10 WWE returns you probably don't remember
In WWE and professional wrestling overall, a superstar's return is often a momentous occasion. Whether it's announced beforehand or a complete surprise, a wrestler's return usually gets the fans talking.
However, there have been a number of returns that have failed to make a big splash. Be it a one-night appearance or an extended run with the company, here are 10 WWE returns you probably don't remember.
#10. Grandmaster Sexay: Returned to WWE in 2004
Brian Christopher Lawler was a popular staple of the Attitude Era. As part of Too Cool, Grand Master Sexay wowed fans with his entertaining dance moves and high energy style. It seemed that for a while, he had branched out from the looming shadow of his father Jerry "The King" Lawler.
After being fired in 2001, Sexay returned as part of the RAW brand in 2004. Re-signed by Jim Ross in his last act as Vice President of Talent Relations, Sexay would stay on the roster for just around a month before being released again.
Many often forget Grandmaster Sexay's 2004 return as he was not featured alongside his Too Cool stablemates. At the time of Sexay's return, Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty had reunited on Smackdown to more noticeable acclaim.
The younger Lawler would make a handful of more memorable appearances for WWE in 2011 and 2014 before taking his own life in 2018.
#9. Armando Estrada: Returned to WWE in 2011
One of the most memorable WWE managers in recent history, Armando Estrada is often remembered as the fiery Cuban mouthpiece for Umaga. Known for his exaggerated Cuban accent, numerous cigars, and the way he would pronounce his own name, Estrada was a colorful character.
Following his high-profile partnership with the Samoan Bulldozer, Estrada would become the General Manager of ECW and later transition into an in-ring role. He would eventually be released in 2008 but was re-signed two years later.
But Estrada only appeared over six months later on an episode of WWE Superstars. Shedding his accent and flamboyant costumes, the new Armando Estrada was presented as a serious businessman. Standing in Tyson Kidd's corner during his search for the perfect manager, Estrada did not return following this sole appearance.
Interestingly, he remained on WWE's pay-roll for over a year despite never appearing on TV or being mentioned ever again. In 2013, Estrada announced his retirement but has since returned to the business under his earlier gimmick, managing Jacob Fatu on the Independent scene.
#8. D-Lo Brown: Returned to WWE in 2008
D-Lo Brown was one of WWE's most underrated upper mid-card performers. Capable of working solo or in a team, the former Nation of Domination member is also known for being one of WWE's three "Euro-Continental" Champions.
Brown was released from WWE in 2003 following an eventful five-year stint with the company. While he often rubbed shoulders with some of WWE's top stars, Brown himself was never elevated to the same level. Following his release, Brown would wrestle all over the world and grow into a seasoned veteran.
In 2008, Brown would re-sign with WWE after sporadically working a number of dark matches for the company. Defeating Santino Marella in his first televised match back, Brown would soon slide down the card and would not feature in any notable storylines. Less than a year later, he would be released from the company as a cost-cutting measure.
#7. Gangrel: Returned to WWE in 2004
In the Attitude Era, few wrestlers were as memorable as Gangrel. Fans remembered the wrestling vampire for his blood-spitting theatrics, frilly white shirt and of course, his epic entrance where he ascended up the ramp in a ring of fire, as one of WWE's most iconic themes played in the background.
Despite never winning a championship on his own, the leader of The Brood was always fondly remembered. After being released by WWE in 2001, Gangrel returned just three years later alongside Viscera to attack The Undertaker. The former Ministry members would battle in a 2-on-1 Handicap match on Smackdown.
While Viscera would later go on to have a memorable run, the fanged superstar would quickly depart from the company to little fanfare. Interestingly, Gangrel would be hired and fired twice over the next two years, and made just one more appearance for the company in 2007.
Today, David Heath continues to wrestle occasionally on the independent scene and has made a number of cameos for AEW. His legacy also continues to live on in WWE as well with his former protege Edge, who uses The Brood 's theme song and entrance on select occasions.
#6. Colin Delaney: Returned to WWE in 2017
Over the years, WWE has had its fair share of memorable jobbers. Smaller, less intimidating underdogs who lose many more matches than they win, Colin Delaney was the perfect example of such a character.
Initially debuting in 2007 for ECW, Delaney was introduced as a young enhancement talent who sought to earn an official contract while under the tutelage of Tommy Dreamer. Delaney would later turn on his mentor, but was released from the company shortly after losing a match to the Innovator of Violence.
After spending almost a decade away on the independent scene, Delaney would return to the company in late 2017. As it was when he made his debut, Delaney was once again used as an enhancement talent. Squashed by the Bludgeon Brothers, he would make two more appearances for the company in 2018, losing to Hideo Itami and Lio Rush.
Delaney's absence and return were barely acknowledged on TV and aside from the introduction of his name, he was never given an entrance or anything else to distinguish himself from a local jobber.
#5. Haku: Returned to WWF in 2001
Respected by his fellow wrestlers as one of the toughest people in the industry, Haku's exploits have been the stuff of legend.
Having worked for the WWF from 1986-1992, the Tongan superstar enjoyed success as a top heel who often battled the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. He would then embark on a career in WCW as Meng, where he reigned as the Hardcore Champion.
