Probably the most notable result of last night’s Smackdown exclusive Pay-Per-View, No Mercy, was the return of Luke Harper. It would seem like the WWE wanted Harper’s return to be important, so much so that they had Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton close out the show. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, and John Cena opened the event. Styles retained in a somewhat controversial fashion which began with AJ tapping out to both Ambrose and John Cena. The match was restarted, since two victors could not be awarded the championship.
But that feeling of the lights turning out right before Randy Orton was looking for an RKO on Bray was just a great, classic pro wrestling return. With the arena still dark and only the center of the ring lit, a hooded and straggly bearded Luke Harper stands before Orton. Causing a distraction for Bray to pick up the win, we learn that Harper is a Wyatt Family member once again, and all's right with the world.
This is a wise move for Wyatt as well as Harper. As much as I enjoyed the absurd, over-the-top mind games between Wyatt and Orton, Bray just wasn’t getting the attention he once had. Splitting up the Wyatt family never made much sense to me, as Bray’s power is supposed to lie in his ability to control his followers in the best cult leader gimmick since The Jackal.
I’m glad Harper’s return was emphasized. I was getting tired of big returns being announced ahead of time just so people would tune into Raw or Smackdown. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Harper needed to make a substantial impact. The same theory could have applied to Dolph Ziggler if he had lost his career to the Miz. In what could be considered the match of the night, Ziggler won the IC title and kept his job. But part of me thought it would have been good for Dolph to take some time off and make people miss him a lil bit. Sometimes hard work, hustle, and being the first one there and the last to leave is no substitute for nostalgia and a renewed welcome.
Also in wrestling, we have ourselves a shortage of legends. With the biggest names from the most watched and mainstream wrestling periods (Rock n’ Wrestling era and Attitude era) having retired (or deceased), it’s hard to foresee a good dream match. However, Chris Jericho isn’t the only one who shows interest in coming back to battle some of the young, new elites. Yes, this is Jericho’s best and longest run in many years, and it could be attributed in part to the fact that he has great interest in working with talented performers. He came back to wrestle the likes of Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles, and at the height of his popularity, Fandango (it was worth a shot). With so many indie stars and homegrown NXT superstars flooding in, it may lure in some old faces.
The widest spread rumor is that of Goldberg’s potential return, after a teaser of the WWE2K17 video game featured Bill looking up at a Suplex City highway sign. Since Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg notoriously had one of the worst WrestleMania matches of all time at WM 20, it’s plausible that they might want to redeem themselves and their legacies, especially since it was Goldberg’s final match.
Another likely dream match we could see at next year’s WrestleMania is the highly anticipated Undertaker vs. Sting match. Of course, this was probably supposed to have happened already. Sting, however, was badly injured in his match against Seth Rollins and has been advised to never wrestle again. Then again, in a recent interview with JBL on the WWE Network, Sting said that he feels fine and that he thinks he could compete. Something tells me that Sting may just opt out of his potential surgery and challenge the Dead Man for one last match on the grandest stage of them all. And let’s not forget that Taker did say that last year’s WrestleMania would not be his last match.
There are a few other stars who have been speculated to return. Shawn Michaels retired and went from looking pretty bad, to worse, and then kinda good again. Last time we saw Michaels, it appeared as if he’d been hitting the gym and getting back into wrestling shape. But, who could a guy with as illustrious a career as HBK possibly want to face? Since there’s a new kid in town who has often been compared to Michaels in the ring, I would not be shocked if the Showstopper came back for one last match against the Phenomenal One, AJ Styles. Michaels has a great track record for facing phenoms. It would have to happen sooner rather than later, so hopefully HBK can find his smile once more for a phenomenal matchup.
There are legends out there who could return to face a new class of performer. The Rock is always in wrestling shape and has returned in the past to face the likes of John Cena and CM Punk. I certainly wouldn’t mind a big fight atmosphere surrounding the The Great One and the prize fighting Kevin Owens. The promos between them with some Jericho in the side would feel like 1999 all over again.
Then, there’s always the looming wonder of where and when Kurt Angle will return to WWE. Though he’s been on bad terms with Triple H for some time, Angle has seemed to clean himself up a bit in an attempt to get in the good graces of WWE’s Wellness Program. Consistently showing interest in coming home to WWE, the Olympic Hero would be able to provide this fresh roster with valuable insight as one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Plus, so many of his TNA buddies are already there! He’s the only Hall of Fame worthy wrestler who hasn’t made amends, but it’s only a matter of time. Once he can prove he’s no longer a liability, we could see Kurt Angle have great matches once again with...well...pretty much anybody.
Let’s hope some of these dream matches take place outside of a video game. These things are as much about the hype than the actual match. But please, don’t announce it ahead of time. I want to pop. I want to be teased. I want you to play hard to get with me and turn the lights off. Build and build and build toward that spectacular climax like I know you can, WWE. When the lights turn back on and I see a familiar face, I’ll be satisfied once they whisper those three magic words in my ear...
One. More. Match.