9 Superstars who surprisingly returned to the WWE
#8 Stone Cold Steve Austin
This seems like a strange one, Steve Austin was the biggest star for the WWE during the Attitude Era. Whether he was feuding with the likes Triple H, the Rock, Bret Hart, Kurt Angle, the Undertaker, or his greatest nemesis Vince McMahon, Stone Cold usually occupied the prime position at the top of the card for the majority of the late 90s and early 2000s. The 6-time WWF Champion, 3-time Royal Rumble Winner, 1996 King of the Ring and Hall of Famer was the biggest face of the company for a long stretch of time.
However, after participating in the Invasion storyline as the leader of the Alliance faction between WCW and ECW stables, Austin was relegated to a more subdued role after Vince McMahon resigned Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash to form their NWO stable in the WWE. Austin, who had issues with Hogan in the past was not given the opportunity to wrestle the returning Hogan. After the angle with the NWO, Austin didn't appear at a Raw that he was scheduled to be at, without informing the company first. This would quickly become a trend as Austin grew tired and restless with his position.
After returning to the company, Austin was positioned to feud against WWE's newest rising star Brock Lesnar. According to reports both at the time and after the fact, Austin refused to participate in a match with Lesnar in which he would lose. Instead, Austin chose to walk out of the company, once again no-showing several shows that he was scheduled to appear at. Austin's merchandise and profile were removed from the WWE website. Vince and the Rock both went out in front of the live audience and claimed that Austin had "taken his ball and went home".
However, Austin returned to the company in 2003, having patched things up with Vince McMahon. Austin and McMahon would discuss their issues years later on an episode of Austin's podcast with Austin comparing the situation to McMahon's issues with CM Punk. McMahon stated that while the situation was similar, as both had chosen to walk out on the WWE, the difference was that Austin was reachable through Jim Ross, whereas Punk was more isolationist and didn't have a Ross-type figure in the company.