I’m generally not a fan of the rain. It makes driving more difficult. It makes me want to stay indoors & get fat. It delays baseball games and makes working somewhere else the next morning much more difficult due to lack of sleep.
But I am a huge fan of Rain the wrestler. Going back to her days teaming with Lacey as the Minnesota Home-Wrecking Crew & her time in TNA as Peyton Banks, I’ve always had an appreciation for the Radiant One. She’s tough as nails, a solid worker in the ring, an effective heel and a beautiful woman, which admittedly was what I noticed when I first saw her.
In honor of Rain’s comeback, I thought now was as good a time as any to list the Top 5 Comebacks in wrestling history.
5. Bob Backlund
Mr. Backlund basically dropped off the face of the earth after the end of his WWF Championship reign on December 26, 1983. He left the company several months later & didn’t do much of note for several years. Some Japanese appearances & rare one-offs for small American promotions were all we saw from Backlund until his return to the WWF in 1992. At first, Backlund was lost in the shuffle & seemed out of touch with the current WWF. In the summer of 1994, he got his groove back when he turned heel on Bret Hart after a match on WWF Superstars.
The Mr. Bob Backlund persona was born, and Backlund’s career had new life. He reached the top of the mountain again at the 1994 Survivor Series, winning the WWF Championship from Hart, a title he claimed he had never lost.
Backlund lost the title to Diesel three days later, but he still completed one of the great comebacks in wrestling history.
4. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
In 1998, ol’ Hacksaw faced the toughest opponent he’d ever faced: kidney cancer. It was an advanced case, but fortunately it was detected in time & Duggan got the treatment quickly enough to defeat the disease. He was back in WCW rings months later & still competes on the independent circuit on occasion today.
3. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels had already had a Hall of Fame level career in 1998 when he was forced to retire due to a back injury. He came back four years later and had another Hall of Fame level career. The back injury was suffered during a casket match with Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble, so when he started feuding with Undertaker at WrestleManias it didn’t bode well for his second career.
2. Harley Race
The eight-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion almost never got a chance to get his first championship. Very early on in his career, in 1960, Race was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of his wife & a leg injury that led to doctors considering amputation. Gust Karras, the promoter that had started Harley in the business, came to his rescue & forbade the doctors from taking Harley’s leg.
They still said that Harley would never wrestle again, but they underestimated the desire of Harley Race, who returned to the ring after several months of physical therapy. Soon after his return he would form a successful tag team with Larry “The Axe” Hennig, and then he would make his trek towards the NWA Championship thirteen years after he was never going to be able to wrestle again.
Honorable Mention: Kurt Angle
A multi-time world champion and member of several different Hall Of Fames, Kurt Angle is among the greatest to step foot both in a ring and on a mat. At 48 years of age (he just turned 49 last weekend!), Kurt Angle returned to a WWE ring as an honorary member of The Shield, substituting for an ill Roman Reigns at the WWE TLC pay-per-view event.
1. Ric Flair
Ric Flair’s career supposedly ended on October 4, 1975. He was involved in a plane crash with several other wrestlers that broke his back in three places. Flair had been getting over to a large extent in Jim Crockett Promotions’ territory & was showing potential as a tag team partner of Johnny Valentine, whose career was ended in that plane crash. Flair had just begun a feud with Wahoo McDaniel, one of wrestling’s biggest stars and a man that taught Flair a lot about being a star & how to chop people. All of that was thrown out the window with the plane crash. Doctors told Flair he would never wrestle again. He returned in eight months and picked up right where he left off.
Almost six years after the plane crash, Flair beat Dusty Rhodes to win his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Flair had his last match almost thirty-six years after the plane crash.