It’s always something when a wrestler makes a big comeback. In some cases, it’s fantastic seeing them once more achieving stardom and often being able to get success, even titles. Sadly, a few comebacks can be failures and only tarnish a person’s legacy.
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Every wrestling fan loves a great comeback, but nobody wanted to see these particular wrestlers back inside the squared circle.
Forgotten can be some “old school” comebacks of some wrestling stars of the territory days to the early 1990s. It’s amazing to see how some stars long ignored made a brief return to the ring. Not all of them were successful, but still notable yet ignored by many fans today. Here are ten old-school wrestling comebacks you forgot about to show how the old-timers could make some intriguing returns.
Year Of Return: 1994
- Debuted 1971
- Inducted into WWE Hall of Fame by Bruno Sammartino
- The final AWA World Champion
While not the best worker, Larry Zbyszko had a good long run, which included being an AWA World champion and tenures as tag team champion in WCW. By 1993, injuries had piled up and Zbyszko retired from full-time competition to become a commentator, the role many fans knew him better by.
In the summer of 1994, Zbyszko got into a flack with TV champion Steven Regal. In a TV match, Zbyszko upset Regal to win the title. His physical condition meant his tenure was short, but it was something to see the long-hated heel being cheered in his last run in the ring.
9 Don Muraco Made A Magnificent ECW Return
Year Of Return: 1992
- Debuted 1970
- Won First King of the Ring tournament in 1985
- Retired in 1995
The original guy to go by “The Rock,” Don Muraco was a star of mid-1980s WWE with two lengthy reigns as Intercontinental champion. By 1992, Muraco had practically fallen off the wrestling world map after a short run in the short-lived UWF revival. In 1992, he made a return to what was then called Eastern Championship Wrestling.
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Muraco revived his old feud with Jimmy Superfly Snuka, beating Snuka for the ECW title. He held the belt for two months and had another six-month reign in 1993. Now retired, Muraco was a forgotten pioneer of the ECW fans came to know.
8 Tully Blanchard Failed To Be Extreme
Year Of Return: 1995
- Debuted 1975
- Held NWA Tag Team, TV, National and United States Championships
- Currently in AEW
One of the best and most hated heels of his era, Tully Blanchard dominated in the NWA as US, TV and tag team champion and a founding member of the Four Horsemen. He and Arn Anderson were WWE tag team champions as the Brainbusters, but Blanchard was fired after failing a drug test.
Moving into a tenure as a minister, Blanchard turned down a WCW offer to take a turn in the early ECW. However, his match against Shane Douglas is often cited as one of the most boring matches in ECW history. Blanchard did have runs as NWA tag team champion, but never at the level of fame he once held.
7 Tommy Rich Got Wild With The FBI
Year Of Return: 1998
- Debuted 1974
- Held the NWA World Championship for one week in 1981
- Still wrestles with Ricky Morton
Tommy Rich was a clear case of “too much, too soon.” His one-week reign as NWA champion at only 21 was too much to live up to and not helped by his brutal feud with Buzz Sawyer. The early 1990s had him drifting off more with a bad WCW run and seemingly done.
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In 1997, Rich joined ECW and was soon a member of the Full Blooded Italians. The fun stable was made up of guys clearly not Italian and seeing the Georgia-born Rich claiming to be one was hilarious. He had a decent shot there before finally hanging it up as “Wildfire” among this group of weirdos was a fun sight.
6 Bruno Sammartino Made A Savage Last Run
Year Of Return: 1986
- Debuted in 1959
- Holds the record for the longest WWE Championship reign
- Died in 2018
Any wrestling fan of the late 1980s will remember the brutal attack of Randy Savage on Ricky Steamboat that set up their classic Wrestlemania 3 encounter. But most have forgotten one of the side bits. Bruno Sammartino was doing an update on Steamboat’s condition when Savage came by and gloated at what he did. Disgusted, the former WWE champion attacked Savage.
This set up some house show matches between them with the storyline Bruno didn’t care about the Intercontinental title, he just wanted to teach Savage a lesson. It was one final great run by the WWE legend that also gave a good rub to Savage.
5 Buddy Rogers Was Set For One Last Run
Year Of Return: 1991
- Debuted 1939
- Inaugural World Wide Wrestling Federation Champion
- Died 1992
The original “Nature Boy,” Buddy Rogers was the standard all modern heels tried to live up to. Rogers’ runs as NWA and the first WWWF champion were historic as he was a fantastic performer for the era. After retiring due to injuries in the early 1980s, Rogers, at the age of 71 announced in 1991 he was coming back to face Buddy Landel in a “Battle of the Nature Boys.”
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Rogers still looked in phenomenal shape as he was set to have the match, but before it could happen, the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance went out of business. Rogers ended up passing away months later, as this would have been a final run of the original wrestling heel.
4 George The Animal Steele Was A Real Oddity
Year Of Return: 1998
- Debuted 1960
- Played Tor Johnson in the movie “Ed Wood.”
- Died 2017
Once a truly fearsome heel, by the 1980s, George Steele had swapped it for a loveable persona as a goofball who enjoyed tearing up turnbuckles and showing off a green tongue. He had retired in 1990 due to various injuries but just couldn’t shake off the wrestling bug.
That’s why Steele returned to WWE in 1997 teaming with Taka Michinoku of all people. He was then part of the Oddities, that strange mix of characters bouncing around at the time. He finally left in 1999, so the Animal’s last run was forgotten.
3 The Sheik Made A Wild ‘90s Comeback
Year Of Return: 1992
- Real name Ed Farhat
- Sabu is his nephew
- Died 2003
Throughout the 1970s, the Sheik was the original hardcore madman. Wrestling magazines loved showing his bloody face on their covers as he tore up the scene to make his Detroit territory a great one. However, when that territory faded, so did the Sheik.
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But in the early 1990s, the Sheik was back at it, still as crazy as ever, engaging in hardcore matches in Japan and early ECW. He briefly managed nephew Sabu before a nasty injury finally made him hand it up. Before that, the Sheik proved when it came to wild hardcore action, no one did it better.
2 Paul Orndorff Made A Wonderful WCW Return
Year Of Return: 1993
- Never Held a title in WWE
- Debuted in 1976
- Died in 2021
“Mr. Wonderful” was a huge star for WWE in the mid-1980s with his feud with Hulk Hogan. However, in the early 90s, Orndoroff dropped so far off the map that a serious rumor was going around he’d died. He silenced that by making a surprising return to WCW in 1993.
Orndorff looked better than ever, not just in his physique but in the ring with feuds with Cactus Jack and a run as TV champion. He and Paul Roma united as Pretty Wonderful to hold the tag titles twice. While retiring in 1995, Orndorff’s comeback was a terrific final run for him.
1 Rick Martel’s WCW Run Was Cut Too Short
Year Of Return: 1998
- Debuted in 1973
- Former AWA World Champion
- His only tenure in WCW
From his time as AWA World champion to “the Model” in WWE, Rick Martel was a good worker if often overlooked. In 1998, Martel moved to WCW and, unlike other ex-WWE guys, actually did well just playing himself. He and Booker T feuded over the TV title, with Martel winning the belt.
However, in a defense against Booker at SuperBrawl 8, Martel tore out his knee. The match was switched to him losing the belt and his would-be return bout had him injured again. So sadly, Martel’s WCW run only hastened his retirement.