Batista and the 5 Worst WWE Returns of All Time
Back in January, Dave Batista made his big return to WWE amid much fanfare and hype. It was predicted by many that “The Animal” would drastically shake up Raw and become the company’s new top babyface.
Fast forward two months and, of course, that hasn’t happened. The crowds have reacted negatively to him, most memorably at the Royal Rumble where his victory was vociferously booed. His feuds have been woefully dull, too (well, that’s what happens when you book him against Alberto Del Rio).
In fact, Batista’s return has floundered so badly, the bookers have even had Randy Orton bring it up on television.
But, hey, if it’s any consolation to the former WWE champion, he’s hardly the first wrestler to have his comeback flop. The following guys—and girls—had a great deal of trouble, too, when they returned…
5. Trish Stratus in 2011
Trish Stratus’ 2011 comeback has to be considered a letdown. Stratus, widely regarded as one of the most famous Divas in history, seemed to struggle to get anything resembling a reaction from the audiences in the arenas.
Oh, her wrestling skills were as polished as ever, but it was clear something was lacking.
Maybe it was placing her in an ill-suited comedy angle alongside Jersey Shore celebrity Snooki. Maybe she had just been away too long and fans had forgotten about her. Or, possibly, people in WWE management had gravely overestimated her star power in her original run.
Regardless of the reason, this comeback just didn’t work at all.
4. Rob Van Dam in 2013
While former WWE champion Rob Van Dam may have garnered a strong reaction from the crowd when he returned to the company at last year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, the rest of his run didn’t go nearly so well.
Just how dull was his program with World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio? And has there ever been a more mismatched duo in company history than Van Dam and Ricardo Rodriguez?
While the former ECW star’s in-ring skills were still respectable, he also carried the distinct air of a man who was phoning it in. Did his lackluster three-year TNA run squash whatever passion he once had?
3. Sable in 2003
In 1998 and 1999, Rena “Sable” Lesnar was the most famous woman in wrestling. Her feisty attitude, gorgeous looks and willingness to wear the most revealing and raunchy outfits possible had launched her to stardom and made her the poster girl for the Attitude Era. She was a bit like the wrestling fan’s version of Pamela Anderson.
Following a four-year hiatus to pursue outside interests, Sable returned to the company in 2003. Alas, her second run in WWE wasn’t anything as close to successful as her first one. Why? Well, some bad booking didn’t help; her feud with Stephanie McMahon over her on-screen relationship with Vince was truly awful.
However, the main problem seemed to be that girls like Torrie Wilson, Dawn Marie and Stacy Keibler had stepped into the sex-symbol role in her absence. Suddenly, Sable’s act didn’t seem so raunchy or controversial anymore. No wonder she didn’t last long (Sable and the company quietly parted ways the following year).
2. The Bristish Bulldog in 1999
Needless to say, when wrestling fans reminisce over the great moments in Davey Boy Smith’s career, his disastrous and short-lived WWF comeback in 1999 usually isn’t mentioned.
Due to a severe back injury suffered in WCW, Smith was a shell of his former self as in-ring performer by the time he debuted in September 1999. It was truly sad how far he had fallen as a wrestler. Booking him in abysmal and embarrassing feuds with Al Snow and Big Bossman over the Hardcore Championship only added to the problems. It wasn’t surprising at all when he was pulled from television only a few months later.
1. The Ultimate Warrior in 1996
Former WWE champion The Ultimate Warrior returned to the WWF in 1996 for a boring four-month run only noteworthy for his hilarious squashing of Triple H at the WrestleMania 12 pay-per-view. He also had some lethargic matches and programs with Goldust, Jerry Lawler and Owen Hart.
While The Ultimate Warrior wasn’t exactly a tremendous performer during his initial 1987-1991 run with the company, the man clearly did have some star power and fan appeal. Sadly, by the time 1996 rolled around, he had lost whatever it was that he once had. His comeback was a debacle.