5 WWE vignettes that didn't reveal the superstar it was about
Ever since Bray Wyatt was released from WWE back in 2021, every weird and mysterious vignette the company has put out has somehow revolved around him. That includes this latest one, which was hidden behind a QR code during Raw this past Monday.
This isn't the first time WWE has used mysterious vignettes like this to hype up a return or debut. They're a great way to not only promote a return, but to get fans talking online. Plus, if something goes sideways and the performer the videos were originally about can't return, it's not like WWE directly promised it.
WWE's video production team is really second to none, so no matter how these returns actually worked out, at least these vignettes were super dope. So, let's look at a handful of them.
Before we go further, we want to showcase a classic mysterious return from the 1990s. In 1992, Brutus Beefcake was severely injured in a parasailing accident, to the point that it seemed like his career was over. Thankfully, he was able to recover and return to the ring. His official return involved teaming with Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania IX, but that wasn't the original plan.
Originally, Beefcake was a masked defender of babyface wrestlers being attacked post-match by evil heels.
There was no actual video package involved with this, but we thought it kinda counted, so here it is.
#5. Edge's return at WWE Money in the Bank 2022
Speaking of Bray Wyatt, this one was straight up trolling at first.
This video began running on WWE shows prior to the 2022 Money in the Bank event - and the opening was very familiar. Of course, it would go on to include references to Edge's many rivals over the years, eliminating the Eater of Worlds as a possibility of who the subject of the video was about.
By the time the Rated-R Superstar returned at MITB to attack his former Judgement Day compatriots, all of this was WWE's worst kept secret. But it still got people talking, and analyzing the clues in the video was a lot of fun.
#4. The SmackDown Hacker
In 2019, Mustafa Ali was one of the fastest rising stars on WWE's main roster.
The former police officer from Chicago, who had previously made a name for himself on 205 Live, arrived on SmackDown at the end of 2018 to confront Daniel Bryan. He had made an impressive showing in the 2019 Royal Rumble match, and was set for potentially big things at Elimination Chamber the next month.
However, an injury to his eye socket took him out of that match. His spot was filled by Kofi Kingston - a situation that led to "Kofimania" and one of the best WWE storylines in years. But while that was great for Kofi, well... Things didn't work out so well for Ali.
Mustafa took a seven-month hiatus that year. In the meantime, SmackDown began to run vignettes featuring a movie-style hacker (think Hackers or Swordfish) that was interfering in different angles on the show. Speculation began to run wild online on who was behind the vignettes - although the consensus was that it was Mustafa Ali behind the segments.
However, seemingly as quickly as the segments started, they stopped. Ali would return to television, helping Ricochet and Apollo Crews in their feud with The Hurt Business.
It wasn't long, though, before two key pieces of information were revealed. First, we discovered that Ali was the leader of the anarchist (eh... kind of) stable called RETRIBUTION. Secondly, Ali himself admitted that he was behind the Hacker segments from months before.
At the end of the day, neither the SmackDown Hacker nor the RETRIBUTION angles went anywhere. Mustafa Ali just can't catch a break.
#3. The Firefly Funhouse Gang
Hey! Let's talk about Bray Wyatt again! No, sorry, we're going to talk about Bray Wyatt again.
Wyatt's original main roster run as the swamp-dwelling cult leader may have been hit-or-miss, sure. However, when the hits include reigns as both tag team champion (with "Woken" Matt Hardy) and freakin' WWE Champion, it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to call that run a "failure."
Following the Deleters of Worlds losing the Raw Tag Team Championships, Bray took some time off. Just when all of us kinda-sorta forgot about him, segments like these began to pop up on WWE TV.
It wasn't long before we all found out that these segments (as well as the puppets showing up in the background during Raw and SmackDown) were about the return of Wyatt. But there was a twist - while Bray was back as this new kids' TV show host, it wasn't the only alter-ego he had under the hood.
Eventually, these vignettes revealed both of Bray's new personas - which seems to go counter to this list's theme. But, considering that The Fiend was the endgame to all of this, and the fact that the initial promos were so different to what became the Firefly Funhouse, we think it counts.
The Undertaker has come and gone from WWE TV so many times, we could make an entire list. In 2011, the company began running vignettes like this one. While it was pretty obvious that the videos were about the return of the Deadman, they never explicitly implied they were about him.
Eventually, February 21st of 2011 came around, and the 2022 Hall of Fame headliner once again came back to Monday Night Raw. But he wasn't the only one.
While these video segments hyped up the Undertaker's return to action, Triple H took the opportunity to come back as well.
With a list like this, we can't end it with just one series of vignettes. We've got to go all Lord of the Rings and wrap it up with a trilogy.
#1. The Chris Jericho Trilogy
Nearly every time Chris Jericho came to WWE, it was shrouded in mystery.
In 1999, the Ayatollah of Rock n' Rolla made the jump from WCW to WWE. He was arguably the first major star from Ted Turner's promotion that never worked for Vince McMahon to come to New York. To hype up the debut of their new acquisition, WWE began running segments celebrating the "countdown to the new Millennium."
After some stumbling, Jericho not only got his bearings, but became WWE's very first Undisputed Champion. It wouldn't be the last time Le Champion would return to WWE and become the Best in the World. But, before he did that, he had to come back to save us all.
After a much-needed break, Jericho returned to WWE in 2007. But before that happened, vignettes began to run on WWE TV. They featured walls of Matrix-style computer code, begging an unknown messiah to "save us."
At the time, nobody was expecting Jericho to come back to wrestling, so when it turned out that these segments were heralding his return, it was a shock.
This run of Jericho saw him become World Champion once again - although he needed to revamp his character drastically before he did. After taking yet another rest, Jericho could have come back with the fanfare befitting a star like Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Rock. Instead, he went another route.
Jericho's return vignettes warned of the "end of the world as we know it," including a little girl with red hair that was literally (in one sense of the term) a red herring. The former champion was intending on going after then-WWE Champion CM Punk, who was billing himself as "The Best in the World" - so Jericho was proclaiming his return as the end of the world.
Jericho would return to the company a number of times following that, but never again with such an air of mystery.
Can you think of any other vignettes that promoted the return or debut of a star without revealing the superstar? Share 'em in the comments below.