It's become commonplace for WWE to bring back a notable name or two every year in an effort to bolster the roster. Chris Jericho, Batista and Edge have all returned in the month of January in the past decade and ended up competing at WrestleMania, so the odds of it happening again are high.
While it hasn't been too long since we last saw them, Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey have the best chance of making a comeback in 2021, potentially as soon as the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on January 31.
Getting either of them back in the fold would be huge for the men's and women's divisions. Whether they want to return to active competition this year is another question, as well as whether it makes sense for them to do so.
Lesnar competing at WrestleMania 37 wouldn't be much of a surprise seeing as how he's been in action at every installment of The Show of Shows since WrestleMania 29 in 2013. Then again, he had also wrestled at every SummerSlam since 2012 before last year, so it's possible he misses 'Mania in April.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com's latest update on Lesnar was that he wasn't under a contract of any kind to WWE as of August. There has been minimal talk of a return to WWE, though fans always expect that to change around WrestleMania season, when the company typically needs him most.
In Lesnar's case, he will come back whenever WWE needs him to, especially if officials feel star power at the top of the WrestleMania card is thin and he could be a part of an attraction match. Finding a proper opponent for him is the challenge, as no one stands out at the moment.
The issue with Rousey is different in that there's no shortage of women for her to face when she inevitably steps into the squared circle again, but it's unknown whether she has interest in coming back in time for WrestleMania 37 after almost two years away.
WWE revealed in January 2019 that Rousey was under contract to the company until April 2021. Of course, that may have changed with her having not wrestled since WrestleMania 35, as WWE tends to add more time on to deals whenever Superstars are out of action for whatever reason.
It was said at the time and later confirmed by Rousey that the main factor behind her departure in April 2019 was wanting to start a family. However, speculation regarding Rousey's return to WWE started up again in October 2020, when James Storm posted a picture of himself with Rousey and her husband, Travis Browne, indicating that they were training together.
The Rumble would be the perfect place for her to resurface and re-establish herself as a threat heading into the biggest show of the year.
Lesnar's most recent match saw him lose the WWE Championship to Drew McIntyre in the main event of WrestleMania 36. He's held a world title on multiple occasions over the past six years but has no business being back in the world title mix upon his return, at least not right away.
With McIntyre set to defend against Goldberg at the Royal Rumble, the Universal Championship match at 'Mania must be McIntyre vs. Sheamus based on the story they have told so far. Lesnar can take on Keith Lee somewhere in the undercard following their exciting clash in last year's men's Rumble match, or Bobby Lashley in a bout the United States champion has wanted for ages.
There are plenty more appealing options for Rousey, including Raw women's champion Asuka. Rousey could win the women's Rumble and go on to face the one woman she never beat during her original run in a blockbuster bout on the WrestleMania card.
Lesnar and Rousey would both be exciting additions to the WWE roster in 2021, but it isn't imperative that they are brought back. Raw and SmackDown already have loaded lineups of talent who could fill out the WrestleMania card with ease if utilized correctly.
The former UFC champions should only return when there's a logical plan in place for them, not just an attempt to boost ratings. WWE needs to start focusing on the future, though that isn't to say Lesnar and Rousey can't be used to help elevate others as they have done in the past.
Of the two, Lesnar is bound to be back a lot sooner than Rousey and be involved in a marquee match at WrestleMania. Although a Rousey return in 2021 isn't out of the question, it could be another year or two before it happens.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.