From the Bowery: WWE Countdown: Thunderous Returns
Posted by Robert Leighty Jr. on 07.09.2014
Apparently anything before Dec 1997 doesn't constitute a thunderous return.
From the Bowery: WWE Countdown: Thunderous Returns
-The talking heads discuss what makes a thunderous return and Kofi says it has to be someone of significance. Cody mentions that Piper was notorious for leaving and coming back, and how it helped keep him relevant. Bryan says a great return is one of the coolest things in wrestling, but the guy has to deliver after the return.
10: Bret Hart
-This seems way low, but again the majority of the fans voting probably weren’t even born yet when Montreal happened. They discuss Montreal and Shawn mentions he knew it was going to suck to be the guy that had to be there that night. Renee Young pops up and says that Bret didn’t screw Bret, and she may get fired, but Vince screwed Bret. They all discuss how crazy it was for Bret to actually step foot back in a WWE ring again. Bret mentions that the pop he got was one of the biggest he has ever had in his career. Bret calls out Shawn immediately and seeing these two in a ring for the first time since Montreal was just crazy. Shawn was fantastic as he made you think he might deliver sweet chin music to Bret, but instead goes back and hugs him in a genuinely touching moment. Everyone needs to find peace in their life and I was thrilled to see that these two found it after years of bitterness and hatred.
9: Chris Jericho (Nov 19, 2007)
-In this case we are talking about the return that coincided with the crack the code videos. The talking heads talk about how fans were getting crazy in trying to crack the code, and Jericho says fans read way too much into some parts of the code. Jericho then returns on RAW to a massive reaction (though WWE did that stupid backstage deal with the torch runner that kind of killed some of the drama) and interrupts Randy Orton. It was Jericho’s first time back after a 2 year absence (“fired” by Eric Bischoff). They discuss how Jericho returned and immediately was thrown into the WWE title picture with Randy Orton. It was great to have Jericho back and the crack the code stuff was fun, but wasn’t until he turned heel over half a year later that things got really good.
8: Hollywood Hulk Hogan (Feb 2002)
-For me this is way low, but I am the biggest Hogan fan you will find. They discuss Hogan leaving in 93 and showing up in WCW in 1994 to lead them to the top of the wrestling world. In that they mention the heel turn and how revolutionary the n.W.o was. In 2001 Vince buys WCW and Heyman talks about how insane that was. Ziggler mentions that everyone immediately was waiting for Hogan to return to the WWE. The n.W.o. shows up in the WWE in Feb 2002 and it was clear from the start that the fans wanted Hogan and they didn’t want him as a heel. The night after the return we get one of the greatest moments in RAW history with Hogan and Rock having an insane confrontation in front of a white hot crowd to set up WrestleMania X-8. The match at Mania is one of the most historic in wrestling history and featured one of the hottest crowds you will ever see. To this day I watch that match as much as I can just because it’s so entertaining and just plain fun to watch. The reaction from the crowd when Hogan does the hulk-up routine is jaw dropping in its awesomeness.
7: Sting (Dec 28, 1997)
-Oh man, could be this be a clue that Sting will be debuting on RAW this Monday? I am not saying yes, but I am not saying no either. Cena says that the reason he had a flat top was because of Sting. The Miz brings up that Sting got pushed to the back burner when WCW signed Hogan. Then the n.W.o angle happens and Sting transforms into a crow like character sitting in the rafters and got more over than at any other point in his career without wrestling a single match for 15 months. Punk mentions that without saying a word, or wrestling a match, Sting became the coolest wrestler on the planet. It built for well over a year and eventually we get to Hogan vs. Sting at Starrcade. Nash says it was WCW’s trademark guy vs. WWE’s trademark guy. They discuss the match and you can tell Cody was pumped as a fan at the time. Sting wins the WCW title in his return and they decide not to go much into detail about the screwy ending.
6: Shawn Michaels (Aug 25, 2002)
-Shawn left the WWE due to a bad back and most assumed he would never step foot in the ring again. JR mentions he is the one who went to San Antonio and told Shawn he can’t let his legacy end the way it did. Shawn comes back for a DX reunion, but HHH beats the piss out of him and that leads to Shawn’s return match at SummerSlam 2002. It was supposed to be just a one off match, but Shawn goes out and steals the show and looks better than 99% of the roster. Ambrose says once he heard Shawn was coming back he immediately plopped down his money and he then puts over how great the match is. Bryan says he gets goose bumps just talking about the match. Heyman calls it a great moment in time and calls Shawn the greatest in ring performer of all time.
