Even though we’re not quite through the year just yet, 2022 has undoubtedly been one of the most eventful stretches of time in modern WWE history, with multiple superstars and on-screen personality leaving the company — most notably Vince McMahon, who stepped down as CEO and Chairman after several decades in July. But, just as major names like Mr. McMahon, his son Shane, and others have left the biggest wrestling company in the world, others have returned to their former home this year.
With so many WWE wrestlers returning in 2022 it can be a difficult task keeping up with them all, especially when former world champions, fan-favorites, and dastardly heels seem to be coming back every week. To help you (as well as ourselves) keep track of all the big returns, we have put together a running list that will be updated with each return. Let’s get started, shall we?
One of the worst kept secrets in all of professional wrestling became one of the biggest moments of WrestleMania 38 and a contender for moment of the year in April 2022, when Cody Rhodes returned to WWE following a nearly six-year absence. The son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes left the company in May 2016, and went on to find a great deal of success in various promotions around the world like Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling before helping get AEW off the ground.
Immediately following his return, Rhodes entered into an exciting feud with Seth Rollins (his WrestleMania 38 opponent), including an incredible bout at Hell in a Cell in June. Though the contest earned WWE its first 5-star match from Dave Meltzer since CM Punk defeated John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011, Rhodes further aggravated a pectoral injury and has been out of action ever since.
WWE went through a major shift in the immediate fallout from Vince McMahon stepping down and putting Triple H in charge of a lot of the company’s operations. One of the biggest changes came in the opening minutes of SummerSlam 2022, when former NXT tag-team champion Dakota Kai, who was released in April 2022, returned to WWE to start up a new stable with Iyo Sky (formerly known as Io Shirai) and Bayley (more on her later).
Kai’s shocking return to WWE also marked her main roster debut as she had spent the previous seven years of her tenure with the company working her way up the NXT food chain. Since then, the Damage CTRL stable has found itself involved in some major matches, including a victory over the team of Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, and Asuka.
Karrion Kross And Scarlett Bordeaux
Karrion Kross and Scarlett Bordeaux were just two of the several dozen WWE Superstars who departed the company in 2021, but their absence wasn’t all that long as they returned to the “Leader in Sports Entertainment” less than a year after their release. On an August 2022 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, the real-life couple returned and made their intentions clear when Kross attacked Drew McIntyre before having a stare-down with WWE Undisputed Universal Champion, Roman Reigns.
Since their return, Kross and Bordeaux have been toying with the former WWE Champion, with all roads leading towards a marquee match between the two at some point in the very near future.
Like Dakota Kai, former NXT wrestler Dexter Lumis was released from WWE in April 2022, only to show up again fewer than four months later. On the night of his return on the August 8th episode of Monday Night Raw, Lumis was involved in a series of chaotic incidents, including a car wreck backstage, a police presence, and hanging out in the crowd during the main event match between AJ Styles and The Miz.
Since then, Lumis has gone from being arrested at Raw and NXT 2.0 to playing mind games with The Miz, causing him to lose several matches in the process. And now it looks like Lumis will be squaring off against the former WWE Champion at some point in the coming weeks.
Hit Row (Ashante ‘Thee’ Adonis, Top Dolla, B-Fab)
The stable Hit Row (Ashante “Thee” Adonis, Top Dolla, B-Fab) made its return to WWE in August 2022, just nine months after its members were released from their contracts. The group made its presence felt once again by attacking a group of jobbers (a.k.a. local talent) before entering a feud with the Maximum Male Models stable over the course of the following weeks.
While most of the group returned, former member Isaiah “Swerve” Scott did not join his former stablemates as he joined rival AEW earlier in the year, where he is currently one part of the AEW tag-team champion team, Swerve In Our Glory, alongside another former NXT standout, Keith Lee.
Not even a year after leaving WWE following multiple years of success with the NXT brand, Johnny Gargano returned to WWE and made his main roster debut when he showed up on an August 2022 episode of Monday Night Raw to a hero’s welcome from the electric crowd. But, the welcome back party was short-lived, as Theory, the Money in the Bank contract holder and Gargano’s former stablemate in The Way, interrupted his emotional speech.
Gargano, clearly working as a babyface upon his return (he was wrestling as a heel before his December 2021 departure), has a lot of potential in the new WWE landscape.
Braun Strowman, a.k.a. “The Monster Among Men” returned to WWE in September 2022 and immediately picked up where he left off, meaning he just started manhandling wrestlers like it was nothing. Strowman built up quick a name for himself during his initial eight-year run with WWE, which saw him come up as a member of the Wyatt Family before finding success on his own. However, after several championship reigns, including one as WWE Champion, Strowman left the company in 2021 and branched out with his Control Your Narrative promotion.
It’s too early to tell what will come of Strowman’s second run with WWE or the fate of his CYN company, but the behemoth of a wrestler once again has a ton of potential in the squared circle.
WWE Superstars Who Have Made Comebacks In 2022
In addition to the wrestlers who have returned to WWE in 2022, several superstars still with the company have made comebacks so far this year. The biggest name on that list is Ronda Rousey, who returned at the Royal Rumble in January and immediately inserted herself into the title picture with a victory in the 30-woman battle royal. After what seemed like an eternity, Bayley returned later in the year to form the Damage CTRL stable at SummerSlam. Then, at Clash at the Castle in September, Giovanni Vinci (formerly known as Fabian Aichner) rejoined his Imperium stablemates on the main roster to stand in Gunther's corner in a match against Sheamus.
There is still a lot of wrestling left on the calendar with several notable upcoming WWE events scheduled to take place before the end of the year. If you want to watch any of those premium live events and see even more potential returns, you’ll need a Peacock premium subscription.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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