Tommy Dreamer returned to WWE on the last Raw of November when he joined The Dudley Boyz in a six-man tag match. The ECW legend came back in front of a Pittsburgh crowd that had not been very active to that point, and his presence was a definite boost on the night.
The fact is that boost was much needed in many ways. WWE's main event roster has been hit hard with injuries, and now is the best time possible for a veteran leader like Dreamer to be reintroduced to the fold.
Dreamer may not have been the most obvious choice, but he was one of the most logical.
From the moment The Dudley Boyz returned to WWE, they've been outnumbered. Whether it was against The New Day or The Wyatt Family, Bubba Ray and D-Von have consistently found themselves in one sticky situation after another.
Each time they've come up short, and each time fans have realized that would always be the case unless someone stepped in to help. Spike Dudley was the favorite to join them, but when it became apparent that was not going to happen, the spot was left open for someone else.
That someone was Dreamer.
Dreamer's career will always be tied to ECW as well as The Dudley Boyz. The brotherhood led by Paul Heyman continues to live in the hearts and minds of fans all over the world, and it's because of this that Dreamer was the best choice for Raw.
Any time the ECW alumni can get TV time, it's a reminder not only of what once was but what many fans want again.
That want has less to do with blood-laced matches and death-defying table spots than it does with the no-nonsense spirit of the men involved. In this era of long-winded promos and often-comedic spots, nothing compares to the old-school Expendables mentality.
Dreamer is the Sylvester Stallone of this group, leading his veteran soldiers into war against a common enemy. There's no time for laughs, and there's no room for slapstick. This is about smash-mouth pro wrestling featuring hard-hitting action and less talk.
This is what many fans have been wanting from WWE since The Attitude Era came to an end, and Dreamer is back at just the right time to make it happen.
So the spot for Dreamer is fitting and sensible, but it's also one that desperately needed filling.
WWE's main roster has seen more injuries and absences than the company has perhaps ever known. Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Sting and Cesaro are all on the shelf. Undertaker and Brock Lesnar have both disappeared from TV again and John Cena is still out on sabbatical.
With all of them gone, WWE needs different guys to step up and make an impact if Raw's ratings are to improve, and that's where Dreamer can be valuable.
He may not be the long-term answer, but he is an established veteran who can step in and get some work done in the ring right now. He is another option for the company, a talent who has been under the bright lights before and is more than capable of performing under them again.
While the injured and absent work at their own pace to come back, Dreamer will bring a new take on a tired main event roster.
He may not be thrown in the mix for WWE's top championship but he doesn't need to be. He can main event on TV and on house shows alongside the Dudleys. He can also cut promos and make the save for other babyfaces when needed. He fills a spot that needs him and can contribute when called upon.
WWE may need to go this route with other veterans as well, as Goldust is back once again and is still looking good in the ring. But right now, it's Dreamer who has been given the nod, and if he remains a presence on WWE programming, then fans can be sure he will do all he can to make it work.
Tom's work can regularly be found on Bleacher Report and his podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on ITunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here