Report after report has surfaced as of late claiming the WWE has reached out to a talent of yesteryear. First, it was Bill Goldberg. When he was announced as a playable character in WWE 2K17, the internet erupted into speculation that this meant his inevitable return to the ring. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Then, there’s the ongoing saga with Kurt Angle. One day, he’s “definitely” coming back. The next, he hasn’t even talked to the WWE. While a legend in his own right, Angle’s health is a major concern. Regardless of who acts first, the olive branch needs to be extended so that he can take his rightful spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. That should be the extent of his involvement with the company, though.
Jeff Hardy has been another name on the rumored radar of WWE, but he doesn’t exactly lead the healthiest lifestyle. Considering WWE’s willingness to suspend Roman Reigns, its’ supposed ‘face of the franchise,’ over a wellness policy violation, I can’t imagine this being a signing the WWE wants to risk right now.
So, why even bother with stars of the past? It’s an effort to fortify the roster with enough talent and name recognition to make both brands, Raw and Smackdown, feel equally competitive. The truth is that there’s plenty of talent out there to make this happen.
I’d like to preface this by pointing out how incredibly asinine it was to allow Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, and Damien Sandow flounder around the mid-card to the point that they either asked for their release or were terminated. All three are tremendous wrestlers, and considering the upcoming brand split, should have had prominent, secure roles in the company.
Those are the first three phone calls I’d make.
Alright, the top 10:
10. Chris Masters – Masters absolutely had the look and persona of a superstar when he debuted for WWE in 2005. As it turned out, it was a tad too good to be true, and he was released in 2007 after repeated violations of the Wellness Policy. He had a decent return to the company in 2009, but it never really clicked. Still, there’s a place for The Masterpiece in 2016.
9. Mr. Kennedy – Yeah, maybe things petered off in grand fashion towards the end of Kennedy’s initial WWE run. That didn’t stop him from becoming a staple in TNA, where he was allowed to show his full potential as a wrestler. He could be a valuable addition to the WWE if all parties involved could let bygones be bygones.
8. Matt Hardy – It’s kind of weird. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck. Yet, at the same time, Hardy’s latest work is mesmerizing. Outside of the Matt Hardy: Version 2.0 era, he’s doing some of the best work of his career. It’s worth a thought.
7. Rob Van Dam – RVD is a legend, and ought to be a Hall of Famer someday. While he’s not going to come in and be the workhorse he was in the early 2000s, his draw certainly warrants a Chris Jericho-esque deal.
6. Carlito – Carlito was a tremendous talent whose rumored “work ethic issues” kept him from ever reaching the cusp of greatness. It’s been reported that the WWE already has interest in bringing him back, and if that’s the case, it’s definitely a call worth making.
5. Rey Mysterio – Much like RVD, Mysterio is getting on up there in age, but he still has more than a few good matches left in him. He was a part of the original group that elevated Smackdown to rival Raw in 2002. Why not give him a role now once his Lucha Underground stint is over?
4. Shelton Benjamin – Benjamin was one of the most gifted athletes in WWE history, but never transcended to the main event picture. He remains one of the most talented athletes in wrestling to this day, and is always a lock for a solid match. There’s definitely a spot for a proven wrestler like him on the WWE roster.
3. John Morrison – Morrison parted ways with the WWE and proceeded to wrestle the lights out for Lucha Underground. It’s been said that Vince McMahon was high on Morrison at the time of his departure and both were mutually open for a return. How his comments about Roman Reigns effects his good standing remains to be seen, but he’s still one of the premiere talents in the world.
2. Batista – No, things didn’t end well between the WWE. The company completely botched his return, a return that was supposed to lead to the main event of Wrestlemania and a WWE Championship run. Still, if the WWE is looking for proven guys, Batista is the most proven WWE wrestler out there who isn’t currently signed with the company. Pay him what he wants.
1. MVP – MVP is the only wrestler outside of the WWE who is both established, but yet, still never reached his true potential with the company. In other words, he never had a run at the top of the card, but conceivably still could without it feeling stale and overdone. He is great on the mic and in the ring. There’s no reason he couldn’t be one of the top stars on either brand.
Now, be honest – you totally thought CM Punk was going to be on this list, didn’t you?
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, covers the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor of The SoBros Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.