WWE RAW: The 10 Best Wrestler Returns of All Time
Photo courtesy of chaddukeswrestlingshow.com
As we prepare for the monumental 1,000th episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, we still have a little more time to reflect on the past.
WWE will likely give viewers a trip down memory lane on Monday night with several former wrestlers and divas making appearances on the show.
However, the past 999 episodes have given WWE fans some great moments and unforgettable returns.
This is a look at the 10 best returns in the history of the show.
10. Chris Jericho, 2007
For several weeks prior to Jericho's return, WWE fans were shown cryptic videos that included a code that needed to be solved.
Had the Internet not spoiled this event, fans would have been more surprised and less able to crack the code.
Still, Jericho made a very strong return after being out of WWE for years exploring other career interests.
Jericho claimed he was back to "save" the WWE, and the fans loved it.
While it was nowhere near as good as Jericho's initial debut in 1999—one of the best RAW moments ever—it was still memorable.
9. Edge, 2004
One of the more compelling ideas WWE ever came up with for Raw was the draft lottery, held briefly on an annual basis.
In 2003, Edge suffered a severe neck injury, the same one that led to his untimely retirement.
On the May 22, 2004 episode of Raw, Edge surprised the crowd with a triumphant return by spearing his new general manager, Eric Bischoff.
8. Matt Hardy, 2005
This was one of the more unique returns the WWE ever saw, mainly because it incorporated real life circumstances.
But fans of Hardy and the WWE used the power of their voices to campaign to get Hardy back with the company.
Vince McMahon gave in just four months later.
On the August 1, 2005 edition of Raw, Hardy made his grand return, which inevitably led into an exciting program with his arch-rival, Edge.
7. Eugene Gets a Little Help from Rock
We all remember the character Eugene. Played very well by ex-superstar Nick Dinsmore, Eugene had plenty of ups and downs in WWE.
In this instance, Jonathan Coachman tries to get rid of him only to have the "most electrifying Superstar in WWE history" come out and change things in a hurry.
What made this return so great was that it was 100 percent unexpected.
Combine that with the reaction of Eugene as well as that of the raucous crowd, and you have yourself a very memorable moment in Raw history.
After cutting one of his trademark promos, The Rock allows Eugene to be part of a huge moment.
6. The Undertaker and Triple H, 2011
In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 27, WWE aired several vignettes showing an old log cabin with a man inside.
The videos included a tag line of "2.21.11."
Most WWE fans figured out that the man inside the house was, indeed, The Undertaker. As expected, The Undertaker made his brooding return on the February 21 edition of Raw.
However, the more the videos aired, the more it seemed like there was another part to the story—perhaps someone looking in on the "Deadman."
The most exciting part of this return was The Undertaker being upstaged by a returning Triple H, who made it clear that he wanted the next shot at ending the streak.
5. Ric Flair, 2001
After the WWE's purchase of World Championship Wrestling (WCW), fans hoped for an appearance by Rick Flair.
The night after the WWE defeated the Alliance at Survivor Series, Flair made his first appearance in the WWE since February of 1993.
Flair revealed that Vince McMahon's own children, Shane and Stephanie, had sold their stock in the company to Flair, making him the new co-owner of the company.
This lead to a feud with McMahon and was the start of nearly a seven-year run with the company.
4. Bret Hart, 2010
After the infamous Montreal Screwjob in 1997, fans thought they'd never see this day come.
But more than 12 years later, WWE fans finally saw one of the best superstars ever on the show once again.
When Bret Hart came back, he vowed to put many things behind him, and the show really began when he faced Shawn Michaels.
Watching the pros bury the hatchet was more than a fan could ask for.
3. Brock Lesnar, 2012
This was another return that couldn't be kept from the Internet, but it's also one many fans probably thought they'd never see.
Lesnar's departure from the company in 2004 following WrestleMania 20 did not leave him in the WWE's best graces.
Lesnar went on to compete in the UFC and fans never expected him back due to the way he parted ways with WWE.
But on the Monday Night Raw following WrestleMania 28, Lesnar made a huge return, going right after the company's top star, John Cena.
The reaction of this crowd shows how big this return was.
2. The Rock Returns to Guest Host WM27
WrestleMania 27 featured a main event of John Cena vs. The Miz for the WWE title.
Needing something to spice up the event and potentially increase the buyrate, WWE knew they needed to do something big.
So on the Valentine's Day edition of Raw in 2011, the fans were introduced to the man who would be the "special host" of that WrestleMania, The Rock.
Already one of the biggest stars in WWE history and now one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, The Rock was an excellent selection for the biggest show of the year.
This return on Raw was exactly what The Rock is all about—electrifying the crowd.
1. Triple H Returns in 2002
This is the biggest return in Raw history for a variety of reasons.
After a devastating injury to his quadriceps in 2001, Triple H faced a very long recovery process, one filled with uncertainty.
On the January 7, 2002 edition of Raw, we witnessed this triumphant return.
It was Madison Square Garden. It was New York City. Everything was in place for Triple H to resume his career in a major way, and he did just that.
The crowd was deafening from the moment his theme music hit, and the fans in MSG showed "The Game" how good it was to see him back.
I contend that this was the loudest pop in the history of the program, and that is why it has stood the test of time as the best return in WWE Raw history.