Filling in for the suspended Eva Marie, Nikki Bella made her return to the ring on Sunday night at SummerSlam.
Marie was pulled from the scheduled six-woman tag team match featuring SmackDown’s women’s division after her 30-day suspension for a wellness policy violation was announced last Thursday. The match was then briefly advertised as a handicap match, but WWE.com teased that it was possible a replacement partner could be found in time for SummerSlam.
Continuing the ongoing storyline of Marie finding excuses not to wrestle, the reason given for her not being on the show was that she was on vacation in the British Isles after suffering from exhaustion and anxiety caused by hostile WWE fans.
Bella teamed with Natalya and Alexa Bliss to defeat Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Carmella. She picked up the win for her team after pinning Carmella.
Bella received a strong reaction from the crowd upon her return. She had been out of action since October 2015 after suffering a neck injury.
After a lengthy absence, Bella had been teasing that she was preparing for a comeback recently. Dave Meltzer noted in Sunday’s daily update that she had been cleared to return and was slated to be added to the SmackDown roster.