Former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray (Bubba Ray Dudley) almost made his return to the company at Thursday’s Impact Wrestling tapings in Orlando. While former WWE Champion Alberto El Patron (Alberto Del Rio) returned to challenge World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley, company official reportedly made a big-money offer to Ray to return in that main event role. PWInsider notes that the return was extremely close to happening but the two sides were not able to lock in a deal at the last minute.

When the company realized they weren’t bringing Ray back, they reached out to Alberto late Wednesday night and came to terms on a deal. PWInsider notes that TNA also reached out to another big name to take the spot that eventually went to Alberto but that name hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Regarding Alberto’s debut, the company put a lot of effort into keeping his debut a surprise until Anthem’s Ed Nordholm tweeted a photo of Alberto in the ring with Jeff Jarrett before the tapings began. We just reported a few days ago that Alberto’s TNA debut likely wasn’t happening as John Gaburick was no longer working creative. Gaburick had led the push to bring Alberto in, going back to last fall. The talks stopped when the new regime led by Jeff Jarrett took over.

Original plans for last night’s tapings had Drew Galloway winning the World Heavyweight Title but Galloway left the company after turning down a new contract.