If consistent, steady booking and quality wrestling are the backbone and lifeblood of a successful promotion, then fresh faces and surprise returns are the adrenaline shots that gets fans’ hearts racing at intermittent points.
It’s no secret that the debut or return of a superstar often provides a jolt to the audience – an entrance theme either completely unknown or one not heard for a long time suddenly rings out, and fans get to their feet in unison. Viewers rush to social media and suddenly that surprise superstar is trending and WWE is the conversation.
But a debuting or returning wrestler is so much more than just that initial pop. Once the newness wears off, it’s what WWE does afterward that dictates whether that person’s (re)introduction is a success, a failure, or just one big “meh.”
This year saw the return of several superstars who were victims of Vince McMahon’s hatchet to the roster in 2020-22, while several NXT wrestlers finally found their way to the main roster. Along the way, WWE welcomed back a handful of legends and Hall-of-Famers who had been away from the company for quite some time.
And then of course, WWE dropped a thermonuclear return at Survivor Series, proving the point of this list.
Some of these were fantastic, while others have been complete flops. Several callups have received an incomplete grade at this stage. But where do your favorites rank?
A quick caveat: Returning from injury doesn't count. Otherwise, this list would get out-of-hand.
Let’s get to it…
24. Odyssey Jones
It’s unfortunate, but someone has to occupy the lowest spot on the list, and Odyssey Jones is the runaway “winner” for this slot.
Jones was part of the rather large NXT class drafted to the main roster in May, joining the Raw brand… and then he promptly was never heard from again.
That isn’t hyperbole. Odyssey never so much as wrestled a Main Event taping or dark match for Raw. He had a handful of dark matches over the summer – on SmackDown shows. His last match – period – came in September at India’s Superstar Spectacle house show, where he lost to Bron Breakker.
Barring a major change these last couple of weeks, it’s safe to call Jones’ 2023 a complete waste.