Last week, Daniel Bryan announced that he was cleared to return to in-ring competition. A lot of fans (myself included) were very pleased with the development and proceeded to talk about every possible aspect of the return. Everywhere you looked there was something else being said about Bryan: when would he wrestle, who would he feud against, should he be champion, will the beard grow back?

While I won’t ask why Bryan is getting all this attention (because that would be a very stupid question), I will point out that there are several other big names who are about to be back off the injured list. Some of these names are former World Champions and those are the kind of names that could really shake things up (say in a potential Superstar Shakeup, which is all but confirmed at this point).

Today we’re going to look at the upcoming returns of five names who have been on the injured list for various lengths of time. It’s not clear how many of them will be back in short order but it’s pretty clear that some of them will be back in the very near future. Some of these names will have a bigger impact than others, but they’re all going to be fairly prominently featured and that’s worth taking a look at.

These are in no particular order, as usual.

Jason Jordan

Let’s get one of the more unpleasant ones out of the way first. Jason Jordan was pushed at least halfway to the moon in the last few months and….well it wasn’t a complete failure. Jordan certainly has talent and can put in a solid performance when he’s given the chance. His character was hit and miss at best but if that’s tweaked enough, everything will be fine for him.

Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan - Raw Tag Team Title Match: Raw, Dec. 25, 2017

Now that being said, the key is to find the right place for him. Putting him back in the same spot isn’t going to work and I’d steer HARD away from the Kurt Angle’s son stuff. Honestly, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to retcon that and say that Jordan made the whole thing up to get a chance. It’s holding him down and Jordan can play a very good “ONE MORE MATCH” style guy ala Christian from back in 2011.

Jordan isn’t the kind of guy who can go out there and talk his way into a big match. He’s fine on the mic but it’s certainly not his strong suit. Let him show off his athleticism and go nuts from there. Also keep him out of the main event scene and in the midcard where he can grow into the singles role. There’s talent there and it would be a big shame if they wasted him like they did to some other hot young act. Like….well like American Alpha for example.

Big Cass

This one might take a little longer as the knee injury was a nasty one but it’s very clear that the company sees something in this guy. He has a great look, he can talk, and the whole size thing (say the catchphrase and I’ll smack you with a well cooked halibut) helps too. If he’s as mobile as he was before the injury, he’s going to be a very useful asset to have around the roster.

Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass - Brooklyn Street Fight: Raw, Aug. 21, 2017

Cass is the kind of guy that may not be the best at what he does, but there are several things that he does very well. Let him go out and entertain the fans while doing all the big man offense. It’s something WWE has done for years now and it’s something that they can do again with him.

I remember him being in the Universal Title four way back in 2016 and I bought him having a chance. For someone with virtually no experience on that level (or as a singles guy for that matter), it was rather impressive to make me believe that a miracle could happen. The heel run was much better than his face run and it would be the right call to follow through with the same idea. Cass has potential and WWE has just started to tap into it, meaning there’s a lot of hope for the future.

Dean Ambrose

This one is a little easier to map out. Ambrose is a very established name with a long list of titles, feuds and friendships to his name. It’s not exactly hard to bring back a fan favorite like him and there’s a host of big stories that you could throw him into without much effort. Ambrose isn’t a complicated character and that means he can fight a lot of people just as well as many others.

Dean Ambrose crashes The Miz's Intercontinental Title Comeback Tour Celebration: Raw, June 5, 2017

Now that brings us to the big question: which side should he be on? Ambrose was about as primed as you can be for a heel run but the injury put it on hold. That’s something that could be followed up on in short order ala Sheamus’ heel turn when he returned from his shoulder injury a few years back. Just have him show up and do a quick turn with the reason coming soon enough. Ambrose is better as a heel and another feud with Rollins with the roles reversed would be good stuff.

I’m not sure how far Ambrose can go in either role, but another World Title reign isn’t out of the question for him. He stays over with the fans no matter what he does and there’s no reason to not give him another chance down the line. It’s not like he has a history of getting injured so throw him out there, even against World Champion Roman Reigns. It’s not like the story is hard to write.

Samoa Joe

Speaking of someone whose story isn’t hard to write. Samoa Joe is one of those guys who can be put against anyone and it’s going to be fun. He brings the real life atmosphere to anything he’s in because you can believe that he’s one of the deadliest people on the roster. The matches against Brock Lesnar felt big because that choke is so dangerous that he might just be able to pull it off.

Brock Lesnar brawls with Samoa Joe: Raw, June 12, 2017

At the moment, it makes little sense to turn him face, so sticking with what was working before would seem like the right call. Samoa Joe isn’t the kind of guy who would work as well as a full on face (that’s just reality with some people), though I could see him getting an anti-hero run down the line.

For now though, put him against Reigns as one of the first challengers. There’s a history there and the matches will be good. After that’s over, have him choke someone out and throw the hard punches to draw the other guy into a rough fight. That’s where he does his best work and it’s something he can do for years, provided that he can stay healthy of course.

Jeff Hardy

That leaves us with the most interesting name of them all, because what in the world do you do with Jeff Hardy? He’s 40 years old and very banged up with the latest arrest not helping things. At the same time, there’s the whole Woken Universe deal which could use the boost of Brother Nero. Or do you give him that one last singles run and see if any of the old magic is still there?

The Miz vs. Jeff Hardy - Intercontinental Championship Match: Raw, Sept. 4, 2017

If you leave the arrest to the side (as we have no idea what kind of punishment that’s going to bring with it), I’d go with the singles run. Hardy is a rare case of someone with a history that the fans care about and a huge upside, so let’s see how far he can run with the ball. I know it won’t be for very long, but what harm could it do to see if they can get something out of him?

The Woken Universe is doing just fine without him at the moment and if Matt Hardy starts teaming with Bray Wyatt (certainly not out of the question), it would make sense to let Jeff go out on his own. It’s not like he doesn’t have the charisma to pull it off and the Hardy fan base is one of the most loyal in all of wrestling. Take a shot, because with him you don’t know how many more chances you’ll get.

It’s a very exciting time to be a wrestling fan. We’re less than two weeks away from the biggest night of the year, but at the same time there’s more to it than just that. We could be in for a long list of fresh blood being brought back into the fold and that could mean a lot of interesting things happening in a very short time. It’s certainly fun to think about, or write about in this case.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at, or check out his Amazon author page with 26 wrestling books. His latest book is the WWE Grab Bag.

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