Following his WCW stint, the superstar would revert to the Haku name after making a surprise return in the 2001 Royal Rumble match. He would then form a tag team with Rikishi, which ended shortly after the latter suffered an injury. While his legitimate reputation was initially played up on camera, the premature dissolution of his team with Rikishi saw Haku being pushed further down the card and not being featured in storylines.
Haku would remain with the company until 2002 where he was released after his appearances grew more sporadic. Haku continues to occasionally appear in all manner of wrestling programs, usually in the corner of his sons.
#4. Greg Valentine: Returned to WWE in 2005
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine is one of the greatest professional wrestlers in history. A bona-fide legend, The Hammer found great success with the WWF in the 80s where he won the Tag Team and Intercontinental Championships.
The second-generation legend would spend the 90s alternating between various major promotions before choosing to work a more limited schedule to focus on a career in real estate. In 2004, Valentine would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Despite getting a bit older and working lesser dates, Valentine enjoyed wrestling independently when he could.
As the veteran was still capable of working a match, WWE decided to bring him back to wrestle Rob Conway, who was feuding with various legends. Returning on a 2005 episode of Sunday Night Heat, Valentine would lose the match by disqualification following the interference of an overzealous Eugene.
The Hammer made one more appearance in 2008 for Ric Flair's retirement ceremony. While he was initially considered a possible opponent for Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 25, plans changed and Valentine has not appeared for the company in over a decade. Today, the Hall of Famer is a frequent presence at signings and indie events.
#3. The Iron Sheik: Returned to WWF in 1996
The Iron Sheik is well-known to generations of wrestling fans for a multitude of reasons. Older fans may remember him as a former WWF Champion who was eventually dethroned by Hulk Hogan. Younger fans will likely recognize him for his amusing interviews and colorful demeanor. However, few people remember his WWF return from 1996-1997.
By the 90s, the former world champion had long since fallen from the forefront of the wrestling business. In fact, The Iron Sheik's last main event appearance was at Summerslam 1991 where he performed as the equally forgettable Colonel Mustafa. By the mid 90s, the Iranian superstar was no longer a full-time wrestler.
However, this did not stop WWF from re-hiring the veteran performer in a managerial position. Interestingly, he would align himself with Bob Backlund, his former rival and the man whom The Iron Sheik dethroned for the WWF Championship in 1983.
In the years to follow, The Iron Sheik would make a number of more memorable one-off appearances such as at WrestleMania X-7 where he won the Gimmick Battle Royal. However, his final full-time run with the company has often been overlooked.
#2. George Steele: Returned to WWF in 1998
George "The Animal" Steele was certainly one of the most memorable wrestlers of the 1980s. Initially portrayed as a menacing wild-man who clawed and bit opponents, The Animal would transition into a more comedic role during WWF's first big break into the mainstream.
With his bald head, hairy back and green tongue, Steele amused fans with his intelligible promos and turnbuckle ripping antics. By then, The Animal was already in his late-40s and would soon retire from the ring after a battle with Crohn's disease.
Steele would spend most of the 90s working behind the scenes with the WWF as an agent. In 1995, he would be honored with an induction into the Hall of Fame. However, his on-screen career was not over yet.
Coming out of retirement in 1997, Steele would make a one-off WWF appearance and began to wrestle independently. The following year, the Hall of Famer would be given a more full-time role on TV as a member of The Oddities. Like The Animal, The Oddities were initially presented as terrifying heels but turned into fun-loving babyfaces.
Dubbed the Original Odditiy, Steele would wrestle alongside the popular group for a number of months before departing the WWF completely. While The Oddities themselves were strangely popular, few remember The Animal being amongst their ranks.
#1. Tatanka: Returned to WWE in 2005 (and again in 2016)
Closing off this list, we have Tatanka. A Superstar who made not one, but two forgettable returns to WWE. Initially introduced during the WWF's New Generation period, the Native American Superstar was pushed strongly with a months-long winning streak upon his debut.
By the time he was first released from the company in 1996, Tatanka had worked with megastars such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Diesel and The Undertaker. He would then spend the next few years wrestling on the independent scene before being called back to WWE in late 2005.
Unfortunately, when he returned to the company, times had changed and Tatanka's character failed to shift with the current preferences of a more modern audience. Entering the 2006 Royal Rumble match, Tatanka's appearance was treated as a surprise despite him having been back on the roster for a couple of months. In many ways, that summarized the situation aptly.
Tatanka would spend the remainder of the year with no significant storylines or feuds. While a brief heel turn did seem to have the potential to freshen things up, he was released before anything substantial could come of it. Following his second release, Tatanka would sign a Legend's contract and make a few cameos over the years.
Over a decade on from his first forgettable return, Tatanka would do it again. At WrestleMania 32, the veteran would compete in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal as a surprise entrant. Unlike other surprises like DDP and Shaq, Tatanka would not receive his own entrance and many did not even realize that he was there to begin with.
Unlike the other returns who were forgotten by just the fans, Tatanka's WrestleMania 32 appearance took it a step further with even the commentators not realizing that he was in the match until after he was eliminated. It's sad how such a capable and talented performer got so lost in the shuffle.