously about "bringing the pain to Cena". Then Triple H, the COO of the WWE, entered the ring and informed Lesnar that all of the perks given to him in Laurinaitis' contract were now null and void. An enraged Lesnar, to the awe of fans, brutally assaulted Triple H and broke his arm. The very next week, Paul Heyman made his WWE return and announced that Brock Lesnar was quitting WWE and filing a lawsuit against them. Weeks have now gone by and Lesnar has not been seen on WWE television and, after a such an explosive return, isn't on the show anymore. Now, most recently, Triple H has challenged Brock to a match at Summerslam, a match that will happen. Therefore, it's obvious that Lesnar is still under a WWE contract with a "limited appearance" clause.
Even though he's an ass, the fans want to see Brock Lesnar. They were stoked when he came back and having him more involved in the shows would surely help ratings as fans from the WWE and UFC alike would tune in to watch him. Bottom line is, Brock Lesnar needs to appear more on WWE TV and continue to give the fans that raw-dog, foul-mouthed attitude he has become so known for.
When Kevin Nash appeared in the 2011 Royal Rumble as Diesel, I was surprised and excited. I couldn’t believe the big man was back in a WWE ring. Then, later in the year, Nash appeared unexpectedly at Summerslam and brutalized CM Punk, resulting in Alberto del Rio winning the WWE Championship. Big Sexy continued to appear regularly on RAW, often nearby general manager John Laurinaitis. He quickly became engaged in a rivalry with longtime friend Triple H because the latter had no interest in reforming the infamous Kliq. Finally, those two men waged war at TLC in a sledgehammer ladder match, a match that The Game won. After that, Nash disappeared without a trace. It was said that he suffered severe head injuries in the ladder match and would be out for a couple months. Well, it’s been over six months now and Big Daddy Cool is still nothing more than a memory. He isn’t even on the active roster anymore.
Other than the ladder match, Nash competed in one other contest, a squash match against Santino Marella. Nash looked fairly decent in both matches, but still showed some signs of old age and countless injuries. Not only that, but his speech was often jumbled and ridiculously off key. Kevin Nash, a man that could be considered one of the best ever on the mic, blunders his speech multiple times over the weeks on live TV, fights two matches, loses one, and is gone again. What’s even worse is that the rivalry between Nash and CM Punk started but never came to fruition. I, as a longtime fan of Nash’s, expected more out of the big man’s return.
This one is perhaps the biggest disappointment of them all, especially considering the greatness and legacy of Chris Jericho. Throughout the latter part of last year, we kept seeing cryptic vignettes stating that a powerful force was coming back to WWE on the first RAW of 2012 to claim what was his and shake the very foundation of the company. We were told it would be “the end of the world was we know it”. I’ll have to admit that these promos really intrigued and excited me. I wracked my brains for weeks trying to figure out who it could be, with Y2J being at the top of my speculative list. When the big day finally came and Jericho made his grand return, I knew that he was back to reclaim the WWE championship and unleash his own brand of chaos upon the WWE. For the first few weeks, Chris was completely mute but pandered to the fans intensely. This was a very interesting angle at first but got quite annoying as the weeks went on. Finally, just before the annual Royal Rumble event, Jericho spoke, once again stating that the Rumble would be the end of the world as knew it. I knew right away that Chris was going to win the Rumble, something he’d never done before, and go on to Wrestlemania to win the championship. Boy was I ever wrong. Y2J failed to win the Rumble, being the last man eliminated and resulting in a Sheamus victory (which I was satisfied with). Chris then began a rivalry with CM Punk (which I was also very happy about) and went on to face Punk and four other opponents in the Elimination Chamber match. Jericho was not successful there either. As the weeks went on, the Jericho/Punk feud escalated into a very intense and personal rivalry that I was very much into. Jericho did his absolute worst and attacked Punk and his family with degrading remarks and accusations. This was Jericho doing a great job of being the slimeball we all know him to be. At Wrestlemania 28, Punk defended the WWE title against Jericho in a classic and well- wrestled contest. Both men were at the top of their game. Jericho, however, ended up losing to Punk and therefore suffering a failure to gain the title and a loss at the grandest stage of them all. Punk and Y2J continued their raucous feud for the next month and fought again for the championship at Extreme Rules in a Chicago Street Fight, another great match and another loss for Jericho.
Y2J then moved on to a rivalry with Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Alberto del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship. They all competed in a Fatal Four Way match at Over The Limit. Yet again, Chris Jericho not only lost but was the man that actually got pinned.
A few weeks after that, Y2J committed an act of utmost disrespect at a house show in Brazil when he crumpled the Brazilian flag in front of the crowd. This charade was not in the storyline, and Jericho was subsequently suspended for 30 days.
Because of all these aforementioned things, Chris Jericho’s 2012 WWE return has been a total flop and a gash to Jericho’s esteemed reputation. We can only hope that when he returns from his suspension that things pick up for the “best at everything he does”.
Much like with Chris Jericho, for weeks we saw vignettes of an ominous, tattoo-covered man named Lord Tensai. Japanese writing and music were displayed, as well as a Japanese man praying to Lord Tensai. I was initially intrigued. I also thought he was going to actually be a large Japanese wrestler, but when the WWE Universe got wind of a potential Albert return and I got a better look at Tensai's head from the back (that's all they ever showed in the promos), I knew it was him.
He finally debuted against Alex Riley, and we were told he was a "former" WWE Superstar who went to Japan and adapted their style of fighting and living. It is true, as the man formerly known in WWE as Albert or A-Train, did go to Japan for many years after leaving WWE. So, when he beat Alex Riley so bad that the match had to stop, I was impressed. I knew this guy was going to be a nasty addition to the RAW roster. For the next few weeks, Lord Tensai competed in squash matches where he continued to dominate opponents. Then, in a RAW main event, Lord Tensai fought a defeated (albeit underhandedly) John Cena in a one-on-one match. Tensai then went on to pin CM Punk in a match a couple of weeks later. During most of these matches, Lord Tensai reintroduced the infamous green mist into WWE matches. He would spew it out onto his hand, then clutch his opponent with the palm of that hand and get the pinfall on them. That was entertaining stuff. His entrance was pretty cool, too, as he entered draped in Japanese cloth with his massive frame still clearly noticeable. This was the kind of character the WWE needed, and I was interested in his future. Now, however, Tensai is more or less a joke. WWE dropped the "Lord" from his name, now officially labeling him as "Tensai" (I think this eliminates some of his prestige and character). He no longer wears his unique robe to the ring, and I haven't seen him use the green mist in weeks. Furthermore, he is no longer undefeated, being beaten by both Sheamus and John Cena. Now, the man once known as the green-mist-spitting Lord Tensai is no more than a a guy to make the A-players look even better.
All four WWE returns could have been so much more developed. These men are icons in the wrestling business, and to have them return only to flop or peter out altogether is just not cool. There could have been many potential, and consistent, rivalries between these men and other Superstars like Sheamus, Kane, and even Undertaker. Rather, Jericho has failed at everything he's tried to accomplish, Lesnar and Rock have gone back to that appear on a limited basis crap, Tensai is losing all his upward motion, and Kevin Nash is gone completely. Five big returns, and not one them has truly lived up to the hype. No wonder ratings are so low.