WWE Reportedly Axed Absent Superstar's SmackDown Return

The Triple H era of World Wrestling Entertainment continued this past Friday on SmackDown. The final moments of the show saw Karrion Kross and Scarlett make their surprise return to the company, with Kross attacking upcoming Undisputed WWE Universal Champion challenger Drew McIntyre. Scarlett would then approach the squared circle occupied by The Bloodline, placing an hour glass on the the ring, symbolically setting Kross's sights on Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. While Kross's reemergence was the only return on the show, original plans had another absent star making his way back to WWE television.

Fightful Select reports that former WWE NXT Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak was initially pencilled in on the SmackDown card, as he was going to team with an unnamed partner to face The Viking Raiders in a tag team match. Instead, Erik and Ivar went on to squash local talent. After the bell, Kofi Kingston would attack the Raiders with a kendo stick, prompting a singles bout between Kingston and Erik, which Kingston went on to win. 

Gulak has been off of WWE television since May 27th, where he teamed with Ricochet in a losing tag effort to WWE Intercontinental Champion Gunther and Ludwig Kaiser. The former Cruiserweight Classic competitor has still been wrestling on the live event scene, most commonly squaring off against Happy Corbin.

A reason for Gulak's nixed return is not yet known. There could be a new creative direction for the superstar, or new head of creative Paul "Triple H" Levesque could have felt there was only room on SmackDown's broadcast for one return, that being Kross. 

Gulak has also fulfilled outside of the ring roles for WWE in recent months. This past April, Gulak made appearances as a WWE correspondent for SmackDown, interviewing the likes of Charlotte Flair and Madcap Moss on the show. Unfortunately for Gulak, his chat with Charlotte didn't end smoothly, as the former WWE Women's Champion locked him in the Figure Eight submission. The following week, Gulak would get caught in Ronda Rousey's armbar.

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"Okay so if we're going to talk, both of them are very devastating, but we're talking about the areas affected here. This one (Armbar) was hurting my elbow, hyperextending my elbow. It's a very sharp acute pain," Gulak said of the differences between the two holds. "The Figure Eight submission hold, it attacks your knee, your shin, which is super uncomfortable. I actually have a bad hip. A hip that's easy to attack. That worked in different levels for me. So I have to say that the Figure Eight is an overall more painful submission. However, it's a more complicated submission hold to apply."

Gulak has been with WWE since 2016, where he debuted in the Cruiserweight Classic tournament. He would go on to capture the now-retired Cruiserweight Title in 2019, holding it for 108 days. Since then, Gulak has had sporadic storylines on television, notably aligning with Daniel Bryan (AEW's Bryan Danielson) in Spring 2020.