The WWE Youtube channel team does a great job of coming up with unique videos on a regular basis. Recently, they posted the Top 10 Surprising WWE Returns of 2021, so it’s time to check out their list.
What I’ll do is go over the ten choices while proving some insight along the way. Just a reminder that this is not my list. It is in the order that WWE posted on the Youtube clip, which I’ll post below.
10. Sasha Banks Saves Bianca Belair
This was on July 30 on Smackdown when Bianca Belair (Smackdown Women’s Champion at the time) was getting beat up by Carmella and Zelina Vega. Sasha Banks made her return after being off since WrestleMania, so it was nearly four months away. Bankes saved Belair, they hugged and the fans loved it. This was right after fans were back at shows too. Later that night, Banks turned heel on Belair after a tag team match victory. A few months later, Banks was back in babyface mode again. She turns a lot.
9. Carlito Enters The Royal Rumble Match
Everybody loves a Royal Rumble surprise. Too bad there was no live crowd for this one. Carlito was back after about a decade out of WWE and he was in great shape. Carlito was in the rmatch for 8:26, he didn’t eliminate anybody and he was tossed out by Elias. Carlito was on Raw the next night as well. That was it. This was not a full-time return for Carlito. who continues to wrestle at indy shows all around the world.
8. Zelina Vega Returns
This was on July 2nd when WWE Official Sonya Deville announced Vega as a competitor in the Women’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match. Vega left WWE late in 2020 due to a dispute over WWE’s issues with third party platforms like Twitch, so she got fired or quit depending on who is telling the story. Anyway, she came back on Smackdown in July. Vega didn’t win Money in the Bank, but she has been on a roll as the Queen’s Crown Tournament winner along with a Tag Team Title reign with Carmella. Good for her.
7. Jimmy Uso Comes Back
It was the May 7th edition of Smackdown – an “Old School” episode – when the “Tribal Chief” Universal Champion Roman Reigns was in the ring doing a promo telling us that he always gives us what we want. That led to Jimmy Uso making his return as an active member of the roster. Jimmy tore his ACL at WrestleMania 36 in a Ladder Match. He was probably ready to return to ther ing before this, but I think they were waiting for the right moment. After some tension with Jimmy not being on the same page with Roman, they ended up working together and The Usos have been Tag Team Champions for several months. There’s no doubt The Usos are one of the best tag teams in WWE history and they’re in the prime of their careers.
6. Edge Confronts The Bloodline
It was June 25th on Smackdown when Roman Reigns was doing yet another promo in the ring when Edge’s music hit. It was Edge’s return after more two months off following WrestleMania 37 in April. Edge lost at WrestleMania due to interference, so he wanted revenge against Reigns. Edge took it to Reigns and got the advantage. That would lead to Reigns vs. Edge at Money in the Bank in July (the first PPV with fans back) where Edge lost because of Seth Rollins. That started the feud with Edge and Rollins that was one of the best rivalries in WWE in 2021.
5. Goldberg Wants Bobby Lashley
The July 19 episode of Raw saw Bill Goldberg make his return to confront the confident WWE Champion Bobby Lashley. Even though Goldberg got a WWE Title match in January and lost to Drew McIntyre, he got yet another title shot. Goldberg told Lashley: “I’m next!” Lashley won their match at SummerSlam to keep the WWE Title, but the feud continued because Lashley put the Hurt Lock submission on Goldberg’s son Gage. That led to a grudge match at Crown Jewel with Goldberg picking up the win in what was probably one of Goldberg’s best matches in WWE.
4. The Demon Crawls Into WWE
Finn Balor appeared on the September 10 edition of Smackdown in Madison Square Garden, but it was not a regular looking Balor. It was “The Demon” Balor, who got a huge ovation from the crowd. This would lead to The Demon confronting Universal Champion Roman Reigns and it would lead into their match at the Extreme Rules PPV in September. Reigns won that match in a cheap manner for what was a rare loss for The Demon.
3. John Cena Confronts Roman Reigns
I honestly thought this would be number one. The pop for Cena was enormous. It was Money in the Bank in July for the first PPV with fans back at the shows. Cena was rumored to be back for SummerSlam, but we didn’t know that definitely meant he would be back at Money in the Bank. It was such a cool moment and since it came during the PPV where fans were back at WWE events, it made it that much more special. This would lead to Reigns beating Cena at SummerSlam one month later. Speaking of SummerSlam, that got the top two spots.
2. Becky Lynch Surprises Bianca Belair
Bianca Belair was scheduled to defend the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks in a WrestleMania rematch. Going into the show, there were reports that Banks would be unable to compete in the match. There was no injury as far as I know, so the assumption when anybody misses time in 2020 or 2021 is that it may have been COVID-related. We don’t know. Anyway, it looked like Belair would face Carmella, but then there was a surprise opponent…Becky Lynch. It was Becky’s first appearance since May 2020 when she announced she was pregnant. Becky gave birth to her (and father Seth Rollins) daughter Roux in December 2020, so this was her televised return about nine months after giving birth. Becky got a huge pop from the Vegas crowd at SummerSlam. Lynch would challenge Belair for the SD Women’s Title, she hit Belair with a forearm to the jaw and Lynch hit the Manhandle Slam to win the title in just 27 seconds. A shocking return and a memorable one.
1. Brock Lesnar Spoils Roman Reigns’ Celebration
It’s a good choice for the number one spot because Brock Lesnar is one of the biggest WWE superstars ever, so when he came back sporting a new look at SummerSlam in August, it was a big deal. The crowd greeted him with cheers while the Universal Champion Roman Reigns was surprised and Paul Heyman (Lesnar’s former advocate) was even more stunned. I loved the reaction of Smackdown announcers Michael Cole and Pat McAfee as well. That added to the moment. They did a great job of making it feel like a big deal. That Lesnar/Reigns confrontation led to a Universal Title match at the Crown Jewel pay-per-view, which ended in controversy and now the feud will carry into 2022 starting with Day 1 leading perhaps to WrestleMania as well. It’s been fun watching the fans react to babyface Lesnar and see how much fun he’s having in that role as well.
You can watch the full top ten list video below.
It was a good list. I think I would have arranged the top three differently because I would put Cena in first, then Lesnar and Lynch after that. However, I think it’s a major error or anything like that. After that, I’d probably put Edge at #4 instead of Demon Balor and then the rest can follow in the order they appear.
One thing that really sticks out when going over this list is that a lot of Smackdown moments were chosen instead of Raw things. The only Raw moment was Goldberg confronting Lashley. That’s not a surprise since Smackdown is better than Raw, but it just shows how much better Smackdown is. I think WWE needs to do a better job of creating bigger moments on Raw to make it feel special again. That’s something they should plan to do in the future.
Lastly, Roman Reigns was a part of five moments on here if you count Jimmy Uso, Edge, Demon Balor, Cena and Lesnar. It just shows how much of a valuable superstar Reigns is because he was involved with so many different big surprises that happened this year.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.
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