When the WWE decided to execute a 2016 version of the brand extension, the company realized they’d need reinforcements to help fill out two unique rosters. Rumors swirled around the idea that the WWE would be reaching for the stars by going after Goldberg, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, and Rey Mysterio, among others.
Those names turned out never to be in the plans as none of them would realistically be able to fulfill the full-time commitment it takes to be a WWE superstar. Speculation surrounding those four won’t die down until we see them officially close out their careers with a nostalgic, but part-time run at a WrestleMania or other marquee event. That wasn’t the plan at all when Vince McMahon instructed his staff to go searching for talent to help bolster both RAW and Smackdown Live.
The first part of the plan was to promote a contingent of NXT superstars without leaving the developmental cupboard bare. That’s why WWE fans witnessed the immediate impact of Finn Balor and American Alpha for the same reasons that Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bayley remain in NXT. The second part of the plan was to reach out to former WWE superstars who could still go but were willing to put their peers ahead of themselves.
But, the main reason we do not see more returns from past stars is not necessarily because of where they’d be positioned in the WWE, but rather the offers they’ve received to come back. Wrestling Inc reports that the WWE reached out to many former employees with the hopes of beefing up their talent pool, but were turned away more times than not.
As you’ve probably noticed, the only former superstars that have agreed to return to the WWE are Jinder Mahal, Rhyno, Shelton Benjamin and Curt Hawkins. Of those four, only Mahal and Rhyno have been used on television. It was discovered that Benjamin had a torn rotator cuff during his WWE medical examination, and thus, he won’t be able to make a return until sometime in 2017 if the offer is still on the table. Vignettes promoting Hawkins’ return just started airing this week on Smackdown Live.
It’s been confirmed that the WWE reached out to MVP and Tommy Dreamer with offers, but both were turned down, and at least in MVP’s case, talks are officially dead. Dreamer has stated that he had too many other projects to be able to commit to a full-time WWE schedule, and since there appeared to be no wiggle room, he had to respectfully decline the offer.
With money being the deciding factor, it’s interesting that Ryback is commanding $4,500 and up per appearance on the independent scene, as the Inquisitr reported last week. He has had no trouble making that type of money, and with other wrestlers certainly seeing that news, the feeling is that financially, they can do better pursuing similar opportunities and work a much lighter schedule in the process. Based on that rate, and what some top TNA stars are currently making, it was discovered that some significant mid-card level talent in WWE were making less.
Two names that continually come up that may be on the WWE’s radar are Carlito and John Morrison. We’ve indicated on several occasions in the past that Vince McMahon remains extremely interested in bringing Morrison back, with talks that he would be used much more than just an enhancement talent with a name. Carlito was expected to return in a managerial capacity to help The Shining Stars get over, but all’s quiet on that front in recent weeks.
Hawkins was never able to ascend higher than the lower mid-card, but he is set to return to the Smackdown brand over the next couple weeks. His first vignette reminded many fans of a blend of Tyson Kidd and Chuck Norris as his video showcased “facts” about the former WWE superstar, including the fact that Hawkins has counted to infinity; not once, but twice.
It should be noted that Tajiri and Brian Kendrick are expected to re-sign with the WWE if they haven’t already, but they wouldn’t be back on television until at least September when RAW unveils it’s new Cruiserweight Division for Monday nights.
[Image via WWE]