-Recap of things so far. I will say that Shawn, Bret, and Hogan would probably all be in my top 5.
5: Edge (Jan 31, 2010)
-With Edge there have been a lot of returns from injuries, but in this case they are talking about his return from a torn achilles tendon. Edge and Jericho won the Tag Titles as a cool super team, but Edge tears his achilles the next show and they immediately turn it into a story line as Jericho talks about how he carried the team and Edge was always injured. Edge says he was told 9 months to a year (if ever), but he figured Rumble in 6 months would be a good goal. He meets that goal and returns at the Rumble to a crazy pop. He eliminates Jericho from the Rumble and then eliminates Cena to win the match. Edge says all the rehab was worth it with that Rumble return.
4: Brock Lesnar (2012)
-Awesomeness here! Everyone talks about the greatness of Brock and damn well they all should. Lesnar left the WWE at Mania XX in 2004, and he went on to win the UFC Heavyweight Title (photo of him with the title is shown). He finally returns to the WWE the night after Mania XXVIII and I get jacked just hearing the roar of the crowd even now. Grown men were losing their mind in the crowd that night and you knew the shit was on the minute he walked out on the stage. Ambrose mentions he was there in the building and was loudest ovation he had ever heard. Heyman says everyone knew they were part of history. AJ laughs thinking about how she knew he was going to beat up Cena. He sure as hell does as he hits an F5 and then kicks Cena’s neon green hat out of the ring. Just awesome! Heyman calls it the greatest return ever and admits he is biased when it comes to his opinion.
-A special section outside the countdown for Taker and it starts with the video in the cabin with the rain storm that everyone was convinced was for Sting. Heyman says that the reason his returns are a special event is simply because he is The Undertaker. Steph mentions that because he doesn’t appear as regularly that when he does return it is always a big deal and usually correlates with WrestleMania. AJ says that she was in the crowd as MSG when he returned as the Dead Man at Mania XX. Heyman says it best when he says there is nobody like Taker.
3: HHH (Jan 7, 2002)
-JR says that he has never been involved in anything as emotional as HHH’s return at MSG. They discuss the torn quad in 2001 and Swagger talks about how insane the recovery is from that type of injury. Steph fawns all over him as one would expect a wife to do when discussing her husband. HHH left as the biggest of heels and returns 8 months later as the biggest face in the company (for a short time). HHH relates the story of being afraid that the crowd wasn’t going to care when his music hit, but instead we got one of the loudest and sustained pops you’ll ever here. They show Angle interrupting and mentioning that HHH was a pussy for taking 8 months off with a torn quad while he was able to win a gold medal with a broken neck. Damn right Kurt! All joking aside, HHH’s MSG return was pretty awesome.
2: The Rock (Feb 2011)
-The WWE was hyping a guest host for Mania XXVII and there were all kinds of rumors from Donald Trump to Bob Barker, and thankfully the WWE gave us what we really wanted: The Rock. JBL talks about the Rock’s movie career and how he was happy to see the Rock return home considering all the success he had in Hollywood. They discuss how Cena talked shit on Rock for years and immediately Rock makes sure to get some digs it on Cena. The “big fat bowl of fruity pebbles,” line is still hilarious. Natalya mentions that just being the host wasn’t good enough and fans all wanted him back in the ring. Thankfully it was leading to his in ring return though I had to sit in the Georgia Dome and watch Mania end with The Miz winning the Main Event. Sure, nothing against Miz, but reason heels don’t leave Mania with the title in nearly all cases (HHH aside).
1: John Cena (Royal Rumble 2008)
-I marked out like crazy at this return because nobody had any clue, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of this list, but the Cena fans have spoken. Cena tore a pectoral muscle off the bone just a few months earlier and after surgery the word was 8-12 months before he could return. Apparently the doctors forgot that this is Super Cena and even Nikki Bella mentions that he has been called Super Man. Cena returns as the 30th entrant at the Rumble and it actually draws a crazy face pop from the super smark crowd in MSG. They even mention that the males in the crowd forgot to boo him for a few moments and then it was business as usual when he won the Rumble match.
The 411: Funny that 9 of the top 10 took place after the year 2000, but again comes down to the fans voting. Of the 10 listed my top four (in no order) would be Hogan, Hart, Michaels, and Lesnar with HHH or Rock in the 5th spot. I do wish ECW would get a little more love because Sandman's return was epic.