Over the last year, WWE has been without a few of its top stars for extended periods of time because of injuries and other circumstances. As 2014 comes to a close, the company is hoping to get back wrestlers who haven’t been on TV for the last few months.
Following Survivor Series on Sunday, Nov. 23, only one pay-per-view remains until the Royal Rumble and the start of WrestleMania season. While this is usually the time of year that rumors begin to swirl about former WWE stars returning, some big names on the current roster could make their return within the next couple of weeks.
It’s been two months since the WWE World Heavyweight Champion appeared on WWE TV, retaining his title against John Cena at Night of Champions. Lesnar didn’t defend his belt at Hell in a Cell, and he isn’t expected to show up at Survivor Series or TLC on Dec. 13, either.
According to Wrestle Zone, Lensar is being advertised for “Monday Night Raw” on Dec. 14 in Detroit, as well as the episode on Jan. 12 in New Orleans. Cena has won the right to take on Lesnar for the title, and it appears that the former UFC champion will make his return to the ring at the Royal Rumble.
The winner of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31 has stayed relatively quiet since undergoing neck surgery in May, which forced him to relinquish his title. Bryan appeared on the pre-show for the Money in the Bank pay per view in June, but hasn’t been on live TV for WWE in months.
After Bryan’s initial surgery, rumors persisted that he would need to undergo a second procedure. Last month, the Big Show announced at a "SmackDown" taping that Bryan would need another surgery, and the former champion recently told Comcast Sports Net Bay Area that he might undergo a second surgery on his elbow. Bryan went on to say that he hopes to return in January and have a match at WrestleMania 31, but nobody knows for sure when he will be able to return.
Short of CM Punk returning at the Royal Rumble, it's hard to imagine any other WWE superstar that wrestled in 2014 getting a bigger pop at the PPV. Fans turned on the Royal Rumble last year when Bryan wasn’t involved in the final match.
The former Shield member seemed destined for stardom, rumored to take the belt off Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. However, Reigns’ push was halted shortly before Night of Champions when he was forced to undergo emergency surgery because of an incarcerated hernia.
WWE initially reported that the injury would keep Reigns out for several months and Reigns hasn’t competed in the ring since mid-September. He’s made a few appearances on “Raw,” via satellite, but the company hasn’t indicated that he will be returning soon.
The plan for Reigns to be in the main event of WrestleMania 31 could still be in place. He is advertised to fight Kane on Dec. 26 as part of WWE’s holiday tour. If Reigns is back before 2015, he will still be the favorite to win the Royal Rumble.