Coming Back To WWE: Examining The Impact Of Returns Under Triple H

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We have seen a ton of WWE returns under Triple H since he took over during the summer, which begs the question of when is it enough?

People draw the comparison to all of the returns and debuts in AEW. Sometimes it is easy to forget that WWE under Vince McMahon released over 200 wrestlers over the last two years since the start of the pandemic. The rosters were so depleted over the last two years that the depth of the Raw and Smackdown was so bad that it was actively hurting the show. One of the reasons I have given Triple H a pass is that most of the talent he has brought in were talents that WWE released over the last two years. It’s not just random talents that got released elsewhere. Now, I do think that they could use some fresh new talent, but pretty much all of the returns you’ve seen were just correcting the mistakes of the previous regime.

Another thing I have enjoyed is that nearly every person that has been brought back is being put in some kind of role. Whether you agree with their role or not is subjective, but they’ve at least attempted to bring them in in some sort of role opposite just sitting in catering.

One thing I always had issues with AEW on is the fact that, unless you were a big star coming in, they’d give you the obligatory TNT Title shot and then you’re subjected to AEW Dark for months. Why would you just sign somebody unless you have an idea of how to use them? I get wanting depth but there were some people like Jake Atlas who was clear that he wasn’t going to be used and that was before his injury and personal problems. Damage CTRL, Karrion Kross, Emma, Mia Yim, Hit Row, etc were all brought in for specific reasons and not just to sit them in catering or Main Event. Do I agree with the booking of everybody that has been brought back? No, but I do appreciate the effort being made.

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I’ve also noticed the complaints that a lot of these talents received upon returning to WWE. I remember like it was yesterday the amount of hate WWE got all over social networks when talent like Kross, Tegan Nox, Mia Yim, Dakota Kai, etc were released. WWE was taken to task for not knowing what to do with said talents, and releasing talents like Gallows and Anderson. Yet, when they returned, I saw loads of “Why bring them back instead of so and so?” or “They didn’t get any reaction” or my favorite “Triple H signs too many people but if it was Tony Khan, you’d be upset.”

It perfectly illustrates my point that people only cared because it gave them something else to dunk on WWE for. Nobody advocated for some of these when they were there but acted like it was a travesty when they were released. Now, they’re back and people are asking why. As a wise planet’s champion once said: “Fickle!”

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Prior to Smackdown this past Friday, Tegan Nox hasn’t wrestled since her release last year. If anybody deserves a chance to be on national television, it’s her. Yet, the comments I saw when she came back, you would’ve thought she hurt somebody. Sure, WWE could’ve brought some of these talents back in more satisfying ways. A lot of these returns were cold returns with no build up. If that’s the argument I saw, I get it. Except it isn’t.

Triple H (and his creative team) needs to do a better job of giving them something meaningful. However, the reason I haven’t come down on him the way I come down on Tony Khan is for two reasons. Number one, Tony has just three hours of television to fill every week and upwards of 172 wrestlers signed to some sort of deal. That includes tiered deals and people who are injured. That’s for three hours of television. The rest of the time it’s Dark and Elevation on YouTube. WWE has 209 talents signed to contracts and that includes people who are injured, part-time guys like Brock Lesnar, and talents who haven’t appeared on TV yet. That’s across seven hours of television a week.

With four fewer hours a week, AEW has only 37 less wrestlers under contract. WWE simply has more room for talent due to all three shows being separate and not having too much crossover, except NXT. AEW, you have the same guys wrestling every show. Miro has wrestled FOUR matches all year. That’s the issue. When that starts happening in WWE, I will be the first to call it out.

Karrion Kross and The O.C. (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) were two of the biggest misses out of all of the WWE releases under the previous regime. Bray Wyatt is another, who is back to being one of the biggest stars in the company. LA Knight is back wit that name again instead of being a manager named Max Dupri with models.

Triple H is correcting those mistakes and I feel he deserves a chance to do so. Tony Khan had a honeymoon period of about three years where he could do anything and sign anyone without much backlash. Let’s at least give Triple H ONE year to get his roster and personnel in place before we start labeling it a failure. Remember, Triple H took over from Vince McMahon in late July, so it hasn’t even been five months yet. By the time the Royal Rumble comes in late January, that will be right around six months of Triple H booking.

Another thing worth pointing out is that some big names have been missing due to injury or other reasons. Triple H hasn’t had Cody Rhodes, Big E, Randy Orton, Sasha Banks, Naomi, or Charlotte Flair for his entire regime so far. I think he’s doing a pretty good job of putting some depth back on the WWE roster.

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Could things be better? Absolutely. I want to see Mustafa Ali used better, and Johnny Gargano. However, I think WWE’s on-screen product is miles better than it was six months ago. I’ll say the same thing I said when those mass releases first happened. Do not cry and complain about a talent getting released when you didn’t advocate for them while they were there. A lot of these talents are the same talents you complained were never given a fair shot AFTER they were released. Yet, now they’re being given their shot. Stop pretending to be upset about it. Smile more. Be happy these ultra-talented individuals are getting a second chance with the biggest company in the world. A lot of these guys and girls dreamed of making it in WWE. Let them live out that dream. Complain about the booking if you want. Don’t complain about talent being given a chance to sink or swim.

It’s a great time to be a professional wrestling fan. Who knew, in 2022, that the leaders of the two biggest companies would not include Vince McMahon? Wild times, but I am looking forward to 2023 and what it brings to both WWE and AEW. Talent will likely switch companies. Contracts run out, releases happen and some unpredictable things take place along the way. It’s what made the Monday Night Wars so special because you had guys like Lex Luger in WCW and X-Pac in WWF who just popped up out of nowhere. It’s exciting as long as you allow it to be.


Thanks for reading. Check out my TJRWrestling writing archive here. I’m on Twitter @GiftedMoney talking about wrestling among other things, so feel free to message me on there with any thoughts or comments. Until next time.