Thanks to Vince McMahon, the decade of decadence - the eighties - also extended to the wrestling business. The Hogan Era (or the Expansion Era) was the first time that any promoter attempted a nationwide expansion. Similar to the early American explorers, Vince wanted to go from sea to shining sea. According to his supporters, he went to every territory, explained what he wanted to do and offered them all a part in the plan. Some took him up on it - like the Briscos, Stu Harts, or Paul Boesch. They all got to reap some of the rewards. Others like Verne Gagne and the AWA told Vince no, made their stand and unfortunately for them were put out of business.
It was the time that the business changed completely, and wrestlers were making a slew of money. It’s also the time that local stars became national and global legends. Whether or not they’re in shape or even if they should be working at all, there are still a lot of guys from this time accepting Indy dates. Some, on the other hand, have retired happily or begrudgingly and are living the retired life.
10 Wrestling - The Rock N Roll Express
If you’re not educated on how great Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, the Rock N Roll Express, were in their eighties heyday, just fire up the WWE Network and watch just about any match featuring them and the Midnight Express. While the Rockers were doing their thing up North as “Tag Team Specialists,” Ricky And Robert practically invented the art form down South for the NWA. Jim Cornette inducted them into the WWE in 2017, But that hasn’t slowed them down. Ricky and Robert worked in the 2019 Crockett Cup Tournament.
9 Retired - Jake The Snake Roberts
Thank goodness for DDP, otherwise wrestling fans might have lost one of the greatest promo and psychology guys of all time. Due to years of abuse, physical and chemical, Jake no longer wrestles. But that wasn’t what he was best at anyway - the proms is what made Jake magical.
That he still does from time to time, going on his own spoken word tour throughout the country and wrestling community. While he doesn’t work for any company, hopefully wrestlers contact him to sit under the learning tree and glean all they can from the legend.
8 Wrestling - Meng
Whether he’s King Haku running with the Heenan family, or he’s Meng, working as a backstop for the Dungeon Of Doom, one thing is for sure - every wrestler in any locker room knows full well to respect the man from Tonga, otherwise he’ll eat your face, right off of your face! Whether any of the stories about Haku are true or not is the stuff of wrestling legend. But one thing is true - the former King still works, nowadays for New Japan alongside his sons - The Guerrillas Of Destiny.
7 Retired - Hulk Hogan
Sure, he’s pushing seventy, but it’s strange that all of us wrestling fans who grew up with Hulkamania and then the New World Order that Hulk Hogan is never going to wrestle again. He officially announced his retirement on the Stone Cold podcast. Hulk’s body is just too banged up and he has had way too many surgeries to risk being paralyzed or worse.
6 Wrestling - Kevin Sullivan
The Taskmaster is a rarity in the sport. He has never gone to work for the WWE. Minus a short stint working for Vince’s father, the demented Sullivan never brought his cult like gimmick with him up North. He’s also one of the few that still work to this day, and playing off of old angles - he recently had a grudge match against Bryan Pillman, Jr. for ECCW.
5 Retired - Ric Flair
It was eleven years ago that HBK retired Ric Flair At WrestleMania XXIV. But he officially retired in 2012 after a stint in TNA. There are plenty of dirt sheet writers and other detractors that believe that run tarnished his legacy.
While it wasn’t great, the Nature Boy is still the Nature Boy and it’s always fun to see him. But at 70 years old, the greatest star of all time is best left sitting at home enjoying his golden years.
4 Wrestling -Jushin Thunder Liger
Not only is the Japanese legend still wrestling (he’s set to retire at the 2020 Wrestle Kingdom show), but Jushin Liger is the only one on this list that still wrestles in as top-notch shape as he possibly can. He might be the only wrestler on the planet that is truly a global star. Dating back to Stampede, the iconic Liger has wrestled ok every continent, for every major promotion and independent promotions. When Wrestle Kingdom 14 hits, Liger’s retirement match and ceremonies should be a fitting tribute.
3 Retired - Road Warrior Animal
In the eighties, Hawk and Animal were two of the most intimidating men walking the face of the Earth, and that was before they painted their faces and donned spiked football pads! Then the Legion Of Doom were a two-man army, ready for war! Thankfully for him though, Road Warrior Animal has since retired, he has also made it very known that he would like to be a trainer somewhere in the industry. So long as there’s room for him, any company would be lucky to have someone so experienced.
2 Wrestling - Marty Jannetty
He hasn’t been on WWE TV since losing to the Miz a decade ago, and probably never will be again.
He’s also not the poster child for a post big-time career, but Marty Jannetty is somehow still rocking and rolling. While his postings are erratic and cries for help, the former Rocker still pops up at indie events from time to time.
1 Retired - The Demolition
Ax and Smash were another tag team that looked ready to maim and pillage wherever they went. They are unquestionably one of the greatest teams of all time and are heading for the Hall Of Fame one day. Even though a terrible allergic reaction forced Ax on the shelf in the early nineties, both members of the team had continued to work various gimmicks until reforming during the King Of Trios tournament. They finally hung up their studded hockey masks in 2017.