February 26, 2014 by The Waterboy Report
A great hero never leaves for good.
On February 24th, 2014 “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan returned to Monday night Raw and WWE after spending more than six years away from the company. He announced that he would guest-host Wrestlemania 30 and all of the Hulkamanics erupted.
WATCHA GONNA DO WHEN HULKMANIA RUNS WILD AS THE HOST OF WRESTLEMANIA XXX? Sorry, I had to.
Inspired by Hulk Hogan’s iconic return, we’ll look at the greatest sports returns in history.
10. The Rock
Yes, in the spirit of Hogan’s return, the “People’s Champion”, the Rock, made his triumphant return to WWE on the Valentine’s Day edition of Raw in 2011. The Rock cut his first promo in WWE in nearly seven years and electrified a sold out crowd. He would go on to host Wrestlemania 27 and vowed to never leave the WWE again. The Rock once again brought life back into WWE and was one of the most entertaining superstars to watch. After headlining both Wrestlemania 28 and 29 against everyone’s favourite superstar John Cena (insert sarcasm), the Rock then infamously disappeared. Fans still wonder if they will ever see “The Great One” back in the WWE.
9. Jaromir Jagr
The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Jaromir Jagr with the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. He won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. One of the most feared scoring threats in NHL history then left the league for three years in 2008 to play in the KHL with the Avangard Omsk. Finally, Jagr returned to the show in 2011 and signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. After circling through teams like the Stars and Bruins, Jagr’s currently a member of the New Jersey Devils. Jagr may be much older than most players in the NHL, but he can still play at a professional level.
8. Roger Clemens
One of the best pitchers of all time made his grand return in 2012. Even though he didn’t return to the Majors, it was still note-worthy. Clemens, at age 50, pitched his first game in nearly five years for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. His fastball still clocked in at an impressive 88 mph. The Astros are hoping that he can still pitch for them.
7. Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova won nine Wimbledon singles titles, seven Wimbledon women’s double titles and three Wimbledon mixed double titles before retiring in 1994. She then returned to the tennis court in 2000 and won two more Grand Slam titles.
6. George Foreman
George Foreman walked away from boxing in 1977 after becoming an ordained minister. Ten years later Foreman announced his comeback to the ring in an effort to raise money for a youth center he had set up. Foreman lost a close title bout in his return against Evander Holyfield, but would regain the title three years later when Foreman shockingly defeated Michael Moorer and became the oldest heavyweight champion in history.
5. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane retired from international football after Euro 2004, but returned at the 2006 World Cup to lead France to the World Cup final against Italy. Zidane was a catalyst for France’s success all tournament long, however for Zidane, his storybook return would come to an abrupt end. Enter, Marco Materazzi.
4. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson was a beloved NBA superstar in the 1980’s, however his career would shockingly come to an end when he announced publicly that he had HIV and was forced to retire from the game of basketball. Four years later, Magic Johnson would make one final return to the game and joined the L.A Lakers in 1996, playing 32 games. Magic Johnson’s return to NBA after his battle with HIV is spectacular, simply put. Especially, considering information about the disease was uncommon at the time.
3. Michael Jordan
Arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to three championships, but then unexpectedly retired in 1993 to play baseball in the MLB. Two years later, the great Michael Jordan returned to the NBA and won three more NBA championships for the Bulls. Now, that’s a comeback.
2. Lance Armstrong
Despite the controversy that surrounds his career, Lance Armstrong will always be one of the most iconic figures in sports and his comeback is perhaps one of the greatest of all time. Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer, but miraculously made a full recovery and went one to win a record seven Tour de France titles. That’s just breath-taking. Yes, we’d later learn that Armstrong took banned substances to enhance his cycling performance, however he’s still a hero to many and his triumphant battle against cancer will forever be remembered.
Muhammad Ali was controversially stripped of his titles and was sent into forced retirement after refusing to join the US army’s draft for the Vietnam War. He then returned to the ring six years later and won back the world heavyweight championship against George Foreman at the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974. In what many call “the world’s most famous fight”, Ali finally reclaimed the title that he never lost and reigned supreme with the gold only 10 years removed from when he had his title taken away.
Notable Mentions: Randy Couture, Peyton Manning, Alex Zanardi
Luca Rosano @TheSportsRose